Friday, January 31, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thor's Day: Socialism and the Christian Right

How can anyone be a Conservative and follow Jesus?

By Ed Rogers

Most Christians, if asked, will tell you that Socialism is anti-religion. Some non-believers call themselves socialist without other beliefs contradicting it, but almost any conservative Christian who calls himself a socialist is snared in a dilemma.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

My son's into sex and drugs, and there's a party happening this weekend; I need help quick!

By Susan C. Price

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

I was cleaning my 16-year-old son’s bedroom when I found a journal. I know I shouldn’t have looked but curiosity and parental urge made me, and now I wish I hadn’t and don’t know what to do! In it he talks about having sex with girls and also about an upcoming party. I want to advise him about safe sex and using condoms, and also about drugs, which were also mentioned (weed and Uppers?). I’m at a loss as to how to approach this as he will know I read his journal!
    Please help, as this party is on Saturday. –Anna

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday Voice

Slow down, damn it!

By Vic Midyett

I witnessed the following spectacle in Oklahoma a few years ago, but it's still as clear in my mind as it was when I was seeing it live.
    I came out of a grocery shop and was walking to my car when my eye caught sight of an elderly couple parking their car in a handicap spot. I paid no attention until I heard what sounded like what I'll call a “geriatric domestic happening.”
    This should be good, I thought. So I stood to watch events unfold.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks: Pammie Story #5

No, really, this was The End

By Susan C. Price

[Sequel to “The End,” published on December 23]

This is about the end of Pam and how I handled things, or didn't. The two-year process of her decline and her estate...It tells you about how I felt and what I thought. I wrote it because I needed to get the rest of her story out (somewhat) of my head so that I could maybe evaluate how I had behaved. Also, the story might contain useful information for dealing with this sort of situation. It might just be sad or ugly to you. You have been warned.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sunday Review: Masters of Sex (TV series)

Actually slaves to love

By Jonathan Price

The season of sex has ended on Showtime. I mean of course, the series Masters of Sex, which I reluctantly got hooked on because it kept being advertised when I tried to tune in to Homeland. I had trivialized it and dismissed it from my gallery of pleasures as a knockoff of a popular book on a popular topic, sex, with all the limited appeal of a soap opera, but it is far better than that. And now you can binge on it if you get hooked, seeing it for peanuts on “On Demand” or on DVDs or by download from Netflix or another source.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal: Communication

The key to how

By James Knudsen

Click on any internet page, flip open to any magazine article or tune-in to any program on the topic of relationships and communication will be listed as one of the key ingredients to a successful one. Having communicated successfully and poorly in relationships that have faired likewise I can attest to the accuracy of the statement, “communication is key.” And so, I’m not going to debate the point. I will argue that the “how” of communication is often given short shrift. What if the way you communicate no longer works? What then?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fish for Friday

Russian billionaire
Roman Abramovitch's yacht
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Naysayers who derided "trickle down economics" may be amazed to learn it worked exactly as designed, and did it much more completely and effectively than anyone could have imagined: "Report: World's 85 richest have same wealth as all of bottom 50 percent."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thor's Day: The Act of God defense

A lawyer's windfall

By James T. Carney

[Editor's Note: Our friend Jack Cover wrote us last week that he had had his big Christmas present early—the weeks of Christmas and New Year's Day off from the Torisel chemotherapy that had been holding in check the tumors of his renal cancer. The cancer was entering its 33rd year, but Jack and his doctor had decided against a birthday party now to wait until the cancer's 50th, when everyone could have a real blowout. Our friend James T. Carney responded to Jack's good humor in such good humor of his own, we asked him and Jack whether we could publish his response. They said we could.]

Hi Jack, have you ever considered the possibility that you're a hypochondriac, what with all these complaints about cancer? By my reckoning you should have been dead two years ago. I am glad you never entered hospice care, for the government would be suing you to collect all costs expended after the first six months.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I tell my neighbors their painter slopped paint on my fence without our falling out?

By Susan C. Price

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

There’s a narrow walkway between my house and my neighbors that leads to a field, and a lot of people walk through with their dogs or children. This in itself is not an issue. However, I walked through today and found white paint all over parts of my fence and, on checking, I could see that this had been done when my neighbor had his fence painted. What should I do? I don’t wish to fall out with them, because I am elderly and live alone, and they are good in many other ways but this has damaged my fence, even though I admit that I can’t see the damage from my side. –Hyacinth

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Jake got me good

By Vic Midyett

Since my stroke, I have been seeing split-second shadows or movements where there aren't any. It happens mostly on my right side. I've been told that my left eye, like the rest of my left side, was affected. They think my left eye does not turn towards the right as much as it used to. This terrestrial activity is only a problem when Jake (my wife Shirley) is around, though. Why? Well, let me tell you.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Third Monday Musing: Charlatans and shopkeepers

Matthew Arnold
The continuing relevance of Matthew Arnold

By Eric Meub

Edith Sitwell once famously quipped that the only people who like Matthew Arnold’s poems are precisely those who dislike poetry. Time has not agreed with Miss Sitwell: Arnold’s work remains, unlike her own, securely within the canon. But there is some truth in her remark. Arnold was not primarily a poet of craft; he was a poet of thought. And his thoughts often found more fruitful expression in his later prose.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Review: The Debt2

Two movies, four sets of three actors

By Morris Dean

The IMDb's short description of The Debt (2010, directed by John Madden, starring in the role of Rachel Singer: Jessica Chastain & Helen Mirren) sounded familiar:

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Third Saturday Fiction

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Patsy (a vignette)

By W.M. Dean

The preacher concluded his sermon and stretched his arms out to the people. "Now, loved ones, as the choir sings 'Softly and Tenderly,' won't you come up and be saved?"

Friday, January 17, 2014

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Mysteries of the Human Body:
    It’s possible for your body to survive without large fractions of its internal organs. Even if you lose your stomach, your spleen, 75% of your liver, 80% of your intestines, one kidney, one lung, and virtually every organ from your pelvic and groin area, you wouldn’t be very healthy, but you would live.
    During your lifetime, you will produce enough saliva to fill two swimming pools. Actually, saliva is more important than you realize. If your saliva can not dissolve something, you cannot taste it.
    The largest cell in the human body is the female egg and the smallest is the male sperm. The egg is actually the only cell in the body that is visible by the naked eye.
    The strongest muscle in the human body is the tongue and the hardest bone is the jawbone.
    Human feet have 52 bones, accounting for one quarter of all the human body’s bones. Feet have 500,000 sweat glands and can produce more than a pint of sweat a day.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thor's Day: What is your religion?

By Ed Rogers

Who, or what, is your god? On Tuesday last week I read, for the first time in several weeks, an article written by my dear friend Moto [Paul Calhoun]—his column  "Bah! Humbug!" He has always had a mythical approach toward being a vegan. Having been away from Paul’s writings for a few weeks, "Bah! Humbug!" opened my eyes to what I believe Voltaire said, “If there were no god, man would invent one.”

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Shannon Long on Beyond Measuring

Mr. Long in his office at BMB Institute
It’s about helping the community

Interview by Morris Dean

My wife and I moved to Mebane, North Carolina in July 2008. At the time, for simplicity and thrift, I was cutting my own hair with the electric shears my wife had bought to try to do our poodle’s grooming. That didn’t work out, but it worked for me because I have less hair than a poodle and I didn’t mind my hair all being the same length—something that would of course never do for a poodle familiar with French styling.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Farewell

By Ed Rogers

[Sequel to “Tadpole in Winter]

My family moved to Harlingen, Texas, and the times I came to my grandparents’ farm were getting fewer and farther apart. I was thirteen when I returned for my last full summer of innocence.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Second Monday Music: A terrible temperament

By Chuck Smythe

Many years ago, I attended a seminar by Owen Jorgensen, a famous piano tuner. He discussed historical musical temperaments, the system of spacings between the notes of a musical scale. He performed on four large Bösendorfers, each tuned to a different temperament. The seminar was held in the showroom of Chris Finger Pianos, a very high end dealer—the only way such a collection of instruments could be found in a single room!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Review: Parker

A bad guy who's good

By Morris Dean

With Taylor Hackford's 2012 film Parker, which I watched last August but forgot to review, another fictional character made it to the screen.* The most recent one I had then written about was Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone. The character Parker (played by Jason Stathan in the movie) was a career criminal in most of the novels Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008) wrote under the pseudonym Richard Stark. (I read one or two of them many years ago, when I felt I needed to escape from serious reading.)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Second Saturday's Sonnet

Hetch Hetchy

By Eric Meub



The grasses hissed beneath the oaks that mark
these fields. But now her swimming pool has spread
a net of light up into shadowed bark.
An over-irrigated oak falls dead.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fish for Friday

Koch brother David
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

So we're finally seeing a photo of one of the Koch brothers?: "Money laundering, Koch style."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Thor's Day: Spirit in the mountains

A tale of two hemispheres

By Edward Jarvis
High Sierra: September [2004]

Heavily stepping at
altitude toward the meadow, a vast
award notched in the mountain,
I notice late lupin squatting,
lingering at the trailside
like so many tiny blue urchins.
The aspen have already begun
their brightening, the wind-flicked
yellow shimmy that dazzles.
A rubric of baneberry lines

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I get my roommate to discuss something without our parting on bad terms?

By Susan C. Price

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

I’m currently in the process of packing up my belongings to vacate a shared apartment. I’ve lived here, happily, for three years with two friends I met at college, but we’re all going our separate ways. My problem is that one of my roomies, who shall remain nameless, is also packing her things up and she’s started boxing up many of the items the three of us bought together: the kettle, the mirror that was hanging in the front room, and yesterday she was emptying the kitchen cutlery tray into a plastic bag. Now, I’m not saying I want or need these things, but I feel like there should be a discussion and maybe a divvying out of things fairly? What do you think? I don’t want to part on bad terms. –Grace

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday Voice: Bah! Humbug!

By Paul Clark 
(aka motomynd)

Thanks to the holiday season, that joyful time of year we run out of excuses and finally have to spend time with people we manage to avoid the rest of the year, our vegan / animal rights / backwoods living family received a mega-dose of modern Americana in December. We will eventually recover (thank you for your concern) but we wanted to spread the pain to expedite the process. Think of it as telling someone a horrible joke you just heard, so you can more quickly forget it.

Monday, January 6, 2014

First Monday with Characters

Monumento a Pau Casals en Barcelona
Edited by Morris Dean

Geoffrey Dean, en España
Every year it’s a special hope of mine that I will not be in Sofia for the Christmas craziness in the Bulgarian capital, and this year I took special measures to make that happen. Inspired by Eric Siblin’s book about the famous Catalan cellist Pau Casals (Pablo in Spanish) and the Bach cello suites (the two stories are interwoven in an engaging journalistic style), I decided it was time to visit some of the places he lived. So we took a budget flight to Barcelona on the 19th, and on my birthday we went down the Catalan coast to En Vendrell, where Casals was born. We also visited Sant Salvador, where he summered at his beachfront villa in the 20s and 30s, and in time for Christmas eve we traveled to Prades in the French Pyrenees, where Casals lived in exile after Franco came to power. On the 26th a friend surprised us by taking us to the ballet in Monte Carlo—Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, choregraphed by Jean Christophe Maillot, was a completely engrossing celebration of movement, color, and holiday humor!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Review: The Scent of Green Papaya

Ever green

By Morris Dean

The best argument for reviewing a 20-year-old film is the 20-year-old film The Scent of Green Papaya ["Mùi du du xanh" in Vietnamese] (1993, directed by Tran An Hung, then 31 years old)—lest you too missed it then, as did we.
    We watched it via Netflix instant download this week. The title was so familiar, I thought we had seen it. But, no, only heard about it, probably because it was nominated for the 1993 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. A gift missed then became a gift received now!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

First Saturday as the World Turns

Minimum Wage

By Ed Rogers

Minimum: The point on a curve where the tangent changes from negative on the left to positive on the right. The smallest amount possible.

It would seem that there are people out there who have no idea what “The Minimum Wage” is all about. Facebook is alive with statements about how stupid it is to pay someone $15.00 an hour to put a pickle on a bum. These same people would be the first to bitch if the pickle they had asked for was overlooked, and their bun came without it.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fish for Friday

Rush Ranch
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

The New Year is a powerful symbol in our lives—a time of reflection, promise, and renewal. Dedicate this first weekend of January to your health and well-being. Join me for a free workshop designed to help you lower your stress and become more centered:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thor's Day: Please add to your prayer list

Odd man out

By Morris Dean

When I installed Thor as a sort of hearth god for Moristotle & Co.'s religion column (July 12, 2012), I had no idea how it would turn out. And I certainly had no inkling that Thor would perform seeming miracles in fetching such rich and totally unexpected material for publication. Two weeks ago, for example, there was the gift of email exchange titled "A little skirmish over 'the War on Christmas'."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ask Wednesday: Ask Susan

How can I help my husband stop drinking?

By Susan C. Price

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

I'm very concerned about my husband's drinking (about the equivalent of half a bottle of scotch nightly) and then his driving under the influence. When I try to talk to him about it he replies that "you have to die some way" and he continues drinking. I'm concerned about his making long road trips and not being very alert, but he really wants to go on these trips. The situation is getting worse and he certainly needs help but doesn't recognize it. I may be being over dramatic, but I wonder if an “intervention” would help. Any ideas? He gets very annoyed when I bring up his drinking. He says that I'm nagging him. –Anonymous