Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bottom (a sonnet)

By Eric Meub

[Originally published on August 9, 2014]


Why bother getting out of bed? It’s not
As if we’re here in season: covered pool
And lounge chairs stacked like firewood as a rule.
I say resort, you think forsaken spot.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ask Nancy Walker Gemar about sports fanaticism

Can you explain it?

Interviewed by Morris Dean

[Interviewer’s Note: My friend Nancy Walker Gemar, whom I knew in high school as Nancy Walker and only recently got in touch with again, after 55 years, told me that she was in Chapel Hill for a Duke-UNC football game in 2009, when I was still working at UNC General Administration. She said that she and her friends whom she was visiting spent the next day touring the UNC campus and checking out the hot spots on Franklin Street.
    But she also wanted to see Duke University, so they went there “and the three of us went into the chapel. Tom refused to walk on the campus because of his overwhelming hatred for Duke! He sat in the car while Dianne and I checked out the campus. That’s what you call a ‘loyal son’!!”….

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Shots in the night

My friend Harvey’s Costa Rica tale

By Ed Rogers

Living in Costa Rica from the United States and having friends among Costa Ricans is not a common thing. The Costa Rican people are very friendly and most would bend over backwards to help you. However, they know that one day you will be going back to the States (and you know it too). So in some ways their (and our) minds protects us from the hurt of losing a close friend by not allowing us to get past a certain line toward closeness.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Christmas in Costa Rica

My personal update

By Ed Rogers

Janie and I had our Christmas yesterday. A total of 16 people came over for BBQ chicken, cornbread dressing, and all the stuff that goes with it. We had 12 yesterday afternoon and 4 at 7:30 last night. Our kitchen is a mess this morning but it was nice to have so many friends come and eat with us.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Loneliest Liberal’s Christmas magic

By James Knudsen

Nowhere on my resume has the title “journalist” ever been found. There have been half-hearted attempts, but this morning I finally put all arguments to rest. I am not a journalist, reporter, news anchor, or any other member of the Fourth Estate. Why? Because a responsible reporter would have at least made an attempt to confirm that Fox News is continuing its absurd, asinine, annual assault on the aural orifices known as the “War on Christmas.” There’s no war, but there is a disease that kills Christmas.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Summery Christmas

From Down Under

By Vic Midyett & Shirley Deane/Midyett

We would like to share with you a painting that Shirley did for our middle son, Ben, who provided a photograph of his niece and nephew taken on a beach south of Perth, Western Australia. Ben asked Shirley to do the painting as a Christmas gift for the children’s mother, Ben’s half-sister, who had taken the photograph and posted it on her Facebook page.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Light before Christmas

By James T. Carney

I am deeply religious and always feel faith most in the Christmas season. I am an Anglican, although I do not agree with the Church’s position on gays, but I think that the Anglicans in general are more right than the Episcopals. My parish is based in an old person’s home and we have services every Sunday in the chapel. Not having a building to worry about, and a part time priest – Father Paul – who makes $100 per year, means that our focus can be on evangelism and charity. In my old church – from which I was expelled by bell, book, and candle – everyone’s main focus was on the struggle to maintain the building – which was beautiful – but from my standpoint was a millstone around our necks.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas In America

A tale

By Anonymous

The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all the background checks, interviews, and testing were done, there were three finalists: two men and a woman.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Private Christmas

By Morris Dean 

The double spiral stairs at the Vatican Museum reminded me that my mother had a term for female genitalia that I had certainly not heard before when I was eight or nine, but neither have I heard it since. Mama’s term was “Christmas.”

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Movie Review: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

Not so merry

By Morris Dean

Marilyn Monroe may have posed for a number of “Merry Christmas” photos, but she didn’t seem to have had many merry Christmases herself. Not to go by Lifetime’s four-hour miniseries, The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, which was based on the NY Times best seller by J. Randy Taraborrelli.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chapter 7 of The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Better to Serve You With, My Dear

By W.M. Dean

[The novel is set in the 1970s of Watergate. Links to earlier chapters are provided at the bottom.]

Friday, December 18, 2015

Gunned down

An excerpt from a novel in progress

By Michael Hanson

[Editor’s Note: Raymond, age 40, recalls an event from his 27th year – the death of his best friend, Lauren, who was shot to death while on her morning jog. Our previous excerpt from this novel appeared on September 29.
    The rise of gun violence in America makes today’s piece eminently current, as incidents of gun violence are reported virtually every day, more people than ever must deal with the loss of family and friends, and politicians fervently debate what to do, or likely not.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Losing class

A recent publication of the Pew Research Center, “The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground” (December 9), might give us pause. Excerpt:

Sunday, December 13, 2015

How well do you know holy scripture?

Take Nicholas Kristof’s quiz

By Morris Dean

In the context of Donald Trump’s proposal to bar Muslims from America, Nicholas Kristof, in his op-ed piece in yesterday’s NY Times, cherry-picked some quotations from holy texts to see how well we understand religion. I found the quiz fun, even if I didn’t answer all of its questions correctly. In fact, I missed the very first one:

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Puzzle (a sonnet)

By Eric Meub


I read too much. My second husband used
to make inspections of my bedside drawer,
then catch me at the sink: You’re fifty-four
for God’s sake, Marianne, why start on Proust?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A gripping political & architectural contest in Munich

Gasteig Philharmonie [Source: Schlaier – own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons]
What size breeches?

By Rolf Dumke

An architectural and political contest is gripping Munich. It concerns the location and design for a second concert hall for Munich’s homeless Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, under chief conductor Mariss Jansons. It is one of the top ten orchestras in the world, besides the number one in Munich, the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Valery Gergiev and Zubin Mehta.

Monday, December 7, 2015


First Monday, as were

[Editor’s Note: My call for “character updates” went out to all of the blog’s staff members before I faced up to the fact that regularly scheduled columns weren’t working for me, and the call was graciously (if not habitually) answered by updates from a number of them. I trust that updates will continue to come in as our “characters” have something they want to share about themselves. We look forward to publishing these under their own bylines. To remind yourself who each character is, you may consult their blurbs in the sidebar. And remember that the link of each character’s name calls up all posts whose name they labeled.]

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Happy Saturday to all the friends of Moristotle & Co.

From the editor:

In our new spirit of spontaneity and relaxation of the rules, we take this moment to greet everyone (from an iPhone without benefit of the formatting tools on a computer).

May you all have a creative and fulfilling day.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Moristotle & Co. abandons regular scheduling

Baldassare Peruzzi, “Muses Dancing with Apollo”
Our muses insisted

By Morris Dean

This week I notified the staff that it was no longer working for me to try to live up to the blog’s commitment to have regularly scheduled columns. I told them that I wanted to give up specifying the days of the week (or month) on which particular columns would appear, so that there would be no stated or implied commitment to publish anything on any given day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday Voice

A Thanksgiving dream

By Bob Boldt

I hope your Thanksgiving was better than mine.

I spent the awful occasion on licensed premises,
alone with a “Tyson Frozen Turkey Parts Dinner,”
“with added tryptophan”
and “no more than 20% additional sponsored contents.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fifth Monday Fiction

Elmer (short story)

By Bob Boldt

North and Clyborn subway stop, Chicago, 10 p.m., December third.
    With a blur of light, the northbound “A” train flashed past with a deafening roar, leaving only the torn wings of fluttering newspapers and an echoing silence in its wake. Far above, the ring of the signal heralding the arrival of the southbound “B” train echoed like a distant winning slot machine paying off.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fourth Saturday's Loneliest Liberal

Sales contest of civilizations

By James Knudsen

Not long ago [June 27] I mentioned my time in the retail sales world. I didn’t like it. Besides retail sales, I had other customer service jobs following my four-year stint in the Marines, a job I liked slightly more than sales. Presently, we in the United States and other countries that we’ll just call, for the sake of simplicity, The Western World, are in a struggle with various groups that we’ll call, for the sake of simplicity, religious savages. The question is: How to deal with these individuals. The answer is one of my previous vocations.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier.” [Arthur C. Brooks, NY Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Special

How our Thanksgiving goose got cooked

By Pam Palmer

[Editor’s Note: Originally published on July 20, 2013 as a Third Saturday Fiction.]

“We should have roast goose for Thanksgiving,” Martin said.
    It was 1976 and David, my husband, and I had just bought a house across the street from our long-time friends, Martin and Joan. Two weeks after we moved into the house David left for a six-month stint on a research ship in the Antarctic. It would be my first Thanksgiving in my first house and I felt overwhelmed. Of course, I could go to my in-laws’ house but it was a long drive from Long Beach to Mission Viejo by myself. My parents were going to the desert so having dinner with them was not possible.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Tuesday Voice: El Camino de Santiago, Part I

Challenge and reward

By Valeria Idakieva

[Editor’s note: The author frequently goes hiking or running in the mountains of her native Bulgaria.]

A lot has been said and written about the Camino de Santiago, because a stream of people of various nationalities pass along it. Like a powerful magnet, it attracts about 200,000 people each year. Is their objective to worship one of Jesus’s favorite disciples in his tomb and to obtain remission of sins? Are they drawn by the great cultural and artistic monuments that make the Santiago Route the “first European cultural itinerary” (as it was described in 1987 by the Council of Europe)? Or do they simply want to leave behind the habits and routines of their everyday life? Whatever the reason, visiting the route is a unique experience, a combination of challenge and reward that transforms everyone.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

Scarf it up

By Susan C. Price

A painting needn’t spend its life on walls. It can have a life on a silk scarf (and other clothing).

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

Doing Time (Chapter 12 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor’s Note: From the September 2015 review by Joe Kilgore in The US Review of Books:
The heinous deed that forms the axis of Rix’s tale takes place in Phoenix, Arizona,1991. A pretty barmaid is found virtually nude; beaten, bitten, and stabbed to death in the men’s room of her place of work. While the crime scene is littered with numerous examples of potential evidence, it is the actual bite marks on the victim’s body that become the central interest of the state. Prosecutors become convinced, based on forensic odontology, that the bite marks could only have come from a particular dart-throwing bar patron who was seen nuzzling with the deceased at a Christmas party prior to the killing. Ray Krone, the hapless young man whose teeth impressions seem to be a perfect match for the victim’s wounds, is arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to die for the shocking crime.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Chapter 6. “Keeping Up Appearances,” from The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

By W.M. Dean

[The novel is set in the 1970s of Watergate. Chapter 5. “Home Movies (Blue),” appeared last month.]

Friday, November 20, 2015

Fish for Friday

Cascading stairs at the Garden
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

I just love your well-crafted poem about miss lanky legs [“Prize,” November 14]. My wife still recalls several years ago when a man did basically the same thing with her. He smiled as they passed and voiced how beautiful she looked. He didn’t stop, nor turn around. Just kept walking. It still brings her joy thinking about it. So pure and meaningful.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thor’s Day: Delivery

Moristotle during Youie SummerYouie summer

By Morris Dean

[Originally published on July 3, 2006]

During weeks of manic inspiration in the summer of 1989, I received spiritual revelations so striking that I began to keep a journal to record them. Their significance seemed to demand that I share them with others. But a sad technical job at a large corporation felt at odds with that calling, leaving me only an hour or two out of each day at home with my wife to inscribe my insights.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Hey, Siri...? (humor)

What is your favorite question of all time?

[Editor's Note: “Even those who don’t own an iPhone or iPad know about Siri, Apple’s smart voice-powered assistant. Siri is supposed to do everything a personal assistant would – schedule dates, set reminders, find directions, send messages, or make calls. But what makes Siri different from traditional voice recognition software is its intelligence. You can ask Siri whatever you want and get a plausible answer. Many people find it amusing to ask Siri hilarious or provocative questions.” –From “50 Funny Questions to Ask Siri
    But today’s question we thought of ourselves. And we were disappointed that Siri gave the same answer to us that she – for us, Siri is female – gave to one of the 50 questions cited above.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Feel

Others can’t make us do it

By Vic Midyett

Others cannot make us feel – we allow that to happen to ourselves. This is a very difficult subject, but I am going to try to write about it simply.
    I just said it was a very difficult subject, but I wonder? Is it difficult because we make or assume it so? We even seem to be in the habit of looking to schools, authorities, and governments to fix our reaction/feeling issues for us. Surely the solution must be rooted in individual families – I suspect that good, solid parenting is the foundation.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Third Monday with Bob Boldt

My grandmother’s house
(a short story)

By Bob Boldt
The movie never changes. It can’t change. Every time you see it – it seems different because you are different.
            –James Cole, from Terry Gilliam’s movie,
            Twelve Monkeys
The war with Germany was over. We had recently defeated Hitler and my dad was home from the European theater. His unit was not scheduled to go to the Pacific. I wasn’t sure what the name “theater” meant. When the Germans surrendered, I was in a theater, and after the man in the projection booth shouted out “Germany surrendered!” all the service men threw their hats in the air. I remembered the white screen with no film in the projector, the shadows of all those hats flying high in the air, and the happy whoops and hollers filling the theater. Soon after that my dad came home from the Navy.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Morris Dean

“Stately?” she quizzed my comment on her walk,
    her high-heeled shoes exalting shapely limbs
displayed in tights that summoned men to gawk
    and sing out something not for churchly hymns.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fish for Friday

The new economics of horse racing
are making an always-dangerous game even more so
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Bettina Sperry’s column this week reminded me of this March 2012 article from the NY Times: “Mangled Horses, Maimed Jockeys” [Walt Bogdanich, Joe Drape, Dara L. Miles, & Griffin Palmer] Excerpt:

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm: At the gate

Social sustainability and horse racing

By Bettina Sperry, with invited contributions from Steffanie Simpson

Horse racing is now facing major changes. Shrouded in a confusion of politics and economics at the state and local levels, the industry on a broader scale is taking a strong hit of national reform and proposed federal regulations through H.R. 3084, the Thoroughbred Horseracing Integrity Act of 2015. H.R. 3084 The bill was introduced to establish national standards to improve the well-being of racehorses through the control of racing medications. H.R. 3084 is arguably well-supported through the Coalition for Horse Racing Integrity, comprised of such entities as the Breeder’s Cup, the Humane Society of the United States, the Jockey Club, and a host of others having a deep interest in the thoroughbred racehorse.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Second Monday Music: Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610

Claudio Monteverdi
by Bernardo Strozzi, c. 1630
Performed by the Seicento Baroque Ensemble

By Chuck Smythe

Five years ago, Evanne Browne, the music director at Boulder’s First Methodist Church, made a great leap of faith. Her chancel choir, augmented by ringers such as myself, were occasionally performing major works. She decided, at that time, to do Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610. She is a specialist in early music and knew the piece to be fairly difficult, not least because it used musical styles strange to the modern singer. It also requires a full orchestra of 17th century instruments and a large corps of virtuoso vocal soloists. And it had never been done in Colorado before. Still, we did it, and it was a great hit.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Sunday Review: Leviathan

Biblical proportions

By Morris Dean

I can’t remember another Russian film I’ve seen recently, but if there are others of the caliber of Leviathan (2014, directed and co-written by Andrey Zvyagintsev), I would like to see them. The setting is the fictional Russian town Pribrezhny, for which serves the actual coastal town of Teriberka, whose shores are littered with the hulls of broken boats and the huge skeletal remains of a whale, which seems to be the symbolic touchstone of the film’s title. It might even be a reference to the whale in the Book of Jonah, because the film abounds in biblical and Orthodox Christian references: encounters with clergy of the Orthodox Church, a church ruin where teenagers gather to drink, away from their parents, and, especially, an explicit comparison of the central character, Kolya, to Job.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

First Saturday Growing Up in America

Trouble in Cleveland

By Rolf Dumke

[Sequel to “Chippewa on the Lake,” July 28]

The wind whipped over the frozen lake, creating innumerable ripples and swirls with the newly fallen snow. Long, white, fragile strings danced and curved over the dark blue ice, unwinding slowly on their path up to our shore, or, with a sudden jerk, disappeared and piled into the snow banks at the edge.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Fish for Friday

Maremma sheepdogs of Middle Island, Australia
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“Australia Deploys Sheepdogs to Help a Penguin Colony Back From the Brink.” [Austin Ramzy, NY Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Thor’s Day: Eroticism and its discontents

A response to last week’s column on pornography

By Bob Boldt

Moristotle asked me whether Kyle Garza, in his column last week, “Why Christians Aren’t Celebrating Playboy’s PG-13 Move,” left any room to distinguish pornography from erotica.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ask Wednesday: How can truth be both objective and subjective at the same time?

An approximate representation
That seems to be the only way it can be

By Morris Dean

A better way of asking the question might be: How can truth not be subjective for everyone, and how is objective truth even possible?
    Anyone’s perception of anything is his or her own perception. Objective truth depends on everyone involved’s agreeing on a procedure by which objective truth can be determined, or approximated as closely as possible – everyone may even agree that their procedure leaves room for doubt and revision. Science is that way, for example, and is stronger for it by forestalling the jumping to conclusions; everyone acknowledges that further information might change the consensus view.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Truth

It does not alter

By Vic Midyett

It escapes me who it was, but a famous person once said something like this: “Truth does not alter according to our desire or willingness to accept it.”
    A funny example (that I know to be true) is when a three-year-old girl had what she considered a terrifying experience with a medical nurse. Back then all the nurses wore white stockings. A short while later this little girl saw her first live chickens. What did they have if not white legs! She was absolutely terrified of chickens and saw no point in their existence.

Monday, November 2, 2015

First Monday with Characters

Susan C. Price, recently in Italy
This was REQUESTED, so...if it’s not funny or interesting, blame the requestor :-) (Oh, and yes, i have a sort of shopping...interest / addiction / whatever. In the years when i was working it made sense, as i wore something different five days a week. i still have the appetite...but not the...oh, lets call it “need”…I buy things anyway...and...i’m working on it, so judge away...but don’t expect me to listen.)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Fifth Saturday Fiction

The farm table (short short story)

By Bob Boldt

“The secrets in the world are infinite. The secrets in families are even vaster.” –Daniel Reeves

The mashed potatoes circled the table as slowly as a silent storm cloud. The only sound heard was the occasional click of the serving spoon on bowl or plate.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“My Dark California Dream” [Daniel Duane, NY Times] Excerpt:
Josh Churchman, a 63-year-old commercial fisherman who lives near Stinson in a legendary hippie hide-out called Bolinas, told me a story about sitting in his living room back in the early ’70s. A neighbor stopped by, offering to sell Mr. Churchman a nearby home for $20,000. “I had the money in cash, in the room, but I was building a new fishing boat so I turned him down,” Mr. Churchman says, in a California tale many times told. “In a single generation,” says Mr. Churchman, “my hometown went from where a guy like me could afford a home to ‘Not in your wildest dreams.’ ” As for the waters that gave Mr. Churchman a living, well, he hardly bothers fishing for salmon anymore, with the record low catch. [read more]

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thor’s Day: Why Christians aren’t celebrating Playboy’s PG-13 move

By Kyle  Garza

In case you didn’t already know, millions of Americans buy pornography subscriptions for their children every year, especially on Christmas or birthdays. No, they aren’t filling out the paperwork to have Playboy or Hustler delivered to their doorstep once a month in finely wrapped plastic. They are, however, buying them small handheld portals to pornography, like iPhones and iPads.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Ask Wednesday: What might “experiencing something” be...

if that something isn’t really there?

By Morris Dean

Luminous shadow
spun of mind’s own filaments
enshrouds its temples

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Guilt

Both positive and negative

By Vic Midyett

In all things, including feelings and emotions, there is a negative and a positive. Consider guilt.
    At great risk to my longevity, I say that in American and Australian societies, with both of which I am familiar, the female gender uses guilt to such an extent from a very young age, it begs the question whether it’s genetic. Not that men don’t also use guilt, especially if their first answer to most requests is a stupidly blurted “no.” Bosses and leaders – political or otherwise – and religious organizations are masters at using guilt in manipulating people to achieve their objectives.