Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ask Wednesday: If you were to protest something, what would it be?

I would protest defunding Planned Parenthood

By Olivia Condley

Last week, the Senate blocked the bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood. Even though I am reassured by this small victory in women’s rights, I still feel an unshakeable tension, knowing that this attempt at taking away women’s rights will not be the last.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Portrait of Belle, by Shirley Deane/Midyett

“Belle” (detail)
For Patsy

By Vic Midyett

As you may recall, Shirley paints pet portraits. Of course, when you announce something like that, you receive inquiries. And when you report it on an international blog, the inquiries are likely to come from far away...and quickly. One such came three days later:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Fourth Monday Susan Speaks

not yet titled a (detail)
Two paintings and a drawing

By Susan C. Price

the two paintings may not be finished yet...wish i could decide...folks can say, “yeah, too much grey” or whatever...ah well...later....

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

The Perfect Witness (Chapter 10 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor's Note: Opening paragraphs from the current review by Joe Kilgore in The US Review of Books:
“When confused by contradictory technical testimony, all that conscientious but bewildered jurors seem to be able to do is to give the Academy Award to the song and dance man they think gave the best performance.”
    It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction. That is frequently the case when it comes to recounting real crimes that have been committed, judgments that have been handed down, and sentences that have been carried out. For quite some time writers have sought literary gold by mining this nonfiction vein of abhorrent behavior and its consequences. A few have actually found it in such excellent tomes as Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, and Joseph Wambaugh’s The Onion Field. The search for justice never seems to lose its particular allure. An allure that is alive and well in Jim Rix’s Jingle Jangle.]

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fourth Saturday’s Loneliest Liberal

On getting on

By James Knudsen

I’m sure we’ve all heard the expression, “Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.” It just happened to me. I was sitting around wishing for a topic to write about and then I looked in the mirror.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“A Pope for All Species.” [Nicholas Kristof, NY Times] Excerpt:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thor's Day: A fable about perspective

The black dot

By Anonymous

Edited by Morris Dean

[Submitted by a correspondent who could not identify the author. It’s not well written, but they say it’s the thought that counts. And Thor’s taking the day off again.]

A professor entered his classroom and asked his students to spend a few minutes preparing for a surprise exam. Surprise exams weren’t unusual, but the students nevertheless waited anxiously for this one to begin.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Why am I substituting this for what appeared here for a few hours earlier?

Portrait of the author by Susan C. Price
By Morris Dean

For a few hours this morning, a piece of writing appeared here with the title, “Why do Americans seem better disposed toward [x] than [y]?”
    Only reading the piece “in print” enabled me to see that it should never have appeared. “Americans,” after all, include people from both groups mentioned. It even includes people who suffer lapses in judgment, like me. I am sorry, and I apologize.

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tuesday Voice: From the mouth of the Swan River

By Vic Midyett

At least once a week Shirley and I like going to the mouth of the Swan River, in Fremantle (it also flows through Perth, as does the Canning River; read about where you can go in the Riverpark). Something is always happening.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Third Monday with Bob Boldt

Le Morte d’Arthur

By Bob Boldt

Having lost all the color of life, the white, blue, and green tinted naked body lies so very flat on the cold stainless steel table. The silence of the room is rendered even more desolate by the faint hum of the refrigeration unit laboring to keep the others preserved in the morgue across the hall.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Chapter 4. “The Game Plan,” from The Unmaking of the President: A Bicentennial Entertainment (a novel)

By W.M. Dean

[The novel is set in the 1970s of Watergate. Chapter 3. “The Muse’s Fee,” appeared last month.]

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fish for Friday

Oliver Wolf Sacks (July 9, 1933 – August 30, 2015)
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Filter Fish.” [Oliver Sacks, New Yorker] Excerpt:
Gefilte fish is not an everyday dish; it is to be eaten mainly on the Jewish Sabbath in Orthodox households, when cooking is not allowed. When I was growing up, my mother would take off from her surgical duties early on Friday afternoon and devote her time, before the coming of Shabbat, to preparing gefilte fish and other Sabbath dishes....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Thor's Day to reflect on experiencing Jesus

Thor would like to learn more

Thor was going to take the day off, thinking that if people either believe in a god or not – and that’s an end to it – then what’s a god to do but take the day off?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ask Wednesday: How about novelist Michael Hanson's new website?

Michael Hanson reading from
This Sweet Intercourse
Yes, indeed!

Interviewed by Morris Dean

We learned only this week that Chapel Hill, North Carolina novelist Michael Hanson, several of whose writings we have excerpted, recently launched his new website. We liked its clean, understated layout, and its art! We followed up by asking Michael a few questions [in italics]:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Tuesday Voice: The plantation of the mind

It rots more than 
the soul of the South

By Ed Rogers

I was taught in school that a plantation was a very large farm that was owned by one person or one family, and they were normally white. Because of the magnitude of the farm it required a sizable workforce. This workforce came in the form of slaves. Not all slaves were black, as we have begun to think of slaves. In fact, before Africans were imported to the Americas, the slaves came from the prisons of Europe. However, unlike the black slaves that followed, these men and women could work off their sentence within a prescribed number of years – usually seven or fourteen – and become free.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday Review: Run All Night

And clap, clap, clap!

By Morris Dean

I was still awake this evening after my wife and I watched the conclusion of "Blue Lightning" from BBC Scotland's 2014 TV serial Shetland, so I said, "Want to start to watch this thriller with Liam Neeson?"

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on June 14, 2014]
The king gave me protection, and the god
the body of an ad for underwear,
but on the docks of Troezen in a fraud
of both I tempted every sailor there.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fish for Friday

London-based Peter Bellerby
taught himself how to make globes
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

I love the human touch! And the skill! "Meet One of the Last Studios on Earth Making Exquisite Globes by Hand." [Kristin Hohenadel, Slate] Excerpt:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Thor's Day: Experiencing Jesus

Is that experiment necessary?

By Morris Dean

[Republished with corrections.]

We’re not ready yet to sign up volunteers for the experiment we proposed last week (“Experiencing Jesus: Could we do a scientific experiment?”). But I can tell anyone thinking of volunteering that we weren’t envisioning attaching you to any machines.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Liam Johnson on various things canine

Interviewed by William A. Johnson

[Liam is a 9+year-old lab-shepherd mix with three legs. In spite of his disability, Liam is just like other dogs in that he plays, runs, barks, begs for his food, and sleeps. He has experienced a lot in his lifetime and has agreed to talk about some of his experiences and lend us his insights. My questions are in italics.]

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm

Distress signal

By Bettina Sperry

Waking up to the peace of this farm each morning has been one of the blessings of luxury afforded to me. With a gorgeous farmhouse front porch, complete with rocking chairs, it would seem that I’d land there to await the morning sun with coffee in hand. Instead, my usual first hour of the day is spent stepping out the back door, walking the yard behind my house, and taking in the beauty of the farm. On many mornings I’ll take a camera with me, especially when the sun is peering over the mountain from the east.

Monday, September 7, 2015

First Monday with Characters

What long legs Envious has!
Edited by 
Morris Dean

Bettina Sperry, off to the races
While work on the farm had been settling down during the hot days of August, focus on my racehorse heated up significantly. There is so much more to horseracing than appears. Horses themselves can pose problems and race unpredictably, as has been the case with my boy. Horseracing is arguably hard on the people involved, for myriad reasons, though from the outside this can be conceivably difficult to understand. It is a world of constant problem solving, competition, and working towards improvement in racing – at the slow pace of one race at a time.
    I am also enjoying Franklin Hill's new thoroughbred foal [see photo]. Her name is Envious. At just a few months of age, she is gorgeous. She's a rough and tumble foal, and is mean spirited. She has been biting and kicking since day one on the farm. She recently left for her new home where she will be managed professionally during the months ahead. She is clearly a racehorse in the making.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Sunday Review: Life of Crime

Elmore Leonard would have loved this movie

By Morris Dean

Life of Crime isn't the title of anything Elmore Leonard wrote, but the movie (2013, directed and written for the screen by Daniel Schechter) sure has some Elmore Leonard characteristics: sardonic humor, true-to-life dimwits, bad luck, plans gone awry, cozy inevitability. And Schechter's screenplay seems to embody something Elmore Leonard wrote in his essay, "Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing":

Saturday, September 5, 2015

First Saturday Growing Up in America

Chippewa on the Lake

By Rolf Dumke

[Sequel to “Into America's interior,” July 28]

It felt as if a magic wand had whisked us to this beautiful place, a small white New England cottage with a porch on its right side, surrounded by a white picket fence, and with a curving walk through a lawn up to the front door. The house was located in a small resort town placed on the slopes of a woody hill, gently rising from the lake. A small road and a strip of grass with trees separated us from the lake and its few piers that jutted into the lake. It was very quiet. Often the only sound came from a breeze from across the lake whistling through the trees and from the murmuring water and splash of waves landing on our beach. (See Wikipedia: “Chippewa Lake, Ohio.”)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by
Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

Over 60% of Americans think owning a gun will make their lives safer. But are they sure? [3:27]

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thor's Day: Experiencing Jesus

Could we do a scientific experiment?

By Morris Dean

We sometimes argue over whether a person can actually experience Jesus – as opposed to imagining experiencing Jesus. Well, maybe we can design an experiment to find out [i.e., decide the question]? I'll need your help to do this. Consider this an open letter asking for your assistance.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ask Wednesday: How do you manage your time?

By André Duvall

The “you” in today’s question is me. The editor had noticed that I seem to have found methods that work well for my own active schedule of teaching, practicing, performance, and other obligations and hobbies, so he asked me to discuss how I manage my time, or how I “approach time management.” I make no claims to be an expert on time management. However, the editor assumed that I must be doing something right, so I’ll share what I know.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tuesday Voice: From a farmers market

By Vic Midyett

Aussies are big on local growers and fresh produce. Dotted throughout​ even the big cities​ are fresh farmers markets. The Beaconsfield market, the one closest to us in Fremantle, Western Australia, is about five blocks away in a big field attached to a school. It appears every Sunday.
    One stall sold coconut milk ice cream, another all manner of custom leather workings, all kinds of fruit and vegetables, jerky, honey, crafts, and a long row of multinational ready-to-eat​ hot​ food. There is always a busker playing his choice of instruments. [A busker is a person who entertains in a public place for donations.] The featured performer changes most ever week.

A farm-animal petting zoo for kids

Families bring blankets and make it a longer outing

The busker when Shirley and I were there
    And finally my favorite – the food row! J​u​st some of the options: roasts, soups, felafel's and crepes with various fillings, Egyptian cuisine,​ Chinese, South African,​ Korean and, of course, Indian. Heavens!!​ I also got some to bring home.​

Copyright © 2015 by Vic Midyett