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.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fourth Sunday from Jingle Jangle

Relative Truth (Chapter 11 of Jingle Jangle)

By Jim Rix

[Editor's Note: From the September 2015 review by Joe Kilgore in The US Review of Books:
Jingle Jangle is a recounting of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of Kim Ancona, plus the trial, conviction, appeal, retrial, upheld conviction, additional appeal, and subsequent overturned sentence and release of Ray Krone. The tale is told by Krone’s cousin, Jim Rix, a computer programmer and software developer turned chronicler of this fascinating foray into forensic sleuthing, questionable policing, dubious prosecution, alarming conviction, and incarceration of an innocent man.]

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

I find this stately, unusual “music video” to be a beautiful version of the song featured in yesterday’s column [“You Raise Me Up,” 4:35].

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thor’s Day: On being raised up

By Vic Midyett

I’ve always felt some separation from the words of the duo Secret Garden’s song “You Raise Me Up,” whose refrain is, in Josh Groban’s version:

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Can you hear the trees for the forest?

A delight of wearing hearing instruments while shaving

By Morris Dean

“Don’t take a shower with your new hearing aids,” I was counseled. I took the counsel so seriously that I would even remove the instruments before shaving, because before shaving I had always washed not only my face and neck, but also my forehead, the back of my neck, and behind my hears. Mustn’t douse those instruments!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Liam’s Wuff

Members of the family

Edited by William A. Johnson

[Editor’s Note: Liam’s most recent wuff appeared two weeks ago, on October 6.]

Monday, October 19, 2015

Third Monday with Bob Boldt

Vagaries (a short story)

By Bob Boldt

The photograph, by French director Chris Marker (1921-2012), was the inspiration for my short story. The image begins Marker’s 1983 documentary, Sans Soleil [Sunless]:
The first image he told me about is an image of three children on a road in Iceland in 1965. He said that for him it was the image of happiness – and also that he had tried several times to link it to other images but it never worked. He wrote me, “One day I’ll have to put it all alone at the beginning of a film with a long piece of black leader. If they don’t see happiness in the picture, at least they’ll see the black.”

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Sunday Review: Beasts of No Nations

A thin line between innocence and evil

By Morris Dean

We almost didn’t watch it this evening: Beasts of No Nations (2015, directed and screenplay written by Cary Joji Fukunaga). The tagline on Netflix, which bought the film’s distribution rights for $12 million, described it:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Third Saturday Fiction

Portrait of the author
by Susan C. Price
Chapter 5. “Home Movies (Blue),” from The Unmaking of the President (a novel)

By W.M. Dean

[The novel is set in the 1970s of Watergate. Chapter 4. “The Game Plan,” appeared last month.]

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fish for Friday

The Exxon Mobil Refinery in Torrance, California
Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

In case you haven’t seen this, the author also wrote Merchants of Doubt, a book-length version of the article: “Exxon’s Climate Concealment” [Naomi Oreskes, NY Times]. I haven’t been able to finish the book. Too depressing. The worst of it is that some apparently competent scientists became collaborators. I think that the most flagrant of the climate change deniers (those who know perfectly well they are lying) belong in prison. Excerpt:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thor's Day: On certain diatribes against religion

What might motivate them?

By Morris Dean

We wonder whether Christopher Hitchens’
myriad anti-religion bitchings –
    as well as Harris’s and Dawkins’ –
    are complaints against the stalkings
of certain evangelizing Christians?

Copyright © 2015 by Morris Dean

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Second Tuesday on Franklin Hill Farm: Women farmers

I am but one

By Bettina Sperry

As a woman who owns her own thoroughbred racehorse farm and raises a few head of cattle, I am always wondering how I’m doing – individually as a business and comparatively across the board. Not short of a strongly competitive nature, I look for ways to grow the farm business. How are my finances? What are my earnings per acre? How do my statistics stack against other farms? I don’t mind asking the hard questions, which include examining the farm’s efficiency and finding ways to leverage greater growth and income without necessarily creating a lot more work or putting the business at risk.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Second Monday Music: A lyrical inspiration

When a man loves a woman

By Morris Dean

Percy Sledge’s 1966 song, “When a Man Loves a Woman” has had a hold on me for weeks. The melody* has run through my mind so much, I’m wondering whether it’s more than a coincidence that the song came out the same year I met and married the woman who has been my wife for going-on 50 years. I figured I had to write another lyric for it. This is it:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Review: British and American productions of Shakespeare

A problem

By Rolf Dumke

In “Shakespeare in Modern English?” [New York Times, October 7], James Shapiro rightly discusses a main problem in both British and American Shakespeare productions, “that even the best directors and actors...too frequently offer up Shakespeare’s plays without themselves having firm enough grasp of what his words mean.”

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Second Saturday's Sonnet


By Eric Meub

[Originally published on July 12, 2014]


It’s nearly bedtime, but I’m seeing shapes
Beyond the window, on a hill of grapes.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

“A New View of a Nebula Full of Newborn Stars.” [Sindya N. Bhanoo, NY Times] Excerpt:
A dazzling image of Messier 17, a reddish nebula 5,500 light-years from Earth, provides a detailed view of its newborn stars, gas clouds and dust. The gas in the nebula has a mass about 30,000 times that of the sun, astronomers estimate. The center of the nebula is home to more than 800 stars, and more are forming in the outer regions. The nebula is near the plane of the Milky Way, in the constellation Sagittarius, and is named after Charles Messier, who discovered it in 1764. The image was captured by a telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile. [read more]

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thor’s Day: Let’s all just, like, love and be chill

By Morris Dean

I was stunned into recognition this week by an article in the New York Times about Ellen Page [“Ellen Page Goes Off-Script,” by Sam Anderson]. The following paragraphs are what did it. The article had just described an attempted conversation between Page, who is gay, and an evangelical Christian band called the Bontrager Family Singers — a family of 12 that had come to Des Moines to perform, that night, at [Ted] Cruz’s Rally for Religious Liberty:

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ask Wednesday: Rachel Zamorski follow-up on selling real estate

It’s still about being of service

Interviewed by Morris Dean

We last spoke with Rachel Zamorski on May 8, 2013. Then a stay-at-home mom who found success selling residential real estate, Rachel’s outgoing personality and knowledge of the local market made her a favorite among area buyers and sellers. In August 2014 Rachel joined Keller Williams Realty and created the Rachel Z Team. Katie Burkholder, previously a top recruiter with a tech firm, joined her as a buyer’s agent, and in the last year production has increased 130%.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Tuesday Voice: Liam’s Wuff

Communicating with your dog

Edited by William A. Johnson

[Editor’s Note: Liam is a 9-plus-year-old dog with three legs. In his interview on September 9, he answered questions posed by his dad, told us about his childhood, and provided some insights about life.
    Subsequently, he has received further inquiries about various important things. Today we share Liam’s views on the first topic.

Monday, October 5, 2015

First Monday with Characters

Edited by Morris Dean

William Silveira, by train and car
Marylin and I recently completed a 19-day trip into New Mexico and Arizona with a couple of friends. We spent some time in Santa Fe and Taos, and at Red River in New Mexico.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

First Saturday Bimonthly

Do I dare piss off the Pope and his supporters?

By Bob Boldt

Surely those who know me would never expect me to mindlessly go along with popular opinion, no matter how widespread or favored. Why then do I view the recent visit of Pope Francis with a somewhat jaundiced eye?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fish for Friday

Edited by Morris Dean

[Anonymous selections from recent correspondence]

U.S. President Barack Obama and People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping agreed Friday to end the domestic commercial trade of ivory in their respective countries. This historic accord comes at a time when as many as 35,000 elephants are poached each year for their tusks to supply the world’s growing ivory demand. “We are seeing an important, public commitment from the world’s two largest economies to work together to bring an end to the elephant poaching crisis,” says Dr. Patrick Bergin, African Wildlife Foundation CEO and member of the White House Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking. “President Obama and President Xi are sending a clear message that they intend to throw the weight of their countries behind the elephant crisis.” As part of this agreement, the two governments will cooperate in bringing additional training, technical expertise, information sharing and public awareness to the wildlife trafficking crisis.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Thor’s Day: Pope Francis

Drawing our attention

By James Knudsen

With regard to last week’s “Fish for Friday” column, which led off with Pope Francis, I’ve always wondered whether “Fish for Friday” was a reference to the Catholic tradition of not eating meat on Fridays [it is]. Of course, by the time I arrived in the Johnson & Johnson & Johnson era, the practice had been relegated only to the forty days of Lent which would be…five Fridays? Vatican II must have made Charlie the Tuna cry.