Friday, March 31, 2017

Thunder Down Under: In a quiet place

“A Quiet Place” (detail)
Painting by Shirley Deane/Midyett

Text by Vic Midyett

After laying off painting for a couple of months following the holidays, Shirley is back, and finds herself in a quiet place.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Boldt Words & Images: The Bronze Age of Comedy

Three golden anomalies

By Bob Boldt

Bert Kreischer (aka The Machine) is a comic I just discovered (I don’t get out much) who does his routine without his shirt covering his beer belly. In what I call “The Bronze Age of Comedy,” he now stands alone with my other two anomalies, Puddles Pity Party (Mike Geier) and Louis C.K. You can keep the tapes of all the MSC’s (mainstream comics) in the Carson vault awaiting the Alien Apocalypse: Colbert, Silverman, Fallon, Kimmel, etc. – boring. All the Progressive Left have to keep themselves amused are the hyperbolic Jimmy Dore and Lee Camp. (Also very boring.)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Magic (a poem)

By Roger Owens

When the leaves on the trees
Will no longer support your weight

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Thunder Down Under: Cyclone Debbie

Before U.S. news reports it

By Vic Midyett

Hurricanes are called cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere. As I write this [at about 8:45 a.m. Tuesday in Western Australia, or 8:45 p.m. Monday, Eastern U.S.], Cyclone Debbie is wreaking havoc already on the East Coast of Australia. The eye is not due to enter the mainland until this afternoon [after midnight Monday, Eastern U.S.]. The East Coast of Australia is already getting 120 mile/hr winds and 8 inches/hr of rain. It is currently rated a Category 4 and expected to go higher. It is huge and very slow moving. Boats, roofs, etc. are already lost.

Monday, March 27, 2017

West Coast Observer: The Republican House Intelligence Committee

An oxymoron

By William Silveira

The West Coast, but more specifically Tulare County, where I live, has been thrown into the national spotlight by the actions of our Congressman, Devin Nunes, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, which is supposed to be looking into ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Boldt Words & Images: Transformation

By Bob Boldt

[From a talk to be delivered on April 9 (two weeks from today) to the author’s local Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, in Jefferson, Missouri.]

From Maxim Gorky’s anecdote about Lenin listening to Beethoven’s Appassionata:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Loneliest Liberal: What Big Pharma could learn from theatre production

Winning the Battle on Black Mountain

By James Knudsen

Well, here it is March, and I still have things to write about that happened in February. That’s not just a different month, as of a few days ago, that’s a different season. February, despite being the shortest month, was a busy month.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thunder Down Under: The world’s biggest cattle ranch

But it’s called a “cattle station” in Australia

By Vic Midyett

The Williams [Family] Cattle Company’s cattle station in Australia has become the largest in the world. The company’s purchase of another enormous cattle station doubled their holdings, which are now a whopping 45,000 sq. kilometers (27,962 sq. miles) – larger than the country of Israel, and over seven times the size of the King Ranch in Texas, which is “only” 1,289 sq. miles.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Let us now praise a famous dog

With thanks and apologies to James Agee and Ecclesiasticus

By Jonathan Price

Sam is dead. Our dog died seven years ago. That seven is a key marker for dogs – a symbolic marker for humans. The memories somehow persist.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tomorrow will be a special day

The 12th annual National Puppy Day

By Moristotle

“National Puppy Day,” according to its entry in Wikipedia, “was founded in 2006 by Celebrity Pet & Home Lifestyle Expert and Author, Colleen Paige, who is also the founder of National Dog Day and National Cat Day (among many others).”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Dogs, Boys, and God (a poem)

By Roger Owens

God made little Boys loud
So that Dogs, who Love little Boys,
Could hear them from miles away
And, hearing, prick up their ears
In anticipated Joy.

Copyright © 2017 by Roger Owens

Monday, March 20, 2017

Correspondence: Irony...and a public dole

Current events

By Moristotle

“Weaponizing irony”: could this be one of Trump’s greatest offenses? “Trump Ruins Irony, Too” [Moises Velasquez-Manoff, NY Times, March 20]. Excerpt:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Night light

Rather noir

By Moristotle

When I looked into the bathroom mirror early this morning, my visage illuminated only by the blue of our new LED night light, I thought the effect was...interesting?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

A stop on Maui’s Ke’anae Peninsula

Ke’anae Peninsula
Lava at high noon

By Chuck Smythe

Last October in Hawaii, on the way to Hana, I visited the island of Maui’s Ke’anae Peninsula. [“Ke’anae” is Hawaiian for “the mullet,” a chiefly marine fish that is widely caught for food – according to]

Friday, March 17, 2017

Correspondence: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

The South Lawn fountain at the White House
was dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day
Hooray for America’s Irish immigrants!

By Moristotle

The author of this article about Irish immigration, Fintan O’Toole, knows whereof he speaks – he is a columnist for The Irish Times. “Green Beer and Rank Hypocrisy” [NY Times, March 16]. Excerpt:

Solomon (a poem)

A freshman high-school project, March 1983

By Geoffrey Dean

This is the story of Solomon, that wise and wonderful king,
    who built for Yahweh a temple, a big and marvelous thing.
Pharoah’s daughter in marriage Solomon wished.
    This placed him high on Pharoah’s list.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Movie Review: Logan and The Shack

In great difference, a thematic commonality

By Kyle Garza

Weekend before last, people poured into theaters to watch two very different movies: Logan and The Shack. While I’ve not seen The Shack, I have read the book, and I did go see Logan that Saturday.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Visions of the American West (Part 4)

The Northwest

By James T. Carney

Finally, the fourth part of the West is the Northwest, although most Americans do not think of it as “the West.” The Northwest is the smallest part of the West, including only northern California and most of Oregon and Washington.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Visions of the American West (Part 3)

The Mountains

By James T. Carney

The third part of the West is the Mountains (Rockies) and the high plateau around them. Indeed, it is this area – the home of dude ranches and national parks – that most Americans now seem to identify as the West. The Rockies extend from Alaska south to the Mexican border. They encompass the western part of Washington, almost all of Idaho, the western parts of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, as well as a strip of New Mexico and the mountainous part of the Big Bend area of Texas. Although one thinks of ranching in terms of Texas and the Great Plains, the Mountains are the site of much modern-day American ranching, as it has been for a good century and a half. Unlike the Great Plains or the Southwest, the Mountains have much water and good land suitable for grazing, although generally not flat enough for farming. The Mountains are reasonably temperate in the summer but brutally cold in the winter. Even sections of interstate highways that go through mountain passes are often blocked by winter storms (which cause havoc in the Great Plains). Indeed some roads are not even maintained in the winter.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Visions of the American West (Part 2)

The Southwest

By James T. Carney

The second-largest part of the West is the Southwest – ironically the situs of most Hollywood movies about cowboys and Indians, although most of the cowboys who have roamed this territory came from Beverly Hills. The Southwest is the part of the West that I know best because of having made a great number of trips there. The Southwest is bordered on the south by Mexico, on the east by the Rockies, on the north by the end of the desert, and on the west by the California coastal plain, which is east of the Sierra Nevada. It consists of Southern California, Arizona, western New Mexico and Utah, Nevada, and Southwestern Oregon. Basically, it is the territory that the United States took from Mexico in the Mexican-American war. It is an extremely dry territory, full of canyons, mesas, and mountains, and in many ways inhospitable to man. Civilization’s existence in this area is precarious, since it depends on the resources of the Colorado River, which is fed by the snows of the Rockies. Natural aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate, and if global warming decreases the snow in the Rockies, Phoenix will go the way of so many of the Southwestern mining towns that were abandoned after the ore gave out.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Visions of the American West (Part 1)

Introduction & the Great Plains

By James T. Carney

Some of us grew up in the era of Crockett mania, with the chorus of the frontiersman sounding in our ears:
He’s ahead of us all
meetin’ the test
Followin’ his legend
into the West.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Poetry & Portraits: Penny

By Eric Meub


Behind us naps the Byzantine and Belle
Époque of the Excelsior Hotel;
before us, Adriatic shallows flood
a Canaletto flat of sand and mud.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Outside the Box: Machine translation

By Chuck Smythe

I stumbled on to this piece from a December New York Times Magazine: “The Great A.I. Awakening” [Gideon Lewis-Krause, December 14, 2016]. It seems that artificial intelligence researchers have made a Great Leap Forward in machine language translation. The article is fascinating on many levels, among them its glimpse into the Google corporate culture.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Приключения от България: в Рила планина с 70+

Чрез Валерия Идакиева

Винаги съм мислил за планините като мястото, където се чувствам свободен от всички притеснения на всекидневния живот. Сърцето ми скача от радост в цялата красота и спокойствие, което изпълва душата ми. Ето защо аз обикновено прекарват малкото свободно време, имам в планините.
    Аз също имам голямо уважение към хората, които са били в планината много. Такъв е моят приятел Димитринка който е опасана българските планини за повече от 30 години. Преди започване на дълги разстояния пътека, аз обикновено посещават й да говори за това и тежи раницата. При един случай, когато щях да ходя на екскурзия по протежение на дългата писта в българските планини - около 720 км - тя ме посъветва да вземе малка бутилка ром, защото е добре да има някакъв алкохол в планините.

Adventures from Bulgaria: In the Rila Mountains with a 70+

By Valeria Idakieva

I have always thought of the mountains as the place where I feel free of all the worries of everyday life. My heart leaps with joy at all the beauty and serenity that fills my soul. That is why I usually spend the little free time I have in the mountains.
    I also have great respect for people who have been in the mountains a lot. Such is my friend Dimitrinka who has crisscrossed Bulgarian mountains for more than 30 years. Before starting a long-distance trail, I usually visit her to talk about it and weigh my backpack. On one occasion when I was going to hike along the longest trail in the Bulgarian mountains – about 720 km – she advised me to take a small bottle of rum because it was good to have some alcohol in the mountains.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: Nutshell (a novel)

By Moristotle

With a whoop and a slap of my thigh, I finished Ian McEwan’s latest novel, Nutshell, its final act an ingenious, but inevitable turn of plot. What a read! I highly recommend Nutshell, for all those who like their fiction with a flair for invention – in language as well as in setting and narrative voice – and for informed comment on culture, politics, psychology…and, in this case, forensic investigation. For Nutshell involves a murder.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Correspondence: Looking up

By Moristotle

Some good things are happening in America: “A Great New Accidental Renaissance” [Timothy Egan, NY Times, March 3]. Excerpt:

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Other Side of Me (a poem)

By Roger Owens

He moved down the sidewalk of 25th Street like a battered little boat, rudderless against a strong current
Bobbing and weaving

Friday, March 3, 2017

In celebration of the people of Moristotle & Co.

By Moristotle

It occurred to me today that I could construct a collage of photos of members of the staff, some past – one even deceased. And I’ve added Ms. Bindi Danchenko as well (her presence can remind us that “Everyone poops”).