Saturday, April 17, 2021

Saturday Good Reads

Revolutions are upending the world today, writes N.S. Lyons at The Upheaval. They have come upon the world so fast that we don’t even know what to call them. Everything – everything – is considered a battle for power between the oppressed and the oppressors. Unless we learn how to resist and fight, Lyons says, we are being rushed down the road of chaos. And as of right now, we don’t even know what to call it.

Author Larry McMurtry (Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment) died recently. Henry Chappell at Front Porch Republic has a look at the writer he calls both a myth killer and a myth keeper. 


I’m a little wary of anything that lay claims to what the future is going to look like. What I find reasonable a bit thought-provoking is what Justin Poythress at Reformation 21, has to say about what the post-pandemic church will look like.


More Good Reads


Life and Culture


The Most Valuable Resource in the World Today – Chris Martin at Terms of Service.


This Farming Life – Brian Miller at The South Roane Agrarian.


Religious Freedom in the Roman Empire & the United States – Dr. David Kotter at the Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics.


I Refuse to Stand By While My Students Are Indoctrinated – Paul Rossi via Bari Weiss.


Writing and Literature


An Unbroken Grace: Barry Lopez – Fred Bahnson at Notre Dame Magazine.


5 books Dostoevsky considered masterpieces – Valeria Paikova at Russia Beyond.


What Poetry Can Teach Novelists: A Reading List – Caroline Hardaker at Literary Hub.


News Media


Inside the Fight for the Future of The Wall Street Journal – Edmund Lee at The New York Times.


American Stuff


What Happened to the Actors Who Were Performing the Night Lincoln Was Shot? – Mariah Fredericks at CrimeReads. 




The Red Pickup – Julia Alvarez at Kingdom Poets (D.S. Martin).


Fatherless Time – John Blase. 




Shock news: Judas Walks Away From Faith – Stephen McAlpine.


The Gift of True Words – Melissa Edgington at Your Mom Has a Blog.


Into the Sea (It’s Gonna Be OK) – Tasha Layton

Illustration: The Library (1905), by Elizabeth Shippen Green (1871-1954).

Friday, April 16, 2021

Not what he planned

After Acts 8:26-40

His journey has been months;
it’s no easy jaunt from Ethiopia
to Judea, plus allowing time
to rest the chariot’s horse. But
something compelled this official,
this treasurer for the queen,
to leave what was known and
comfortable and rewarding and
travel to Jerusalem, to seek

Inspiration for the trip aside, 
what he found on arrival was
not what he expected, a temple
closed to eunuchs and a journey
apparently for naught. He leaves
and takes the road to Gaza, the road
south for the return home, but then
there was this scroll, this account
of the prophet Isaiah. Did the scroll
travel with him to Judea, or,
disappointed with closed doors,
did he purchase it in Jerusalem?
An episode for Unsolved Mysteries,

What is not a mystery is his stopping
along the road, so taken with the scroll,
so taken with what he had to speak
aloud to try to make sense: the slaughter
of the sheep, the silence of the shearer,
the humiliation of man denied acceptance
by his generation and his temple.
A teacher suddenly appears to explain,
the blinders fall, the forgiveness and
acceptance understood.

And the man who came to Jerusalem
to worship discovers a different kind
of worship, one called baptism,
one called life.

Photograph by Matt Howard via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

“A Pretty Folly” by Charlie Garratt

It is one strange case that Inspector James Givens of the Warwickshire Constabulary finds himself in charge of. The body of what looks like a young girl is found in the crypt of the chapel of the local school. The chapel is hundreds of years older than the school itself, and the crypt may be older still. The girl’s body is posed, her hands tied around a crucifix. There’s a hammer lying nearby.  

Because of the conditions of the crypt, the body is essentially mummified. The medical examiner can say when she died or how she died. The only thing that suggests foul play is the posing of the body. And there’s nothing to identify who she is. Givens discovers he’s looking for a needle in a haystack.


His professional life is also complicated by another case he’s looking into – growing vandalism against Jewish businesses. It’s 1938 Britain; Hitler’s making moves on Czechoslovakia on the continent and Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists is demonstrating that Britain is no stranger to hostility to Jews. Givens himself is Jewish, having Anglicized his name for professional purposes. He’s run into hostility and prejudice, right there among his own police colleagues.


And the Sicilian Demme brothers are lurking in the background, possibly connected to the vandalism which soon turns to arson. Givens has old scores to settle with them, unless they get to him first. 


Charlie Garratt

A Pretty Folly
 by British author Charlie Garratt is the second in the Inspector James Givens series. It’s an mystery filled with disguised or mistaken identities, a multitude of suspects, and a problem of figuring out how the victim actually died. 


Garratt is the author of four Inspector Given mysteries, including A Shadowed LiveryA Pretty FollyA Patient Man, and Where Every Man. He also published several community participation guides, until he retired and began writing short stories. One of those stories led to his first novel, A Shadowed Livery. He lives in Shropshire in England.


A Pretty Folly is rich with actual historical detail – the rise the Nazis, the plight of the Jews in Europe, Oswald Mosley and his thugs in Britain – coupled with one unusual murder story. It’s a highly entertaining read.




Where Every Man by Charlie Garratt.


A Shadowed Livery by Charlie Garratt

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

“Yellow Feet” by Glenn McGoldrick

The Dark Teesside stories of Glenn McGoldrick often feature small-time criminals or non-criminals who happen to find themselves engaged in criminal activity. There’s usually a twist, sometimes ironic, and the tables often get turned. Even the best-laid criminal plans can go awry. 

Glenn McGoldrick

In his newest story, “Yellow Feet,” the “darkness” is internal. Brian is dealing with the impact of a rather unfriendly divorce, talking with a therapist, taking time off from working to try to get his head together. Short scenes with the therapist and his daughter are interspersed with walks along the river or to the local cemetery. As he walks, he makes note of the yellow feet painted on the walk to indicate where to go.


Writing since 2013, McGoldrick specializes in short stories. He’s worked for both land-based casinos and cruise ships for a time, basing many of his stories on those experiences. His stories are dark, gritty, often involve a twist, and inevitably open insights into the human psyche. And his characters run the gamut of good, bad, and something in between, and often find themselves moving far beyond the boundaries of acceptable behavior. He lives in northeastern England. 


“Yellow Feet” describes a man not realizing how much he’s struggling with his failed marriage and his anger. It’s another classic Dark Teesside story.




Three New Dark Stories by Glenn McGoldrick.


“Six Down,” “Somewhere in England,” and “Dark Progresion” by Glenn McGoldrick.


 4 Stories by Glenn McGoldrick.


3+ Stories by Glenn McGoldrick.


Five Mysteries: 2 Short Stories, 2 Novellas, and a Long Story.


The Dark Stories of Glenn McGoldrick.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Poets and Poems: Brad Lussier and “How Does He Love Me?”

Brad Lussier was studying for his degree in English and American literature at Brown University, and he discovered not only the sonnet form of poetry, but also a love for the sonnet. Graduation, family, work, and career intervened, until, years later, he joined a local theater company. And there he rediscovered his love for the sonnet.

As he notes in his introduction to his collection of sonnetsHow Does He Love Me?, the sonnet has something unusual about it apart from its rhyming and meter scheme. It may be the only poetic form intended for an audience of one. The sonnet is most closely associated to love poetry, and a poet doesn’t write a love poem to multitudes of people. Traditionally, sonnets are all about passion, desire, admiration, adoration, and all the other intense emotions that result from a person’s love for another.


 To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Monday, April 12, 2021

"Ticking Clock" by Ira Rosen

The media training industry – the companies and consultants with train people to be interviewed – owes its creation to one man and one television program – Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes. Having been through media training many times, I learned what it was like to face the camera and a hostile interviewer. 

Except for a brief stint with ABC Primetime, Ira Rosen spent almost three decades working as a producer for CBS’s 60 Minutes. He worked on a host of famous stories. He worked closely with Mike Wallace, Harry Reasoner, Morley Safer, Lesley Stahl, Ed Bradley, Steve Kroft, Diane Sawyer, Chris Wallace, and other famous correspondents. He worked with many of their famous subjects – politicians, movie stars, gangsters, authors, dictators, He also experienced the stories that got away.


Ticking Clock: Behind the Scenes at 60 Minutes is Rosen’s memoir of those years with CBS and ABC. It makes for both surprising and not-so-surprising reading. Most of these news broadcasting legends are gone now, but they helped to shape the world we live in today. And Rosen’s story is as much as about the foibles and vanity of the big TV news names as it is about the stories they covered and won prizes for. 


Ira Rosen

We know everyone is flawed. We know ego can play a role in people’s lives and attitudes. But it’s still disappointing to read to what degree so many of these news people were motivated by ego and ambition, and how little “news” might play a role. And it has to do with money. For a long, long time, 60 Minutes was the major moneymaker for CBS. The correspondents often behaved like the celebrities they interviewed, and sometimes behaved like the more notorious. Rosen doesn’t seem at all surprised at the rise of the “me-too” charges that seemed to grow like topsy at top television networks – the conditions had been laid years before.


It’s Mike Wallace, the 60 Minutes star whom Rosen worked with the longest and the most closely, who comes in for particular focus. Wallace was not a pleasant man, either personally or professionally. He could behave brutally, even to his own children. As he aged, his behavior didn’t mellow; if anything, it became worse. He was finally pushed out the door after crossing the wrong boss and thinking he could get away with it.


The descriptions of the good, the bad, and the ugly are balanced by Rosen’s love of his work. And he received numerous Emmy Awards, DuPont Awards, Robert F. Kennedy Awards, and a Peabody for that work. Even before he was hired by 60 Minutes, he was writing award-winning stories about the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island for Rolling Stone. And he knew that to get the real story, he had to ignore the official press conferences and go hang out with the plant workers at the bar after shift-change. He co-authored The Warning: The Accident at Three Mile Island.


Ticking Clock is an important book for understanding American journalism from 1980 to 2015. It describes how major television news magazines functioned, and both the working and the dysfunction of the major people involved. It’s an important story, but a story tinged with sadness. And then you wonder if the stories themselves required these kinds of personalities to tell them.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

His unexpected 5 things

After Acts 8:26-40

When he hears the voice, and obeys,
the last thing he likely expects is to find
a court official, an Ethiopian, sitting
in a chariot, reading a scroll of Isaiah
the prophet, and not just any random part
but #53, the sheep led to the slaughter.

And the next thing he likely doesn’t expect
is to be asked to sit with the official
and explain the meaning of #53,
the sheep led to the slaughter.

And the next thing he likely doesn’t expect
is to go for a chariot ride while 
explaining the meaning of #53.

And the next thing he likely doesn’t expect 
is to be asked / told to baptize the official,
who understands the explanation for #53.

And the next thing he likely doesn’t expect
is to be carried away, suddenly, in a moment,
vanishing and reappearing in Azotus. 

And what else is he to do but keep preaching?
So he does.

Photograph by Ingmar via Unsplash. Used with permission.