All posts by SynchChaos Staff

Cristina loves hiking, biking, fresh strawberries and blueberries, classical and worldbeat music, travel, photography, babies and children, literature, astronomy, volunteerism, and publishing Synchronized Chaos Magazine! She's currently finishing a master's in journalism at San Jose State University and lives in Northern California with her family and cat Mischief.

Essay from Donal Mahoney

Caseworker, 1962
In 1962, I was a caseworker, not a social worker, in the Cabrini-Green Housing Project in Chicago. In that era, the difference between a caseworker and a social worker was simple. A social worker had a degree or two in social work and was qualified to work with the poor. A caseworker usually had a degree but not in social work. And a caseworker usually had too many clients to have time to do social work even if he or she had a social work degree and knew how to apply it. 
To be hired by Cook County Department of Public Aid as a caseworker in 1962, all one had to have was a degree in anything and the ability to pass a test. I passed the test and was assigned as a novice caseworker to Cabrini-Green, perhaps the “toughest” housing project in Chicago at that time. I was assigned to two high-rise buildings with 458 families. I remember their addresses as clearly today as the address of my childhood home. Some things one always remembers.

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Cheese from Yeast: essay from Cristina Deptula

When I was growing up, a common dairy advertising jingle on the radio went, ‘Cows in Berkeley? Moooo.’

There may not be many cows around the Oakland and Berkeley area, yet there are several people involved with creating cheese at North Oakland’s Counter Culture Labs.

According to the Water Footprint Network, a global group of researchers and professionals dedicated to analyzing the world’s water use, a pound of cheese requires 381 gallons of water to produce.

Even after the Bay Area’s rainy winter, many people recognize that our state is prone to droughts. So molecular biologist Craig Rouskey and others are developing cheeses less reliant on heavy water use.

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Short story from Mike Zone

Sam Against Time

By Mike Zone

Samuel K. Drexel stood in the hallway, facing down two doors on the second floor of the locally esteemed and moderately priced Cauliflower Hotel. Neurons bouncing around his brain like a wild pinball, trying to determine which room his wife had entered with Coach McMurphy.

Asymmetrical beads of sweat decorated half his boyish face of cut sharp fine features almost like a lady but not quite, having an Adam’s apple and all, he pondered that as he bit into his feminine lower lip but the moisture soaking into his light brown lanky hair snapped him out of it, forcing back into his calculations, factoring variable to no avail determining whether the couple had entered behind Red Door #206 or 208.

Christ, McMurphy! Coach Nicholson McMurphy. How typical, the high school football coach, former semi-pro football player turned philosophy teacher who didn’t know a thing about philosophy; stealing the math teacher’s wife. The kids would be posting this all over FaceBook, tweeting memes or whatever they instagramed; as their parents fondly reflected on the teen McMurphy and Drexel years, in which the same thing happened at least twice a year with Samuel Drexel winding up drenched in toilet water, missing his belt and one shoe but brandishing two black eyes to make up for the lack of accessories.

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Poetry from Dave Douglas

Designed to Love You


I was designed to love you, but —

Betrayal arrived with my first breath;

I committed treason on a cosmic scale

And for that I must be put to death.


I was designed to love you —

Molded clay from which I stand,

But I destroyed your masterpiece —

From Paradise to a wasteland.


I was designed to love you,

So I worked to gain your favor,

Then I carved gold into a calf

And glorified in all my labor.


I was designed to love you,

But I left you like a prostitute,

And wallowed with the swine

Until I was stubbornly destitute.


I was designed to love you

But I spat slander in your face,

Pounded the nails into your hands

And disregarded your embrace.


I was designed to love you, and —

Although you drew me to your waters

And I followed you out of the boat,

I denied you over, and over, and over …


A mystery from the beginning:

I was blind to your eternal view,

But because you loved me first

I am redesigned to love you!


Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope Column

Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James


Fifty Shades Darker is the second book in the Fifty Shades series by E. L. James. It is  about Christian Grey, a man who is heavily into the whole kinky sado-sex scene. In this book it goes into more of why and how he turned out the way he did. He gets back together with Ana after she leaves him in the first installment of the series. If you enjoy reading or are into the whole S & M kinky sex erotica, then this is the book for you. This is a New York Times best seller so it seems like a lot of readers are into it, curious about it or want to get into the whole kinky sex scene.
Small Persons With Wings (they hate to
 be called fairies) by Ellen Booraem

Small Persons With Wings by Ellen Booraem is a
very well-written, cute book.

It could appeal to the reader of any age. It is about Melanie Angelica Turpin and her family. Melanie and her family had a Small Person With Wings living in their home until she was in kindergarten when she told her class about the fairy that lived with them. Then
Fidius took off and did not return until years later. One day her father gets a phone call from someone claiming to be
his father’s lawyer, stating that his father Orgiers has
passed away.
They pack up and move to the Inn that her
grandfather owned. It also had a pub in the cellar of the
Inn. They then discover a fairy (Parvi Pennati) living in an
old slipper in the chandelier of the pub. The pub is and inn
is very run down and needs lots of work.They soon find out there isn’t just one fairy. They have come upon
hundreds. The grandfather had a ring that will make an
elixir the fairies need for their powers. What happens then
is quite the adventure. Although this book is geared toward
a younger audience, I think that all ages could enjoy the
story. I highly recommend this book.

Poetry from Tamara Rasmussen



Straight lines and grid-work

can’t define Me.

I know all the angles

and bend them ’round.

I hide that little bit of lightning

beneath My peppery tongue,

and when I lose My patience,

I use it!

Don’t push Me.

When I cut straight to the point,

the point goes up in smoke.

Better to let Me

come about in My own way.

There’s nothing about Me

you can nail down,

put in a box,

bend to your own purpose.

I bend you.

When you call My name,

remember that.

Let yourself flap like a flag in My wind.

Let your tongue go slack,

and speak My tongues!

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Essay from JD DeHart

What Can James Tate Teach Us?

            Poets like the recently deceased James Tate offer works that lend themselves to a variety of interpretations; what better segue into explorations of textual ideas based around a real passage?   Tate’s poem, “An Eland, in Retirement” offers a variety of historical and social discussion points, and can lead to conversations about the role and identity of the poem’s narrator.
Readers can cite lines within Tate’s work to support their own conclusions about his intended meaning, which is often open-ended and debatable.  In this way, we can explore our writing without the danger of the “one answer is correct” approach.  This type of conversation has the potential to move beyond statements based on preconceived notions or personal feelings, and attach meaning to phrases gathered and presented from the text itself.
In this way, one poem can convey a multitude of meanings, depending on our background and context.  It is not unlike a kaleidoscope.

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Poetry from J.K. Durick

Simple Tasks

each task for him
is like a thousand
said backwards,
is like a familiar
ungrateful stranger,
or that tangle of wires
left in the way,
a simple task is like
a stray bullet,
or a bus backing
down an alley
the trash cans,
the alley cats,
the drunk sleeping
one off.
at 92 he knows
they are all like that
always ready
to trouble and blot,
tatter and trip,
lure the unwary
over to the edge,
his stray step,
a missed call,
the wrong number
of checks left
in the book
the end of the month,
the rent,
the phone,
even church.
at 92 we’ll know
them too.

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Christopher Bernard reviews Overnight at The Flight Deck, in Oakland

A Beanstalk Grows in Oakland
Gritty City Repertory Youth Theatre, Lower Bottom Playaz, Ragged Wing Ensemble, and Theatre Aluminous
The Flight Deck
Full ensemble in Overnight. Photo by Serena Morelli

Full ensemble in Overnight. Photo by Serena Morelli

What would you do if you woke up one morning to discover that a skyscraper, all glass, steel and corporate facelessness, had appeared on your neighborhood block literally overnight, like Jack’s fabled beanstalk?

Would you question your sanity? Start a riot? Burn it down? Apply for a job there?  All of the above?

The world over, this has become hardly a fantasy in many people’s lives: in China, entire “megacities” have sprouted in little more time, some of them still awaiting their first inhabitants, ghost cities, cargo cults of the wishful thinking of bureaucrats and over-zealous developers. Shanghai, Guangzhou, Dubai, Tokyo are well-known for big buildings going up with unnerving speed.

Even in the Bay Area it’s hardly an exaggeration, as entire neighborhoods in San Francisco are transformed from low-rise villages to immense forests of office and condo towers within months. Continue reading

Synchronized Chaos April 2017: Sacred Mysteries



This is the month when Jews celebrate Passover and Christians celebrate Easter, a time of spiritual insight. During a season when the weather is changing , we consider the way life continually renews itself and appreciate that it happens, even though we don’t entirely understand how and why.

The contributors to this month’s issue explore important questions and probe the edges of our understanding during this time of sacred mystery.

J.D. DeHart’s poems ask how much we know about our world, how much do we want to grasp, and how much this comprehension benefits us.

Gordon Hull shows through gently humorous, absurdist writing how our world throws piles of confusing information at us every day and it’s easy to get confused.

John Grochalski also explores absurdity. His speakers find themselves in uncomfortable, impossible situations that come, not from surreal imagination, but daily life in a social and economic landscape that seems inhospitable for ordinary people.

J.K. Durick’s writing probes the process of narrative creation and the consequences of devaluing truth.

Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope review column highlights the long-time appeal of mystery novels. Many people enjoy the suspense and adventure of a good thrill and puzzle.

In a quirky essay about two strangers from seemingly disparate lines of work, Donal Mahoney compares editing a manuscript to surgery. Both fields involve quite a bit of art as well as technical skill, a competence that we can’t yet reduce to a set of instructions.

J.J. Campbell shoots out some raw, tough-minded advice about making the most of life, while Sudeep Adhikari points out the irrationality of destroying life here on Earth while we search intently for it outside our solar system.

Benjamin Blake crafts pieces filled with imagination and self-examination, yet grounded in our physical world by their specific locations or vivid imagery.

Mahbub’s poetry calls attention to the continuity of ordinary life. Grass grows, people love, minds think, water lets us see our reflections.

In Joan Beebe’s pieces, humans are dwarfed by the power of nature, shown in the sky at sunset and also by our emotions when we experience loss and heartbreak.

Allison Grayhurst’s poetry looks at cycles in relationships, connection and loss. Her pieces have a tribal and timeless feeling, reminiscent of the Biblical commentary in Ecclesiastes.

Michael Robinson’s pieces evoke spiritual searching, as a curious child and then as a thoughtful adult aware of the world’s hardship.

Christopher Bernard reviews the poetry collection The Territory of Dawn: Selected Poems of Eunice Odio, translated by Keith Ekiss. The poems, as he describes them, represent a spiritual quest informed by modernity and open to the findings of science. Living in the ‘real world’ does not have to mean abandoning the search for and celebration of life’s beauty and meaning and purpose.

We at Synchronized Chaos Magazine wish you a wonderful and thoughtful time as the seasons change and you welcome the new chapter of life.






Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope Column


A Fool and His Honey by Charlaine Harris


This is a book I checked out from my local library. Charlaine Harris is the author of the Sookie Stackhouse series which became a series on cable TV. This series is the Aurora Teagarten series. Aurora Teagarten comes across many dead bodies throughout each of the series and then goes about solving the crimes. It is well written and really keeps the reader engrossed throughout the whole book. It is very hard to put down the book once you start reading. She has your attention from the very first page. I recommend this to anyone who loves Charlaine Harris books and others. This is a series in which you don’t need to read the first in order to know what is going on. You can pick up any book in the series and get interested right away. Definitely worth the read!


Shot Through Velvet : A Crime of Fashion Mystery by Ellen Byerrum
In this “Crime of Fashion Mystery”, Lacey Smithsonian is touring the Dominion Velvet factory in Black Martin, Virginia with her boyfriend Vic Donovan, a security specialist/private investigator. As they are touring the plant, they come upon a body tied to a spool of blue velvet immersed in a vat of blue dye. The victim is a very much despised person in upper management at Dominion. What ensues is a hilarious and adventurous story that will keep you turning pages until the end. This is another brilliant murder mystery by Ellen Byerrum.  A must read for mystery lovers. I personally loved this book.
Death on Heels by Ellen Byerrum
Death on Heels is another book in the A Crime of Fashion series. In this installment, Lacey Smithsonian, the fashion reporter for the Eye Street Observer in Washington DC, goes to Sagebrush Colorado to interview Cole Tucker her ex-fiancee, who has been arrested for the murder of three women. She doesn’t believe that he is the murderer, until during her interview in the jail, he throws Lacey over his shoulder and makes a break for it.
He takes off and explains to her that certain people are vey interested in all of his land for the minerals under the land. Now Lacey has to decide whether her ex fiancée is a murderer or just a jerk, and if she is going to help him get to the bottom of it and try to prove his innocence. This is another page turning adventure that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. I definitely recommend Death on Heels for the mystery lovers out there.
Please request these books from your local neighborhood bookstore!