Short story from Robert Bates

Second Chances
Michael Johnson sits alone on his bed staring at an old photo of himself and a girl at their senior prom. He realizes that the girl he is looking at probably doesn’t even remember he exists, but he can hope.
“You should call her,” his older brother says, walking into the room.
“How long were you standing there?” Michael asks suspiciously.
“Long enough. Whatever happened to that girl?”
 “I have no idea. I don’t even know where she is.”
 “Maybe you should track her down.”
“It’s been five years; I’m pretty sure she doesn’t want me back in her life. Anyway, seen any good movies lately?” Michael asks, clearly trying to change the subject.
“You should call her,” Matt says persistently.
“I’m not going to call her,” Michael says defiantly.
“She was your high school sweetheart.”
“You need to call her.”
 “I don’t even have her number.”
“She could still have the same one.”
“I highly doubt it.”
 “Just try it!”
Michael finally picks up his phone and dials in the numbers. After what seems like an eternity, a familiar voice answers.
“Hey! Um…this is Michael Johnson,” he says nervously.

Elizabeth Hughes’ Book Periscope column

Silhouette of a woman dancing with a shawl against a USA Southwest desert scene with canyons and mesa

Kathleen Popa’s To Dance in the Desert

To Dance in the Desert is a page turner. Once one starts reading, they will find it very hard to put the book down until the end. The book is about Dara and Jane. Dara moves to a remote location in the desert to work through or try to run from her emotions. Her abusive husband is dead and her father was killed. Her mother left when she was but a small child. One day she looks out the window and sees a woman dancing and twirling in the desert. The woman is Jane. Jane doesn’t know that Dara had moved into the house that had been empty for ages. They become fast friends. Jane talks Dara into going to Brittlebush to work with her in her brother Tom’s diner. Tom’s wife passed away and the diner had not been doing well since. However, with Dara’s cooking and Jane’s waitressing, the diner is once again making money. Dara sets out to find her mother and finds out she is much closer than she thought. To Dance in the Desert is funny, deep and thought-provoking. I highly recommend this book. I know you will enjoy it as much as I have. It’s so good you will want to read it much more than once. I rate this book five stars and two thumbs up.

Rita D’Orazio’s Remember Me (not yet released, cover not yet available)

WOW!! Remember Me is a suspense/romance. It is a really great story. Once the reader starts, they will absolutely not be able to put the book down. The story is about Henry and Cynthia Jones. Henry is a prosecutor who has put away many dangerous felons. One of the violent rapists he put away is out on parole. He fears for his wife and daughters due to threats the rapist made at the sentencing. Henry books a cruise for his family for his and his wife’s 40th wedding anniversary. Things don’t go exactly as planned on the cruise. There is heartache and love. When they all arrive back home. Henry’s long time trusted secretary comes across files that Henry has kept on himself and his wife Cynthia. Helen, the secretary, is shocked by the information and calls Jatara, the middle daughter. For the whole story and to find out the surprise ending, read Remember Me by Rita D’Orazio. I highly recommend this book. I rate it five stars and two thumbs up!!

Cover of Brahma's Maze. Light emerging from a tunnel, twisted flowing lava

 Brahma’s Maze is a suspense thriller that is a page turner. Once the reader begins, they will not be able to put it down. Brahma’s Maze is about Tarun, a scientist who is working on a cure for cancer. His whole family was killed by powerful mafia type thugs and he has found a way to avenge their deaths. The daughter of one of the most powerful men in India is dying from cancer. Tarun and the scientist he is working with decide that Tarun should secretly take the cancer drug to India to try it on “The Old Man’s” daughter. The daughter is cured of her cancer and “The Old Man” helps Tarun avenge the death of Tarun’s family. What happens next is a page turning, thrilling ride that will leave you wanting more! I highly recommend this book. I give it two thumbs up and a five star rating!


A Portrait in Time is a novel about time travel. It is intriguing, a real page turner, and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Nicole Bruante is a nude model in 1870’s Paris. She is with her lover and drinking absinthe laced with laudanum when a portal opens in the painting above her bed and they are transported to a museum in Paris in 2011. She arrives with bruises and short term amnesia. Her lover arrives completely crushed internally and dead. The police hear the alarms from the paintings go off and start chasing after Nicole. Nicole remembers her name and finds an office to hide in. As she looks around she finds a coat, hat and boots plus an umbrella that should disguise her well. She then finds out the office belongs to Susanne Bruante. As she looks around more she finds pictures and two envelopes with addresses on them. She finds Susanne’s apartment and meets her great, great, great granddaughter. Susanne calls her uncle Henri and together they believe what Nicole is telling them. Susanne contacts her “exboyfriend” from the United States, Dr. John Noland, who happens to be working on time travel. He flies to Paris and does some tests and finds out that Nicole has mutant genes theat opened up the portal when she was drinking the mind-altering absinthe and laudanum. Susanne has herself tested and she also has some of the mutant genes. Nicole was not crushed when she was transported to present day Paris because of the mutated genes. The four of them set out to figure out how to send Nicole back to the 1870’s. A Portrait in Time is an excellent read! The story is so good you will NOT want to put the book down. I very highly recommend this book. I rate this book two thumbs up and five stars. Happy reading!!!


Alterien: Once Was Lost is a sci fi short story that takes place in the year 2059. Agent John Lost and Agent Abigail work for the ISA (International Security Agency). Agent John Lost has superhuman abilities that allow him to see what will happen in the near future, among other powers. Agent Lost and Agent Abigail are assigned to preventing terrorist attacks and bringing in the terrorists for questioning. Investigator Sharon Marshall calls in Agents Lost and Abigail for questioning. Sharon Marshall is certain that Agent John Lost looks very familiar. She calls in a doctor and does a DNA test on John Lost. The results show that he is indeed her half brother who disappeared many years ago and his true name is Oberon. Alterien: Once Was Lost is a great Sci Fi short story. I highly recommend this book. I certainly can’t wait until part 2 comes out. I rate this book five stars and two thumbs up!

Short story by Robert Bates


 I’ve waited my whole life for this. It’s the state championship game and we are down by one point. I dribble past the midcourt line while the crowd is counting down the seconds.

Five! Four!”

Sweat drips in my eye but I can still see Devon open and waving for the pass. He’s supposed to take the last shot, but he doesn’t understand. This is my moment. I can already see that championship ring on my finger.

“Three! Two!”

This is it. I jab step and drive, successfully getting around the defender. With a victorious smirk on my face, I jump in the air, raise my elbow, and release at the top of my jump just like coach taught me. The ball begins its perfect arc towards the rim and I can feel the whole gym watching me in my moment of glory.

I miss.


Poetry from Al Preciado




Impeccable clouds peeled pale clean

Parading like aircraft-carriers filling charcoal sky

into the cracked eggshell , sink-hole of my heart,

healing, even as it wants what it wants, it beats on

Mists color faraway mountains ultramarine

These Utah mountains are the mountains of the summer

of my long trek east to Colorado

Wheeling alone across gold and camouflage hills, valleys

Plains, salt lands, up the thundering, massive Rockies

Carved brutally like an old dog’s teeth

Century-hammered islands of stone mirroring

my own solitude, my recent exile from regret and despair

This is my long voyage into the looming, beautiful emptiness

of the frustrated terrain of my pining soul

I am the perennial passenger, bearing the cargo of excruciating solitude and exquisite salvation

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Short story from Robert Bates



 “Mark wants to beat your ass,” Julian had warned me at the beginning of the school day.

More like Mark is going to beat my ass. Everyone knows I can’t fight. I sit in my seat wondering what will happen next.

Julian sees my worried face and says, “Relax, I got your back.”

The teacher walks out and I can feel Mark watching me.

Rachel whispers, “It’ll be really funny if you win,” into my ear from her seat beside me.

I turn and Mark is in my face. He pushes me and I instinctively push him back.

He hits me. Then I’m on the ground. Completely disoriented.

I wait for another punch to come but it never does. I finally regain my senses and get up to see Julian holding Mark with his arms pinned behind his back.

If you are going to do something, do it now,” he says, struggling to hold him.

I hit Mark three times with my left hand then he elbows Julian and breaks free. He charges at me and before I can react his fist connects with my jaw.

I wake up with Rachel in my face.

That was pretty funny too.”






Essay from Jeff Rasley

The Phoenix Rises at the University of Chicago

by Jeff Rasley

John D. Rockefeller gave the money and Marshall Field gave the land to create the University of Chicago in 1890.  Rockefeller considered the U of C “the best investment I ever made.”  Chicago has produced more college presidents than any other American university.  Eighty-five Nobel winners have served on the faculty or studied at the University of Chicago.  Rockefeller certainly got his money’s worth.

In the first third of the Twentieth Century, however, U of C was admired more for the prowess of its football teams than its academics.  Amos Alonzo Stagg’s Monsters of the Midway ruled the Big Ten from the 1890s into the 1930s. He won more games than any other college football coach until Bear Bryant of Alabama surpassed Stagg’s record of 314 wins in 1982.

Robert Maynard Hutchins became president of the University of Chicago in 1929 at the age of thirty.  Hutchins’s vision for the University was that students should be completely engaged in “the life of the mind”. He was no fan of football or of Stagg.  “When I feel the urge to exercise, I lie down and wait for it to pass.” Hutchins was not an athlete. He wanted out of the Big Ten and to rid the University of football.

The 1939 season provided the leverage Hutchins needed. In 1939 the Maroons suffered defeats by Harvard and Ohio State 61-0 and an 85-0 loss to Michigan.  It was utter humiliation!  Bad enough to be slaughtered by Ohio State and Michigan, but beaten by Harvard 61-0!  Even the most devoted fans recognized that the Monsters of the Midway had devolved into the lab mice of the Midway.

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Madame Mars project founders speak at Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center

“The first person to go to Mars is probably alive today.”
Beth Rogozinski, founding member of San Francisco State University’s multimedia studies program and founder of Transmedia SF, a transmedia agency and studio, and Dr. Jan Millsapps, SFSU professor of cinema, made this bold pronouncement during their July 15th enrichment lecture at Chabot.
Both speakers discussed the history of human space travel. So far 537 people have entered outer space, and 57 of these were women. 12 people have walked on the moon, and all of these were men.
However, the design of some upcoming plans for Mars exploration has different goals than those of the Apollo moon missions. The idea will not simply be to visit the planet for the sake of scientific research or for pride in having reached the destination, but to go with long-term colonization in mind. This will necessarily require welcoming a larger and more diverse group of astronauts and mission support crew.
“Men went to the moon, but everyone will be going to Mars,” said Rogozinski.