Saturday, June 30, 2007
Poems by Chris Abani, Allison Adelle, Britta Andersson, Jennifer Fox Bennett, Mary BlackBonnet, Jenna Brager, Trevino Brings Plenty, Katherine L. Browning, Henry Carlile, Siv Cedering, Olivia A. Cole, James Crumley, Mahmoud Darwish, Jon Davis, George Evans, Jennifer Foerster, S. G. Frazier, Patricia Goedicke, Michael S. Harper, Richard Hugo, June Jordan, Milton Kessler, W. S. Merwin, Tiffany Midge, E. Ethelbert Miller, John C. Morrison, Duane Niatum, DG Nanouk Okpik, Lisa Olstein, Deleana Otherbull, Cesare Pavese, Peter Pereira, Cathy Tagnak Rexford, Phoebe C. Rusch, Vern Rutsala, Kim Shuck, Jim Shugrue, Arthur Sze, Greg Thielen, Phyllis Unkefer, Luke Warm Water, James Welch, Orlando White, Elizabeth Woody, students at Newby Elementary School.Translations by Edmund J. Campion, Siv Cedering, Tom Doulis, Lars Nordstrom, Mary Anne O'Neil, Joseph A. Soldati, Arthur Sze. Poetry and Images by Siv Cedering. The Spoken Word by Taha Muhammad Ali, David Lee, Bill Ransom. Broadsides by Margaret Atwood, Olga Broumas, Hayden Carruth, Jim Harrison, Pablo Neruda, Gregory Orr, Adrienne Rich, Theodore Roethke, Primus St. John, Rebecca Wee. Essays by Paul Giles, Tom Meschery, Vern Rutsala, Susan J. Tweit. Book Review by Lisa M. Steinman.
Film and video by Mariana Arévalo, Alan Becker, Chris Day, Tim Fort, Adam Hurst, Joanne, Bruno Kavanagh, Karl Lind, Mike Stanfill, Phillip Van, Michael Wesch. Music-poetry by Joe Balaz. Music-stories by Lynn Darroch. Graphics and text by Pris Campbell, Joel Weishaus. Video poams by Thylias Moss.
Personal essays by Ronnetta Fagan, Matt Love, Scott McCarthy, Ryan Smithson, Sari Weston. The Writing Life:, by Evelyn Sharenov.
Fiction by James Crumley, H. Suzanne Heagy, Evelina Zuni Lucero, Emily Lundin, Bill Ransom. Plays by Rebecca Bella, Dawn Corrigan, Maaike Davidson, Phillip Hamrick, Garrett Socol. Screenplays by Jeff Brewer, Stacy Feder, Sean Funk, Hannah Martin, Aaron Walker, Leslie Wilson. Libretti by Martin Burke, Stephen Meyer. Genre Fiction, a new column by Jeremiah Rickert.
Paintings by Susan Beck, David Brooks, Ming Wei. Water colors by Tupper Malone. Sculpture by Jo Grishman. Photography by Christine Eagon.
New music by Robin Henderson, Guilherme Schroeter.
Friday, June 29, 2007
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Moreover, rehearsal was out in SE in a delightful neighborhood I didn't know about, with coffee shops and restaurants, a movie theater and a supermarket, on bus lines, everything within walking distance. Really neat.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Now and again I simply must have a head cheese sandwich, and soon. Today was one of those days. Fortunately, the only market around here that keeps it in stock is close, so I zoomed off and back and satisfied my craving.
I tried to make head cheese when I was a grad student. What else do you do when you return from class to find a hog's head in a box on your front porch? My friend John Basham played butcher and, knowing my fondness for head cheese, gave me a gift. My attempt, however, was a failure. The hardest part was breaking up the head to fit into the pots we had. A long story. Here's a recipe that sounds better than the one I tried to follow forty years ago.
Hogs Head Cheese
PREP TIME: 3 Hours
YIELDS: 4 (1 pound) trays
Many cooks today feel that hogs head cheese is a country rendition of the more classical daube glace. Though similar in nature, I feel head cheese is the by-product of sausage making such as boudin, and has been around for hundreds of years
* 1 hog head, split and cleaned
* 4 pig feet, scraped and cleaned
* 4 pounds pork butt
* 3 cups onions, finely diced
* 3 cups celery, finely diced
* 2 cups bell pepper, finely diced
* 1/2 cup garlic, finely diced
* 2 whole bay leaves
* 1 tsp dry thyme
* 1/4 cup peppercorns, whole
* 1/2 cup green onions, finely sliced
* 1/2 cup parsley, finely diced
* 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
* 1/2 cup carrots, finely diced
* salt and cracked black pepper to taste
* 3 envelopes unflavored gelatin, dissolved
In a 4-gallon stock pot, place all of the above ingredients up to and including the whole peppercorns. Add enough water to cover the contents by 3 inches and bring to a rolling boil. Using a ladle, skim all foam and other impurities that rise to the surface during the first half hour of boiling. Continue to cook until meat is tender and pulling away from the bones, approximately 2 1/2 hours. Remove all meat from the stock pot and lay out on a flat baking pan to cool. Reserve 10 cups of the cooking stock and return to a low boil. Add all remaining ingredients, except gelatin and salt and pepper, boil for 3 minutes and remove from heat. Season to taste using salt and cracked black pepper. Add dissolved gelatin and set aside. Once meat has cooled, remove all bones and finely chop in a food processor. Place equal amounts of the meat in four trays and ladle in hot seasoned stock. The mixture should be meaty with just enough stock to gel and hold the meat together. Cover with clear wrap and place in refrigerator to set overnight. Head cheese is best eaten as an appetizer with croutons or crackers.
Without a doubt, the best head cheese I ever had I bought in a small market in a village on the northern coast of Nova Scotia. It was called Potted Head. Amazingly fantastic. Ate it at a cliff overlooking the stormy ocean, at a time when I thought I was deliriously happy, not knowing that even then my partner was in inner turmoil as the seeds of truth about her sexuality sprouted toward their explosive revelations, delirium ending quickly thereafter.
For the essay mentioned below, I'm going to write about what I consider to be the most remarkable theater company in the history of Oregon theater, Peter Fornara's Actors Theatre Company in the old Centenary Wilbur Church over 25 years ago. Fornara managed to get a CETA grant to fund the company! He put many, many theater artists to work putting on plays in rep. Indeed, in one astounding week, four plays opened on four successive days: as I recall, they were Joe Egg, Cabaret, American Buffalo and Marat/Sade. Here was an argument for the wonderful consequences of government support of the arts, a theater company that didn't have to survive on box office (though it was popular), and therefore could be adventurous, ambitious and sometimes wonderfully reckless.
If anyone reading this wants to share memories of this remarkable theatrical adventure, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Earlier I was working through the editing software workbook some more and continuing to be amazed by the editing tools I have. This is all damn exciting.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Learned a new trick in the editing software today ... have a book of "tricks", or special effects, not sure I'll use them but I want to know as much about the software as I can learn.
Here are some highlights as a sneak preview:
- High Maintenance, a short film by Phillip Van.
- Beyond the Border, jazz and stories by Lynn Darroch.
- Cello Video by Adam Hurst.
- Jeremiah Rickert on Manly Wade Wellman.
- THE SHAKY GAME: Lust, Physics and Butter, a short story by Emily Lundin.
- Terroristka, a play by Rebecca Bella.
- Lust and Tequila, a screenplay by Leslie Wilson.
- Watercolors by Tupper Malone.
- Native American Poets.
- Haiku from Newby Elementary School.
The full issue, released July 1, is our largest and most diverse yet. Don't miss it.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
But after being chosen for the tourney, OSU stormed through the regionals, super regionals and, finally, the College World Series in Omaha.
Ms. Albert, 41, was found by the jury in Federal District Court to have strayed beyond the normal limits of pseudonymous invention, in part by signing a movie contract using her nom de plume. After the verdict was announced, she stood with friends in the courtroom, saying she had somehow known hours before that the jury’s decision would not fall her way.
There are two basic approaches to jazz singing: 1. communicate the song first and foremost; 2. use the song as a vehicle to communicate the voice as well as the song.
Of the latter, the "embellishment singers," are Murphy, Mel Torme, Ella Fitzgerald -- and, in fact, most jazz singers.
Those who sing without embellishment to communicate the song, period, are Frank Sinatra, Chris Connor, Billie Holiday and a few others. These singers rely on phrasing and tone; the former rely on a lot of vocal histrionics, usually called scat singing.
I can admire the vocal range and dexterity of a Fitzgerald or Murphy but they don't move me. Chris Connor moves me. Billie Holiday moves me. Frank Sinatra moves me. They believe that less is more, as I do.
I feel like I'm only a few hours away from finishing the review now but I don't have energy to spend those hours today, at least not now. Maybe later.
Damn, I'm eager to rehearse some scripts! I'll learn so much when I actually start directing actors to do certain things. I think I can make each script work within the parameters set by their skill levels. I may be wrong but I believe I can get the performances I need from them. I saw the potential in the screen tests. Everything will be low-key and understated, and I think it's easier to bring actors down than to bring them up. Most actors try to do too much. Once again: less is more. So my job is to stick the camera right in their face and get them to emote the right emotion, in a subtle but clear way, at the right moment. I think my actors are good. I see so many possibilities in the screen tests. I just have to make them comfortable and secure enough to do what they can do.
"Moments" will be the first one done, I'm sure. It's short. In Thursday's reading I'll tell them where I'm coming from. We should be able to shoot about a week later unless folks are gone for the 4th. But soon. And then I get to do the real joy of these projects, editing. Man, I love editing. I spent a summer editing all my dad's 8mm films in the summer of 1966, and I've forgotten how much fun it is -- even more so on the computer. I love the software, even though I've just learned the basics.
I'm ready to finish the review and get shooting.
A big question: what about the two writing projects I abandoned when I was struck with this movie madness? I want to finish each. I want to finish each this summer. But I'm no longer sure how that will happen, given the great amount of time I'm spending in pre-production for the shorts. However, once the review is out, a large body of time will open up. I should be able to do it all.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Perhaps worst of all was his mental health, a despair that "I come toward the ending of my life with the same ache for perfection that I had as a child," and a belief that his fame or friends had led him astray, so that "true things gradually disappeared and shiny easy things took their place."
New! 2007 Lt. Walter Haut: Former Roswell base public information officer who issued the base press release. Haut's "deathbed" sealed affidavit has just been published. In it he confesses to seeing the spacecraft and bodies in base Hangar 84/P-3 and tells us the mysterious press release was Gen. Ramey's idea to divert press and public attention away from the closer and more important craft/body site.
New! 2007 Sgt Frederick Benthal: Army photographer flown in from Washington D.C., said he photographed alien bodies in a tent at crash site and saw large quantities of crash debris being hauled away in trucks.
New! 2007 PFC Elias Benjamin: Roswell MP, said he escorted the alien bodies from the heavily guarded base Hangar P-3 to the base hospital, and saw a live one being worked on by doctors; was threatened afterwards if he didn't keep quiet.
My publisher friend and Italian cook, who would absolutely own "Joe's Italian Kitchen," has chickened out. Damn, he's such a natural. But the actress runs this sketch, and I can get an actor easily enough. In fact, auditioning someone new Monday, maybe he'll work out for a change of faces.
It looks like "Moments" may be the first to come together.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
- Sunset Hearts
- Honky Tonk
- Scrapple, Grits, Biscuits & Gravy
- Joe's Italian Kitchen
I hope to schedule read-throughs next week for "Moments" and "Scrapple," each with just a single location, probably the easiest to shoot. Each, however, is filled with and driven by subtext, so the pieces are challenging for the actors.
Tomorrow and the weekend, it's all the review.
Of course, being in academia, stats like this sound as if they come from another planet. But I've known where I live for a long time. You deal with it.
1/3 of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives.
Crane's New Red Badge
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
First hour guest, author, and publisher of UFO Magazine, William J. Birnes revealed Walter Haut's statements regarding the Roswell crash. The statements, in a signed affidavit, were released last year after his death.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Also rec'd a small tripod I ordered made to order for a small camera without a tripod connector, an ingenious design I can use with any tripod. I love inventors who solve problems so elegantly. Also rec'd a book on all the special effects available in my editing software and it is overwhelming. I'll never use 90% of them (I'm not a big SFX guy) but it's great to know I can split screens, use mattes, distort audio and such. My mind races with the possibilities.
I made progress on the review this morning, getting two artists up. Two more to go. Then some finishing up on every section except Poetry -- and THEN I tackle Poetry, by far the hardest section this issue. It may take me a week to get together. But I should just make our July 1 deadline!
The video section is done and looks great. Great interview by editor JMM.
I'm fairly shocked to report that the script I sent you has been bought and will turned into a film latter this year. I was planning on funding a shoot myself but a producer I knew loved it and wanted to make that happen. I'm directing still. I don't think I could have written the screenplay as well as I did without your class. Thank you.
I think I'm "up and running" again after the crash. I'm sure there are programs I seldom use that aren't right but the Big Guns I use all the time seem to be working fine again.
Three more screen tests this afternoon.
Monday, June 18, 2007
From Today in Literature:
On this day in 1982 John Cheever died at the age of seventy in Ossining, New York. In 1977, the novel Falconer was number one on the best-seller lists and Cheever was on the cover of Newsweek. A year later, Cheever won a Pulitzer for his 700-page retrospective collection, The Stories of John Cheever, a book regarded as an essential chronicle of middle America, written in a style that made its author, said critic John Leonard, "the Chekhov of the suburbs." In his personal life, too, Cheever seemed triumphant: he had finally won his battle with alcoholism and kicked the two-packs-a-day habit; he had also found some accommodation for both his marriage and his bisexuality. In her 1984 memoir, Home Before Dark, Susan Cheever described her father during this period as not so much having arrived as returned: "It wasn't just that he didn't drink anymore... it was like having my old father back, a man whose humor and tenderness I dimly remembered from my childhood."
Three screen tests this morning, and I'll be casting two of them.
In a foul mood so had better stop. Ha ha. Onward.
Sunday, June 17, 2007
A busy week of screen tests ahead: 3 Monday, 3 Tues, 1 Wed, 2 Thur. After which, I hope to have a number of scripts cast.
Which means final rewrites on the scripts so I can distribute them. And schedule rehearsals. I'm doing considerable rehearsing WITHOUT the camera before I begin shooting.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
My writer friend and colleague Lynn Jeffress, who lives in Paris, sends a note and photo:
Audition an actress this morning. She has great enthusiasm and a solid background. If she works out, then I'll have my two country singers for "Honky Tonk." Also close to casting "Sunset Hearts" and "Scrapple, Grits, Biscuits & Gravy." I might be able to cast "Moments" from auditions next week. I also want to write a piano bar piece for a particular actress and another special piece for the actor I auditioned yesterday. These are six projects, more than enough for the summer, I think. Now I need to find locations for various scenes. Been thinking about this and have places in mind, some to check out, others to get permissions to use.
But next week I also have to get the review out.
Bad news from a collaborator. He missed a deadline and this morning I found out why: his long-term relationship ended. An old flame of the woman showed up, and she left my friend to marry the other guy! Ah, the heart has its own hidden energies, which can flare up at any moment.
Friday, June 15, 2007
I am going to rehearse the hell out of my actors before I shoot. I want lines natural and automatic. I want everything low key and loaded with subtext. Well, I don't want to over-rehearse, but I don't want "cold" or even "cool" performances on location. I want the material to be in their pours. If we rehearse for a month and shoot in two hours, so be it. But I think we might be able to get it in about three one-hour rehearsals for a ten minute piece, then I'll overshoot the hell out of it. The main thing is to allow time for all the subtle stuff to come through in their attitudes and expressions.
Mr. Deemer, thank you. I think your willingness to put your insights public (along with others) just saved me being robbed as a new writer. My book xxx is memoirs about a topic very important to me, the mysterious death of my child. I would have been devastated had I been robbed by an agent who has asked to see my manuscript, Michele Rooney.
Yes, she's one of the bad ones. Here's a list of the Twenty Worst Agents.
Rooney charges a "nominal" marketing fee, about $40 a month, which sounds innocent enough but is not the way the legitimate agents run their business. Yet if you get 100 newbie writers to send you $40 a month, well, you do the math. There is no record of her having ever sold a book, and she's been doing this since about 2000.
Also see the Preditors & Editors website for much valuable information.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Being and Not Being There
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
I still have a few more scripts to grade but I'm pooped for the day. Back at it first thing in the morning. I should be able to finish the finals tomorrow, then hit my online students on Friday and get grades in the same day.
I have eleven screen tests scheduled. I need four actors from them and hopefully more, for the other projects lined up. I have some major rewriting to do in one of the first scripts to tape, however. Maybe I'll do that tonight.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Monday, June 11, 2007
Home today, and I'm ready.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Great visiting with friends here. But I'm already eager to get home. I have a pile of scripts to read and grade, pick up finals on Tuesday. Hope to have my grades in Friday, then turn to the review with all burners, finish it up in a week or so. And June 18th I start auditions for the two shorts and to see what possibilities suggest themselves from the actors.
Good response so far on "Peace Like A River." If nothing else, it sure demonstrates the possibilities of the technology.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Well, there was no drop in quality whatever! In fact, on the TV screen it looks as good as any show or film. Again I am blown away by the power of Flip Video to do this. Whatever my shorts will lack, it will not be video picture quality. I'm going to look as good as the big boys here. Quite amazing.
Yesterday was the last day of class. I brainstormed with my students about adding a "filmmaking" option for my advanced screenwriting students ("this would be awesome," they said). That is, I am going to let them shoot short movies on a cell phone or whatever as an option to what they do now. I'll put together a syllabus for fall.
A nice chat with my friend in LA where we'll be staying. I'm going to shoot a lot of footage at the wedding dinner tonight and the wedding tomorrow, see what I can put together. I'd never do this normally but I'm still learning so much at every level, I like jumping right into something like this.
So far I have ten screen tests scheduled for the week of June 18th. I should be able to cast the two shows and think about, pre-cast, others, and I'll be looking for special talents I can take advantage of in future projects.
I have to admit, I'm already thinking about the possibility of shooting a feature next summer. It's simply a matter of finding the right story. I'm thinking of a spin off of The Brazen Wing, a version where someone comes TO Portland, not from it, and most of it is shot here, maybe using the coast or Mt. Hood as the scenic backdrop. But the same story concept, getting the lady out of the retirement center, going on a fishing adventure. Or make some other adventure. But the spine of the story could translate to something here, I'm sure. I could simplify the story in other ways for a smaller cast, combining small roles. I'll be thinking about this.
Life has interesting surprises. Only a few weeks ago my summer looked very, very different from how it's turning out to be. Then I watched H's vacation video shot on the Flip, and everything changed once I found out I could afford first rate editing software.
By the way, the editing software has the DVD burner built in. I didn't take advantage of the menu options, making scenes, etc., just burned a DVD that starts right up. Sufficient for shorts. The DVD on TV may even look a tad better than the piece on computer. I keep pinching myself. What a world.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
I have the craziest idea I've had in years. The Brazen Wing is my favorite screenplay -- in fact, I recently heard from an agent who admires it -- but damn near impossible to sell because of the age of its two main characters. Soooo....what if I found a retired couple, both actors, and one summer the four of us took off to Idaho and the southwest, the required locations of the story, and filmed it ourselves. I could cast the other parts locally. There is nothing particularly difficult in it. Mostly it's taking the leads to spectacular settings. I know I could shoot it myself. All I need is a couple, both actors, who want to camp for a month or six weeks. We could do it!
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I think I may try to shoot footage for a funny wedding video in L.A., something to keep me amused from an event I'd rather skip. I'll turn it into a project. It's all material.
Man, is that true! IT'S ALL MATERIAL.
(The 4x photo, by the way, is the late great scifi writer, Robert Sheckley.)
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
I don't always want to shoot with a hand held camera. I've been looking into various ways to stabilize such a small camera (it has no tripod mount) and decided to use a monopod with a bean bag. This might look pretty silly but what the hell. It will work as well as be lightweight and very versatile.
The most helpful comments to me when I was listening to "talk back" decades ago were ones like, "what would happen if ..." and "how about combining the characters of ..." and such. Rewriting the play! I wasn't interested in matters of taste. I was interested in comments that gave me a new vision of my own material. I thought the talk back last night ended up being self-serving and practically spineless. Is this how young playwrights get feedback today? Is this part of the cultural trend to "be nice" and not hurt feelings and be politically correct? I feel sorry for my student. This is not a way to hear something that's going to twist your mind in a new, productive direction. The comments amounted to "I like potatoes" and "I don't like turnips." Gee, isn't that interesting?
I was almost furious. How can you explore the possibilities of a play without, in essence, rewriting it? Such restricted feedback is a disservice to the playwright.
The other thing that infuriates me is that the university (and most theaters, for that matter) stops its interest in "new play development" at the staged reading. They seldom do full productions of new work. This is like, You'll screw your fiancee but you won't marry her. The fact is, it takes relatively few resources to sponsor a staged reading. Stopping here is half-hearted support. The university especially should do much more than this. Thesis plays should get full productions as a matter of course, which was the situation in the MFA program I was in at the U of O. PSU should do that same.
And let's take the handcuffs off when giving feedback! The playwright is an adult, she can take it. It's her play, she'll do what she wants with it. But she's been so close to the material for so long, the best way for her to find an avenue for improvement, it seems to me, is with new insights and suggestions about her storytelling strategy. In other words, by letting audience members rewrite the play.