Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Once a writer...

Six weeks ago, stumbling upon the good quality of video from The Flip, I became obsessed with the possibility of making digital short films all summer. Six weeks later I have a number of completed projects and more in the works -- but, finally taking a breather, I find myself missing the seclusion and privacy of writing prose. I'm printing my Cold War novel-in-progress to take with me to Idaho, and I'm stewing once again about NAILS IN MY COFFIN, a project that excites me very much. I think by fall and the start of school, I'll be ready to "be a writer" again -- if not before. Not that I'm stopping the digital stuff. I just won't be as singularly focused and obsessed about it. I want to get some of my students to do this as well. You learn a hell of a lot about storytelling.

It actually will be good to get away from the routine for a few days. I've been working too damn hard lately.

Mary Flower's Terminal Rag

In memoriam

Walsh was a major sports figure here on the west coast. Loved his teams, under Montana especially.

Walsh dead at 75

NFL coaching legend dies after battle with leukemia

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Bill Walsh changed the look of the NFL with his offensive innovations and legion of coaching disciples, breaking new ground and winning three Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers in the process.

Nicknamed "The Genius" for his creative schemes that became known as the West Coast offense, Walsh died at his Woodside home Monday morning following a long battle with leukemia. He was 75.

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In memoriam

clipped from www.cnn.com

Film director Ingmar Bergman dies

Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman has died, local media reported Monday. He was 89 years old. He was "probably the greatest film artist, all things considered, since the invention of the motion picture camera," Woody Allen said in a 70th birthday tribute in 1988. full story
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A good shoot yesterday afternoon, and outdoors at that.

Today filled with non-video chores.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The magic of sports

clipped from news.yahoo.com


Iraqis bask in rare joy after soccer win

By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD - Tens of thousands of Iraqis from the Shiite south to the Kurdish-dominated north poured into the usually treacherous streets Sunday to celebrate a rare moment of joy and unity when the national team won Asia's most prestigious soccer tournament.

The revelers spanning the country's sectarian and ethnic divisions danced, sang and waved flags and posters of the team after Iraq beat three-time champion Saudi Arabia 1-0 to take the Asian Cup.

Chants of "Long live Iraq" and "Baghdad is victorious" rang out across the country as Iraqis basked in national pride. Some of the revelers — mostly men — took their shirts off to display the red, white and black colors of the Iraqi flag painted on their chests.

Reporters of the state Iraqiya television wrapped themselves with the national flag as they interviewed people celebrating in the streets. Some joined in the chanting.

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And now the news ...


Yesterday was a funky day. A tad of editing, a tad of writing, a lot of brooding, moping, daydreaming. Not the kind of day I like to clone. I ended up crashing so early that here I am, up after midnight feeling like I've had a full night's sleep.

Friday, July 27, 2007


It's fascinating how material evolves and reappears in different forms. I started a new short script to shoot, Like Mother, Like Daughter, pretty much pre-cast with actors I've worked with so far this summer (mainly the mother-daughter leads). This is based roughly (same characters, situation) on my play Waitresses, which some twenty years ago was directed by Peter Fornara, about whom I'm writing my retrospective essay; the film rights of which were bought by a producer, beginning my screenwriting career; the screenplay resulting, Ruby's Tune, almost being funded several times (once so close a backer pulled out at the signing table at the last minute! -- because he learned Jennifer O'Neill was attached, who'd recently bombed on some TV movies). So these characters -- Ruby, her daughter Jill -- have been around a while. However, I've changed much. Originally Ruby was a teenage mother. Now, because of the age differences in my actors, she had Jill in her 40s, a late mother. The stage play had only 3 major characters; the movie (once I "got it" about screenwriting!) doubled this, and the short has five characters. I think I may still need an ending for the short but I storyboarded it roughly earlier and I'm scripting from this, and I think I'll move forward rapidly till the closing moments.

Time to get ready for piano class.

Major project

Just watched the large Flash file of my interview with Mary Flower. About half a dozen things to fix but this may be the major accomplishment of my summer. It's great. Hope I can do a dramatic piece that is this good. We'll see.

A busy Friday

Lots of grunt work chores this morning, background computer stuff while I practice piano. After my lesson, off to shoot a couple scenes with Judith. The big shoot is Monday afternoon, for which I've been composing the background music, a variation of the "Angels" theme for fiddle/violin.

Did a lot of work on the Flower edit late yesterday ... rendering now to a Flash file to take a peek. 120M so it will take a while. I could use a better computer but I'll get by ... I am going to add 1G of memory, however! It's on order.

Waiting for approval from John D. of my adaptation of his short play. Always a tricky thing. Sometimes an author loves you, sometimes hate, for the changes you make. I turned a ten-minute stage play into a five-minute film. I like it -- a much lighter, sweeter tone than anything in my own work (always darker).

Next week I have my last essay interview scheduled for Wednesday. Maybe Thursday or Friday I finally can get into the archives.

A trip to Idaho coming up. Looking forward to it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

At last

This sounds like a documentary that doesn't take the cheap shots so common in Michael Moore's work. I can't wait to see it.
clipped from news.yahoo.com


Director's first film probes Iraq war policy

By Iain Blair

While many first-time filmmakers see their initial work
collect dust on their personal DVD shelves, Ferguson's is
gaining a following among documentary lovers and critics.

"Ferguson delivers the calm, meticulous survey of U.S.
policy that legions of critics of Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit
' have been waiting for," wrote reviewer Robert Koehler in
show business newspaper "Variety."

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Gee golly

So what's this make him? I'd still throw the book at him.
clipped from news.yahoo.com


Nifong admits: No crime in lacrosse case

By AARON BEARD, Associated Press Writer

DURHAM, N.C. - Disgraced former prosecutor Mike Nifong acknowledged Thursday there is "no credible evidence" that three Duke lacrosse players committed any of the crimes he accused them of more than a year ago, offering for the first time a complete and unqualified apology.

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Adapted an actor's short play, a morning after comedy, and now wait for his approval. Another day working all day at home. Tomorrow afternoon after piano, more shooting, and the next big shoot is Monday afternoon. Honky Tonk.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A good day

Had a good day. Mellowed out in the afternoon, thanks in part to a short jazz cruise, then had a great interview for my essay and later brainstormed with an actor about founding an organization for those shooting films with The Flip, see if we can get some networking going in the large picture and in the small form a resident company of talent on which to draw. The latter is being done in practice since already I am casting actors I've used in future projects.

I'll be directing my first short from someone else's script. I'm adapting a short play by John Donnelly, a fine actor (Scrapple...) as well as a playwright.

And Hollie Olson is searching for the location for her script, Piano Bar, which I'll also direct. She will star.

I have one more interview I want to do. It's time to dig into the newspaper archives.

Rise and shine

Up in somewhat better spirits. Today I'll make DVDs for the actors.

I don't much participate in the social events associated with the arts but on September 15th I'll make an exception because it's an event being put together by folks who matter to me, a Slabtown celebration to celebrate NW Pdx, or at least what the neighborhood used to be, and the historian at McMenamen's (yes, they have one) asked if I'd read from Christmas at the Juniper Tavern, my "classic" of the 80s. I said yes. Interestingly enough, a week prior someone from the NW Examiner asked if I'd perform some Guthrie music for the event but I haven't performed in so long I'd have to start rehearsing now and I don't have the time for it. I declined. But reading from JT is a snap, it's in my blood, even if I seldom actually do it. My agent at the time said of NW Pdx in the 80s, "this is the way Greenwich Village used to be," and told me to fight against it changing. Fat chance. We couldn't even save more than three trees in the huge orchards next to us. The building has begun, by the way, on one of the homes. I hope they don't do them one at a time (there will be eight, I think) but this may happen. Not a pleasant sight, though H gets more upset about it than I do. I save my angst for more literary matters.

It's a long slow process rendering files and making DVDs. I'll practice piano while I'm waiting.

An interview after work downtown with an actor from the 80s. My next-to-last one, I think. I need to get into the newspaper archives soon.

Existentialism and the arts

The arts have become too social. No one, perhaps, wrote more passionately about the arts as individual vision, individual expression, individual exploration, than e.e. cummings, in many poems and especially in his huge book-length poem about his journey to the Soviet Union, which represented the opposite of individual values. Today the arts, including the writing arts, have become excuses for social clubs and social events (like readings). Related to this is the absurd importance of the marketplace today and the culturally depressing fact that almost 3 million copies of the new you-know-who book sold in 24 hours. I think of "My Dinner With Andre" again, that insightful and prophetic movie, in which Andre suggests we're in a new Dark Ages. I can believe it. The creation of Homo Consumerus.

An irrelevant if pretty starlet gets a DUI and the media go ape for days. What is the contribution of all this hot air to global warming? I like this notion. It's not fossil fuel. It's human hot air, all this endless babbling and gossip.

If we still have a culture 100 years from now, I wouldn't be surprised if its honored writers from this era are people relatively unknown today, perhaps someone writing a blog for a few dozen readers. An Emily Dickinson of our times, whose writing is kept private but whose writing is existential, a search inward. Writing inside-out, not outside-in in today's fashion.

I need to try and get some sleep.

Black hole

I've slipped into a deep funk.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Creative birthing

There's a version of "postpartum depression" that writers and other creative artists can experience. You "give birth" to a project -- and crash. Some of that happened to me today after posting Scrapple... -- and has happened on many, many projects in the past. Why the post-release downer? Part is exhaustion, I think. Part is wondering if all that work actually amounted to anything. Like who cares? Part of it misses the high of the work itself, the advantage of "living in one's art" instead of "living in one's life" (ref "My Dinner With Andre").

So you get through it and get back to work.
clipped from en.wikipedia.org

Postpartum depression

Postpartum depression (also postnatal depression) is a form of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, after childbirth.
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Scrapple, Grits, Biscuits & Gravy

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Scrapple editing

I should finish up today, maybe even this morning.

Two issues. Audio, always the major challenge with low end technology. These problems are not solved but made as best as possible. The other area is continuity, here made more difficult than it had to be because of poor directing. However, the problems were solved for the most part, though I had to make compromises to do so. Sometimes I had to make a tighter shot than I would have preferred to eliminate background continuity problems. On another occasion I had to use my second shot choice because of actor continuity I should have been on top of at the shoot.

Despite all this, I am delighted with the video, which continues my improvement. I'll hope to get it up on YouTube today. I'm making Flash files now ... I like to watch them on Flash for final approval. Takes a while to render each file.

If I get these up today, I think I'll spend the afternoon in the yard doing chores and listening to Gerry Mulligan and Chris Connor. And spend time in the park with the dog.

I'll upload to YouTube at the university, which will give me a chance to check my campus mail and such.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Power to the Vets!

clipped from news.yahoo.com


Injured Iraq war veterans sue VA head

By HOPE YEN, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Frustrated by delays in health care, injured Iraq war veterans accused VA Secretary Jim Nicholson in a lawsuit of breaking the law by denying them disability pay and mental health treatment.

Suing on behalf of hundreds of thousands of veterans, it charges that the VA has failed warriors on numerous fronts. It contends the VA failed to provide prompt disability benefits, failed to add staff to reduce wait times for medical care and failed to boost services for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The lawsuit also accuses the VA of deliberately cheating some veterans by allegedly working with the Pentagon to misclassify PTSD claims as pre-existing personality disorders to avoid paying benefits. The VA and Pentagon have generally denied such charges.

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"A film by ..."

The WGA, the screenwriters' union, cringes when the director's name comes on the screen after the designation above. The root artist is the screenwriter, not the director, goes the argument. And for decades I was on the screenwriter's side of the argument.

But the more I experience making digital short films this summer, the more I feel myself moving toward the director's side of this argument. Consider the ending of Scrapple. I edited the ending today and love it -- but it's not the ending that's in the script. Indeed, the ending never worked during readings, and at the shoot we played with it and I overshot everything. Putting it together in the editing software, I cut a lot of lines and rearranged others, resulting in something that same "in spirit" but pretty different in detail from what my "screenwriter self" had written. The director won this argument, or the editor, because what results is stronger than what's on the page.

I just have fine-tuning to do in Scrapple now. I need to put it in three parts for YouTube, then assemble it whole for DVD. I like it, a definite improvement over the last one. This is the name of the game, improvement. Onward.

A man of principle

Thoreau, Taxes, Disobedience

On this day in 1846, Henry David Thoreau was jailed for not paying his poll tax. Thoreau was almost exactly half-way through his Walden stay, and had come to Concord to pick up a shoe at the cobblers; this came to the attention of Sam Staples, tax collector and warden of the county jail, who was under orders from the town fathers to confront and, if necessary, confine this most contrary of its sons.
and he was not happy to hear, the next morning, that his tax had been anonymously paid for him. Now released, he was again left with no choice: "I proceeded to finish my errand, and, having put on my mended shoe, joined a huckleberry party who were impatient to put themselves under my conduct; and in half an hour -- for the horse was soon tackled -- I was in the midst of a huckleberry field, on one of our highest hills, two miles off, and then the State was nowhere to be seen."
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Mellow Monday

No shooting until Friday! Suddenly it feels like a relief.

I have all day to work on Scrapple. I should finish it this week. Next to get serious about, Honky Tonk.

I have editing on the docu to do as well but a very distant December deadline. Yet I'd like to do it this summer while my mind is in that groove.

Going to Idaho in August. While there, will do a video interview with Brad Crooks, my godson, who also happens to be a damn good blues harmonica player.

I like the return to a more normal pace, after two weeks of running around 12 hours a day.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Coming out of the theater today, I saw a poster -- and stopped, in shock. Moliere. For over a decade I've been marketing my best screenplay, based on the life of Moliere (based on my stage play), and I knew his life would reach the screen. This was not an American film but it might still kill the slim hope I had of finding a producer. But then, at IMDb tonight, I see this summary:

In 1658, playwright/actor Molière, having been given a theater in the capital by the King, is back in Paris after touring the kingdom of France with his company of players. One day, a young lady asks him to follow her to the deathbed of her mother... Thirteen years earlier, Molière already runs a troupe but goes broke and is thrown to prison. Fortunately (?) his debt is covered by Monsieur Jourdain, a rich man who wants him to help him rehearse a one-act play he has written with a view to seducing a beautiful bright young widow, Célimène. As Jourdain is married to Elmire, and is the "respectable" father of two daughters his design must remain secret so Molière is introduced into the house as Tartuffe, an austere priest... Written by Guy Bellinger

This is not even about Moliere's life but apparently is a concoction suggesting the origins of Tartuffe. So this is probably irrelevant in a real sense, but of course "reality" has nothing to do with anything in LaLaLand.

If this film bombs, I'm worse off because most producers would not get past the title (Moliere has been done and it stinks). But if this film is big, well, I would be better off.

But what a weird story this sounds like! Does anyone see the extraordinary drama in his actual life?

Pop opera

I love everything about John Carney's Once, from its concept and writing, to the directing -- and especially the performances of its two leads, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who play two musicians estranged from their "significant others" who meet and click musically and become friends. I call it a "pop opera" because songs are integral to the development of the narrative, music is at the root of the story on many levels. The "once" in the title refers to the magic that can happen "once" in an encounter (for "forever" as Hollywood has it) but that has no future. Everything happens in a short time, now, intense and real, even life-changing ... but then the individuals must face their pasts and move on, alone. This is an intense and real, even sensual, love story with no more sex than a kiss on the cheek, which is no small accomplishment in today's world of erotic hype.

It's not for everyone. During the credits, a woman behind me said, in that tone of voice reserved to comments on the dress or hair style of another, "I love your new ..." (when the tone is pulsating with pejorative subtext), "Wasn't that cute?" Then, on the way out, we met friends of H's who said, "The music was so awful! So intense!"

I didn't expect to like this in the first several minutes of the film. The music was the issue. God, do I have to listen to this street singer for two hours? But it ends up he is talented (the leads wrote most of the songs themselves -- indeed, their characters are called "guy" and "girl," suggesting they played themselves) and his songs have great variety. And when the two are together, musical magic happens.

What a fine genre-bending film!

Leave the camera home

About ready to head downtown for some gallery hopping before a movie ("Once"). Preparing to go, I automatically reached for the Flip camera. Oops. That would turn the afternoon into work, and I need a day off. Leave the camera at home!

I outlined a new short, "Like Mother, Like Daughter," based on my play Waitresses, which picked up some awards 20 odd years ago. I can cast the two leads from actors I've already worked with this summer, and the 3 minor characters can be cast the same or with new auditions -- but the two women are the focus, and I have them (Judith Richmond and Kate Mura).

Have my contract signed and ready to mail. Do this on the way to town. Yet another "marriage" with an agent begins. Serial monogamy run amuck. But I do need to write some new screenplays, or rework some old ways, to take advantage of this good, new connection.

The grass has just about stopped growing for the summer, at least at its earlier fanatical rate. A good thing, given how busy I am.

A dumber culture

Dana Gioia at Stanford, posted by Nurse Fusion.
There is an experiment I'd love to conduct. I'd like to survey a cross-section of Americans and ask them how many active NBA players, Major League Baseball players, and American Idol finalists they can name.

Then I'd ask them how many living American poets, playwrights, painters, sculptors, architects, classical musicians, conductors, and composers they can name.

I'd even like to ask how many living American scientists or social thinkers they can name.

Fifty years ago, I suspect that along with Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Sandy Koufax, most Americans could have named, at the very least, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Arthur Miller, Thornton Wilder, Georgia O'Keeffe, Leonard Bernstein, Leontyne Price, and Frank Lloyd Wright. Not to mention scientists and thinkers like Linus Pauling, Jonas Salk, Rachel Carson, Margaret Mead, and especially Dr. Alfred Kinsey.

I don't think that Americans were smarter then, but American culture was.
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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Export sweepstakes

Flash 8 (.flv) won the export sweepstakes.

If I get her permission, I'm putting up Mary Flower's "Terminal Rag" on YouTube. It's so good, I can't imagine why she'd say no, but we'll wait and see.

Made a little progress on her documentary and also a little progress on Scrapple and cooked one hell of a good dinner.

Last gasp?

I made my peace with the marketplace years ago, realizing my sensibilities are not "popular" ones. And yet every writer, or most, wants "to score" and put some money in the bank. I'd certainly like to leave a fat bank account for H (I assume she will outlive me: what an earthquake it would be if not!). So here I am, looking at this contract with the new agent, thinking, well, it's been a while since you were connected at the center of the action, maybe it's time to make some real money for a change ...

I'm going to have an honest practical chat with the new guy. What I can write, and what he can sell, and see if there are any intersections. There are genres I simply cannot work in (horror, for example), and he needs to know that. He liked Ullie because it had a young female lead. All of these practical (alas) parameters come into play in the marketplace. Now that I'm making my own, totally my way, it's less "painful" to kiss the big ass of LaLaLand ... or at least sniff it. We'll see. Onward.

Learning curve

Made a file of a Flower song and am exporting it all possible ways from Elements to test quality and file size and see what will work best for exporting to web. I think maybe the recent FLV format -- but we'll see.

Hectic days

Hmm, no entry yesterday. That's how busy I am.

First, surprising news. I've been offered a contract by an agency in Sherman Oaks, probably the "best situated" agency I've heard from in years. They are especially interested in "The Brazen Wing" and "Ullie@phishing.scam." Yeah, I'm signing with them. Why not? But how many damn agents have I had over the years? Too many to count. Only a handful actually did something for me. However, it's one of the parameters of the writing game. And, like I say, this one is better situated than my recent relationships in this regard.

Thursday finished shooting Scrapple -- and the ending finally came together! For the first time, actually -- we got it just messing and playing with it, not quite improv but free form. And I think this one may turn out better than the last.

And I finished the first rough cut of the Mary Flower piece. Probably the highlight of the summer (actually I hope not: I'd like one of the dramatic pieces to turn out best of the summer) because she is so damn good, mostly what I have to do is stay out of her way! This definitely is a piece that could be over-edited. Yet, I want to make it interesting. The rough cut looks really good. It's long and will be a huge file: an 18-minute piece, about half of which are complete songs. The hard part will be saving this for December and the review! I may show it around privately before then.

Today H is doing art at a Saturday market all day, so I am going to cook up some kind of feast or other, between editing things. I finished the first part of Scrapple, which will be in 3 or 4 parts, looks like. Again, the music is the fun part. A trombone I added at the end! Sounds better than it reads.

Well, busy busy. Onward.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Generations and technology

A number of years ago I was teaching online and had a student in Denmark. She was a woman old enough to be frightened of computers but she gamely wanted to try my online class anyway. But from the beginning, she had troubles. She couldn't make the syllabus "go anywhere," and I was blind to the most simple explanation for this and instead concocted any number of hardware and software problems that would make her web page "dead." Well, it ends up, she didn't know what a link was and didn't know you were supposed to click one to "get somewhere." It took five of the ten weeks for me to figure this out in our flurry of email exchanges. It simply didn't occur to me to look for such a "simple" explanation.

Well, today the same thing happened. A widely published and respected poet was trying to access Oregon Literary Review. He could get to the title page but not beyond it. He had emailed one of my editors, who apparently didn't understand the question or problem because she kept telling him to "refresh the page," and he kept doing so, and nothing happened -- he was still at the title page. So the editor passed him over to me. I immediately saw the Denmark problem returning, so I told him to click the section headings, which were live links (and told him how to watch for the arrow turning into a finger at a live link), and this should solve his problem. It did.

I still try imagining someone staring at a web page, trying to will it to go somewhere else.

The technological generation gap takes other forms. The responses to Moments thus far go strictly by age, from wow!!! to zzzzzzzzzzzz, from A to D or maybe even F. Old farts dig it! Younger folks don't seem to. Interesting. I don't think it's the subject matter. I think it's the technology. I think old farts are amazed that I made something that "looks like a movie" and the younger generation, which knew more about video at age five than I'll ever know, finds nothing much to suggest video proficiency.

I'm exhausted, mentally and physically, but dear old Gerry Mulligan is providing much relaxation.


I've done about 90% of what I can do with Moments and most of what needs fixing is beyond my skill set in the software right now, so I'm releasing it as a kind of "sneak preview." I take responsibility for anything wrong with it.



Breaking the rules

Hwood can get shook up over the smallest matters.
clipped from news.yahoo.com


Assistants pitch ideas, throw H'wood a curve

By Borys Kit and Tatiana Siegel

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) -
Last month, Ben Dey, an
assistant working in the mailroom at Creative Artists Agency,
leaped several rungs on the Hollywood ladder by successfully
pitching an idea for a comedy to producer Brian Grazer. The
sale came about because the Imagine Entertainment executive
visits CAA once a year for a lunchtime meeting in which he
entertains assistants' pitches.

Throughout the industry, Dey's fellow assistants responded
with cheers, as one of their own managed to grab the brass
ring. But in some places, eyebrows were raised. It was almost
as if "Entourage's" Ari Gold had suddenly allowed his
assistant, Lloyd, to ignore the phones so that he could be free
to toss a screenplay idea or two to Ari's client Vincent Chase
-- not something Ari would ever do.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Takes my breath away

Spent an absolutely incredible hour in the living room of Mary Flower, the superb acoustic blues guitar picker, videotaping an interview with her. What great material I have! This will be a fun mini-documentary to edit. What a wonderful private concert!

Finished a rough cut of part two of Moments this morning. A major interview for my essay this evening. A non-stop day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Adventures in editing

Well, I think I have the first part of Moments about as good as I can make it with the tools at hand. Competitions for "small screen videos" are restrictive on what tools you use, so I'm going to work with what I have in order to qualify, should I choose to enter something one day.

The two major problems I encountered were both my fault. One line is delivered wrong in all five takes, and it's my responsibility to catch and fix something like that. I used the least wrong delivery, with the actress off camera, even though it's an odd spot for a reaction shot.

In the other problem, in a closeup in the kitchen, a shiny surface behind the actress reflected my shirt in the frame! However, I was able to slide the face over to one end of the screen, hiding this, and looking very artsy fartsy, alas, with the setup. But I wanted the close shot.

You are constantly making trades in a practical process like this. When you have a problem, you do the best you can, trying to maximize what you are able to do.

However, I am in fact very pleased with the first section. I worry the second section may be too long ... I may look at ways to trim it. It will be a harder section to edit, technically, because of some visual parameters I've established for this part.

I still have to decide on how to present my ending, too. It's a tad surrealistic.

Monday, July 16, 2007

On Salinger

Salinger and the Holden Life

On this day in 1951 J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye was published. Reviews were mixed, but having been pre-selected by the Book of the Month Club, the novel was immediately popular. Rare book dealers regard a good, signed copy of the first edition -- this is the one with the dust-jacket picture of a quixotic, carousel horse -- as "one of the most elusive of 20th century books." The only rare book dealer recently offering one for sale (somewhat damaged, $35,000) says that the last signed edition for sale, about fifteen years ago, was inscribed by Salinger to Harold Ross of The New Yorker. The first of many Salinger stories to appear in the magazine was "Slight Rebellion Off Madison"; this was published in 1946, but it had been purchased by Ross in 1941, when Salinger, at twenty-two, was not much older than its young hero, Holden Caulfield.
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A good shoot this morning, and I should have everything for "Moments." Since I'm a bachelor all week, I also may have time to edit it ... and have a finished product! The first finished project will be exciting.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Once a year H gets together with two of her dearest and oldest friends, one of whom now lives in Canada, the other in California. This year the reunion is in Oregon, and the two arrived yesterday. They head out to the beach for a few days tomorrow. Meanwhile, last night, I was left to my own devices, so drifted into the Corbett Fish House for dinner when I ran into one of my favorite ex-students (a grad student) and her recent husband, whom I'd never met. They invited me to their table, and we had a great time catching up. Ends up they are fans of the fish house, as we are, so we'll try to do dinner together there this summer.

A shoot this afternoon, a scene from Honky Tonk, working with one of the actresses for the first time. Meanwhile going to play in Finale, seeing what sounds I can create from an oboe and also from a baritone sax.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Who would've thunk

This afternoon I composed some background music for Scrapple, a single cello after the piano theme (classical) ends. Discovering new resources in Finale, like high quality instruments. I just ordered the new version which has added a feature I think I'll use much. Scoring is almost as much fun as editing.

Rough cut

Edited a rough cut of the first three minutes of Scrapple... and it looks pretty damn good. Also see what I'm missing and have to cover (cutaways). Also see the coffee cup I have to make sure we use next week ha ha. I'll have to do the longer pieces in parts to upload to YouTube ... the mpeg of the rough cut is 47M.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The routine returns

Piano lessons start up again today ... looking forward to it!

The shoot yesterday resulted in some very good footage. I'm delighted. This one is shaping up.

I'm thinking of future projects utilizing some of the actors I'm working with now, making interesting pairings.

We're making our Idaho trip later this summer.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Remembering Paul deLay

Loose ends

Just wrote in my posthumous blog (!) about the two major unresolved personal issues in my life. I'll take both to my grave. In my work, these issues get resolved to various degrees but life is messier than art; in life, they just hang there, bugging me. But it takes two to tango and the partners refuse to play. That's that. The thing is, I have to accept this fact and stop brooding about them -- though, of course, they do make for dramatic moments in my work. "It's all material."

A good shoot yesterday afternoon again. Back today to the piece that's messier in coming together, hoping to see progress.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Subject in need of a "real" writer

Roswell. I say this after finishing Witness to Roswell, a book published this year that is so full of first-hand testimony and information that it's difficult to imagine how the authors made the book so dull. By having no narrative strategy, no structure, no momentum. This is a seemingly random collection of startling information but as such lends itself not to engrossing and gripping reading but to browsing, looking for juicy tidbits.

A writer with talent, who knows how to tell a compelling story, needs to tackle this subject matter. There's lots of evidence on the table now to make a compelling case, an incredibly gripping read. Someone please do it before I pass on.


Book delivery this morning took me through north Portland, a neighborhood that always brings back memories. First, from 1967, when we lived on N. Mississippi and I got it together as a writer, a time when I was hallucinating happiness with more intensity than before or since (how else to describe it, given that events proved this was one-sided); and then in the early 80s, as the first managing editor of the fledgling Oregon Business Magazine, I worked in an office in the same neighborhood, my last "9 to 5" job. After that, I took on the 24/7 job of a serious writer ha ha.

Memories, memories. The essay I'm researching brings on more.

Food for thought

Iraq is a mess but there's still a "war against terrorism," and the Islamic extremists out to destroy the west. But who is fighting it?

Analysis: Frustrated with 'patriotism lite'

"WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Bush administration's rallying call that America is a nation at war is increasingly ringing hollow to men and women in uniform, who argue in frustration that America is not a nation at war but a nation with only its military at war.
From bases in Iraq and across the United States, officers and enlisted personnel quietly raise a question for political leaders: If America is truly on a war footing, why is so little sacrifice asked of the nation at large?
'Nobody in America is asked to sacrifice except us,' said one officer just back from a yearlong tour in Iraq.
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Saving democracy


Dog taken off voter rolls

More than a year after Jane Balogh registered her dog to vote, his registration has been canceled.

King County Elections Director Sherril Huff on Tuesday removed the dog, registered as Duncan M. MacDonald, from the voter rolls. Balogh, 66, of Federal Way, did not contest the action.

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Ethics v. culture

I have no idea what the argument for this "barbaric" practice is but I'm sure there is one, it's been around for so many centuries. When does one culture have the "moral right" to overrule the practices of another? A complex question.
clipped from www.cnn.com

Concern grows in Britain over female genital mutilation

LONDON, England (AP) -- Female genital mutilation, commonly associated with parts of Africa and the Middle East, is becoming a growing problem in Britain despite authorities' efforts to stamp it out.

The Metropolitan Police, Britain's largest police force, hopes a campaign beginning Wednesday will highlight that the practice is a crime here.

To make their point, police are offering a 20,000-pound (euro29,500; US$40,000) reward for information leading to Britain's first prosecution for female genital mutilation, Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Jeffrey said.

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Good deed

Started cleaning out my office yesterday. I'm decimating the books and videos I have around here. In the past, I've donated books to the library but this time around I am hauling them over to the home of my favorite young writer, who hopefully will find a few she can use. The others she can sell or trade for credits to buy the books she needs as she pursues her MFA. This strikes me as a concrete "good deed" that is less impersonal than giving them to the library.

Later today, an outdoor shoot on a very hot day. But it's a short scene and we should be done in less than an hour. Tomorrow, another afternoon shoot, indoor, a project that hasn't come together yet.

The heart and mind of a scientist

How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space
by Janna Levin is probably the best book I've read that communicates something of the inner life of the scientific mind. I believe I know a bit about this since I published a number theory article in Mathematics Magazine when I was a teenager. Through high school I obsessively kept my own "math journal," an amateur's obsession comparable to Levin's, an astrophysicist chasing all the Big Questions, but who also is in a relationship with a musician and who writes about her personal life. The convergence of the personal and the professional seldom gets such riveting treatment as here.

Is this math useless? Should I stop staring into space, which manages to be disarming by not staring back - a delicious emptiness with a few bright sparks too distant and too old to return a threatening glare. Shouldn't I be more concerned with my ordinary life? Or maybe what I really should say is: shouldn't I accept the ordinariness of life? My friend Prudence keeps asking me, does it affect you, what you think about all day? Does it? I'm not sure. Does it change your world view? I don't know. How do you carry it with you? How can I know?
Nothing is as it seems. Our bodies are mostly water. Water is mostly empty space. Empty space is a harmonic played on a fundamental string. Quantum mechanics says that nature is fundamentally grainy when we focus closely enough. The fundamental grains are made from a handful of different kinds of particles: quarks, leptons, photons, gravitons (which are the quantum units comprising a gravitational wave) and the like. A fairly thrilling theory threatens to overthrow this atomistic assumption. If we looked at the fundamental grains, we would not find point particles, but instead a collective of identical strings. The notes of the string correspond to the different particles that appear to make up the world. So ultimately there is not a handful of distinct particles but only one kind of something, a string.

If you want to get a glimpse into the life of a scientist, read this book.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A good shoot

A good afternoon shoot with Judith Richmond. Lots of usable footage. She does her homework! She develops and presents a consistent character! Everything she does makes sense! What a delight. I'll work with her any time. Not all projects are going this smoothly at the moment, so I needed a good day like this.

Four poems

In Oregon Literary Review.

Monday, July 09, 2007

There's an old saying ...

"God helps those who help themselves." Allah, too, I reckon.
clipped from news.yahoo.com


Official: Iraq gov't missed all targets

By ANNE FLAHERTY and ANNE GEARAN, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON - A progress report on Iraq will conclude that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad has not met any of its targets for political, economic and other reform, speeding up the Bush administration's reckoning on what to do next, a U.S. official said Monday.

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And now, the rest of the story ...

Ah, how many feel good about drinking their bottled water, sure they are demonstrating a healthy life style, good for them, good for the environment ... and then ...
clipped from abcnews.go.com

Ditching Bottled Water to Go Green

At the venerable Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., customers can indulge in baked quail, grilled squab and wines from around the world.

But if bottled water -- a fine-dining fixture -- is your libation of choice, you're out of luck.

"For us, it's about doing the right thing," said Chez Panisse general manager Michael Kossa-Rienzi, referring to the restaurant's recent decision to serve only filtered tap water.

The eatery is joining a growing list of restaurants kicking the bottle for environmental reasons. And some city governments are getting into the act as well.
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Sunday, July 08, 2007


The setting for "Dead Body In A Small Room" (http://www.lulu.com/content/313683), a mystery of the year finalist.
clipped from news.yahoo.com


Hundreds evacuated in Nevada wildfire

By MARTIN GRIFFITH, Associated Press Writer

RENO, Nev. - An 8,000-acre wildfire forced hundreds of people in the town of Winnemucca to leave their homes, one of more than a dozen blazes that charred a combined 55 square miles in northern Nevada.

The fire near Winnemucca, about 170 miles east of Reno, threatened up to eight blocks of homes and an electrical substation, said U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Jamie Thompson.

"It's right up to the south edge of town," he said. "The fire definitely poses a danger to parts of the town. It's certainly got everyone's attention."

Yet another Nevada fire that was started by lightning Saturday threatened structures and led to the evacuation of campers about 30 miles south of Elko, officials said.

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