Sunday, September 30, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Dixon found receiver Cameron Colvin on the left sideline. As Colvin headed toward the goal line, he took a hit from Cal's Marcus Ezeff at the 1-yard line that jarred the ball loose. It bounced into the end zone, then out of bounds.
Good reporting, from the AP online:
With 22 seconds to go, Oregon's Dennis Dixon hit receiver Cameron Colvin, who fumbled trying to reach the ball into the end zone when he was hit by Marcus Ezeff. The loose ball went through the end zone and was ruled a touchback and possession for Cal. The play was reviewed, the call stood and time ran out for Oregon (4-1, 1-1).
The difference? The AP correctly puts the blame on the receiver. He didn't have to reach the ball out, he could have protected it. Don't they teach fundamentals any more?
Friday, September 28, 2007
Off to do writerly chores, first to the copy center to leave the script (I get it done on 3-holed paper to save grunt work), to Starbucks next door to pick up a dime cup of coffee for a buck and a half, then to the library to pick up UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT, which I've been waiting to read. In fact, I may begin now, despite a list of writing and editing projects to do. Friday's a good day for mellowing out.
Dos Passos and U.S.A.
“It’s some bizarre, weirdly out-of-proportion fixation,” Ms. Faludi said, “an exaltation of American masculinity in an intergalactic crisis.”
Philadelphia tied the New York Mets for the NL East lead for the first time since the season began, the Chicago Cubs held a two-game lead over Milwaukee in the NL Central and Arizona was one game in front of San Diego and two ahead of Colorado in the NL West.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The book on the Duke lacrosse fiasco is waiting for me at the library. I'll pick it up tomorrow. Also have Don DeLillo's new novel.
Brazil went ahead on an own-goal in the 20th minute, and Marta made it 2-0 soon after. Cristiane and Marta added goals in the second half, with Marta becoming the tournament's leading scorer with seven goals.
A Farewell to Arms, Scott, Agnes
When Hemingway sent off the story for serialization in Scribner's Magazine that spring he kept back the last page, saying that after ten days working on the final three paragraphs they were "almost right." They would take another month, and hasten another farewell: in the interim, F. Scott Fitzgerald asked to read the manuscript, and sent Hemingway nine pages of suggested revisions, with a note saying, "Our poor old friendship probably won't survive this but there you are..."; at the bottom of the final page of Fitzgerald's comments Hemingway wrote, "Kiss my ass."
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I have two novels in progress, both based on personal history, what I think of as the Sally novel and the Cold War novel, and though I like both, I'm not wild about either. So I'm turning to the concept about which I am wild, NAILS IN MY COFFIN, the collection of stories as novel, all set in a retirement center, each chapter about the death of a character. A dark comedy, lots of unexpected behaviors among the geriatric set (to which I seem to be sprinting). I'm very, very conscious of time these days, not only because of my age but because both of my parents dropped dead on the spot without warning and I don't want to discount a family tradition therein. It's not like I have all the time in the world to write this and then that. I need to focus on the projects that excite me most and right now COFFIN excites me more than either of the novels in progress. So I am going to start building the characters in this work, and their stories, and we'll see if my excitement survives.
The new video is slow going, mostly because I still need a cast and even then my own time is more limited due to teaching, let alone scheduling shoots around every one else's schedules. So my goal is to finish before Christmas. Hopefully sooner -- I'd love to shoot it in October, but I have no idea yet what folks' schedules look like. Also, I may be doing more weekend shooting, something I didn't do on the summer projects.
Took a peak at the Norway-Germany women's soccer semi-final, hoping Norway would make a go of it. Alas...the defending champs looked damn good. I think the U.S. may have its hands full with Brazil tomorrow.
Good Saturday football games coming up: Cal at Oregon, UCLA at Oregon State and USC at Washington. I'll be rooting for Oregon, UCLA and Washington.
A week from Saturday we see CABARET. Looking forward to it, been a while. I've seen about 4 productions. It was on the amazing Fornara season I wrote about. No response from the editor yet, knock on my wooden head.
Still a lazy day, work to do or not.
Looks like a decent class, although my classroom leaves much to be desired. My string of great classroom assignments is over. Maybe I'll do better next term.
A relaxing day of grunt work chores and getting into gear on several projects in progress. I got a lot of work done at the office yesterday, including preparing two new stories for submission to my agent. Maybe I can finish that up today. I'm eager to get writing on a new screenplay but I need a story he thinks he can sell! I've never been more aware of how story-driven (not writing-driven) LaLaLand is. I'm 0 for 2 in my story submissions so far.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
90 minutes till class time. I'm eager to start. Have a long waiting list, though, and I doubt if everyone will get in.
Have some auditions next week for the new project. I think one short film a term will be my goal through the school year. Not sure I'll have time to do more than that.
And we go to the opera tonight, Carmen.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I'm thinking of doing an annotated re-reading of LOVE'S BODY. Chapter by chapter reflections. Might be a useful mode for my mind in these crazy times. I've been feeling intellectually lazy recently.
Brown's mind was extraordinary. He faced the Big Questions head on. He saw the repetition in human history that we all see, and he went out, through vast reading and unfettered thinking, to explain why this should be so. The result, a very provocative and "new" view of man, which immediately was misinterpreted and misused.
I'm overdue for a reading of LOVE'S BODY. I can count on one hand the books that were major influences on my own thinking about the Big Questions: Russell's MARRIAGE AND MORALS and WHY I AM NOT A CHRISTIAN; de Rougemont's LOVE IN THE WESTERN WORLD; Brown's LOVE'S BODY; Camus' THE MYTH OF SISYPHUS.
Yes, time to look at Brown again, to be reminded of his grasp for it all.
Norman Brown, Playful Philosopher, 89, Is Dead
Dr. Brown was a master of philosophical speculation, mixing
``I have absolutely no use for the human-potential
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Yet this, writing, is a kind of performance. One critic from the 1960s called it "the performing self" and I've always liked that description, right up there with "the unemployed magician" (Karl Shapiro) for a proper description of the literary artist. One of the advantages of playwriting over other kinds of writing is that the author can get a belated glimpse of audience response. Indeed, one of the highs of my writing career was when at the final curtain of my play Country Northwestern, a guy in the audience yelled out, "This play has balls!" This was more satisfying than a prize.
I was talking to a screenwriter recently who confided how lonely she's been the past year, with no one in her life to talk shop or share the craft with. Yes, writing can be a lonely occupation, which is why writing groups are formed, I suppose. One of the reasons. I've never been much of a joiner myself and have pretty much taken the journey alone. Early in my career I was blessed with important personal and editorial company and later I had good support from a couple of buddies. But I've outlived them, so now what strokes I get (and I actually don't need many) are from some fans scattered hither and yon, some former students.
Since I'm prolific, and since I always am interested in the current work more than anything else, often when I get a stroke, it's for something I don't give much thought to any more, which lessens the satisfaction. It's almost as if I'm no longer the writer who wrote the work being praised. No, I'm the guy writing this here now. There's a certain mystery to past work, especially when the past is far away. I look at my best short stories from the 60s and 70s and marvel that I wrote them, that I took that many risks and pulled them off. I couldn't do that today. I know too much now ha ha and wouldn't dare try some of the things I did. Youthful energy can blast ahead without worrying about what I worry about today.
Still, I think I'm a better writer today than in the past. I suppose if I didn't, I'd quit.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
A jazz legend stepped onto a Portland stage last night, and a capacity auditorium worshipped him. On his way to Monterey for the 50th anniversary jazz festival this weekend (Rollins played at the 1st, and I was in Monterey during the 4th, studying Russian at the Army Language School), he made a stop in Portland. He moved like the old man he is but he played with youthful energy. Personally, I prefer a more melodic and mellow tradition in jazz (Gerry Mulligan, Ben Webster), but legends are legends and Rollins gave a great show.
Friday, September 21, 2007
ALL THE KIDS
40's, 50's, 60's and 70's !!
we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't
get tested for diabetes.
Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs
covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when
we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took
As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats,
booster seats, seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE
actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank koolade made with sugar, but we weren't overweight because .
WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!
would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were
back when the streetlights came on.
one was able to reach us all day.
we were O.K.
would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride
the hill, only to find out we
forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we
learned to solve the problem.
did not have Playstations, Nintendo's,
all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no
no personal computers , no Internet or chat
HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found
out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no
from these accidents.
worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us
were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays,
games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it
would happen, we did not put out very many
rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or
the bell, or just walked in and talked to
League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't
had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine
of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard
actually sided with the law!
generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem
solvers and inventors ever!
The past 50
years have been an explosion of innovation and new
had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we
WITH IT ALL!
Has there ever been a generation who didn't believe the world was going to hell? Well, I can remember my dad saying he's glad I didn't have to go through what he went through (Great Depression, WWII)...but as he got older, he didn't approve of much of what he saw. I wouldn't trade places with someone in a younger generation for any gifts the gods might offer. Not being raised on TV might be the greatest accidental blessing of my birth. But it was also very cool, as I've said here before, to be a teenager at the birth of rock and roll. See Birthing Little Richard.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
In her recent Emmy acceptance speech, Sally Field said if the world were run by mothers, there'd be no more war. Well, here are some mothers I'd just as soon not have in power, thank you very much.
--Beverley Allitt: Attentive pediatric nurse, suffering from bizarre Munchausen by Proxy syndrome, maims and murders many babies before the hospital understands the problem.
--Velma Barfield: This adoring mother and pious Christian grandmother had a secret habit -- she poisoned her husbands, boyfriends, elderly people in her care and even her mother. The amazing thing is how long this Black Widow serial poisoner got away with it.
--Diane Downs: "Somebody just shot my kids!" The blond woman yelled to the emergency room nurses. The two nurses teetered when they looked through the windows of the Nissan. Side panels were soaked in blood and amidst the blood lay three small children, one in the front passenger seat, two in the back. First glance told the nurses the children had been shot at very close range. Two of the children still breathed, although strenuously; the boy gasped for air. The child found slumped in the front seat appeared beyond help; despite frantic efforts by the doctors at the operating table, the damage had been lethal. She was pronounced dead moments after being wheeled to emergency. Someone without a heart had deliberately attempted to murder three kids in cold blood, and, despite the odds, despite a fate that looked gloomy, the caretakers hastened to keep that fate at bay and beat it at its own game: with deliberate intention. Who in the name of God could have aimed a pistol at three small children and pulled the trigger?" The facts came to light in a most suspicious manner and unlike those explained by the mother, Diane Downs.
--Kathleen Folbigg: Tragic crib deaths appear to be the reason that Kathleen Folbigg's babies died, but then her husband finds her terrifying diaries.
--Genene Jones: Texas pediatric nurse takes over the care of babies and murders them by injecting one after another. Almost as criminal is how the hospitals and staff ignored the problem until Genene's shift became known as the Death Shift.
--Katherine Knight: Katherine Mary Knight, though not the first person to skin and eat her lover, was arguably the most depraved monster in Australia's grizzly homicidal history.
--Sylvia Likens: Sixteen-year-old Sylvia Likens was found murdered with "I'm a prostitute and proud of it" burned onto her stomach. The perpetrators of her slow, tortured death turned out to be the family that was caring for her and several neighborhood children. A new attempt to bring the story of this 1965 murder to the screen is underway for 2007, but does it give us any insight into how mother and group of children could commit such a horrible crime?
--Dorothea Puente: The stench hovered over the Sacramento neighborhood like a putrid fog, sickly sweet and pungent. Everyone knew where it came from - the yard of the pale blue Victorian at 1426 F Street, where Dorothea Puente rented out rooms to elderly and infirm boarders. No one suspected that the sweet-faced, grandmotherly lady was systematically drugging and killing her frail boarders and burying their remains in the yard she so lovingly tended. She got away with murder for years.
--Marybeth Tinning: Marybeth Tinning was a familiar sight in Schenectady's trauma centers. She usually came running into one of the city's emergency rooms, confused and hysterical, typically with one of her eight children cradled in her arms, either dead or near dead. The medical staff knew Marybeth well. Some hated her. Others felt great sorrow and pity for her. That's because from January 3, 1972, the day her daughter Jennifer died, until December 20, 1985, when Tami Lynne was found dead in her home, all eight of Marybeth Tinning's children died suddenly and usually without any rational explanation.
--Andrea Yates: Woman drowns her five children -- one at a time after her husband goes to work. Is she psychotic or a monster? Incorrect expert testimony causes murder convictions to be overturned.
It's fashionable and politically correct to assume that females are nicer folks than males in our species. So much for equality. But, in fact, I think the evidence shows a propensity for depravity does not respect gender. That's why Russia's Catherine the Great wasn't a peacenik. Sorry, Sally.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
There's a hint of excitement on campus, as we prepare for school to start next week. Last minute cosmetic fixes here and there. I'm excited myself -- and very, very curious to see how many students pick the new video option I'm offering them.
I brought headphones to school, a set to keep here, so I can do all my YouTube business with the T1 line, a real treat. Finished my uploading and now might do some video research while I'm here. I like it here, my office my home away from home. I like being at the university. It's really the only connection to Portland I have any more. Take away PSU and I could leave this town in the snap of a finger. I don't like most of the changes that have happened in neighborhood after neighborhood. I don't relate to what most folks think is "cool" about Portland now. I'd rather live in eastern Oregon, except for the winters. I'd actually rather live in Pasadena, where I grew up. But H will never move, and PSU at least makes my staying here comfortable.
Well, back to research.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Wouldn't it be lovely
if there was world peace
and if I didn't make a rolling stop
and forget to count the morning donut
and swear at the driver who cut me off
and sneak a gander at her cleavage
and forget to put the cash gift on my taxes
and lie that I was sick and had to stay home
and pretend to admire her new hair style
and forget to mention that he's a real ass
and access the porn site
and steal a ballpoint from the bank
and exaggerate my credentials
and pretend everything is really great
wouldn't it be lovely
if there was world peace
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Writing on the run
Sometimes I have to grab my writing time whenever and wherever I can find it. Yesterday I had a business lunch. I arrived early, laptop word processor in hand, and managed to write 3 or 4 pages on my novel before my lunch partner arrived. My laptop is an AlphaSmart 3000 and I swear by it -- 700 hours on 2 AA batteries! All it does is write, and that's all I need it to do. No, I don't own stock. Honestly.
Note the date, 2003, almost 5 years ago. Actually it runs on THREE AA batteries, not 2. And I changed them today. I replaced the original batteries!!!!!!! I didn't have to, actually, it was still running fine but I was down to 45% battery strength, so I figured, what the hell. Memory told me I had almost 3 years on them -- not five!
Now why in hell don't they develop batteries for laptops that will do this?
I want to be struck by lightning
I want to be minding my own business
pushing a cart in the supermarket
filling the car with gas
buying stamps at the post office
and be struck by lightning
It will happen the moment our eyes meet
It will happen without warning
no clouds, no wind
no weather forecast
minding my own business
what happens next doesn't matter
whether we kiss near the broccoli
whether we fondle by the ethyl pump
whether we fuck at the stamp machine
or whether we run in opposite directions
it doesn't matter
what matters is
I was struck by lightning
and didn't expect it
and didn't plan for it
and didn't understand it
and didn't know how to react to it
and found myself sweating
losing my mind
losing my comfort
I want to be struck by lightning
and go from there
Been brooding about the novel, which is good. It's on my mind again. Some new ideas brewing. I do know better now than to mess with the narrative style. This isn't Joyce, it's Steinbeck.
One week away from returning to the classroom. I'm just about ready.
I was never a big Wolfe fan, although no one can deny the poetic power of many passages. But I demand more efficiency in art I respond to. Wolfe, however, was my buddy Dick's favorite writer, the romantic outpourings of soulful writer a perfect fit for Dick's own romantic yearnings. So I got a good dose of TW over the years.
Surely the Beats were influenced by Wolfe's passion. And it would not surprise me if this tradition is continued somewhere on the Internet today, some blogger somewhere pouring out his or her soul, a rush of words that one day will be organized and re-presented as a "novel."
I don't think Wolfe is much in literary fashion today. I don't hear my students discussing his books. I don't see the books on the university bookstore shelves. But for a time, in the 40s and 50s, many considered him our most important novelist, my buddy among them.
See Today In Literature.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Wednesday I'll spend some time at the university, taking advantage of the T1 connection to upload the Flash files to the OLR site.
The pharmaceutical sales representative from Atlanta, Georgia, says it doesn't fit in with her current lifestyle as the mother of a 2-year-old boy who just started to talk. "The other day I bent over and he said, 'What's that?' and it just confirms why I'm having it removed."
The American Academy of Dermatology reports tattoo regret is common in the United States. Among a group of 18- to 50-year-olds surveyed in 2004, 24 percent reported having a tattoo and 17 percent of those considered getting their tattoo removed.
Not all actors I pre-cast in "Like Mother, Like Daughter" are interested, so I need to replace them. This may delay the start of shooting but maybe not. I have some backups to try.
Various chores to do around here as well. H takes off for the east coast in about three weeks, will be gone about a month.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
And with the passing of Dr. Jazz, the dixieland weekend morning shows are not the same. They call it "tradjazz" now and they over-produce it and get cute with it and there is no personality, none, to the show. Why the hell don't they replay tapes of Dr. Jazz? He was there for decades. Who is going to remember his show from 19xx, say, and the music was all recorded years ago anyway.
Even with Portland changing for the worse, in my view, I could escape to a couple of good radio stations. Now FOG is even polluting the airwaves.
This morning I read a new story from a young writer I've been mentoring. Damn, she can write! I wish I had her chops. But she's not as good a storyteller as she could be, which is where I might be able to help her. I run into a lot of young writers whose language skills far surpass their storytelling skills. I don't think much teaching of storytelling goes on in our schools.
I think storytelling begins with an insight by Aristotle in his Poetics, that Action is more important than Character. This is quite out of fashion in literary circles and completely misunderstood by Hollywood. But I think Aristotle was right, and ignoring his advice results in the avalanche of beautifully written stories in which nothing happens, a literary disease of recent times.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
I don't go to many readings, and I don't do many. However, I jump at any chance I get to read in Eastern Oregon. Invite me to La Grande, Enterprise, Baker, and I'll be there! The last time I was there was on an Oregon Book Award tour.
The last reading I did was a couple years ago on Mississippi Avenue. I only did it because the street is special to me, where I lived in 1967 when I first starting publishing in the literary magazines. Where I became a writer. I went and wasn't disappointed. I read my very short story, "Meeting Nicole Kidman," and it went over well.
Today I'm going again for reasons of place and nostalgia. I was asked to participate in a neighborhood festival where I haven't lived for over a decade, but I was a visible presence when I was there. Fond memories of those times, the 80s in NW Portland, when (according to my NY agent at the time) the neighborhood was "the way Greenwich Village used to be." Long gone and no more. But I'll take the stage for fifteen minutes and relive the past a little, before gentrification crucified Portland's soul.
I'm reading from Christmas at the Juniper Tavern by request. I'll read a few monologues from the play and close with two logging poems by Fred Ross, the Poet of Juniper Mountain, including this short one, my favorite:
His hickory shirt was glazed with dirt
as he stepped up to the bar.
"Gimme a shot of rotgut whiskey
and the butt on an old cigar.
I'm in from the cold where the vine maples grow
and the dogwoods bloom in the spring.
I've been in the woods for thirty years
and I haven't accomplished a thing."
I'm not fit company
for women of intelligence
if their necks are long
if their hips are slim
if their eyes darken
with forbidden possibilities
I'm not fit company
for women of intelligence
who reject an old biology
who prefer sensitive men
who talk about feelings
If a thought
is unspoken speech
then isn't a feeling
And if a feeling is unthought
how possibly can it be talked about?
I'm not fit company
for women of intelligence
who mistake equality
Which brings me to you
In these dim lights
I’m not sure what I see
but go on instinct when I say
the odds strike me as good
despite the pleasantries between us
I’m not fit company
I’m not fit company
I myself have seen my wilder days
And I have seen my name at the top of the page
But I need to find a friend just to run around
But nobody wants to get high on the town
And all my rowdy friends have settled down
Well, actually most of my rowdy friends are dead or MIA.
The jackpot that was the stuff of dreams turned into a nightmare: His wife left him and his drug-addicted granddaughter -- his protege and heir -- died. He endured constant requests for money.
Almost five years later, Whittaker is left with things money can't cure: His daughter's cancer, a long list of indiscretions documented in newspapers and court records, and an inability to trust others.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Heard from one of my opera singers, who has the hots to get started on the pop opera. I started the libretto but I need to bring it front burner now. We still have music to write after that.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
It's easy to grieve at the loss
of strangers. The mother in Pittsburgh,
her son blown into pieces in Baghdad;
the couple on vacation in Portugal,
their daughter kidnapped and then, incredibly,
themselves the prime suspect; the widower
who lost everything ("all my pictures of Alice!")
in the hurricane.
My eyes water when I hear their stories
on a nightly newscast too short to cover
all the personal tragedies in the land.
To grieve for strangers is easy.
Not so easy to look in the mirror
and see, behind the complacent neutrality
of my daily mask, the caravan of failures
that tromps over my soul like boots in dust
dryer than the fossils.
Not so easy to take myself
seriously enough to grieve.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the publication of On the Road (see earlier post), the local jazz station is playing music in tribute to the Beats, bringing back tons of memories. Listening on my way to the post office to mail DVDs, I had to grab a Pepsi and cruise a spell, getting in the groove. Nostalgia, of course, but maybe something more than this as well. A highlight of my essay about Portland's 1978 theater season was getting Bob Hicks, the senior critic at the paper, who has been observing the theater scene here for 30 years, to go on record that, yes, this era was special in our regional theatrical history. We old farts aren't just sailing down memory lane -- we were actively a part of something very special here.
So with the Beats. A very special era -- the jazz/poetry collaborations so common, the coffee houses, the new voices in literature.
The jazz tribute is hosted by a regular DJ at the station, who sounds just like another regular, both of whom sound just like my friend Jeff, a DJ now in San Jose, whom I met 30+ years ago on Maryland's Eastern Shore, who directed me as Peter in Albee's Zoo Story, at Pemberton Free Theater, a company I founded to do outdoor summer plays for free. Jeff's a good man, now working on a one-man show for himself.
This morning I got some good writing done on "Like Mother, Like Daughter," an adaptation of my play Waitresses that I hope to shoot in October. I have it pre-cast if everyone accepts their roles. I'm less than 5 pages from the end, I think, so maybe I can finish the draft this week and distribute it next. I think I have my three locations as well.
I want to write something that takes place in the rain and shoot it in the winter. I like the ambiance of rain.
I'm also still thinking of a feature for next summer. I have an adaptation in mind, something in the public domain.
I need to spend some time on the piano this afternoon. Important! We have a harder-than-usual piece to learn this week.
Like the publisher says, "...my opinion about James Frey and whatever he did is beside the point." Business, dear friends, is business. Business is business!
listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go