Friday, November 30, 2007
The computer here won't read the DVD disk of the JT files, so I'll take care of them at home, then bring them here on the flash drive Tuesday.
A good piano class. Wish it was more often than once a week.
3 students showed their short videos in class yesterday. Some good stuff. I thought more would take the filmmaking option, actually. Well, it's a start. We'll see how it goes in future terms.
I gave several students an extension on their term projects, which I seldom do. But they're otherwise good students having more than the usual problems with screenwriting. I want to give them as much time as possible.
My teddy bear was named Bo-Bo. A family story has it that I ripped out its eyes one time so he wouldn't see me cry. There's a good traditional male upbringing for you.
What's going to happen when these crazies get nukes?
Thursday, November 29, 2007
- Download it, using the link at the bottom of the page. It's small.
- Go to Frugal Fiction's General Fiction page and click on the cover of my novel Kerouac's Scroll. You can read the first 50 pages with the reader. Note the controls and features if you right-click a page, such as taking notes. I like this interface a lot.
The last day of classes. Evaluations, watch student work. Collect their term scripts.
But the WGA writers strike looks like it may be a long one. On NPR this morning, there was an interesting dissenting opinion from a sometimes Hollywood writer who had very mixed feelings about the strike. Read it here.
The writers' strike basically shapes up as a couple of third cousins at Thanksgiving dinner arguing over who gets a slightly larger slice of the billion dollar pumpkin pie: the writers who create the movies and shows, or the corporations who actually take all the financial risk that allows us Hollywood writers to write in Hollywood in the first place.
Today I collect term projects, so the next week is pretty much dedicated to reading and grading. But in a week or slightly more, I should have my grades in -- and a full four weeks off before the winter term begins! I expect to finish the draft and a rewrite or two of the screenplay, plus get a start on the novel. A term break of writing! I may even shoot a short video I have in mind that wouldn't be too hard to do and require no one else.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I think my second act entry-struggles are going the same way. I thought of a tweak in the back story and this new line of thinking has shown me the way in, I think. I'll work on it today.
Shakespeare in Trouble
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
It's an easy week and a hard weekend. Tie loose ends and show videos today and Thursday. Today is a nice new documentary, "Dreams On Spec," following 3 writers in LA trying to make it as screenwriters. Very realistic.
This weekend I read and grade their final scripts. I have one student so good I already gave her an A and told her no revision necessary for a grade, spend your time on the final essay. She's taking advanced screenwriting next term, so I get to keep working with her. Students as good as she are a blessing.
Over the break, my goal is to finish the draft of my own splay in progress. I have a good first act, I think, but I haven't found the right one to get Act II going. Some new ideas on this. Onward.
Raymond Chandler's Long Goodbye
I need a high tech classroom, or at least it makes my job easier, and always request one and usually get one. But this term I didn't. So this means to show a video, I push a cart loaded with a DVD player, projector, speaker and various cables all the way across campus to my classroom, use the handicapped ramps to get to the basement elevator, up to my floor, to the other end of the building where the classroom is, where I assembly everything before class. The entire process takes about half an hour. A lot less convenient than walking in with a DVD player to hook to outlets on the wall, everything else already installed in the classroom.
I don't know what kind of classroom I've been assigned for winter term. I have my fingers crossed.
Portland State's Instruction Technology Services Department is updating more than 110 classrooms with new technology services, such as projectors and electronic podiums, in an effort to standardize a high level of technology in both classrooms and departmental offices.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Grand Prize: $25,000
1st Runner Up: $15,000
2nd Runner Up: $10,000
The guidelines also reflect how different this competition is:
Primary purpose of the prize is to further the influence of moral
and spiritual values within the film and television industries. (Details below: click to enlarge.)
Man, these kind of scripts are really hard to write without getting didactic and dramatically boring. The winners will earn their rewards.
The Cowgirls have won their first four games, including a 67-66 overtime
Imagine the inexpensive technology that could be produced with proper motivation. You already see this in the software arena, things like the Open Office suite. There's a hardware equivalent to this attitude.
Gabriel Morales, a technology enthusiast in Miami, feels so passionately about distributing the laptop commercially that he has set up a Web site, XOforall.com, to drum up public support for continued commercialization.
What's so special about this game? Some highlights from Wikipedia:
Despite the fact that Army and Navy are no longer nationally competitive on a regular basis, the tradition of the game has ensured that it remains nationally televised to this day. Arguably, one of the great appeals of this game to many fans is that since few, if any, of the participants will ever play in the NFL, they're playing solely for the love of the game.
The game is especially emotional for the seniors, called "first classmen" by both academies, since it is typically the last competitive football game they will ever play. (The 1996 game was an aberration, as both Army and Navy went to bowl games afterwards, and Navy has played in a bowl game in each season since 2003.) During wartime the game is even more emotional because some seniors will not return once they are deployed. For instance, in the 2004 game, at least one senior from the class of 2003 who was killed in Iraq, Navy's J.P. Blecksmith, was remembered. The players placed their comrade's pads and jerseys on chairs on the sidelines. Much of the sentiment of the game goes out to those who share the uniform and who are overseas.
At the end of the game the alma maters of the losing team and then the winning team are played and sung. The winning team stands alongside the losing team and faces the losing academy students; then the losing team accompanies the winning team, facing their students. This is done in a show of mutual respect and solidarity.
With so much hype and arrogance in sports today, Army-Navy is a refreshing return to the sports climate I remember from my youth.
Army-Navy Football Website.
Army-Navy Scores, 1890-2006. Navy 51 wins, Army 49 wins, 7 ties.
Army-Navy and black-eyed peas!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
When Dennis Dixon went out, the explosive Oregon offense became average, at best. When his backup at quarterback was injured as well, the Ducks had no chance. So now, unlikely as it might seem, the once-reeling UCLA Bruins have a shot at playing in the Rose Bowl game.
How refreshing, then, to watch the Matalin-Carville show, the odd couple of politics, she a Republican strategist, he Democratic, married and apparently happily so. See them if you get a chance.
Before a crowd of 1100,
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Steinbeck, Shakespeare, Pearls
Friday, November 23, 2007
Lamar Waldron is the author (with Thom Hartmann) of Ultimate Sacrifice: John and Robert Kennedy, the Plan for a Coup in Cuba, and the Murder of JFK. I highly recommend this meticulously researched and fully documented book.
"But no future historian of that tormented period in American history will be able to ignore their very convincing presentation, even if a lay reader may feel overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the evidence." Publishers Weekly
So much has been written about JFK’s assassination–what in your book is new?
A tremendous amount. With the help of almost two dozen people who worked with John and Robert Kennedy–backed up by thousands of documents in the National Archives–we discovered that JFK and his brother had a never-before-revealed plan to stage a coup against Castro on December 1, 1963. The CIA’s code-name for their part of the plan–AMWORLD–has never appeared in print before, and was withheld from the Warren Commission and later Congressional investigating committees. As part of the coup plan, in the days and weeks before Dallas, Robert Kennedy even had a top secret committee making plans for dealing with the possible “assassination of American officials,” in case Castro found out about the coup plan and tried to retaliate.However, the Kennedy’s coup plan was infiltrated by three powerful Mafia bosses being targeted by Attorney General Robert Kennedy: Johnny Rosselli of the Chicago Mafia, Tampa godfather Santo Trafficante, and Carlos Marcello (godfather of Louisiana and east Texas). The Mafia dons used parts of the secret coup plan to try and assassinate JFK first in Chicago (on 11-2-63), then in Tampa (on 11-18-63, an attempt never revealed before), and finally in Dallas. By planting evidence implicating Castro, the mob bosses prevented Robert Kennedy and other key officials from conducting a thorough investigation, in order to protect the coup plan and prevent nuclear confrontation with the Russians.
While it’s been known since the early 1990s that Robert Kennedy eventually told close associates the Mafia was behind his brother’s death, the book finally explains how the Mafia did it, presenting a huge amount of new information.
Read complete interview.
Ultimate Sacrifice website.
At this point, the championship game might be between Kansas and West Virginia, and this matchup would be wonderful. Keep the usual football giants out of it. Not as good as Yale--Harvard but closer than Ohio State--USC, say. But lots can still happen in the final two weeks.
Guess what? You can oppose changing the name of Interstate, the old 99W highway that runs between Oregon and Washington, a street with historic significance, and not be a racist. You can't convince the supporters of such a name change of this, but there you are. From the beginning, this affair was mishandled, largely by the mayor, who avoided hearing from those who actually live in the area affected by the change. And when belated meetings finally were held, all hell broke lose.
So the council looks for a compromise but forgets that the street in question runs through Chinatown, where a street named for a Latino hero didn't make sense. This is when it got pretty funny.
Of course, not many people were laughing. They were too busy calling the other side names.
And we're "the city that works"?
Thursday, November 22, 2007
IN THE CAREFREE IDYLL of my youth, when Appletons twenty strong gathered at my grandparents' house each Thanksgiving Day, Uncle Buck always drank too much and never failed to do something that would embarrass Aunt Betty. He would return from the bathroom with his fly open, or belch during grace, or tell a very dirty story, or dribble giblet gravy on the tie he wore only on holidays, before grumbling, "I knew the goddamn thing was good for something. Kept the shirt clean, didn't it?"
Aunt Betty, who was my mother's sister, would begin the process of coaxing him home then, and she usually succeeded before the pumpkin and mincemeat and apple and pecan pies were passed around the table.
A bit later, after grandfather began to fidget prior to suggesting that the men retire to the basement, where whiskey and cigars awaited them, the loud backfiring of Uncle Buck's ancient pickup could be heard outside and soon thereafter the slamming of the pickup door in the driveway and then the idiosyncratic howling that was my uncle's habit whenever he had too much to drink, which was often:
"Do you really knoooooooooow?," he howled.
Everyone knew that Uncle Buck was back.
After shooting a stern glance at me and my cousins, daring us to laugh out loud (though cousin Judy, Buck's daughter, always looked close to tears), grandfather would ask grandmother if there were clean sheets in the guest room, knowing full well that she never let anyone in the front door unless there were fresh sheets in all the bedrooms and fresh towels in all the bathrooms.
As Uncle Buck continued to howl outside, grandfather would make the habitual suggestion to retire, and so the men would rise in unison to head for the stairs to the basement, where they would let Uncle Buck in through the outside entrance.
Before long Uncle Buck wouldn't be the only intoxicated relative in the house, nor the only one howling.
This routine was so attached to Thanksgiving that I looked forward to it and was disappointed to learn, the holiday of my freshman year in high school, that Uncle Buck had stopped drinking.
The uncle was modeled after a relative of my best friend, an ex-logger, who indeed would howl "Do you really knoooooooooow?" whenever he got drunk, which was daily.
Dick, my friend, appreciated the story and after that "the epistemological uncle" became a kind of codeword between us whenever arguments we'd overhear would deteriorate into matters of semantics, as almost all arguments do. Either of us saying this, or "do you really knooooooooooooow?," could crack us up. To observers, we often were cracking up without any apparent reason, the advantage of knowing one another so well and being so often on the same wave length. We laughed one hell of a lot when no one else was.
In the 80s, there were some nice Thanksgiving open house dinners at Nobby's. I'd always bring shrimp aspic and oyster dressing.
Lately, though, for me the highlights of November and December aren't holidays but sporting events.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
On November 22nd of 1963
There struck in Dallas, Texas, a great calamity
It shocked our mighty nation and all beneath the sun
When U.S. President Kennedy was downed by a sniper’s gun
It happened on the Dallas streets as he rode in a car
And the streets were lined with people and some had traveled far
Yes, some had come from Waco, and some had come from Kent
And some had come from Fort Worth to see the President
Most of the crowd were happy, they cheered as the car drove by
But some were filled with hatred and held their banners high
One banner read as follows, “We hold you in contempt!
Because of your socialist policies, we hold you in contempt!”
The President ignored them, he let the car drive by
For he knew that they were sick in heart and in the minority
The car continued slowly, “They like you,” the governor’s wife said
When above that crowd of people, three shots rang overhead
The President slumped in his seat, the Governor he fell too
And the wives stared at their husbands in shock of what to do
The car rushed to the hospital and doctors to his side
But one shot had been fatal, and the President he died
They caught Lee Harvey Oswald and charged him with the crime
Of assassinating the President, the calamity of our time
Since Oswald had been to Russia, some said, “We told you so!
We gotta kill off all the Commies cause look what they will do!”
These were the same who held the signs against the President
Though their weapons weren’t as fatal, their hatred was as great
For hatred lurks in hearts that fear the unity of Man
Who fear the ultimate brotherhood of white man, black and tan
The President he knew this, he pledged Universal Law
Was a bullet took our leader, was Hatred was the cause
Today I belong in the Mafia assassination camp regarding this historic event, persuaded by the comprehensive book Ultimate Sacrifice.
This week, Amazon.com Inc. released the Kindle, the best attempt yet at toppling the book. It's in some ways an amazing device, but it's severely undercut by its poor battery life, making it hard to see it as a game-changer.
The painting "Tres Personajes," by Rufino Tamayo, was discovered in 2003 by Elizabeth Gibson, who spotted it on her morning walk on Manhattan's Upper West Side. She said she took it home because "even though I didn't understand it, I knew it had power."
The brightly colored abstract work was purchased for $1,049,000 by an unidentified private American collector bidding by phone at Sotheby's Latin American Art sale on Tuesday night.
Gibson spent four years trying to find out about the painting, finally discovering on the "Antiques Roadshow" Web site that it had been featured on the popular PBS program and described as a missing masterpiece stolen in 1989.
- Great parents. Luck of the draw. They just left too soon.
- Born before WWII. Can remember it. Not raised on TV.
- Survived several wild decades. Not sure why.
- Several great teachers. Linus Pauling. Bob Trevor. Dean Regenos.
- Harriet. I don't want to outlive her.
- Still a survivor. Must be genetics, certainly not a history of good decisions. Astoundingly good health, knock on my wooden head. Flip side, outlived my closest friends.
Chief target is the philosophy of status quo optimism advocated in the 18th century by, among others, Leibnitz. He is personified as Doctor Pangloss in the novel, one whose "metaphysico-theologo-cosmolonigology" allows him to smile stupidly on an endless, intercontinental catalogue of horrors -- rape and slaughter, crime and punishment, earthquake and shipwreck. In Chapter 1, as the good Doctor tutors the young Candide and his love, Cunegonde, "that there is no effect without a cause" and that "all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds,"
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
DEARBORN, Mich. — Professors with tenure or who are on a tenure track are now a distinct minority on the country’s campuses, as the ranks of part-time instructors and professors hired on a contract have swelled, according to federal figures analyzed by the American Association of University Professors.