Monday, March 31, 2008

Opening day

And the Mariners, who had a lousy spring season, win!

Here's one of the few things I've ever written about baseball, published almost 40 years ago, The Last Slow Dance.

Hyperdrama: Robert's Story

1 of 7 parallel narratives in the CHANGING KEY hyperdrama. A developing project at Changing Key website.


A good shoot yesterday, thanks to my fine cast. Finished footage on 2 of the 7 parallel stories, so am editing today. One finished. Will post online later today.

Classes start tomorrow. Looking forward to the new term.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Sunday shoot

Back to shooting video this afternoon. Forecast says possible snow and hail, which will be interesting since I have exterior shots I hope to do. We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Collaborating with my agent

Phone calls and email exchanges with my agent, as we wrote a revised synopsis of The Brazen Wing that focuses on the kid more, prior to the presentation to the teen actor (who is managed by mom). So we'll see how it goes. Meanwhile, I'm ready to write the new ending of Taking Stock as soon as I can find the time.

Blogging from the beach

Nice to get away for a few days. Even nicer to return.

Notes from the beach:

TUES. We have a room at the beach, right on the Promendade in Seaside, view of the ocean, no traffic sounds, nice. Be here for R&R until Friday. Early anniversary present to ourselves. H brought her laptop, there's wireless here, but if I check my email, I think I'll use the Internet Cafe up the way, more of an adventure. Been raining hard, a little break now, but the forecasts is for lots of rain, which is fine. Nothing wrong with staring out at the bad weather from a warm room.

WED. Sketkch, our rat terrier, got me up at 3 a.m. for a pleasant walk on the beach while he searched for a place to do his business. It wasn't raining, wasn't even too cold, actually a nice moment. Then we repeated the game at 730 and I went on to get a cup of coffee at a local cafe. Nothing planned for today, which is great! A little writing and reading and walking and brooding. I'm not completely unwired: I found an Internet cafe where I can check email. I waiting for a room change from the university, need to check in in case there's a hassle.


Back from a walk. I love beach towns. At various times, I've lived in Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades and Monterey, all in California. I've always wanted to live in Venice, right on the boardwalk. On any beach town boardwalk, for that matter, smack in the middle of its summer people-watching splendor and winter ghostliness. When I was going to UCLA, I knew the owner of a Santa Monica bar on the beach and spent many "after hours" there, sometimes until sunrise. Ah, the wildness of our youth.

I spent a great week in Benidorm, Spain, in the early 60s before it became part of the Spanish riviera. Construction going on everywhere at the time.

There's something about living next to the ocean that focuses my perspective on our cosmic smallness. Not a bad thing to rememberj.


Wild weather at the beach! Earlier this afternoon it snowed. Didn't stick long. Now the wind is blowing like hell.


The temperature here has dropped into the 30s. Not Spring break weather at all.

THURS. In a hail storm and sunshine simultaneously this morning. This strange coastal spring weather.

I think this afternoon I'll try and do a complete sequence outline of the NEXT screenplay. I took notes on the current one, the bigger ending, so I can get right on it when we return. I am eager to return, actually. I am happiest in my routine, to my wife's chagrin. I'm not the best traveling partner as a result.

UCLA plays Western Kentucky tonight. Something to look forward to! I worry about the SI jinx and the inconsistent Bruins.

No word on whether I get a room change. Be a big hassle if I don't.

I have music buzzing in my head. This summer I'll see if I can become a composer.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


So I'm walking the dog on the beach, the sun is shining through clouds -- and it starts hailing. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Screenwriting joke

This young starlet decided she was going to sleep her way to the top. Unfortunately she didn't have a clue. She slept with a screenwriter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Now and again I like to unplug for a few days and shake out the cyber-cobwebs. This is one of those times. I'll return in a few.


Howl Heard in Court
On this day in 1957, U.S. Customs agents seized 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg's Howl on the grounds of obscenity. Ginsberg and his lawyers were not hopeful when they learned that the trial judge was a Sunday school teacher who had recently sentenced five shoplifters to a screening of The Ten Commandments, but the ruling was unequivocally for the poem.
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Taking Stock

This is the romantic thriller I've been working on. Trying to get the rewrite done today so I can print it out and spend some time with it during my week off.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

BIAB sample song

Here's a sample song created totally by Band In A Box, from style and structure choices decided by myself: BIAB song.

Do it yourself

An honorable tradition, though as with anything else, applications of genius are rare.
The Woolfs and the Press

On this day in 1917 Leonard and Virginia Woolf purchased a small, used handpress; a month later, it was delivered to Hogarth House, their West London home, and the Hogarth Press was born. Over the next three decades the Woolfs would publish 525 titles, many of them by other influential modernists -- Mansfield, Forster, Eliot -- and most of them collector's items today.

In 1917 Virginia Woolf was not long out of a third mental breakdown, this one prolonged and severe, and Leonard thought that book publishing might be a therapeutic hobby.

Whatever its therapeutic or historic value, the Hogarth Press allowed Virginia Woolf to experiment with her kind of writing. It also saved her from the loathsome prospect of having to take another book to Duckworth Publishing, run by the stepbrothers who sexually abused her.
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tristan and Isolde again

OK, seeing High Definition video on a large screen is the next best thing to being there -- and even has advantages. It was great to see the singers close. I never realized, from watching live opera "from a distance," what good actors so many of them are. Also, during intermissions there were interviews with major singers, the conductor, the videographer, tech people, casting people (who said there are only 10 men in the world today who can sing Tristan!). This gave an inside view of something of a production challenge: rampant illnesses in the cast. For example, in the last four performances, Isolde sang opposite four different men playing Tristan. She had no rehearsal time with any but the scheduled lead. The one this afternoon had just flown in from Berlin. The Isolde actress talked about playing a love scene with a man with whom you not only never rehearsed but never even met! Well, everything went off flawlessly. The only criticism I have of this magnificent production and experience is that the video director got carried away with her split screens now and again, letting form conquer content and getting too artsy-fartsy for her own good.

If you get a chance to see opera on HD, don't pass up the opportunity.

Something else I love about this opera: no breaks in the action. No music breaks where an enthusiastic audience can interrupt the narrative with applause and "Bravos." No opportunity to turn the opera into a social event. Just continuous, unrelenting, accumulating, devastating music!

I did my UCLA English honors thesis on E. A. Robinson's "Arthurian Cycle," three book-length poems (Lancelot, Merlin, Tristram). Time to read his version of Tristan/Tristram again, and I just ordered it via inter-university loan.

The short answer

The live HD simulcast of the Met's Tristan and Isolde today (5.5 hours of the day!) was an extraodinary experience, in some ways a more emotional opera experience than seeing Mahagonny in L.A. More later. I'm in my office, a quick stop before meeting Idaho friends downtown.

But I highly, highly recommend the Met's HD simulcasts. And this opera, well, I wept at the end as I always do. ("Wouldn't it be nice if ...")

Friday, March 21, 2008

Busy, busy

Very busy the next three days. Today's goal is to get all my grades in, which means finishing up the finals, of course. If I can accomplish this, I don't have to accomplish anything else (except watch some tourny basketball on the side).

Tomorrow is the opera. I've never seen an opera this long; listening to Tristan and Isolde, I've done it in segments. After the opera, I arranged to have coffee with my Idaho friends in town. Not sure what effect an almost six-hour opera will have on me, but we'll find out.

Sunday is the shoot. I have a full morning of prep work, then the shoot itself.

Monday I take a breather!

Today my Band In the Box is scheduled for delivery. Maybe I'll have time to play a little with it tonight. First chore with it is to create music themes for the hyperdrama characters (I have two from net sources).

Busy, busy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Better late than ...

Well, the NYTimes finally discovered The Flip, the camcorder I use to shoot my videos. Sunday shoot on the hyperdrama again, the 2nd of 3 consecutive Sundays.
clipped from

Camcorder Brings Zen to the Shoot
Well, this is a little embarrassing. One of the most significant electronics products of the year slipped into the market, became a mega-hit, changed its industry -- and I haven't reviewed it yet.
It's the Flip: a tiny, stripped-down video recorder the size of a digital camera (but you hold it vertically). And in the year since its invention, it has taken 13 percent of the camcorder market, according to its maker, Pure Digital. The latest model, called the Flip Ultra, had its debut six months ago with slightly improved video quality, greater capacity, a tripod mount and better looks (available in white, black, orange, pink and green). It's been the best-selling camcorder on since the day of its debut.
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Portland State v. Kansas

The Big Dance

The tournament begins today! Playing today are Portland State, Stanford, Washington State, UCLA, teams to root for. Oregon plays tomorrow.

The video I'm making about the Portland State game is to enter in a two-minute contest, so it's a real editing challenge. Doing it for the experience, don't really expect to win anything. The contest is at a video forum where I hang out. I have a forty-second start that is pretty effective, I think, leaving me 80 seconds to cover the game. I'll be at the campus showing, where I expect to get lots of fan shots and noise; and I'm taping the game here, where I hope to get some game shots. I found a great sound track, the PSU fight song (which is to the same tune as an Ohio State one, which is far easier to find) performed by the Air Force band. Have good headlines and stills. Now to get good video.

After that, back home to watch afternoon games and finish grading finals. I'll wrap the latter up tomorrow and hopefully get my grades in then. Also tomorrow, Band In A Box is scheduled to arrive, giving me a great tool for my video hyperdrama. An opera on Saturday, a shoot on Sunday. How did I get so goddamn busy?

What a concept

You mean, knowledge is useful? What a concept. Might be too difficult for the government, though.

UW researchers say comprehensive sex ed cuts teen pregnancies

Students who receive comprehensive sex education are half as likely to become teen parents as those who get none or abstinence-only sex education, according to researchers at the University of Washington.

What's more, teens who had comprehensive education, which typically discusses condoms and birth-control methods as well as abstinence, were no more likely to engage in intercourse than peers who were taught just to say no to sex before marriage, researchers said.

The study is the first time researchers have taken a national sampling of teenagers to compare the effectiveness of the two approaches to sex education. And it echoes other studies that have previously suggested that the federal government's decadelong promotion of an abstinence-only curriculum isn't deterring young people from having sex.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This and that

Graded about 3/4 of the finals. Then off on errands, so I swung over to the theater to pick up my Saturday opera ticket. The ticket lady said these simulcast HD operas are usually sold out -- but this one still had 40% vacancy. The 5.5 hour length, no doubt. Actually I prefer a less than full house, more room to stretch out in.

Got a notice that my Band In A Box is in the mail. I'll be using it a lot for the hyperdrama and also this summer. Eager to get it and get up to speed.

Busy, busy, busy. Friends in town from Idaho on a tight schedule, not sure we'll even find common time to have coffee.


Came up with new ending for the splay, which even I see is better. Best, it comes logically out of what is already there. A very nice surprising reversal in act three and increased jeopardy in the final chase scenes. My agent is busy with pitching the other splay this week but when he has a moment, I think he may like this. We'll see. I'm glad it's my idea ha ha.

Thank you, Zelda.

Another classic that came out as a failure. There are a lot of them. They give failures hope everywhere ha ha.
Not So Great Gatsby Titles

On this day in 1924, feeling that he had finally found the ideal title for his new novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald enthusiastically wired his editor, Max Perkins, that he was "CRAZY ABOUT TITLE UNDER THE RED WHITE AND BLUE...." Already abandoned titles had included "The High Bouncing Lover," "Among the Ash Heaps," and most recently, "Trimalchio." Not as crazy as her husband about these, Zelda (and Perkins) eventually talked him into The Great Gatsby.

"Under the Red, White and Blue" would have at least suggested the decline and fall of a later empire, but by any name the book did not sell when it came out in 1925. In 1927, Fitzgerald received only $153 in royalties; two years after that only $32; by the last year of his life, 1940, second-printing copies of Gatsby were still unsold, and all his books brought in only $13.13.
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Agent followup

Agent getting ready to pitch the producer looking for a role for the teenager ... meanwhile, the script is at two other prodcos, there long enough to show initial interest. Maybe something will happen. Maybe it won't. Best thing for me to do is just state my cooperation, which I have, and forget it and stay focused on my projects. Early in my career, something like this could distract me for weeks, until it was resolved. I learned what wasted energy that is. What happens, happens. You do what you're doing now and let what you did in the past take care of itself. My agent says he has his fingers crossed, and I must admit, mine are, too. Now onward to something else.

Did some more editing this morning. Now it's time to look at the finals.

One Page Screenplay Competition

The rules are simple
. $10 entry fee.

It CAN be done

If the miracle happens and PSU beats Kansas (ha ha), they wouldn't be the first. The first men's team but not the first.

Harvard over Stanford! No less improbable.
clipped from

No. 16 Harvard over No. 1 Stanford still resonates 10 years later

STANFORD, Calif. (AP)—Whether it’s in a bar, a job interview, or just walking
down the street, the reaction is similar for members of the 1998 Harvard women’s
basketball team. Just the mention of being a former Crimson basketball player
inevitably leads to this question: “Were you on THAT team?”

As many fans filling out their tournament brackets this week know, a No. 16
seed just doesn’t have much of a chance at beating a No. 1.

That matchup has happened 148 times in either the men’s or women’s
tournament, and the 1998 Harvard team remains the only one to pull that most
improbable feat, beating Stanford 71-67 at Maples Pavilion in a game that still
resonates for members of both teams 10 years later.

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News from my agent

Good news on two fronts from my agent.
  • He likes the rewrite. Wants more "whiplash" in the ending, will be sending suggestions.
  • The agency has been in contact with a producer wanting a role for a 15 y/o actor, and we are suggesting my script, The Brazen Wing. I agreed to do any revisions they might want. Man, I hope this shakes out.

All this a good kick in the pants to get back on the new splay. I have the one after this in mind now, too, back to what I stalled on at midpoint some time back. Despite all my other projects, can't forget my fine agent and giving him stuff to work with.

Wednesday is read finals day. I actually look forward to it. An essay question.

Might get my grades in tomorrow. That would be something.

Then I'll try to make a short video about the Vikings trip to the Big Dance. There's a two-minute contest I could enter with a March 31 deadline.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

UCLA's year?

I'd love my Bruins (undergrad alma mater) to go all the way at the Big Dance, but the fact that every Sports Illustrated "expert" picks them to do just this makes me very nervous. The experts are never all right. So my prediction is: the Bruins will trip along the way. This is the SI curse. Damn magazine.

In the office

Ah, my last office hours of the term. Expecting one of my graduate students so we can touch base on her thesis screenplay, which is in great shape at the midpoint.

In a couple hours, pick up finals and go home. I'll catch the end of the first NCAA game, to see which team gets the 64th spot and gets to play NC ha ha.

The more i think about it, the more I want to see the PSU game here. I think I'll shoot a video about the experience.


Finished student projects early, so I managed to do two edits of a one-minute scene, taking the pov of each of the 2 characters. Fun to be back at it! Bad news, one clip was apparently "damaged," no clue why, just hope it's a rare problem. But it was an important clip, meant I had to edit one of the scenes differently than I would have otherwise. Ah, reality 101!

Off to campus to pick up final exams. I always give a take-home.

Janna Levin

One of my favorite scientists has started a series of podcasts on the cosmos. Check out the first episode. Her books are first rate, including a memoir and a novel. An extraordinary talent.

School spirit

Thursday morning's David-Goliath NCAA opener between PSU and Kansas is being celebrated and shown on a big screen on campus. This is a big deal, whatever the odds. So big I think I'll watch the game on campus instead of at home, just to witness the rare event. May even take my camera to record it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Moral victory?

The local paper says PSU will win a moral victory if the team stays within 20 pts. of Kansas. The game starts Thurs. morning at 930.

A day for students

As much as I'd like to start editing the clips I shot yesterday, school isn't done yet. I have a tall stack of script projects to read, which I hope to get through today. Tomorrow I pick up their finals. So it may be Friday or even the weekend before I have time to start editing.

Next week we celebrate our tenth anniversary, conveniently during Spring break, with a few days at the coast. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Elated, exhausted

A good shoot! First look at the clips look great, too.

Portland State gets no respect: a 16th seed at the Big Dance, face Kansas. Kansas! Oh my.

Pre-shoot prep

Looked at the scenes I'm shooting today, doodled on the script for blocking, camera angles, etc, so I don't have to start from scratch on the spot. We'll go with the flow, of course. Changing one kitchen scene to somewhere else in the condo for variety. Need to decide on a couple exterior locations on the road, away from the condo. Will leave early so I can do some scouting.

Big day

Today begins the first of three Sunday afternoons shooting the hyperdrama. Two hours of interior scenes followed by two or three hours of exteriors today. I'll spend some time this morning figuring out how I'm going to shoot.

I got a start yesterday on reading student projects. I need to return them Tuesday, so there's much to do yet -- a full day tomorrow on it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tristan and Isolde

Just bought my ticket for next Saturday's Met HD simulcast, a 5.5 hour opera mega-event! I can't wait. It's my 2nd favorite opera, and this is as close to seeing it live as I'm going to get.


H has been actively trying to get her paintings into galleries -- and today's mail brought two rejections. Two! She felt the pain. Well, I told her the story of getting SIX in the mail on the same day in the late 60s, rejections of short stories. I'll never forget it. I went inside, threw a tantrum, sat down at my Remington manual, pounded out a belligerent "artist's statement" and sent it out the same day to one of the literary magazines that had rejected me. They published it! And here it is, from 1971, Fragments Before the Fall, published in the (then) prestigious The Literary Review. A great memory -- I love defiance being rewarded.

Topsy-turvy normalcy

characterized either by mania or by depression or by alternating mania and depression
= manic-depressive

Sure describes a lot of writers I know, including myself. An immediate example: after good feedback from my agent, I rewrote the current splay in a week and zipped it back. Then nothing. Did he hate it so much he was hesitant to reply? Or just busy? Well, the latter, exhale exhale. Rec'd an apology note this morning for being late with it.

To think I go through this crap after half a century in the biz! It's cheering from the rooftops or hiding under the covers.

I expect it to be an improvement. It doesn't have to be ready but it has to be better. He says he'll get it done this weekend.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Long lost

T., my best pal in piano class, disappeared about a month or more ago. Ends up his brother died, he was back east, then depressed -- to make a long story short, he's moving back to a class in an earlier sequence. We had lunch today and caught up, and I'm glad to see he's back among the living. I like the guy a lot. He belongs to a group of "old men" who have breakfast together every Friday morning, and I may just take him up on an invitation to check it out.

Sunset Overture

I listened today to Robin Henderson's Sunset Overture for the first time in a long while. I wears very well. I still love it.

Mind-boggling program

I just watched a 20-min. video demonstrating the Band In A Box software music program, and I am stunned. I've been under a rock, I guess, because I had no idea this was out there. It can be an extraordinary learning tool and, in conjunction with Finale, can make original music richer and more flexible. It's an amazing program.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I start shooting the hyperdrama on Sunday. I need a lot of prep time and I've begun brooding about how to shoot it. I need to shoot it the way I want to edit it, so that's my focus. I'm doing different things with the clips, editing them in different ways, so I'm thinking about the most efficient way to shoot it. All the scenes are short, thank the gods. The longest is less than two minutes. So I have time to shoot a lot of different ways. I'll start seriously looking at this on Saturday. I do exteriors and car scenes Sunday, too, so I may go scout locations to get a more exact sense of where to shoot on the road.

I had hoped to edit part 3 by now but I've been too busy. Maybe I can start it Saturday, too.

A fascinating woman

I didn't know squat about Samantha Power before she tripped. Now I'm impressed. If Obama becomes President, I'd like to see her in the cabinet. I like where her head's at.

Ex-Obama aide explains self after 'monster' mistake


Samantha Power admits she has "aged 25 years in the last week."

Ever since she described presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as a "monster ... stooping to anything" in what she said was an "off-the-record" comment to a Scottish newspaper, the Harvard professor has been hot news on two continents.

Power, a 37-year-old Pulitzer Prize winner, had been serving as Barack Obama's top foreign policy adviser, an unpaid position, for the past 14 months. But she immediately resigned from the Democratic candidate's staff and offered profuse apologies to Clinton and Obama about her intemperate comments.

Only one U.S. official ever contacted Power to discuss her genocide book, a new senator from Illinois. Her long dinner with Barack Obama persuaded her to take a leave from Harvard and work in his Washington office.

But the lesson of Sergio's life is: It's not a question of whether to engage but how to engage.
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Banning plays

The recent banning of a school play in Sherwood has a long tradition. In the end, the banners usually come out looking like a fool, as here locally. But the Sherwood authorities won't quit. They confiscated the teacher/playwright's computer! Looking for other material to ban? I suspect a lawsuit is down the road and the teacher will take a nice vacation to an island somewhere.
"Nook-Shotten Norwegians"

On this day in 1891, Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts premiered in London, an event so "controversial and epoch-making," says biographer Michael Meyer, that it is now regarded as "one of the most famous of theatrical occasions." Theater historians report that the scandal over this single performance elicited over 500 printed articles and made Ibsen "a household word even among those Englishmen who never went to the theatre or opened a book."

Although published a decade earlier, and not the first volley in Ibsen's attempt to "torpedo the ark" of social propriety, the play had provided his critics with a lot of return ammunition. Because of its references to syphilis, free-love, incest and euthanasia, the play had been damned, constrained by censors, and shunned by most major and state theaters in Europe. It was regarded as too shameful to even have around the house in print
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PSU v. Georgetown?

This is a sensible evaluation of the reality of PSU going to the Big Dance. It will be damn, damn tough to get past the first opponent. They'd need to play their best game and get a few breaks. All the same, it's great fun just to be there.

Portland State Bracketology

ESPN's NCAA Tournament expert Joe Lunardi shares his thoughts on the Vikings prospects for March Madness

Lunardi believes a best-case scenario for the Vikings is a No. 14 seed, however, the bracket wizard still thinks the selection committee could place Portland State as a No. 15 seed. Fortunately for Portland State fans, Lunardi thinks it is highly improbable that Portland State could slip to a lowly No. 16 seed.
The most recent version of Bracketology has the Vikings playing against Georgetown in the East Regional, with the first-round site Birmingham, Ala. While Lunardi said the selection committee would be inclined to keep Portland State in the West Regional, with first-round sites in either Anaheim or Denver, the top seeds are catered to when the brackets are created, and thus generally stay close to home.

"I just don't think the Vikings will be able to defend the major conference opponent they figure to face in the first round," Lunardi said.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

On to the Big Dance

Portland State goes to the Big Dance for the first time in school history. They weren't very impressive in doing it, however, and will have to play a hell of a lot better to avoid being kicked out quickly. They'll be a big underdog because of low seeding in any case. At their best, they could hang a while -- tonight they were not at their best but played well enough, especially on defense, to win.

But the big basketball news is Colorado State's women's team, 0-16 in conference, beating 16-0 Utah. Great stuff!
clipped from
Portland St. 67,
Northern Arizona 51
clipped from

Colorado State shocks 12th-ranked Utah 60-52 in MWC quarterfinals

LAS VEGAS (AP)—Emily Neal scored 17 points and Colorado State shocked
12th-ranked and top-seeded Utah 60-52 in the Mountain West Conference women’s
quarterfinals Wednesday night.

The ninth-seeded Rams (4-28) outmuscled and outhustled the heavily favored
Utes (28-4), who went 16-0 in league play and had 22 consecutive wins.

Colorado State was winless in conference play (0-16) and entered the tourney
on a 20-game losing streak before beating UNLV in the play-in game Tuesday
night, a prelude to one of the biggest upsets in college basketball this season.

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My essay on Peter Fornara

Here is my essay, Risk in Rep, that will appear in the upcoming anthology, Citadel of the Spirit, edited by Matt Love (see below).

Ear training

This is quite a challenge. I got through the early exercises pretty easily but around exercise 15, I hit a stone wall: recognizing minor and major 2nds or 3rds played all over the keyboard, ascending, descending, harmonic. I'm best at ascending. I'm worst at harmonic. It's a great program, EarMaster Pro, that doesn't let you progress until you sufficiently pass the exercises and you have to repeat an exercise, it throws an entire new batch of questions at you so you can't remember from the last time. At this point, I can't imagine ever getting through this stuff but I am determined to stick with it, and we'll see what happens. I love the program -- even failing is almost fun. I'm up to 17 now, having to repeat it after getting only 60% last try.

"Men and their penises"

As my wife was leaving the house this morning, the news carried a story about the NY gov's resignation after being caught in the call girl sting. "Men and their penises," she grumbled.

I think this comment hits the heart of a gigantic cultural misunderstanding and problem. The gov's problem, and the serial killer's, and your next door neighbor's, is at root a failure of the imagination, just as Norman O. Brown has it in his classic and brilliant work, Love's Body. The disease is literalness. The gov's problem is not that he feels he must stick his dick into a woman, or whatever the hell he's up to (one never knows!); it is that he believes the only way to do this is literally to do it. He misses what Brown calls "the true war," the mental war, "the Fiery Chariot of his Contemplative Thought." In other words, he's playing out his frustrations on the wrong battlefield. This cultural addiction to literal events over imaginative events is everywhere (I recently blogged about the "true story" bias in Hollywood). The culture has lost its imagination, it's ability to experience real, true events imaginatively. Once you learn how to do this, of course, literal action not only is unnecessary but less satisfying. "Doing nothing, if properly understood, is the supreme action," writes Brown. In this frantic, noisy culture, nothing could sound more un-American.

Big game tonight

In the mailbox:

Portland State Vikings to Play for Championship; NCAA Berth

Portland State defeated Idaho State during the semifinal round of the Intel Big Sky Men's Basketball Championship last night at the Rose Garden Arena!

The Vikings are back in action tonight (3/12) at 6:00 pm (PST) at the Rose Garden for their chance to dance. Tonight's contest determines the tournament champion with the winner receiving an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Don't miss a minute of the action! Great seats are still available or or watch the game on ESPN2 at 6:00 pm TONIGHT!


For being a little Div I program a few years ago, this is a pretty big deal here. If we make the Big Dance, the icing on the cake would be to upset someone. Surely we'll have such a low seed that the first game would have us an underdog.

Citadel of the Spirit

Here are the contents of the upcoming anthology to which I contributed an essay, "RISK IN REP: Remembering Peter Fornara’s Remarkable Theater Company." In addition to original essays, there are reprints of historical material. The book will come in at something like 600 pages. Quite an impressive anthology, I think, and I'm delighted to be included.

Citadel of the Spirit: A Literary Compendium Commemorating Oregon’s Sesquicentennial

Due out in Feb. 2009—Edited by Matt Love

List of writers contributing original essays:
Matt Love (introduction, epilogue, essay, editorial notes on previously published materials, epilogue) My essay is on Tom McCall Era
Monica Drake (gentrification)
Kassten Alonso (livability)
Kathleen Dean Moore (rain)
Charles Deemer (Portland theater in late 1970s)
David Horowitz (Runquist Brothers)
Evelyn Sharenov (9-11 in Oregon)
Cheryl Strayed (Oregon’s Strip club culture)
Bart King (Powells)
Michael Strelow (Wildflowers)
Joanna Rose (Paisely, Oregon)
Melissa Madenski (hatchery salmon)
Tom Webb (When Oregon turned into a Blue State)
Billy Hults (Mayor’s Ball)
Erin Ergenbright (Oregon food)
Gina Ochsner (Land use)
Brian Doyle (Beer)
Carla Perry (The War in Iraq Comes to Newport)
Dorthy Blackcrow Mack (St. Mary’s Peak)
Walt Curtis (Salmon on Clackamas River)
Katrine Barber (Camp Angel CO camp)
Thomas Edwards (WW 2 on the Oregon Coast)
Eckard Toy (KKK in Oregon)
Jeff Baker (Mac Court)
Joanna Miller (An update of Oregon official things)
David Milholland (The Steens Mts)
Ken Babbs (Ken Kesey)
Kim Stafford (Oregon’s first hippie, Glen Coffield)
Peter Wong (initiative and referendum process)
David Kohl (Portland Metropolitan Church)
David Hedges (Victory Over Development)
Kathy Pape (Weird marching bands in Portland)
Bobby Armstrong (Profile on Oregonian named Earl Snell)
Erick Mertz (baseball in Oregon)
Barbara Drake (Oregon’s Centennial)
Steve Anderson (rafting Clackamas River)
Haley Church (Motorcycling Columbia Gorge)
Brandon Lieberman (Satyricon rock club)
Kaia Sand (Vanport)
Shelly Washburne (Columbus Day Storm)
Alicia Williamson (marijuana)
Joe Kurmaske (Biking to Mt. Hood)
Amber Nortness (logging road culture)
Travis Champ (walking Mt. Neahkahnie)
Brianna Kent (a friend dying in Iraq)
Karl Love (coming to Oregon on train as a result of the Dust Bowl)
Ellen Waterson (Bend’s last mill)
Niki Price (coming to Oregon)
Bill Robbins (working in the woods)
Bill Rhoades (the sporting life in Oregon)
Shannon Carson (Moving from California to Oregon)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Go Vikings!

Must admit, it's very exciting that Portland State can go to the Big Dance if they win tonight and tomorrow. Listening to game on the radio now -- and if they win tonight, tomorrow's game is on ESPN. PSU on ESPN! I almost went to the game tonight, both games being here in town, but with my class and meeting a student afterward, plus the end of term work I have, I decided to pass.


Well, I finally made a decision based on "feeling too old." Out of nowhere, I got an offer today to perform my Woody Guthrie celebration at a festival in September. Great venue, pay, a terrific gig I would have jumped at years ago. But I haven't done the show in about ten years. It would take a lot of work to bring it up to speed. I have other projects I'd rather do than revive this old one. Moreover, it's exhausting to perform -- I'm not even sure I have the physical stamina to do it any more. So I turned them down but made a counter-offer: I'd do the "acting" parts, the recitation of journal excerpts, if somebody else did the music. They like the idea and are seeing what can be worked out.

So I turned down a gig because I feel too old to do it. Ah, me. (But also because I'd rather do what I'm doing musically -- my studies, building to starting a chamber opera this summer -- than bring back the Guthrie self.)

Catching my breath

A nice, long, chatty lunch with a screenwriter friend. Then I missed the streetcar to bring me back to campus so hobbled on a bum ankle but made my office hours. Showing a video today. Pick up projects Thursday. Last week, relatively easy. I do have a meeting with a student after class, hope I can help whatever needs fixing.

Found an online piano: I can do ear training during office hours.

Stroke of the year

Here's the best stroke I've received in many months. I sent a copy of my posthumous play OREGON DREAM to a director/actor friend in California. He responded this morning:

Deemer !!!!! Holy Shit. I love this play. Incredible ! ... It is a remarkable plot; so timely and introduces, as I see it, the tip of the iceberg of gender identification. Wow !!! You have really nailed it on many levels not the least of which is it is so damn fun and funny. Congratulations !!!

Very gratifying to get a response like this. I told him to direct it after I pass.

P.S. LATER. He said he didn't know whether he wanted to direct it or play the male lead ("What a role!"). That's the secret: write roles that actors want to do. Playwriting is the art of writing for actors.

Monday, March 10, 2008

This and that

The enthusiasm of my hyperdrama cast is wonderful to witness. These are great people to work with. Glad I discovered them last summer. It's like having our own little film company.

Nice feedback ("just excellent") from the Hypertext 08 conference guy on my intro video. I hope this project goes over well. Hell of a lot of work ha ha.

I installed my ear-training software and it's really fun to use. Do it in ten and fifteen minute spurts throughout the day.

Reading scripts mainly today ... two more to go. Busy tomorrow, lunch appointment and then meeting with a student after class.

Best political line of the day

[Obama] told the audience that it made no sense for Clinton to suggest he is not ready to be president and then hint that she might hand him the job that could make him president at a moment's notice.

"If I'm not ready, how is it that you think I should be such a great vice president?" he said, as the crowd laughed and cheered loudly.

I must be a die-hard cynic. I see all this ending in a disaster for the Democrats. It goes all the way to the convention, Obama leads in elected delegates, number of states, and popular vote -- but Clinton won the large "important" states, so the party honchos meet behind closed doors and super-delegates give her the nomination, the party splits as Obama supporters are outraged, and McCain beats Clinton in a landslide. He dies in office of natural causes and his VP, whoever that may be, is president through most of the term.

Well, maybe this is the screenwriter as much as the cynic speaking ha ha.

Controversy = Publicity

Some middle-school actors got a standing ovation for a play written by their drama teacher, which their school principal had banned. They moved the performance to Portland. And once again, banning proves to be great publicity.

Many writers have experienced this. Perhaps my greatest example was my labor play, "1934: Blood and Roses." being banned from a scheduled performance at the Oregon State Fair -- on Labor Day, no less! Well, this administrative decision caused a huge stink, including a story on NPR, and finally the powers that be had to reverse themselves and let the play be performed. The national press we got over this incident gave the play far more recognition than it would have garnered otherwise.
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Sherwood's controversial play gets cheers from big crowd
in Portland

Monday, March 10,

The Oregonian Staff

Middle-schoolers from Sherwood took the stage Sunday,
bringing their controversial play to Portland and drawing
questions afterward on why they couldn't perform it in
their hometown.

The performance of "Higher Ground," a play about
bullying, betrayal and the power of banding together, drew a
standing ovation for the cast and cheering screams for their
teacher and the play's author, Jennie Brown.

The middle school's principal, Anna Pittioni, said the
play "exceeds the maturity of many of our
students," suggesting it be revised and rescheduled.
Superintendent Dan Jamison said students and staff needed
time to prepare and discuss such topics.

And on Sunday, volunteers at Portland's Center for the
Performing Arts had to turn people away from Brunish Hall.
All 200 seats were taken.

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Sunday, March 09, 2008

First read-through

The first assembly of actors went well. Typically, however, there were conflicts that were forgotten about, so the shooting schedule has to be revised.

I'm going to try and start part three this week. Start shooting next Sunday.

Preparing for part 3

Been assembling images for the "nuts and bolts" section of the hyperdrama video. I need to make some software clips with CamStudio and then I'll have everything I need, I think. So I'm not too far from getting it together. I may get this done before I start shooting, which would be nice. Parts 1 and 3 done, focus entirely on the meat of the project, the actual hyperdrama.

Still grunt work to do before the afternoon read-through, primarily regarding the shooting schedule. Tomorrow, then, it's back to teaching responsibilities. What a great class! This actually may be the best screenwriting class I've ever had, in terms of having the largest number of skilled screenwriters in it. It's really been fun working with so many good writers. Just a week to go! Tempus fugit and all that.

Our 10th anniversary is coming up. We have a little trip planned.

CamStudio blows me away

A p.s. to the last post ... downloaded and cranked up CamStudio. It's an extraordinary program, powerful and user-friendly, for video capturing whatever happens on your computer screen (whole screen or regions of it), and you even can narrate what's going on -- a perfect tool for demonstrating software! And it's free. The amazing Internet and the amazing open source software folks.


I am repeatedly amazed by the free resources on the web. The software developers who are motivated by other-than-commercial interests have become a new breed of hero.

My latest attention goes to CamStudio, a screen video capture program I learned about at, the most useful video resource site I've found. I suspect I'll have uses for CamStudio in my Nuts & Bolts section of the video project.

Spreading the Word

Another embedded embrace of the hyperdrama video, this one by Tunxis Community College in CT, which appears to have an extensive New Media program. The more, the merrier.

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Mapped out a shooting schedule: looks like I need 3 Sunday afternoons to do the hyperdrama. According to my software, ALL the scenes play at about 24 minutes. There are 48 total scenes, so I'm looking at something like 144 clips to shoot. There is no single scene over a minute and a half. So it may go more quickly than I think. But I wanted time to run through a scene first, block it, then shoot it from 3 or more angles. Three 1-5 afternoons should be enough.

There's always something, ALWAYS, that throws a wrench into your careful plans, and you end up changing things around and winging it. I do want time to pick up shots and otherwise cover my ass at the end. I really think I've scheduled more time than I actually will need. We'll see.

Each Sunday, 2 or 3 of the actors aren't needed. There is no scene with all of them, only 1 scene with 5. So it's not a great time commitment for anyone.

I think this will work. (P.S. It's harder to write a shooting schedule than to write the script!)

Nice plug

Didn't take long to get a nice plug for the hyperdrama video. There's not a whole lot of folks actually interested in this sort of thing, so it's comforting to know that a few who are look over my shoulder as I work on this.

I'm thinking I may shoot on two Sundays, one and two weeks hence. I think I could cover everything then. In fact, I should work out a tentative shooting schedule to present at the reading tomorrow.

The last section of this video project, on nuts and bolts stuff, stumps me thus far. I don't know how to make it visually interesting.

Extraordinary writer-editor relationship

Could the Wolfe-Perkins relationship survive in today's "bottom line" marketplace? Doubtful. This indeed is a remarkable moment in our literary history. I wonder if anyone reads Wolfe today. When I met Dick Crooks in 1960, he was a Wolfe fanatic. On my shelf he's like Henry Miller, someone I prefer in excerpts rather than whole.
Wolfe, Perkins, Time and the River

In 1929, Perkins had edited Look Homeward, Angel, Wolfe's first novel, cutting some 66,000 words. By the end of 1933, Wolfe had a sequel book that was four times as long as the uncut version of the first novel, over ten times the length of most novels, and growing at a rate of 50,000 words a month. Recognizing that there was more river than time, Perkins tried to force a halt. The first installment, delivered to him at Scribner's by "lone Wolfe" one December midnight, was a stack of typed manuscript two feet high; overall, the manuscript was at a million words. Six or seven nights a week throughout much of 1934 they met to cut and argue -- Wolfe showing up to many meetings with freshly-written material, which Perkins would read, admire, and mostly cut. He declined Hemingway's offer of a Key West fishing getaway with the kind of 'big game' sentence Papa would have liked: "I am engaged in a kind of life and death struggle with Mr. Thomas Wolfe...."
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Friday, March 07, 2008

Intro to Hyperdrama


Good day in music class. I'm going to pump up my studies some more by adding ear training. And I'm beginning to do more chord work. Music seems to be coming front burner.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Made it, sort of

Finished the big stack of student scripts in time to return them today. Still have a stack of query letters to read -- I do a marketing section in my class -- which I won't have time to read until the weekend. No biggie.

Catch my breath and go to Music Theory. A life-saver that I did the homework for this class yesterday or I'd be in a panic about now. Not used to homework ha ha.

Anticipate the weekend and hope the weather is good so I can get the push mower out for its maiden voyage this year.

And a week from Sunday is the selection show for March Madness! Then some real fun begins.


Recent haiku from Haiku Nurse:

college professors
always want to read stories
about working life


Cameron Diaz' Breasts
squirm in satiny confines
netted jelly fish


the sound of a saw
wakes me and I look to see
an old tree is gone


we sit at tables
drink bottles of greasy wine
and talk about men


line around the block
they all come here to forget
lives lived through others

First Wednesday

First Wednesday was terrific, I thought. It's an interesting venue because very small and while at the moment we may be one of the unheralded treasures in the literary life of the city, there's really not much room to expand. It's small, intimate, quite nice. Yes, we deserve a larger audience but we can't grow too much because there's no place to put many more.

For the next three months, April through June, I won't be hosting because my music composition class conflicts. I'll arrive for the last half of First Wednesdays for those months, and our non-fiction editor will host.

Poem Late At Night

I am a walking, talking corpse.
I am a card-carrying member of the corps
of "senior citizens," "honored citizens,"
who without honor shuffle through the halls
like passengers whose train is always late.
I am a man who does not like his fate.

The cock no longer crows at dawn.
Obsession for the perfect curve is gone.
The slightest gesture that once fed
the rush of blood, the flood of lust,
now dangles like a phantom limb.
I am the singer with no hymn.

In memory, I was once alive, with heart
that thrived and met a kindred kind
to beat together, flesh on flesh.
When young, I never saw this mess
that's now my life of sad adagios,
these veins where blood no longer flows.

I am a walking, talking corpse.
I am a card-carrying member of the corps.
I am a man who does not like his fate.
There is nothing left to vindicate.
And so it goes, and so it goes,
boring laments, adagios.

--Charles Deemer

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gathering strength

Getting ready to begin a long day. First, a pile of student scripts to evaluate. Then get ready for First Wednesday and try to get across the river before rush hour traffic, which is a nightmare. I'll be glad to see tomorrow and even more to see the weekend.

Double-edged failure

The memoir of a liar has become a new genre. What is unfortunate, other than the liars among us, is the fact that "a memoir" sells better than a novel; each of these "lies" could have been presented as fiction and been just as gripping to anyone not stuck in the prison of literal thinking. It was the dream of Zola and other "naturalists" that fiction could be a sort of test tube in which human behavior was tested and evaluated; that, in fact, we could learn from this. Fiction could modify human behavior because we'd become sensitive to the consequences of action. This didn't happen in any broad social sense. "Based on a true story" is a commercial advantage only in a culture in which the imagination has been relegated to an instrument of trivial fancies.
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Author of Hoax Book Created Elaborate Backstory

The publishers of a critically acclaimed memoir about a girl raised by a black foster family who ran drugs for a notorious Los Angeles street gang pulled the book after revelations that the story was an elaborate fabrication.

The book, "Love and Consequences," was recalled just a week after it hit stores, when it emerged that the author, Margaret B. Jones, had lied about her name and every detail of her life.

Jones was a pseudonym used by Margaret Seltzer, 33, of Eugene, Ore., who lied about being half-Native American and having been raised in south-central Los Angeles by a black foster mother she called "Big Mom." She also claimed to have run drugs for the Bloods street gang and that one of her foster brothers was killed by rival Crips gang members.

Seltzer's memoir is the second book of non-fiction in as many weeks to be revealed as a hoax and the latest in an increasingly lengthy list of biographies found to be false.

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