Monday, June 30, 2008

Track Town, USA

Eugene loves its track and field. When I came to the Univ of Oregon from UCLA for grad school and attended my first track meet at Hayward Field, I was blown away. At UCLA only a smattering of fans typically showed up for a track meet. Here there were thousands in the stands! I thought this was amazing. This was the Prefontaine era, a very exciting time for Oregon track.

So the Olympic trials in Eugene now have a special feeling. The 800 final tonight was the local hit to date, all 3 qualifiers for the Olympic team being local runners. I was reminded of the time, at a twilight local meet when I was in grad school, than 4 or 5 local runners all broke the 4-min. mile in the same race. It made the cover of Sports Illustrated. Yes, Eugene loves its track and field.
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2008 U.S. Olympic
Track & Field Trials

Symmonds, Wheating finish 1-2 in 800 final

Nick Symmonds of Oregon Track Club Elite and Andrew Wheating of the University of Oregon roared from the back of the pack in the final 200 meters and took the top two spots in the 800 meter final.
Christian Smith, also of OTC, finished third.

Gallery: Photos from the 800 final

Clay sets Olympic trials record in decathlon win; Pappas third

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Dr. JohnnyWow

Dr. JohnnyWow is a Seattle artist. Check out his website here.

Recent reflections on independence and art:

Independence Day
On July 4th we celebrate our Independence, and exercise a few of the freedoms our beneficent government has left to us. The Arts have become one of the last areas in the ‘Land of the Free’ in which a citizen can do whatever they damn well please. In the arts you can do whatever you want as long as it comes out of your own wallet. You can be just as creative as you can afford to be.

As artists we are free to repeat the same stylistic tropes over and over. Magic tricks of deception and illusion are practiced, honed, and presented to a bewilderingly silent and passive audience. That is true freedom - to be free of constraints and have no one give a damn. Silence is applause; indifference is encouragement. An artist becomes a living example of self-destruction as a method of gaining control over ones own destiny. As artists we aren’t here to satisfy your desires, we are here to create new desires.

"The passionless do not glow in the dark."



If I've learned one thing in half a century of writing, it's this: you have to be bad before you are good. As a young writer, I was forever starting over. I'd write a while and then decide it sucked, throw it out, and start over. Consequently I might have twenty or thirty drafts of the first ten pages of something. I'd stop when it got lousy and begin again.

What I eventually learned is, This is a very inefficient way to go about it. I learned it's best to burrow ahead, all caution to the wind, and finish the draft, no matter how much it sucks. Because you learn things when you finish that you can't learn any other way. Drafts, in other words, are not supposed to be perfect. A first draft is the process by which a writer learns what the hell it is s/he is trying to write. At least, this is the way it usually works for me.

Hence the current draft of the screenplay. Getting crazy in the second act, and I'm riding with it. Maybe it stays, maybe it doesn't. This is not the time to loose any sleep over it. I keep moving forward and after writing FADE OUT, there will be time to step back and look more calmly and rationally at what is on the page.

Rewriting is so much more fun than drafting because it's more rational, less temperamental. Writing a draft is a very fragile, delicate process. The slightest interruption can kick the seed of a thought out of your mind -- and it's gone forever. Rewriting, everything is on the page. You can deal with it. You can take your time with it. You can fiddle with it and put it back like it was later if you want. It exists. In a draft, nothing exists -- and then something exists. And in the space between nothing and something, you can damn near go crazy.

This draft is much more fun than my drafts usually are. Well, the material itself is fun, is part of it ... and this story came to me almost whole. The middle, always the hardest part of a story for me, is shaping up with surprises and more craziness than I expected, but I like it so far, and I'm certainly plodding onward to the end. I have a good shot at finishing the draft this week -- only about 30 pages to go! A draft in two weeks is just about right for a screenplay if I have the story mostly in hand. Then the rewrites take as long as it takes ... weeks, months, who knows?

What a great day. I hope most of the summer feels this way.

O glorious summer!

Today feels like the perfect summer day: it's noon and I feel like I've put in a day's work, so the rest of the day is gravy. Had a good writing session, studied music on two fronts, even had time to take the dog for a run. I think I'll spend some of the afternoon with the AlphaSmart on the deck, on the splay, and some doing home chores.

I love having a full productive morning after an early start, so that afternoon has no pressure to get anything done. Mellow is my favorite mode.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday storm

This evening we had a genuine thunder storm, something we don't often see here in Portland. I love storms but would have liked this one more if the dog wasn't so freaked out by it. But it's come and gone, and Sketch is cuddled up on his doggy blanket.

I've become obsessed with the new splay, working steadily on it for a while, taking a chore break to brood about it, then returning to write. Haven't touched the piano in two days. I'm at the midpoint and making good progress but tomorrow I definitely want to put some hours in on the keyboard.

No July 4 plans. I'm not big on this particular holiday, primarily because of the fireworks. I've never been able to enjoy fireworks since spending the 4th in a VA Hospital in 1994 and watching Vietnam vets dive for cover with each explosion, yelling "Incoming!" That took the fun out of fireworks for me. Sketch hates fireworks more than he hates storms, so I usually spend the night comforting the dog.

Great game

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Spain wins first major in 44 years

VIENNA, Austria - Big-game flops no more, Spain won the European Championship 1-0 over Germany on Sunday for its first major title in 44 years.

Against the highly accomplished Germans, they weren't intimidated. They got the one goal they needed — from a slumping striker, no less — and set off chants of "ES-PANA," and "Ole, Ole Ole" at the final whistle.

The entire Spanish squad ran over to the huge rooting section of red and gold, exchanging hugs, while many of the spent Germans collapsed to the turf.

Spain has never made a World Cup final and was in one other Euros final, aside from the 1964 triumph. That was a loss to France in 1984.

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The case for humility

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Your Brain Lies to You

FALSE beliefs are everywhere. Eighteen percent of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth, one poll has found. Thus it seems slightly less egregious that, according to another poll, 10 percent of us think that Senator Barack Obama, a Christian, is instead a Muslim. The Obama campaign has created a Web site to dispel misinformation. But this effort may be more difficult than it seems, thanks to the quirky way in which our brains store memories — and mislead us along the way.

With time, this misremembering only gets worse. A false statement from a noncredible source that is at first not believed can gain credibility during the months it takes to reprocess memories from short-term hippocampal storage to longer-term cortical storage. As the source is forgotten, the message and its implications gain strength.
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Wanted: focus and will

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Anxious in America

My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.

I continue to be appalled at the gap between what is clearly going to be the next great global industry — renewable energy and clean power — and the inability of Congress and the administration to put in place the bold policies we need to ensure that America leads that industry.

We used to try harder and do better. After Sputnik, we came together as a nation and responded with a technology, infrastructure and education surge, notes Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International.
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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Free-floating anger

I think there's more of this in the air than in earlier decades, angry folks just waiting for an excuse to stomp somebody. I can't recall if that's one of the symptoms Gibbon deals with -- so much today relates to the fall of empire.

Seattle parking garage melee involves 50 people

A dispute over who would be the first to exit a downtown Seattle parking garage early Saturday morning escalated into a 50-person melee and ended with one woman beaten, another stabbed in the abdomen, and a man arrested for assault, according to police.

Two separate groups, one of men and one of women, had left the restaurant and got into an argument about who would be first to exit the lot, Witt said.

The women, in one car, got in front. One of the men got out of another car and started an argument with the women. The man pulled one of the women out of the car and "began stomping on her," Witt said.

At that point, onlookers got involved and the scene turned into a "free for all, a huge melee," Witt said. Responding officers estimated 50 people were involved.

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Going away present

As an early retirement present to herself, my friend "Zeena" of the sonnets is moving to Bali to live with her oldest son. Leaves in September, quite an adventure! She loves Portland, so I'm going to make her a DVD of her visiting her favorite urban spots, and other things she wants to remember. A DVD of her life in Portland to take with her. It'll be a fun project to do.


God, I love hot weather! Maybe it's all those family trips to the Mojave desert when I was a kid. I'm higher than a kite today, which may hit 100. H is wilting, and I feel like my battery is charged.

I mean, I feel so good I'm even listening to Doowop (the Belmonts, acapella).

Olympic trials

Here's a link for up-to-date results of events at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, as well as the full schedule of future events. It's a very big deal down the valley and throughout the state, hell, throughout the country. The women's 10,000m final last time was terrific, our Portland rep making the team. One of the spectacular events today, I think, is just an exhibition, a 1500m wheelchair race -- glad they added this to the program. There's a lot of activities surrounding the meet as well. Hell, I should be in Eugene right now!

Biography and fiction

When I was in grad school a long time ago, the "biographical fallacy" was a phrase you often encountered in literary criticism, the mistake of forcing too much of an author's personal life into the work. I recently experienced an example of this.

My first posthumous play, Oregon Dream, is based partially on an intense relationship in my life. But it is a work of fiction, not a documentary. I shared the play with two friends familiar with the personal roots of the play -- and they responded in opposite ways. One, a director, loved the play, especially its humor. The other, who has no theatrical background, took the play as confessional and almost tragic -- and was inspired to give me her interpretation of the biographical inspiration for the play (rather than of the play itself). I didn't recognize much of myself or the play in the remarks, which is fascinating in itself.

Like any writer, I use my life as my best material. Consequently people who know me well find "things" in my work that they "recognize," or think they recognize, but if they themselves are not involved in the narrative arts, they typically give too much literal value to how these "things" are treated dramatically in the work. I'm particularly good at laughing at myself, so biographical moments of darker tones often get turned into dark humor rather than any semblance of tragedy. I'm my mother's son: "People are more interesting than anybody." I can wallow in self-pity as much as the next guy but I get over it and when it's time to get serious, I laugh rather than cry. We humans fill our lives with absurd humor.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Glorious summer

It finally got warm enough for me, into the 90s today and maybe 100 tomorrow. About time. And a good day it's been, good progress into Act II of the new splay, some work in the basement and yard, and I even made a huge batch of gazpacho for dinner. Still need music studies work today, but it all comes out in the wash eventually. I'm just glad to be enthused about the new screenplay.

Hear, hear!

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Goodell: NFL rookie pay-scale 'ridiculous'

By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer

CHAUTAUQUA, N.Y. - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said its "ridiculous" to reward untested rookies with lucrative contracts and wants the issue addressed in contract talks.

"There's something wrong about the system," Goodell said Friday. "The money should go to people who perform."
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Oregon Literary Review

Press release:

The Summer/Fall 2008 issue of Oregon Literary Review is now online at Highlights include:

*Video readings from the Skagit River Poetry Festival.
*Video readings by poets Gary Gildner, Garret Hongo.
*Video interviews with musician/composers Darryl Grant (jazz) and Kate Mann (Americana).
*Video by Amy R. Handler, animation by Amelia Craigen.
*Essays by Daniel Coshnear, Barbara Drake.
*Paintings by Nikki Dilbeck, water colors by Carol Barnett.
*Fiction by J. Boyer, Sharmila Mukherjee.
*Plays by C. L. Bledsoe, Jeff Rollins (audio).
*Genre fiction by Jeremiah Rickert.
*and much more in our largest issue ever, over 600M of contents.

Oregon Literary Review hosts First Wednesdays at the Blackbird Wine Shop in Portland, a series of readings and performances. For more info contact OLR editor Charles Deemer at

Link to Oregon Literary Review.

Coffee, cruising, Act II

Up with energy, off early to return books to the library, grab coffee, cruise and brood about Act II of the new splay. Got some things figured out, home to write.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Work lifts the spirits

The most productive morning of the early summer. Sent off the silent movie script to actors and just about done with the first act of the new splay, which is moving right along. I have a good handle on the set up and the ending -- it's all that blue collar work in the middle that's the bitch, as ever.

New splay

I also started a new screenplay, the one on my mind, despite being in the middle of reworking an old one. I was afraid to let my excitement for the new story dissipate before I got something on paper. I don't have the bitch of act two figured out but have great opening and ending.

HEIRS, a silent movie

Rewrote the summer project script and have emailed it to the actors. Our first meeting, a read through and also a workshop on facial expressions and body language of "big" emotions. What fun.

Still scouting for locations.

Pop lit in China

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Chinese Authors Find Creative Outlets on the Web

Morning Edition, June 26, 2008 · Back in the days of the Cultural Revolution when Mao Tse Tung was still running China, people passed around bound notebooks of underground literature.

Those notebooks weren't filled with the writings of a Chinese Solzhenitsyn, criticizing the Communist Party. "They were almost all ... entertainment fiction," says Link. "Triangular love stories and detective stories and things like that."

Manager Wu admits this model doesn't always lead to the most literary fiction. He says on the Internet writing is focused on plot. Writers end chapters on cliffhangers to keep readers' attention. There isn't always much attention to grammar and style.

Now, Fu and the young writers on the Internet can be as entertaining as they want to be, with their cliffhangers, romances and historical fantasies. They just can't write about anything too serious or politically sensitive.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mother of all underdogs

It was something when Oregon State shocked everyone by winning the college world series two years ago -- but Fresno State, the biggest underdog ever to win an NCAA championship -- did them one better in a great game tonight.

Earlier our other Cinderella team, Turkey, gave Germany all it could handle but lost in the 90th minute, 3-2. They did themselves proud, surprising everyone -- or everyone but the Turks, I suppose. An inspiring team to watch.
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Detwiler, Wilson carry Fresno State to CWS title

OMAHA, Neb. - Fresno State was smashing in its final performance as college baseball's team of destiny, winning a championship that would have been impossible to predict.

Fresno State lost 12 of its first 20 games this season, needed to win its conference tournament just to make the NCAA field of 64, fought off elimination in regionals and super regionals, and became the first No. 4 regional seed to reach the CWS since the tournament expanded in 1999.

The Bulldogs from California (47-31) not only showed they belonged, they showed they were the best, even though no previous national champion had more losses. The national title was the second in school history. Fresno State won the 1998 women's softball title.

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Lowest of the low

Here's the kind of spam that makes me want to track down people and cause them considerable trouble ...

Obtain an accredited BA, MA or PhD in 30 days!

What would a "PhD" title do for your resume?

Call 24/7 on....

These phony degree mills are everywhere. 60 Minutes ran a story on them a few years ago and it was shocking to listen to some of the people who used them. How do they even get to stay in business?

Cleaning house

A summer project is doing a better job cleaning out the basement than we did last summer. We're starting by giving it an hour each Wednesday afternoon and see how we're doing a month down the road. At the end of the summer, a big garage sale and 75% of the stuff down here gone. So far, so good.

This afternoon I took a big step and recycled all the masters of my various manuscripts. This amounts to less than it seems since all the stuff worth saving has been digitized and archived, but nonetheless it feels a little naked in my office without the huge pile of masters that took up a corner of shelves. I did find three screenplays I can't even remember writing, so I set them aside to read and evaluate. I also have more books to get rid of -- last summer I gave them to a grad student, this I'm giving them to a poet who tries to survive by selling used books -- and quite a few audio courses in lit, philosophy, history and whatnot (to the grad student).

It is astounding, of course, how much we accumulate without even trying. And pay the price later.


A grad student I worked with is having trouble getting her Masters degree form in order -- seems like some "errors" slipped past the personnel who should be on top of such things, until of course the last minute, and now the student has to run around trying to get the right info in the right spot on the form. Such hassles. I remember when I was a student at Berkeley, hand carrying a form around to officially drop out of school and being frustrated, then angry, at all the signatures I needed, people I had to track down ... in truth, I finally said fuck it and never did drop out. Consequently, I admit at this late date, I have a semester of F's from Berkeley. I never put these on my record and in those pre-computer days, the left hand didn't always know what the right hand was doing, so down the road I ended up getting a Phi Beta Kappa pin from UCLA, even though it's part of the same university system where I have a semester of F's from Berkeley. I never told UCLA I went there, and they never found out. Computers don't let you get away with such things today.

My Phi Beta Kappa story is a gem. I always took an overload at UCLA, hungry for knowledge in those days, so I'd take various Pass-No Pass classes, or sometimes just take something for a C, taking 21 to 24 units a term ... so I graduated with a low B average, not high enough to be considered for PBK. But as it happens, my classic Greek professor, who thought I was someone who should get a PhD in classical studies, was the president of PBK the year I took her course, and she was stunned that I was not a candidate -- so she snooped into my records, saw and understood what I was up to, and pushed me through for the award anyway. Remarkable! And I only took Greek in the first place because I was pissed I had to take a language at all, just getting out of the Army where I was a Russian linguist (!) (but getting 2 units short of the requirement as credit for it), so decided to take a term of German but the line was too damn long, and next to it was an empty table, and this was Classical Greek, so I took it, loved it, did damn well, had a lucky prof and ended up in Phi Beta Kappa. I used to wear my pin on my UCLA baseball cap until someone stole it and I never replaced it. Hmm, maybe I should. I can't even remember the secret handshake. There was one, wasn't there?


How many classics are initially condemned! Quite remarkable.

Baudelaire's Fleurs du Mal

On this day in 1857, Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal was published. Critics now regard it as one of the most important and influential collection of poetry to come out of the 19th century, and an essential bridge between Romanticism and Modernism, but contemporary newspapers like Figaro would have no part of it:
The book is a hospital full of all the insanities of the human mind, of all the putresence of the human heart; if only this were done to cure them it would be permissible, but they are incurable.
Baudelaire's poems are notoriously difficult to translate. Norman Shapiro's 1998 edition is highly-praised; among earlier English editions is one co-translated by George Dillon and Edna St. Vincent Millay, a poet almost as notorious as Baudelaire in lifestyle.
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A morning adventure

Taking the van in to be serviced, which means joining the morning commute for a bus ride back into the city, which I do rarely enough to make it an adventure. I'll no doubt wander about downtown as the city comes to life, looking for an unusual spot for breakfast. Then hop another bus to get home.

Precious little progress on anything except music studies during the first couple weeks of my summer but that's fine for now. Doing a lot of brooding about projects, always a necessary dance in the early stages. I'm reworking an old screenplay, which I want to finish up because I have a dynamite new idea to explore. I haven't started any music composition yet but musical lines are bouncing around in the brain, time to do something about them.

The forecast is into the high 90s this weekend, my kind of weather. I'll believe it when/if it happens. I can't remember the last time I've been in great, which is to say hot, weather.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not enough bad news?

Here's some more.
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Increasingly Acidic Pacific Coast
Waters Threaten Marine Life

© 2008 by Linda Moulton Howe

“For ocean chemistry, this is very dramatic – a bigger change
than we’ve seen for at least the last 5 million years on planet Earth.
And it’s more than 100 times faster rate of change than we’ve seen
over that period.”
  - Christopher Sabine, Ph.D., NOAA

June 21, 2008  Corvallis, Oregon and Shelton, Washington - None of the global warming climate models saw open oceans increasing in acidity by 30% or more until the end of the 21st Century. But a new study published in the June 2008 journal, Science, shows that Powell ocean water only four miles off the northern California shore, is already 30% more acidic than normal.
All the carbon dioxide absorbed by seawater has produced increasing amounts of carbonic acid. The calcium carbonate shells of clams, oysters, corals, small snails called Pteropods and some planktons weaken and disintegrate in carbonic acid.
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New book

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Gentrification of the Nation: How the Rich Rule

This Land is Their Land Book Cover

I didn't live in any ghettoes when I worked on Nickel and Dimed — a trailer park, yes, but no ghetto — and — my average wage of $7 an hour, or about $14,400 a year, I wasn't in the market for furniture, a house, or a car. But the high cost of poverty was brought home to me within a few days of my entry into the low-wage life, when, slipping into social worker mode, I chastised a coworker for living in a motel room when it would be so much cheaper to rent an apartment. Her response: Where would she get the first month's rent and security deposit it takes to pin down an apartment? The lack of that amount of capital — probably well over $1,000 — condemned her to paying $40 a night at the Day's Inn.

If you're rich, you might want to stay that way. It's a whole lot cheaper than being poor.

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At the college World Series, 2 yrs. ago Oregon State was the Cinderella team and, to a lesser extent, last year again as defending champions coming off a poor season. But Fresno State is the lowest ranking team ever to make the finals -- and what a power house! Hope they take it all tomorrow.

Another Cinderella team is Turkey, which plays Germany tomorrow in the Euro cup soccer semis. Will root for them, too.
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(8) Georgia 10, Fresno State 19

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- Fresno State kept its amazing postseason run alive Tuesday night thanks to an offensive performance that was nothing short of, well, amazing.

After spotting Georgia a five-run lead in the third inning, Fresno State struck for 15 runs over the next three innings for a 19-10 victory in Game 2 of the College World Series finals.

The teams will play a deciding game Wednesday, with the winner bringing home the national championship.

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First Wednesday

Readers on July 2.

Biting wit

I suspect The Devil's Dictionary is one of those discoveries no reader ever forgets. It leaves an impression.
Brief, Bitter, Bierce
On this day in 1842, the writer-reporter-wit Ambrose Bierce was born in Horse Cave Creek, Ohio. Those familiar with Bierce usually approach him through his Civil War stories ("An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "Chickamauga," etc.) and then stay to enjoy, or at least marvel at, his celebrated aphorisms and definitions. These offer a scoff for every situation, and are so thoroughly, happily bitter that even H. L. Mencken recoiled in horror.

    HUSBAND: One who, having dined, is charged with the care of the plate.
    BRIDE: A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.
    MARRIAGE: The state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress and two slaves, making in all, two.
    HOMICIDE: The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable and praiseworthy.
    BORE: A person who talks when you wish him to listen.
    ONCE: Enough.
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Eyes & stomach

I already can tell I've set myself far too ambitious goals for the summer. The thing is, my energy level is much less than it used to be, even less than last summer, so there's no way I'm going to do all the projects I had in mind. I think I'll set aside the prose things, keep music front burner and screenwriting/playwriting not far behind. Scriptwriting is easier for me than prose.

So this morning I spent most of my time practicing scales.

Monday, June 23, 2008


A smattering of lines ...

—-Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?

--Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?

--Older' sounds a little better than 'old,' doesn't it? Sounds like it might even last a little longer. ... I'm getting old. And it's OK. Because thanks to our fear of death in this country I won't have to die — I'll 'pass away.' Or I'll 'expire,' like a magazine subscription. If it happens in the hospital they'll call it a 'terminal episode.' The insurance company will refer to it as 'negative patient care outcome.' And if it's the result of malpractice they'll say it was a 'therapeutic misadventure.


Some good time spent on music studies this morning.

R.I.P.: George Carlin

His infamous seven words you can't say on TV were, of course, shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits.

Here is the monologue that went to the Supreme Court.

Check this out

A new blog, written pseudonymously by a Portland writer I know, is called Unconventional Folly (the opposite of conventional wisdom) and has actual content, as so many blogs don't (including this one all too often).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Soccer and Peter Handke

For the 2nd straight day, a Euro cup game was tied after regulation and two overtimes, 2 hrs. of playing time (let's see an American football player do that), and so it was up to free kicks. And this reminds me of one of my favorite titles in literature, Peter Handke's The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, a short novel. My intro to this Austrian playwright/author was his play Insulting the Audience, which was given a spirited -- and insulting -- production at the University of Oregon when I was working on my MFA there in the early 70s. Been a fan ever since.

Remembering Paul deLay

A nice comment added to the video this morning: "My brother Chris took me down to a local club where Paul Delay was playin'. Paul was 22yrs old and looked very much like this first pic. His singing and Harp playing was pure gold. We later heard him playing at a blues fest.on the radio. Paul's sound was better than Great. It drove my heart out of my chest!"

Less is harder

Been trying to create a 30-second ad for a video forum I belong to,, to enter in their competition for same. Man, this is a difficult gig!

"May you live in interesting times."

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Everything seemingly is spinning out of control

By ALAN FRAM and EILEEN PUTMAN, Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON - Is everything spinning out of control? Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism.

Horatio Alger, twist in your grave.

Floods engulf Midwestern river towns. Is it global warming, the gradual degradation of a planet's weather that man seems powerless to stop or just a freakish late-spring deluge?

It hardly matters to those in the path. Just ask the people of New Orleans who survived Hurricane Katrina. They are living in a city where, 1,000 days after the storm, entire neighborhoods remain abandoned, a national embarrassment that evokes disbelief from visitors.

maybe this is what the 21st century will be about — a great unraveling of some things long taken for granted.
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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Literary detectives

A significant number of "classic" American books -- Billy Budd, Sister Carrie, this one come immediately to mind -- have been reissued long after their original publication in "original" form, the first edition being compromised in some way.
Crane's New Red Badge

On this day in 1982, Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage was published by Norton and Company in "the only complete edition from the original manuscript." All previous editions incorporated all or most of the cuts and changes that had been made to Crane's manuscript for its original publication in 1895. Crane had made these changes, but many now agree that they were coerced by an editor with an eye to the marketplace, and were so significant as to distort and muddy the story Crane wrote and the theme he intended. The original edition, writes the Norton editor Henry Binder, remade Crane's hero into "a youth who finds courage and self-possession, instead of one who, if he changes at all, becomes at the end even more egotistical and obtuse than he is at the beginning."
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Friday, June 20, 2008


I'm not sure how long I'll continue teaching. I'm only teaching one course but it's still something I'm beginning to think of dropping. I've formally committed to teaching both the 2008-9 and 2009-10 school years but more than that, I don't know. The summers, when I don't teach, get more pleasant each year because I am not responsible for all those students who have to pay too much for their educations today. I take this responsibility quite seriously during the school year. I want them to get their money's worth. And this, of course, requires time and energy. There comes a time when you feel you're not up to it. I'm not there yet but I can see myself getting there in a few years. Or maybe I'll retreat halfway and teach a class online, where time is more flexible. I'll be doing that anyway, I hope, in 2009, a hyperdrama class. We'll see how that goes. When I do quit teaching, I'd like to leave Portland but whether I can convince my wife to move is another matter. Her best friend here has been thinking of moving to Chicago -- and if that happens, maybe H would be more willing to move. But she's so busy at so many things here. I have nothing but teaching keeping me here -- and a lot of ghosts grinning at me. I'd like to get far away from them as well.

Godson plays the blues

Brad Crooks, of Smokin' Mojo Blues Band, Moscow, Idaho, #1 son of my late best friend, Dick ... and I've known Brad since he was about 3 and got him started on the blues a very long time ago. Mighty proud of him, as Dick was before he passed.

Video interview.

And #2 son, Kass, is a mean guitar player.


The mail brought blue: my new monthly bus pass, which is blue; and a beautiful blue scarf knitted by my favorite MFA candidate. Given the weather pattern here, I'll probably be wearing it on the 4th of July. What a nice gift and it's not even my birthday!


I came to soccer late. I really didn't start paying attention until a few years ago when the U.S. women's team began doing so well. Since then, however, I've become a fan, and moreover I understand why most of the world prefers this brand of "football" to our own.

For example, I just watched an incredible match in the Euro cup, Turkey v. Croatia. Scoreless through regulation, which is 90 minutes. An American football game is 60 (which takes 3x as long to play because there is so much down time -- soccer is almost all playing time). A scoreless Amer football game most often is boring but this soccer match was very exciting and non-stop. First overtime, still scoreless after 105 mins. Into 2nd overtime, scoreless after 119 mins. when Croatia scores. Should be over -- but Turkey also scores in final minute! Tied 1-1, on to penalty kicks -- and Turkey wins and moves on to the semi-finals. What a game!

A soccer athlete must be in much better physical condition than an American football player. In the latter, there's more down than up time -- time to catch your breath. Not in soccer, it's up and down the field, endlessly. I don't know how they hold up.

High school is soooooooo boring ...

clipped from


Reports: Teen girls made pact to get pregnant

GLOUCESTER, Mass. - A pact made by a group of teens to get pregnant and raise their babies together is at least partly behind a sudden spike in pregnancies at Gloucester High School, school officials said.

Principal Joseph Sullivan told Time magazine in a story published Wednesday that the girls confessed to making the pact after the school began investigating a rise in pregnancies that has left 17 girls at the school carrying a child. Normally, there are about four pregnancies a year at the school.

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If a man could live a thousand years,
When half his life had passed,
He might, by strict economy,
A fortune have amassed.

Then having gained some common-sense,
And knowledge, too, of life,
He could select the woman who
Would make him a true wife.

But as it is, man hasn't time
To even pay his debts,
And weds to be acquainted with
The woman whom he gets.

_H. C. Dodge._

The Man

A man said to the universe,
"Sir, I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."

_Stephen Crane._

A Ballade of Suicide

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall.
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours--on the wall--
Are drawing a long breath to shout "Hurray!"
The strangest whim has seized me.... After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay--
My uncle's sword is hanging in the hall--
I see a little cloud all pink and grey--
Perhaps the rector's mother will _not_ call--
I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way--
I never read the works of Juvenal--
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

The world will have another washing day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H. G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall;
Rationalists are growing rational--
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray,
So secret that the very sky seems small--
I think I will not hang myself to-day.


Prince, I can hear the trump of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even to-day your royal head may fall--
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

_G. K. Chesterton._


Just got a funny note from an actor, a night owl himself, "go to bed!" -- and had to tell him I just got up! Here's his story in the hyperdrama.


Hope for a more focused day today than yesterday.

A hoot

I'm Not a Groupie I'm IN the Band: The Real Life Adventures of a Female Musician by Hollie Olson is a comic behind the scenes look at the life of a female road "cover" musician who never hits the big time. It's one of those books that is a natural for the screen.

Today Holly is an actress I've had the pleasure of working with on a number of video projects. Here is her character in the hyperdrama series.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


The mountain and the squirrel
Had a quarrel,
And the former called the latter "Little Prig";
Bun replied,
"You are doubtless very big;
But all sorts of things and weather
Must be taken in together,
To make up a year
And a sphere,
And I think it no disgrace
To occupy my place.
If I'm not so large as you,
You are not so small as I,
And not half so spry.
I'll not deny you make
A very pretty squirrel track;
Talents differ; all is well and wisely put;
If I cannot carry forests on my back,
Neither can you crack a nut."

_Ralph Waldo Emerson._


Why was Cupid a boy,
And why a boy was he?
He should have been a girl,
For aught that I can see.

For he shoots with his bow,
And the girl shoots with her eye;
And they both are merry and glad,
And laugh when we do cry.

Then to make Cupid a boy
Was surely a woman's plan,
For a boy never learns so much
Till he has become a man.

And then he's so pierced with cares,
And wounded with arrowy smarts,
That the whole business of his life
Is to pick out the heads of the darts.

_William Blake._