Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nicholson in THE PLEDGE

Mental improv

During my post-breakfast coffee/jazz cruise this morning, with cold and windy weather outside the car, I began fantasizing about living someplace warm. No way this will happen unless 1. I divorce my wife, who is settled here, which isn't going to happen, or 2. I outlive her, which is unlikely. But if the accident of the latter happens, I'm out of here as soon as I can practically manage it. I'll either move to a very small town in the desert of the southwest or wide open spaces of west Texas, or live in a van and move with the sun, driving as little as possible and staying in semi-primitive campsites as long as possible (with the dog, of course). I'll spend my days reading and writing non-commercial posthumous literature. But this is unlikely. I'll be here, as I've been here for decades, constantly complaining about the weather and about how cool Portland was in the late 70s and 80s, laying low and trying to mind my own business as much as possible, which isn't always easy with liars for mayors and artistic hype rising off the wet streets like hot air. Yes, I really should be tucked away in the desert somewhere, where I'm not surrounded by ghosts.

A note from JD, the playwright/actor whose short scripts I'm shooting on video, suggests a great way to set one of his stories, something that hadn't occurred to me. Definitely going to explore this -- and I mean today. I mean right now. Bye.

Internet Radio Fan

I'm having great fun with this, which was the free software offered a while back from the Giveaway For the Day site. Pick up radio stations from all over the world via the net, very user friendly. Been listening a lot to a station in Madrid. Don't understand a word but like the music.

Here's the website. Probably offered again free down the road at Giveaway of the Day.

Daytrip to Tacoma

Yesterday we delivered 2 of H's paintings to The Gallery at Tacoma Community College. What a gorgeous campus! And the gallery has its own building, small but modern in design, ideally located near a Japanese garden, quite impressive for a two-year college. Afterwards we had an incredible lunch at Anthony's on the water, then the drive back, which of course seemed longer than the drive up. Ran into rush hour traffic in Portland made worse by an accident that closed two lanes of the freeway, not a pretty homecoming.

Friday, February 27, 2009


In recent months my piano studies have suffered greatly, primarily due to all the time I've spent doing video, which is very time consuming (especially editing). Time to bring the piano back to the front burner. Going to spend the spring reviewing what I've learned so far and getting back up to speed so in the summer I can attack it with new focus and energy. I need this skill, a more efficient skill than I presently possess, to do some future projects.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Tacoma art show

Harriet has two pieces in an art show in Tacoma. Think I'll ride along when she delivers the paintings, a good day trip to get out of town. Take the dog, have an adventure.

The Adams Show

Will we ever get rid of this guy?
clipped from

$1.5 million for Adams' public records? Huh?

PORTLAND, Ore. - In Oregon, public records are open to everyone and in many cases are free.

So when KATU received a quote of $1.5 million from the city to pull public records from Mayor Sam Adams' office, you can imagine the sticker shock.

It all started weeks ago when the mayor issued a public apology over the scandal involving his relationship with a young intern. During the press conference, KATU requested Adams' phone, calendar and e-mail records from the spring of 2005, when the then city commissioner was developing a relationship with 17-year-old Beau Breedlove.

"I think the Willamette Week and the Oregonian have asked for those already, so they're around already," Adams said.

The next day, Adams' spokesman requested that a public records request be filled out.  After a few additions and a month of calling and e-mailing, KATU received estimates totaling more than $1.5 million (before attorney fees) to pull the public records.
 blog it

Good news

A former student, for whom I wrote a letter of recommendation, passed early cuts and has an interview at UCLA (film school). Hope he makes it!

On what is beginning to look like the nebulous screenplay sale, producer wants to chat with me on the phone next week. Made an appointment for Tuesday morning. Maybe I'll learn something.

Banned play decision upheld, 4-3

Email from a student at La Grande:

tonight the school board in a 4-3 vote upheld the superintendent's decision. the play is officially banned from production at la grande high school.

I hope they now look at alternatives. I suggest several below.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Quick progress

27 pages into the new splay draft already. A supernatural thriller, working title BROKEN CIRCLE. Fun. And I know my ending, which is not always true at this stage of the game.

Who will step up in La Grande?

Gotta hand it to these young actors. They want to do their banned play. They are still rehearsing, waiting for someone to step up and give them a space in which to perform it. Several donors come to mind.
  • Eastern Oregon University. Isn't this exactly what the academy is about? Or are their important local toes that would be stepped on here?
  • A church. Aren't there any Unitarians in La Grande? Or Catholic Benedictines? Decades ago I did a story on a Benedictine high school English class that was studying Baldwin's Another Country. Talk about mature material!
  • A local coffee shop. Publicity and new business! Or would the lost business negate this?
  • A local arts patron. Living room theater! A noble tradition. I've met a number of liberal arts patrons in Eastern Oregon over the years. Where are they now?
  • Reversal of the decision to ban. An appeal has been made. Next week, a meeting will decide the issue. The community at large might yet come to the rescue.
  • A Portland space. No, bad idea, even though many would be quickly available. This would just fortify the wall between the valley and the rest of the state. A better idea is ...
  • YouTube. If all else fails, I hope the kids do it in the park, tape it, and stick the video on YouTube. Let the entire world be corrupted by Steve Martin's rather innocent play.

I'll be keeping my eye on this story. I applaud these young actors. I hope the parents and petitioners with small minds aren't encouraged by victory.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Student video on banning of high school play in La Grande


Caught up on student work. A short break and then we workshop scenes in class, usually fun as well as instructive. The term is winding down quickly.

I even managed to write a bit on the new splay during a break this morning, a few pages. It's a very different genre for me, a thriller with a supernatural flavor.

Experiencing the usual dichotomy between my interior and exterior lives, trying to live in the former as much as possible because it's more pleasant there. I still need to read more. Where's the time? And I am behind on getting together the video project to replace the one I had to cancel. Where's the time? Of course, I move considerably more slowly than I used to, which may have something to do with it.

Aging. Ah me.


Woke up with a new idea for the novel in progress, that what may be the most important scene in the story actually doesn't happen but is imagined by the protagonist, which spins into more realistic but sadder territory. Will seriously look at this option.

Student scripts to read, workshop in class. May need filler work to do on Thursday.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Best advice of the day

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

--Ernest Hemingway

Scene workshops

One of the better exercises I do in class, I think, is a week devoted to scene workshops, which is this week. I have each student submit their longest dialogue scene. We workshop it and almost always end up with a stronger, shorter scene. I hope to show how incredibly efficient the film narrative form is. Sometimes the change is quite dramatic: a slow talky 3 or 4 page scene becoming a tight powerful one page scene. Almost always, the student "gets it" and hopefully uses the insight to rewrite the rest of the script.

So today I go through their scenes and "edit" them ahead of time so I don't have to do too much thinking on my feet. A lot of work but a full day to do it.

Earlier I rewrite the new splay and emailed it to my agent. I think the ending still needs cranking up. I have a very hard time writing "Hollywood" endings. Definitely my weakness as a commercial screenwriter.

If I get the workshop stuff done early, I hope to do some work on the novel later.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wilson High School rocks with RENT (SCHOOL EDITION)

Congratulations to director Jamie Miller, school principal Sue Brent, and the large staff, cast and crew at Wilson High School Performing Arts for its energetic and important production of the rock musical Rent (School Edition). We caught the matinee today, and an enjoyable and energetic show it was despite a few lapses, most notably a loss of energy in the second act (maybe because of too little rest after a prior evening performance). There were outstanding performances, by leads Sam Goodman and Alex Swalwell and others, but the performance that blew me away was by freshman stand-in Madison Shanley. She brought to the role of Maureen so much talent, energy and focus that it's impossible to imagine she doesn't have a professional career ahead of her. Talking to a parent at intermission, I learned the young woman has been performing this way since grade school. Remember the name! This is high school theater at its best, and those associated with the production surely will never forget it.

But we live in a zero-sum universe, and Oregon high school theater has its sad news as well.

High school play hits stop sign
February 21, 2009 11:34 am

A play in production at La Grande High School that stirred parent protest because of its adult content was struck down Friday.

La Grande School District Superintendent Larry Glaze announced he is directing that the play, “Picasso at the Alpine Agile,” be canceled. Glaze made his decision after a La Grande parent, Melissa Jackman, submitted an official protest against the play Tuesday. LHS students were in their third week of rehearsals for the play, which had been scheduled to be performed April 23-25.

Jackman, in her complaint, asked that the play be canceled, a different one be performed in its place or that all of the adult content be deleted or substituted.

This play is so "innocent" compared to Rent, which even in its "school edition" has references to mutual masturbation and pissing in the street, such extreme local action makes La Grande, a university town, look backward indeed. Don't these parents know their kids are on the Internet being exposed to far more "adult material" than what's in this play? All the more reason to applaud the principal and administration at Wilson for its good decision making in letting the play go on.

Seeing this show is inspiring. It gives me faith in the younger generation. What a good experience to see it.

Give us this day our DailyLit

DailyLit is a convenient, easy way to catch up on or review classical literature. Snippets get delivered to your email box on your own schedule.

Posthumous play

Working on a new one. Back burner, slow progress, but I like it so far. 3 voices. Unusual triangle story. Monologue driven, ala Designated Mourner.

Chamber opera

Another scene sent off to the composer.

Perfect rhythm

By mid-morning, I like to feel like I've put in a good writing work day, as now. This used to be my typical rhythm but as I've gotten older, it's harder to maintain. This is the first full morning in a while. I take them as I can get them. When I feel like my writing day is complete by mid-morning, I have the rest of the day free without worrying about the real work.

There's a high school in town doing RENT. We're going to try and catch a matinee today.

Re the Oscars: I hope Slumdog does NOT win best film but that's "urinating against the breeze," as an actor in the mockumentary says.


Cruising paid off this morning, finished the splay draft. And immediately turned to the next one. Onward.

Cruising before sunrise

The usual routine, coffee (iced, black), jazz, brooding, trying out different endings to my splay on the mind's screen ... now to get one down before they all vanish.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Party in Pullman

WSU just beat UCLA in bball, down there at Pauley in LA, only the 2nd time they've won there in history. An exciting game, the Bruins shooting themselves in both feet several times but one WSU dude red hot, scoring all the Coug's last pts, 15 or so, a 3 that was like a dagger after UCLA missed a lay up ... I love the Pullman-Moscow area up there in the Palouse, visit often, may visit over spring break if not then in June, see Esther in the home in Orofino, Brad and Kass in Moscow ... my adopted family. Anyway, UCLA not looking so hot in these pre-tourny weeks. Bet they don't reach the final 4 this year.

Chamber opera

Wrote a new section on the chamber opera in progress. No small accomplishment.

Butt in the chair

The secret today is to keep my butt in this chair for as long as possible. But then that's true of many days.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Man, my energy level has really dropped in recent months. Still getting used to the new rhythm this requires. This and the arthritic knee, I often feel every one of the seven decades I've been visiting ("Life is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there") but about the time I feel like bitching, I remember how goddamn lucky I've been and am, jesus, I can't even complain with a free conscience. Hell of a deal.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Most enthusiastic email of the day

Ho appena finito di leggere L'OBLIO: SPETTACOLARE!!
Non sono riuscita a staccarmi nemmeno un minuto.

You are wonderful!!
Josephine Hart is special!!
Excuse me for my bad english.
By by

Nice surprise

The continuing sales of my electronic screenwriting tutorial/ebook get deposited automatically by the firm I have managing same, and last month's sales were good, I just discovered. One never knows, no rhyme nor reason to any of it. But it's always good to find more money in your account than you expected. The nice thing here, of course, is that I get 95% of the money, not 10% (print books). It's the most consistent long-range money-maker of my career, as strange as this seems to me, and it remains IMHO the most thorough and unique screenwriting educational tool on the market, even though it's been around so long. I thought some corporation would have copied my approach years ago and with a "prettier" product with more bells and whistles, blown me out of the water. Not the case. This is amazing to me! I must be farther ahead of the curve on this than I thought.

The product is Screenwright: the craft of screenwriting, and it's a steal. And I have a large number of happy customers.

"If you are interested in writing screenplays, I cannot recommend this course highly enough....For the first time (to my knowledge) the "book" is written for the way one works rather than expecting one to follow the author's suggested line of thought....I was prompted to go back and do further work on one of my screenplays which I had thought finished. How do you put a price on that? Charles has done a superb job compiling as much as one needs to know to write a screenplay. It is a trove of information and guidance. Just add your own story." Cam Eason, The Book Nook

"If you're new to this screenwriting thing, unsure of yourself and the jargon, and you need some straight talk about your career path, start with Screenwright. Charles is friendly, an experienced teacher and writer. He gives you a broad spectrum of what this business is all about, from what a concept is, to how to write with a partner, to how to write a query letter. ... Charles' course is well worth the amazingly-low price ... If you're a beginner, or know a friend who needs an introductory course that's friendly yet thorough in the way it touches upon a little of everything, give yourself or your friend a great gift -- Screenwright." Christine DeSmet, Wisconsin Screenwriters Forum newsletter.

"one of the coolest writing 'books' around. ... it's a hypertext book. Not an e-book. But something all together original and a perfect format for what Deemer's attempting in the book. It's set up like a website, only you don't have to be online to run it. But there's hyperlinks leading through different paths of the book so that you pretty much make your own way through the course, learning based on your own tendencies as a writer." Rob's Writing Pains.

"Just wanted you to know I received a great tutorial and bargain, when your screenwriting Software arrived in the mail last week. As a curious and creative (but didn't know it) person, I've always felt cheated and uneducated by the 'miseducation' system. But I find the creative education in your software to be exciting, rewarding and endless. Also, thanks for reminding me and being up-front about the 'business'. You're absolutely right, most teachers would sugarcoat it....Thanks again for the great tutorial program! P.S. This is the best classroom I've ever been in!" R.A., Screenwright purchaser.

"What a stupendously successful effort. You know, in many ways it's better than most of the screenwriting classes I took way back when in the UCLA film program. I am totally blown away..." K.M.E., screenwriter.

Most incredible exchange of the day

"How can you be an effective mayor if you're not even invited to a meeting on the federal stimulus?"

"I have to let people go through their issues," Adams responded.


In other words, it's OUR fault we don't trust an admitted liar! What an elitist *#@!!$*(&##$!! Unbelievable.

The plan

Three student scripts to look at this morning. Should have a bit of time afterward to get back to tweaking the splay.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Delaying the current video project. My actress is in a personal crisis, needs time to heal and regroup. Rather than recast the role, I'll just wait until she's ready. She's thrilled and suggested April. So we'll check with her then. Meanwhile I'll pick another Donnelly short to do now.

Also gives me more time over the weekend to catch up on my other projects. Feeling good about the splay now, want to get on with it and finish the draft. And thinking a lot about the novel, too, especially some rather incredible stuff ahead. At least by my sensibilities. Many will just think it's, well, pretty weird. A few may even think it's deranged. Eh? There's no accounting for taste.

Progress on a couple of fronts

Heard that my hyperdrama online course will be offered nationally next year. Good news! They're setting me up so I can start practicing on their online software setup. Class is next spring.

Did some good character work on the screenplay, tweaking the protagonist, which now requires tweaking some scenes, and changing the antagonist so, hopefully, I crank up a surprise but logical ending. Endings, in the Hollywood context, are my weakness, as my agent likes to point out. I think like a playwright, not a Hollywood screenwriter. Been working on it.

A big pile of scripts to read today. Be a long day but I have a productive break ahead to look forward to.

I have a split personality in my writing life in this last act of my journey: the inside-out half writing intensely personal, non-commercial fiction and stage plays for my archive; the outside-in half writing blatantly commercial screenplays for my agent. In the best of worlds, the former would become my best work for some future reader to discover and the latter would fatten the bank account for my wife to take advantage of after I'm gone. In this regard, we are still waiting for the formal offer to purchase THE BRAZEN WING. In my last communication with the buyer/producer/director, he was as upbeat as ever, ready to rock and roll. But LaLaLand is a very strange world. One never really knows what is going on. I remain cautiously optimistic.

A noble exercise if nothing else.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Food for thought of the day

The difference between philosophy and theology: if you have an argument over philosophy, you get red in the face. Over theology you throw bombs.

--Unknown source

Second wind

Ah, I seem to have rise from yesterday's aging, aching complaint of a day with some sort of battery charge and second wind. I look forward to the week ahead and the weekend ahead, rehearsal on Sunday, getting back to the two most active writing projects, the novel and the splay, and knowing it's getting time to start video editing for the summer review. Better energy than yesterday, in other words.

And more vaguely, I look forward to retiring and writing secret politically incorrect posthumous projects.


Are we going to sell the house and downsize in a major way? This is the question before us, and we just made a pact to have the answer to this by the end of the summer. Early betting has the favorite as Yes. We both want to live within walking distance of things. Probably in a retirement community or an apartment. A major step, however we decide.

Today's stroke

Dear Mr. Deemer,

For years now, I have referred to your article, The Rhetoric of Action when advising writers. As an English teacher, I am delighted to see its cogent analysis of what works in an 'action sentence'; as a screenwriter, I have 'listened' to your advice when at the computer wrestling with my own projects.

(The Rhetoric of Action is available here.)

Always nice to learn that one isn't working in a vacuum, though it sure feels like it some days, and that the work is appreciated. In fact, my presence and influence on the net have become considerably greater than off the net, or so feedback suggests.


My jazz vocalist friend in LA is going to record a bunch of my song parodies. I can't wait to hear them! I'll post them when I get them, of course. Tick tick tick ...

A new day

Yesterday is yesterday. Gone! Dead! Forgotten! A new day! Onward.

Monday, February 16, 2009

New collaboration

The composer I'll be working with on the topical chamber opera uses Finale software, as I do, so technically we have a seamless marriage here. Excellent. Maybe I can charge my battery and get started.

Goin' down slow

Feel like the guy in the blues song, goin' down slow. Feeling old, aching beyond pain pills. Managed to read a student script in the morning, downhill since then. Don't need many days like this.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quotation of the day

Martyrdom is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability.

--George Bernard Shaw

Revolutionary Road

The Richard Yates novel is on my short list. I studied it in the 60s as a grad student in a novel writing class. I'm always nervous about seeing a film based on a favorite novel -- especially here since I didn't think DiCaprio could pull it off -- but I haven't been so delighted with such an adaptation since The French Lt's Woman. This is the best film I've seen since Lives of Others, and the best American film since maybe In the Bedroom, another adaptation of a favorite writer. This works for me at every level, with superb performances throughout the cast but especially by the leads, Winslet and DiCaprio. A nice ending, not in the novel, and coincidentally the same image that ends an early story of mine, "Ears," an old man shutting out his wife by turning off his hearing aid. It's not an Oscar nominee but it's my Best Film of the year.

Sam Adams, the opera

Hooray! I found a local composer interested in my idea of a one-act chamber opera about the Adams affair. I've already started a libretto, which will use a lot of "historic" language. I prefer this idea to the song parodies because the form more lends itself to the tragic dimensions at work here. This is a very exciting development.

No rehearsal

One of the actors is sick, so I'm canceling tomorrow's rehearsal. This actually is a blessing in disguise because I'm swamped and have been trying to figure out how to fit REVOLUTIONARY ROAD into the picture. Now I think I can go today to the first showing. I can read papers tomorrow instead of rehearsing. Onward!

An interesting invitation. A conservative talk show host wants me to come on her show and sing some song parodies about the mayor. My God! I can't think of another context in the world when such a person would want me on her show. Politics makes strange bedfellows and all that. A writer's curiosity wants me to say Yes but on the other hand, at the moment there are probably more liberal fascists in town than conservative fascists and I'd just be feeding them by such an appearance, and who needs the hassle, which is to say, more hate mail? I'm doing my songs to stay sane, not to get publicity. So alas, I guess I'll pass despite the curiosity. Politics is pissing in public and I'd just put myself in the line of fire. What an amazing invitation nonetheless.

The Female Fallacy

The Polling Booth Song

(Tune: "Whiskey Song" and ending from Mahagonny)

Oh show me the way to the next pretty mayor
Oh don't ask why, oh don't ask why
If I don't find the next pretty mayor
I tell you I must die, I tell you I must die
I tell you, I tell you,
I tell you I must die

A fraud in Puddle City
You now must say goodbye
You've lost your dear old Portland
And must resign, oh don't ask why
A fraud in Puddle City
You now must say goodbye
You've lost the city's voters
And must resign, oh don't ask why

Oh show me the way to the next polling booth
Oh don't ask why, oh don't ask why
If I don't find the next polling booth
I tell you I must die, I tell you I must die
I tell you, I tell you
I tell you I must die

A fraud in Puddle City
You now must say goodbye
You've lost your dear old Portland
And must resign, oh don't ask why

You can put a white shirt on him
You can tie a windsor on him
You can put a smile on his face
You can take a picture of him
Cannot help a fallen mayor

You can remember the good times
You can recite all the speeches
You can vote again for him
You can throw him a party
Cannot help a fallen mayor

You can forget all the lying
You can forget all the kissing
You can forget all the forging
You can pretend he's honest
Cannot help a fallen mayor

Cannot help him or you or me
Cannot help him or you or me

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Boy From City Hall

The Boy From City Hall
(Tune: "The Girl From Ipanema")

Tall and tan and brash and handsome
The boy from City Hall goes flirting
And when he's winking, each one he's seeing goes -- ah

When he talks, it's like a sermon
The boy from City Hall's convincing
The voters to support him, and they go -- ah

Oh, but I listen so sadly
Because I know that he's lying
Soon everything turns out badly
And each day, when he's at City Hall
I'm counting the days till his fall

Tall and tan and brash and handsome
The boy from City Hall keeps talking
But now no one is listening, and we go -- ah

Battery charge

My energy level has dropped considerably since 6 a.m. when I was full of piss and vinegar. Consequently I'm not getting the work done I'd hoped to do today. I've really noticed my need for "naps" in the past year or so, though I actually don't yet take them regularly. I usually just mope around instead. I think I need to guard the first 4 or 5 hours I'm awake more selfishly and work then, before I run out of creative steam. Yesterday, in contrast, was a terrific day, got a ton done. Getting tired is not something I'm used to, so I'm still adjusting and looking for the new rhythm to get past it, around it, over it, through it. My damn knee is a pain in the, well, knee, and while I realize I've been hugely fortunate with my health over the years, I don't like the new restrictions on my mobility. I may be in that time of life when everything just keeps getting worse.

Hangin' in like Gunga Din

Or trying to.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Adams Audio project


Connected with a local composer, who wrote an avant-garde piece I like. Inquiring if a collaboration on a chamber opera might be possible. Would love to partner with a LOCAL composer!

Headline of the day

Another Mayoral Staffer Quits


The more, the merrier.

Valentine's Day special

Tomorrow evening, Venus is at its brightest in the western sky. Don't miss it!

A great morning!

Really had a good writing session on the splay this morning. Threw out last 5 or 6 pages and rewrote them, working toward a new ending. Looking good -- and I'm less than ten pages from FADE OUT, so I may continue writing through the day. Be nice to get this sucker drafted. I have some character stuff to pump up but my focus now is to get the story sequenced right. Onward.

Down memory lane

Ran across this reconsideration of Portland's theater past from superb critic Bob Hicks:

The city has a long history of excellent visual and new-vaudeville performance, from Ric Young’s old extravaganzas as Storefront to the continuing fine work at Do Jump and Imago. Storefront and other companies were Johnny-on-the-spot during Sam Shepard’s brilliant years, putting up feverish productions of his plays almost as soon as they were out of his typewriter. The great Peter Fornara’s moving theatrical circus created some scarily good work. I remember a hilarious version of Feydeau’s “A Flea in Her Ear” (in the John Mortimer translation) at Portland State University’s old summer stock, and a superb version of Noel Coward’s “Design for Living” at either New Rose or early Artists Rep. New Rose and playwright Charles Deemer produced some terrific things together. The likes of Gaynor Sterchi, Mary Marsh and Edris Morrison pushed the history of excellence even earlier. And for roughly 60 years, the old Portland Civic Theatre was recognized as one of the finest community theaters in the country.


Bad manners

The March 4th First Wednesday at Blackbird Wineshop celebrates the new anthology Citadel of the Spirit, to which I contributed. Unfortunately I, co-founder of the series, was not invited to participate, which pisses me off. Also tells me something, although nothing I didn't already know.

Story design in Sideways

As if to make up for my lousy class, spent some time making a one-page handout of the story design/strategy in Sideways, which I'll pass out next week. Maybe make up for my less-than-cogent remarks last night. Geez.

Just listened to a wonderful avant-garde musical piece re our lying mayor, quite effective. Best, I met a local composer! Maybe we can collaborate on some things.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I really sucked in class tonight. Couldn't focus, think straight, anything. Strange.

Brooding about an ending

I've set up the ending wrong in the splay, so I have to go back a few scenes and start over. No biggie, part of the usual twists and turns of a first draft. I'll tackle that this weekend.

Gaining momentum

More work on Scorpio. I feel like I'm gaining momentum with this. We'll see how it goes over the weekend. I also have the climax of the new screenplay to draft. And I have to prepare for the video script rehearsal on Monday. Busy, just as I prefer it.


Looking forward to Friday-Monday. Should get some work done. Rehearsal on Monday.

By the gods, he's done it!

I think I finally figured out how to import my blog to Facebook. Not the easiest info to find, I must say.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Scorpio Setting

Finished the day with a little work on the novel. So few appear to share my dark sense of humor about, well, almost everything, the audience for this will be quite small. That's fine. It's an inside-out book, not an outside-in book.

2 good scripts

2 very fine student scripts on the pile this morning. One even professionally done. The other is a mess from a technical standpoint, many dumb elementary errors -- the writer isn't thinking like a screenwriter in this regard -- but the story, a short, is so powerful, the characterizations strong, and best, the overall story strategy and sequence design so good, that once all the dumb errors are fixed, easily done, this will be a short so strong I expect to ask to publish it in the review. Not often I see a script so weak in the technical aspects that still captures a strong film storytelling strategy. The first, wow, the single "natural screenwriter" in my class this term, very strong indeed.

And I'm really looking forward to reading the complete draft from my continuing student, another "natural born screenwriter."

p.s. Later. A 3rd student script blew me away, a political thriller as good as what gets made.

The Big C and the Big A

You get to be my age and the shadow of the Big C is lodged in a back corner of your brain. When is it your turn to do battle? But I'd forgotten about the Big A, which actually has been a problem with H. Arthritis. X-rays show "mild arthritis" in my right knee, that's been my problem apparently. Physical therapy is suggested, which I'm looking into. I'd rather do something less corporate.


I've been wanting to leave Portland for a long time but two things keep me here: my job at the university, which I love; my wife, who is connected here in a wide range of activities. As a kind of compromise, we've thought of moving to a suburb like Beaverton, where technically I'd not live in Portland and we both could easily commute to our Portland obligations. This may yet happen.

But my fantasy of old age is very different. I'd live in a small town, within walking distance of a coffee shop, a library, and a market. I no longer would teach or edit the review. I'd still write and shoot video, I suppose. I'd read much more than I have time to do now. I'd have a routine -- you could find me at the same place at the same hour, day after day. I'd become something of a community fixture, in a small way (no interviews!).

This still could happen but probably won't. However, I've taken steps to retire from editing the review. I haven't decided to quit teaching yet.

But like all old men, or all the ones I've known, I find the surrounding community worse off than it was a few decades ago, I find myself out of step with much of what goes on, and this is fine as long as I don't have to be too close to the action (which can be upsetting). I'd be happy to just wander around and observe, shaking my head, and keeping my thoughts to myself or in my work. We start out a stranger in a strange land, and we end up the same way.

Not looking good

Though it's too early to know, I doubt if I can gather the necessary troops for the City Hall songfest. For starters, most musical types in the city, apparently like most in the arts generally, at least those on record, support the mayor by completely disregarding the fraud issue and misrepresenting events as a sexual issue, which conveniently lets them decide opponents of the mayor are homophobes. This little dance is the most comic ideological mumbo-jumbo I've witnessed in decades! Otherwise well-meaning, bright, progressive humans endorse political fraud! A wonder to behold.

The Slate article referenced below is the best treatment I've seen of the double standard at work in the subtext of all this. So in the larger picture, all this is about sex -- the cultural response is about sex, and the double standard at play. Again, were Adams hetero and Breedlove a hot high school cheerleader, well, duh, Adams would have been gone long ago, over the sex issue itself. But what so many of us abhor, if maybe not so many in the ha-ha-progressive arts community, is the calculating ambition and fraud of the cover-up. This was an election based on lies, period. This is the real political issue. And it's so easily solved: have another election based on the truth. But Adams damn well knows how that would turn out, and so does his "the ends justify the means" supporters. So we have to wait six months to do this legally, an absurd law that needs to be changed.

The damage to Portland from all this will be long and lasting. If Adams truly, truly had the best interests of the city at heart, he would have resigned already and spared the city the long process that will continue to fracture any sense of civic unity.

R.I.P. Portland

On the mark

From Slate:

A 21st-Century Sex Scandal
Would the mayor of Portland be out of office if he weren't gay?
By Taylor Clark

Here in the great evergreen-and-gray metropolis of Portland, Ore., we like to think of our city as a thriving wonderland of forward thinking. We prefer our urban planning carefully considered, our light-rail and bicycle routes plentiful, our indie musicians erudite and inscrutable, and our movie theaters stocked with beer—progressive policies, all. So when we kicked off 2009 by swearing in Sam Adams, as the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, the occasion left a lot of us pretty pleased with our nonchalant open-mindedness: "Oh, did we just make civil rights history? Funny, we weren't even paying attention." But the back-patting didn't last long. Within weeks of taking office, Portland's new mayor found himself embroiled in a scandal so lurid and combustible that it resembles a plotline from The Young and the Restless. Which now leaves Portland as an innovator of something quite different. The Adams imbroglio may be the first true 21st-century political sex scandal: one that only a gay politician could survive.

Read the article

Also see Double Standard at Sam Adams, the Musical.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Adventures in the snow, or how I survived bad driving

After lunch it started snowing again like crazy. By the time I was thinking of heading for school, I worried that even if I made it to park and ride, I wouldn't make it back if it kept snowing. Better head out on foot. The closest bus stop was out because the bus is hourly and wanders through neighborhood hills, not reliable for this weather. About a mile up the hill was Barbur and a frequent bus from the community college. Despite my bad knee, I headed out in the snow, which was still coming down strongly.

Just about the time I was thinking, This is kinda pretty, I looked up and saw a car coming at me sideways! I guess the fool had slammed on his breaks coming downhill and went into a spin. I managed to jump out of the way just in time and let the guy crash into a mail box. I continued on my way since I was in no mood to be nice to him.

Now I worry about getting home.

City Hall song fest

At urging of writer friend, we're seeing if we can put together a music/song group to sing weekly at City Hall, skewering with satire.

Singers wanted.


Snow melted enough so that it will be no problem getting out of the driveway, the most challenging part of my commute to the university.

More snow

Not much, not enough to close school, though I may still have a challenge to get to the bus stop this afternoon. What is this, our third round of snow in a city where it rarely snows? Enough for me, I hate the stuff. It's only pretty through a window.

Some script pages to read, which I've been putting off. Easy day in class itself, start showing SIDEWAYS. Finish Thursday and discuss it. So it's a relatively easy week in class itself. But today I put up drafts of projects, making tomorrow a busy reading day.

Good video interview with Susannah Mars yesterday.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Catching my breath

A couple more student scripts to look at before tomorrow but I can do them tomorrow morning. Have a couple hours before heading out for a video interview, a long drive to get there, so I'll relax and maybe read or even look at the novel pages I printed out so I can turn to it soon. I don't think I collect pages tomorrow, which would free up Wednesday.

Otherwise, spirits rise and fall in the usual pattern. Try to keep busy and "out of the world" so to speak.

Have a very exciting continuing student this term, I think she has a screenwriting career ahead of her if she wants it. Very talented and, better, driven to learn more on her own, studying movies like mad, just finished a draft of her script, which I am eager to read. In fact, I think I get it tomorrow. She has time to revise for the May 1 deadline of the Nicholl. A noble goal.

Cold but a bit of sunshine. Can't have everything, at least not here in Puddle City.

Caught a glimpse of Obama's town meeting. What an inspirational guy! Wish we didn't have a lying arrogant politician for a mayor.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cruising at sunrise

Early morning cruising and brooding paid off. Figured out my screenplay, which requires a new beginning and a tweak on the antagonist; and also a new ending for SCORPIO SETTING, making it even darker than it already is. Very excited about this short literary novel, which has no commercial possibilities whatever but which, if done right, will be as truthful and powerful (by my sensibilities, which granted are not mainstream) as anything I've written. We'll see. Obviously a challenge but I'm optimistic I can pull this off.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Strange day, sort of

Began the day with high expectations of getting a lot of writing done -- and got none done. Mistake, I think, was doing errands early in the morning, got me off rhythm. Still, the highlight of the day was seeing THE READER, a fabulous film, another wonderfully layered script written by David Hare (THE HOURS), first rate performances by Kate Winslet and others, if this doesn't get best actress and best adapted screenplay, well, too bad. Gets my non-counting vote. I'd give it best film, too. Loved it. But here's the bad news: every time a fine complex layered AMERICAN film like this comes around, it's based on a novel. Original stories of this caliber have a damn hard time getting made. Unfortunate.

An opera, live, tomorrow afternoon. I have a few students to attend to. Maybe tomorrow evening if I can get writing in the morning. Still brooding about the end of the screenplay and still eager to look at what I have on the novel, working title SCORPIO SETTING.

Our nice neighbors up front, who are renting, have to move because the owner of the house can't refinance to avoid a balloon payment, so has to sell the house. We have a balloon payment coming due ourselves in a couple years, had planned to move before then but now not so sure.

It's one of those nights when I miss the hell out of my friends who have passed.

Pleasantries and unpleasantries on a Saturday morning

Off to do errands! First to the post office, mailing nine -- count 'em -- bills, a mere fraction of our monthly expenditures. Astounding how much it costs to live a less-than-wealthy life in America. But at least our head is above water. Attention, ye gods! This is not a complaint!

Off to the store to buy ingredients for a new batch of scrapple. Jazz on the radio, hosted by a DJ I affectionately call Grandma. She sounds like Everygrandma. I dig her. She's much better than the kids who come on later in the day.

In the store, a senior moment: where the hell is the corn meal? Same store I always go to. But I can't find it. Finally have to ask -- and there it is, right where it always is, where I passed it many times in my futile search. Ah, aging! I suppose I should be thankful it wasn't "home" that I couldn't find.

To the coffee stand for coffee. Luck of the draw, I get a young woman who is aggressively friendly and too inexperienced to realize my curt one-liners in response to her evasive questions have subtext, as in SHUT THE FUCK UP! I'm brooding about the ending of my screenplay here. I want coffee, not conversation. But she wants to know what I'm doing today, and what movie is it I'm going to, and WHY did I choose that particular movie -- Jesus! I take the coffee and run.

The mood is ruined. I had planned to cruise a bit, brooding more on the dramatic puzzle in my head, but instead I just come home, I'll work on it here later.

It's a good day, in sum. Can't ask for more than that.

The Flip at Cannes

A step toward respect? We'll see.

Cannes a la Flip Competition

Friday, February 06, 2009


Ah, looks like I'll have time tomorrow to write before catching a film in the afternoon.

Aesthetic insight of the day

"The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder."

--Alfred Hitchcock.


I'm not sure networking at Facebook makes me feel any more "networked" than I felt before using Facebook, which is very little at all.

Who can figure economics?

Economists for Obama's stimulus, pass it or catastrophe; economists against it, the stimulus itself is the catastrophe. 600,000 jobs lost in report today -- and the market is up over 200 points. I suspect some advanced civilization one day, somewhere, will regard all this the way we regard witch doctors, behavior governed by mindless superstition.

For the record

The Just Out article for which I was interviewed appeared today, written by Stephen Marc Beaudoin. My long interview is reduced to a paragraph, which is not unusual. In my own journalist days, I did the same thing many times myself. You always, always, get more than you need.

Here's what the article uses from me:

Several of the arts leaders who spoke at that Jan. 23 press conference suggested Adams’ sexual relationship with Beau Breedlove is exactly what has inspired poets, playwrights and artists throughout history. David Wagstaff, a Northwest Academy educator and filmmaker, said, “If there was no misbehavior in human sexuality, there’d be no Shakespeare.”

Charles Deemer, a Portland State University screenwriting professor and editor of Oregon Literary Review, finds Wagstaff’s argument laughable.

“Bad shit is more dramatic than good shit, granted,” he says. “It’s easier to write about assholes than about heroes. But we’re talking about an elected official, not a literary creation. We’re talking about a man who lied, manipulated others to lie and thereby created the fraud of his own election. Adams is almost Shakespearean in his own blindness to his fatal flaw—Richard III and Macbeth almost come to mind, but not quite. He reminds me more of the sleazy salesmen in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross.”

Read the article

For the record, here is my complete interview with the newspaper:

Here are a few questions for you...

1. In one of your recent blog posts, you say Mayor Sam Adams "gets an F." Why does Adams deserve this grade for his service to Portland, and why do you feel he should resign from office?

I'm not referring to his service to Portland. He gets an F for a specific "lesson": for saying he'd learned a lesson not to lie, then continuing to lie, according to Leonard. This was a contextual statement.

I think he needs to resign because he violated the city's Code of Ethics. This is the age of Obama!

2. You are an accomplished playwright and literary artist. Many artists and arts leaders in Portland have come to Adams' defense, saying his behavior and actions are just the sort of thing that has inspired artists for all of humankind. How is this a valid defense of Adams? And as a playwright yourself, are there any characters or plays that come to mind as similar to Adams' behavior and situation?

Bad shit is more dramatic than good shit, granted. It's easier to write about assholes than about heroes. But we're talking about an elected official, not a literary creation. We're talking about a man who lied, manipulated others to lie, and thereby created the fraud of his own election.

Adams is almost Shakespearean in his own blindness to his fatal flaw -- Richard III and Macbeth almost come to mind, but not quite. He reminds me more of the sleazy salesmen in Mamet's GLENGARY GLEN ROSS.

3. If Adams continues to stay in office, how can he begin to rebuild trust with people like you in the public?

I don't think he can do anything to make me trust him. I'm a Scorpio ha ha! I have no idea what other people need from him.

4. To those who defend Adams, saying that it is important to have openly gay elected officials in office whatever the cost, what is your response?

I think it's extremely important to have openly gay elected officials but not "at any cost." His supporters seem to me to be saying the ends justify the means. (You'd think, therefore, they'd support the torture of terrorists to get important informantion, which I'm sure they don't.) Many, probably most, of his supporters also support Obama but this strikes me as a huge contradiction since Obama clearly is not a "whatever the cost" kind of guy. The ends do not justify the means. Many of his defenders also try to turn the issue into a sexual one, which it is not. Frankly, in today's world, I think there's a good argument that the age of consent should be lowered to 16. This is not about sex. This is about conscious, manipulative lying in order to get elected. This is about fraud. I think your paper's editorial on this matter is right on.

5. Are you hearing a lot of rumblings and conversations about this amongst your students? What are, loosely, some of the things you're hearing?

I haven't heard a thing, and I don't encourage anyone to discuss this in class. I teach screenwriting. This has nothing to do with that -- well, until all the movies of the week start appearing. Then we can discuss it in class.

6. Did you vote for, volunteer or donate money to Sam Adams in his bid for mayor? Why or why not?

Yes, I voted for Sam Adams. I thought he was an honest progressive, not a lying progressive.

No, I did not volunteer or give money.

7. Who has suffered most from this whole Sam Adams debacle?

In the short run, the citizens of Portland, who have divided into angry pro and con camps, making the city divisive in what is supposed to be a new era of Obama-unifying-style politics. It's a tragedy and it dampens my elation about Obama's election.

In the long run, I think it will be Adams himself who suffers most. If recent allegations are true that he had sex when Breedlove was 17, he may end up in jail.

8. Do you identify as gay? And are you a Portland resident?

I'm straight, married, and a longtime Portland resident. For the record, I think all humans are probably born bi and the rest is culture and politics.

Obama v. Portland

How exhilarating to have a President who seeks out different opinions from his own, who comes often to the electorate to explain himself, who exudes honesty. How completely and sadly different is this approach from politics here in Portland, where subterfuge rules, where knee-jerk ideologues give knee-jerk litanies, where no one explains anything to the electorate short of self-serving soundbites, where political cowardice rules City Hall. Portland's an embarrassment to the country and the new ideals being presented by Obama.


In class yesterday I had five students read their good midterm short scripts. There was a gripping action-thriller, a drama bordering on horror, a dark comedy, a moving drama driven by subtext, a comedy ... good work all around, and it was great to hear such a variety of responses from the same challenge, write a short script about a relationship break up in which there is a snow storm. Quite a few students "get it" now but I still have several who remain at day one. Need to meet with them again.

Bigger and bolder

"I support the stimulus package," Van Jones, author of The Green Economy, told me. "But when I look at it in its entirety, I fear that we may soon look back and say that we missed a huge chance to go bigger and bolder. After all, there were three flaws with the old economy that has crashed: it favored consumption over production; debt over smart savings; and environmental damage over environmental renewal. Some parts of the stimulus package seem to be more of the same -- trying to prop up the old, failed economy. That strategy simply won't work -- but we could waste a lot of money and time trying. Instead, we need a new direction for our economy. You can't jump halfway across a chasm -- you just end up falling into the abyss."

Rick Levin, president of Yale and an economics professor, echoed Van Jones' call for "bigger and bolder": "First of all, there's a question of magnitude. The overall stimulus is about 6 percent of GDP. We did not exit the Great Depression without a stimulus that amounted to about 25 percent of GDP -- we called that World War II... The second problem is with the mix... Only $335 billion worth goes to job creation -- that's about 3.5 million jobs, about $100,000 a job. Three-and-a-half million jobs is only two percentage points on the unemployment rate. That's not enough. I would get rid of the tax cuts and use the entire package for job creation... There are lots of great public works projects that would be well worth supporting. And, in the near term, what about CCC-type activities that put people to work right away, cleaning up public parks, weather-stripping homes, offices, schools, government buildings?"

Read the article

I've been for a CCC-type work force for a long time.

Can we learn from Japan?

Japan recovered from economic problems worse than ours.

In a nutshell, Japan’s experience suggests that infrastructure spending, while a blunt instrument, can help revive a developed economy, say many economists and one very important American official: Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, who was a young financial attaché in Japan during the collapse and subsequent doldrums. One lesson Mr. Geithner has said he took away from that experience is that spending must come in quick, massive doses, and be continued until recovery takes firm root.

Moreover, it matters what gets built: Japan spent too much on increasingly wasteful roads and bridges, and not enough in areas like education and social services, which studies show deliver more bang for the buck than infrastructure spending.

“It is not enough just to hire workers to dig holes and then fill them in again,” said Toshihiro Ihori, an economics professor at the University of Tokyo. “One lesson from Japan is that public works get the best results when they create something useful for the future.”

Read the story

The kindness of strangers

The net is filled with the kindness of strangers. I've yet to have a computer hiccup -- something not working right -- but that I've found a cure by searching the problem, the symptoms, on Google. Last night, for example, I downloaded a new version of Windows Media Player. Oops, no sound! Nope, mute was off, volume was okay, sound card was selected, etc. No sound. Ask Google. Lots of repetitions of the question. Various remedies suggested, some strange, then I found a link for downloading codecs, tried it, solved! The kindness of strangers. Thanks.

On Facebook, I see someone I otherwise admire has come out in support of our mayor. I know so many who support him. Baffles me. Either...
  • they think by so doing they fight homophobia (but this is about fraud, not sex)
  • they don't think the penalty fits the crime (at the low end, several violations of the Code of Ethics -- though we already have a city precedent for this, the police chief recently losing his job over something less upsetting than what the mayor did)
  • they don't see fraud (open your eyes!)
  • it's the cool thing for progressives to do (this makes the most sense to me: another ideological fashion show)
  • amazing, incredible, depressing

I know other progressives against the mayor, but we may be in the minority of the "left" in this town. I get no sense of Obama-joy in this divided city at all. I try to pretend I live somewhere else.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Babe in the woods

I've been on the net since the early text-only days but, man, some of the technology going on now sails right over my aging head. Gives me a headache trying to figure it out.

An imagined dialogue about our mayor

CD: You voted for Obama.
X: Correct.
CD: How on earth can you support the mayor?
X: There's no contradiction.
CD: Of course there is. There's no doubt, at the very least, he violated the city's Code of Ethics on several counts. I think he also is guilty of fraud, of knowingly lying and falsifying information about his own character before the election because he knew the truth would hurt him politically.
X: His private life is no one's business.
CD: I'm not talking about his private life. I'm talking about his PUBLIC life. I'm talking about breaking the Code of Ethics and orchestrating a fraudulent election.
X: We need the guy's ideas and skills and energy, especially in times like these. Cut him some slack.
CD: We need ethical politicians, especially in times like these. A new age is trying to be born. His behavior goes against everything Obama stands for.
X: I still think he's the best man for the job right now.
CD: Look at the double standard here. A few years ago we fired the police chief for impropriety less damaging than possible Sexual Abuse III.
X: That hasn't been determined yet.
CD: True. If the mayor is accused with Sexual Abuse III, will you still support him?
X: I'll cross that bridge when it comes.
CD: I'm very disappointed with you.
X: And I with you, siding with all the homophobic crazies in this town.
CD: No, this isn't about sex. This is about lying and fraud.
X: I still support him.
CD: I think you are saying the ends justify the means. I'm surprised you don't want to torture terrorists to get important information from them.
X: Fuck you.
CD: Welcome to the age of Obama. How did Portland miss it?

Double standard

SALEM -- A former teacher from Mount Angel will spend six months in jail after pleading guilty to kissing one of his 14-year-old students.

Colby Lee Molan, 36, of Keizer, will also be on probation for five years.

He was convicted of third-degree sex abuse. A charge of official misconduct, for having consensual sex with an 18-year-old student, was dropped after he agreed to a plea bargain.

Molan's teaching license will be revoked, said Melody Hanson of the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.

Molan also will have to register as a sex offender and won't be allowed to have any contact with children, including his own, without approval from the Department of Human Services.

-- The Associated Press

A city leader loses his job when the public learns embarrassing details of an affair he’d cultivated in his past.

Mayor Sam Adams’ current predicament? No. It’s the situation faced in 2006 by then-Police Chief Derrick Foxworth.

--Willamette Week

And our mayor...?

The last batch

Time to get to and finish the last batch of midterms. Probably take all morning. Then decide which get read in class and what to do if there's time left over. Next week, the harder half of the course begins. The weekend is too damn busy to get as much writing done as I'd like -- how did that happen? I'll get done what I can get done. Always do.

What the day looks like

Half a dozen midterms still to read. Decide on which get read in class, how long this might take, and what to do with the rest of the class time.

Skipping the Saturday morning opera and seeing "Revolutionary Road" instead. Too much going on, too many things to see. Have to make some tough decisions. Friday and Monday are committed, as they usually aren't, so I don't expect to get much writing done over the coming break from teaching. But a little nonetheless, to keep moving forward. Almost done with the splay draft, for example. And very excited about the early pages of the Last Day novel. I have an incredible ending in mind -- not commercially attractive in any way, shape or form, but an actual thought-provoking "true" ending, if I can pull it off. If I do, this is a book I'll be proud of.

Diet tip of the day

A great way to lose weight is to eat naked in front of a mirror. Restaurants will almost always throw you out before you can eat too much.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

My Cold War struggle

I'm about to move the Cold War novel to the back burner again. Not because of disinterest but because I'm more passionate about the book I started more recently, the last day in the life of an old man, which is close to my heart now ha ha. I have ideas burning in my head for this, and it's stupid to keep pouring water on them. So this book moves forward, the long, long, long overdue Cold War book moves back into the mental shadows. Ah, me. Will I ever finish it?

But I have energy to return to the other, perhaps because it's more immediately personal to me. My Cold War experiences were so long ago.


A comment at

“I’ve got to own up to my mistake, which is that ultimately it’s important for this administration to send a message that there aren’t two sets of rules,” Mr. Obama said in an interview with NBC News. “You know, one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks who have to pay their taxes.”

Listen Up! Sam Adams and crew, be responsible and do an honorable action for once, and resign NOW!

Nice to see I'm not alone in seeing how Obamaland hasn't taken hold in Portland. The question is ... yet or never? I mean, Obama is so refreshing! And Portland is so knee-jerk (the left one, in this case) old politics in the Adams affair!

Strange bedfellows

I very, very seldom agree with right-wing talk show host Lars Larson, but we're on the same side of the Sam Adams issue.

Adams Admission Reaction: Critics Rip Adams in Council Testimony
February 4th 2009 10:19am
BY: Nigel Jaquiss

Mayor Sam Adams might want to start showing up late for City Council meetings. Today, the city's top elected official took a beating in the public comment section of the regularly scheduled council session, a couple of weeks after he admitting to having lied about a 2005 sexual relationship with then teen-aged Beau Breedlove.

This morning, KXL (750 AM) talk-show host Lars Larson teed off on Adams with three minutes of rhetorical questions about what Adams did and how the public and his colleagues should regard him now. Larson spoke in front of a council chamber packed with public safety employees, who were there to be honored later in the meeting for their performance during December's snowstorm.

"If Portland voters knew then what they know now, would you have been elected?" Larson asks. Regarding Adams' fellow city commissioners, Lars asks "why should any commissioner believe anything you say?"

Adams did not respond to Larson but one audience member called the talk-show host an "out-of-state carpetbagger." (Larson lives in Vancouver but works in Portland and as he noted in his comments, pays Oregon taxes).

After Larson spoke, Tom Klovski, who says he runs a small excavation company in Gresham, made a less polished but no less impassioned plea for Adams to resign.

After reading excerpts from the city code about integrity, truthfulness and the need for city employees to avoid even "the appearance of impropriety," Klovski presented Adams with a example from his own life.

"As a business owner, I deal with city inspectors," Klovski says. "Is it okay for me to lie to them and apologize later? Because as long as you're in office, that is the message that is sent.

I admire the citizens who are taking the time to keep the pressure on. I still hope the AG nails him, so we can get this over with more quickly than a recall election. Adams will never resign in the present context, and misguided progressives, for whom a fraudulent election doesn't seem to be an issue, encourage him to stay on.

Does any city in the country have LESS "Obama spirit" than Portland?

To work!

As much as I enjoy reading midterms, I am getting a slow start this morning. That's okay. I'm still recovering from the marathon of conferences yesterday. I'll get upstairs and start reading any moment now.

Tomorrow in class, if the class is typical, I'll have a lot of students read their short midterm scripts. A kind of celebration. We're halfway through the term and look!, so many of you have begun writing like screenwriters and not like the prose writers you were five weeks ago. You're getting there!

The last half of the term is tougher, at least on me, than the first half. The reward, in this case, is Spring and better weather.

I see WW published my letter-to-the-editor re the mayor scandal in its hard copy today, so I suppose I should brace up for a bit of hate mail. Usually happens. My progressive colleagues hate "turncoats" more than they hate their true opposition. I remain mystified why so many care so little about fraud and insist on hallucinating that all this has mostly to do with sex. Sex no. Fraud yes.

Well, a couple chores and to work!

First Wednesday tonight

Oregon Literary Review co-hosts First Wednesdays, a series of readings, performances and wine-tasting at the Blackbird Wine Shop, 3519 NE 44th off Fremont, 7-9pm.

February 4: Ron Bloodworth, John Blackard, Alison Apotheker, David Hill

Into our second year now, the series is unique and special. If you're in the Portland area and haven't stopped by, you're missing something. Check it out. Say howdy -- I'm the guy with the Flip minicam. Julie Mae Madsen hosts.

52nd anniversary

Colette and Tee on their 52nd wedding anniversary. Photo by son Jeff. Celebration in Southern Cal, where they live. I've known them for over 45 of those!


Reading midterms today. Usually an enjoyable experience because this is the time most of the students start "getting it" ... typically quite a few good short scripts in the mix. We'll see.

This should pretty much take all day.

Internet radio

Internet Radio Fan is today's giveaway program and gives you computer access to world radio by country in a friendly user interface. Free today only!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I survived the day ...

... I do believe. Now to show a movie in class and then go home.

Buddy Holly

The day the music died. Heard him on the radio early this morning. So nice.

In the office

Waiting for my first student in an hour.

Dilemma. Now that I am using Facebook, and liking it, how do I balance between there and here? I was snooping around for an application that would let me make one writing entry for both spots but couldn't find one. I'll keep looking. Seems stupid to have more than one focus in the blogger, and blogger-like, worlds.

Long day

My day of student conferences, always the longest day of the term. Heading out soon.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A sad sign of the times

Landmark Columbia Gorge Hotel closes
By Staff

HOOD RIVER, Ore. – A local landmark nestled in the heart of a tourist mecca is apparently the latest victim of a contracting economy.

The Columbia Gorge Hotel, located in Hood River, has closed its doors with no assurance it will reopen in the future. At least 30 people have lost their jobs, with 60 more layoffs possible if the hotel remains closed through the summer, its busiest period.

The hotel had been booked to capacity for Valentine’s Day weekend. A nearby hotel is doing what they can to accommodate guests who had reservations.

Publicity already

From Hypercompendia:

NEW MEDIA: Hyperdrama Class
Published by admin on February 2, 2009 in New Media.
Nice to see that the new media program at the local Tunxis CC is going forward with a hyperdrama class being offered online in Spring of ‘10. It will be run by the well known writer and producer Charles Deemer.

"Well known" obviously is a relative term. I think the context is "in the hypertext community."

Hyperdrama class

My college online course in Hyperdrama has been approved by Tunxis Community College in Connecticut, a leading hypermedia school. I start in spring, 2010. Seton Hall is thinking of plugging into it. Maybe other colleges will, too, including -- heaven help us, enter the 21st century! -- right here at home.

Seems a long way away.

Notes on the road

Xrays done, waiting for H to finish exercise class. Maybe we can get coffee, or even lunch, before going home.

My one student shooting a video wrote the funniest 10-min. script I've read in ages, a gender satire about 3 young women trying to shoot a video for a contest. I hope the video is as good as the script. I'd like to put the script at least in the summer OLR. Fine work. Nails every gender cliche in the book. I'm impressed.

Pretty much set for the long day of conferences tomorrow. I'll go in at 8.

Going to redesign the song parody blog a tad. Put highlight teasers down the right column, now that I have too much material for the single loading.

I liked my interview with Just Out. I hope they publish more than sound bites.

Waiting, I also outlined the remaining sequences in the splay. Only 15 pages to go. I should finish in a week or two, a week to rewrite, and if everything is in order, mail to my agent and start the next one. I want the screenwriting part of my life to blossom now, first with the director/producer, which would be a major networking connection. We'll see. Nothing is ever as it seems in this business, so I'm letting myself get carried away, but it's been pretty slow in recent years, time to bust out like in earlier days.

I've got 3 new splay ideas I like, one requires more research, so two to choose among for the next one. I'll try a sequence outline of each and see which is more together at this early stage and go with that one.

India is coming out with a $20 laptop. I'd look into that if it happens, for net stuff. For writing, there really is no reason to quit this wonderful AlphaSmart, a superb tool for what it does. Have I said I love it? There's a net version now but I don't want to pay $350 for it with cheap laptops available. Especially since it doesn' run on the AAA batteries, the 700 hour battery life being a major benefit of this one. This is an early model, the AlphaSmart 3000.

If I can get out of debt via screenwriting now, I'll be deliriously happy. To leave H debt free, what a joy that would be.

I'm enjoying Facebook. Love the interface. Doing more networking than I normally do.

H should be finished soon. Onward.

This week is pretty set

Looks like the week is full and settled.
  • Monday. Getting my knee x-rayed since it never has healed. Not sure what, if any, student work I have to look at before tomorrow. Will check after the hospital.
  • A full day with student conferences. In class, watch The Monster That Ate Hollywood.
  • Read midterms.
  • Thursday class, share midterms.
  • Friday. Help an actor burn a DVD.
  • Saturday. Opera.
  • Sunday. Opera.

So much for this week!

News worth waiting for

India to follow $2,000 car with $20 laptop
By James Lamont in New Delhi
Published: February 1 2009 19:32 | Last updated: February 1 2009 19:32
India is planning to produce a laptop computer for the knockdown price of about $20 (€16, £14), having come up with the Tata Nano, the world’s cheapest car at about $2,000.

Media inconsistency

A curious change has occurred in the rhythm of frenzy in reporting on the Mayor's scandal. KATU interviewed a friend of Breedlove, who said the kid was 17 when he and the mayor started having sex. Breedlove's father also believes his son was 17. If true, this is major news. But as near as I can tell, no one else has followed up on, or even picked up on, this story. Even if the source is unreliable, there's something to report. Suddenly what could be case-breaking testimony appears to be ignored. I don't get it.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The mayor's strategy?

I'm beginning to think that the mayor's strategy is to lay low for six months and hope the energy dissipates for a recall election. I can already see the energy dissipating, so he may be right. Maybe energy can be renewed down the road but the "Not With Sam" website, for example, begins with "We had a rally today...", referring to Wednesday. Nobody is even updating the site. There's nothing that turns me off more than going to a topical website to find dated information. I bet I'm not alone.

On Facebook, the numbers in groups supporting the mayor slaughter the relative few in groups who call for his removal or resignation. Maybe there are more young folks, who are more Internet savvy, supporting the mayor -- all those Obama supporters who don't comprehend the great contradiction they embody.

At any rate, if a Martian were snooping around the net, the alien would conclude that the mayor is very safe indeed because of such a majority of supporters visible and active in cyberspace. Too bad -- but there you have it.

Which brings me back to this: the best chance those of us who want the mayor gone have is in the formal investigation by the Attorney General, which has to find unlawful activity great enough for charges and/or enough to end the silence of most of our spineless commissioners. I am losing confidence in a recall election because I don't see any staying power. It must happen sooner than this.

The heavens in February

Some star-gazing highlights of the month.

  • 9-11 The Moon, the planet Saturn, and the star Regulus cluster together for three nights. Regulus is barely to the left of the Moon as they rise on the 9th. The Moon splits the gap between them the next night, and is closest to Saturn on the 11th.
  • 14 Venus, the “evening star,” is at its brightest tonight. It stands high in the west as night falls.
  • 17/18 The Moon passes Antares, the brightest star of Scorpius, in the pre-dawn sky. Antares is quite close to the left of the Moon at first light on the 17th, and a little farther to the upper right on the 18th.
  • 26/27 Venus and the Moon stage a beautiful encounter in the evening sky. Venus stands well above the Moon on the 26th, while they are side by side on the 27th.


Great first rehearsal! Couldn't have gone any better. Next one on the 16th.

Rec'd "guest submission" to my song parodies site. Plan to publish it. Why not?


A small check yesterday from a publisher I'd forgotten I'd dealt with. Cruising money. Being so prolific, I have trickles like this all over the place. I really only have two remaining "solid" sources of royalties, the electronic and hard copy screenwriting books. The creative stuff just fades away and turns into a trickle. But moving water is better than stagnant water!

What I'm hoping is that this screenplay sale happens and gets me in through the back door into the script doctor business. If the sale happens, my rewrite can be my audition, script doctoring to notes my own script. Look forward to the possibility.

First reading

Excited about first reading this morning of the first of a series of short John Donnelly scripts I'm adapting to video. Do this, then come home and get ready for the Super Bowl. A good day.

Obama & Nixon

In the country at large, a new political style is being born, the age of Obama. But here in Puddle City, it feels like the age of Nixon, full of lying and defenders of lying, manipulation, covering up, name-calling, division, widening gaps, all the very opposite of what Obama stands for. Portland is perhaps as distant from any "new politics" as any city in the country. "Progressive" Portland. The gods love irony.