Sunday, May 31, 2009

From the morning

On the deck. Have the fountain on behind and below me, beautiful sound for a beautiful morning. No cruising this morning, just mellow homebody energy on the deck.

Will get some work done out here. Later have yard work to do, but it's a pretty leisurely day, nothing pressing.

LATER. A few pages on the splay. The deck is a great place to work in the morning. Fountain splashing, birds chirping, not much traffic down the way.

But now that I've done a little writing, might be time for an errand to the bagel shop.

Watched a bit of the National Spelling Bee. What's immediately striking is how few white kids are involved, far under-represented with reference to national demographics. Over-represented in this regard are kids with roots in India. Different priorities in different cultures and families. I hope Obama means it when he talks about getting greatness back into our educational system. The scientific illiteracy in our culture is shocking.

Washington playing this morning and a win gets them into the finals. If they lose, they get a second shot. I'm rooting for them, the last Pac 10 team left.

After the game, noonish, I'll get the reel mower outside and do some chores.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sounds of summer

I miss the mellow sounds of summer, a reel mower being pushed somewhere, a ballgame on the radio, children playing, but everything subdued, mellow. Today it's all mechanical noise, blowers and gas mowers and loud hip hop.

Brad's Blues

Listening to 50s blues this morning, I was reminded of how my godson Brad is continuing the tradition with his wonderful harp playing. And I was the first to inspire him, a nice legacy.


You couldn't ask for more exciting sports events than yesterday's two softball games in the college world series. Washington beat Arizona State 1-0 in extra innings, and Florida beat Michigan 1-0. It's really refreshing to watch games like this, where the competition and enthusiasm aren't compromised by egos run amuck, as happens so frequently in NBA games (the finals being the major sports competitor to softball yesterday). Give me the amateurs over the millionaire pros any time!

And more of the world series today, starting this morning, so I'll try to catch a little before or while I'm working.

100 miles before breakfast

I was out the door at 5 this morning, cruising to watch the sunrise, Blues Before Breakfast on the radio playing great 50s artists, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Otis Spahn, surely brought echoes of my father's mantra, "100 miles before breakfast," and reminded me how easily I could live in a van on the road, especially in today's connected world where any Starbucks or McDonald's gets me free online access.

Last night we went to an affair honoring the Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell, retiring senior minister at First Unitarian, and it was a heartfelt, well-earned tribute to her. I had a falling out with her some years ago but have always respected her, a leader in the local social justice community. She's also getting married, two huge life changes at the same time. She'll be writing and surely won't become invisible.

Writing and chores today. A tease of what the summer can be. Mustn't forget video and other editing, too, still have tons to do to get the new issue ready. Need to get the dog out for some running today, too.

In a good space, as the term runs down. As soon as the grades are in, have to face some howeowner issues and make some decisions that will affect the rest of our lives. But after that, I look forward to a fun, productive summer. Need to get to Idaho to see Esther. I'd like to get to L.A. as well but don't know if we can schedule it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Water garden season

I cranked up my Kaypro fountain today! Always an official gesture toward summer.

Story of the day

Already Poor, Poets Don't Much Mind The Recession

by Chana Joffe-Walt

Morning Edition, May 29, 2009 · This weekend, the world's book publishers will gather in New York for the 2009 BookExpo America. Organizers say this year the focus is on quality, not quantity. Large publishers have been hit hard by the recession, so they're trimming back the number of booths they'll staff at the expo.

But one corner of the publishing world has its own strange economy. Poets and those who publish them are used to earning next to nothing for their work. They call the cycle of rejections, teaching and issuing small books the "pobiz," short for "poetry business." And maybe the pobiz isn't so bad, if you look at it a certain way.


Busy morning

Woke up dreaming about the splay, went right to work on it, some good new twists came out of it, a good morning of work (already). Now to chores.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Watched some of the WCWS, the softball world series tonight, a choice I easily made over watching the NBA playoffs. It's about character (a sad commentary).

Office hours

A busy day putting together final feedback on projects. Show JUNO in class today, so nothing to prepare. This warm weather is terrific and definitely raises the spirits. Lots of outdoor chores to get to tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Down memory lane

From a discussion forum recently:

In fact, some of our best contemporary national theater (I’m thinking of “Angels in America,” “The Laramie Project,” August Wilson’s great cycle of plays) is regional, and surely Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill were regionalists, too. In the 1970s and ’80s especially, Oregon’s Charles Deemer — — carried the banner for an exciting Northwestern brand of theater. Is it fair to say that the Broadway musical in its heydey was a form of regional theater, its region being Tin Pan Alley and the streets of New York?

Art Scatter

It's gratifying to be remembered for my work in the 70s and 80s, of course, but at the same time it's frustrating that little since then has attracted local interest. My most honored play, for example (winner of an international competition and other awards), Famililly, still has never been produced in Oregon.

Another video delay

There are some urgent homeowner responsibilities I need to attend to as soon as I get my grades in, which make take as long as a month, so once again I am delaying the scheduling of the two video projects I started. Ah, my patient actors! Now I am hoping to shoot them in July (instead of June).

We need to make some living decisions that will affect the rest of our lives.

Deck weather

Plan on looking at student projects on the deck all afternoon. Hope I can cover them all then. Want to give helpful notes for their last rewrite.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Office hours

Collect projects for my last feedback before students submit them for a grade. This makes tomorrow a full day.

Checking out a book for possible adoption, which is genre-based and looks realistic about the marketplace. A small inexpensive book. We'll see.

Uploading review video files on the other computer.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Willamette National Cemetery

My old buddy Tom Campbell was buried here in 1991. Due for a visit, and Memorial Day is a good day to do it. Wish it was open now but not until 8. Maybe I'll be there when it opens. VO 4037 is his plot.

Tom was from Oklahoma, a football fanatic, a fun guy to hang with, older than I, retired when I met him and living on a variety of retirement checks including dwindling oil revenues (then). During a bad time in my life, he tried to keep up with me and I almost killed him. We'd open the bars together at 7 a.m. for a couple weeks in a row.

He was a good buddy. RIP.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Are there more crazies today?

I used to think that there are no more crazy folks today than in the past but the media make them more visible. Now I'm beginning to wonder. In the past week, a mom buried her kid alive and another mom threw her two kids over a bridge into the cold river below. I sure don't remember much of that a few decades ago.

Or maybe this is negative karma to balance, in a zero-sum universe, the incredible positive karma of the return of the Atlantis astronauts after repairing the Hubble telescope, an extraordinary achievement.

Between the modern Medeas and the guys who respond to losing their jobs by killing their families and themselves, it's been quite a season for imbalanced behaviors.

I miss Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown may have been the last of the "old school" TV newscasters. When CNN dumped him, they decided to join the fashion of news as entertainment. 90% of the so-called news today isn't what was considered news at all in the Cronkite and Huntley-Brinkley days.

Quotation of the day

"If you want to succeed, double your failure rate." 

--Thomas Watson, IBM pioneer

We see what we expect to see

The power of expectations was dramatically illustrated in a bold experiment conducted years ago by the psychologist David L. Rosenhan. In that study each of eight "pseudopatients" made an appointment at one of a variety of hospitals and then showed up at the admissions office complaining that they were hearing strange voices. The pseudopatients were a varied group: three psychologists, a psychiatrist, a pediatrician, a student, a painter, and a housewife. Other than alleging that single symptom and reporting false names and vocations, they all described their lives with complete honesty. Confident in the clockwork operation of our mental health system, some of the subjects later reported having feared that their obvious sanity would be immediately sniffed out, causing great embarrassment on their part. They needn't have worried. All but one were admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The remaining patient was admitted with a diagnosis of manic-depressive psychosis. 

From The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow


Made a new batch yesterday. Breakfast soon!

But maybe a litte cruising first, enjoy the morning sun and the jazz, keep the house quiet while H sleeps in. Once I get home, I'll be making noise in the kitchen.


Cleaned up and cranked up the bbq last night. H's daughter came over with her two little dogs. Sketch had a ball running around our large yard with them, and we enjoyed the season's first outdoor hot dogs and hamburgers. It was a fun evening.

Then the Mariners demonstrated how the present does not predict the future. They had a 1-0 lead going into the 8th when they brought in a pitcher from the bull pen who's been doing great. And indeed, he had 2 outs with only 3 pitches. Then everything changed. To make a long, miserable story short, 5 hits later the Giants had had 2 bases loaded, clearing the first, and led 5-1, which was the final score. Talk about collapse.


I know a middle-aged person who was adopted. Recently s/he tracked down the birth mother, from whom s/he learned that the father was a celebrity, now deceased. This knowledge has completely changed this person. Suddenly s/he sees a future as wealthy and famous. This might be reasonable if the celebrity were Elvis – but this is a lower echelon celebrity who fathered lots of illegitimate children according to his autobiography. It's hard to see how the person will get any financial gain, though s/he can gain notoriety. But to whose benefit? Unfortunately the person has begun acting like royalty to family and friends, as if the world were about to bestow its riches to this chosen, if illegitimate, offspring of celebrity.

All this is bizarre, comic, and sad to witness.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lowest budget

Hollywood eyes $70 zombie movie wowing Cannes

CANNES, France (CNN) -- A budding British director is enjoying success on a shoestring at Cannes with "Colin," a new zombie feature that cost a scarcely believable $70 to make.

Japanese distributors are currently in negotiations for the rights to the film and buzz around the no-budget zombie chiller has attracted interest from some major American distributors -- all of which is a very nice surprise for the team behind "Colin."

"We were almost fainting at the list of people who were coming [to the final market screening of the film]," said Helen Grace of Left Films who is helping the film's director Marc Price publicize the film in Cannes. "Representatives from major American distributors -- some of the Hollywood studios."

Read story

Sunny disposition

No doubt about it, the good weather brings good vibes. More yard work and chores today, and this evening we'll crank up the bbq for the first time, hot dogs and hamburgers, Americana all the way.

Checked out a Linux For Dummies book, see if there are things I could use on the eee pc that I don't know about.

Memorial Day weekend

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama saluted veterans and urged his countrymen to do the same this Memorial Day weekend, saying the nation has not always paid them proper respect.

In his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, Obama said people can honor veterans by sending a letter or care package to troops overseas, volunteering at health clinics or taking supplies to a homeless veterans center. He said it could also mean something as simple as saying "thank you" to a veteran walking by on the street.

"We have a responsibility to serve all of them as well as they serve all of us," Obama said. "And yet, all too often in recent years and decades, we, as a nation, have failed to live up to that responsibility. We have failed to give them the support they need or pay them the respect they deserve.

"That is a betrayal of the sacred trust that America has with all who wear and all who have worn the proud uniform of our country," he said.

Full story

And this ...

2 poems for Memorial Day

At the Cemetery

Yellow gold red brown
Fallen leaves adorn the ground
One three seven ten
Counting gravestones never ends

Wouldn't it be lovely
if there was world peace

and if I didn't make a rolling stop
and forget to count the morning donut
and swear at the driver who cut me off
and sneak a gander at her cleavage
and forget to put the cash gift on my taxes
and lie that I was sick and had to stay home
and pretend to admire her new hair style
and forget to mention that he's a real ass
and access the porn site
and steal a ballpoint from the bank
and exaggerate my credentials
and pretend everything is really great

wouldn't it be lovely
if there was world peace

Friday, May 22, 2009

Guthrie canceled

Tomorrow's tribute to Woody Guthrie has been canceled and will be rescheduled later in the summer.


The market where I buy headcheese stopped carrying it. A preliminary net search turns up no other place to get it. I may end up buying it online. How can a city call itself livable if you can't buy headcheese anywhere? (This may be evidence of Portland's changing demographics, marking the infiltration of outsiders who don't like headcheese.)

The glorious sun

No doubt about it, the sun nurtures the soul and raises the spirit. This beautiful day has resulted in a most productive morning, in which I got caught up with the First Wednesday videos (well, all but my own reading, which is being edited by someone else) and set up prep work to tackle the Primus videos. Later I'll get the push mower into the yard and cut some grass. A noble activity, cutting grass without noise pollution. Instead I'll sound like a sound effect from Our Town.

Later I hope to get some writing in but that's low priority in the glory of today's weather.

Rose Festival

Portland's Rose Festival begins today, a week early, with the opening of the fun center on the waterfront. In a couple weeks, the fleet comes in, only 10 ships this year, but before I was born my dad came to Portland with the Navy, a kid who had joined to escape working in a mill in New Jersey, and he was so impressed with the city that he ended up retiring in Oregon decades later. There's a photo in the Oregonian, 1938 I believe it is, of my dad and a group of sailors raising their beer mugs in a Portland bar. Just a kid, out to see the world. He'd end up seeing a lot. Pre-communist China impressed him so much with its poverty that he once told me, "If I were a Chinaman, I'd probably be a communist."


I confess I sympathize with the mother on the run with her sick son because she refuses to let him have chemo. Yes, I realize this is the standard treatment for cancer with a significant success rate. But I also know what I've witnessed with my own eyes.

I've had several close friends try chemo for cancer. In every case, without exception, the treatment was worse than the disease, their final months were miserable, and they left this world regretting their decision. To a man! For me, that's powerful evidence.

Presently I have a friend with cancer who has refused chemo. He is doing an alternative "natural" treatment -- and is doing just fine! This is what the mother wants to do. She's not neglecting her son, she just has strong opinions about how best to help him, which puts her in conflict with mainstream medical opinion.

So she's a fugitive. I don't think this is right. I think there are reasons one should be wary of chemo. I don't think a mother should be punished for preferring an alternative treatment.

Good weather

Our belated spring is here! A week of good weather ahead, sure to improve my spirit and give me time to catch up with lawn work and household chores. Lots of writerly and editing chores to fit into the mix, so the week ahead definitely looks busy and fun. I welcome it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Office hours

Uploading the video files, 8 of them, I rendered yesterday.

Finish up scene workshop exercise today. Last two weeks, next 4 classes, set. My big day is next Wednesday with a last look at their projects before they submit them for a grade.

I'm uploading on the desktop in the office but I should try a file from here just to test the ftp.

I've had two of these Magical Mystery Tours. I'm sure the doc will want a 3rd soon but I think I'll pass from here on out.

June 24th -- and another problem for the mayor

I've signed up to address the City Council on June 24th. I've never done this before but I decided, a week before the mayor-recall effort legally begins, I'd make one last plea, albeit fruitless, to the mayor to resign. I also want to scold the entire council for sitting on their collective butts. I get three minutes but I've written what I plan to say and it only takes two. It's a "shame on you" message that will go in one ear and out the other but hopefully will make me feel like I've contributed to the recall effort. I have a dentist appointment at 7 a.m. that morning, from the dentist chair to the city chambers, a fitting segue.

The following week, the gathering signatures phase begins and although with my knee I can't go door to door, I do plan to put time at a table at Saturday Market or somewhere. With former supporters changing sides, but not the other way around, the recall could be no contest. It will be interesting to observe at any rate. But all this hassle could be avoided if he weren't such a political ego-maniac. If he had come clean in January, explained his reasons, resigned and run again, I might even have voted for him again. Obviously he was worried about homophobia, and rightly so. But he mishandled it in such a conniving, self-serving way, especially when he falsely accused those who were first with the truth, he became his own worst enemy and lost my support forever.

I still hope for the least divisive solution: the AG presents its report sooner rather than later and nabs his ass. I was surprised to learn the FBI was also looking into him.

The city council is spineless. At the very least, the mayor violated several parts of the city code of conduct. There is absolutely no question of this -- he even admitted to The Oregonian that he lied to get elected. And yet no official reprimand of any kind has come out of chambers. Spineless, all of them.

And this hot off the press this morning:

Portland mayor's former spokesman says he plans to sue

by Mark Larabee, The Oregonian

Portland Mayor Sam Adams' former communications director has filed a formal notice that he intends to sue the mayor and the city because Adams damaged his reputation after he resigned Jan. 26, less than a month into the job.

Wade Nkrumah, through his lawyer Michael Hanlon, states in the tort claim that the mayor damaged his business reputation by lying to a television reporter about the real reason Nkrumah quit.

Adams declined comment through his spokesman, Roy Kaufmann, and referred questions to the city attorney.

According to the document, Adams told KATU reporter Dan Tilkin that Nkrumah resigned because the job was "not what he signed up for in terms of stress." While that account was widely reported, Nkrumah's claim states that he made it clear that he was quitting because Adams lied to him twice about his 2005 sexual relationship with Beau Breedlove, then an 18-year-old legislative intern.

Read the story

Perfect example of the mayor being his own worst enemy. Everyone had agreed to make "no comment" about the spokesman leaving the job. He left because Adams kept lying to him -- what a gentlemanly thing to do, agree to no comment! Then the mayor makes up a reason, he can't handle stress. Great. Stab the guy in the back. No wonder he's suing. I hope he wins.

I mean, there's going to be mess after mess after mess, with the mayor sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand of his own inept guilt, until the mayor leaves office, either voluntarily or by force. Just resign, man.

Attention screenwriters!

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

--Alfred Hitchcock.

Morley Safer on blogs

NEW YORK — CBS News veteran Morley Safer says he trusts citizen journalism as much as he would trust citizen surgery.

The "60 Minutes" correspondent was honored by Quinnipiac University Wednesday with an award named for one of Safer's old bosses, Fred Friendly. He accepted it with a warning that the business problems of newspapers threaten all of journalism, and the public's precarious right to know.

Safer said good journalism needs structure and responsibility. He considers the blogosphere no alternative, saying it is crammed with the ravings and manipulations of every nut with a keyboard.

Safer is 77 now and works part time. He says he has no intention of giving up what he considers the best job in the world.

I absolutely agree that "good journalism needs structure and responsibility" but you don't always find this in the print media either. I also agree that the blogosphere is "crammed with the ravings and manipulations of every nut with a keyboard" but this doesn't negate another fact, that good responsible journalism also can be found in cyberspace. The problem online, of course, is a problem of size and numbers -- since there are no journalistic standards, say, how do you find the decent from the ravings? You search, and it takes time.

I've thought for a long time that what cyberspace needs is some bright young critic to put together an online periodical that is an anthology of the best on the web each month. And then s/he needs a competitor doing the same thing. This is a service in demand (maybe it's already being met and I haven't found it) -- and with POD magazines so easy now, maybe there even should be a hard copy of it. A Readers Digest of serious journalism and creative writing on the web, monthly or quarterly. If I were younger, much younger, such a project would be very tempting.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rendering video (!)

I'm actually doing what I said I'd be doing a week ago. Better late than never and all that.

Also have student work to look at tonight and tomorrow.

An old controversy

Did Shakespeare Want To Suppress His Sonnets?

by Lynn Neary

Morning Edition, May 20, 2009 · First published 400 years ago, Shakespeare's sonnets might never have been put to press had it been left to the author to decide things. As Clinton Heylin, the author of the new book So Long as Men Can Breathe: The Untold Story of Shakespeare's Sonnets, explains, just as Bob Dylan's basement tapes were never intended for a wide audience, such was the case with Shakespeare's sonnets.

Read the story

Video, at last

No excuse not to edit video today, so this is the morning's project after breakfast. This afternoon I have some late student script work to consider. After Thursday, the term is pretty much set in stone for the last two weeks. Then it's summer -- and preparation for the future is the first item, regarding the house, regarding traveling light.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A few pages

Wrote a few pages on the splay during office hours. No students came by.

Now for a couple quick errands before class.

Office hours

Itchy feet. Wanderlust. Have growing desire to take off in a van for an indefinite period with no destinations. Drive, park, hang out, and repeat. I actually did this one summer, was it 1971 or what?, camped 3 mos from Oregon to Nova Scotia, Louisiana to Canada, it was incredible. Even wrote it up for a later story in Northwest Magazine, "Travels With Ruby," our red VW. On a lesser scale -- less driving and more hanging out -- I wouldn't mind doing a trip without destinations again. Very liberating. You wake up ... well, where shall we go today? Or shall we stay another day?

This was in the portable manual typewriter days. Now I can do the trip with no isolation from my cyber habits. Keep and publish a journal along the way, even with photos and video. Amazing.

Wanting to do it and doing it are two different things. I don't think H shares my enthusiasm. She's a destination kind of person. A planner.

Otherwise, the front burner project soon must be getting the new review together, all that video editing. Fortunately the actual "work" goes very quickly, it's waiting for files to render that takes the time. So you double task and do something else on the review. All in all, it goes quickly once you're in rhythm, which is why I'm not in panic mode after all this recent procrastination I've been doing. Done this many times before and have it down to a routine.

Story of the day

Astronauts say goodbye to Hubble for good

By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Atlantis' astronauts gingerly dropped the Hubble Space Telescope overboard Tuesday, sending the restored observatory off on a new voyage of discovery and bidding it farewell on behalf of the planet.
Hubble — considered better than new following five days of repairs and upgrades — will never be seen up close by humans again. This was NASA's last service call.

Full story


A strange morning

Got up, finished my student work -- and crashed. Slept all morning. I didn't even know I was tired. Strange.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I discovered I can ftp using something called konqueror that is already installed. Now looking into security issues. sftp support etc. I must say, eee pc could do a better job of letting you know what is already installed and available. They clearly aim for the lowest common denominator in their info.

A productive morning

Got most of my scene workshop prep done, which is terrific. Less pressure tomorrow.

Snooping around the net, in search of an ftp program to use with the eee pc, I see I may already have this capability with the Linux o.s., something called fish, so I'm seeing if I can get it going. I will need to transfer files from this eventually.

Endurance trumps talent

I've observed for some time now that my students who "make it" as writers seldom are the ones with the most talent but always are the ones with the most endurance. A similar point is made in a new book I'm reading, the fascinating The Drunkard's Walk about the role of random events in our lives.

One book in the 1950s was rejected by publishers, who responded with such comments as "very dull," "a dreary record of typical family bickering, petty annoyances and adolescent emotions," and "even if the work had come to light five years ago, when the subject [World War II] was timely, I don't see that there would have been a chance for it". That book, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, has sold 30 million copies, making it one of the best-selling books in history.

Rejection letters were also sent to Sylvia Plath because "there certainly isn't enough genuine talent for us to take notice," to George Orwell for Animal Farm because "it is impossible to sell animal stories in the U.S.," and to Isaac Bashevis Singer because "it's Poland and the rich Jews again." Before he hit it big, Tony Hillerman's agent dumped him, advising that he should "get rid of all that Indian stuff." 

Those were not isolated misjudgments. In fact, many books destined for great success had to suryive not just rejection, but repeated rejection. For example, few books today are considered to have more obvious and nearly universal appeal than the works of John Grisham, Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), and J. K. Rowling. Yet the manuscripts they wrote before they became famous -- all eventually hugely successful -- were all repeatedly rejected. John Grisham's manuscript for A Time to Kill was rejected by twenty-six publishers; his second manuscript, for The Firm, drew interest from publishers only after a bootleg copy circulating in Hollywood drew a $600,000 offer for the movie rights. Dr. Seuss's first children's book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected by twenty-seven publishers. And J. K. Rowling's first Harry Potter manuscript was rejected by nine.

Then there is the other side of the coin -- the side anyone in the business knows all too well: the many authors who had great potential but never made it, John Grishams who quit after the first twenty rejections or J. K. Rowlings who gave up after the first five. After his many rejections, one such writer, John Kennedy Toole, lost hope of ever getting his novel published and committed suicide. His mother persevered, however, and eleven years later A Confederacy of Dunces was published; it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and has sold nearly 2 million copies. 

There exists a vast gulf of randomness and uncertainty between the creation of a great novel -- or piece of jewelry or chocolate-chip cookie -- and the presence of huge stacks of that novel -- or jewelry or bags ofcookies -- at the front of thousands of retail outlets. That's why successful people in every field are almost universally members of a certain set -- the set of people who don't give up. 

Be careful what you read

Punked by Wikipedia

by John L. Jackson, Jr.

A twenty-something college student in Dublin, Shane Fitzgerald, decided to conduct his own little cyber-experiment.

Only hours after learning of French composer Maurice Jarre’s death on March 28th of this year, Fitzgerald made up a memorable yet bogus quote, attributed it to the just-deceased Jarre, and then posted it on the composer’s Wikipedia entry.

Here is Fitzgerald’s fake quote: “One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack. Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head that only I can hear.”

By the end of April, the made-up quotation was being referenced and invoked all over the Web (and the world), quoted in blogs and electronic versions of newspaper Web sites in several countries.

(According to, Jarre is one of the “uncredited” composers on 1962’s Lawrence of Arabia, directed by David Lean and starring Peter O’Toole. I added a link to some of that film’s music above. It is such a powerful score!)

Britain’s The Guardian was one of those hoodwinked periodicals, and they recently issued a public apology to their readers for not vetting the quotation before including it in Jarre’s obituary.

According to the Associated Press story, Fitzgerald and a friend wanted to find out how quickly news travels around the globe and how readily established media outlets troll the Internet to help them keep up with the increasing demand for instantaneous information.

So, what do we make of the young Dubliner’s experiment? Did we not know that journalists went fishing for leads online? And once the quotable quote went viral, is it any surprise that its very ubiquity gave it an air of previously vetted authenticity?

We probably have to give The Guardian some credit for owning up to its mistake, no? Other newspapers’ Web sites simply deleted the fake quote and moved on, hoping that the cached older versions of their Jarre obits don’t haunt them much longer.

From The Chronicle Review

We knew this but it's nice, or is that sad?, to see it tested.

Ducks men, women crowned Pac-10 champions

Oregon women cruise to first Pac-10 title since 1992

Good headlines to wake up to.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Track & field

Oh my! What a finish to the 1,500! Centrowitz, Rupp, Wheating go 1-2-3

by Ken Goe, The Oregonian
Sunday May 17, 2009, 1:22 PM

Matthew Centrowitz outkicked the field to win the 1,500-meter final Sunday in the Pacific-10 Conference Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in a fantastic finish.

Centrowitz barely held off a surging Galen Rupp in the home stretch, while Andrew Wheating kicking hard in front of the West grandstands caught Garrett Heath of Stanford just before the finish line for third place.

Heath, a six-time All-American, was the Pac-10's defending 1,500 champ.

Ducks go 1-2-3 over the defending champ! Reminds me of some of the meets when I was in grad school, in the Prefontaine era.

Obama at Notre Dame

I'm very impressed with the President and the way he handled himself at Notre Dame. I think he's the most attractive politician I've seen since Adlai Stevenson.


No editing yet, not a frame. Too nice a day. I'm warm, WARM, which is rare and its own reward. Maybe I'll edit tonight but maybe not. Can't tomorrow -- have scenes to rework in prep for the Tuesday scene workshop.

Editor's hat

Need to get serious about editing video for the review today, despite the great weather. I'm just about caught up with yard work, at least for a few days ha ha. It never ends. of course. But this morning, while doing laundry, I'll put in a couple hours editing. Need to get into a routine, an hour a day and I'll be fine.

The new prose project and splay both shaping up well in draft, so we keep putting one foot after the other. Nice to feel back in the groove,

The dinner party last night was bearable. Had a couple interesting conversations, the food was good, and we left early (the first to leave). Were home by 9, so I didn't miss my bed time ha ha. Even H is finding less energy for that sort of thing in her old age, and she is Ms. Social Life. I'm Mr. Stay At Home since I quit drinking years ago.

One of the actors I work with got himself a Flip camera. He may be moving to the other end of the camera. Curious what he'll be up to.

Which reminds me, I need to start scheduling June video activity.

Everything I tell think it's unusual, if not weird, to have a reunion for "English graduate school students at the University of Oregon between 1965 and 1975." There's the assumption that something special was going on then, and if I thought so at the time, I'm not sure I do now in any site-specific sense. What was happening at U of O was happening all over the country, the 60s.

And what challenging video projects I have for myself at this event!

Well, H is taking off early for a business meeting at her church, I want to get home before she goes.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Update on banned play

Banned Steve Martin play makes Eastern Oregon run this weekend

LA GRANDE, Ore. — The show goes on this weekend in La Grande as the student cast puts on "Picasso at the Lapin Agile," a play by Steve Martin that was banned from the high school.

Performances are scheduled today, Sunday and Monday at an Eastern Oregon University theater.

The school board voted to bar the play after parents objected to its content. After that, off-campus performances were scheduled, and Martin offered to finance them.

The 1993 play about the creative process imagines a meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein in a Paris bar as they are on the verge of achievements in painting and physics.

Meanwhile, the school board is reviewing a new process for selecting student plays.

Facing chores

Been running errands. Now time to face chores and go home and hit yard work. Lots to do! Three sunny days to do it in.

Greetings from Bali

Nice email from my friend in Bali. She moved to a less populated area and is living in a hotel bungalow that sounds devine for $15 a day! Now I could get into something like that. One could live on SS at a price like that.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Out of the nowhere's forehead

I love surprises. I love the way a project can drop in your lap, seemingly out of nowhere.

I've wanted a new prose project ever since realizing I'm not ready yet for the novel I was working on, it's too difficult, it needs more research and thought. But I had no ideas for something else.

I'm reading a biography of Chet Baker. It's written in an unusual form, part bio and part oral history, and I find it gripping. This morning I thought, What an interesting form this would be for a novel!

But what would the story be? Whose bio? I then I remember my favorite wild man from the 60s, an art professor, and I thought, Wow, now here is the prototype for a fun character, and a 60s comedy would be good for me to work on prior to the grad school reunion at the end of the summer. Get me in the aura and all.

So I took the eee pc out on the deck and a couple hours later I had a healthy start on it, an outline of its general reach, and the "form" is working out beautifully. I'll just keep plodding ahead through a messy draft and see what I have when I'm done. The main thing is, it's comic, it's fun, it' about the 60s, all of which are good for me right now.

Surprises, surprises. Will the wonders never cease.

The Dumbest Generation

Read the reviews.

A curious disconnect

I've been thinking all morning about the curious disconnect in the careers of many artists between visible success and actual achievement. What brought this on was a comment by Chet Baker in a bio I'm reading, which is quoted there. In the 70s, Baker lamented that he never appeared on "best jazz artists" lists any more like he did routinely in the 50s even though "I play so much better now." No sooner had I read this than I read a story in one of our alternative papers in which I was quoted and identified as "a writer perhaps best known for his 1982 play..."

Well, I've seen this reference more times than I can count and in my own smaller universe I respond with the same frustration as Baker: why when early success is achieved, and one improves the craft and the vision, is later achievement ignored? This is not a rare experience among artists with early success in my observations. In fact, an early mentor of mine, an artist I met during my critical year in 1967 when I was trying to break into the literary magazines, eventually succeeding, a strong influence was not another writer but a neighbor artist (he's the one who told me to do something positive with rejection slips: so I made 3 huge collages, which I have to this day) who taught me about the actual "living" as an artist. He painted western scenes, had had a brief bit of fame in the southwest right after WWII but now, in Portland in the 60s, was virtually ignored, earning his keep as a school janitor and filling a shack on his property, his studio, with unseen paintings of the wild west. I loved this guy. I thought he had great integrity, which I admired without noticing the personal frustration that went along with it.

The culture has never quite known what to do with its artists, now more than ever. This is why the culture prefers them dead. Plato had it exactly right, and anyone interested in order and smooth sailing would ban poets just as he did in his ideal republic. Artists are a pain in the ass.

But the culture is most inventive and most skilled when turning radical energy into commercial energy. The same wide ties and long hair that once bugged a nation now are worn by corporate managers. The way to de-radicalize artists is to make them "stars", of which there are a limited number, and to get them competing with one another. Anything to distract the audience from their lost function, which is to separate the culture's truth from its bullshit.

Ginsberg's "Howl" does exactly what a poem is supposed to do. It tells the truth no one wants to talk about and in so doing changes everything. And somewhere, perhaps even now, out of the corporate headlights, off the stage of success, some poet is reciting this time's "Howl" which is not going to pull any punches and tell the culture exactly what it's up to with its populace (I suspect this poet is non-white). And 20 years from now, reading this poem, a lot of things will make sense that don't make sense now.

It is a noble action to try and write such a poem. More will fail than succeed but it's a noble act to try to figure out and then tell the truth in a world in which everything is for sale.

Dave Van Ronk

Thanks to Julie for the link.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Office hours

Good progress on the splay today.

Over managing

The M's may lose the day game today because of the manager! Hernandez pitched 7 great innings to a 2-0 lead. A new pitcher in the 8th had a quick 3 up and 3 down -- and the manager took him out for the 9th! Why why why? So the new M's pitcher for the 9th has faced two batters, home run and double, and it's 2-1, and I can't believe it if the M's blow this. Why take out the pitcher who did so great in the 8th??? I know, I know -- so you can bring in your CLOSER.

A MOMENT LATER. Jesus: another home run, Texas wins in the bottom of the 9th. God damn manager! This "closer" blew 2 leads 2 days in a row. This is the triumph of reality over theory, Mr. Manager. In the Golden Age of baseball, they didn't have closers. They had relief pitchers. If a relief pitcher was doing well, you kept him in!

Gate to good weather

Working on the splay at Starbucks this morning. Still going well, though I'm a bit worried about getting in long enough for a feature. Need to stir the pot some more.

A post-storm kind of morning, quite nice. Next three days we are supposed to get genuine spring weather, even approaching summer by Sunday. As always around here, I'll believe it when I see it.

It's a bit mind-boggling how much video I have to edit for the new review. The editing is simple for readings, it's the rendering that takes time. Definitely need to move on this over the weekend, just do it a few hours a day and catch up. Primus is more active with his camera than ever, doing great stuff. He brings a lot of "big names" into the review, giving us considerable validation.

Back to work.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

At the library

At the end of another short round of errands. The rain is back.

Heard from two former students today, always a nice surprise. One is trying to get back into school after a less than successful try the first time around. I reminded her of the line from Albee, "Sometimes you have to go a great distance out of your way in order to come back a short distance correctly." My undergrad and grad careers were not linear, so I'm sympathetic with those who stumble around before settling in.

Now the forecast is for 85 on Sunday. If only it could be true...

Bob Hicks on Yogi Berra

Check it out.

Karaoke Tonite!

A mockumentary. Check it out.

Not bad at all

A six-page morning writing session on the run between errands. Not bad at all! Having fun with the spatial challenges of this low budget script. In fact, it is so low budget, I may shoot it myself! It occurred to me that I have the actors. Hmm. First things first, finish it and post it at Ink Tip and see if anything happens. But shooting it myself is definitely intriguing.


Pit stop at Starbucks, and I managed to write a few pages on the splay, the subnotebook being so easy to take anywhere. This afternoon I'll read student work. Not a bad day at all.

Not too bad

Not as much student reading to do today as I expected. Might turn out to be a reasonably mellow day, in fact.

The forecast predicts 80 degree weather this weekend! I'll believe it when I see it. But sure would be great!

Moving slowly this morning. Moving slowly every morning lately. The body without its warranty.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quotation of the day

The trouble with being punctual is that nobody's there to appreciate it.

-- Franklin P. Jones

Been there many times.

H in Tacoma

H to Tacoma to pick up her art at the gallery, back tonight. I still need to edit the clips from her show last Friday.

Not sure how many scripts I'll have to read tomorrow. If not too many, many I can do H's video then.


Tonight the Mariners begin an important 3-game series with league-leading Texas. They can sink or rise. A sweep on the road would be spectacular.

Did some necessary downloading, now relaxing before class.

Office hours

Finish up discussion of SIDEWAYS today, then brainstorm student stories. Collect more scripts to look at tomorrow.

Energy still low. Maybe it's becoming a permanent deficiency.

Blogs, Twitter and Facebook

I enjoyed John Ridley's commentary on NPR this morning, "Keep Your Tweets To Yourself":

Morning Edition, May 12, 2009 · At the risk of sounding like that old guy in Gran Torino telling those "young punks" to "get off my lawn," it's gotten to the point that whenever I hear somebody talking about Twitter or twittering or tweeting it just makes my little tummy want to hurl.

I haven't tweeted once in my life, but I'm sick of hearing about it already.

Read commentary.

Unlike Ridley, I gave both Twitter and Facebook a fair trial. I participated actively for over a month, making daily or more frequent entries on each interface. I compiled a long list of "friends" whose activities filled my page on each. I tweeted and I facebooked with the best of them.

Then I asked myself, Why? What is this adding to my life? In fact, each was mostly an excuse for doing something more rewarding or entertaining. I even have better escapes than these interfaces. So I quit.

At the same time, I quit even as I saw possible and occasional value in each interface. At the Hypertext 08 Conference in Pittsburg, for example, tweeters taking notes made me feel I was there. On Facebook, I connected with theater artists from the 80s I haven't talked to since then. The trouble with these interfaces is that these positive possibilities are lost in an avalanche of the trivial. So I respectfully submit the following changes to Twitter and Facebook that will make the interfaces more useful for users like me while retaining the obvious attraction to countless others.

First, require each tweet or Facebook entry be flagged as Routine, Special, or Priority. Then "friends" can make settings so they only get certain messages. I, for example, would only subscribe to Special and Priority messages, or even just Priority ones. Second, provide an option to replace the unannounced appearance of messages on one's page, a feature that presumably makes the interface feel "alive." As soon as Joe says he is brushing his teeth, you get to know! The option would be in the form of a digest -- weekly, monthly, even yearly, you get all the flagged messages presented to you somewhere. Nothing is ever sent to you without your permission. With these two changes, I might find a use for Twitter and Facebook.

I much prefer blogs for one simple reason: I control the perception. Blogs don't just appear in my space. I have to go to them, and I like it that way. You who are reading this are reading by choice. No one forced you to come here.

An email from my friend Eric tells me that his earlier question here about my reading went unanswered. An oversight! The reading went well. I read the same story the Texas high school student is reading in his interpretative reading finals later this month, a gesture of good vibrations and karma, I hope. I sold a book. I had a good time. In a couple weeks I read from Guthrie's journals at a celebration of his work. I always enjoy that.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A low energy day

Which says it all. I did get some reading done. I also watched the old movie THE FOUNTAINHEAD. Never been an Any Rand fan but the film got me curious enough to revisit her ideas. Maybe egoism is more appealing in old age in a pop culture gone pathetic.

Even though little actual writing/work got done, significant brooding got done and this, after all, really is pre-writing and often as fruitful as the actual writing. So I've learned not to be hard on myself on days like this. They happen and sometimes they even happen for a reason.

Again, Wednesday is my hard day with a new batch of projects to look at. On the downhill side of classes.

For a moment, the day looked as if it might be sunny and warm. I got the table umbrella set up on the deck, thought I'd work out there, and as soon as I settled in, it got cloudy, windy, cool, so I fled. Typical weather here, doesn't know what it wants to do. I patiently, patiently await summer and some real genuine 90+ days. Damn, I really should move to some place warm.

H decided she wanted pizza for dinner. There's a Round Table right down the way, I ordered for a 5pm pickup.

The nature of news

I've been thinking about the news lately. Most of what I see as "news" today is not something that Cronkite or Huntley-Brinkley would have given time to. In other words, the news programs are filled with items that a prior age considered unworthy of the attention of "a news program," which reserved its time for more consequential things than the fashion and love lives of stars or the rantings of talk show hosts.

How different "the news" was in times even more past. Imagine living in the Oregon Territory during the 19th century and learning, weeks or months after the fact, that Pres. Lincoln had been assassinated. Today someone sneezes in South America and you immediately feel the spray in California.

I watch more "news" than I should. It's an addiction I should break.

Mariners rebound

I was listening to the ballgame before the opera yesterday. I quit in the 8th with the M's behind 2-0, thinking here is their 7th loss in a row. But the M's came back to win 5-3, looking like the come-from-behind club that started the season. Now if they can put together a win streak to match their losing one.

The downhill side

Not sure how much student work I have to look at today -- need to look in my briefcase and see. Not much, at most a few late things. So I can get a lot of editing for the review done in the next couple days if I choose to.

Gray and threatening rain. The latest spring tease of a few days has come and gone.

Far enough into LOVE IN THE WESTERN WORLD to remember what a fine, challenging book it is. Really glad I'm rereading it. At the same time, in recent brooding I'm thinking of a complete overhaul of the novel's protagonist, making him blue collar. Definite advantages to this in the discussion context of his situation. I'm thinking of making him an ex-grad student, now janitor at a university. Book learned but not academic. I'll brood on this some more.

On Sunday morning Jeff Greenfield had a piece comparing humans with their text-messaging cell phone blackberry gadgets to Swift's etereal high brow intellectuals who haVe lost all touch with the ground underneath them. I'm not sure I agree, which is to say, this may be going too far. There is, after all, a kind of communication going on in much of this, even if the tools are different. Most technical advances birth schools which predict an end of civilization from using them. (And other schools that predict the democritization of everything. What usually happens is advances increase someone's profit.) At any rate, this one for me is still too close to call.

One thing I should do this week is reschedule the two video projects I started, shooting in late June and July.

Need to make a trip to Idaho this summer to see Esther, Brad and Kass, Dick's mother and two sons. Question will be whether to do this early or late in the summer.

Later is the reunion, the grad English students from the 60s, an event I plan to tape and from which to make two different documentaries, one historic and one personal. Still have mixed feelings about all this. One, I'm not convinced the gathering or the place were unique. The 60s were just the 60s, happening everywhere. I don't think anything special was going on in Eugene. Not "historically." Personally, of course, it was a hugely important decade in my life.

How this event goes for me no doubt depends on whether or not "Sally" shows up and, if so, what her attitude is. In the historic context, our house was a major hosting spot for many, many gatherings of this group. It would be awkward indeed if she comes and brings her same grudge to the affair. I suspect she won't come. For one thing, on list of people she was listed as "Deemer," which she hasn't been for 30 years and clearly won't appreciate. This also means no one knows she's a lesbian and though she's not hidden this for decades she may not want to deal with it, especially with me there.

Well, "it's all material" no matter what happens. I just don't want to be part of a scene. I'm comfortable with this historic truth: she was a huge positive influence on my life, and some of my happiest moments were shared with her. If she prefers a revisionist history, that's her game, not mine. I witnessed the life-long grudge she held against her father. Maybe it's my turn. (Her sister, at least, understands where I'm coming from.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009


We both were disappointed. Despite several fine performances and the opera's good music, the production was over-designed with a massive set that oppressed the action, Rigoletto was not given a hunchback, making his deformity theoretical, the complicated set slowed down scene changes (including an absurdly long wait after the very first scene) ... the show dragged. Not a good way to end the season.

Go, Ducks!

Oregon gets the collegiate record in the 4xMile Relay

by Ken Goe, The Oregonian
Saturday May 09, 2009, 8:58 PM

With many fans actually on the track ringing the race, Oregon's 4xMile relay team set the collegiate record Saturday in the Oregon Twilight track and field meet.

The fans cheered Oregon anchor Galen Rupp to a split of 3:58.3, and the Ducks finished in 16:03.24.

That bettered the mark of 16:04.54 that had been set by Michigan in 2005.

I've always liked track and field. At UCLA, home events drew few people, so I was shocked and delighted when I came to Oregon for grad school and discovered that track events drew thousands of fans.

Party's over

Mariners have lost six in a row and have dropped from first to third place in their division. Ah, me.

Productive at Starbucks

Got some good pages done on the splay this morning. Time for a cruise, then home to see if H is out of bed yet.

Mother's Day

A full day planned, first with H's daughter in town and later an opera matinee. If we get home early enough, maybe I can do some more yard work before the evening chill hits. Or it may even be raining by then.

I was very close to my mother. She died over 30 years ago, far too young. She was only 65, just starting to collect Social Security. She was checking out of the hospital after a minor operation, dad was paying the bill, and she dropped dead. (Interestingly enough, my dad also dropped dead on the spot years later.)

I was living on Maryland's Eastern Shore at the time. The news was a shock. The flight west was a nightmare. We put mom's ashes in a lake at her favorite fishing hole, a bad idea because years later a dam hid access to the spot forever. It's out there somewhere.

Dad was lost without her. He lived almost another decade but it wasn't a good time for him.

Having each parent just fall down dead must be rare indeed. It saves watching a prolonged illness but it's also a great shock, leaving unsaid things that could've been said. Makes me wonder if this is a family tradition, of course. Well, if I drop down dead, I hope it's not in class.

Did some splay brooding and came up with a couple of nice twists. The strategy of this low budget, limited locations story, feels very restrictive to me, very play like. But I'm still enjoying it. It surely would be easy and cheap to make, that's the goal. Stick it online at Ink. and see what happens. Passive marketing.

Well, see if I can write a few pages.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Getting old

Did yard work this afternoon but quit earlier than I had intended because my knee was killing me. I've been avoiding pain pills but it may be time to consider them.

Out of the house, coffee at hand, Celtx loaded, see if I can write a few pages to Billie Holiday.


No social obligations today, thank the gods! The sun is up, maybe it will even get warm, and at any rate I plan to do some lawn mowing this afternoon. Prior to this, reading in de Rougemont, working on splay, taking the dog for a run. All of which sounds great to me.

Took footage of H's two openings and need to edit something together for her records. Maybe not today.

More admirers of the eee pc as I sit here. "Do you love it?" a lady asks, who ends up working at Intel.

I got a late start here this morning and found the place packed. Lucked out getting a parking space.

Two old men on a bench

Last night, just when I was beginning to think the idea of gallery hopping was more enjoyable than the actual experience of it, I ran into Jon Hagen at H's 2nd venue. He owns Longfellows Books here in town, has been here forever, so we sat outside on a bench and had a fine chat that was the highlight of my evening. Later his wife took some footage on my Flip, which I edited (managing to misspell his bookstore) and sent to him. Here it is.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Common denominator

50s era jazz (and earlier) is the common denominator of my life. The Ray Charles tune playing here now was one we listened to often in our parties in the Army, 50 years ago. I listen today to the same Gerry Mulligan tunes I loved when I was in high school. Same goes for Little Walter, Jimmy Rushing, the MJQ ... so many others. It's the thing that has changed the least over the years, the music I prefer to listen to. And that's just fine with me.

Jazz at Starbucks

H doesn't like Starbucks. I do. One of the things I like about it is that it opens at 5 in the morning. Another is that the ones I end up at in town play great jazz, Horace Silver on now for example, and this is pretty consistent. I feel like I'm right at home. I don't know how they select their music (frankly I can't believe the young help would select this, so it must be corporate policy) but I have the same tastes as the decision-maker. Very convenient.

I know it would be more politically correct to hang out more often at one of the indie coffee shops, of which Pdx has many, but when I go there I hear the music of younger generations, I learn the place doesn't open till 7, none of which win my vote. But as I look around, S is filled with younger folks despite the music belonging to my generation, so there you have it.

The coffee break called "avoiding work"

Well, I should be working in the yard about now but here I am, playing wireless blogging in a brand new location, acting all the world like a retired guy wandering the city to keep himself amused. The lawn will still be there in an hour -- and it also will be warmer. Still a bit chilly out for these old bones that prefer 90 and above.

I did get an amazing amount of screenwriting done today, all things considered. Writing on the run is always fun and often surprising, as today.

Looking forward to gallery hopping to H's two shows tonight. I generally don't go in for art scenes but it's special for her, which makes it worth while.

The one "losing out" today is the dog, who hasn't had his run yet. I'll have him out while I'm working but he doesn't like even manual push mowers and usually hides under the deck.

I got a 2nd power supply today, and so I'll carry one in the case at all times. However, so far, in my habitual rounds, I haven't gotten below a 50% charge, so maybe I won't often need to plug in. We'll see how it goes.

As soon as school is over, we must get damn serious about our house situation. Refinancing is the plan and waiting to sell until the market improves, presumably in a couple years. I broached the subject of then living in a van, permanently on the road from warm campground to warm campground but this definitely did NOT interest H. Like living in the southwest, I'd have to get divorced to embrace this preference. I have no plans in that direction.

Sunday is the opera, our live matinee, making it a busy weekend. We did not renew our season tickets this year. Two reasons: the price went up, and we enjoy the more frequent Live at the Met HD broadcasts so much, which are much less expensive.

From the library

My small local branch of the library has the most friendly wireless interface yet. No login required at all, i.e. don't need a library card or anything, which is good, just an agreement not to look at porn. Agree, agree!

Picked up an 80s edition of LOVE IN THE WESTERN WORLD, the classic by the Swiss theologican Denis de Rougemont, which was such an influence on me in my 20s, and there's much added material, so this will be an exciting revisit indeed. Moreover, all of this is for the novel at hand, to get my juices flowing again. Indeed, in my recent brooding I remain committed to the concept of the book, its story set up, just not sure I can pull it off. But I hope I regain the energy to give it a try. It's a damn daring book, and those are the best kind to tackle. I'm in no hurry at all, however. A careful rereading of de Rougemont will keep me busy for a while.

This small library is a nice place to work. My new escape when I don't want to have coffee at hand. And it's only a mile away ... close enough to limp here. I say limp because my knee continues to bother me. It does have relatively good and bad days.

Check mail and maybe head out.

False advertising

In a flier for an upcoming book festival, Dr. Veronica Esagui writes, "...I am a member of PNBA, NWABP, Willamette Writers and The Oregon Literary Review."

Really?! Well, yours truly is the founding editor of OLR and the only members I'm aware of are the staff members I appointed. What a strange thing to claim. What does it mean for any review to have "members"? Subscribers, yes, but we are free. I suppose this could be construed as flattery since she wants to be in good company. Of course, I wrote her, asking what the hell she means. Wonder how she'll squirm out of this. Puts a definite "bad taste" on her book festival, of course, which she calls the 1st Annual NW Book Festival. Bad vibes, bad vibes.

Morning writing

Got some good work done on the splay. It's a fun piece to write.

A most fine morning!

Wonderful jazz playing at Starbucks as I enjoy my morning coffee after seeing a beautiful sunrise at home. Forecast has no rain for two days before a new storm arrives, so I plan to catch up on yard work. I also feel like the old virus is actually gone now, so I need to reschedule my video projects. And it's time to take editing the new review more urgently than I have. Primus is giving me tons of video to edit.

I'm also baby-footing ahead on a new splay, which is all the writing progress I need at the moment. When school is done, I plan to sit down long hours at the piano and see if I can do better than last try at the music drama I've begun.

H has two gallery openings tonight, two!, so we'll be busy making the rounds.

Have I said how much I love this eee pc? Of course I have. I was excited waiting for it to arrive and I had expectations about its usefulness to me, but it has exceeded these expectations many times over because I find the "small" keyboard so easy to type on. I have fat fingers, so I really don't understand what all the fuss was about. And the ease with which I grabbed vids from Primus' camera yesterday made this worth even more. New video possibilities now open up for me, like filming long things on the road.

And yesterday's opening discussion of Sideways was good. We'll finish on Tuesday. Despite a relatively slow start, the class has really shaped up and most are in good shape about understanding the peculiar writing/storytelling form called "spec screenwriting."

Guess I'll open up Celtx and maybe write a few more splay pages before I head out.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mysterious sales spike

While I've been here in my office, 4 sales receipts for Screenwright, my electronic book, have trickled in. Very unusual to sell this many in the same hour -- somebody somewhere must have sent folks to buy it. Nice, of course.

Dream start is over

The Mariners lost their 4th game in a row today. Yesterday they fell out of first place. Now we'll see how good they really are. Or not.

Getting video

Had the first successful test of the eee pc as a transfer device. Primus came by with a camera full of clips. Hooked it up to the eee pc, flash drive in another port, click click and I captured the vids from the camera. Quick and easy!

On certain expressions on the faces of old men

I remember as a young writer observing a change in the expression of a senior writer sometimes. This happened when a discussion was going on, some younger writer, occasionally myself, the focus of attention. I noticed a change from attentive interest to something else, something I couldn't put my finger on. Now, an old writer myself, I think I know what it was. It was, "Been there, done that."

When a young writer discovers something in the literary world, or makes certain headway in one's work, s/he typically feels as if this discovery and accomplishment are "original" beyond original to oneself. You have a new insight, it doesn't immediately occur to you that others have had the same insight before. We become our own best fan club, as we should. When a public buys into the enthusiasm of the moment, an older writer who has already been there may well feel forgotten, dismissed, even cheated, even jealous.

Aging, among other things, certainly broadens one's perspective.


Wrote a few pages on the splay, work I really hadn't expected to do today. A bonus. It's moving right alone, into act two.

Coffee break

One more student script to look at before I leave for the university, so I'm in good shape. Much improvement in the class.

Need to get my editor's and gardener's hats on this weekend. Much catch up work to do on the review and in the lawn.

Starting slow

Starting slow this morning, in fact going back to bed. Reading went fine. Busy morning with student work, once I get started. In fact, a busy day start to finish. But first more sleep.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Change of plans

I'm changing my reading material for tonight. Rehearsing today, I almost broke down, the novel material is so heavy, personal, dark -- in the intimate setting of Blackbird, I'd probably depress the hell out of everybody and be right there to witness it even if I didn't have a public nervous breakdown.

So I am going to read something lighter. I've narrowed it down to three short stories, and I'll pick one of them on the spot. None of them will depress anyone.

Got most of my papers read. Great improvement! Always nice to see.

Got my book at the library and checked out their wifi -- now this is the real free spot since I don't buy coffee at the same time. Of course, if I don't get coffee, why even leave the house?

First Wednesday

The reading tonight, which I'm actually looking forward to.

Meanwhile I am sitting outside at a Starbucks on a wet chilly day. All the tables inside taken -- indeed, this is my 3rd try at finding an inside table somewhere, so I finally said to hell with it and am sitting outside here.

No sooner had I sat down and connected than a guy come over to drool over the eee pc, asking me about it. He, too, has had his eye out for one, and I of course gave it the highest recommendation. He knows about woot so he plans to keep an eye out for the next sale.

Made some progress on the new splay, low budget, yesterday, now about 20 pages in. I'm trying to keep the locations around three or four. Becomes very play-like as a result.

A book I need is ready for pick up at the library, this regarding research for the difficult novel. I go hot and cold about it. Maybe I no longer have the chops to pull something like this off. I'm pretty sure I did when I was younger and more reckless and daring. But I may not have the energy to write something so, well, daring at this point in my life.

I've decided to read from KEROUAC'S SCROLL, 3 sections, including the rather gruesome death scene. Maybe tomorrow I'll put the parts I read down here.

What is it about blogging out of the house that's more fun than blogging at home? Interesting.

My reading load is less than I thought for the daY. i may leave some of it for tomorrow morning. I want to give myself time to reread the script of Sideways, which I haven't done for a while, just to refresh some things.

Well, drinking iced coffee outside in this chilly day isn't warming me up any. Onward.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Full circle?

I see in the NW neighborhood newspaper that 9 NW-located businesses have closed since the first of the year. Is this the end of gentrification? Hard to say. But one clue may be that a Dollar Store is opening in the neighborhood, something unthinkable a few years ago.

When I lived in NW in the late 70s and 80s, the neighborhood was bohemian and full of used clothing stores, funky taverns and such. Then gentrification turned it into an over-priced upscale area. Ironic if the poor economy gives it back its old aura.

When my NY agent visited me there in the late 70s she said, This is the way Greenwich Village used to be. Hope it never changes! But the changes started only a few years later, about the same time my agent decided to get out of the business because the corporate takeover of the arts depressed her so much.

I loved NW in the late 70s, couldn't stand it afterward though Nobby's, at least, is pretty much the same. Most of my best Portland memories happened in NW, so it's still a pleasant nostalgic trip for me if I go early in the morning before all the Beautiful People are on the street.

I wonder where all the retired folks who used to live in NW went after they got priced out of the market. They were an important mix to the old feel.

Tax havens

It's a sad commentary on our times that so many of both parties are against removing corporate tax havens. The argument usually goes this way, Without these tax havens we can't be competitive in business.

This is like saying, Without polluting the environment, we can't be competitive in business. Or, Without doctoring our account books, we can't be competitive in business. Or, Without hiring illegal aliens at starvation wages, we can't be competitive in business.

What is wrong with this picture? (But does anyone actually care any more?)

Fascinating guests

I have a stat generator embedded in this site, which means I can track visitors. One thing I can learn is where they come from and, if they used a search engine to get here, what they were looking for. Sometimes this information is fascinating.

Today, for example, I find a visitor from the Tehran University of Medical Sciences who got here with the search "The Pardon Charles Deemer Audio". The Pardon is a 30-year-old play of mine, the first play I had produced in Portland and the play that later got me the residency gig at The New Rose Theatre. However, there's no available audio associated with it that I'm aware of.

Another thing I learn is that almost every day someone is trying to find out what happened to Sophocles screenwriting software.

Local politics

A tiny episode happened this morning that I won't reveal here except to say that when I was younger, this sort of thing would have upset me enough to picket, petition or otherwise raise hell about the injustice of it all. Old and seasoned, I dismiss it as yet another example of a kind of deterioration in the culture I've been witnessing for some time. I have precious little energy in my aging reality and certainly don't plan to spend any chasing windmills. The episode is disappointing but also minor, even silly. I pick my causes extremely carefully these days and this isn't one of them. My sad take on the matter is, What else is new?

Early start

Got a good early start this morning. Some student work to look at this morning.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Teaching catch up

Some advanced students to attend to tomorrow morning -- no energy to do it tonight. Otherwise, in pretty good shape for class, in which I begin to show SIDEWAYS.

Going to get an extra power supply for the eee pc, so I can keep one here and take one with me and not have to plug and unplug the same one. They're cheap and it's a bit easier.


Time to touch base with actors about rescheduling the two video projects I delayed when I got sick. I'd like to start both in mid June, as soon as I get my grades in. I also want to try again composing myself on the music drama. Summer front burner is shaping up to be video projects.

I really do need to start editing for the review -- I have a couple dozen videos to editk with more on the way!

Afternoon break

But a break from what? I never did get my butt down in front of the video editor. Read and watched a couple episodes of JAG instead. All without guilt too ha ha. Too damn old for that guilt shit.

Going to take some notes on the new concept of the novel's act two.

Novel of ideas

Brooding on my dilemma in Sex & Death, I came up with a tentative new strategy for its middle section that may work. It requires considerable research to pull off. I'll brood some more. Precious few examples of the novel of ideas in American lit -- Melville's forgotten masterpiece Pierre, or the Ambiguities may be the best. Entering grad school, this was my PhD thesis but some cad from the Univ of Michigan beat me to it. How hugely my life changed as a result!

Rereading Sartre's Nausea. Most of the tradition is in Europe.

I read Wednesday

I give a rare reading at "First Wednesday" at Blackbird Wineshop in Portland, 7-9 p.m. The complete lineup.

Then on May 23 and 24, I'll be reading from the journals of Woody Guthrie as part of a tribute to the legendary folk poet.

A busy May for me, pretty rare these days. The Blackbird reading may well be my last. Maybe not, maybe so. These days, everything I do might be for the last time, which isn't a bad way to feel actually. I make sure I enjoy it.

Going to spend as much of the day as possible editing video for the review and practicing piano while the files render.


I think it's a day to make scrapple! I can swing by the store on the way home and get what I need. Yes, a good idea indeed.

The more I use this "small" keyboard, the more used to it I get and now it's about as easy as a regular keyboard. I have pretty stubby fingers, so I don't understand what the complaints about it are about. It works fine.

There are two improvements I'd like to make: an icon for Celtx and install an ftp program.

Well, time to pack up and go to the store. Early morning shopping is always fun. Early morning anything is fun ha ha. I may even pick up breakfast to go at their deli.

Onward. It's a good day.

A bit of screenwriting

Using Celtx on the eee pc, did a little screenwriting over coffee this morning. This interface will work out fine.

My big "teaching" day this week is Wednesday, a killer, with first drafts of projects to evaluate. But the in-class time is relatively easy. On the downhill side now. Amazing how swiftly the term goes. Which reminds me, I have to put in my book order this week.

The week ahead

What I think I'll do this week is move the review and music studies, which go hand in hand because video rendering takes so much time, up to front burner. It's not creative work with its fragile timeline but butt-in-the-seat grunt work. This will be good for the mind as well, clearing out some cobwebs. Yes, I like this idea.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


Writing upstairs on eee pc to flash drive, copied online downstairs in basement office.

The Mariners are so much fun to watch this year! Down 3 to the A's today, they came back to tie, lost the lead, tied again in the 9th, gave up 3 in the 13th and came back to tie yet again. The 14th now. M's have a man on 2nd, two out ... intentional walk to fill 1st ... an out and on to the 15th. The bottom line is, the M's can come from behind this year as they usually didn't last year, so you never can count them out.

Meanwhile found a program to get an icon for Celtx on the desktop but so far can't make it work. Only small hassle now is having to open the program from the command line.

M's have used 7 pitchers, exhausting their bullpen. A's threatening in the 15th. 2 outs ... and they get out of it. M's up in bottom of inning.,

M's have bases loaded, nobody out! ... and win! M's 8-7 in 15 innings. Wowie!

Screenwriter as geek

I finally have Celtx, the screenwriting program, loaded and running on the eee pc. Took a few hours. EEE runs on Linux, the OS loved by geeks, and downloading and installing programs is much more than clicking this and that. You have to load the terminal and make command line commands. I'm not quite sure how I got it to run but apparently I extracted and expanded a tar file correctly. I then run it from the terminal, going to the proper directory and typing ./celtx, which I learned in a forum online. One finds all answers in forums online, it just takes a while.

I fortunately have worked on command lines before, in the old DOS, and I also have worked in unix, so I wasn't a complete stranger to this, though it still took me a couple hours to get it running.

Next I need an ftp program. That should be about it.

Guess I'll be working on the low budget movie on the eee pc for a while.


I'm too old to write something just to write it. I need to feel passionate about it. Right now I'm most passionate about the "concept" of the novel but I've lost confidence that I can pull it off. It is, after all, that most unAmerican of genres, the Novel of Ideas. I think I'll reread the three books its ideas come from: Love In The Western World, Love's Body, and Prisoner of Sex.

On the way home, drove by campus. Pulled to the curb and was able to easily connect to the campus wireless network. My eee pc has one powerful card!

The morning's first hour

An hour seems to be about right for checking mail, writing something here and doing a little work in the coffee shop. And that leaves me with over half the battery charge left, so my routine looks fine in that regard. Onward.

Music drama

A bit of work at the coffee shop. This is about as challenging a project as I've attempted. The script is challenge enough but this is only the first step to a music drama VIDEO. Maybe this is the project to move front burner.

Up and at 'em

Thinking of moving an old music drama video project to the front "new work" burner and rescheduling the Donnelly vids to start shooting as soon as school ends. The former has had a number of false starts. My first try, I couldn't conmpose any interesting music myself. Two composers I tried to woo passed for lack of interest. Yet I am still obsessed with the story so don't plan to drop it.

I also have a low budget splay that interests me but I think it's time to get back into the video mode. If I don't figure out the novel, well, so be it. In truth, I probably have written enough for one lifetime ha ha, as my fat (ignored) archive attests.

The movie yesterday, Is Anybody There?, was okay. H liked it better than I did. I didn't dislike it, just found it capably predictable.

Offline yesterday

[offline] Small change of plans. Movie first, then to mortgage fair to get a feeling for what the field is like regarding our refinancing. Missing Derby but taping it to watch when we get home.

I couldn't be more pleased with the eee pc! At less than $150, what a deal! Woot has incredible one-day deals like this. The surprise, as I said before, is that the keyboard isn't bad for touch typing at all. I'll do more writing on this than I thought as a result.

Not sure what film we're seeing. H's pick. I think it's the new Michael Cane movie.

This subnotebook will change my routine. I see myself writing more upstairs now. I'm on the sofa now, for example, and the eee pc is plugged in – works great. I like OpenOffice but I knew that already. I increased the screen to 130% to make the letters bigger for my old eyes, also works great. I'm getting to where I type almost as fast as on a full-sized keyboard, which clearly is the surprise beyond my expectations. I'd read so much about the small keyboard. The two things to get used to are the locations of the right shift and left cap locks, which I seem to hit while going for other things. Very small hassle. The wireless card is fast and powerful. At Starbucks I was even picking up McD's wireless down the road. Yes, I am a hugely happy customer! A dream machine for $150!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Shifting ground

My novel-in-progress has a very serious flaw in the conception of its second act. It will take some time to rethink and hopefully fix this, which means removing it from the front burner of my work schedule. I'm not sure what moves now to first priority. Time to look at and reschedule my various projects.

Glad I realized this before continuing on much farther. So in its way, this is good news.

Sports events

Growing up, a number of sporting events were Big Days in our household, driven by my dad's interest in them. These were:
  • Kentucky Derby
  • Indianapolis 500
  • Heavyweight championship bout
  • Army-Navy game
  • Rose Bowl game
  • World Series

Today, of course, is Derby Day. In 1959, I was in Louisville on Derby Day but had no means to see the race. I had hitch-hiked there from Berkeley, my first big road adventure, all documented in a journal which I've quoted from here in earlier entries (here). This was a real turning point for me. I returned and quickly joined the Army. It was this or depend on my parents. It was time to leave the nest.

Derby Day, then, has symbolic value to me.

A good morning

Got an hour or so of writing on the novel in, here on the eee pc, not bad at all for a Saturday morning. Writing onto a flash drive -- this has 3 USB ports, which makes it very flexible. Down to 60% battery, think I'll pack up and head out.

How to meet women

OK you younger, single guys, here's what you do. You get yourself an eee pc and take it to Starbucks and set it up on a table and start working. Lots of folks, many of them women, are going to see it, admire it, and come over to check it out more closely and ask about it. This baby attracts a lot of attention!


I don't know why folks complain about the eee pc small keyboard. I find it reasonably easy to get used to. I'm even touch typing on it.

Battery life is the next test, I think. Been here 45 mins. and still have 80%. The three hours advertised is more than enough for my needs, actually.

Back to work on the novel.

Good morning

At the coffee shop, did a bit of work on the novel, now here. A busy morning planned later. Rain rain rain.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Learning curve

Still learning things about this fine computer. Really having fun!

2 finger scrolling

This is a great feature on new touchpads, moving up and down a page with 2 fingers, zooming, lots freer.

Wireless greetings #2

Got a few things figured out ... did some research at home, decided best way to go was to register my Starbucks card at ATT for 2 hrs daily free access. So I'm at a SB, easily connected.

Lawn work this afternoon, warm day but rain coming. What else is new?

I'm even more delighted with the eee pc than my high expectations. Small keyboard doesn't bother me all that much. Fastastic machine!

Wireless greeting

Here I am with the eee pc, connected out of my basement! This new world is a bit more complicated than I expected but I'm getting the hang of it. That's all for now.