Saturday, January 31, 2009


I had a request for an interview from a reporter from Just Out, who has been following this blog. I agreed to do it by email only, which he accepted, and I just responded to his good questions. Be interesting to see what he does with them.

A scrapple sandwich ...

... for lunch. Outstanding! Maybe my best batch yet. I added chicken livers to the sausage during prep.


Broke down and checked out Facebook, joined, and I must admit, it has a pretty cool interface. (Link in right column, blue area). Seems more user-friendly than the time I tried to make sense of My Space. Also I like the interface better ... a lot, in fact. I'll stay.


Got some work done on the current screenplay in progress. Onward.

The new video

Will print out the script and begin this afternoon preparing for directing it. First read-through with actors tomorrow morning, see if we can get the script in final form so we can start rehearsing in earnest. Going to rehearse the hell out of this one before I pick up the camera because it's so subtle and driven by subtext. Be nice to be working with the actors again.


Not all city commissioners are spineless. Quite.

City Commissioner Randy Leonard summed up his relationship with Portland Mayor Sam Adams on Friday this way: "I don't trust him."

In his most stinging criticism yet, Leonard said he's upset that Adams lied to him again in a private meeting a week ago.
"After a while, you ask someone about something enough and they keep lying about it enough, you quit asking because you know you're not going to be told the truth," Leonard said. "If anything, you're going to be told more lies so you stop asking. You just assume there's more stuff out there based on the constant lies."
Earlier this week, Adams told The Oregonian: "I'm humbled by this experience. I've learned an important lesson, to never lie, to always be honest. That's the biggest lesson."

Full story

You get an F, Mr. Mayor. And Leonard, maybe you should go on record and call for his resignation.

Code of Ethics, or Dear City Commissioners

From Portland's Code of Ethics:

1.03.020 (2) Ensure public respect by avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.

Now is anyone in their right mind going to argue that our mayor has avoided "even the appearance of impropriety"? Give me a gigantic Mt. Everest break! The Portland Police Association already made this argument in even greater detail, saying the mayor broke four parts of the code.

So, dear commissioners, since the mayor clearly and undeniably broke the city's Code of Ethics, WHY DON'T YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?

It may even be in the mayor's best interest. If recent allegations are true, it may give him time to flee to Mexico and keep out of jail.

Media frenzy, plot thickens

The media are rushing to out-scoop one another. WW in the lead but here comes KATU on the inside!

PORTLAND, Ore. - New details are emerging every day as the pieces of the scandal surrounding Portland's embattled mayor continue to unfold and people come forward.

A longtime friend of Beau Breedlove, who spoke with KATU News on condition of anonymity, has new light to shed on the scandal that has divided the city into two sides - those for and against Mayor Sam Adams.

In this latest development, Breedlove's friend told KATU News that he heard from him almost four years ago that he was having sex with a Portland politician - at a time when Breedlove was 17 years old.

"He didn't say who, or his name, but said he was having sexual encounters with this person," he said.

The friend met Breedlove at South Salem's Sprague High School and said in the spring of 2005, Breedlove told him about the relationship.

"I just didn't think too much of it at the time," he said. "It's not the first guy who he had sex with that was older than 18. He liked it, obviously. Maybe he just didn't know that this guy was going to become the mayor of Portland."

Full story

Well, I'm not one of these screaming Puritans and, in fact, think there's a good argument for lowering the age of consent. However, if this is true, the mayor not only is out of office but into jail.

Also in the story:

Breedlove's father, Marty Breedlove, told KATU News by phone he believes his son had sex with the mayor before he turned 18 years old. He said he bases that belief on the kissing his son talked about and the numerous trips to Portland when his son was only 17 years old.

Adams' Nah-Eves

Paranoia grows in the us v. them Mayor Scandal camps. At some anti-mayor websites, false usernames are encouraged because the mayor, they say, is vindictive. And a recall the mayor site is bombarded with pornography uploads. Some anti-mayor folks are calling the pro-mayor folks "the SS," the Sam supporters.

And it's six months before we can have a recall election! Once upon a time, "civil war" in Portland seemed outrageous to suggest. But I suspect this will continue to get more ugly until, if we are lucky, the Attorney General charges the mayor with an actual crime, in which case maybe our spineless city commissioners will say something more than "let's wait for the investigation." As if the mayor hadn't already admitted enough to prove a violation of the city's Code of Ethics!

At any rate, I will not call the mayor's supporters the SS. I'll give them a break. They are well meaning. They somehow just don't get it. They are nah-sayers (nah, he's not a crook). They are naive.

So I will call the mayor's supporters ... ADAMS' NAH-EVES.


Here are my favorite song parodies thus far.

Get Out Of Town
(Tune: "Get Out Of Town")

Get out of town
Before it's too late for you
Get out of town
Be good to me please

Why do this harm
Don't you see our alarm
Move away where you can charm
Others with your tease

Just disappear
This city has much to do
And when you're near, I always fear,
You won't be true

The stress when we meet, knowing you cheat,
Is draining, it's getting me down
So on your mark, get set
Get out of town

(Tune: "Old Devil Moon")

I look at you and suddenly
Something in your eyes I see
Soon begins upsetting me
It's your mendacity
That is filled with your lies
It's that mendacity
In your eyes

You and your glance
Make circumstance
Too hot to handle
Fires in hell
Burning farewell
Can't hold a candle
To your razzle dazzle

You've made yourself a mockery
Lies coming fast in twos and threes
Tainting City Hall abnormally
It's your mendacity
That has lost you my vote
It's that mendacity
You emote

Just when I hope
You're going away
Deep in your eyes
Tells me you'll stay

It Ain't Worth A Tooth
(Tune: "It Don't Mean A Thing")

It ain't worth a tooth
If it ain't got the truth
Doo wah doo wah doo wah doo wah
Doo wah doo wah doo wah doo wah

It ain't worth a tooth
If it's something uncouth
Doo wah doo wah doo wah doo wah
Doo wah doo wah doo wah doo wah

It makes no difference if it's sweet or hot
Your credibility is all you've got

It ain't worth a tooth
If it ain't got the truth
Doo wah doo wah doo wah doo wah
Doo wah doo wah doo wah doo wah

Fly Me To The Moon
(Tune: "Fly Me To The Moon")

Fly me to the moon
Or anywhere away from here
Set me down where there's a calmer
Saner atmosphere

In other words, please resign
In other words, do the right thing

How can you expect me
To believe anything you say?
You've lost credibility
Lost context to persuade

In other words, save the city
In other words, just resign

Don't Explain
(Tune: "Don't Explain")

Hush now, don't explain
Just say you'll remain
You're still my mayor
Don't explain

Quiet, don't explain
What is there to gain?
I believe in you still
Don't explain

You know that I support you
You'll always have my vote
All my thoughts are of you
I won't be a turncoat
Hurts to hear folks chatter
Cause they think you cheat
Right and wrong don't matter
With turncoats to defeat

Hush now, don't explain
Although you caused me pain
You're still my mayor
Don't explain

Late June
(Tune: "High Noon")

Do not forsake me, Mr. Mayor
On this important day
Do not forsake me, Mr. Mayor
Move, move along

I do not know what fate awaits you
I only know you must be brave
And you must face the truth about you
Or be a coward
A cravin' coward
Or be a coward to your grave

Or to be torn twix truth and honor
How can you not see you're a goner?
Look at that big sun move along
Nearin' late June
There'll be a recall election
It's gonna clean up this infection
Look at that big sun move along
What will you do when you're kicked out?

Do not forsake me, Mr. Mayor
You still have one chance to be brave
If you'd just sign your resignation
And save this city
Our Puddle City
And save this city from the grave

Lie To Me
(Tune: "All Of Me")

Lie to me
Come on and lie to me
Don't you see
I don't give a kumquat

Twist the facts
It makes no difference
Swing the ax
I'll always listen

Your big deeds
Just what the city needs
If it bleeds
It's not my concern

You have the smarts
To capture my heart
So come on, and lie to me!

Let's Tell A Lie
(Tune: "Let's Fall In Love")

The left does it
The right does it
Even middle of the road does it
Let's do it
Let's tell a lie

A President does it
A Senator does it
Who cares if a mere Mayor does it?
Let's do it
Let's tell a lie

Straights do it
Gays do it
Even polymorphous wannabes do it
Let's do it
Let's tell a lie

It's just when folks over there do it
Who aren't agreeing with me
Their lies run scum through it
They're not trustworthy
Like me when

I do it
I know it
I manipulate the whole of it
I own it
I am the lie

The entire songbook

Public politics and the secret ballot

I have strong childhood memories of my parents at the dinner table, discussing whether or not a recent friend was a Republican or not. This might occupy them for months. In the meantime, they'd see more and more of the new friend, and the closer the relationship, the more curious they'd be. It was impolite to ask. And there was no way to know -- one no more discussed political beliefs, a private matter, than religious beliefs, another private matter. If eventually, somehow, they learned, then my dad might say upon occasion, "He's a great guy for a Republican," and then laugh like hell.

I know folks today who would not befriend a Republican "on principle." There are disadvantages to public politics. We become less tolerant. For example, when I am shocked that an acquaintance supports the mayor, I find myself thinking less of their intellect and value system.

It's easy to assume we're right and everyone else is wrong. Another thing I remember my dad saying at the dinner table is, "Flo, it's none of your business." She was more inclined to gossip than he was.

I remain baffled about supporters of the mayor. It's difficult to do so but my respect for epistemology -- how do we know what we know? -- embraces the possibility that this reflects my own blind spot, not theirs. I don't think so but stranger things have happened. Many years ago, a very close friend of mine turned out to be a pedophile. I still can't compute it. But there you have it.

A society based on the secret ballot rather than on public politics is easier to live in. Or is it?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sign of the times

Washington Post’s Book World Goes Out of Print as a Separate Section


Lyric of the day

Added a verse to one of my song parodies:

Straights do it
Gays do it
Even polymorphous wannabes do it
Let's do it
Let's tell a lie

The growing collection is at Sam Adams, the Musical.


Another WW scoop.

It appears Beau Breedlove may have more to gain from this whole Mayor Sam Adams saga than his requisite 15 minutes. Breedlove has been offered an opportunity to live forever on the “steamy” pages of an adult, gay-oriented magazine. Unzipped Media has offered Breedlove the cover, and a nude photo spread in one of Unzipped’s three publications.

Full story

This is perfect in our absurd universe. We get stuck with a lying mayor, the city breaks into civil war, and the kid gets rich making gay porn.

Still alive!

Heard from producer wanting to do my splay, he was busy on other project but will put together the formal offer this weekend. He's already calling me Charlie ha ha. I think this deal is going to happen! Knock on my wooden head.

Pattern of lying

Today WW reveals that Adams even lied to his own staff late in the game. This is why a chief aide resigned. And Adams lied to the press about why he resigned.

WW has learned that even after Mayor Sam Adams pledged to come clean in the wake of news about his sexual relationship with 18-year-old Beau Breedlove, he told his staff a story at odds with what Breedlove later told The Oregonian.

That discrepancy is the reason for the abrupt resignation of Adams' spokesman Wade Nkrumah on Jan. 27.

Full story

So who's surprised? Etc etc etc. And yet his supporters continue to say, So what? Incredible.

Feel better ...

...after sending scathing letters to the arts leaders supporting Adams. Yeah, I know, how to win friends and influence people. I'm too old to give a shit.

Here exactly is the problem

Just read this on WW:

The local arts community is throwing considerable support behind Mayor Sam Adams in the wake of revelations about his star-crossed affair with hunk-a-licious Beau Breedlove. A group of arts leaders including PICA’s executive director, Victoria Frey, and Regional Arts & Culture Council Executive Director Eloise Damrosch, has circulated an open letter to the public supporting Adams. The letter holds that “an episode in [Adams’] private life, that has become a lightning rod of distraction from the real work at hand, should not be allowed to derail our entire leadership, and our community, from the important work ahead.”

No, no, no! This is not about his PRIVATE life -- this is about his PUBLIC life, the PUBLIC lies and manipulation he perpetrated to get elected. How can smart people be so stupid not to understand this?

Headlines of the day

Economy shrinks at 3.8 percent pace in 4th quarter

Exxon Mobil sets record with $45.2 billion profit

What's wrong with this picture?

Vietnam Home Front II

I've never seen such division among families and friends as in the 60s over the Vietnam War between those on opposite sides of the issue. I fear this is what will happen in Portland during a recall election. I'm a perfect example. It's beyond my comprehension that the same person can support Obama and Adams -- well, unless they believe Obama, too, is just another lying politician, we just don't know it yet. But to give lip service to Obama's ideals and then to support a mayor who created his own fraudulent election ... I don't get it.

At the site I suggested better ways to network and keep morale up, suggestions which were taken to heart. I look forward to meeting some of the folks. I know too many liberals who support Adams, even though they give lip service to Obama. Ideologues suck, it doesn't matter where they are on the spectrum. The ends justify the means people. Ideologues suck.

Shock & depression

Every time I turn around, it seems, I am shocked and appalled by people I know who support the mayor. Many of them think they are combating Puritan morality and/or homophobia. But this has nothing to do with sex! Lower the age of consent to 16, for God's sake. This is about Richard III. This is about blind political ambition that leads to calculating, manipulating lies. Personally, I think the guy is going to get caught on Sexual Abuse III (even though I'd lower the age of consent in today's world) but the real issue has nothing to do with sex. It has to do with old politics v. Obama's vision of a new politics. Any Obama supporter who supports the mayor strikes me as double-faced, stupid, or misunderstanding the reality of the situation. Of course, a lot of it is knee-jerk so-called "liberalism," so-called because it isn't progressive to support calculating lying politicians.

What happened strikes me, at the level of facts, as such a simple thing to discern. The mayor lied and got others to lie in order to get elected. No one can dispute that. He was elected by fraud. The election was a mayor-created fraud.

So I am shocked that I know so many people to whom this doesn't matter at all. Pretty depressing, actually, to have fellow citizens with such low values as a new politics tries to get born. Pretty depressing that otherwise smart people can have such a blind spot. The facts (i.e. lying, calculation) aren't in question. Their meaning and consequences are. And some folks are just fine having a calculating liar in charge because ... well, who the hell knows? I don't.

Here's how our gay newspaper put it recently:

Let’s be clear: These were not “Who ate the last cookie?” type of lies. These were manipulative lies intended to deceive every citizen of Portland. The desire to be elected mayor was so great that Adams was willing to compromise his integrity and his values in the pursuit of the goal.

There's considerable support for the mayor's removal. But there also is considerable support that he stays, and this is what baffles me.


The gay newspaper Just Out defends its quick call for the mayor's resignation rather than waiting for results of an investigation.

Why did Just Out make such a quick decision in calling for the mayor to resign?

Because, following Adams’ press conference Jan. 20, it was evident that he had been caught in his own complex and calculated series of lies. Let’s be clear: These were not “Who ate the last cookie?” type of lies. These were manipulative lies intended to deceive every citizen of Portland. The desire to be elected mayor was so great that Adams was willing to compromise his integrity and his values in the pursuit of the goal.


It will be interesting how this develops, and I'm not taking any bets that recall energy today will last six months until it can be used. A stupid law! I frankly think there's a better chance that the mayor will resign following the investigation by the Attorney General. By any fair reading I can imagine, a minute-long kiss with a minor in the City Hall john is Class III Sexual Abuse and a violation of the city's Code of Ethics, both of which should turn commissioners against him. So I think resignation, delayed but real, is more likely than recall. A recall election, if it does happen, is apt to be ugly and even more divisive.

For the life of me, I still don't understand the reasoning of those who back the mayor. Calculated, selfish, arrogant lying doesn't matter? He is so visionary that he can't be replaced? Heterophobia? I don't get it. It's not the sex (frankly, I think there's a strong argument that in today's world the age of consent should be lowered). It's the calculation, the "win at any cost" mentality. Never acceptable and especially not in the new age of Obama. Voting for Obama and supporting the mayor strike me as a moral contradiction.

I have no idea what will happen. The city's divided and I'm not sure any result, or the status quo, will bring the factions together.

Moon & Venus

If you missed the conjunction of the moon and Venus last evening, you missed a beautiful sight. It'll be there again this evening with their positions reverse, the moon on top. Check it out.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another call for resignation

From today's Gay & Lesbian Times:

The truth hurts … resign Sam Adams
Published Thursday, 29-Jan-2009 in issue 1101

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

These words, immortalized by civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. in his famous 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech have been oft quoted in the recent months, as our nation’s first African-American president, President Barack Obama, was elected.

We at the Gay & Lesbian Times believe individuals should indeed be judged on the content of their character, and not their ethnicity, race, gender, age, sex, religion, or sexual orientation.

For this reason, we join the chorus of individuals, organizations, and publications calling for Portland Mayor Sam Adams to resign.


Gerry Mulligan

Listening to late 1950s Mulligan on my new media player/viewer on the bus to the university, I realized I was listening to this album constantly in 1959, a half-century ago! Mulligan, as much as anything else, is probably a constant thread through my life.

The library

The university library, which blundered and gave away my gift of the complete collection of SCENARIO magazines, is in the process of buying them back. They have two years complete so far ... it only lasted four-plus, I believe. At least they admit the mistake and are making up for it. I'm not as angry at them as before ha ha, thanks mainly to a librarian who has taken the bull by the horns to fix this. He wasn't around during the original gift.

This and that

Just about "prepped" for this afternoon's class. A couple more things, maybe 30 minutes, to do.

My Sansa Media Viewer arrived and boy is it slick! Taking me a while to get used to it, never having had a blackberry or iphone or such, but I've loaded it with jazz and a number of my videos. Talk about "small screen video" ha ha! All distortion disappears on the small screen ha ha.

Eager for Friday and the writing time, need to get back on track. Sunday my first meeting with actors on the new video, exciting! And I have a music track down, at least the idea, too.

For all my and local bitches about the weather, man are we lucky when you look at what much of the country is going through. Seems like there's always someone worse off than you are.

Feel like I've taken a slight lead on this cold trying to invade my body. Knock on my wooden head.

Redressing success

Hollywood loves to repackage successful films. They do it most clumsily as sequels. But cogent screenwriters do it more cleverly by taking a proven story structure or strategy or dramatic sequence and repackaging it. This is the key, I believe, to the success of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, which is a generic action-romance in a very new package. What is "new" here is the package, not the contents, the skeleton, stripped of its attractive new flesh.

Thus, for years now, I've been trying to find the right disguise in which to repackage Casablanca. The world has been so different -- until the rise of terrorism. This morning I woke up with an idea, just researched it a bit on the Internet, and I think I have a package that may be worth exploring. The key, as with SLUMDOG, is to make the new package so original and different that no one recognizes the source, no one "gets" that you're just retelling a tried and true old story. Nobody likes that. We like to be surprised. My wife got very upset when I said SLUMDOG was a generic Action Romance, as if this made it less worthy. In fact, though, there aren't all that many story strategies and types in the culture.

I have my next two scripts lined up but this will give me time to research this and see if my early optimism is right. If so, then it should go quickly since, after all, it's Casablanca in drag, or whatever else it takes to hide the skeleton.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

At last

Good work done on the screenplay this morning! Good news. Not back to novel yet. Bad news. Screenwriting is so much easier.

Music theme

Woke up with a music theme for the new video in my head. Progress! I was able to come down to my office and write the music in no time at all. Needs development but I have the basic theme down, I think it's perfect for the mood of the piece.

If Life Were A Movie the title of the first short script by John Donnelly that I'm shooting. First reading this Sunday. Looking forward to new challenges with this -- it's a story driven by subtext, a story best served with the right extreme closeups at the right time. Lots of subtextual power here if I can bring it out, both in performances and capturing the images right. On the surface looks pretty ordinary but it's a pretty deep piece in reality, which is why I like it. I think I have the right cast for it, too. Directing is 75% casting, or thereabouts.

What the poet said

a politician
is an arse
upon which
everyone has sat
except a man

--e. e. cummings

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The last hurrah

I have, have had for some time, a strong sense of being "at the end of things," and this is good. It's good because I feel like I'm one of the lucky ones and feel my years now are what Raymond Carver called "gravy" years. I have no death wish but I'm ready to go whenever the gods decree. I have two books I want to finish, a feature video I want to shoot, and I'd really like to spend some time feeling "retired." But that's almost too much to ask, given the good favor the gods have shown me already. So I just take it one day at a time, and what happens happens.

But I also prepare for whatever future I do have. I'm grooming my chosen replacement as editor of the review, for example (grooming in a technical sense, not an aesthetic one: sharing the skills, not the judgments, necessary to put it together: it will reflect the new editor's aesthetic in time). I'm thinking about quitting teaching but this would require moving, I think, into a more social landscape. At present, teaching is about the only thing that gets me out of my basement office. Seriously.

I'd still like to spend some time as the old man in the neighborhood who takes his coffee at the same shop, at the same table, at the same time every day. I have a feeling this won't happen but I still wish for it. I'll always be writing but I'd like to finish my present projects and move on to something light and frivolous. A step above a blog.

I'd like to have more time to read -- or rather re-read. There are too many books I want to look at again to have time for anything new, unless it's written by a friend or colleague. I think more highly of a reader who has read a favorite book six times than someone who keeps up with all the best sellers.

Leaving the review and the classroom would be big steps but I'm close to ready to take them.

I also want to finish on my terms as much as possible. I don't want to be like the jock who continues to play too long. When it's over, it's over, and there's no point in delaying the end. This raises a number of controversial issues, which I won't discuss here but am discussing at my posthumous blog.

This is a fine time in my life except that I'm a tad too busy. This is something I plan to fix.


Well, getting close to time to see if we can get out of our driveway. Should be home free after that.

R.I.P.: John Updike

NEW YORK — John Updike, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, prolific man of letters and erudite chronicler of sex, divorce and other adventures in the postwar prime of the American empire, died Tuesday at age 76.

Updike, best known for his four "Rabbit" novels, died of lung cancer at a hospice near his home in Beverly Farms, Mass., according to his longtime publisher, Alfred A. Knopf.

A literary writer who frequently appeared on best-seller lists, the tall, hawk-nosed Updike wrote novels, short stories, poems, criticism, the memoir "Self-Consciousness" and even a famous essay about baseball great Ted Williams.

He released more than 50 books in a career that started in the 1950s, winning virtually every literary prize, including two Pulitzers, for "Rabbit Is Rich" and "Rabbit at Rest," and two National Book Awards.


Street theater

Sam Adams: The Pilgrim Solution
I just heard that every afternoon we will have a guy dressed up in a Pilgrim costume, with one of those pointy black hats, walking back in forth in front of City Hall ringing a bell and yelling, "All is well! All is well!" Evidently, the only requirement for the job is that he be over 18 years old.


I rather like this idea! Street theater, dark humor, keeps Portland weird ha ha. Hope they do it.


A downtown shooting over the weekend, 2 dead and quite a few injured, has police stumped. What was the motive? But who said there has to be a motive!? Displaced and free-floating anger permeates the culture. People break. Hope you're not nearby when they do.

Snow again

Not much downtown apparently but enough here in the hills that getting to the bus stop might be a chore this afternoon, depending on how much stays. Hiking through the snow is the last thing I'd like to do today but I can't cancel class if school is open, too much to do.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hangin' in like Gunga Din

Running on half cylinders but hanging in.

Arm wrestling a cold

Felt good this morning, worse as the day plays out. Caught up on school stuff but not much else.


I find it encouraging that there are so many cogent, rational calls for the mayor's resignation coming from the gay community. The publisher of Just Out was an early example. Here is one today from a comment at KATU:

Sam Adams needs to step down NOW! I (a gay man) have worked too hard to try and separate Homosexuality from the Pedophile world. I worked with Corvallis Police Dept. to apprehend a Gay pedophile. Now I feel as though my work and effort has been defeated. This is supposed to be a time of change and to start helping each can you still stay optimistic when you have a liar as your Mayor? Adams is NOT my Mayor and come April 2009, I will be starting procedures to have Adams resign. I voted for him and he lied. I want my vote back! Portland is now the laughing stock of the United States ~ as seen on Jay Leno!

Hate mail

Only a trickle so far from those who don't share my sense of humor. Thought seriously of writing my song parodies anonymously, just to avoid the distraction of this sort of thing. It's a long haul to a recall election, and we are famous for our short memories. Things ought to die down pretty quickly now. In the meantime, in dire times we amuse ourselves as best we can, which isn't yet against the law.

Hoping to get some work, real work, done today.

The End of Solitude


What does the contemporary self want? The camera has created a culture of celebrity; the computer is creating a culture of connectivity. As the two technologies converge — broadband tipping the Web from text to image, social-networking sites spreading the mesh of interconnection ever wider — the two cultures betray a common impulse. Celebrity and connectivity are both ways of becoming known. This is what the contemporary self wants. It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: It wants to be visible.
...we are losing both sides of the Romantic dialectic. What does friendship mean when you have 532 "friends"? How does it enhance my sense of closeness when my Facebook News Feed tells me that Sally Smith (whom I haven't seen since high school, and wasn't all that friendly with even then) "is making coffee and staring off into space"? My students told me they have little time for intimacy. And of course, they have no time at all for solitude.
And losing solitude, what have they lost? First, the propensity for introspection, that examination of the self that the Puritans, and the Romantics, and the modernists (and Socrates, for that matter) placed at the center of spiritual life — of wisdom, of conduct. Thoreau called it fishing "in the Walden Pond of [our] own natures," "bait[ing our] hooks with darkness."

Read the essay

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Willamette Week gives us a grin.

New blog

Since the mayor is staying, we have months to put up with him ... therefore, I am announcing my new blog:




Don't make me a stereotype
With your homophobic smear
A grown man with a teenage boy
Is nothing you should fear

I'm just a mentor to the boy
It's nothing more than that
I'm helping him to find himself
I'm not another stat

Don't make me a stereotype
We've put those days behind
I'm not a gay man on the prowl
I love him for his mind

And if I kiss him in the john
And even on the mouth
Don't make me a stereotype
I don't need any help

--Charles Deemer
By Jack Ohman of The Oregonian


Had to change batteries in my wonderful AlphaSmart -- for only the second time in, what?, over three years!



Kissing is not sexual
It's friendly and it's cord-u-al
I'm speaking to you factual
My tongue is down his throat

A minute kiss is just a peck
Saliva drooling, what the heck
When first we kiss and then we neck
And then I get his coat

You people have a dirty mind
I'm just helping the boy unwind
And mentoring a bit in kind
And asking for his vote

Kissing is not sexual
In this case quite consensual
And oh! the kid's adorable
I almost want to gloat

--Charles Deemer

Common sense

Well, at least one of our city commissioners lives in the real world:

WW has learned that Mayor Sam Adams will announce later today that he plans to return to work this week and will not resign.
Commissioner Randy Leonard received a phone message from Adams at 8 am today that said "regardless of what you think about me and regardless of what you think about the veracity of what I'm saying, I deserve due process and I'm going to stay on."

Leonard tells WWire that getting that message from Adams that he would remain on the job as mayor at the same time that the latest revelations were emerging is "surreal."

He said he has not called Adams back.

"I don't know what I would say to him," Leonard said. "I can't believe what has happened in the last six days.

"Sam seems detached from reality," Leonard said.

Breaking news: incredible!

WW has learned that Mayor Sam Adams will announce later today that he plans to return to work this week and will not resign.

The announcement comes on the same day that this news broke in The Sunday Oregonian that Beau Breedlove says he and Adams exchanged kisses on two separate occasions before Breedlove's 18th birthday.

If this proves true, then the mayor's "tragic flaw" clearly is arrogance and lust for power. Already, with the new revelations, some of his supporters in the political arena have switched sides. Perhaps he's counting on short memories since our screwed-up law doesn't permit a recall election for six months. On the other hand, a lawyer in town believes he's already violated three items in the city code.

The bottom line is, if he stays, he just throws gasoline onto the fire, and the mess gets worse. What an arrogant, selfish ass.

However, on the flip side, late night comedians get a lot more material!

Exchange of the day

Paraphrased from the web ...

ADAMS' LAWYER: Kissing is not sexual activity.

READER: In that case, send over your 17-year-old daughter, I'd like to put my tongue down her throat.

Yes, this has gotten so extreme and bizarre that it's dark comedy. The image of our mayor with his tongue down the throat of a 17-year-old in the City Hall john. What makes it comic is his contrite demeanor, forever hiding as much as he can, looking all the more foolish when more details emerge. Our mayor, forever the manipulator, still hoping to retain office by lying, hiding, denying. Will he eventually see the light? Or will his backers join the chorus of the lawyer, "kissing is not sexual," not even if it lasts one-minute in the City Hall john ha ha, o what fools we mortals be. This is better than the afternoon soaps.

If he doesn't resign today, he is an idiot -- but then, he's already demonstrated that.

Meanwhile, with so many screenwriters in this town, surely several by now are working on Sam Adams, the Movie of the Week. If I were younger and not so busy, I'd jump in myself -- only I'd write, SAM ADAMS, THE MUSICAL. Already have two numbers! KISSING IS NOT SEXUAL and DON'T CALL ME A STEREOTYPE.

The plot thickens

If this doesn't sink our lying mayor, nothing will.

The former legislative intern at the center of the controversy involving Portland Mayor Sam Adams says Adams kissed him twice when he was 17 and that their relationship had "crossed the line" toward romance earlier than Adams has acknowledged.

Beau Breedlove, now 21, told The Oregonian on Saturday that Adams kissed him on the lips on two occasions before he turned 18 -- once in Adams' car and the other in the second-floor men's room in City Hall after a party that Adams, then a city commissioner, had in his office.

Now a kiss is a small thing, to be sure ... but it shows that the mayor still isn't telling it right. And the fact that one episode happened in City Hall isn't going to win the mayor any friends -- well, that's not right, some liberal ideologues will defend him to the end.

But this isn't news the mayor wanted to become public. Hopefully it's the kick in the butt he needs to resign so the city can get its act together.

And the compromise proposal has been withdrawn by, who finds the minute-long romantic kiss with the 17-year-old in the City Hall john to be, well, behavior not fitting for a mayor.

Night life

Two people were killed and seven others wounded when gunfire erupted outside two popular downtown clubs Saturday night.

According to the police, the shooting happened around 10:30 p.m. on the sidewalk and street outside the underage club The Zone and tbe popular Kells Irish Pub. Both are located on Southwest Second Avenue near Pine Street.


Kells is a great place, though we go there to eat Irish food, not party. Alas, stories like this aren't all that rare, here or elsewhere. Guns and anger.

Revolutionary Road

Had hoped to see this today. No way now, with the snow, though I probably would have stayed home for health reasons. Need to see this before it leaves town.


Well, well, it's snowing outside my basement office window. Better news is I read the 3 student scripts I had to read today. Maybe I can get some work done. Feeling better! But on guard, viruses are nasty critters.


On the ground again. Not much, thankfully, and the sooner it disappears, the better.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Common sense

The more I think about this growing civil war in Portland, the more I realize how sensible is the suggestion of a new election on May 19. Ballots are being printed anyway, so the expense would be negligible. Our lying mayor could be in the race and see how many citizens still want him to lead. He would remain mayor between now and then, giving him time to show off his skills (i.e. he now would announce his resignation effective May 18). If he stays, a recall can't happen until July 1 because of a very stupid Oregon law -- which means months and months of continued polarization, which will get uglier and uglier. This is a brilliant compromise, it seems to me -- suggested in an open letter at, demonstrating the good sense of the those founding the recall movement. Adams got votes by lying. Let's see how many votes he still has with the truth out.

And I continue to be appalled, absolutely appalled, by some of my liberal friends who think this is about sex and is therefore a private, trivial matter. The facts are abundantly clear that Adams manipulated the situation for political advantage, lying many time over and even "playing the gay card," claiming that an early investigation into what ended up being the truth was a witch hunt based on gay stereotypes -- this from the future poster boy for those same stereotypes! I don't understand some of my liberal friends who continue to trust a guy like this just because he has good progressive civic ideas. They must believe the ends justify the means. Unless, of course, it's torture ha ha. (And imagine what they'd be saying if we had a conservative mayor who had seduced a teenage girl!)

"People are more interesting than anybody," my late mom always said.

A draw

A draw so far, my arm wrestling with illness.

Missing the opera

Staying home to keep warm and take care of myself, still fighting to miss the oncoming cold. H off to see it with a girlfriend.

My knee is acting up again, too. Feel like the ol' body is falling apart. Ah, old age.

Media player

At Woot! picked up a great bargain on a media player for video, audio, built-in FM radio ... mainly to have a portable way to carry our best videos with me.

Still feeling like a cold is coming on but managing to fight it off apparently.

Opera this morning. Before and after, I need to get focused on work and ignore the shouting in this city. I let politics get too distracting.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Still fighting off a cold. Not a great day.

A morning opera, HD Live at the Met!, tomorrow.

Politics, sex and humor

Just what the doctor ordered.

"California education officials said today that the state of California needs 52,000 more teachers. They say we are facing a huge teacher shortage. In fact, by the year 2007, they said many students will be forced to have sex with each other." --Jay Leno

"Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for an investigation of the video game Grand Theft Auto after finding hidden sex in the game. I don’t know, is Hillary the best one to go looking for hidden sex? If Hillary was any good at finding it, her husband wouldn't have been impeached." --Jay Leno

"It's Bring Your Daughter to Work Day. This tradition began about 25 years ago down in Washington, D.C. by a quick-thinking Ted Kennedy who was spotted leaving his office with an 18-year-old." —David Letterman

"Ladies and gentlemen, here is great news. Senator Larry Craig from Idaho ... is looking for interns. What parent doesn't want to hear, 'Well guess what, Dad, I got accepted into Larry Craig's intern program'? But if you're interested, Larry Craig is now accepting applications from interns. Just slide your resume under the stall." --David Letterman

"The airport bathroom where Senator Larry Craig was arrested is now being renovated, and the new bathroom will have stall dividers that go all the way down to the floor. When he heard about the new stall dividers, Senator Craig said, 'It doesn't matter. Love will find a way.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Senator Larry Craig announced he's now rethinking his decision to resign from the Senate. He resigned from the Senate and now he's rethinking his decision to resign from Senate. Craig says he's going talk the decision over with his wife, and the guy in stall number 3." --Conan O'Brien

Portland is depressing

Despite all the excitement of change in the land, directed by Obama, Portland suddenly has become such a divided city in the grandest "old politics" style that it is depressing to live here. All I can do is try and block it out. This town has too many ideologues and smug hypocrites. If it were a Republican mayor who had seduced a teenage girl, it would be the same thing with the sides reversed, the progressives screaming for resignation, the conservatives saying don't rush to judgment. The country may be changing but here in Puddle City it feels like nothing has changed at all.

Obamaland bypasses Portland

Tens of thousands greeted Obama on the campaign trail. But today, with news that Mayor Sam Adams will not resign, it's clear that honest government isn't a value here in Puddle City. Adams is encouraged by support from progressive supporters who don't care that he lied about seducing a teenager.

But this isn't about just any lie. The publisher of the gay newspaper in town, who has called for resignation, has it exactly right. This is the difference between manslaughter and murder. Adams' lie was a first degree lie, calculating and selfish, protecting his political future. When questioned about the rumor two years ago, he reacted with outrage and claimed he was the victim of gay stereotypes and a smear campaign. Man, the gods love irony! Now, with the truth revealed, he has become a poster boy for rightwingers who see all adult gay males as predators.

It's the planned lie, the manipulation of the teenager, the manipulation of the press, especially the adoring gay press, that is the outrage -- and a personal outrage to the publisher of Just Out. But highly visible gays in town like director Gus Van Sant swoop to Adams' defense, and apparently such encouragement will keep Adams around to defend his honor. But it's far too late. The crime has been done -- the calculated manipulation to protect a political career. You can't undo that. His continued service will split the city even more than it's split now. Surely he will be recalled in July. I suspect there's a good chance he will be voted out of office. And then the progressives, of which I am one, have lost far more than we lose if Adams had the good sense to step down. But misguided old-school "the ends justify the means" progressives, tragically in this new age of Obama, want Adams around at any cost. Ugly, ugly, ugly.

But, if you're a political cynic, entertaining, I'm sure. What makes Obama so incredibly, so wonderfully, radical in his first few days in office is that he works as a unifier, not a divider. He is not, repeat NOT, driven by ideology, as so many here are on both sides of the political obsession scale. Obamaland looks wonderful so far -- but it also looks like Obamaland has bypassed Portland.

Our progressive, lying mayor

With competing rallies scheduled for today, the Sam Adams scandal is polarizing the city. Here is a sane proposal, it seems to me, suggested by a website calling for his recall. An election already is scheduled for May 19. So Adams announces his resignation effective May 18, a special election for mayor is added to the May 19 ballot, and Adams can or cannot be a candidate, as he wishes. In other words, let the citizens vote on whether or not they still trust him. I don't because he not only lied, he got the teenager to lie, he blatantly manipulated the situation to save his political ass. In this regard, I agree with the publisher of our gay newspaper:

Adams also reached out to the gay media, meeting with Marty Davis, the publisher of Just Out, to dispute the allegations. Davis believed Adams, and in the year that followed lauded his accomplishments both for the gay community — where he led efforts to build a gay and lesbian community center — and other initiatives to improve the city.

"The Pride of Portland," declared the cover of Just Out after Adams' May primary victory.

But this week, Davis said Adams should resign because the cover-up has undermined his credibility. "It was not a quick 'oops' cover-up type of thing," Davis said. "It was lying by design. It was the difference between manslaughter and murder. This was first-degree lying."

But others trust him. They seem to believe the ends (his progressive ideas) justify the means (lying manipulation to get into office). Let the majority win.

But something this sensible probably won't happen. I predict this will happen: there are enough progressive supporters still behind Adams that he'll hang on. This will solidify the opposition, who will petition to recall him. By a stupid Oregon law, this can't happen for six months, so in July there will be an expensive recall election, further polarizing the city, and whatever happens, the other side will hate it and feel betrayed, and so much for "the city that works."


Feeling a little better. Eager to get some writing done today, both on splay and novel. A tad impatient to see the offer, get this behind me, it happens or it doesn't so I don't have to deal with the suspense of it all, which is there no matter how much I try to forget it. It's stressful to want something to happen.

Looking forward to Feb. 1, getting back with actors. Get a new video project going.

Going to try and learn 3D animation. Not sure I can but have a book, software, will give it the college try.

A student asked if I'd retire if I sell the screenplay. I said, well, I could retire now if I wanted to but this class gets me out of my basement office. Without it, I'm afraid I'd mold down there. More truth in this than I want to admit ha ha.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Take it easy

Feeling a cold coming on, need to head it off at the pass. Glad the teaching week is over. Lots to do but taking my time, focusing on keeping well.

Well, here we go ...

A number of city progressives are rallying behind the mayor. Their mistake is thinking the issue is about sex. It isn't (unless the teenager was underage -- and if the mayor lied about one thing, why not about another?). It's about lying, telling your partner to lie in your behalf, telling your colleagues a lie and the public a lie, all because you are going to run for mayor. And then owning up only when a newspaper is about to break a story with the truth. This was the guy scheduled to keynote to students on "Ethics and Social Responsibility" this Friday! I mean, I'm a progressive, too, but you can't let ideology blind you to what happened, especially in an Obama-age when a new more responsible politics is trying to be born. The bottom line is, Sam Adams no longer can be trusted about anything. It's really great he has progressive ideas. It's really cool Portland can elect an openly gay mayor. It's too bad he betrayed the public trust. It's a tragedy of sorts, in fact. But his sex life has nothing to do with it -- unless, of course, it turns out he is a predator. It's about how you use power and the public trust.

And his being gay has nothing to do with it, except that unfortunately he's now become a poster boy for the right wing. If a heterosexual mayor in his 40s seduced a teenage girl in government, I think the outrage would be considerable. So here.

But if the progressive ideologues have their way, this will stretch out, and then it may really get ugly if it energizes the other side, etc etc etc ... it will polarize the city. If Sam Adams has an ounce of sense left, he'll resign -- and soon. But I'm not taking any bets.

Dispatch from "the city that works."

My perverted sense of humor

Our lying mayor hasn't resigned yet. But he did cancel a keynote speech on ethics. Cracks me up.

Adams didn't appear in public Wednesday. His spokesman, Wade Nkrumah, said in the afternoon that he hadn't spoken to his boss in 24 hours. Aides seemed in the dark about Adams' future plans.

They did, however, know enough to cancel one appointment for Friday: Adams was scheduled to give the keynote speech on "Ethics & Social Responsibility" to a student leadership conference at Portland State University.

As my dear departed mother used to say, "People are more interesting than anybody."

The Oscars

I can't say I'm particularly excited about any of the nominations. Can't help but notice that the Golden Globes respected REVOLUTIONARY ROAD much more than the Oscars do. Not unusual, one of the reasons I prefer the Globes, they take serious films more seriously. The biggies, BUTTON and SLUMDOG, were "B" films, not "A", to my sensibilities. Haven't seen a new film in past year as exciting to me as revisiting EDVARD MUNCH.

Blessings ... and an opportunity

Corny but true: one of the first things I do each morning is count my blessings because another day begins and I'm still alive. Won't be so forever or, likely, even for ten years. Nine? Eight? You get the picture. One day at a time, thank the gods and get to work.

Heard from a producer looking for a screenwriter from Saudi Arabia, he had read about my wonderful graduate student from last year. I hope they make a productive connection.

Meanwhile we continue to wait for the in-writing offer about THE BRAZEN WING. I want it to happen and therefore try not to think about it. I've had deals seem closer than this one fall through at the last minute. I don't assume anything any more. All the same, I still have good feelings that this will happen.

The four days ahead should be focused and productive. I am nearing the last act of the splay in progress. But I need to get back on the novel ... I know my next sequence but haven't started writing it yet. Novel writing is much, much harder than screenwriting. I can't imagine anyone thinking differently.

I'm also eager to get back shooting video.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Waiting for offer

Still waiting for the in-writing offer from the producer. In the meantime, further communication with agent makes me secure we are on the same page. I have guarded optimism this can happen. Of course, I've been wrong before. I'm overdue for being right ha ha.

Portland scandal

I suspect old good ol' mayor will resign soon. I hope so. From an editorial today:

TRIBUNE EDITORIAL: Adams must resign
Mayor's actions, and his lies about them, make him unfit to serve

This is a moment when Portland should be joining fully in this nation’s energized optimism for a new kind of politics, a new type of leader and hope for a better future.

Instead, Portland residents once again find themselves deeply disappointed by the inappropriate and dishonest actions of a local leader — actions that ought to lead to the immediate resignation of Mayor Sam Adams.


Quick departure best for city
We don’t believe the public makes much of a distinction when it comes to a man over 40 having sex with either a 17-year-old or an 18-year-old. And it makes no difference if the teenager is male or female — it’s sexual opportunism, pure and simple.

When he met with the Portland Tribune editorial board on Tuesday evening, Adams said he would remain in office because he believed it was in the best interest of the city. But he also promised to resign if he became convinced that his departure would be best for Portland.

Adams doesn’t need to wait for such proof. His own dishonesty led to him being elected under false pretenses, and his behavior now threatens to shatter his effectiveness at a time when Portland is in desperate need of dynamic and credible leadership. The sooner Adams leaves office, the faster Portland can begin the process of finding a mayor who still has the ability to inspire — not depress and distract — us.

Hear, hear! The only one I've heard of who thinks he shouldn't resign is H's favorite local politician. Whom I voted for! A mistake. Dick politics is dick politics, pure and simple. The mayor even gave an investigative reporter who was on the original rumors story a job for which she has no qualifications! To hush her up, I suppose. What a scumbag.

And now the Oregon D.A. is in the act. What if the kid lover was 17, not "just turned 18" as our lying mayor maintains? This is against the law. Regarding being mayor, it's the blatant lying and covering up that disqualify him. He can fuck donkeys for all I care.

From a gay publication:

He lied to further his political career because he knew that stuff like this is toxic. As a gay man, I am disappointed and embarrassed. He's just become a poster-boy for the anti-gay right with their rhetoric of "protect the children" and their fantasies about predatory gay men. Way to go, Sam

Over 80% responding in a gay newspaper wanted him to resign. Hard to imagine he'll hang in. He may be gone before the end of the day.

Politics is pissing in public.

Dr. Wow on government support of the arts

Obama’s Arts Commission Proposal

Recently there has been discussion regarding a proposed Arts Commission. Some think this would be similar to the Depression Era WPA programs. Experience with commissions, or a bit of familiarity with the WPA program artists, and a few minutes thought will dampen this enthusiasm.

The WPA programs were funded through several Bureaus and Agencies. Around 20,000 projects were funded. These included many fields such as murals, stonecutters, heroic statuary, architecture, regional pottery centers, silkscreen poster studios, documentary photographers, and a few easel painters. Many of these endeavors involved several assistants and production workers. The level of pay was very low, just enough to sustain life.

There are probably 10,000 creative persons today for every artist in existence in the 30’s. The realm of creativity has dramatically increased. Despite the factor of 10,000 artisans increase in the arts, the level of patronage has increased perhaps 100 fold. No modest contemporary WPA program could ever trickle down to artists such as those seen on the Artwalk.

Read the rest at Nurse Fusion's blog.

But there's another way to do this, something I've supported for a long time. It's politically dangerous, of course, and is unlikely ever to happen. It is this: establish both maximum and minimum incomes by virtue of citizenship. That is, 100% of income over a set figure is taxed. Nothing is taxed below a set figure, which is large enough to live on, (with the graduated tax within these limits) and additionally a livable income is given to everyone at age 18 with conditions. Period. You don't have to do anything for it. If you choose to work, however, you lose it. In other words, support "freeloaders" and from the freeloading class would come incredible artists, I predict. Take the arts out of the commercial market by giving individuals the option to receive a livable wage for doing whatever the hell they want to do, including art. I think I must've been drunk when I thought of this years ago ha ha. But I still find it intriguing.

If Life Were A Movie

The first of John Donnelly's short scripts I'm adapting is called "If Life Were A Movie." 2 characters, "an Internet couple" meeting live for first time, the focus is at the airport, the woman going home 3000 miles away, the dramatic question, What is their future? Ten minutes or less. Looking forward to this because it's both a directing and editing challenge. This is driven by subtext, and I want to convey this both in expressions and body language and in images. So it may be the most complex piece I've done yet, despite looking so direct and simple on the surface. This is deep if the subtext works. We have our first reading in about 10 days and I look forward to it.

Thinking of another two-character piece for the 2nd I'll do. Plan to do five.

Food for thought

Anyalyzing humour is like dissecting a frog: nobody enjoys it, and the frog usually dies as a result.


"The proper response to poetry is not criticism but poetry." Norman O. Brown

Back to the grind

A little writing this morning but the day belongs to students, first script pages submitted from some of them yesterday. Always curious and hopeful that I have a "natural screenwriter" or two in class.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Amazing crowds

...already in D.C. for the inauguration. Incredible.

The city that works?

One of the things I've never liked about Portland is a certain smug sense of superiority by the Chamber of Commerce types. They must not be pleased how Portland made the national news this week.

Sam Adams, Portland Mayor, Admits Relationship With Teen Following Year Of Denial

PORTLAND, Ore. — More than a year after denying it, the newly elected mayor of Portland has admitted having a sexual relationship with a male teenager in 2005.

Sam Adams, who is openly gay, acknowledged the relationship in a statement Monday, after the Willamette Week newspaper broke the story on its Web site.

In Washington, D.C., for the inauguration, Adams will cut his trip short to issue a public apology Tuesday afternoon in Portland, said Wade Nkrumah, his spokesman.

Adams, 45, said he and the teen were together in the summer of 2005, shortly after the teenager turned 18 in June, and when Adams was a city commissioner. The revelations come nearly a year and a half after Adams and the teen said rumors of a sexual relationship between them were false.

"I lied at the time because I was afraid that people would believe untrue rumors being circulated by an undeclared mayoral opponent that I had broken a law involving sexual relations with a minor. But this is not a good excuse," Adams said in his statement.

Despite the rumors, Adams coasted to victory in his race, making Portland the largest U.S. city to ever elect an openly gay mayor. He was sworn in Jan. 1.

In his statement Monday, Adams apologized to the teen for making him lie about the relationship. He also apologized to colleagues and voters.

The young man, now 21, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Portland sure sounds like a typical American city to me ha ha. What is it with politicians and their zippers? Oh yes, Norman O. Brown told us: politics is pissing in public. Have to unzip to do that and, well, since we're unzipped anyway ...

The day begins

An extraordinary day, no doubt about it. I need to get more sleep somewhere along the way ... teach this evening. Crowds already big in D.C. at 6:30 a.m. there.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Brats On The Mountain

This was a kids' film, my first job in Portland in late 70s. I remember it as terrible. Heard from one of the kids, now an adult of course, wanting a copy. I found a VHS, got it digitized, made her a DVD ... and it's not as bad as I recall. I'll get it online and report here. I was rewriter, gofer, asst director and chauffeur.


I sure get tired more quickly than I used to. Ah, aging. Close to the point where an afternoon nap will be required. Consequently, I'm still behind on stuff, with lots to do, and almost out of steam. And no creative work done today, just required grunt work.

Better late than never

An extraordinary moment in American history. Really. But my emotions are complex because there are so many ghosts and fears from the 1960s circling me. I look into the hopeful young faces of those who did not experience the 60s, and I remember my own idealism and optimism at the time, that progressive change was coming like a tsunami of hope. And then one by one, the assassinations began ... If ever history did not repeat itself, I hope this is the time.


Picked up and mailed the mocku DVDs! This afternoon, need to catch up with school stuff, a script to read, a couple letters to write.

Greetings from Bali

Email from my friend who took early retirement to live with one of her sons in Bali, quite an adventure! Photos: where they live, and a sunset; and posing with 2 of her 3 sons, her host on the left, another visiting in the middle, she on the right.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

An extraordinary transition

Pete Seeger Restores "This Land is Your Land"
by greendem

Sun Jan 18, 2009 at 01:52:28 PM PST

The "subversive" verses from Woody Guthrie's This Land is Your Land were sung by the American people today on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

One of our great national anthems has been restored.

(An subtle protest by Pete Seeger, an octogenarian hero of the social justice movement, against conservative powers who want to keep American workers ignorant of their own history.)

Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen restored the song to its former glory, not the sanitized version so many of us learned at public school and summer camp.

I have the feeling Pete said, "Sure, I'll come sing This Land is Your Land, but only if you let us do the original version which was both patriotic and a call for economic justice."

Here are the original verses added back into the song today.

Thanks, Pete!

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.


When I was touring my Guthrie tribute in the 1980s, I'd always meet folks who had no idea there were "subversive" verses to the song.

Not a bad day

Got a lot of screenwriting done today but nothing on the novel, which is supposed to be front burner. I'll try and go there first thing in the morning.

Mixed feelings during the Arizona-Philly playoff game. I'd root for Arizona in a flash -- underdog, west coast -- but all my relatives in N.J. were rooting for Philly, and I felt a twitch of family loyalty. I could've lived with either winning and am not disappointed Arizona goes to the Super Bowl. I don't like either of the other teams but would prefer Baltimore as an opponent for Arizona, rooting for A. to win.

Windy and chilly out, lots of power off, stoplights not working. Trees blown over. A mess. We've been lucky thus far. Hope luck continues.


Venus is spectacular in the evening sky (southwest) now, about as bright as you'll ever see it. It dances with the crescent moon at the end of the month, which should be beautiful to see.

29 Venus, the brilliant "evening star," stands to the upper left of the crescent Moon at nightfall. They will move closer together as they drop toward the western horizon.

30 Venus is below the Moon this evening.

Two new screenplays

Working on two new screenplays: the older, 56 pages in; the newer, 15 pages in (as of my writing this morning), just finished act one. Suspense drama and a thriller. After these, I think I'll do something very low budget based on one of my plays.

Time for breakfast.


Two playoff games to watch today. Will also work on new scripts and novel, I hope. Maybe on the AlphaSmart as I watch the games. Multi-tasking.

Pick up DVDs Monday morning. Meet with actor soon thereafter, deliver his DVDs and see how I can help him with making a DVD of his band.

Feeling mellow. Not a nervous wreck regarding film deal at all, as I certainly was in similar situations when younger. This is a great side of aging: you care less about all this business and success stuff. You feel blessed just to still be doing your work. You don't need anyone to tell you what is good or bad.

In this sense, what a great time of life! The self-reliance of old age.

The best has already happened

Man, what huge differences between my younger and older writer selves! If this deal falls through, as I've had deals fall through in the past, I think I'll be fine because in my view the best has already happened: a seasoned, experienced producer has responded so positively to the script that he wants to direct it. Of course, I want this to happen, and I'll completely welcome the money, but if it doesn't, I won't go into depression like my younger self did after "done deals" fell through, wallowing in self-destructive behavior. The best has happened already, which is to say, my faith in the quality of the script has been justified. Already. The offer speaks to the quality. You don't choose a questionable script with which to make your directorial debut in a field in which you're already known as a successful producer. THE BRAZEN WING is a good script.

But I already knew that. Even if no one else did. But now someone with fine credentials agrees with me, and this is a real high, good strokes.

I feel like when Harold Prince wrote to tell me my play about Moliere was "first rate work." Admiration by giants in your field is very satisfying. (Then Prince added he was too busy with a new project, Phantom of the Opera, to do my play, which had been recommended to him by a NY actress/friend who had seen it. She had gotten a script and sent it to him with a note, "you should do this." Networking is everything.)

Of course, in this case even better strokes would be a nice bank deposit. We'll see.

Notice I've mentioned fortune more than fame. When Yeats was told he'd won the Nobel, his first words were, "How much?"

A few recent things I've seen

Been too busy to see many films lately. Here are a few:
  • MILK. Blown away by Sean Penn's performance, which I like better than the film itself. An okay film, expected more.
  • RECOUNT. Disappointed. Expected more. Amazed Laura Dern got an award, her part is so small.
  • BENJAMIN BOTTOM. Disappointed. Good performances but felt too gimmicky to me. Not much to do with the Fitzgerald story, which is typical and not a criticism. Reminded wife of FOREST GUMP, and I agree. Same sentimentality.
  • SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. First rate Hollywood-style action romance set in India, engrossing, then immediately forgettable. Proves the cliche: to make a Hollywood hit, use a tried-and-true formula in a tried-and-true genre and wrap it in an exotic, new package. For the first 15 minutes or so, I thought I'd really like this, a tough-minded dark comedy about the slums in India, but it quickly became a formula action romance love story, the usual boy-girl-overcoming incredible obstacles stuff, totally predictable, pure Hollywood. Very well done. But the only thing I took out of the theater with me was a bit of jealousy, Why didn't I think of this highly commercial idea? It always works. Always. My wife loved this sucker. She even thinks it has nothing to do with a Hollywood movie, which tells you how well it was done. It's actually formula all the way, except for the first 15 minutes or so. The magic here disguises the formula, and that magic is called Location, Location, Location.
  • EDVARD MUNCH. Peter Watkins' 4-hour biopic epic. Amazing. Brilliant. Seen this many times over last 30+ years, gets better with each viewing. Still brooding about it, after all these years, all these viewings. A masterpiece.

Eager to see REVOLUTIONARY ROAD. Maybe soon.

The American Dream, then and now

"If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers, and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others. Neither to serve nor to rule: That was the American dream."

--Edward Abbey

We've lost self-reliance. We're close to losing the parameters for contemplation, or mental self-reliance. The cultural engine is driven by consumer sheep.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Congratulations to ...

Julie Mae Madsen, Oregon Literary Review's film & video editor, who just received her MFA from Pacific University. She's now a card-carrying Muther Fuckin' Artist, baby!

New splay

Finally rewrote the first 50 of a new screenplay long in progress, rekindling my interest and energy, cranking it up, putting down notes for last half. Progress.

Feeling optimistic

I don't know why, but I have a gut feeling this film deal is going to happen. I have no evidence to support this. It's just a feeling. We'll find out soon enough.

Directors and writers

It's instructive how much my attitude about the relationship between film directors and screenwriters has changed since I began directing videos. In two areas especially I've done a complete about face:
  • The WGA and many screenwriters hate the "a film by" attribution generally given to a director at the start of a film. They wrote the script, is the argument, not the director. I used to side with screenwriters on this issue, totally. However, since I've put some director's hours under my belt, even if mostly with my own scripts, I'm now on the director's side of this issue. The final product depends too much on incidental, accidental and spontaneous decisions through the long process of filming, all made by the director, for the writer to retain first claim on the material. The final product may or may not resemble the script. What happens is decided by the director. Hence, a film by the director.
  • As a director, I can see why it's advantageous not to have the writer around. There are too many balls in the air at once already without having to worry about the writer second-guessing your decisions. I think there comes a time in the process when the director has to ban the writer from the set just to keep sane.

I've read other screenwriters who have changed similarly after they began directing. Now I understand why.

Incidentally, this means I can be more flexible when working with a director as a writer, better understanding why the director has to be in charge. I hope I have the chance to experience this with the producer making the current offer.

Guarded optimism

An email from my agent this morning gives me guarded optimism that the deal may happen. He talked to his boss, the head of the agency, and our demands will not be as high or rigid as I suspected because the economy and market both suck at the moment, and because the producer has such stellar credits (MGM, Lionsgate, Cinemax, HBO), it heightens the opportunity -- so I think there will be an effort to reach an agreement on our end, so now it's up to how stubborn and fixed the producer may be in his interpretation of the deal. But yesterday I would have given this maybe a 25% chance of happening. Today it's up to 50-50, which excites me, because I have increasing good feelings about the producer and his energy. Will be an interesting week.

The upcoming offer

Heard from producer, he's putting offer in writing to my agent. I can predict what comes next: agent wants more money upfront for me than he's offering. So they negotiate and either agree or not. Also, interesting and typical subtext: producer says he's eager to settle this so we (he and I) can "talk about the script." In other words, what changes he wants to make. And he typically won't get into the details of this until there is a done deal.

A few years back, after I signed a deal, the producer for the first time revealed that he wanted to cut the age of the protagonist in half, which undermined the story. You never know what is going on until they get control.

So I'm not as excited about this as I would be if younger with less experience in the LaLaLand Dance. But it is a genuine opportunity and, in fact, I hope it happens. But I see the handwriting on the wall: I predict the money issue finds them pretty far apart. We'll see. And we'll see how badly the producer really wants this script.

Of course, I hope there's a deal and mostly on my agent's terms. But ... I've been here before. Hollywood is the land where Yes means No.

Friday, January 16, 2009


My agent wants to see the guy's offer in writing, so the negotiations have begun. I need to get all this out of my mind and get back to work. I hate the business aspects of art. (Which is why it's nice to have an agent!)


I had a productive morning, thank the gods, because the possibility of working with this producer/director -- and on my favorite screenplay, THE BRAZEN WING -- has become a distraction to working. Before getting this offer, I rewrote the first short I plan to make and caught up on other things. If my agent doesn't like this deal, I may have to argue with him. I like this guy. I like his background and credits, I like his vision (because it's also mine ha ha), I like his good taste in searching for a script and selecting my best ha ha (he found the script at InkTip, a great site for what I call "passive marketing"). He also suggested future script doctor work if we build a relationship. This might be a good opportunity. Waiting, waiting, to hear from my agent ...

This producer/director ...

...has a hell of a resume and track record. I'm very inclined to accept his offer. Eager to get feedback from my agent.

The discussion ...

... mentioned below is getting very interesting. This guy has the same vision that led me to found Small Screen Video. We're on the same page on several film/video storytelling issues. I like what he's offering. However, there's some risk -- and I don't want to do anything without consulting my agent. So I'm waiting to hear from the latter.

Step one ... ?

Email from a producer/director interested in The Brazen Wing, dialog begins about specifics and, of course, getting my agent into the act. Small potatoes but I'm usually receptive to something happening, which beats nothing happening. Who knows where this may or may not go, but a conversation has begun.

Advice to an artist on choosing a wife

Begin cyberpoem.


Printed "crank up" notes for splay in progress, now to tackle rewrite of the first 50 pages. TGIF!


Going to check out Blender, the open source 3D animation software I've been hearing so much about. Might be far beyond me but it would be nice to have this skill to use in my videos. So we'll check it out.


Awoke with a head full of images, thinking about how I'd shoot one of the shorts in the next project. Time to schedule a meeting with actors and writer in February, I think. Getting excited about this first one, which is full of subtle subtext.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A broader audience?

I'm in communication with the fellow who runs the local film and video festival each fall to see if our unusual products have any place there. While not wanting the hassle or stress of "going commercial" in any way, I think our video products are getting good enough to deserve a wider audience than ourselves and our friends and whoever stumbles upon them online. After an initial cordial exchange, we'll see how he responds to the unusual technical parameters within which we work. Very curious.

Old Age

I never expected old age to be
like this. Outliving my closest friends,
all passion unshared except in work,
I'm now a man whose best friend is
a dog.

The fantasy was this:
a warm and sunny climate,
living within walking distance
of the essentials, a library,
a coffee shop, a market

my wife alive and well
our dog alive and well

but new friends, too, met on
daily strolls around the essential
geography of a new life, new friends
for stimulating conversation
and a new audience for old stories.

But there's no one to talk to.

Instead I eavesdrop on the conversations
of fictional characters who say so many
things I wish I could say myself
to Dick, to Ger,
the friends long gone,
who would reply in conversation
and not give me the curious stare
of a dog who must wonder why I say
so many things that aren't
in a dog's vocabulary.

--Charles Deemer

R.I.P.: W. D. Snodgrass

W.D. Snodgrass, 83, a Poet of Intensely Autobiographical Themes, Is Dead

Published: January 15, 2009
W. D. Snodgrass, who found the stuff of poetry in the raw material of his emotional life and from it helped forge a bold, self-analytical poetic style in postwar America, winning a Pulitzer Prize for his debut book, died on Tuesday at his home in Erieville, N.Y., in rural Madison County. He was 83.


New screenplay

Very quickly wrote the first nine pages of a new screenplay this morning, one I have structured pretty tightly so it progressed easily. I'm sure I'll have the usual second act challenges later.

Also brooding about how to crank up the one in greater progress. Almost always, the first reaction to a new screenplay from my agent is, "Crank it up!" Gives away my background as a playwright, I think, more naturally given to small dramatic character stories than Big Larger Than Life stories, which are what sell more easily (and which, therefore, my agent wants). But I'm having fun with the challenge. Truly so. I do more serious work in other formats.

Done early ...

... with student work. Better than average batch of first assignments, suggesting a good class ahead. Love good classes. Love good screenwriters.

Time before heading out to do some work of my own. Finally going to tackle a rewrite of the first 50 pages of my splay in progress and start the new one. A screenwriting day all the way.

A day for students

A full day of teaching, first look at initial story concepts and development track decisions, then in class a full session of discussing dramatic structure. Should be a good day, setting up a good weekend of returning to my prose and script projects, with continued video brooding in the background. Moreover, the weather is supposed to be reasonably nice, so I can take breaks with necessary outside chores. I hope I can fit in seeing Revolutionary Road somewhere, eager to see this, even as I expect disappointment. Films of favorite novels usually disappoint.

In my brooding about a video based on "The Moon In Its Flight," I'm thinking not so much of an adaptation as an appreciation, a narrated appreciation, using some of the Watkins techniques I've been brooding about. This "break from video" is good because it's giving me time to consider new approaches and directions.

All in all, I'm in a good space right now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I'm more tired than I realized. Time for mindless TV and a quick exit to bed.

Post-project blahs ...

... are hanging on a bit too long today. Glad I had a ton of mindless errands and chores to do or the day would have been a total waste. Early tomorrow morning I must put on the professorial cap and give my students my full attention. Friday, with luck, the blahs will be gone and I can begin a productive long weekend of writing.

Work hangin' in like Gunga Din

Any writer who has written as steadily and as long as I have will end up with a large body of work. Most of it comes and goes -- a year down the road, it's forgotten. But some work lingers, and when you go back to it, you're proud to own up to it. These titles are in this category. Half a century of writing, a "keeper" every six years or something ha ha. Not bad at all.

Dark Mission

Just got a request for info from a book dealer in Cambridge, MA. A customer is trying to get the vocal score to John Nugent's opera (I wrote the libretto). We published it at Lulu, so I passed along the info. Here's what's interesting: how did the customer find out about the opera? Not at the website, unless s/he is unobservant, because the info for getting the score is there. Apparently the person knows about the opera from some other source and so wants the score. Good news, as far as it goes, and better news if something comes from it. The opera is long overdue for a production.

More info.


The batch I made the other day is probably my best yet without using a meat grinder (when I can start with pork bones and make a day of it). Now to get some repetitive quality control.


A ton of errands took a ton of time, much longer than I thought, and I come home to realize I forgot some. Oh, well. The old van passed DEQ, and new plate stickers are more expensive than ever. Have the DVD master at Columbia for copies. Have the proof of a boxed DVD from Create Space (Amazon) ordered. Moving right along. But I haven't looked at my students' work yet, which may not happen until early tomorrow morning. Right now, pooped big time.

But a new video idea while running errands: something based on my favorite short story, Gilbert Sorrentino's "The Moon In Its Flight." This, in fact, might lend itself to the layered, image-driven strategy of Peter Watkins, which I am dying to try. As if I didn't have plenty to do ha ha.

Text to speech

Man, this technology sure has improved since the last time I checked it out, maybe a couple years ago! I'm thinking of video applications for it -- having a narrator in Chinese, for example ha ha. Or a nice robotic character. Has me thinking.


Some necessary non-writerly chores to do today, maybe a couple hours worth. But expect to get work done as well.

Still brooding about Watkins' narrative style and how I might apply it.

More feedback

Great mocku feedback from an ex-student, who pointed out some "thematic" things that, in truth, were unconscious or coincidental. She thinks I knew what I was doing ha ha. She told me where she laughed, which is always good to know.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thinking about video

I can't get away from it. Beginning my break from video, I find myself thinking about how to use the unusual, image-driven, layered, non-linear film narrative style of Peter Watkins (especially in EDVARD MUNCH) in my own work. I think I'll try it out with one of John's shorts down the road, something small enough to handle.

Many of my students were blown away by CITIZEN RUTH. As well they should be if they'd never seen it before.

Good energy this week. Wonderful positive if slightly and minimally qualified review by one of our mocku actors ... 3-1 favorable thus far, from the cast.

Hopefully time for my writing projects tomorrow, even if I do just a page or several. During office hours I made a sequence outline for the new splay idea.

Office hours

I don't know what happened to my student. No show at 3 appointment.

The sun, the sun!

Been a while, or feels so. Email from an LA friend tells me it's 80 degrees down there! I heard this during the Golden Globes but thought it was a joke.

Time to head out to park and ride and catch my bus to the university.

I've been watching the 4-hour Peter Watkins' epic biopic Edvard Munch in snippets and marveling, as the last time I watched it, what a work of genius it is. More about this later.

Free software, today only

Pretty good software today at Giveaway of the Day, PDFZilla converts to .doc and other formats you can edit. Useful if you don't have a pdf editor. Must grab it today, however!

A positive comment ...

... on the mocku, from someone who isn't afraid to be critical. Nice to get, of course. But in the end, I live with my own assessment, and I made a couple of mistakes, though not the ones the actor accuses me of. At the same time, so far few have noticed them, so they might be "inside" things most don't catch. I'm too close to assess the pacing, which is what worries me most. On the positive side, it shows we can do a long project and therefore a feature. I do look forward to developing the concept I have in mind. In February, I expect, I'll be ready to tackle the shorts. At least they are small things to take on one at a time.

New rhythm

Time to create a new rhythm, a break from video. Focusing primarily on the Cold War novel but also catching up on some screenplay projects, one at midpoint, a new idea that excites me.

Today, first things first, is a school day, and I have some chores to do in preparation for class. Class itself is a breeze today, we watch Citizen Ruth. But I still have administrative chores to do.

In my usual post-project mild depression, cranked up a bit this time because I lost the trust of one of my better actors. It happens. But once it happens, you never get back to where you were before. You still can have a working relationship but it's never the same. We won't regard one another the same. We won't work together the same. Fact of life.

(I mentioned to another actor the performance in question, and he thought it was one of the best in the piece, shocked in fact that the actor was unhappy with the way I shot him/her. I'm puzzled myself. But there it is.)

I'm looking forward to a spell of non-collaborative, solitary work. I disagree with myself enough to need others to disagree with me ha ha.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Quotation of the day

Marriage is like a cage; one sees the birds outside desperate to get in, and those inside desperate to get out.

- Montaigne

Karaoke Tonite!

A break from video

Originally I planned to go from the mocku right into the next video project but I'm taking the rest of January, and maybe more, off from video for several reasons. I want to focus on the novel and an old and new screenplay. I want to jump start the summer script. Also, not insignificantly, the usual "postpartum" crash is harder than usual since one of the actors is pretty upset at the end product, for both technical and aesthetic reasons, both of which I disagree with. I've heard from only one other in the cast, who loves it, so it's 1-1 in that category.

At any rate, novel writing is solitary, not collaborative, and I'm reminded of certain advantages in this. And we all worked hard on the mocku (those with the time to), and one actor suggested we all need a break.

Time to immerse myself into the world of the novel without video distractions.