Monday, November 30, 2009

Russian gypsy music

Here are several versions of my favorite Russian gypsy song, Dve Gitari, which I used to sing myself and which Theodore Bikel sings better than anyone.


Got work done on two writing projects today. Still have a few student scripts to look at. Tomorrow morning.

Stranger than fiction

More hilarity from Palin.

Perhaps the most embarrassing gaffe so far is her mis-attributed quote to UCLA basketball legend John Wooden. As the epigram to Chapter Three, "Drill, Baby, Drill," Palin assigns the following remarks to the Hall of Fame hoops coach:

Our land is everything to us... I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it--with their lives.

Only the quote wasn't by John Wooden. It was written by a Native American activist named John Wooden Legs in an essay entitled "Back on the War Ponies," which appeared in a left-wing anthology, We Are the People: Voices from the Other Side of American History, edited by Nathaniel May, Clint Willis, and James W. Loewen.


Quotation of the day

“I’m very fucking grateful to be alive. I have so many friends who are sick or gone, and I’m here. Are you kidding? No complaints!”

--Meryl Streep

A profound accomplishment

It's been 40 years or more since I've read James Jones' novel From Here To Eternity. And although I am only 40 pages into a 850 page novel, I am completely blown away and reminded what a first rate storyteller Jones is. What drives this story are its characters and their dialog. Prewitt and Warden, the two male characters introduced first, are people I want to know more about, especially the overly sensitive Prewitt. This is a page turner, even at its length, and sings with the truth of human experience. The film has long been on my short list of favorites but I'd forgotten what an achievement, and a superior achievement, the novel is. Jones is not a great writer so much as a capable one but he is a great storyteller, and except in the more elitist academic circles, this matters more. Man, am I going to enjoy the rest of this book!

Tyger, tyger burning bright

It's sad to watch Tiger Woods making his car crash situation worse by his own refusal to make a statement to police. I suspect what happened is the only thing that really makes sense to me to explain why he is peeling away from home at 230 in the morning: a fight with the wife. Whatever happened, Woods' choice to be silent only fuels more and meaner rumors. He should have put this to rest with the truth from the start.

The title. from a Blake poem, reminds me of a passage in my recent novella, Baumholder 1961.

“Tiger, tiger, burning bright,” Sullivan would begin, his blonde hair short but long enough to comb, which really meant long enough to look uncombed because Sullivan always had the shaggy look of an absent-minded professor, and as he began the poem, his hand would sweep the hair from his forehead in a theatrical gesture, “in the forests of the night, what immortal hand or eye, could frame thy fearful symmetry?” Here Sullivan would look positively baffled by the question, as if it had cosmic significance. “What the hammer?” he asked next. “What the chain? In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil?” – and at this precise moment Sullivan would scrunch his ruddy face into an expression of speechless horror and bewilderment, as if the questions were too great for the contemplation of mere mortals, hanging in the air like painful reminders of human ignorance and insignificance – and after holding the moment for all it was worth, and perhaps making yet another theatrical sweep of his hand to brush hair from his forehead, Sullivan would shout with an exuberance that never failed to set the first-time listener aback, “What the fuck!? WHAT THE FUCK!?”

This is one of many moments in the story based on fact. An Army buddy did this very recital when he got drunk. It was spectacular.

Palin's book

From a reader who gave it a chance:

You can live in a rational world and ask rational questions, but you soon realize you're dealing with a disturbed individual who shouldn't be allowed custody of a child let alone a nation. I've tried to make sense of this book. It cannot be done. It's a tissue of lies, truths, half-truths, fantasies, grievances, and hilarious references to Plato and Aristotle. It's a joke, as she is. And yet this joke is, to my mind, the likeliest Republican nominee for president in 2012. And one of the most common reasons people cite for supporting her is her honesty.

Think of what that says about America in 2010.

Read more.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

3D Picasso

Bowl of the soup of the wife of Kit Carson

Here's a holiday leftovers dish I used to make all the time and haven't in decades. Turkey soul with garbanzo beans, avocado and melted jack cheese. Yum!


For maybe twenty years I've been brooding about a modern adaptation of a classic holiday story with a point of view that struck me as very commercial and modern. However, there were plot points beyond my ability to adapt them, which meant dropping them, which ruined the essence of the piece, or keep trying to solve the problem. And so I did without success for some twenty years.

A moment ago, as I was thinking about this again for the simple reason it's a holiday story, the solution suddenly appeared in my head. I mean, it is perfect! It is modern and believable, which has been the challenge, and, man, I can't wait to develop this now, just for the satisfaction of it. I mean, I am astounded what a tidy and perfect solution this is, which appeared in my head without preface after twenty years of brooding without progress. The mind is an amazing tool.

Crunch time

Keeping on top of it. Last week of school, relatively easy for me but then the grading that counts begins, the busiest time of the year. But a month off until winter term, a nice break.

Eager to get into the rhythm of the novel. Moreso than the splay, actually, it's more serious material. The older I get, the less patience I have with "commercial" writing. I've already done too much commercial writing for one lifetime. Better, at this stage, to be serious and unread. Try to write something that actually matters. Now and again I succeed, at least by my lights.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The end of western civilization

The Just Made Love website and database.

2 book trailers

Big budget...

No budget...


It's become almost common knowledge that the best part of Thanksgiving are the leftovers. My lunch proves it: turkey-dressing-cranberrysauce sandwich and sweet potato-pecan pie.

Read papers this morning, still more to do. Two were so good I am not requiring a rewrite for final submission. Love it when students perform this well.

Rivalry week in football. The biggie here is Thursday. Today I'm most interested in UCLA-USC tonight. And coming up, the granddaddy rivalry, Army-Navy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A playwright's disappointment

Playwright Christopher Durang has posted about his disappointment in Obama.

I guess I miss the oomph that LBJ had both in civil rights and in getting Medicare/Medicaid passed into law. Then he let his mistakes in fighting in Vietnam sink him.

Obama is cool and charming. But oomph? Seemingly not. Hip and appealing. Yes, but can he do aggressive arm twisting to get something passed? Can he bring some power and aggressiveness to explaining things the country needs, to get people on board?" Not so much. So far.

And if Obama isn't the one to change things in a major way for the better -- health care, environment, people's rights -- who is?

I am a disappointed idealist.

Read the story

As I've said less eloquently here many times. Obama may be too nice to be president.

Mr. Holland's Opus

Hollywood is in the emotion delivery business. Mr. Holland's Opus, which I caught on cable this afternoon, the 4th or 5th time I've seen it, is a case in point. This is not a great film but a good one that delivers what it promises. Three themes are at work here, in order of their resolution: the struggle of an artist forced to teach to make a living and be father to a deaf son; the older teacher and frustrated artist tempted to begin again by the admiration of a talented and beautiful young student; the teacher/artist at the end of his career, fired due to budget cuts, wondering if his life has been a failure. Richard Dreyfus is perfect in the lead role. The narrative develops with the focus and efficiency that marks the well-made Hollywood film. The emotional delivery is successful. I always enjoy watching it.

I Love My Ducks

For puzzling reasons that clearly are generational, this video has become a super hit on the net and controversial to boot because the university doesn't want it using the Oregon Duck, which is leased from but owned by Walt Disney. Now while old farts may think this is much ado about little, well, it appears to be a Big Issue on campus as the Ducks prepare for the Great Civil War Battle on Thursday.

Portland clobbers UCLA, 74-47

The University of Portland hit the national sports scene on the backs of the women's soccer team. Now the men's basketball team wants some of the action. Their game last night again UCLA in the Bruins' backyard was no contest. An impressive achievement for the Pilots!


Take the dog to the vet this morning and hopefully get a clean bill of health.

I can't recall a Thanksgiving on which I ate so little. Another symptom of aging, I assume. I ate what I wanted but it was a fraction of what I've put down in the past.

The holiday was small but good.

Papers to read today and through the weekend. I'll do a few each day so it doesn't feel like a burden.

Brooding about the writing I haven't done lately. In the end, I suspect there is only brooding.

Everyone in Oregon is getting cranked up for the Biggest Civil War Game Ever, the winner going to the Rose Bowl. I have my last class but will tape it and see most of it live. I'd like to see it go to overtime. No blowouts, like last year.

I get almost a month off this break, the big one. Obviously I plan to do a lot of writing, maybe finish a draft of the splay and great progress on the novel.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Never before in 108 years

TEHRAN, Iran – Iranian authorities have confiscated Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi's medal, the human rights lawyer said Thursday, in a sign of the increasingly drastic steps Tehran is taking against any dissent.

In Norway, where the peace prize is awarded, the government said the confiscation of the gold medal was a shocking first in the history of the 108-year-old prize.

Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts in promoting democracy. She has long faced harassment from Iranian authorities for her activities — including threats against her relatives and a raid on her office last year in which files were confiscated.

The seizure of her prize is an expression of the Iranian government's harsh approach to anyone it considers an opponent — particularly since the massive street protests triggered by hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed June 12 re-election.

Read the story

Military families

Deployment Diary: Military Wives Celebrate Thanksgiving in October

And birthdays and holidays and everything else.
Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 9:10am By Alison Buckholtz

I remember the year we celebrated Thanksgiving on a Sunday evening in October. It was the fall of 2007, the night before my husband, Scott, left for his seven-month deployment on an aircraft carrier. Other military wives, far more seasoned than I, gave me the idea to whip up one giant festive dinner to mark all of the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones that my husband would miss while his squadron was in the Persian Gulf. It was a long list: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Ethan’s fifth birthday, Estee’s third birthday, and our wedding anniversary, to list just a few.

Read the story

Having been a Navy brat, with childhood memories of the fleet coming in with my dad, I appreciate the sacrifices made by military families. They don't get enough clear and apolitical support from ideologues of all stripes.

Noise pollution

A neighbor has decided that this holiday morning is a great time to clear his very small yard of leaves with the loudest goddamn blower in the universe. If he'd asked, I would have hand-raked it in about ten minutes. It took him half an hour to blow the leaves around and wake up the gods.

One doesn't have to be thankful for EVERYTHING on this day.

Remembering our fathers

My late soul brother Dick and I had the same experience with our fathers. I remember it when I'm feeling sorry for myself because all my closest friends have passed.

Each of us had our father take us aside and tell us how lucky we were to have such a close friend. The subtext was that neither of them had found friendship as close as we experienced. This surprised me because my father had a ton of friends and was much more gregarious than I am. But there are friends/acquaintances and there are very close friends.

So, yes, it's lonely to have outlived all my closest friends but, by the gods, how fortunate to have had them in the first place! Something else to be thankful for.

My Acer netbook

Now that I've spent some time with this, I can say I like it even better than my EEE Asus netbook, which I loved. I love its full-sized keyboard but mostly its Windows interface (by the gods I hate admitting this!) so I can load all my tools of the trade, like video editing software, etc, and the netbook now has become a fully portable office on which I can do 90% of what I do in my actual office. I've had no problems at all, knock on my wooden head, and the battery life is fine for my uses at present, though I might get a larger battery for road trips. I get 3 hrs now. And catching a sale to buy it, I must say it's a great value for $250.

Yes, we now have 5 computers in the house! 2 netbooks, 1 in H's office, 2 in my office.

Happy thanksgiving

Voltaire's advice at the end of Candide, his vicious satire of extreme optimism ("this is the best of all possible worlds"), is to hunker down and tend your own garden. More than one Zen master has suggested the same thing. Thanksgiving is the holiday when we traditionally give thanks for our personal and broader benefits, which is not a bad thing to do more often than once a year.

Our Thanksgiving will be small but nice. Nothing like the epicurean orgies of my youth ha ha but I doubt if I could survive those days. For a decade, from the late 60s to the late 70s, about half a dozen couples gathered on this holiday to celebrate friendship more than family, and I cherish those times. This continued even after some of us left L.A. The most memorable of the series for me was in San Jose, hosted by my soul brother Dick and his wife, we came down from Eugene, the rest came up from L.A., a motley group of close friends, white, black, Chinese, Hispanic, our own boisterous United Nations showing we all can get together and play music and eat and drink too much, a good time always had by all and a fat book of stories to remember as old farts like now.

So with this history, and having survived it, it isn't bad at all to sit back and have a small quiet turkeytime. H is doing this for her grandson, H with the largest heart I've ever seen. I'll help out as instructed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Quotation of the day

Thanks to A.S.

"The devil is no fool. He can get people feeling about heaven the way they ought to feel about hell. He can make them fear the means of grace the way they do not fear sin. And he does so not by light but by obscurity, not by realities but by shadows, not by clarity and substance but by dreams and the creatures of psychosis. And men are so poor in intellect that a few cold chills down their spine will be enough to keep them from ever finding out the truth about anything,"

- Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain.

The fragile arts

Salem Repertory Theatre to cease operations on Dec. 20
By Kristi Turnquist, The Oregonian
November 25, 2009, 4:43PM

In a press release today, the Salem Repertory Theatre announced it will close on Dec. 20, after the conclusion of its holiday production, "A Christmas Memory." The troupe is the only professional theater company in Salem, and is closing due to lack of funds.


Nature wins

Most likely the move to checkmate will happen as politicians are arguing this, that or the other, but doing nothing; and scientists are mostly united but ignored or dismissed; and a good many folks celebrate what they believe to be a Second Coming, but what I believe is a psychotic death wish; and all the while wonderful wise old Mother Nature ignores it all and does her law-abiding, predictable, inevitable thing. Mother Nature doesn't miss the dinosaurs, and she won't miss us either.

As the world turns

By Scott Learn, The Oregonian
November 25, 2009, 8:30AM

A group of climate scientists released "The Copenhagen Diagnosis" on Tuesday, saying that global ice-sheets are melting at an increased rate, Arctic sea ice is disappearing much faster than recently projected, and future sea-level rise is now expected to be much higher than forecast.

Read the story

Palin's m.o.

Here's what makes Palin dangerous and not just a joke: yesterday she criticized Obama for not appreciating the sacrifices made by our troops. I can't recall a president who has demonstrated more concern for the welfare of our troops and families! He shows up when caskets arrive, he goes unannounced to cemeteries to be with those who grieve, he goes to military bases to talk and thank the troops. He is far, far more visible in his support than Bush, Clinton, any president in recent memory ever was. Heartfelt support, not photo ops.

So Palin tells a blatant lie but by presenting it nonchalantly as truth probably convinces those who haven't been paying attention, when in fact the direct opposite is true. This makes her dangerous.

But maybe not. Deepak Chopra thinks not.

Fear of Palin is ill-advised on two counts. First, fear is what the shadow wants. Without it, the shadow has no power. Second, the left needs to learn how to win graciously. The current upheaval in American society, which has been an enormous threat on many fronts, called forth a president and a constituency that knows how to handle crisis. The voices of sanity are prevailing. The solutions that have emerged on all fronts -- economic, social, and international -- represent the best in the American character.

Read the story

Actually I hope he's right.

Every day is Thanksgiving

When you reach a certain age, just waking up in the morning is such a blessing that every day is thanksgiving. When there are troubles all around you, your own troubles don't look so bad, which is another reason to give thanks. If you pay attention to Nature, whether storm or sun, you can be overwhelmed with a sense of being blessed. Who is it who said there is more truth in the grass than in the newspaper? Sounds like Thoreau but I'm not sure it was. At any rate, an astute declaration.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's long overdue

...and I'll believe it when it actually happens.

Obama pushes math, science education

Washington (CNN) -- A conversation last week with South Korea's president apparently showed President Obama the stark difference between how Asian nations and the United States value education.

Obama said Monday that the U.S. needs to restore the nation's leadership in educating children in math and science to meet future challenges, and he announced a new Educate to Innovate Campaign.

He told how President Lee Myung-bak explained that demanding parents are South Korea's biggest education problem.

"Even if somebody is dirt poor, they are insisting that their kids are getting the best education," Obama recalled the conversation, sounding almost whimsical in describing Lee's biggest education problem as parents wanting excellent schools for their children.
The goal, Obama said, is "expanding opportunity for all Americans in a world where education is the key to success."

Referring to his conversation with Lee, Obama noted the "hunger for knowledge, an insistence on excellence, a reverence for science and math and technology and learning" in Asia.

"That used to be what we were about," he said. "That's what we're going to be about again."


In 1957 Sputnik went up and thousands of American kids wanted to become rocket scientists to beat the Russians. This was the coolest thing a kid could do. It was sexy to be a future scientist. Sigh.

Another anthology

I'll have a piece in an anthology about screenwriting coming out in fall, 2010, I just learned. My piece is called one of my mantras: "Don't Put Your Foot In Your Mouth." Which almost all beginning screenwriters do.

The Stiff

I love this early (1975) one-act dark farce of mine, about (it seems at first) a corpse with an erection. So I was excited to discover that someone did a search for it (ending up here at my blog, is how I know), and this someone is in Indonesia. It's a play in the Euro style, not American, to be sure. Has one of my favorite curtain lines: "What the people expect, they deserve. What they deserve, they get. Always."


Hadn't thought of this one in a long time. It's a play with balls (as well as erections).

But the question is: how in hell did someone in Indonesia find out about this? Might my friend in Bali have something to do with this? (making the question, how did SHE find out about it?) Mysteries never to be solved but to be enjoyed nonetheless. The writing life.


Feel like I'm coming down with something. Need to be careful for the rest of the day. At office hrs and do intend to hold class in 90 mins.


I can't think of a more dangerous and difficult job in today's culture than being a policeman or woman. Not only violence in the culture makes the job so difficult but our present fashion of victimization, where no one takes responsibility and it's always someone else's fault, including the police's.

This said, the police in this city have done some regrettable things. There was a period when I was beginning to think they were trigger-happy. Everyone time I turned around, it seemed, a policeman had shot someone. Now I have no qualms about a policeman shooting at someone who shoots at him or her first. But this was not always the case. Police, as difficult as their job is, must be held to high civilian standards.

The latest and current controversy has a policeman relieved of duty for shooting a 12-year-old girl in the leg with a bean bag. Why? Because she was resisting arrest and punching out a fellow policeman. Well, moms and dads, in this instance I side with the police. A bean bag is not a bullet. And if you don't want your kid shot with a bean bag to get her under control, then teach the angel not to try and punch out her arresting officer. Teach her some manners and respect for law and order.

Of course, not many lefties like myself take this stance since this is yet another knee-jerk issue where liberals go one way and conservatives another. But sometimes the police actually are right. And in this case, I think they are.

One movement among police has them turning in the bean bags and going back to bullets. Funny, in a dark humor Kafka sort of way.

One woman's view of Palin

Sarah Palin is the peppy cheerleader in high school all the boys thought was so sweet but the girls knew was really a vicious shrew. She's the new girl in the office who wears tight shirts and three-inch heels, is super-friendly to her male superiors, ignores the other women, and gets promoted sooner than her more capable and hard working peers. She's the outgoing PTA mom all of the other women are scared to cross because they will find themselves put on the worst committees. Only a woman knows how to give another woman a sweet smile and at the same time cut her down to size with an artfully crafted "compliment" without male observers having a clue about what just happened. It's like a dog whistle.


I don't think gender defines the Palin constituency so much as anti-intellectualism. This is an old bias, an old story.


I began blogging in January, 2003, so I am coming up on 7 years. I have about 100 visitors a day, which has been steady for some time, dipping to 70 or so, climbing to 120 or so, maybe a quarter of the daily visitors coming back for more than one visit on the same day. These figures sound pretty large to me. Certainly they are more than I expected when I started.

Originally I saw my audience as younger writers curious about "the writing life" and so visiting a writer's blog the way I, as a young writer, read collections of letters to get a sense of the personal day-to-day life of various writers. Now and again I get an email telling me I've succeeded with a young writer in this regard.

I've been at this long enough that I catch myself repeating myself, telling the same old story again. Old men do that a lot.

I sense my relationship to this blog is changing, however. I already have a posthumous blog that serves more as a traditional journal, entries that are private but will become public after I pass (or will if my instructions are followed!). And I've started other blogs with a narrower focus, songs of political satire or raps between two old men. Meanwhile this one stumbles along, a public journal, a public diary, a public record of one writer's "writing life."

I'm not sure what I want to do with it in the future. I don't think I'll abandon it, so something will be going on, but I may be going in a new direction. A few things have come to mind:
  • celebrations and explications of some of my favorite works
  • advertisements for myself, as Mailer would say, excerpts from and pitches for some of my own work
  • writing a new short work here, recording the steps and brooding that goes on in the process
  • carrying on as I have been, doing whatever occurs to me at the time

The new year, of course, is a traditional time to begin a new direction if, in fact, one settles in.

Meanwhile, well, you get the picture. Here it is, right in front of you.

The Vatican Rag

My favorite aunt, Aunt Billie, almost laughed herself into a stroke every time I played this for her. She was a converted Catholic, which raised all the family Protestant eyebrows when it happened and was considered a tragedy because she did it in response to being "condemned to hell" by her sonofabitch father on his death bed. She was, at the time, a Big Band vocalist, of which he did not approve. So Billie converted, tried but failed to become a nun, and settled for giving most of her money to the church for the rest of her life. After her death, we discovered she also was a closet alcoholic -- literally, her tiny apartment absolutely filled with hidden empty liquor bottles. She died because she ran out of room to hide bottles.

But she was great all the same, my favorite aunt, with whom I played sports games and with whom I listened to jazz; even after converting and being condemned, she still loved music, bless her soul, and she went ape when she heard Tom Lehrer and especially thought The Vatican Rag was hilarious, which gave Catholics points in my secular universe. Aunt Billie was wonderful.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Having a small but somewhat special holiday, H's teenage son coming down from Seattle to join us for a day. He's had a troubled past and is in a special program up there. If it works out, he'll be down for Christmas as well.

It's been ages since I've been part of a large, boisterous, celebratory Thanksgiving. When I was much younger, spending it annually with the same group of friends, this for a decade, it was my favorite holiday. Now I sort of coast along for the ride.

Camus and Sisyphus

At the top of this blog is an animation suggesting the myth of Sisyphus. In his essay about this, Camus concludes that Sisyphus is happy, despite not reaching his goal, ever, because "the struggle itself is enough to fill a man's heart" (quoting from memory). This is precisely how I feel about living in the world today (and why I still call myself an existentialist). The struggle itself is enough to fill a man's heart.

Mean spirited and ignorant

It's hard to know how much the culture has changed in the past half century. Media makes so much known very quickly today. Maybe what seems to be change is merely increased visibility. Yet in my gut I think the culture has changed. I think it's more mean spirited and more ignorant than it used to be. I think much of the blame for this is the decline of our educational system and the decline of the family, which in the past valued education more than it seems to in today's broken homes. I also think the quicker pace of life has hurt the culture by undermining the values of silence, contemplation, slowness. We may know more "things" but we are far, far less wise, it seems to me.

The great irony is that it's much of the immigrant population that still embraces the value of education. Science fairs, spelling bees, scholarships and other measures of student achievement are represented by immigrant kids far in excess of their demographics.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Joys of the neighborhood

When we bought our house years ago and began checking out the neighborhood, we were excited to discover a wonderful mom and pop Italian cafe only a mile away. Alas, a few months after we moved in, it was sold and soon became a topless bar, which it remains.

So I was excited to discover some months back another small Italian restaurant opening down the way. We tried it out tonight and it is quite good. Moreover, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Definitely a place to return to.

And the clouds lifted to show off Jupiter and the moon flirting with one another. A nice way to start the evening.


From an army friend, a good reaction for this kind of film. (YouTube files are several entries below.)

I liked your movie, Deconstructing Sally. It really affected me. I've been thinking about it ever since. I'll react to it sometime.

The Ballad of JFK

I wrote this during the week after the assassination. To the tune of Guthrie's "Dust Storm Disaster". Writing it was a gesture of relative sanity at the time.

By Charles Deemer

On November 22nd of 1963
There struck in Dallas, Texas, a great calamity

It shocked our mighty nation and all beneath the sun
When U.S. President Kennedy was downed by a sniper’s gun

It happened on the Dallas streets as he rode in a car
And the streets were lined with people and some had traveled far

Yes, some had come from Waco, and some had come from Kent
And some had come from Fort Worth to see the President

Most of the crowd were happy, they cheered as the car drove by
But some were filled with hatred and held their banners high

One banner read as follows, “We hold you in contempt!
Because of your socialist policies, we hold you in contempt!”

The President ignored them, he let the car drive by
For he knew that they were sick in heart and in the minority

The car continued slowly, “They like you,” the governor’s wife said
When above that crowd of people, three shots rang overhead

The President slumped in his seat, the Governor he fell too
And the wives stared at their husbands in shock of what to do

The car rushed to the hospital and doctors to his side
But one shot had been fatal, and the President he died

They caught Lee Harvey Oswald and charged him with the crime
Of assassinating the President, the calamity of our time

Since Oswald had been to Russia, some said, “We told you so!
We gotta kill off all the Commies cause look what they will do!”

These were the same who held the signs against the President
Though their weapons weren’t as fatal, their hatred was as great

For hatred lurks in hearts that fear the unity of Man
Who fear the ultimate brotherhood of white man, black and tan

The President he knew this, he pledged Universal Law
Was a bullet took our leader, was Hatred was the cause

Bangs and whimpers

I have no idea what, if any, pre-publicity the 25th anniversary showing of JT will get. I sent out all the press releases to everyone, etc. But something considered "an Oregon classic" a quarter century ago may well be meaningless today. Memories are short. Man, are they short! What I hope for is that a few of the folks associated with the original production show up so I can say howdy. I suspect this affair will be a whimper, not a bang, consistent with my overall place in the local firmament since my theatrical funeral in the late 80s. I'm used to it.

I wish H didn't like Portland so much. I'd be gone in a flash. Invisibility works best when ghosts aren't following you around. Retirement heaven to me would be a small town with warm weather (the desert!) where no one knows me, where I can hobble everywhere, and where the library and coffee shops have free wifi. I'd work on my posthumous archive and mind my own damn business.

Civil War

State rivalries are always big in sports, and the end-of-season Oregon-Oregon State football game, "the Civil War," is always a big deal to Oregon sports fans. But this year it's unusually big because the winner goes to Pasadena (my home town) to play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Oregon had to squeak into the possibility with a double-overtime win at Arizona, the only Pac-10 team never to go to Pasadena on New Year's day. I heard the end of the game in the car while driving to the airport to pick up H. Arizona had a ten point lead late in the 4th quarter, so they blew it. But now we get the excitement of a special Civil War, played on a Thursday night, which also is unusual, Eugene the home team, a decided advantage. It's also the last day of class but the game starts after class is over. This will be fun.

H is home, ready to sleep in and wanting "bacon, scrapple and eggs" for breakfast when she rises. Can do.

School chores to attend to today but should also get some writing in. I woke up dreaming about a scene in the novel.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Deconstructing Sally

The YouTube files.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Trying hard to lose

Connecticut hasn't been playing college football long, as these things go, and today's game with Notre Dame on national TV was the biggest audience they've ever had. And they played the Irish tough, though they tried hard to give ND the game.
  • Twice they had touchdowns called back on penalties
  • One drive ended with a short pass intercepted in the end zone
  • They missed a short field goal that would have won the game in regulation

Somehow they hung in there and beat the Irish in double overtime. A very big deal in Connecticut.

And Harvard beat Yale!

Best fight song

Growing up in Southern California, home of the granddaddy Rose Bowl game, I've never been a fan of Michigan or any Big-10 school, which always played a Pac-8 (later 10) school I'd root for, even if it was USC (rival of my favorite UCLA). However, I must admit that when it comes to school fight songs, nothing is as stirring and inspirational as the Michigan fight song, The Victors.

The return

Got a few pages of script written last night. Hope to get the same on the novel done this morning before I begin the great cleanup before H's return late tonight. Still stormy.

Need to make a new batch of scrapple this morning.

Friday, November 20, 2009

At last

H returns tomorrow night, and we'll be happy to have her home. Meanwhile another storm coming in, wind and rain, and I'm bracing for the last two weeks of the term. Maybe I'll get some writing done today, maybe not.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Deja vu all over again etc

What a string of bad calls in a variety of sports lately.

AP –
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer

DUBLIN – Ireland appealed to France and soccer authorities Thursday to replay their World Cup playoff in Paris after an obvious handball by Thierry Henry produced the winning goal.

Ireland's government and opposition leaders united in demands for Wednesday's 1-1 draw in France to be replayed, and the country's soccer federation said it is considering a protest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The best things about retirement

Retirement, or semi-retirement in my case, has many benefits. A more relaxed daily routine and a reduction of stress are the major benefits in my situation. Indeed, looking back, I find it hard to believe I endured as much stress and daily pressure as when I supported myself as a writer. The rub is not writing but hustling. You have to keep getting writing assignments for checks that will arrive months later, keeping ahead of yourself so you can pay your bills on time. So at any given point in time, you might be finishing an article or work, researching or interviewing for several others, waiting for the arrival of a check or checks from previous work, and shaking the bushes for your assignments and income down the road. It gets about as stressful as a body can take. I don't recommend it.

On the flip side and related to this, is the writing life when supported by grants. This life is wonderful! You get paid before the work, not after it, and the only benchmark may be a single deadline for turning something in, though often there are no formal strings attached at all. I feel blessed for living on grants for as many years as I did. I recommend it.

I think of Social Security as a kind of grant. I like it.

A break

Today I get a rare Wednesday break in my teaching rhythm, the proverbial calm before the storm, just a handful of student work to look at, scene workshop the rest of the week and maybe into next week, all of this before they turn in next to last drafts of term projects before the holiday. So I hope to work on both writing projects today.

First, though, it's to the vet with Sketch to make sure my sense of his improvement is shared. Then maybe breakfast out.

A leisurely day, which I can use.

"News" that isn't news

In general, there aren't many newscasters out there whom I admire. I grew up with David Brinkley, Chet Huntley, Walter Cronkite and ilk, men with serious demeanors who earned my respect. Today newscasters are chummy. They seem to want me to like them, not respect them. Moreover, most of the "news" they report on was ignored in years gone by, a celebrity who gets arrested or changes hair style, a nitwit who writes a book. Now and again somebody comes by -- Aaron Brown comes to mind -- who reminds me of the more serious newscaster of the past but they don't last long. CNN canned Brown, for example, for no discernible reason except the most important one, ratings. Apparently most Americans today want chummy newscasters reporting gossip rather than serious newscasters reporting news.

I don't listen to much national news lately. My disappointment in Obama has made the news too painful, too deja vu all over again. I started listening more to sports news and, somewhat to my surprise, have become a fan of Mike and Mike in the Morning, a pair of sportscasters who have found an informative and entertaining formula for the daily sports news.

I hear Brown now is a college professor, teaching media courses. He must have interesting and important things to say to his lucky students.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Baumholder 1961, a novella

Read online free.

Order a paperback.

Three sonnets

I, too, went through a sonnet phase. Many writers do. Here are three that stick.

"A woman needs a man like a fish
needs a bike," she said before she kissed
him on the lips. Wondering what he missed,
he kissed back, which he later wished
he hadn't done because the police just stared
at him as he stammered through the story
that was his version of events, how sorry
he was about the whole thing, more weird
than anything else, there had been no rape
at all, unless his tongue was charged, and she
had started that, this he guaranteed,
he was a gentleman and not an ape.
Q: what in common have King Kong and Tristan?
A: a fish, a bike, an ape . . . Woman and Man.

Imagine, if you will, a body tight
with stress; add a mind pickled with booze;
throw in a heart grown cynical by night,
by day asleep; put in the daily news
to taste; cowardice will keep the blend
alive, no falling soufle here; somewhere
there must be a past, memories of when
the world was right; yes, the mouth can drool
a bit; a tired dick grotesquely hangs
its chicken's neck southward like a fool
(a dick always points northward when it bangs):
all this - and then let enter Special She.
Witness resurrection of the He.

To take my heart, please take my warts as well!
I'm not a perfect man - but still I grow
when most men at my age freeze what they know,
and growth leads where not you or I can tell.
Sometimes I belch! Sometimes I fart and smell!
Sometimes I wake you up before the dawn
and lead you to the kitchen arm-in-arm,
where peanut-buttered pickles ring our bell.

I don't mean all the stuff in marriage vows.
I mean the human truth from A to Z,
and if you find, my dear, that your heart bows
this way - then I'm for you, and you're for me.
What is life without a little fun?
Let me know if you think you're the one.

Sonnets & sanity

I like to revisit William Wordsworth on a regular basis for the great sanity of it.

THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Rare photos of Nabokov

Check them out.

The Green Room

Years ago, in the early days of the net, I hosted a chat room called The Green Room, which became a hangout for a number of screenwriters. Heard from one today, who recommended a new chat room out there called Mingleverse. I'll check it out.

A novel by Terry Simons

I haven't read this yet but I'm a Simons fan and have ordered it.

A war-damaged detective meets evil head-on in a Pacific Coast port community.

It was a stormy, stormy night

Survived the rain and wind storm. Sketch got freaked out and spent the night under the bed but he's fine this morning. A few more students to attend to, then I'm ready for the week. May be able to get some writing in before I head out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Climbing the walls

Have spent a full day with student work, finally seeing stars and going buggy, had to get out of the house. Coffee and wifi with the netbook at the moment. A bit more to do today or maybe tomorrow morning, a second wind in order.

Sketch looking and acting better, chewing bones again, wanting to play tugawar again. To vet on Wed to be sure.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A writer's faith

In a visit to campus some years back, Edward Albee was asked what his best play was. He replied, The one I'm working on now. Otherwise, why write?

Most writers, I think, can relate to and endorse this answer. We strive to get better. We continue to believe we'll get it right in the new work. Salinger has said that a writer's only concern is to aim at some sort of perfection on his own, and only his own, terms.

And so I'm beginning to see the novel-in-progress in this new light, as having the potential to be the best thing I've written. Maybe it's just the faith, or the delusion, that keeps a writer going. What is more rewarding now than earlier in my career is that I don't give a damn what anyone else thinks. I used to. I used to want good reviews, popularity. But along the way I discovered that good press -- and I've had my share, as well as some bad press -- is irrelevant. What really matters is producing work that I can go back to a long time later and say to myself, Wow, did I really write that? And I've had enough of this kind of work to consider myself a success, although in a more popular or critical context, I've become far less visible over the last several decades.

The story I'm working on belongs to the "What's it all about, Alfie?" family of stories, an old man on his last day, with enough twists to keep a reader turning the pages, enough magic to package the heavier stuff in an entertaining way. If I do it right, that is.

I'm excited about both writing projects I'm working on. Onward.

Transitional day

Have to switch hats today, writer to teacher, and start prep for scene workshop in class. Then devote tomorrow to finishing my prep.

Already did some work on the novel this morning.

Sketch wanted to play tug of war this a.m., another sign he's feeling better. Onward.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


A good writing session on the splay, I got to the midpoint twist. The Contour beat sheet is a great security blanket and so far about 80% accurate, which is close enough. I do like the program.

Sketch is conked out on the couch behind me.

Dog caregiver

Spent the morning pampering my sick dog. See if I can get some work done this afternoon. Both projects -- a splay developed with Contour, and a short novel about the last day in the life of an old man, are moving forward and looking good at this early stage.

With the Acer, I now can do anything upstairs that I normally do in my office, which means I can work and keep an eye on the dog at the same time.

I'm also antsy to do a new video project and although the Donnelly scripts are at the head of the line, they also are more or less "traditional" and I'm in the mood to try something more experimental right now. Probably end up doing nothing.

A visit

Dinner and visit with my Godson and wife from Idaho, who are on their way to Eugene. Parents have auch a challenge in a world where drugs are everywhere. No kid is immune. Doesn't make a difference if they are honor students, sensible, and such, temptations are everywhere, in this case she became close with a young woman who had a drug problem, who passed it on. And she really hit bottom quickly, which in the long run may be a life saver. And I'm not talking booze here but harder drugs. Booze can be bad enough but at least it's legal, which means you usually don't have to commit crimes to get it.

Hearing horror stories again reminds me of my own good fortune.

Friday, November 13, 2009

How to save money over Christmas

Thanks, Ron at Muvipix.

Full morning

Made good progress on both writing projects this morning. Time to reduce the stack of dishes in the sink. How quickly the slothful habits of the bachelor life return when the wife is out of town!

Ms. Puke

Palin is beginning her book tour, meaning she'll be in the press a lot in the weeks ahead. I still want to throw up every time I hear the woman's voice.

Trials & tribulations

When he was alive, my best buddy Dick doted over his granddaughter. She was bright, personable, a straight-A student who could do no wrong. So maybe it's just as well that he's not here to have witnessed her getting involved with drugs, serious ones. She's in treatment in Eugene now, and her parents (my Godson) are coming through town on their way to parents weekend to visit her. I'll visit with them later today. No one is immune from drugs. Many parents refuse to accept that and end up learning the old-fashioned way, in the school of hard knocks.

On a more encouraging note, Sketch jumped up on the bed this morning and slid under the covers, his morning habit but one he had abandoned while sick. So he must be feeling better. His infection doesn't look much better yet, though. But I think he's on the road to recovery.

I got a little work done on the splay already this morning. Soon will do a bit on the novel.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Is doing better today. I keep my eye on him.

Football today

Tennessee players named in armed robbery attempt

If convicted, they'll be slapped on the hand.

The Oregon back originally banned "for the season" has been reinstated because, well, because the coach changed his mind and found a rationalization to defend his position.

It's winning that counts, after all. The rest is doublespeak.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sick dog

Poor Sketch picked up an ear infection, which required a quick trip to the vet and now a ton of meds, but already he appears to be doing a little better. Consequently I'm behind on reading student work but will catch up in the morning.


Plugging a book and a video.


There will be a free full showing on Dec. 9, 7-930 pm, at the Blackbird Wineshop to celebrate the telecast's 25th anniversary. Details.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Office hours

Just finished brainstorming with a student about her story and she left excited and maybe unstuck, or stuck less, than when she arrived, which is part of my job description, of course. Man, it's week 7 already. This quarter is in a sprint.

Took a while to get the netbook connected here in the office. Not sure why.

Pick up a lot of scripts today if all the "tree people" turn in pages on time. Which gives me a busy reading day tomorrow. With rain rain rain, it's just as well.

Man, I love this Acer even more than the Asus. And it's mind-boggling to me that I can edit video on this small machine. A portable filmmaker ha ha.

I love the ending of SIDEWAYS, which I show in class today. Love the moment when he drinks the fine wine in the fast food restaurant.

Early Christmas Shopping

See this Swedish film

The Sundance channel has been playing a fine little Swedish film called Together. Set in the 1970s in a Stockholm commune, it's a gentle comedy and satire about sex and politics, mainly, and it's got a big heart. I love this film,

Downhill side

Looking forward to getting back in the classroom, which is to say, I'm feeling fine. A busy day tomorrow, I anticipate having lots of work to read, which I collect today.

Prep work to do. First, though, think I'll treat myself to breakfast out. It's been a while.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Acer Netbook

My new netbook is an Acer 751h, 160G hard drive, 2G RAM, 11.6" screen, full sized keyboard, Windows XP, 2 lbs. This should edit video on the road just fine. I'll use my older version 2 of Premiere Elements, less resource intensive. For much of my work, then, I'm no longer restricted to my office. This is great. And H gets the Asus, which will slip into her purse.

Old monkeys

Last night I revisited those old monkeys on my back, "Sally" and the Cold War, looked at Deconstructing Sally, read Baumholder 1961, and I'm happy with each. Neither will set the world on fire (what does any more?) but each does what it needs to do, and the former already has fans. I think the novella will find fewer fans but hopefully "vets" who know what I'm talking about will dig it. I sent it to one, an Army buddy and retired TV film editor, who used to be the senior editor on the Dallas series. We were tight in Baumholder, and he shared many of the experiences on which the story is based. I made the usual many changes, so am curious what he thinks about it. In my inscription to him, I called it "riffs on shared experiences." That's about right.

Another rainy day, but also another mellow day by the start of it. I already did a bit of work on the splay. Also last night, I wrote a few opening paragraphs on a new take on the novel, a different narrative voice, and I'll look at it later and see how it survived the night. Or not.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Mad Men

I love this series, love its gritty dark realism.

It's been a full very productive day. May I have another tomorrow.

ATTN: Monterey Marys

Any former Monterey Marys out there? Here's a deal you can't resist. The first 3 who give me a shipping address will get a free copy of my novella Baumholder 1961, in hard copy (you can download a pdf free at the link). Well, I might even consider Animals who were stationed in Baumholder. First come, first serve.

But will anyone come?


Caught up with my advanced students and suggested a new direction for one, which she likes and which I find exciting in its possibilities. Did some writing on the splay, Did some web updating. All is well and lots of day left for writing.

A rainy Sunday

The task today is to catch up with my advanced students and, this done, get some writing done, first on the splay and then brood about a short novel I want to return to with a different narrative attitude.

Some fun games yesterday: Navy beat Notre Dame! UCLA beat Washington! Oregon lost in a shoot out to Stanford, which impressed me. Stanford is a cool school. I love their politically incorrect band, which is more or less a satire of college bands. The Berkeley-Stanford rivalry is about as irreverent as college sports can get, two schools that value intellect over brawn. I love it.

I'm getting a Windows netbook so I can run all my special programs, edit video, and take my work load on the road. I'll give this other to H for her travels, she can stick it in her purse. Netbooks are a great advance in the connectivity world.

Not feeling any worse and may be feeling a little better. But I gotta stay dry.

All is well. I love this, the contemplative, stage of my life. I think it's Social Security, an automatic income, that is the great remover of stress in one's life. What would life be like if everyone had a guaranteed income, just enough to get by, from the get go? Oops, there I go sounding like a commie again. Sorry about that.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


Saturday during college football season is my lazy day. Sunday I feel guilty about being lazy and make up chores and obligations I didn't do the day before.

So this is a glorious low key day, which is appropriate since I'm still not at 100%. Might take a ride with the dog in the rain later, or maybe not, I have a batch of salsa cruda to make, trying out a food processor I bought at a ridiculous sale.

Tomorrow, among other things, I have to catch up with my advanced students. Man, the term is zooming by!


Running at about 80%, which is fine if I don't get worse.

One of the delightful traditions of cyberspace is the availability of free software. Excellent free software. For example, there are a number of freeware programs I can't live without. (Find these via Google...most have sites).

  • Open Office. An extraordinary open source, free version of Microsoft Office. Even better, In OpenWriter, the version of Word, you can save directly to pdf, useful in many contexts including publishing.
  • Alleycode, an html editor. One click lets you see the results
  • Xenu, which checks links in a hypertext build.
  • Agent Ransack, the most powerful, quickest hard drive search tool I've seen.
  • Audacity, an audio editor.
  • Virtual Dub, a video editor.
  • Prism, a video file converter.
  • Celtx, a screenwriting program. Powerful and free but without bells and whistles the top programs have.
  • Ftp add-on for Firefox. Very convenient.

There are others but these come quickly to mind,

Friday, November 06, 2009

Hangin' in like Gunga Din

Feel good for a while, then don't, then do again.

I did manage to do a computer upgrade mechanical job that I was a bit apprehensive about attempting. Ends up I did it in about 15 minutes, easy as pie. The unknown often is scarier than it turns out to be.

My spirits are good, even as my body calls out the defense armies. But I definitely am taking it easy.

Michael Moore's Sicko

I didn't see this when it came to theaters for the reason that I'm not on the Michael Moore bandwagon, as so many in town are, and have not liked his recent films. I don't like the tone of those films, the strident and manipulative narrator Moore becomes.

What a surprise, then, that I love his look at health care in America, which I saw on cable recently. The Moore narrator here is neither strident nor manipulative. He's soft-spoken, curious and shocked by what he finds. It works. Here is a likeable narrator, not one who stacks the deck and lies to his subjects. As a result, this is an important and revealing documentary. Fine work, Mr. Moore!

But I'm still not on the bandwagon. One film at a time. You lost me when in a speech here a few years ago you gave the large crowd the unlisted phone number of our infamous right wing radio personality. Cheap shot. Rude. Like some of your films.

You're much more powerful and convincing when you're nice, pretending to be innocent, instead of cute, striving to be radical chic. The facts are more convincing than your ego.


Better today a tad, definitely smart to cancel class yesterday. A major focus on taking care of myself over the weekend and being ready for class on Tuesday.

Did a few pages on the splay this morning, working on Celtx upstairs.

A windy rainy forecast, and colder to boot. Good time to stay warm inside.

Need to venture out for vegies and fruit juice some time or other. But otherwise lowkey day of writing and reading.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Suddenly getting worse, better cancel for the day.


I'm holding class but skipping office hours, and driving in instead of busing in.

Feeling better ...

... I think. At this point, I expect to hold class.

Question of the day

If John has 3,455 friends on Facebook, how come he's lonely?

Quotation of the day

“In a perfect world, everyone would be an artist, and no one would sign their work.”

--Philip Glass

I think this is a brilliant statement -- and very idealistic. The anonymity of the artist would mean that art has a non-commercial function. But in our culture, the function of art is mostly commercial. We give lip service to it being otherwise but this is political self-serving bullshit. You don't have to work as an artist, or be a serious observer of the arts, for long to realize how important commercial success is in the equation of art/audience communication. Individuals can appreciate art in a non-commercial context but institutions, which govern the arts, rarely do. Glass' statement speaks to a different kind of use for art in a very different -- a perfect -- kind of world. A nice thought. Never happen.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Johnny Mercer

Watched a docu on Mercer, what a talent! Now I want to read his bio. Always a fan but didn't realize his breadth and diversity.

O me o my

Feel worse for a while, then feel better for a while, then feel worse ... I feel like an observer watching how my own health is going to turn out.

Read the novella again, found a typo, but really really like it. Probably too low key and narrow in its focus to appeal to many. But I think it's an accurate and dramatic version of my personal experiences as a young man in the Army Security Agency.

Who said this?

Was it Bacon who aaid that a wife is a young man's lover, a middle-aged man's companion and an old man's nurse? I feel more and more like I could use a nurse. Definitely staying home tonight. I'll make a decision at noon tomorrow about class. With the swine flu about, the admin encourages careful and conservative behavior in this regard.


Getting those flu-like symptoms everyone is talking about. Need to take it easy. Probably stay home from First Wednesday tonight unless I'm feeling much better. This is not good.

36 days until the return of Swami Kree


Lowest common denominator

An editor on the upcoming flood of Palin books:

I mean, these are all the things that sell books. First of all, you've got a politically controversial figure. Political controversy is a fabulous thing to sell books. But at the same time, you've got at the center of it, a woman who's quite good-looking, a celebrity, she's got a family with all kinds of various interesting soap opera themes going on. It's just, sort of, it's ideal in terms of trying to sell a book.


I think I'm going to get sick.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Now available: Baumholder 1961

Baumholder 1961, a novella.

This is so much "smaller" than my 40-year visions for my army material but I just reread it -- and I like it just fine. Small works for me here.

Kerouac in Florida

Reading the recent Kerouac in Florida: Where the Road Ends by Bob Kealing. Fascinating, sad, but oh so American.

The timidity of governing

I didn't grow up in a church-going family but there was a Jesus Christ presence in the home nonetheless: FDR. My parents worshipped him. This came to mind when I saw an article at The Huffington Post today.

Obama, in great contrast to FDR, has been a timid president. As I've suggested before, maybe he's too nice to be president. He wants to please everyone. When has this ever worked in politics? FDR pulled no punches: he called bankers greedy scumbags! Can you imagine Obama doing this?

His timidity, if it continues, will mark the failure of his administration. In fact, I can even see him as a one term president. A great disappointment because he hasn't taken the bull by the horns and led the way toward the very changes he promised while campaigning.

Politics ruins more good men.

Almost deja vu all over again

I was apprehensive last night as the Phillies took a 6-run lead into the 8th inning. Too good to be true and all that. And the Yankees, man, they never quit. And I was right to be concerned. The Yankees cut the lead in half in the 8th, shut out the Phillies, then put the first two men on board in the 9th. A home run would tie it! With 2 outs and 2 strikes I was still worried -- and sure enough, a single scored kept them alive. But the Phillies hung on and now we go to NY for the 6th and possibly 7th game. An exciting series.

On thing I'll say about writing a script from Contour, this "beat sheet" I printed out is like a security blanket. It's not in concrete -- I already added a very nice sequence -- but it's an outline of the main journey, and to write knowing so much about the story is far less stressful and fragile than my usual method of stumbling around in the dark. I like Contour.

So I'll work more on the script this morning. I've been working upstairs on the netbook, in Celtx, so I can keep the dog company (and vice versa). Then I import into Sophocles, which I still use as my main screenwriting program despite its demise. I'm already 20 pages in, finishing up act one. If I finish act one today, a great accomplishment. Maybe too much to ask.

A very busy day tomorrow: I collect first draft projects from forest track writers today. So no rest or writing time tomorrow. Then it's First Wednesday.

I think we have more rain on its way. Why not?

Monday, November 02, 2009

High productivity

Lots of work on the splay this morning. Then took the dog for a run. Now about to make scrapple.

Call from H, safe and sound in New England.

Morning wonders

Driving home from the airport, stopped at a light, I glanced east -- and there was Venus low on the horizon, a Morning Star in all its bright silvery glory. Last time I saw Venus she was an evening star. And then, setting in the west, was a full moon, momentarily looking like a photo of Jupiter with clouds forming bands on its surface, and later looking as if I were peeking through Venetian bands. How we get reminded of Nature, even in the city. Glorious Nature.

Damn Yankees

The Yankees are amazing. 9th inning, tie game, 2 outs, 2 strikes -- and they regroup and score 3 runs and take a 3-1 series lead. It might all end tonight but I hope not.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Standard time et. al.

So we turned the clocks back, and the accepted wisdom says that I gained an hour today. Then why am I getting tired at 8pm? Feels to me like I lost an hour.

H fliea nonstop first class to Boston, first time she's gone first class. I think she'll love it. I hate flying lately but if I did fly, I'd want to go first.

Yankees a run ahead in game 4. Hope Phillies come back to win. I'd like to see the series go seven.

Tomorrow I hope to put in a lot of time on the splay.

The older I get, the more I prefer baseball to football. So much more extended, moment by moment drama. In fact, in recent years baseball is the only professional sport I've paid attention to. Fewer jerks seem to be playing the game.

I see a rush of scifi films is opening soon. Studios are such copy cats.

Tied in the 9th inning now. Better pay attention.

The chores of autumn

Raked some leaves, ankle deep in vibrant orange colors. One of my favorite outdoor chores. Didn't get it all done before I pooped out but I did get the two worst areas done. Maybe I can finish up later today or tomorrow.

Take H to the airport bright and early tomorrow. She's off for another visit east, new grandkid being born. So Sketch and I batch it for a few weeks. Maybe I can draft the new splay while she's gone.

I like Contour ... already outlining another splay with it, a reworking of an old story. Maybe the next one to write if it turns out tight and gripping.

USA won the NY men's marathon. Everytime I watch Paula Radcliffe in a marathon, she fails to win. I think I'm a jinx. Apparently our Portland lady didn't run.

My hard day this week is Wednesday, reading drafts of projects and then going to First Wednesday. Rest of week should be a breeze.

Caught up

Caught up with my advanced students this morning. Just in time since I pick up project first drafts from half the class on Tuesday. We watch SIDEWAYS this week. May change the film for spring ... already set for winter.

The Great American Song Book

The older I get, the more I admire the craft of the songsmiths who wrote what is called The Great American Song Book, the work of Cole Porter et. al. from the 30s and 40s. In body, maybe this represents "the great American novel," the narrative that most reflects the soul of America, at least at a certain time in our history.