Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Greed in sports

I don't believe it. Apparently the expansion of March Madness is likely to happen. They will ruin an institution. If they do this, I hope fans abandon them bigtime and they lose their ass.

Grunt prep

Spent some time this morning rounding up clips from previous projects that might be usable in the new video project. Feel like its in gear now.

Passion

I did some planning and writing on The Navy Wife and discovered no passion for this project, not enough to pursue it at a time when the feeling that "time is short" influences the decision on how I spend my time. I retain passion for the vocal score and a new video has me brooding, more encouraging signs of actual development of a project. This material hasn't been a monkey on my back, even though I've thought about this story for decades. It doesn't matter that much to me if I do it or not. I believe this means the project is dead.

But the video, a new one, has moved forward, another personal one. And of course I retain focus on the vocal score. So it's not as if I'm mentally inactive.

First class went well. Off and running.

LATER. I started a narrative for the new video and the difference in "passion" between this and the writing I did on the short novel is astounding. This video has grabbed me. The other didn't. It was "there," a good story, a personal story, but so what if I don't write it? This one, I have a sense of urgency, a sense that this needs to be done. This is the way writing should be, urgent, necessary. And, of course, the narrative is just a guide to the images, to the video itself. I may even start shooting soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Voices from the past

This week I heard from two persons from my distant past. First, the actor who played the lead in my MFA thesis play at the Univ of Oregon in, by the gods, 1973 or so. And then, a screenwriter/producer with whom I was briefly associated in the 1980s, now 76 he says and with more energy than I have, doing his entrepreneurial thing. He wrote a hell of a good screenplay set on the Oregon coast -- which he still is peddling. Keeping the faith. I remember the story well and think highly of it.

Small world, thanks to the net. Both found my blog and wrote. I'll have breakfast with the latter soon and catch up. He is reading heavy things and thinking heavy thoughts and it will be damn refreshing to talk to someone like this!

Hobbling through the cold winds

Man, it's cold out there, low 40s with a wind chill significantly colder. What spring term ha ha?

New term begins

About to head out to park and ride to catch a bus to the university, day one of my spring term class. Full with a waiting list, as usual, so the first point of business is figuring out who is in, who can get in, and who can't.

I'm ready for a new term, actually, even though I don't feel like I had a term break at all. But teaching is my front burner activity in my old age, it appears. It's the major organizing principle of my week. Onward.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Why am I not surprised?

Oregon near bottom in 'Race to the Top' for education funds

By Betsy Hammond, The Oregonian

March 29, 2010, 8:56PM

Oregon's application for $200 million of federal "Race to the Top" education innovation funding was graded 7th worst among the 40 states that applied.

Tennessee and Delaware were named winners of a collective $600 million from the $4 billion fund this morning.
Story

Jocks' worst nightmare

In the women's tourny, Xavier had THREE opportunities to upset heavily favored Stanford in the closing seconds. First, with a two point lead, their best free throw shooter had a one and one, a chance to make it a two possession game -- and blew the first, Stanford getting the rebound and going on to tie. Then -- and the tape of this is incredible -- on an inbounds play with the game tied, a Xavier player found herself virtually alone under the basket, got the ball -- and missed! Incredibly, Xavier got the rebound and the same player again got free UNDER THE BASKET and missed a second time! With 4+ seconds, Stanford got the ball and a player went the distance and just got a layup off before the buzzer, Stanford wins by 2.

I've never seen a team blow a game so many times in so few closing seconds. How will the two players ever live this down? Xavier has never been to a final four .... and came oh so close tonight. They should have won the game, 3 times. Talk about nerves taking over and ruining your focus.


Xavier's Dee Dee Jernigan missed two wide-open layins in the closing 12 seconds that likely would have sent the Musketeers to San Antonio for their first Final Four.
"I was too anxious," Jernigan said. "It was like a kid in a candy store. I was too open and didn't think it was coming out."

Vocal score

A good morning for composing. The measures march forward.

Twilight

Out of curiosity, seeing it on cable, I watched this teen throb of a film and actually was surprised how engaging it was. Nice storytelling, nicely structured, nicely shot.

Buckley v. Palin: how the country has changed (and for the worse)

When I was a young man, William F. Buckley was head of the con- servative movement in this country: bright, an intellectual, an editor and writer. Now Sarah Palin of Alaska is, a soccer mom? hunter? former beauty pageant gal? whatever the hell she is. She definitely is not an intellectual or a writer, though she does have considerable political street smarts. But what a contrast! There's the change in the country for you, Buckley v. Palin. Surreal.

Will the flood gates open?

Battlefield Earth Screenwriter Apologizes for 'Suckiest Movie Ever'

Visiting the Hollywood Scientology Celebrity Center, J.D. Shapiro just wanted to meet girls. Instead, he wound up writing Battlefield Earth. After winning the "Worst Picture of the Decade" Razzie, Shapiro is apologizing. He blames it all on his penis.
If other screenwriters apologize for their sucky scripts, well, there may be nothing else in the news for weeks and months!

Obama the writer

Obama's rewrite of a speech draft. How extraordinary to have a man of such intellect in the office, not to mention his charisma and public speaking skills. If he can stay alive, he will end up being one of our best presidents -- despite my disappointment caused by political realities.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Happy anniversary to us

Today is our 12th wedding anniversary, 17 years together. Gonna do something but not sure what, H has art errands to do late afternoon, maybe a drive out the gorge for lunch somewhere, maybe some festival in town, going by the seat of our pants. Last night we finished season 2 of Roswell, tonight we'll start 3, we really are hooked on this scifi teenage soap opera.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Horrible news for Oregon sports


Oregon athletic department quietly extends Nike contract through 2018


The news, which happened some time ago, just became public. This stinks. A corporation should not be in virtual control of a university athletic department. Let alone Nike's horrid tastes in designer uniforms ha ha. 

3rd #1 seed loses

WVa took out Kentucky. Both lower seeds won today. Hope it's the same tomorrow, which would mean no #1 seed in final four, which I consider progress.

Remembering William F. Buckley, Jr.

This memory by his son, Christopher Buckley, reminds us how much more intelligence and class the conservative movement had before being taken over by wingnuts.
I invoke William F. for straightforwardly mischievous reasons. He was the founder of the modern conservative movement that is in such terrible shape at the moment. He was also unpredictable.

While his brother James L. Buckley was running (not so well) for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 1976, WFB endorsed Allard K. Lowenstein for Congress. Allard K. Lowenstein was so far to the left of WFB that WFB wouldn't have been able to find him with the Hubble telescope. And yet WFB recognized in his friend Al a fineness of mind and principle. A patriot. But oh, what a hullaballoo it caused.

But then WFB had always been a reliable supplier of hullaballoos. In 1965, while running for mayor, he endorsed construction of bicycle paths in New York City. He was green before Green. In the late 1960's, he came out for decriminalization of drugs. For a black president. In the late 1970's, he came out for giving the Panama Canal back to the Panamanians. (Is it really possible that we were once so wrapped around that isthmus?) In one of his finest oratorical displays, he debated his great friend Ronald Reagan on the issue — while Reagan was running for president.

More

The Met live in HD

The 2010-11 season has been announced, with 11 operas including 2 in the Ring cycle. This, to me, is the perfect marriage of the arts and high technology and is perhaps the best national arts event in the country now. Some random thoughts:

  • This needs to be expanded to reach rural communities.
  • Here in Portland, in the west, shows start at 10 a.m. Saturday and seem to be a geriatric event. Music students should be here, despite the time! A disappointment that they aren't.
  • More "encore" rebroadcasts, at convenient times, should be available.
  • This approach should expand to include concerts, plays and such. For that matter, even sporting events. More than presently.
  • I love the Met series! My favorite arts event now.


The Met live in HD

2010-11 season

24/7 streaming video subscription or rental

Opera

Thomas' opera Hamlet takes many variations from Shakespeare in story and character but it works within its own parameters. Yet the vocal music did not move me much, although I loved the overture and orchestration. I'm glad I saw this but it's not an opera I would see again.

Came home to learn the Tennessee women were upset. And presently, in the men's game, Butler is beating Kansas State, which I hope continues.

Well, maybe retirement as a writer is short. I feel an urgency to pursue a short personal novel about my mother, called THE NAVY WIFE. I may scribble an outline to see if I have a story. That's what stopped me before, lack of legs for a sustained work.

To the opera

Saturday mornings are perfect for opera. This one, Hamlet, is almost four hours, so I hope I like it ha ha. I'm glad I reread the play and have the story clearly in mind.

Otherwise, more basketball today, the most interesting games in the women's bracket.

Hearing fragments of my next aria. Time to sit at the keyboard soon.

And school starts in a few days. Hardly feels like I had a break at all.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A conservative seeing clearly

We have both been part of the conservative movement for, as mentioned, the better part of half of our lives. And I can categorically state I've never seen such a hostile environment towards free thought and debate -- once the hallmarks of Reaganism, the politics with which we grew up -- prevail in our movement as it does today. The thuggish demagoguery of the Limbaughs and Becks is a trait we once derided in the old socialist Left. Well boys, take a look in the mirror. It is us now.

Read

Shakespeare the storyteller

We're seeing the Ambroise Thomas opera HAMLET on Saturday, an HD simulcast from the Met (the best arts bargain in the country!), so I decided to read the play. I haven't read it in, well, decades. And it's the first time I've read Shakespeare for no reason but pleasure in even longer.

I re-discovered what a fine STORYTELLER the Bard is. Hamlet, in fact, has "textbook" dramatic structure and follows the storytelling paradigm I teach in my class. Here's the breakdown:

THE HOOK. A strange ghost has been appearing at the castle.
THE COMPLICATION/INCITING INCIDENT. The ghost tells Hamlet his father was murdered by his own brother, the new King, and that Hamlet should get revenge.
CALL TO ACTION. Hamlet decides to feign madness as part of his plan to get revenge.
PLOT PT, END OF ACT ONE. Hamlet devises a scheme to trap the conscience of the king, using a troupe of actors passing through.
MIDPT TWIST. Hamlet confronts his mother and accidentally kills Polonius, father of Orphelia, whom he loves.
LOW PT, END OF ACT TWO. Hamlet learns that Orphelia committed suicide.
RESOLUTION. The King's trap for Hamlet backfires, and Hamlet manages to kill the King before dying himself.

Yet another example of how powerful the paradigm of beginning-middle-end storytelling is! Hamlet is a textbook example of the paradigm. I had forgotten. The red part of the diagram above is based on David Mamet's take on structure. I love its elegance.

2 down, 1 to go

Two of the three Cinderellas, Washington and Cornell, lost last night. The games weren't close. That leaves St. Mary's. One lower seed won and another lost in double overtime, so the favorites didn't all have an easy time.

If St. Mary's loses, as the odds say, the tournament will hold less interest to me. I guess I'll be rooting for Butler. But my primary interest now will be on the women's tournament, to see if anyone can give Connecticut a game.

In the men's game, they should raise the hoop a couple feet. Dunks are so boring.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Another #1 seed bites the dust!

Butler puts Syracuse away. Now if the other 2 #1s can suffer a similar fate, we'd have a special dance indeed.

But Washington looking like it will lose. And coming up is Cornell v #1 Kentucky.

Lack of civility

I, too, don't like lack of civility in politics but let's face it, this is as American as apple pie. From the Founding Fathers on, politics has always included mudslinging and other uncivil gestures and lies. Why do you think Norman O. Brown writes, "Politics is pissing in public"? Indeed, 19th C political cartoons were, by and large, more vicious and mean than they are today. Ugly political climates are not nice to live through but they hardly are rare.

The wonders of genius

Grigori Perelman, Reclusive Russian Math Genius, Refuses $1 Million Prize 
Dr Grigori Perelman, a reclusive Russian genius, is refusing to accept the prestigious $1 million "Millennium" mathematics prize awarded by the Clay Mathematics Institute in Cambridge, MA.



Perelman was awarded the prize for solving the one-hundred-year-old Poincaré conjecture, one of the most complicated mathematical problems in the world - so complex, in fact, that after Perelman posted his proofs in 2002 it took several years for other experts to confirm he was correct.
Read

Surprise

Listened to the 230-odd measures of my vocal score to Life Is A Nice Place To Visit and, while not quite blown away, I was impressed. I have something decent in the works. Yes, there are dull moments to fix but several arias were so sad and lovely they brought tears to my eyes. So I buckled down and composed another 20 or so measures, and I hope to get back into a daily rhythm with it. It's hard work, lots of fixing to do, but something is definitely worthwhile is getting born.

We're seeing the opera Hamlet Saturday as part of the HD simulcast from the Met. So I thought I'd read the play. I haven't read Shakespeare for pleasure in far too long.

I saw a very strange production of Hamlet at the Pasadena Playhouse in the 60s. Hamlet was played by Robert Vaughn, "the man from U.N.C.L.E." and he delivered the "to be or not to be" soliloquy while throwing furniture around the room in some kind of nervous breakdown. Pretty weird.



Two great basketball games today, starting at 4.

Sweet 16

There are three teams left I care about, more than usual at this time since I generally root for underdogs: Cornell, Washington and St. Mary's. All are considerable underdogs as the dance continues tonight. So we'll see who if anyone is left for the weekend. When these three are gone, I'll be more interested in the women's tournament, to see if Connecticut can continue and threaten UCLA's 88 game win streak.

Drafted my new syllabus yesterday. Check it today and take it to the printer. Determined to listen to the score I have so far, hoping I get reinvigorated on this project that has slipped away from me recently.

Received one of the best ... what, fan letters? ... an email from my former grad student in Saudi Arabia, where my reader finally arrived after two months in the mail. Apparently the package looked like it had been through the old Soviet Union's censor bureau or something. At any rate, it was a good email to get and was appreciated  for the right reasons. I've had half a dozen or so students over the years, mainly grad students, to whom I've made a difference. This by far is the best thing about teaching. There are many drawbacks as well but these moments outshine them.



Usually the ruling party suffers losses in an off-year election but I'll be disappointed if the Democrats don't gain some progressive and popular momentum from the health care bill and especially from the Republicans response to it. Of course, the crazies will be out in greater volume than ever and I've been worried about Obama's security since the beginning. I'm worried more than ever.

I can't believe there isn't a single Republican  who will rise to leadership against all this crap. Where are the great Republicans of the past like Tom McCall and Mark Hatfield, two Oregon Republicans? Where are the Republicans of principle? The present leaders sound like negative meatheads.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why won't mainstream elected Republicans vigorously condemn hatred and venom in the streets?

A damn good question. If anything, they subtly encourage it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ten Books

Blogs have caught a virus. Everyone is publishing a list of the ten books that most influenced them. It's a tough list to make but here is mine, in roughly chronological order:
1. Number, the Language of Science by Tobias Dantzig
2. Marriage and Morals by Bertrand Russell
3. Love in the Western World by Denise de Rougemont
4. Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger
5. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee
6. Love's Body by Norman O. Brown
7. Mrs. Bridge by Even Connell
8. A Delicate Balance by Edward Albee
9. The Physicists by Friedrich Durrenmatt
10. The Quiet American by Graham Greene

Brothers

When an indie drama comes to town and disappears in a week or two, this usually is a sign I'll love it. Such was the case with In the Bedroom and so today with Brothers, which I saw on cable after missing its brief visit. A powerful first rate film, which works because it takes no cheap shots, no overblown choices, and is driven by strong subtext. My favorite film of last year, it turns out.

Now to see the Danish film on which this is based.

Revised Easy Scrapple recipe

1 lb country sausage ... pre-seasoned, breakfast sausage that you like
2 cans (4 cups) chicken broth
1 cup cornmeal or polenta ... I like white cornmeal but have used yellow as well as polenta
1 package gelatin

Fry the sausage and "dice it" into small bits. I do this with a spatula as it is frying. Drain.
Heat 3 cups chicken broth and season to taste. I add Italian seasoning and paprika and black pepper.
Dissolve cornmeal in remaining cup stock.

When stock in pan simmers, add meat. Add cornmeal mixture. Add gelatin.
Simmer and stir until very thick. Pour in loaf pan, cool, refrigerate.

Slice, flour, fry for breakfast.

The addition here is the gelatin, which was part of the oyster scrapple recipe I made ... works with pork, too. I tried 2 packages, as with oyster, but that's too much, texture wasn't right. One package is perfect. Helps keep it together, perfect.

This, of course, is not traditional scrapple but it's a close clone. I've made traditional for decades but this is quick and easy and has its own appeal as a breakfast meat.

Women's sports

If you watch any women's sports on television, you quickly realize how female athletes are treated like second class citizens. Two recent local examples.

A couple years ago, the Portland State men's basketball team went to the big dance for the first time. They were a local sensation, the media covering the team everywhere. The game was a huge event, hyped, covered, a very big deal here.

This year it was the women's basketball team's turn. Yes, they got some media attention -- but what a difference! The worst part, the game wasn't shown on television. That is, ESPN started with the game then cut and gave the Portland market the Iowa-Rutgers game in its entirety, instead of the Portland State game! This was absurd.

A while back, the Gonzaga men's team gained attention and was a big deal, again fully covered by Northwest media. This year the Gonzaga women's team made the 2nd round in the tournament for the first time, upsetting a #2 seed last night to make the Sweet 16, a dramatic one point win. Yet this was not even mentioned on the 11 o'clock news last night. I couldn't believe it.

Nationally, regionally, locally, women athletes remain victims of media sexism. Period.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Chet Baker: Let's Get Lost


Filmmaker Bruce Weber's stunning documentary on Chet Baker is the best jazz docu I've seen. It's engaging, sad, revealing, challenging, with a sound track of Baker's music, especially vocals, which gives the film its angelic irony, the voice of an angel narrating near tragic moments.


The contradiction between an artist's life and art is more common than documented. In this layered film/music story, there are many lenses through which to see this: the lyrical romantic musical lines, the drug addiction, the boyish playfulness, the con man's games, the dark demons, all merged into the ocean of a life. We get the contrast of images, the older dissipated Baker at the time of the film's shooting, not long before his death, against photographs and archival footage of the Hollywood handsome young sensation in Los Angeles in the early 50s.

How do we explain the contradiction between the art and the life? Maybe the best approach comes from folk bluesman Dave Van Ronk in another fine musical biopic, "The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack" by his daughter. Ronk tells Elliott's daughter that, Sure, you're making this film because you lost your father but listen, if you had a father, I wouldn't have Ramblin' Jack, and he's not someone I want to give up.

So with Chet Baker. If the fucked-up life made the art, well, who is to say it wasn't worth it?

Let's Get Lost

As Though I Had Wings (memoir)

Best of Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health care reform passes



A first step, and a big one. And the fight between progressives and conservatives begins with renewed energy. It's an old, old fight.

Sweet 16

If the seeds played out, the sweet 16 would have 4 each of seeds 1 through 4. But with one game left in overtime (a 4 v 5 seed), half the seeds are 5 or higher, including one each of 9, 10, 11 and 12 seeds. My continued interest depends on some of these making the elite 8. I especially am rooting for the 3 double digit seeds, St Mary's, Washington and Cornell. All have very difficult games at the end of the week.

Rick Majerus on NCAA

Great comments by a coach on the tournament on ESPN radio this morning. He said:

  • Keep it at 65 teams
  • Give more credence to NIT tourny
  • Emphasize more of the STUDENT in student athletics. Do something about low graduation rates.

Man has his head on straight.

Cor("the rest of our fans are studying")nell makes Sweet 16!

Man, Cornell looks good! 24 over Wisconsin with 6  mins left. Earlier, though, Gonzaga got crushed, looking as bad as C looks good. No one can blow this big a lead in 6 mins, can they? Let's go for 30.

P.S. final score 87-691

Fragments

I call myself "retired" as a writer. My brain hasn't gotten the message. I woke up with this fragment in my head:

Writing outside-in is an attempt at commerce. Writing inside-out is a leap of faith.

This brought to mind my short story Fragments Before the Fall, which appeared in The Literary Review in 1971. The story has a highly unusual genesis and history. It is, for example, my only work of "automatic writing." Let me explain.

In the late 1960s, I dropped out of graduate school to "become a writer." I had two goals: make some money, which I finally did in journalism mainly; and to publish literary fiction in some journals I respected, including The Literary Review and Prism International, where I eventually published several times.

One afternoon I received a mailbox fulll of rejections. I don't recall the number but it was at least four, maybe six. Six sounds sexy, let's say six. A bunch. All of literary stories to places I wanted to be. I was disheartened. I came into the house we rented and threw the envelopes across the room. I put a sheet of paper in my manual Remington and, in a state of outrage and fury, banged out "Fragments Before the Fall." Without changing it, I stuck it into an envelope and mailed it right away to The Literary Review, which had been one of the rejections.

The Beats embraced "automatic writing" -- no plan or pre-thought, just let her rip. This story was automatic writing, in my emotional condition after receiving so many rejections the same day. In retrospect, it strikes me as the closest I've ever come to a statement of aesthetics, a theory about how fiction works, or should work. The writer who sacrifices himself to cushion the future pain of the reader. Very idealistic -- but I was a young writer then.

The Literary Review accepted the story and it appeared a couple years later. Things took so long in those days. But here was my "breakthrough" to one of the highly respected literary journals in the land, a piece of automatic writing in a moment of outrage. Well, they say write with passion. I certainly did that ha ha.

I haven't written much automatic writing since. Now and again, in a more planned work, moments of automatic writing happen within it. But for the most part, I demand more efficiency from myself and others than automatic writing delivers.

The fragment in my head might suggest a collection of fragments, Fragments Before the Fall II or something.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Washington in Sweet 16! Kansas gone!

Two more upsets, looking good.

Not looking good: Portland State women game started, then got bumped to Stanford game. WTF??? Fortunately, it's on the radio. Early on, PSU is hanging in there.

St. Mary's to Sweet 16!



75-68 over Villanova, a 10-seed making the cut. May there be many more this weekend. I love it but I don't know if my heart can take many of these close games. They blew a 12 pt lead, got behind, then came back and made their free throws at the end. I was nervous as hell. But the team has character.

Go, Ellen!

Ellen Gives $30,000 To Constance McMillen, Mississippi Lesbian, Over Prom Legal Flap


Read the story.

In my 1975 one-act play The Obscene Interruptions of War, the four interruptions are language, fear, sex and disorder. All come into play when a high school cancels a prom rather than let a lesbian couple attend. It would be pathetic if it weren't so ordinary in the culture.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Beat the rain

Good ol' perpetual Oregon rain scheduled to return Sunday, so tomorrow I have to finish my yard work. Then, of course, start over once we're dry again. But you can't let this get too far ahead of you in the early spring. So that's a high priority.

Today I did taxes, or at least most of them. H has much to do as well. Her task harder than mine.

3 upsets today, about average. I may well be "out" of the tourny by the sweet sixteen. Depends on the weekend. The top seeds simply do not inspire me the way Cornell does. Or Gonzaga. Or Ohio. Or, for that matter, any double digit seed. So I want as many as possible to survive.

"The rest of our fans are studying." Man, I love that sign!

My short break

Time to find the rhythm of my short break. I do have to rewrite the syllabus since I am changing some texts. Also need to get re-engaged to the opera score. The banjo continues to progress though I am slacking a tad.

I am looking forward to the summer and putting household chores front burner, dedicating the summer to getting my office and the rest of the house in order and ready to sell in a few years. But get it done now. Been putting it off the last two summers. No summer creative projects apart from music.

Not as exciting as yesterday

Two upsets today so far, nothing like the amazing run of underdogs yesterday. As the tournament progresses, my interest will wane as lower seeds drop out. I have no interest in seeing the number one seeds play. I prefer college ball to pro ball.

Best sign seen at the NCAA tournament

Ivy League. The rest of our fans are studying.



At Cornell game.

I found my Cinderella team

Cornell! A 12 seed, they upset Temple 78-65. I like them for a number of reasons.
  • One of their fans held up a sign, "The rest of our fans are studying." Love it!
  • They have 5 3-pt shooters who averaged 44% over the season. Makes them fun to watch.
  • They published my story The Epistemological Uncle years ago.

Utah State plays later today and I hope they hang around, too.

Morning after

An interesting consensus: most sports commentators believe Robt Morris was robbed with slanted calls at end of game and during overtime. Several said the game was stolen. At the same time, RM blew some things that would have won the game despite this.

An historic day, yesterday, in close games. Let's have another.

And I have to do something besides watch bball for 12 hrs today!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Upsets and blown chances

A 15 seed blew a big lead to lose in overtime ... now a 14 seed, Ohio U, is blowing a big lead late to Georgetown. $ mins, 7 pt game.

Ohio with 12 pt lead, less than 2 min. ... 11 pt lead, 91 sec. ... small upset, 9 seed beat 8 seed ... 9, 10, 11 and 13 seeds have won so far, 15 overtime, and now 14 can win if they can hang on and make free throws ...

Ohio wins! 5 upsets so far today, 3 of them major. Ohio 97, Georgetown 83. LOVE IT.

This is the best first day of the dance I can recall. And the night games left.

Basketball heaven

The first half of the first round saw 2 upsets, 11 and 13 seeds, a 15 seed going to overtime, and a team from the west, BYU, winning. Couldn't get better. A 10 seed has the lead for a possible 3rd upset before the last half of the round begins, St Mary's, another team from the west.

Morning summary

2 favs won but had to go overtime, winning barely, and double overtime to do it. The 3rd morning game was an upset. A great start! Let's have much more of the same now.

Madness notes

Have TV and computer on to games, access to all.

Robt Morris has first quarter lead over Villanova, 15 seed over 2, but plays a sloppy game, hard to imagine this will be a contest.

Florida, 10, giving 7 BYU a game. This could go either way.

6 Notre Dame should handle 11 Old Dom without trouble.


Halftime. BYU by 2, this could go to the wire. ND by 6, not this close. Robt Morris by 6, blowing bigger lead, Nova beating itself. Despite big upset potential, this may not be close if Nova gets its act together.


Early in 2nd half, RMorris already is falling apart. This won't be close, alas.

BYU by 13. Probably over.

ND by 3, still a game.


Old Dom and ND ties with a minute, this is the closest game of the morning.

Nova only 2 back now, too. BYU close again, only 3 lead.

Old Dom by 3, 20 sec, missed free throw to seal it. Damn, these schools with upset chances so often lose their cool and blow it. ND with ball to tie, go to OT. We'll see. OD by 1 with 12 sec., OD in bound. They are blowing it at the line so ND should foul quickly.

Robt Morris now by 6 with 10 min. Wow. 15 seed leading this late.

9 sec, OD at line for 2, one pt lead. First one good, 2 pt lead. 2nd good, 3 pt lead.

Fla has 1 pt lead over BYU, a minute to go. Close games! Chances of upsets!

OLD DOM WINS 51-50, first upset of the tourny!

BYU and Fla tied, a minute to go. Overtime!

RMorris still ahead, 6 min. This might be a major upset. Nova way below average game.

RMorris by 8 with 4 mins!

What a morning ... an upset, an overtime, and a major upset in the making. Can RMorris hang on?

(The best tourny ever would be no number 1 seeds in the final four.)

Nova coming back, 5 pts. ... 2pt game, oh my ... 2 mins ...RMorris is falling apart!
... tie game, first since 2-2, RM led all the way until now. ... OD is double overtime ... RM takes 2 pt lead, a min to go ... tie again ... what a great start to the dance! the more upsets the better ... 25 sec, tie, Nova has ball, damn ... 1 sec tie, Nova ball ... OVERTIME ... 2 of 3 morning games go overtime, fantastic.

BYU by 7 in 2nd OTZ, a min to go.

I'm exhausted and the day has just started.

The end of literature as we know it?


In his deliberately provocative — and deeply nihilistic — new book, “Reality Hunger,” the onetime novelist David Shields asserts that fiction “has never seemed less central to the culture’s sense of itself.” He says he’s “bored by out-and-out fabrication, by myself and others; bored by invented plots and invented characters” and much more interested in confession and “reality-based art.” His own book can be taken as Exhibit A in what he calls “recombinant” or appropriation art.
...
THESE NEW BOOKS share a concern with how digital media are reshaping our political and social landscape, molding art and entertainment, even affecting the methodology of scholarship and research. They examine the consequences of the fragmentation of data that the Web produces, as news articles, novels and record albums are broken down into bits and bytes; the growing emphasis on immediacy and real-time responses; the rising tide of data and information that permeates our lives; and the emphasis that blogging and partisan political Web sites place on subjectivity.

At the same time it’s clear that technology and the mechanisms of the Web have been accelerating certain trends already percolating through our culture — including the blurring of news and entertainment, a growing polarization in national politics, a deconstructionist view of literature (which emphasizes a critic’s or reader’s interpretation of a text, rather than the text’s actual content), the prominence of postmodernism in the form of mash-ups and bricolage, and a growing cultural relativism that has been advanced on the left by multiculturalists and radical feminists, who argue that history is an adjunct of identity politics, and on the right by creationists and climate-change denialists, who suggest that science is an instrument of leftist ideologues.

More

The net has only accelerated a cultural movement that's been happening for some time in the direction of reducing the appeal of, need for, and environments supporting acts of reflection and contemplation. We seem to be losing the uses of silence. We seem to be losing, and losing appreciation of, the Art of Brooding.

The human without reflection and brooding is a new kind of human.

I am troubled by all this. At the same time, I find it difficult to discern what is trend and what is fad. More brooding, while I'm still able.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day and other amateur hours

During my drinking days, I hated St. Patrick's Day almost as much as I hated New Year's Eve. Each filled the bars with so many amateur drinkers that we regulars became a minority. The entire culture of the barroom changed as a result. Nothing worse than an amateur drinker getting sloppy drunk. Nothing worse than giggling amateur drinkers. Bah, humbug.

Busy day

Most of my grades are in. Just in time, with the Big Dance starting tomorrow. I always enjoy the early round games most, hoping for that upset and small school glory. Seldom happens but sure is great when it does!

I'll tie loose ends through the week but tomorrow morning I really should start the day with the opera score, early before the first game starts at 9.

And spring has sprung.

My favorite spring poem: as long as you and i have arms and lips which are for kissing and to sing with, who cares if some oneeyed sonofabitch invents an instrument to measure Spring with? e. e. cummings

Pudd'nhead Wilson's calendar

Moments of Mark Twain at his most witty and biting self.

"Tell the truth or trump - but get the trick."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Adam was but human - this explains all-he did not want the apple for the apple's sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent: then he would have eaten the serpent."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a dept of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Adam and Eve had many advantages, but the principal one was that they escaped teething."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Remark of Dr. Baldwin's concerning upstarts: 'We don't care to eat toadstools that think they are truffles.'"
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Habit is habit, and not to be flung out the window by any man, but coaxed down-stairs a step at a time."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"There is no character, howsoever good and fine, but it can be destroyed by ridicule, howsoever poor and witless. Observe the ass, for instance: his character is about perfect, he is the choicest spirit among all the humbler animals, yet see what ridicule has brought him to. Instead of feeling complimented when we are called an ass, we are left in doubt."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Consider well the proportions of things. It is better to be a young June-bug than an old bird-of-paradise."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Why is it that we rejoice at a birth and grieve at a funeral? Is it because we are not the person involved?"
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"It is easy to find fault if one has that disposition. There was once a man who, not being able to find any other fault with his coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"All say, 'How hard it is that we have to die'-a strange complaint to come from the mouths of people who have had to live."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"As to the adjective: when in doubt, strike it out."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"When I reflect upon the number of disagreeable people who I know have gone to a better world, I am moved to lead a different life."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"October. This is one of the particularly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Nothing so needs reforming as other people's opinion."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Behold, the fool saith, 'Put not all thine eggs in one basket'-which is but a manner of saying, 'Scatter your money and your attention;' but the wise man saith,'Put all your eggs in the one basket and WATCH THAT BASKET."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Even popularity can be overdone. In Rome, along at first, you are full of regrets that Michelangelo died; but by and by you only regret that you didn't see him do it."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"July 4. Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than in all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country's grown so."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Gratitude and treachery are merely the two extremities of the same procession. You have seen all of it that is worth staying for when the band and the gaudy officials have gone by."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Thanksgiving Day. Let all give humble, hearty, and sincere thanks, now, but the turkeys. In the island of Fiji, they do not use turkeys; they use plumbers. It does not become you and me to sneer at Fiji."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"It were not best that we should all think alike; it is difference of opinion that makes horse-races."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"Even the clearest and most perfect circumstantial evidence is likely to be at fault, after all, and therefore ought to be received with great caution. Take the case of any pencil, sharpened by any woman: if you have witnesses, you will find she did it with a knife; but if you take simply the aspect of the pencil, you will say she did it with her teeth."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"He is useless on top of the ground; he ought to be under it, inspiring the cabbages."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"APRIL 1. This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"It is often the case that the man who can't tell a lie thinks he is the best judge of one."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

"October 12, The Discovery. It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it."
-Pudd'nhead Wilson-

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Catching up

Only one student, advanced, left to do. Been reading since early morn, need a second wind to do it today. Might put off.

A guy auditing the class is a first rate screenwriter. Close to a top notch noir thriller.

The audacity of hope

PSU couldn't believe it when they didn't get a 16 seed:

While senior star Claire Faucher yelled, "We're not a 16! We're not a 16!" two of her teammates fell over backwards in their chairs out of sheer excitement, while others pumped their fists and shared looks of jubilation mixed with disbelief.

"I don't even know what (the TV) said as far as where (the game) was," coach Sherri Murrell said. "All I saw was 15 seed and I just erupted. Then the girls told me it was in Seattle and I got pretty excited after that."

The women not only avoided landing a No. 16 seed and a dreaded matchup with the likes of Connecticut, Stanford or Tennessee, but they also gained a potential home court advantage by landing a first round game in Seattle.

In an interview on ESPN before the selection show, Murrell had alluded to the nearly impossible task facing her team as a No. 16 seed by joking about devising a game plan for 33-0 Connecticut that involved "holding the ball for 20 minutes and then having Claire shoot." The No. 15 seed and the favorable venue changed her thinking.

"It's actually a situation where we can't just think, hey we're just there to be there. We have an opportunity," Murrell said. "We do have a chance."

Source

Many commentators, the "experts," are saying Texas A&M is an underrated team who will make the final four, so PSU clearly needs some good fortune, playing a top game while their opponent does not. It will be interesting.

Monday, March 15, 2010

PSU in Seattle

The women's team drew nationally ranked #9 Texas A&M. They'll be in Seattle with the fans behind them ... but good luck, on paper they are very outranked. But miracles have happened a lot in sports, so let the gods weave their magic again.

McGuire as Fischer

Tobey Maguire will play Bobby Fischer in a biopic going into production. Not sure it's good casting, to be honest. But TM is a good actor, maybe he can pull it off.

Dancing partner

Later this afternoon, the NCAA women's brackets will be announced. Who will PSU's dance partner be? I wonder what seed they'll be ... higher the better in terms of their draw, I think. But again, it would be something to face a Connecticut or Tennessee. Well, we'll find out soon enough.


The dog has spring fever. Can't blame him.

Breathing space

Caught up on the main body of students. Did some yard work but pooped out rather quickly, gets harder every year.

Have lined up a video profile of Kim Stafford, taping in April, and I'm excited about it because he's up to some new and interesting things. I really want to do a good job on it.

Lots of first games I'm interested in, though the odds say all the teams I'll be rooting for will lose. But maybe not.

Picked up THE EDUCATED IMAGINATION by Northrop Frye. Frye was the God of Critics when I was in grad school, his THE ANATOMY OF CRITICISM, if I recall the title, quite the rage. Be interesting how he reads to me now.

I also feel the periodic urge to return to Norman Brown and reread LOVE'S BODY. I've been thinking of a chamber opera around its themes -- after I finish LIFE IS A NICE PLACE TO VISIT, which i must must must get back to.

By the gods, it's a lovely day!

The Big Dance

The exciting tournament begins this week. I like the early games first, before the small underdogs get eliminated. And I root for underdogs most of the time. The conferences saw an unusual number of upsets. I hope the trend continues. I also hope teams from the west beat teams from the east as often as possible.

A fun three weeks ahead! And the Triple Crown isn't far behind.

Weather may permit working in the yard this afternoon. Only a few more projects to look at. Finished up the hard copy, have 2 electronic copies to look at this morning, some auditing and advanced students to consider tomorrow.

And as soon as my grades are in, must FINALLY get these taxes done. Also eager to return to the opera score, bring in front burner over the term break.

Banjo studies also progressing well, which is encouraging. Close to recording some tunes I can be proud of.

Daylight savings time, spring teasing the weather, it looks like I survived winter again.

Whitman's Commandments


From The Daily Dish

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Roswell, the series


Paid no attention to this series a decade ago when it came out. Saw a box of DVDs, the first season, at the library and brought it home. Now H and I are addicted to this scifi teen melodrama. Guess we'll watch all 3 seasons.

Another amazing game

Miss St trying to upset #2 Kentucky ... have missed 5 free throws in last minute! 8 secs left, they made one, have 2 pt lead, another free throw to go ... good, 3 down, 8 secs, Ken has ball ... whatever happens, Ken should be lock on #1 seed at big dance but if Miss St hangs on, another bubble gone ... tick tick ... Miss St fouls on purpose, max 2 pts available ... 4 sec left ... Ken made one, purposely missed one and got ball, made 2 pt shot, tie, overtime! Amazing. Miss St blew it missing all those foul shots at end. No excuse for that.

I really hope this incredible streak of upsets continues into the big dance. And now overtime ...

Going dancing




What if PSU is a 16 seed? They could face Connecticut or Tennessee! That would be something.

Progress

Made considerable progress on banjo of a sudden yesterday. Drop thumbing passages getting smooth, now to build speed.

And most of the student projects graded. I'll try and finish the hard copies today, the electronic copies tomorrow and the 2 auditing students the next day. Then go to the university to collect the take-home finals -- and start over.

Selection Sunday will be interesting with all the upsets in the conference finals. I have a few teams to root for: Washington upset Cal to get in. There's always Gonzaga. Anybody west of the Mississippi ha ha. And teams, the few of them, from schools who don't compromise academic standards for jocks.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Upset city

There have been an unusually large number of upsets in conference tournaments, where the champion has an automatic bid to the big dance. As a result, "bubble" teams that otherwise would have gotten in will not because often the conference favorite that lost was nationally ranked, which likely would get them a bid as well. So two teams come from conferences where one was expected. There will be some unhappy teams tomorrow, more than usual I think.

Big Sky frustration

PSU has been leading this game but it's a frustrating game to watch because so many errors are made by both teams. Connecticut or Tennessee would beat Big Sky teams by, well, many points. All the same, go Vikings! Hang in there. A quarter to go.

LATER. One point game with a couple minutes left. The team with the fewest errors now will win. Both make errors all over the place, so this is a game that has me tearing my hair out. This actually isn't fun like a close SKILLED game can be. Each team has a star. Let the Vikings star win. Go Viks!

LATER. PSU with 3 pt lead and the ball, 30 sec to go. ... 17 sec, Montana State has ball, Vikings lead by 5. No errors! and they win. ... Vikings foul, my god. ... and then throw it away! Can the Vikings actually throw this win away? ... 13 sec, 4 pt lead, Montana has ball. ... Can still win with no errors! Jesus. ... But Montana St threw it away! by the gods, what a game. 1 sec left, Vikings at line. ... Vikings win 62-58!

PSU women go dancing for first time in history!


and I escaped a heart attack.

CHENEY, Wash. (AP)—Claire Faucher scored 26 points on a Big Sky tournament record eight 3-pointers Saturday to lift Portland State to a 62-58 win over Montana State and earn its first trip to the NCAA tournament.

Story

Let's Get Lost


This extraordinary documentary about jazz trumpeter Chet Baker is showing on the Sundance channel this month. This is a must-see for jazz fans, as sad as the story is. Baker is one of those fascinating contradictions, so mellow and soft in his work, especially his singing, and so hard and self-destructive in his life.

I met a vibe player like this, whose name I forget, who used to play for George Shearing. He was a neighbor the year I lived in Portland after dropping out of grad school (1968). His music was also romantic and lyrical ... and his life a loud blast of a mess. Both were very much into drugs.

One day this guy came over with a new drug, wanting to share. I declined and asked him what it was. "The guy said it was rocket fuel," he said. Q.E.D.

And I thought education was bad before


AUSTIN, Texas — A far-right faction of the Texas State Board of Education succeeded Friday in injecting conservative ideals into social studies, history and economics lessons that will be taught to millions of students for the next decade.

More

Some of the changes:

– To avoid exposing students to “transvestites, transsexuals and who knows what else,” the Board struck the curriculum’s reference to “sex and gender as social constructs.”

– The Board removed Thomas Jefferson from the Texas curriculum, “replacing him with religious right icon John Calvin.”

– The Board refused to require that “students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others.”

– The Board struck the word “democratic” from the description of the U.S. government, instead terming it a “constitutional republic.”

Source

Cutting Jefferson for Calvin!

The Texas market often dictates how textbooks evolve throughout the country. Alas.

Durant on history


The Lessons of History
Will and Ariel Durant
Simon and Schuster, 1968

Here's a thin book I like to read every now and again to keep things in perspective. It's a gem.

Chapter outline


Hesitations
History and the Earth
Biology and History
Race and History
Character and History
Morals and History
Religion and History
Economics and History
Socialism and History
Government and History
History and War
Growth and Decay
Is Progress Real?

Legacy

We all want to leave something behind, some evidence that our passing through was not a waste of time. The common human legacy is family but through a variety of circumstances, I missed the dance. I have no grandkids running around, no softball games to go to, no advice to offer. Like many artists, I ended up embracing my work as my children. And so my legacy, such as it is, can be found in my archives.

The good news is that my archives exist and are accessible. Not every writer is so fortunate. I'm especially fortunate that a librarian at the University of North Carolina became fan enough of my work in hypertext to offer me unlimited bandwidth at their electronic resource Ibiblio, so I might put my digital films online. This has been a blessing. (My hard copy archives are in Special Collections at the University of Oregon).

The bad news is that the archives are mostly ignored. But that's to be expected. Notice I didn't say "totally" ignored, and this is an important difference. It only takes one to engage my writing in the way I want my legacy to work. And this has already happened once.

I want my work to inspire other work. This worked out perfectly when Geoffrey Sirc read an essay of mine long after it was written and was so inspired by its theme that he expanded it in a book (more here). This is the highest form of flattery. So as long as the archives exist and are accessible, someone else might similarly be inspired, and the good fight continues down the road.

I have faith this will happen. This might be delusional -- but faith is faith. My work will exist as my legacy.

There is another legacy I leave, the legacy of any teacher in having influenced others. Indeed, I've been mentor to several younger writers. This is another way to continue the good fight down the road.

I confess, I miss not having a soccer game or little league game to go to, where I could root for a grandkid, but my life strayed so far from the usual cultural pattern that I'm not surprised this happened. Indeed, the miracle is that I'm still here, I'm still fighting, as best I can, the good fight. It makes no sense that I'm here, in my view, that I escaped what my closest friends did not escape, that I outlived them, that I escaped all manner of small tragedies during the long reckless years of my youth. What shocks me most about my life is that I survived this long.

So here I am, practicing my drop thumbing and getting ready to cheer the PSU women's basketball team on this afternoon, looking forward to Selection Sunday tomorrow, turning my attention to a pile of student projects to grade, glancing over to our dog Sketch to cheer me up, as he always does, a born comic that rat terrier; here I am, remaining in the good graces of the gods. Amen.

Friday, March 12, 2010

PSU women play for big dance tomorrow

Interestingly enough, the two semifinals games were upsets, and now PSU meets Montana State for the automatic bid. PSU beat Montana by 15 pts! I'll be rooting them on tomorrow afternoon via Big Sky TV on this netbook. A cool way to watch the game actually.

PSU v. Montana

I am watching the women's tourny game on my computer via Big Sky TV. Very cool!

LATER. This interface is the best I've seen for streaming video. I think I'm becoming a bigger Big Sky conference fan than ever if I can watch everything live on my computer with such a cool, easy, clear interface.

Grading

Finally started looking at term projects. Do at least five today. At 330 the PSU women's team plays Montana, and I think I can get it streaming from Big Sky TV. If so, I will root them on!

The Pac 10 is so bad this year, I have fewer than the usual teams to root for. I'll root for underdogs and teams with the highest GPA ha ha.

Quotation of the day


So if you asked me, Wayne Morse, name
the one thing in our country that you
think will do more to strengthen
American foreign policy in the next
half century, you might be surprised
at my reply. I would say, Do something
to protect the educational standard of
American boys and girls. Do something
to protect American brain power.
Because the only sure and lasting
defense of peace is a highly educated
and enlightened citizenry.





--Wayne Morse, former U.S. Senator from Oregon
from my play American Gadfly

A basketball memory

I lettered in three sports my freshman year at Cal Tech, football, basketball and track. We won only one duel meet in track, as I recall, and no football games. But in basketball we were competitive because we had a guard, whose name I forget, who was about five-four and about 75% accurate from what is now three-point range. In those days the shots were only 2 ... in fact, if given 3, we would have won quite a few more games because this was our offense, get the kid free between half court and the paint, get him the ball and let him let loose with a bomb. Most of the time, swish! It was remarkable to witness. Not bad shooting at all for a brainy physics student ha ha.

At six foot I was a forward, the second tallest guy on the team. You get the picture. I recall I had one 20 pt game. Most of the time, I scored under 10. My job, like everyone else's, was to get the kid the ball and let him rip.

This memory popped into my head watching some three-point shooting on the sports news. This kid was every bit as good, maybe better, than these guys today. Wonder what happened to him.

Streaming March Madness

I added a link in the right column to a video player that presumably will let you watch any game in the tournament, live streaming. We'll see!

Up and at em!

Up early with energy this morning. Wish I could make noise! Alas, I can't. Maybe I'll go get coffee, cruise, jazz, the usual routine.

I need to grade at least five projects a day between now and Tuesday. Should be no problem. A rainy day, I'd like to get ten or so done today.

Making progress on banjo, the drop thumb version of one of our class songs. Maybe I can record it soon.

Wrote a long private post on a couple of summer decisions I have to make. Not the time to go public with them.

March Madness officially begins Sunday with the selection of teams. In women's basketball, the PSU women are still alive! It would be fantastic if they made the tournament. They have to win two more games in the Big Sky tourny to make the dance.

My class fizzled out yesterday. Didn't manage to end with a bang.

Energy to get back to the score. After my grades are in, I suppose.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Education

What a sad state of affairs: as we decline in world brain power, thus demanding better education, our schools are closing or cutting back all over the country. We need an educational leader with vision and a ton of money.

Banjo on my own

Last night was my first Wed. night without a banjo lesson. Miss it. But I don't want to spend the money for private lessons, so I'm on my own. I think I'll be fine and when I can take an advanced group lesson, I will.

My initial strategy is this: I've found tabs for different arrangements of three of our class songs, so I'm learning these. Then I'll combine each with Leela's class arrangement and have something a little different, perhaps even adding some of my own touches. At any rate, I think it's good to learn different approaches to the same song. Also, these tabs are a bit more advanced, using lots of drop thumbing.

I've been practicing a lot this morning, as a matter of fact. I think I'll drive in, rather than park and ride, because I'll have a huge stack of projects to carry, which can be a hassle on a crowded bus. Also I'll likely end class early, and the bus I prefer only comes once an hour.

A mellow morning, all in all. Should be a fun class. Then it's grading time.

Breakfast



Breakfast is my favorite meal. If some health crisis or whatever demanded a radical change in my eating habits, I could give up lunch and dinner without much pain -- but it would be hard to give up breakfast. This morning, for example, here at home, I made hashbrowns, eggs, sausage and scrapple. I usually don't have two meats but H wanted sausage and I wanted scrapple, so I made both and ended up eating both. About every other day or two, I have oat meal for breakfast, which I love. Sometimes I have it with bacon. Whatever it is, breakfast is my favorite meal to make at home and my favorite meal to go out to. I would have a very hard time taking my tradition of breakfast out of my routine to start the day. The day I have to stop eating breakfast is likely the day I should give up the race.

Last day of class

A light, fun day. I collect term projects. One student shot a video, so we'll watch it.

And then I'll show other videos, and we'll likely leave early, myself with a big stack of term projects to grade, which begins tomorrow.

It's a windy rainy day outside, which somehow seems appropriate.

Oregon's sports woes

A few years back we had the Portland Jail Blazers. Today we've got a University of Oregon football team filled with enough crooks and hoodlums on it to keep the bad news on the front page. What is Oregon's problem? Coaches without standards, for starters, in the notorious cases in question. Coaches who talk one way and act another. And part of it is the culture itself, creating a college sports environment filled with individuals who never, never, never would be on a college campus without an athletic scholarship, who do not belong on a campus without considerable personal change and growth. This is why my quick fix is ban all athletic scholarships and let college be about academics. Let the professional sports corporations then pay the price to build their own "minor league" network in which to develop players, like baseball does. You never hear about college baseball until the college world series, and even then the audience is relatively small. Baseball develops its players in its own farm system. Let football and basketball do the same.

Oregon also has admirable sports news, it must be said. Its track athletes, for example, are jocks to be proud of for their dedication and discipline. Oregon has a fine track and field tradition.

But these days it's the football team, a star quarterback being charged with theft, a running back with sexual assault, it goes on and on, and the coach is a wimp who talks discipline but does very little. Will the AD fire the coach? Probably not. He just got hired. It would look too bad. So the problem remains. I suppose the question is, OK, who is next to get arrested?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Big Sky to Big Dance

Montana, down 20 at the half, has come back to challenge Weber State, a point behind with a minute left. Love this small college basketball!

P.S. And the winnah is ... 10 sec left, Montana has 1 pt lead! ... is ... MONTANA, 66-65. What a game. A Montana player scored 42, 34 in second half to bring them back. On to the Big Dance (Portland State rep'd the Big Sky the last two years but not this).

Oregon Literary Review updated

Go there.

Will greed ruin March Madness?

The NCAA is thinking of expanding the tournament to 96 games. This would be disastrous. Not only would it make the tournament easier to get into, and therefore less honorable, but it also would ruin the quality of the NIT tournament, the teams that miss the Big Dance. Of course, more money would be made. So the NCAA has a choice: keep the best post-season sports event exactly as it has been, or ruin it for money. I am not confident they will do the right thing.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Hear, hear!



Like Jeff Bridges in 'Crazy Heart,' his Oscar-winner? You'll love him in 'Fat City,' a neglected classic



Read the story.

It's also a very fine short novel.

It's about time!


Health Care Protesters Face Off Against Insurance Lobbyists



Read the story.

Nice to see the right enemy as the focus for a change.

R.I.P.: Chris Thompson


Read this is the NW Examiner this morning:

Cloyd J. “Chris” Thompson, a former
Northwest District resident, died
Sept. 16 in Ryderwood, Wash., at age
79. Mr. Thompson was born June 20,
1930, in Ryderwood. He worked as
an exhibit designer and builder for
Jensen Display and later for All West
Display in Northwest Portland. He
carved the “Nobby” door at Nob Hill
Bar & Grill in 1972. He was active in
the Portland Civic Theater in the late
1960s and early 1970s.

It's significant that it took almost six months for the news to reach his old neighborhood. After retiring, Chris had moved to Washington to live with his sister. My late friend Ger and I often wanted to drive up and visit but Chris always had an excuse why we couldn't. He was a very private man.

I met him in the late 70s as a regular at Nobby's. When I learned he had been an actor a decade earlier (starring in Man from La Mancha at the Civic), I brought him, with considerable effort, out of retirement to perform in my hyperdrama "Cocktail Suite" -- and Chris was fantastic. The Nobby regulars who saw the play, which took place in a bar, were blown away: to them, Chris was just another blue collar regular. But he was an actor and a singer, talented in both. Chris really came through for the show.

He loved jazz and had a fine collection. He was a very funny man and fun to drink with -- until he reached his limit, at which time he became morose and dark. Many fond memories of good times with Chris, who never did let me visit him. He regularly called drunk over the Christmas holidays, but in recent years this had stopped, so I figured something had changed.

Weather

Looked out the window to find a dusting of snow on the deck. Ah, me.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Small college basketball

Wofford defeats Appalachian State to go to the Big Dance for the first time in school history. This is the sport at its most exciting. Take away athletic scholarships, and all college sports would be like this instead of farm team games for the pros. But this will never happen.

Maddow on political hooliganism

A brilliant film


Rewatched The Lives of Others, more moved and impressed than ever. A great film that lifts the spirits and nourishes the soul.

The summer goal

My front burner project this summer is domestic: go through the "stuff" I've accumulated and hope to decimate it, maybe get rid of 80% of what I have, sell it, give it away, whatever. Time to travel light! This is especially true when we sell our house, which it will be time to do in a few years. TRAVEL LIGHT! And I personally need to get rid of, well, far too much "stuff" than I have any need for. This must be top priority this summer because frankly time is running short. I don't have to tackle such a big project during the school year. This is the summer. The time has come.

Big dance

There's talk of expanding the NCAA tournament, which I think would be a huge mistake. I don't like the 65th team and extra game they added a few years ago. They also must, absolutely must, keep the automatic bids from the conferences because this is what brings the small teams into the tourny. I wouldn't mind if they got rid of the conference playoffs and sent the regular season winners, however. But this is not a major issue with me. Keeping small teams in and the tournament the size it is, these are important issues to me. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." This is the best sports championship process we have for any sport. Why mess with it?

This afternoon, the Connecticut women go for consecutive win 71, I believe it is, the most by a women't team in history. UCLA men have the all time record with 88, which certainly is within reach. I hope the women win 100! This is an amazing team.


In a semi-funk today, hard getting started on anything. Pick the banjo up, put the banjo down. Stare at some reading I have to do. Stare at the pile of tax stuff I have to do. Maybe I'm resting for the big grading marathon coming up.