Monday, May 31, 2010

More opera fiddling, experimenting

Higher-education leaders want independence for Oregon University System |

Higher-education leaders want independence for Oregon University System |

"'I don't know of anyone saying business as usual is great,' said Ed Ray, president of Oregon State University. 'Everyone is saying it has got to change.'"

Fiddling with the opera

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day

The sleeping giant awakens

Was America's greatest moment our awakening after Pearl Harbor? In the modern era, it would seem so. Caught a glimpse of a documentary on this, we had impressive focus, energy, unity. We didn't get this after 9/11. Why? Perhaps because the enemy was more elusive.

4G wireless: It's fast, but outstripped by hype - Yahoo! News

4G wireless: It's fast, but outstripped by hype - Yahoo! News:

"But there's less to 4G than meets the eye, and there's little reason for people to scramble for it, at least for the next few years."

Byron Williams: Strict ideology wilts under the weight of reality

Byron Williams: Strict ideology wilts under the weight of reality:

"But Paul's statement does reveal the disconnect that exists whenever an individual is strictly beholden to an ideology, there will inevitably come a point where that philosophy is unable to confront reality.

Paul is not the only one guilty of committing this infraction; it is commonplace in America's public discourse, in particular in politics and religion. It is a pseudo fundamentalism designed more to garner support for one's belief than it is to be a practical life application."

No vacation nation

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Joseph A. Palermo: Glenn Beck: "Historian" for a Troubled America

Joseph A. Palermo: Glenn Beck: "Historian" for a Troubled America:

"Historians whose specialty is the early 20th Century probably could never have dreamt that a TV and radio personality could convince so many ordinary Americans that laws that ensure the safety of meat and drugs, minimum wages, expanding voting rights, etc. undermined their 'freedom.'"

Beck is the champion of American Myth, the kind of history that ends up in grade school books (and history books published for Texas), the Washington and the cherry tree stuff. Today Sunday Morning had a story about the U.S. being the only industrialized country in the world without guaranteed vacation time for workers. We aren't the best of anything any more, are we? So there's considerable desire to hallucinate that we're still the way we were when we, in fact, were the best at several things. History as distorted nostalgia.

Little Big Man

Been a while, a long while, since I've watched this 1970 film. A perfect way to complete a fine morning. What a gem. And John Hammond's music sound track is, well, pure Hammond. Just an entertaining and instructional and moving piece of work.

Evan Connell, author of the extraordinary Mrs. Bridge, wrote the best book on Custer for my money, Son of the Morning Star.

The fake feminism of Sarah Palin

The fake feminism of Sarah Palin:

"But, of course, Palin isn't a feminist -- not in the slightest. What she calls 'the emerging conservative feminist identity' isn't the product of a political movement or a fight for social justice.

It isn't a structural analysis of patriarchal norms, power dynamics or systemic inequities. It's an empty rallying call to other women who are as disdainful of or apathetic to women's rights as Palin herself: women who want to make abortion and emergency contraception illegal and who fight same-sex marriage rights. As Kate Harding wrote on 'What comes next? 'Phyllis Schlafly feminism?' 'Patriarchal feminism?' 'He-Man Woman Hater Feminism?' '"

A Vancouver breakfast

It's been so long since I crossed the river to Vancouver -- well, now that I think about it, I had lunch with my Army buddy on the Washington side of the river -- to downtown Vancouver, it felt like a trip when I drove there this morning for breakfast with M. He's one of the few dudes in my life at the moment with whom I can have a conversation that doesn't put me to sleep, so it was a long, good breakfast, with good talk. He's five years older than I am and it's inspiring to see his energy.

Not sure what is in store for the rest of the day. I desperately need to mow some yard but, damn, it is gray and cool outside when the forecast was sunny and warm. I'll wait till later this afternoon. But rain on the way, there are a couple spots I need to cut today or really regret it later, with my push mower.

Alice 2.2 has the video export function active, as 2.0 does not. For some reason I downloaded 2.0 initially. I have 2.2 now and it's much more convenient. I hope the 3.0 beta interface doesn't stick. I like the old interface.

Sarah Stalin has a problem

The Consensus On Big Banks Shifts, But Not At Treasury -- The Baseline Scenario

The Consensus On Big Banks Shifts, But Not At Treasury The Baseline Scenario:

"Attitudes towards big banks are changing around the world and across the political spectrum. In the UK, the new center-right government is looking for ways to break them up:

“We will take steps to reduce systemic risk in the banking system and will establish an independent commission to investigate the complex issue of separating retail and investment banking in a sustainable way; while recognising that this will take time to get right, the commission will be given an initial time frame of one year to report.”"

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Learning a ton

Really got into if/else and when statements in Alice today. I'm really enjoying the learning curve. It will make the chamber opera so much more interesting. And future Sarahs, too.

I'm a tad antsy, might cruise with the dog.

Dennis Hopper's World in Photos | Culture | Vanity Fair

Dennis Hopper's World in Photos | Culture | Vanity Fair

R.I.P. Dennis Hopper –

R.I.P. Dennis Hopper –

Banjo II

My banjo teacher is offering Banjo II this summer, so I'm signing up. Suddenly I'm taking two classes this summer.


Just successfully tested a complicated Alice program built on modules. I'm really getting the hang of this. Moving on to the next section in the book, programming with logical structures, which is what I've been looking forward to (echoes of my math days). There is so much in common between planning a program and planning a film, it's fascinating. I wish I'd discovered this a few years ago when the program first came out.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Alice and scrapple

Spent the day studying Alice, doing exercises from the book, and took a break an hour ago to make a new batch of scrapple. May do more Alice work tonight or watch the Mariners or watch a movie or read or take a drive with Sketch or ...

Round Bend Press: Writers Are Like Women

Round Bend Press: Writers Are Like Women:

"I received some nice praise for this blog yesterday from a writer whom I greatly respect. He's an educator and the author of one of the funniest and sad books I read last year, the novel Kerouac's Scroll. The novel is a road-tripping remembrance of friendship and, well, the end of the road for two long-time pals."

Insightful commentary on my novel, Terry. I appreciate it.


Free PDF

Daily Kos: Senator Sanders Takes Action On The Oil Spill!

Daily Kos: Senator Sanders Takes Action On The Oil Spill!:

"'[Obama] wants a moratorium for six months. We want a permanent ban,' Sanders said, in a call announcing his legislation. 'I think the president is probably seriously regretting the fact that he lifted the moratorium... he is right to re-impose the moratorium as a time out.'"

Johnny Depp: Only Star To Hit The Billion Dollar Gross Mark Twice –

Johnny Depp: Only Star To Hit The Billion Dollar Gross Mark Twice –

Soldier in Iraq Loses Home Over $800 Debt | Mother Jones

Soldier in Iraq Loses Home Over $800 Debt | Mother Jones:

"Capt. Michael Clauer's homeowners' association foreclosed on his family's $300,000 house and sold it for $3,500."

George Lakoff: Obama's Missing Moral Narrative

George Lakoff: Obama's Missing Moral Narrative:

"Barack Obama may be one of the best communicators of this generation, but he is not living up to his own talents. In a year of disasters, communication failure doubles the crises."

More disappointment

Obama's gulf trip was a bust, as far as I'm concerned. He avoided visiting the ugly most destroyed areas. His comments lacked the passion he's so capable of (on the campaign trail or DNC convention, for example). I think he's blowing it. Sad.

Climate denial activists’ parallel to anti-relativity movement of 1920s | Joss Garman

Climate denial activists’ parallel to anti-relativity movement of 1920s | Joss Garman:

"“This world is a strange madhouse. Currently, every coachman and every waiter is debating whether relativity theory is correct. Belief in this matter depends on political party affiliation.”

So wrote Albert Einstein in a letter to his one time collaborator, the mathematician Marcel Grossmann in 1920."

Leaders lead

Obama's great failure, and the huge disappointment of his failing to realize expectations, is his lack of moral leadership. This is an image problem. This is a performance, an actor's performance, problem. Someone said that Bill Clinton, if president during an oil disaster like this, would have put on a wet suit and swam in the oil to see for himself. I don't know if that's true or not but, as contrived as the gesture might seem, this is exactly the kind of action that is needed. Politics is symbolic as well as practical.

FDR welcomed the hatred of bankers: "...we know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred." Obama kisses their asses.

The oil spill is Obama's Katrina in the sense that this event marks and clarifies his failure as a leader of moral authority. He visits the Gulf today but to reverse this impression will be a challenge indeed. I think it's too late unless he is very dramatic and not his normal cool self.

Obama cool has served him well in many scenarios. But it seems to be his downfall as well. We need some good old FDR rage out of him now. I doubt if we'll get it. (But I think we may have gotten it from Hillary Clinton, and so I am beginning to regret my vote.)

Incident at Oglala

I've seen this documentary, executive produced and narrated by Robert Redford, several times, and each time I get angrier than after the previous viewing. "I don't know what justice is," says one Native American near the end of the film, and it's hard not to agree with him. Add to the injustice in the Leonard Peltier case, the growing list of wrongly accused people released after new DNA evidence, many on death row. We don't have an admirable track record in convicting the right people, the actual criminals.

The issue is this: is it worse to let a guilty criminal free or to convict someone who is innocent? The system favors the former. We need to revamp the system so it favors the latter. Freeing a few criminals is the price you pay to protect the innocent. Otherwise, as now, convicting the innocent is the sacrifice one must make to be sure the criminals are in jail.

Free Leonard Peltier


The U.S. isn't doing very well on some recent "best of" lists. Best places in the world to live? Best we can do is Hawaii at 31st. Best airlines in the world? No American airline even made the list.

Of course, lists are just lists but it wasn't all that long ago, I think, when we'd have done much better on each of these. I think some of the anger in the country is about this kind of decline, the feeling that we've lost some of our past national and international grandeur. Whoever feels this may then look for a scapegoat to explain it.

But in a larger perspective, an historical perspective, all great societies decline and get replaced. This has always happened, and there's no reason to believe it won't happen, indeed has been happening, to us. The rise of China suggests that past glory can return, however, so maybe there's some long range hope there for those who need that sort of thing.

In my view, I think Nature may step in and make these rankings irrelevant. Nature wins. I don't believe in  much but I believe that.

Lee Stranahan: Sour Milkshake Blues: How The Fast Food Industry Is Betraying Us All

Lee Stranahan: Sour Milkshake Blues: How The Fast Food Industry Is Betraying Us All:

"There's a tacit understanding between the low paid workers in the restaurants, the low paid managers and regional managers that supervise them and profitable corporations that head everything up - it's okay if you take shortcuts that may screw a few customers as long as it saves the company a little bit of money."

Howard Fineman: On Oil Spill, Obama 'Put Too Much Trust In Technology And Business' (VIDEO)

Howard Fineman: On Oil Spill, Obama 'Put Too Much Trust In Technology And Business' (VIDEO):

"'Barack Obama, who doesn't know much about technology or business, put too much trust in technology and business,' said Fineman."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Best Airlines In the World: Skytrax (PHOTOS)

The Best Airlines In the World: Skytrax (PHOTOS)

Not a single U.S. airline made the list.

Daily Kos: Record Global Heating Causing Arctic Meltdown

Daily Kos: Record Global Heating Causing Arctic Meltdown:

"The mission to convert from a fossil fuel economy to a renewable energy economy must be done with the speed commitment of Kennedy's space program. Like the space program, the jobs and improvements that will come from the progress of developing a green economy, will provide huge economic benefits.

The alternative is Hellish."

Belmont Stakes | 2010

Belmont Stakes | 2010 Belmont Stakes Betting:

Date Time (ET) Races Network
June 4 7:30-8:00 p.m. Thoroughbred Classics: Belmont Stakes ESPN Classic
June 5 12:00-5:00 p.m. Today at Belmont Stakes ESPN
5:00-6:30 p.m Belmont Stakes ABC"

Around the clubhouse turn ...

Last class in the next to last week, the end in sight. It's been a good term. Several students writing like a pro now, though not yet storytelling like a pro. And the latter skill is the important one, of course. I think it's important to make the distinction.

This weekend I'll continue through the Alice book, do some yard work with good weather coming, hopefully do a bit of work on the vocal score, maybe finish a splay in its final act.

New budget cuts in education. I think my job is secure, however, since it's always full with a waiting list. It's not me, it's the course. Everybody wants to write a screenplay today.

Transfer Big Files Free - Email or Send Large Files up to 1GB

Transfer Big Files Free - Email or Send Large Files up to 1GB

Book Review: The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less by Peter Bowerman

Book Review: The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less by Peter Bowerman:

"Whenever anyone asks me where to go for advice on how to become a freelance commercial writer, I send them directly to Peter Bowerman's website. He’s the guru on this topic. His book The Well-Fed Writer was the best guide I’ve read to setting up a lucrative (that’s the well-fed part) copywriting business. It was so well-written, easy to understand and down to earth, that even if you didn’t want a career in commercial freelancing, by the end of the book, you were contemplating it."

I haven't read this book but supported myself as a freelancer for years several decades ago, and I don't wish that kind of hard work and stress on anyone. The stressful part is keeping ahead with assignments and dealing with late paying editors. There's wonderful freedom of time management and other benefits, but you don't have insurance, you likely are not getting rich, and you discover the price of "freedom." I'm glad I did it and all things being equal, probably would make the same choices -- but it's not as rosy as it first sounds.

Final 2009-10 Season Network Rankings –

Final 2009-10 Season Network Rankings –

Note from a former agent

As always, I wish you the very best, and continue to claim that the Moliere property was one of the best I have ever been offered.
A nice thing to hear. He's referring to the screenplay based on my play of the same name, Sad Laughter.

But, alas, he couldn't sell it, which really is the bottom line in a commercial business. Praise and a buck buys you a cup of coffee. Well, not at Starbucks, but somewhere today, I hope.

Our visitors

Visitors to this blog come from all over. The wonders of cyberspace.

I registered

OK,, it's done, I registered for "Music Theory and Technology" at the Oregon Music Technology School, which is housed at the university. I'm taking it to brush up on theory, formally put music at the center of the summer, because Jon Newton teaches it (I took his Advanced Finale course earlier) (Jon has been a major music creator around here since I've been in town), because I'm curious how Jon will use Finale as the interface for a theory course. So! A busy productive summer ahead, and I really look forward to it. Meanwhile, my fall class is full of undergrads with a few graduate spots left. Ah, sweet blessings.

‘Alice’ Hits $1 Billion Mark As Disney And Other Studios Tap Public Domain Tales –

‘Alice’ Hits $1 Billion Mark As Disney And Other Studios Tap Public Domain Tales –

"For non-sequels, that puts the picture behind only Titanic and Avatar."

And suggests the direction Hollywood mainstream filmmaking will go.

Media pollution

Imagine being a farmer in the Oregon Territory in the 19th century. One day a neighbor comes over and says, Did you hear what happened two months ago? The president got assassinated!

Today a president farts in public and you are bombarded with the news from every direction and every media, you can't escape it without considerable effort.

Even in my lifetime, media pollution has accelerated. It used to be, growing up, you didn't think about the news until six in the evening. The family sat down and watched the news. Now it's 24/7 and again takes effort to escape. And almost all of it is repetitive nonsense.

I thought of this while watching Obama's news conference this morning, getting depressed as I watched, finally switching to the jazz station on satellite radio and immediately catching Chris Connor, my very favorite vocalist, and my spirits were in overdrive immediately.


Just had my first Skype conversation. Pretty cool!

A dinosaur confesses

I'm never more aware of how out of touch I am with the entire ambiance and values of mainstream pop cultural life than when I listen to the news, either national or local. Fully 90%, maybe more, of the newscasters I hear drive me up the wall with the overt "friendliness" of their tone. As if I'm a friend of theirs. Guess what? I'm a stranger, and I just want the news, not intimacy, and I want it delivered straight and neutrally, ala Cronkite, Brinkley. I don't want any goddamn aw shucks news. I don't want to be told I'm going to really really like this story. I just want to know what's happening in the world. I don't want any TV personalities involved.

There's a partial solution. I mute the sound and try not to notice the beaming faces as I read the newswire at the bottom of the screen.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

1979 and 2010: we learn nothing from history

Here is a frightening comparison of two similar oil spills 31 years apart. First rate reporting by Rachel Maddow.

Best Places To Live In The World: Mercer Survey (PHOTOS)

Best Places To Live In The World: Mercer Survey (PHOTOS)

Highest U.S.: Hawaii at 31st.

Mariners win 2 in a row!

What can I say?

Bob Cesca: Republicans Demand a Government Takeover and Bailout of the Oil Spill

Bob Cesca: Republicans Demand a Government Takeover and Bailout of the Oil Spill:

"Now that crude has begun to wash upon the shores and wetlands of Republican red states, any superficial bumper sticker griping about socialism has been temporarily forgotten."

The Science of Horror Movie Screams | Wired Science |

The Science of Horror Movie Screams | Wired Science |

Student success

I liked a student's midterm so much that I suggested she enter it in a short script contest ... she just heard she's a finalist and, of course, is VERY excited. Hope she wins. She wrote the funniest script I've read in years.

‘Atlas Shrugged’ Rights Holder Sets June Production Start Whether Or Not Stars Align –

‘Atlas Shrugged’ Rights Holder Sets June Production Start Whether Or Not Stars Align –

Take a summer class?

Just got a flier from the Music Technology School, where I had my Advanced Finale course a few summers ago, and they are offering a Music Theory and Technology course that interests me as a brush up. Hmm. Tues nights for 8 weeks. I love the teacher. I think this definitely would be good for me, though I may learn nothing new, just a bunch of stuff I've forgotten. And I like the music technology interface, we're using Finale as the learning tool. Yes, I should take this. Also it will formally keep me focused on music, hence the chamber opera, even as I continue to learn animation.

2010-11 Summer HD Encores test

2010-11 Summer HD Encores Met operas.

Met in HD 2010-11 season

News Flash: "the Peabody Award-winning series will present a record 11 live transmissions to movie theaters worldwide."

Planetary Bullies Make Astronomers Rethink the Habitable Zone | Wired Science |

Planetary Bullies Make Astronomers Rethink the Habitable Zone | Wired Science |

Testosterone Makes People Suspicious of One Another | Wired Science |

Testosterone Makes People Suspicious of One Another | Wired Science |

Another gray wet day

But just as well. I'm stuck inside all day with student scripts to look at.

Taking charge

I vigorously supported Obama over Hillary Clinton -- but now I am beginning to think that Clinton would have been a stronger president. Obama has huge strengths and, in theory, the gifts to become a great president but he lacks the ability to take charge when taking charge will anger some people. He tries too hard to satisfy everyone. As a constitutional scholar, he probably is too sensitive to the complexity and "gray areas" of all national issues to focus on one plan of action over another.

His response to the oil spill is appalling. Even though most of what he can do is symbolic, it's essential symbolism to let people who are hurting know that their government cares about them. Obama is handling this no better than Bush handled Katrina.

I don't think Clinton would have been so quiet. She does a better job than Obama of showing that she's pissed off. We need great national anger in our leaders now. Carville is right on about all the things Obama should be doing now, and I suspect that maybe a President Clinton would be doing them.

Maybe she should run again in 2012. I might support her.

Gulf Coast oil spill map

Gulf Coast oil spill map

Great map options.

'Not acceptable:' Nearly one-third of Oregon high school students drop out |

'Not acceptable:' Nearly one-third of Oregon high school students drop out |


James Carville To Obama On Oil Spill: 'Get Down Here And Take Control... We're About To Die'

James Carville To Obama On Oil Spill: 'Get Down Here And Take Control... We're About To Die':

"Democratic strategist and New Orleans resident James Carville is not relenting from his frenzied plea for President Obama to take a more direct and active role in addressing the Gulf oil blowout.

'The President of the United States could've come down here, he could've been involved with the families of these 11 people' who died on the rig after an explosion, Carville said on ABC's Good Morning America. 'He could be commandeering tankers and making BP bring tankers in and clean this up. They could be deploying people to the coast right now. He could be with the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard...doing something about these regulations. These people are crying, they're begging for something down here, and it just looks like he's not involved in this.'

His voice rising, Carville cried out, 'Man, you got to get down here and take control of this! Put somebody in charge of this thing and get this moving! We're about to die down here!'"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spirit of the Marathon - Home

Spirit of the Marathon - Home:

"As six unique stories unfold, each runner prepares for and ultimately faces the challenge of the Chicago Marathon. More than a sports movie, Spirit of the Marathon is an inspirational journey of perseverance and personal triumph; a spectacle that will be embraced by runners and non-runners alike."

A fine documentary. I've never been a runner, except for periods of uncharacteristic fitness after my younger, brief jock days, but I've always admired distance runners (my favorite track event). I also like the fact that for so many runners the goal of a marathon is simply to finish.

Round Bend Press: Places Where I've Done Time

Round Bend Press: Places Where I've Done Time:

"Saroyan famously spent the money he made writing as fast as he earned it, and he was prolific. He was an addicted gambler and drinker, but remained a high-spirited humorist over the entirety of his career. He met early success by publishing stories in the legendary Story Magazine and elsewhere. Those stories became The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, published in 1934."

‘FNL’ Reruns Headed To ABC Family –

‘FNL’ Reruns Headed To ABC Family –

"ABC Family has acquired the basic cable TV rights to NBC/DirecTV’s high school drama Friday Night Lights in a deal with NBC Universal Domestic TV Distribution. The deal gives ABC Family the rights to five seasons of the critically praised series whose upcoming fifth season on DirectTV and NBC is expected to be its last. Season 4 of the show now airs on NBC, while Season 5 will premiere on DirecTV on October 28."

EMMYS: Can ‘Lost,’ ‘24′ And ‘L&O’ Score Best Series Win On The Way Out? –

EMMYS: Can ‘Lost,’ ‘24′ And ‘L&O’ Score Best Series Win On The Way Out? –

Ducks in a row

I feel very liberated. This is because I have a sense of all my ducks lined up in a row, as they say, and now the only thing between me and what I hope to accomplish, which is an animated chamber opera, is hard work. Hard work I can do. I can ...
  • compose the music in Finale and export it as a sound file
  • create sets and characters in Alice
  • choreograph action in Alice to match the lyrics of the music
  • synchronize characters "singing" the lyrics
  • use various film effects while editing in Premiere Elements to make it more interesting
  • export as a final digital film and put it online
In other words, I can do everything myself. What this really means is I don't have the hassle of scheduling when other artists are available to work for FREE ha ha. Which tends to slow me down, since even as an old man I have considerable obsessive energy to move projects forward.

The hardest technical task is learning the fine parts of Alice. The hardest creative task is writing interesting music.

But there they are, all lined up, quack quack quack.

BP ad (hilarious)


Mishap at a rally

The Adventures of Sarah Stalin

Fox News Video Omits Applause During Obama's West Point Speech (VIDEO)

Fox News Video Omits Applause During Obama's West Point Speech (VIDEO)

Obama needs to be Huey Long, not Gandhi

Mike Papantonio: Gulf Leak Can't Be Stopped | Video Cafe:

"the entire gulf coast is dying because right now, Obama has the bully pulpit. You want -- you want to know the most -- the most effective thing Obama has control of, that`s the bully pulpit, and he needs to sound like Huey Long right now, not Gandhi. We`re tired of the Gandhi speech. We`re tired of kumbaya. I`m tired of the David Axelrods saying we have Dr. Chu and we`re going to solve this problem."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Learning curve

Real progress on the Alice programing learning curve today, thanks to the book, which is excellent. Yes, my confidence grows that I can learn to use this in a fairly sophisticated way. The chamber opera is the goal but along the way the short Sarah Stalin satires are fun and informative to me.

After keeping us waiting for a century, Mark Twain will finally reveal all - News, Books - The Independent

After keeping us waiting for a century, Mark Twain will finally reveal all - News, Books - The Independent:

"The great American writer left instructions not to publish his autobiography until 100 years after his death, which is now"

The adventure begins

An Alice textbook I ordered arrived today. Now I can begin studying in earnest. I also found a fine tutorial online. Onward.

The People

In my youth, when I thought of "the People" I thought of the ending of the film Grapes of Wrath with Ma Joad's inspired "we're the people" speech, a proclamation of survival and victory for the dispossessed against great odds. "The people" was the labor movement, all the men and women put to work in FDR's New Deal, "the people" were a part of the progressive end of the political spectrum.

With the rise of a strong middle class, with more and more people having possessions and a lifestyle they didn't want to lose, the fabric of "the people" began to change. I witnessed this dramatically during an outdoor Labor Day performance of my labor play 1934: Blood and Roses at a Longshoremen's union picnic. The play generated a heated controversy between generations, older union members, some of whom participated in the 1934 General Strike, on one end, saying the play was too safe; younger union members on the other, saying the play was commie propaganda. The fathers and the sons were at it again (i.e. Norman Brown)! The new generation of labor seemed not to appreciate the incredible battles and sacrifices that led to their present well-being. "The people" was different from the days of the Joads.

The trouble with any definition of "the people" is that it belies the diversity, and growing diversity, that should be the country's strength. Whites mean one thing, blacks another, immigrants another, when they invoke "the people" at their political rallies.

I've always appreciated our constitutional protections of dissent and individual expression. I've always appreciated the "majority of one" concept of Thoreau. This often gets lost in the heat of political debate today. Perhaps no movements more than advertising and marketing have done as much damage to our appreciation of minority opinions. "A majority of one" is the worst kind of consumer. You market to the masses, not to the fringes of taste. More and more in the culture, minority anything gets ignored and dismissed as insignificant.

In politics today, a 55-45 victory is talked about as if it were a landslide. It's a decisive victory. The minority of 45% loses, period, it's a mandate to the other side.

And even as I write, a TV is advertising a new book, Become a Green Millionaire. There you have it. Ah me, there you have it.

Fortunately, I'm an old man, not a young man. I remember it wasn't always this way.

The SEED school

How do we make this kind of educational discipline the rule rather than the exception? Many immigrant cultures still retain this high value of education, a value lost in so many American households today, which is why, ironically enough, immigrants may yet save us from ourselves -- at least if high standards, personal discipline and individual achievement are goals.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Daily Kos: The 4 consequences of rising atmospheric CO2

Daily Kos: The 4 consequences of rising atmospheric CO2:

"The discussion of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has centered on the predicted and -- to a certain extent -- experienced rise in the average temperature around the globe. That's one of the results, but there are three others. The four predicted changes are:

Global Warming,
Weather changes,
Shifts in disease vectors,
Oceanic acidification."

Op-Ed Columnist - Obama Versus the Corporations -

Op-Ed Columnist - Obama Versus the Corporations -

"If this sounds familiar, it should: it’s the same formula the right has been using for a generation. Use identity politics to whip up the base; then, when the election is over, give priority to the concerns of your corporate donors. Run as the candidate of “real Americans,” not those soft-on-terror East coast liberals; then, once you’ve won, declare that you have a mandate to privatize Social Security. It comes as no surprise to learn that American Crossroads, a new organization whose goal is to deploy large amounts of corporate cash on behalf of Republican candidates, is the brainchild of none other than Karl Rove.

But won’t the grass-roots rebel at being used? Don’t count on it. Last week Rand Paul, the Tea Party darling who is now the Republican nominee for senator from Kentucky, declared that the president’s criticism of BP over the disastrous oil spill in the gulf is “un-American,” that “sometimes accidents happen.” The mood on the right may be populist, but it’s a kind of populism that’s remarkably sympathetic to big corporations."

A deer crossed the road

Just up the street, as Sketch and I ran an errand, we saw a deer cross the road. Deer were everywhere in the 90s when we bought the house, which was surrounded on two sides by apple orchards. But those orchards got ripped out and houses are starting to go up, so our almost daily visits from deer stopped. I haven't seen one in the area for several years. A flash of nostalgia, seeing it.

Wednesday is a huge, huge work day, making my final comments on term projects before they turn them in next week for a grade, which is half their grade for the course. So I'm inclined to take it easy today since I get tired just thinking about Wednesday. But the end is in sight, and the summer of downsizing and learning animation programing and composing the chamber opera can begin.

3 poems

Three that have stayed with me, among dozens and dozens that have not. 


I'm not fit company 
for women of intelligence
if their necks are long
if their hips are slim
if their eyes darken
with forbidden possibilities

I'm not fit company
for women of intelligence
who reject an old biology
who prefer sensitive men
who talk about feelings

If a thought
is unspoken speech
then isn't a feeling
unthought thought?
And if a feeling is unthought
how possibly can it be talked about?

I'm not fit company
for women of intelligence
who mistake equality
for similarity

Which brings me to you

In these dim lights
I’m not sure what I see
but go on instinct when I say
the odds strike me as good
despite the pleasantries between us
I’m not fit company
I’m not fit company

--Charles Deemer


I have a leak in my soul
And through it my character flows
Drip by drip. The Yellow Pages
Do not list Plumbers
For the Soul. The sages
At church have much to say
On this matter but nothing
They know makes sense to me.

I have a crack in my heart
Through which my spirit wants
To go. The wages of sleep
Do not pay the rent. Dreams
Without spirit do not spend.
A spirit lost is a spirit gone.
I have a leak in my soul
And through it my character flows.

I have a rent in my mind
And everything unwinds.
I don’t know where I’ve been.
I don’t know where I go.
I have a leak in my soul
And through it my character flows
Into the vast unknown
Far, so far, from home.

--Charles Deemer


May the gods bless you
with a wife who understands you

If you are not so fortunate
may she accept you for who you are

and if not this
at least put up with you

If she cannot put up with you
may she not kick you out

or if she does
not also call the police
or the Mental Health Institute

but even if she does
may she not inflict bodily harm
or drive you to cut off an ear

though should this happen
may the blade be clean
and not cause infection

Yet if serious harm comes to you
may she at least spare your work
and not destroy it

and if she must
let her forget the work
hoarded by your friends

If she knocks on their doors
may they not be home
or refuse to answer
or escape out the back door

and if she catches up with them at last

May God have mercy on their souls

-- Charles Deemer