Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Feds Launch Initiative To Halt Movie And TV Pirates; Seize Seven Websites Showing First Run Movies – Deadline.com

Feds Launch Initiative To Halt Movie And TV Pirates; Seize Seven Websites Showing First Run Movies – Deadline.com

Banjo

Another great class tonight. We're learning a song a session, tonight our 2nd in G modal tuning. Next week we go to Double C, so by the end of the class we'll have learned new songs in 3 tunings.

Finished "The Colonial Experience" but before moving on to the next volume, "The National Experience," I'm going to read Zenn through the revolution, for balance.

I sure do love Kindle for PC on my netbook.

2-Billion-Year-Old Fossils May Be Earliest Known Multicellular Life | Wired Science | Wired.com

2-Billion-Year-Old Fossils May Be Earliest Known Multicellular Life | Wired Science | Wired.com

Highly productive morning!

Progress in composing (a struggle), music theory, banjo practice, reading, cooking (made scrapple). My kind of morning! Now for yard work, reading, maybe back to a song I'm struggling to write. Composition is so much harder for me than narrative writing.

Missing from the list, animation studies. Need to bring this into the party.

DC Comics Has Ruined Wonder Woman! – Deadline.com

DC Comics Has Ruined Wonder Woman! – Deadline.com:

"Of course, it took a bunch of men to ruin her."

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Finalist for the Oregon Book Award.

WRITING THE HISTORY PLAY

WRITING THE HISTORY PLAY: "Why dramatists lie in the pursuit of truth
by Charles Deemer

(originally published in Oregon Magazine)

The recent Hollywood blockbuster 'Pearl Harbor,' for
all the disappointment of its plodding love and buddy
stories, generated the usual amount of controversy
that arises whenever Hollywood brings history to the
screen. In Letters to the Editor and Op-Ed pieces
across the country, historians were quick to point out
the inaccuracies and historical short-comings of the
film. Typically, many of these comments reflected a
basic misunderstanding of the task of the historical
dramatist, whether writing for film or stage.

I've written an unusual amount of historical material
for a playwright and so am well aware of the ways in
which dramatists and historians can come into
conflict. I want to defend the task of the historical
dramatist by giving you a case history of my most
recent history play, a short reworking of material I
first put together for a Bicentennial Play. This
material focuses on a dramatic character in our early
history, a forgotten 'Founding Father.'"

Click link above for full essay.

Reading history

I'm enjoying the hell out of "The Colonial Experience," the first volume of Daniel Boorstin's history of the U.S. And yet he exhibits a glaring, if common, weakness, his treatment of Native Americans. I've also been reading a lot of American Indian history lately. Boorstin (writing 50 years ago) takes a mainstream if outdated "Indian as savage" approach much of the time. At the same time, Boorstin's history is not event-centered but a consideration of the "American character" and what formed it -- and this attitude, of course, is part of it.

This is why even a skilled historian like Boorstin must be supplemented with histories that come from other directions (and biases), like Zenn's People's History, which I plan to reread after the 3 Boorstin books. If you read widely, perhaps some sense of balance and "truth" can emerge.

What I am learning from Boorstin, what I had forgotten, is that the roots of American culture in all its preferences for practical over aesthetic themes, the roots of "the business of America is business," go deep. Seeing the consequences of this foundation much later, it's easy to forget how logical and inevitable the result actually is.  It's easy to forget that anti-intellectualism has a very deep foundation in our culture.

My news problem

I like to keep up with the news but the vast majority of newscasters, following the new Charismatic School of Journalism, drive me up the wall. What to do? I may have found a solution. The International Herald Tribune (the international edition of the NY Times) has an electronic edition and custom reader that's reasonably priced, so I'm trying it out delivered to my netbook. So far, so good.

Music theory class last night was challenging. This is a much tougher course than the theory class I took a few years back at a community music center, a course for seniors. This will be good for me. Music is moving to the front burner.

Lots of banjo to do today before class. A busy day. Every day is a busy day. This is good.

Daily Vanguard - KPSU loses AM signal

Daily Vanguard - KPSU loses AM signal:

"After airing for over 15 years, KPSU, Portland State’s student-run radio station, had its signal permanently revoked from KBPS 1450 AM after a controversial on-air incident occurred last Thursday night. However, prior to the incident, Portland Public Schools—the owner of KBPS—had already decided that it would not renew its contract with the college station."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Singing with Jim Wylie

I first performed my tribute to Woody Guthrie, Ramblin': the songs and stories..., in 1979 with significant grant support. I managed to keep the grant support going through the 80s and performed it from Seattle to Los Angeles, mostly in the NW. Then I put the show to rest. After 5 or 6 years, however, I decided to revive it with a second musician. Jim Wylie was the obvious choice: a friend, a musician whose picking strengths filled in my weakness. So we revived the show and toured it a bit through the 90s.

All this comes to mind because I found a wonderful publicity shot for the show as I was cleaning my office this morning. Jim has left us but his memory and music lives on. Below are some links to it all.

Deemer and Wylie perform RAMBLIN' (audio)

Jim Wylie performs (audio)

A friend remembers Jim Wylie

Obituary

Shoot out

A shoot out in the World Cup this morning, Paraguay defeating Japan, reminded me of one of my favorite titles in literature: Peter Handke's The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick. Doesn't get much better than that.

Provocation of the Day: Book Reviews Have Changed for the Worse - Ideas Special Report - The Atlantic

Provocation of the Day: Book Reviews Have Changed for the Worse - Ideas Special Report - The Atlantic

Dennis Kucinich on war

Monday, June 28, 2010

Escape to Starbucks

Needed a change of scenery, brought the netbook to Starbucks for the first time in ages. A comfortable atmosphere here. Read on the Kindle, another chapter in Boorstin, did some online chores.

The progress of the summer will depend on how much time I spend in my basement office. The netbook has liberated me from the desktop there -- and yet my major summer chores, downsizing and music, must be done there, the place of the mess and the location of my keyboard. Thus far, I'm not doing a very good job at spending time in the basement. But I'll get there.

Brazil looked unstoppable in its match against Chile today, winning 3-0 and looking magical. It's clear that the U.S. has far, far to go to reach this level of play. We may never get there since our best athletes presumably go to another sport.

Almost the end of June. Incredible.

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Includes two "Roll of Honor" stories from Best American Short Stories anthologies.

NASA Needs You: 6 Ways to Help an Astronomer | Wired Science | Wired.com

NASA Needs You: 6 Ways to Help an Astronomer | Wired Science | Wired.com:

"Space is a big place, and even with their giant telescopes, astronomers just can’t cover it all. This is where you come in. Yes, you.

Astronomy is one of the few scientific fields where amateur scientists can, and frequently do, make significant contributions. But now space scientists are increasingly also looking to people with little or no training for help with their research. Sometimes they are looking for free labor for tasks that humans can still do better than computers, like identifying different types of galaxies. Other times it’s numbers of eyes on the sky or feet on the ground they’re after. But more and more, they are finding ways to get regular citizens involved."

In high school, I was one of a few teenage amateur astronomers admitted to the American Association of Variable Star Observers. I was assigned three variable stars to keep tabs on, and I religiously sent my brightness estimations to Harvard Observatory as required. I considered this a very big deal. Well, I still do ha ha. So if you are interested in astronomy and have some time, check this out.

15 women on why they said 'no' to marriage - CNN.com

15 women on why they said 'no' to marriage - CNN.com

Good for them. I like Bertrand Russell's thesis in Marriage and Morals, the turn of the (19th-20th) century book that got him banned in the United States: marriage exists for children, not adults, and therefore a woman must be pregnant to apply for a marriage license.

Robert Byrd: Obama Aides Recall The Symbolism Of His Endorsement

Robert Byrd: Obama Aides Recall The Symbolism Of His Endorsement:

"He was once in the Klu Klux Klan (and not in an insignificant capacity). He helped filibuster the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He was publicly embarrassed, as recently as 2001, for using the term 'White N---er' during an interview with Fox News.

For all of this, he spent much of his life expressing contrition. Appropriating money for memorials to civil rights icons was a start. But backing the first black presidential candidate with a legitimate chance at victory was a far more profound act."

Paul Krugman: Why We Could Be Entering 'A Third Depression'

Paul Krugman: Why We Could Be Entering 'A Third Depression':

"And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world -- most recently at last weekend's deeply discouraging G-20 meeting -- governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending."

Gutenberg Project

Books in the Gutenberg Project can be overwhelming and humbling: even the most literate among us can observe this collection of writers and think, Not in several lifetimes could I begin to appreciate the writing here. It suggests a change in the relationship between writers and readers. Perhaps readers should turn to Gutenberg alone, and perhaps writers should write for themselves in their lifetimes and for future Gutenberg readers after they have passed. At least it would get the commercialism out of writing.

Dream on. But Gutenberg! Here is a gold mine for curious readers. Free, digital, available on Kindle for PC as well.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

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Moliere struggles with the possibility that he married his own daughter. Includes original stage play and screenplay.

The Associated Press: Gov't plans to double available wireless spectrum

The Associated Press: Gov't plans to double available wireless spectrum

Still waiting: Millions of Americans who qualify for disability must wait two years for Medicare | OregonLive.com

Still waiting: Millions of Americans who qualify for disability must wait two years for Medicare | OregonLive.com:

"Sue Sherman of Southwest Portland lived a peaceful, healthy life until she was dealt an ugly card last year: a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.

From the whirl of appointments, tests and drugs arose an enduring irony of any serious illness: too many moments surrendered just to the act of waiting, for doctors, for results, for help.

Sherman, 57, believed she had bought some time when she qualified for Social Security disability income. But that only brought on the worst wait of all."

Mr. Roberts

First a novel, then a stage play, the 1955 film with Henry Fonda was my dad's favorite. He'd served in the Pacific, a junior officer, a navigator; I'm sure he found a lot of familiar emotional territory. I watched it again this afternoon, enjoying it immensely.

Mr. Roberts links


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It's Einstein Day in Brussels, 1927, and two young men from Oregon need to talk to Einstein about an important matter. Also includes "The Death Cycle" (3 one-acts).

Monday at Annie Bloom's Books

At 730 tomorrow eve, trot on down to the bookstore in Multnomah Village, 7834 SW Capitol Hwy, and catch Michael Largo, author of God's Lunatics.

This book is much needed. It's an alphabetical collection of what the book cover calls "lost souls, false prophets, martyred saints, murderous cults, demonic nuns, and other victims of man's eternal search for the divine." This description is unfortunate. It all but guarantees that this enlightening, fascinating and important book will only be read by the choir. In this era of conservative Christianism, the very folks who should take a look into this book will be driven away by the politics of the package. Better if this book had been presented in a more neutral package. It's a collection to deal with but I doubt if any conservative Christians will pick it up and therefore won't be challenged by its contents.

I don't know if it was the author's or publisher's idea to present the material this way. I strongly believe they blew it by doing so. Sure, this book will get readers and good reviews but it's not going to be as challenging as when it could sneak up on its readership. This is advertising with a sledge hammer. This is preaching to the choir. This is, in the end, an unfortunate waste of fine research. Maybe a second edition will see the light and present itself in a more neutral way so that those who need to see this material might have an opportunity to stumble into it.

Fragments Before the Fall

Fragments Before the Fall:

"I WALK a tightrope between two mountain tops over the Valley of the Waters of Fire. The waters are rising and all too soon the flames will disengage the embracing strands of fiber which hold me up, casting me to my fate below — incineration. I stand very still. To move would be to lose my balance and become cinder too soon.
*
I RECOGNIZE the voice: 'Mummy, can I take this magazine to school? It has a story in it that is full of symbols, and Mr. Walker just loves symbols.'
*
YOU, my friend, have not believed me from the beginning. But you say you do. And that makes you a phony.
*

Click link above for complete story, published in The Literary Review in 1971.


This story has an unusual history. In 1967 I'd dropped out of grad school and with "Sally" moved to Portland to pay dues and become a writer. I took a part-time job as editor of a trade newspaper. I wrote furiously, submitting literary short stories to my favorite journals, submitting features to a Sunday supplement (for money). One day I came home to find the mailbox stuffed with rejection. I had 4 (I believe it was) short stories rejected on the same day, 2 of them from The Literary Review. I was pissed. I entered the house, threw the manuscripts across the room, sat down at my Remington manual and banged out "Fragments Before the Fall," the only quasi statement of poetics I've ever written. Without revising it, I went to the post office and immediately sent it off -- to The Literary Review. This was my way of giving them the finger. And they accepted it, my first appearance of several in this literary journal I admired so much. Moral? I'm not sure. Passionate writing matters, perhaps. Or don't let the bastards get you down. Or do it your way to the end. At any rate, it was a breakthrough experience and I began to publish in literary magazines with regularity after this.

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Plays of the Pacific Northwest:

Sunday

Another miraculous day without rain. I'll get some work done outside as well as inside. I am keeping very busy.

Is Google About to Launch a Facebook Killer? Kevin Rose Says So. - San Francisco News - The Snitch

Is Google About to Launch a Facebook Killer? Kevin Rose Says So. - San Francisco News - The Snitch

Dan Rather: We Don't Know

Dan Rather: We Don't Know:

"What will be the long-term effects of those large oil plumes, now called clouds, far below the surface? We don't know.

What is the toxicity of all that chemical dispersant being used at the site of the gusher and in the open waters of the Gulf? We don't know."

Dylan Ratigan: Wall Street Reform: Politicians Lie, Media Applauds, America Suffers

Dylan Ratigan: Wall Street Reform: Politicians Lie, Media Applauds, America Suffers:

"The same Washington spinsters who have driven our country into the ground seem to be out in full force this morning, claiming that their latest policy 'victory' is the most 'sweeping change' of our financial regulatory since the Great Depression.

Actually, it is nothing more than window dressing."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Loss shows US not ready for soccer's big time yet - Yahoo! News

Loss shows US not ready for soccer's big time yet - Yahoo! News:

"RUSTENBURG, South Africa – With a cushy road into the semifinals theirs for the taking, the Americans showed they're still, at best, a second-tier team."

Ghana eliminates US for 2nd straight World Cup - Yahoo! News

Ghana eliminates US for 2nd straight World Cup - Yahoo! News

The better team won.

What is Global Warming? - National Wildlife Federation

What is Global Warming? - National Wildlife Federation:

"Global warming is...happening now
The Earth's atmosphere has already warmed by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit since 1900. This warming signal is also found in ocean temperatures, soil temperatures, melting glaciers and melting polar ice caps. It has been linked to widespread impacts on ecosystems around the planet. This preponderance of evidence all points to the conclusion that our planet is warming and natural systems are struggling to keep up. Read more...

Global warming is...human caused
The role of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in warming the Earth's surface was first demonstrated by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius more than 100 years ago. Scientific data have since established that, for hundreds of thousands of years, changes in temperature have closely tracked with atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Since the Industrial Revolution, the burning of coal, oil and natural gas has emitted roughly 500 billion tons of CO2, about half of which remains in the atmosphere. This CO2 is the biggest factor responsible for recent warming trends. Read more...

Global warming is...accelerating"

The popular late night radio show "Coast to Coast AM" presents, in my view, about 80% pseudo-science and nonsense. But the other 20% makes for cutting edge discussions you won't find elsewhere. Last night's program was such a night, with Art Bell, the show's semi-retired founder, stepping in to interview the head of the National Wildlife Federation about various environmental issues facing us today. Bell, unlike the show's replacement host, trusts science. He believes global warming is a fact, not a hoax. He is terrified of the consequences and rightly so. So last night was a sobering look at our bleak future.

I don't see the situation turning around. One way or another, Nature wins, and if this means catastrophe for our species, so be it.

This may become an issue in the next presidential election. If so, one side may be saying that the cure for all our ills is divine intervention.

So this is what we've come to.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Raw Faith

Saw this remarkable documentary tonight, about Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell's journey as a minister. She's the recently retired Unitarian minister at the First Unitarian church here. Quite a fine filmmaking job that communicates a remarkable personal journey. I hope a cable channel picks it up for wider distribution.

Website

E-readers

I love reading on my netbook. However, there are some features missing. Although I can highlight text and make notes, I can export neither -- which means I can't import them into another document, an absolute necessity for student use. Indeed, the student/textbook e-reader market is still up for grabs. Not Kindle, not iPad, have controlled it. A college student's e-reader needs to be in color, have full highlighting and note taking capabilities with exporting into common editable formats, features not yet universal. It will be interesting to see who captures this incredibly lucrative market.

In the meantime, for my limited uses, I am sold on Kindle for PC and enjoying the reading experience with no pining that I had a book in my hands.

More celebration (can't get enough)

Art v. artists: let's have a National Arts Lottery

Government institutions, when they have the money, like to support the arts. Usually they mean by this, they like to subsidize the arts so as to make them more widely available, especially in areas with little local arts outlets. The focus is on expanding the audience for the arts, especially among young people.

Far less attention is given to the needs of artists. Far less money is given directly to individual artists.

To my way of thinking, this puts the cart before the horse. Artists come before the arts, and their needs should be primary. Most artists, early in their careers, need money to exist and buy time for their artistic work above all other needs. This is why direct cash payments to artists, more than anything else, "supports the arts." Some of this goes on, of course, sometimes more, sometimes less. The 80s were good in this regard, and I took full advantage of it. I lived on grants through much of the decade. However, I think there's a better way to give money to artists. The present system is a competitive grant, fellowship game that lets committees, for the most part, decide who gets the money. Having been on these committees, I think it's a poor program. It results in too much compromise to satisfy a majority of committee members, a process that tends to eliminate the most daring, original voices. Craft gets rewarded over vision.

This is why I support an impossible idea. An annual National Arts Lottery. The payment to artists would be determined like any other lottery winners, by a drawing. You have to meet some minimum criteria to qualify "as an artist," and then you name goes into the hat. If you get drawn, you get a check. If not, you try again next year. (A similar lottery would decide which groups get money for audience development.)

I think far more interesting art would be developed and supported by this National Arts Lottery than by the present system of grants and fellowships. And think of all the ridiculous, hot-air, critical pontification that would be eliminated in committee meetings!

p.s. For those interested in a profound discussion of the difficulty of critical discourse in the arts, I recommend Morris Weitz's Hamlet and the philosophy of literary criticism (Meridian books).

BIG HOLLYWOOD WIN: Congressional Ban On Movie Futures Trading Becomes Reality – Deadline.com

BIG HOLLYWOOD WIN: Congressional Ban On Movie Futures Trading Becomes Reality – Deadline.com

American history

My favorite "traditional" history of the U.S. is Daniel Boorstin's 3-volume set The Americans. I read it first when it came out in the 60s, reread it in the 80s and have started to reread it now, with volume one, "The Colonial Experience." I don't know of better written or gripping history. A magnificent achievement. To this must be added, for balance, Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. I also recommend Richard Hofstadter's Anti-intellectualism in American Life.

I'm reading Boorstin on the netbook, and it's wonderful. I put it on my lap on the couch. The screen is clear, I can adjust the font size, I turn pages with the tap of a finger. As convenient, as comfortable, as a book. I can highlight passages and make notes. I see no advantage to a book in a reading experience now that electronic readers, and small computers, are so portable and convenient. However, the netbook screen outside would be an issue, which apparently is not the case with the Kindle. But I see no reason to get a Kindle, even as I love the Kindle for PC interface.

I am really glad I have returned to Boorstin. This is great and enlightening reading. Already, in the colonial experience, I better understand the roots of Palin and the tea baggers and also see the errors in their reading of our history.

Summer is summer when you have a fine book at hand!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

John Updike’s Archive - A Great Writer at Work - NYTimes.com

John Updike’s Archive - A Great Writer at Work - NYTimes.com:

"“Updike’s archive may be the last great paper trail,” Adam Begley, a critic and literary journalist now at work on a biography of Updike, said in an e-mail message. “Anyone interested in how a great writer works will find here as full an explanation as we’re likely to get.”"

In the Arena - Upon Further Review, It's Time for Instant Replay - NYTimes.com

In the Arena - Upon Further Review, It's Time for Instant Replay - NYTimes.com:

"PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA — At the risk of becoming merely the latest to lobby in the deaf ear that is FIFA on this issue, it is time."

Your summer reading project

OK, ambitious readers, boy do I have a project for you. Free books! Thousands of them. Better than the vast majority of what's written today. The classics.

Here are your steps:

  • If you don't have a Kindle, go to Amazon and get the Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac FREE software.
  • Access the "magic catalog" of Project Gutenberg ebooks formatted for Kindle. Use the MOBI edition for Kindle for PC.
  • Open the catalog in your Kindle for PC application, browse thousands, tens of thousands, of titles and download to your heart's content, freely of course.
  • Start reading.

I'm engaging this project myself. I like the Kindle for PC a lot but see no need to get a Kindle. The netbook is small and easy to take with me.

The Lie Of The July 2011 Withdrawal - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Lie Of The July 2011 Withdrawal - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

"So my view is that this has made things far worse, that we are trapped there for ever, that Obama simply has not had the balls to get the hell out, and that the military brass - far from being brought to heel by Obama - now has the president by the balls for the war they want. That the brass is the thoughtful, Democratic-style, Petraeus version of neo-imperialism makes it actually more lethal for any chance of returning to limits in US foreign policy.

This is the entrenchment of late Bush, not the change we were promised"

GGGOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!

Reactions to USA victory.





Portland, Oregon:








Kindle for PC

This is a free reader for Kindle books. My Music Theory text is spendy so I got the Kindle edition, and I like the interface. I don't plan to get a Kindle any time soon, however.

Both classes going well. Both a challenge. I can see I need the theory brush up.

A sunny day in the 80s yesterday but already weather retreats to normal grayness. Got some chores done yesterday. In banjo, moved into a new tuning and will be using capo to play in fiddle keys.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

John S. Johnson: So, You Think You Can Download? New Guide Shows Threat to the Internet, What You Can Do About It

John S. Johnson: So, You Think You Can Download? New Guide Shows Threat to the Internet, What You Can Do About It:

"They can block content. Block new innovative services and shakedown any site that wants to get through. If you think you will be happy with the internet content that AT&T picks for you then don't worry.

Otherwise, worry a lot."

Obama: Hostage To Petraeus - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Obama: Hostage To Petraeus - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

"This much we also know: Obama will run for re-election with far more troops in Afghanistan than Bush ever had - and a war and occupation stretching for ever into the future, with no realistic chance of success. Make no mistake: this is an imperialism of self-defense, a commitment to civilize even the least tractable culture on earth because Americans are too afraid of the consequences of withdrawal. And its deepest irony is that continuing this struggle will actually increase and multiply the terror threats we face - as it becomes once again a recruitment tool for Jihadists the world over."

Robert L. Borosage: America Cowed: Are We Too Frightened to Forge Our Future?

Robert L. Borosage: America Cowed: Are We Too Frightened to Forge Our Future?:

"Now as we remain mired in two costly and endless wars, and emerge from the Great Recession, the timorous have taken control. Our national debt -- about 90% of GDP -- is far lower a burden than it was after World War II, but our deficit in confidence is far higher."

USA Advances In World Cup With Epic Goal In Final Minutes

USA Advances In World Cup With Epic Goal In Final Minutes:

"Until Donovan's goal, it appeared the officiating would again be the focus.

Clint Dempsey put the ball in the net in the 21st minute off the rebound of Herculez Gomez's shot. But the goal was called offside, just as Maurice Edu's late goal was disallowed against Slovenia last week, a score that would have given the Americans a victory. Replays appeared to show Dempsey was onside."

Refs v. USA

Halftime at World Cup and if the two games in progress hold, the USA goes home. Totally screwed. They were screwed in their last game, which they won (all commentators agree) but tied because of a disallowed goal; and in this first half, another disallowed goal in this game. If they only tie, they go home. It really taints the game that the officiating can be so bad and so biased. The USA, despite the refs, has to come out in the second half, score and win.



USA, after squandering several clear shots in the second half, scored miraculously in overage and now lead 1-0 with a couple minutes left,. If they hang on, they advance.


USA ADVANCES!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

‘Lucy’s Grandfather’ Fossil Makes Humanity’s Ancestor Seem More Like Us | Wired Science | Wired.com

‘Lucy’s Grandfather’ Fossil Makes Humanity’s Ancestor Seem More Like Us | Wired Science | Wired.com

Chores

Sun came out, so I patched the driveway this morning.

Music theory starts tonight, a brush up for me, and I look forward to it.

Timothy Karr: The Fate of the Internet -- Decided in a Back Room

Timothy Karr: The Fate of the Internet -- Decided in a Back Room:

"The Wall Street Journal just reported that the Federal Communications Commission is holding 'closed-door meetings' with industry to broker a deal on Net Neutrality -- the rule that lets users determine their own Internet experience.

Given that the corporations at the table all profit from gaining control over information, the outcome won't be pretty."

Digital 3D Screens Rise By 70% in 2010 – Deadline.com

Digital 3D Screens Rise By 70% in 2010 – Deadline.com

Not a trend that excites me actually. We need more art film houses. Fat chance.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Not for Public Display: Backstage at the American Museum of Natural History | Wired Science | Wired.com

Not for Public Display: Backstage at the American Museum of Natural History | Wired Science | Wired.com

MERGER WORRIES: WGAW Complains To FCC That Comcast-NBCU Threatens Competition & Content Diversity – Deadline.com

MERGER WORRIES: WGAW Complains To FCC That Comcast-NBCU Threatens Competition & Content Diversity – Deadline.com

Sounds like David against Goliath to me.

Will Dr. Strange Be Marvel’s First Superhero To Fly Under the Disney Banner? – Deadline.com

Will Dr. Strange Be Marvel’s First Superhero To Fly Under the Disney Banner? – Deadline.com

Strange, strange

I rec'd a form email response to a query tonight -- a query I sent in March, 2009. I've heard of slow production companies but REALLY.

Harry Shearer: Laker Victory Riot: The Fact Not Reported

Harry Shearer: Laker Victory Riot: The Fact Not Reported:

"There was no rioting in New Orleans following the Saints' Super Bowl win this past February. None, zero, zip, nada."

Energy

My mind, I've decided, still thinks in accordance with my prior energy reserves but these reserves are no longer what they used to be. Consequently I feel like I get nothing done when, in fact, I'm getting done what I can with the lesser energy of aging. I need to bring my mind in sync with reality. I just don't move as quickly as I used to, physically or mentally. I should be grateful I'm getting anything done at all. Still.

60 Percent Of The Units For 1 Percent Of The Cost - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

60 Percent Of The Units For 1 Percent Of The Cost - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

"It's time we destroyed the archaic, corrupt, bloated, celebrity-marketing industry now known as publishing."

Another cause for global warming

 

Grove Harris: The Spiritual Meaning of the Summer Solstice

Grove Harris: The Spiritual Meaning of the Summer Solstice

In the summer of 1967 or 1968, "Sally" and I celebrated the summer solstice by meeting her brother and some of his friends at the Stonehenge replica along the Columbia Gorge. They brought cases of meade and we partied all night. Astoundingly, given the popularity of such a celebration later, we were the only ones there -- well, until mid-morning when a few tourists arrived to find a dozen young revelers passed out in their sleeping bags. It was quite a party!

More clouds kick off week but sunshine's on the way | OregonLive.com

More clouds kick off week but sunshine's on the way | OregonLive.com

I'll believe it when I feel it.

What I found in my head this morning


IN MY OLD AND DYING FORM

In my old and dying form
when all the hours fill with storms
that uproot where I stand and breathe,
I don't complain. I never grieve.

In my old and dying form
I lean against a wall and wait,
a pose like waiting for a bus.
If there's a bus, it's always late.

I've lost a sense of hearth and home
in my old and dying form.
Outlived my friends. Outlived my dog.
An old man waiting in a fog.

But Sisyphus shoulders the rock
and this alone will fill his heart.
And hence there's nothing here to mourn
in my old and dying form.

--Charles Deemer

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

It's been over 20 years since my dad died, and I have no experience as a parent, so Father's Day hasn't meant much to me for some time. However, today I got a "happy God Father's day" call from B. in Idaho, the oldest son of my late best friend. He brought me up to date on his considerable health and family problems but he's as resilient as his dad was and seems to be hanging in there. We used to see him every year on our annual trip to Idaho to see his grandmother but she passed away earlier this year, and this summer we're staying close to home. He is one of the best blues harp players in the western world (and I gave him his first harmonica lessons. By the time he was a teenager, he was long gone past my skills at it.)

I need to check the long term weather forecast and see if there's any hope in seeing the sun soon and not freezing my ass off.

Funk

I can't get started today. I think the perpetual grayness is driving me under the covers. A little reading, a little banjo, but no real work getting done. I am reminded of the ending of an Ibsen  play: the sun, the sun!

Italy held to stunning 1-1 draw by N. Zealand - Yahoo! News

Italy held to stunning 1-1 draw by N. Zealand - Yahoo! News

One thing I like about the World Cup is the incredible celebration by NZ fans of a tie. There are, in fact, moral victories left in sports.

What America got right



"There are two things America got right. Cars and freedom." What bullshit. This ad drives me crazy. Perpetuating our most destructive myth. Our cars are a joke. Much of our freedom is held hostage by corporate and Wall Street whims and worse.

What America got right is its Constitution (as evolved). It's just that the process that shows this often takes a long time.

Valentin: France's World Cup team refuses to train - Taiwan News Online

Valentin: France's World Cup team refuses to train - Taiwan News Online:

"'It's a scandal for the French, for the young people here. It's a scandal for the federation and the French team,' Valentin said. 'They don't want to train. It's unacceptable.

'As for me, it's over. I'm leaving the federation. I'm sickened and disgusted,' said Valentin, who walked away from the training field, got into a car and drove off."

Ah, sports.

North Korean Fans Are Chinese Actors PAID To Cheer World Cup Team (VIDEO)

North Korean Fans Are Chinese Actors PAID To Cheer World Cup Team (VIDEO)

Ah, world politics.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

World Cup Fever: Rating Records For ESPN, Univision – Deadline.com

World Cup Fever: Rating Records For ESPN, Univision – Deadline.com

A different day

Today turned out to be very different from the day I'd planned in my mind, patching the driveway, trimming grape leaves, edging grass. Gray, cool, showering now and again, the weather was not inviting for outdoor work, especially to a cold weather wimp like yours truly. So I watched some World Cup, read some pages, practiced some banjo, entertained the dog.

Tomorrow the weather isn't supposed to be much better.

Not a wasted day by any means but not as formally productive as I had expected.

Doug Lansky: The 9 Countries With The Worst Cuisine In The World (PHOTOS)

Doug Lansky: The 9 Countries With The Worst Cuisine In The World (PHOTOS)

U.S. #2, behind England. Well, I wouldn't agree, of course, but lists are fun if taken with a slice of scrapple.

The mind at breakfast

Back from a stimulating breakfast conversation with M. at Joe Brown's in Vancouver. Joe Brown's belongs on the list of great old-fashioned breakfast spots along with Nobby's and Fat City in Portland. And spending time with M. is always stimulating because the man's mind is in gear with a wide range of challenges and insights and puzzles. I met M. 25 or 30 years ago in the local film environment. He made indie features in the 60s and had written a splay I still admire but his interests go far beyond film. He's an inventor, an entrepreneur, a thinker. And, wonder of wonders, he's older than I am and still shaking the bushes. I'm glad he reentered my life.

It's another gray wet chilly day. So much for working outside. Well, I have lots of books to read, indoor projects to do. Onward.

Spring student wins contest

One of my students wrote a midterm in the spring that is one of the funniest short scripts I ever read. I suggested she go to moviebytes.com and look over the contests for one for short comedies. She found one in Venice and entered. Just before the end of the term, she let me know she was a finalist. She was going to Venice for the announcement of the winner.

Email this morning: she won! I can't say I'm surprised. I read a ton of scripts a year and hers was the funniest in a very, very long time. I'm delighted for her. And I'm glad I encouraged her to find a contest and enter. Something like this can be very useful early in a career.

The feature she was working on was a heavier drama. Maybe she should focus on comedy.



Raining out. So much for outdoor chores.

Breakfast in Vancouver with M. Looking forward to it!

Friday, June 18, 2010

WHERE’S MY SCRIPT?! Warner Bros Cracks Down On Screenwriter’s Late Delivery Dates – Deadline.com

WHERE’S MY SCRIPT?! Warner Bros Cracks Down On Screenwriter’s Late Delivery Dates – Deadline.com:

"In a move that has writers and their reps buzzing, Warner Bros has just put out word that it will start to enforce delivery dates on first screenplay drafts. That means writers who signed contracts had better deliver on time, or risk the wrath of the studio."

BLIMEY! UK Scraps BFI Film Centre – Deadline.com

BLIMEY! UK Scraps BFI Film Centre – Deadline.com:

"As Deadline warned, the incoming Conservative government has scrapped the British Film Institute Film Centre, saving �45 million ($68 million)."

Two weeks to go until July, and, (please) warm, dry weather | OregonLive.com

Two weeks to go until July, and, (please) warm, dry weather | OregonLive.com

Everybody's fed up. It was 101 in Phoenix yesterday. Sigh.

A busy time in need of good weather

I have various household chores requiring good weather: lawn maintenance, driveway repair. The weather has not been cooperating but today is rainless, they predict, so maybe I can get something done. In the meantime, I'm ready to return to animating the score I have thus far for the chamber opera. Have been thinking about it. I also have some extra banjo things to do, besides practice for class. So it's a busy time. I like busy times.

I am re-reading a wonderful book, a classic, and I'll say more about it later. The Art of Mathematics by Jerry King, in which he tries to give the layman a sense of what "pure mathematics" is about. Pure mathematicians are artists. Very true. Moreover, they are artists in a context more objective than we are used to in the arts. If you say the work of a mathematician misses the mark, there is a reason for it. It's not just an opinion. "Truth" has meaning in mathematics. This is the source of one of its joys.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Geoffrey Dunn: Sarah Palin's Oil Regulation Lies

Geoffrey Dunn: Sarah Palin's Oil Regulation Lies:

"Watch Palin's performance on O'Reilly closely. There is a deep inner anger boiling beneath the surface with every phrase she recites. Forget about the laughter of the Dutch and dikes. Her smiles are forced and contrived. Each response is uttered in odd, staccatoed cadences, as though someone has pulled the string on a talking doll. Palin's currency in American politics is not her expertise on energy resources -- it's her inner rage. And those who share it with her tap into that common anger and see her as their leader. It is as ugly as it is dangerous.

Palin's pretentions and duplicities would all be a joke if the potential political implications were not now so serious. Sarah Palin is clearly positioning herself for a run at the presidency in 2012. Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply fooling themselves. My sources in Wasilla have assured me that Palin fully believes that 'God has opened the door for her.' With every Facebook lie she posts, with every Fox News distortion she spews, she is trying to reconstruct her tarnished image as an expert in resource production and foreign affairs. P.T. Barnum may have been right that there is a sucker born in America every minute. Sarah Palin is now their ring leader."

Pac-10 Insider: Addition of Utah, Colorado to conference is a mistake for Northwest football fans | OregonLive.com

Pac-10 Insider: Addition of Utah, Colorado to conference is a mistake for Northwest football fans | OregonLive.com:

"Northwest fans shouldn't rush to embrace college football's new era, because if you follow Oregon, Oregon State, Washington or Washington State, you just got hosed."

Looks like. Yet another example of marketing for the mainstream and ignoring the rest. In Greed We Trust.

Leonardo DiCaprio Set For J Edgar Hoover Role In Biopic For Eastwood And Grazer – Deadline.com

Leonardo DiCaprio Set For J Edgar Hoover Role In Biopic For Eastwood And Grazer – Deadline.com

When in doubt, cook

Just took two tofu-vegetable pies out of the oven. Man, do they look good! I made two in case H wants to take one with her to the beach this weekend, off on an adventure with daughter and grandson. Which means I can make noise at five in the morning! That's the hardest part of living with H, being quiet until she gets up 4 or 5 hrs after I do.

A bit of a lazy day. A little reading, a little World Cup, a little banjo, a lot of cooking prep.

Getting Shit Done - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Getting Shit Done - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

"I sure understand why people feel powerless and angry about the vast forces that control our lives and over which we seem to have only fitful control - big government and big business. But it seems to me vital to keep our heads and remain focused on what substantively can be done to address real problems, and judge Obama on those terms. When you do, you realize that the left's 'disgruntleist' faction needs to take a chill pill."

Sullivan is one of the saner political commentators I've found online.

Demi Moore Lands $2 Million For Book – Deadline.com

Demi Moore Lands $2 Million For Book – Deadline.com

Utah Utes excited by Pac-10 acceptance - ESPN

Utah Utes excited by Pac-10 acceptance - ESPN

So now we have 12 teams, not the 16 super conference they were after. I'm glad they didn't get it.

What American football can learn from European football (soccer)

Watching a lot of the World Cup. I think American football would benefit from some of the rules of soccer, such as the use of penalty cards. I especially like the red card that throws a player out for unsportsmanlike behavior and does not replace him on the team. That is, the offending team now plays the rest of the game a player short. I would love to see this in American football! However, until players got used to the new rules, we might be down to six-man football by the end of the game ha ha.

There seem to be fewer jerks playing European football. Maybe not but that's the impression I get.

Oil Spill On Track to Reach Atlantic No Later Than October | Wired Science | Wired.com

Oil Spill On Track to Reach Atlantic No Later Than October | Wired Science | Wired.com

Blessings

Another gray cool miserable weather day. And yet, at the market getting stuff for Tofu Vegie Pie, which I've decided to make today, I had an onrush of feeling blessed in my old age, this across the spectrum from belonging to my generation (no way do I want to be younger than I am!), having great parents, an adventuresome and varied and sometimes unpredictable life, a moment in the sun, a moment in the night, the whole deal. I think the gods for their kindnesses.

Cool with chance of morning rain today | OregonLive.com

Cool with chance of morning rain today | OregonLive.com

I'm sick of it!

Rachel Maddow's Oval Office Oil Spill Speech: What She Wishes Obama Had Said (VIDEO)

Rachel Maddow's Oval Office Oil Spill Speech: What She Wishes Obama Had Said (VIDEO):

"Maddow said she wished Obama had announced three major developments in the response to the disaster:
1. 'Never again, will any company, anyone, be allowed to drill in a location where they are incapable of dealing with the potential consequences of that drilling.'
2. 'I'm announcing a new federal command specifically for containment and cleanup of oil that has already entered the Gulf of Mexico, with a priority on protecting shoreline that can still be saved; shoreline that is vulnerable to oil that has not yet been hit.'
3. 'I no longer say that we must get off oil like every president before me has said too. I no longer say that we must get off oil. We will get off oil and here's how: The United States Senate will pass an energy bill. This year.'"

2 Film Directors To Lead London Olympics – Deadline.com

2 Film Directors To Lead London Olympics – Deadline.com

English - Festival Pocket Films

English - Festival Pocket Films:

"This year again the Forum des images will be transformed into real laboratory of creation, around the various uses of the pocket cameras."

The American View Of Soccer, Ctd - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The American View Of Soccer, Ctd - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

"I have no stake in the argument about whether soccer will or will not become a major sport in the US. However, as a historian, I like to remind people that up until the Second World War, three sports dominated the USA: baseball, boxing and horse racing. To have suggested that basketball or football or stock-car racing would be major sports then would have been met with disbelief. None of us knows what sports will become popular in the future."

Yes indeed, when I was a kid, boxing and horse racing were much more visible and popular sports than basketball and even football. My dad listened to boxing on the radio constantly, and my granddad liked to play the horses at Santa Anita. Dad and I liked football a lot, however, especially the Army-Navy and Rose Bowl games, which were like national holidays.

Wow, talk about a brilliant image. I found this at The Huffington Post. No artist given.

Ben Evans: Art and Entertainment: A Brief Call for Distinction

Ben Evans: Art and Entertainment: A Brief Call for Distinction:

"An assessment of (most) current popular music and film finds both devolving, substituting insight and nuance with an overt concentration on escapism. Perhaps this shift is symptomatic of societal hyper-stimulation or economic hardship, regardless, succumbing to intellectual lethargy and confusing manufactured entertainment with art is a dangerous game. By assigning artistic value to generic, cerebrally sterile media, not only do we as an audience perpetuate its production under false pretenses, we run the risk of exiling authenticity from the mainstream altogether."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oil response critic concedes Obama's getting it right - CNN.com

Oil response critic concedes Obama's getting it right - CNN.com:

"But it looks as if President Obama applied a little old- school Chicago persuasion to the oil executives, because BP's chairman not only agreed to the full $20 billion that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu asked for, he also pledged to suspend quarterly dividends immediately. Paying victims before shareholders -- what a concept."

I hope this optimism is justified.

A Different Perspective: UFOs, Youngsters and Geezers

A Different Perspective: UFOs, Youngsters and Geezers:

"In Ufology, there is a cycle that used to run about every five years, though it has expanded in recent times. New people enter into the study of UFOs, find these old cases and are excited by them and begin to push them. Eventually, they reach the same conclusions as we geezers, but only after a lot debate about the value of the cases and a lot of wasted time, effort and money.

So bring in the new blood but please don’t be surprised when I am unimpressed with their new methods and their new insights. They aren’t advancing the study at all. They are retreating into a past that we could warn them about, but they are too smart to listen to we geezers. We need to just get out of the way so they can follow the old, overgrown paths because they’re just too smart to listen. We need to get out of the way so they can waste their time doing what we’ve already done. They’re too smart to think we have anything more to contribute."

Amazing Starling Flocks Are Flying Avalanches | Wired Science | Wired.com

Amazing Starling Flocks Are Flying Avalanches | Wired Science | Wired.com:

"To watch the uncanny synchronization of a starling flock in flight is to wonder if the birds aren’t actually a single entity, governed by something beyond the usual rules of biology. New research suggests that’s true."

Obama's Speech: Not The Turning Point He Had In Mind

Obama's Speech: Not The Turning Point He Had In Mind:

"How unmoored from reality are Obama and his top advisers to think that some pretty words with so little substance could accomplish so much? It makes me wonder: Was that ultimately the lesson they took from the 2008 campaign -- rather than that a nation was hungering for, you know, actual change?"

Summer?

Man, it's hard to feel like my summer has started with this continuing damp cool weather. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.

Have yet to start the downsizing project. Good start on animation and banjo, though.

Asia Pacific Is Fastest-Growing Market – Deadline.com

Asia Pacific Is Fastest-Growing Market – Deadline.com:

"As for individual entertainment sectors, PwC says downloading movies to your TV or PC will be the fastest-growing. Digital downloads – including streaming and download-to-own -- will grow by 37.3% between now and 2014, becoming a $2.1 billion global market."

Robert Reich: Obama's Missed Opportunity to Tell it Like it Is

Robert Reich: Obama's Missed Opportunity to Tell it Like it Is:

"The man who electrified the nation with his speech at the Democratic National Convention of 2004 put it to sleep Tuesday night. President Obama's address to the nation from the Oval Office was, to be frank, vapid. If you watched with the sound off you might have thought he was giving a lecture on the history of the Interstate Highway System. He didn't have to be angry but he had at least to show passion and conviction. It is, after all, the worst environmental crisis in the history of the nation."

Sarah Stalin gets a phone call from the President

video

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

HBO Greenlights ‘Hemingway & Gellhorn’ Starring Clive Owen And Nicole Kidman – Deadline.com

HBO Greenlights ‘Hemingway & Gellhorn’ Starring Clive Owen And Nicole Kidman – Deadline.com:

"It took James Gandolfini 6 years to get the story of Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn to the screen. Now HBO has just given the green light to Hemingway & Gellhorn, an original movie produced by Gandolfini, who first was attached to star in the project in 2004 when it was envisioned as a feature."

Lurie/Spacey Cult Drama Showtime-bound? – Deadline.com

Lurie/Spacey Cult Drama Showtime-bound? – Deadline.com:

"There has been a lot of buzz in the past few days about a new drama project from writer Rod Lurie that has Kevin Spacey attached to star as a charismatic cult leader."

Gulf Oil Spill: What Obama Is Overlooking

Gulf Oil Spill: What Obama Is Overlooking:

"Out in the deep ocean, sea turtles and other animals are ingesting the oil thinking it's food, larvae from threatened species such as bluefin tuna are inevitably dying in a toxic soup, and so are the tiny but essential organisms that sit at the bottom of the food chain.

'It's really impossible to fully gauge the magnitude of the impacts,' Savitz said. 'We just know they're big.'

'If all you care about is what gets on the beaches, that's one thing,' said Shaw. 'But we're now poisoning the ocean itself. The deep ocean is what's at risk.'"

Webfoot

Damn weather. Windy, wet, cold, a thunderstorm that sent Sketch under the bed. Where is summer? For that matter, where is spring?

Did some animation studies this morning. At least that.

Summer

Still waiting for the weather to catch up to the calendar, but with my grades in, my summer has begun. And typically I begin by floundering around for my new rhythm. I have daily tasks: downsizing, banjo practice, animation study, homeowner things. Getting them into a pattern and rhythm is an early challenge. I work best with a routine, so it's finding the right order of action. The first 3 or 4 hours I'm up, H is not, so I have to be reasonably quiet, which definitely influences what I decide and create.

It's already ten. On a good day, I feel like I've put in a day's work by ten in the morning but this morning I've done little so far but read.

Galen Rupp, entered in the 10,000, heads a big contingent from Oregon to the USA Track & Field Championships | OregonLive.com

Galen Rupp, entered in the 10,000, heads a big contingent from Oregon to the USA Track & Field Championships | OregonLive.com

U.S. 'On A Collision Course With The Future' In Terms Of Projected Demand For Educated Workers

U.S. 'On A Collision Course With The Future' In Terms Of Projected Demand For Educated Workers:

"A landmark report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce forecasts an uneven relationship between colleges and the job market. Although more future jobs will require advanced education, colleges are not doing enough to prepare their students for the projected workforce."

Foreign flagging of offshore rigs skirts some U.S. safety rules - latimes.com

Foreign flagging of offshore rigs skirts some U.S. safety rules - latimes.com:

"Under International law, offshore oil rigs like the Deepwater Horizon are treated as ships, and companies are allowed to 'register' them in unlikely places such as the Marshall Islands, Panama and Liberia — reducing the U.S. government's role in inspecting and enforcing safety and other standards."

More corporate shotcuts to save a buck.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Fascinating rhythm

Over a dozen folks watched Deconstructing Sally today. Usually only a few a week access it. Why? Always a fascinating question with no answer.

Texas turns down Pac-10 invite, and the Big 12 is salvaged | OregonLive.com

Texas turns down Pac-10 invite, and the Big 12 is salvaged | OregonLive.com

Thank the gods.

Gary Hart: The Appeal of the Simplistic

Gary Hart: The Appeal of the Simplistic:

"Boys will be boys. That is, until the consequences of their simplistic boyishness brings catastrophe down on all of us. Then we may need some real leaders."

Beyond Left and Right: Scarborough Says Obama's BP Speech Should Echo JFK's On Space Race (VIDEO)

Beyond Left and Right: Scarborough Says Obama's BP Speech Should Echo JFK's On Space Race (VIDEO)

I like this idea. A declaration to free ourselves from foreign oil by the end of the decade.

Alec Baldwin: This Land Is Your Land

Alec Baldwin: This Land Is Your Land:

"I can't get this song out of my head. You know the lyrics.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

I just keep thinking about these lyrics."

World cup

Hey, I'm on vacation! I'm going to watch the Italy - Paraguay match and root for Paraguay.

My dad raised me to root for underdogs. He loved taking me to a Rams - 49ers game and root for San Francisco! It's how I became a 49ers fan growing up in LA.

The American myth

Just saw a TV ad that summarizes our cultural hogwash nicely: "Two things America got right. Cars and freedom."

The very problem! We didn't get cars right or we'd have alternative energy cars getting 200 miles a gallon. We can walk on the moon but can't do this. Yeah, right.

Our freedom exists existentially but not socially, culturally or politically as much as we think because we are effectively powerless to determine the choices we have. We have become consumers first and foremost, Homo consumerus, and as such are victims of corporate marketing plans. You can't even see a serious film when it comes out any more unless you catch it the first week or two because it vanishes. You get to choose between products but have no say whatever in what those products actually are. Minority tastes are especially disregarded.

So in a sense, your degree of freedom of choice is determined by your ability to drop out of mainstream culture and become self-sufficient. I make my own scrapple because I can't buy it here because some corporate marketing entity decided scrapple won't sell in the west. In New Jersey, I get to choose between three popular brands as a matter of course. Almost nobody in Oregon is actually from Oregon any more but this has yet to occur to these marketing geniuses who make regional product rules.

Cars and freedom. Perfect.

Buffalo scrapple

Why not? Added ground buffalo to my sausage mix. See how it turns out. Maybe I'm reading too much Native American history lately ha ha.

The summer begins

Grades in, summer begins. Soon to the basement and begin the downsizing, a project at first glance that is completely overwhelming, of course, but also proof of the one step at a time approach, and so I'll start small.

Banjo today, as every day now, but my music theory class doesn't begin until next week, and continues for 8 weeks into mid August.

The summer begins! And, of course, it's a gray chilly day. Portland. And I'm still here.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Notepad to netbook

I installed Notepad, Finale's lower end composition program, on the netbook to give me some compositional ability in transit. I have Finale 2010 on my desktop. But now I can compose some basic melodies on the netbook and save them ... I also installed a virtual piano, turning the keyboard into piano keys. Just giving myself more flexibility on the run.

A 1998 award

1st ncwa1998 winners:

"1st New Century Writer Awards 1998 WINNERS !"

An award I'm proud of is my 6th place finish in the first (1998) New Century Writer awards. All forms of writing were eligible, a real strange contest, and my play Famililly was the highest ranking stage play in the competition, behind 4 screenplays and a short story. Very satisfying award as a result. However, I received not a single concrete benefit from this. Not even a nice blurb in the local paper. It came and went and that was that, but it's one of those minor "honors" that has worn well over the years. I've received more tangible awards that aren't as personally satisfying.

This play did win two other competitions, including an international one, and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. However, no one in Portland has ever expressed the slightest interest in it, and therefore it remains unproduced here. It's likely my best play, though not my personal favorite (which is The Half-life Conspiracy). It's certainly done better in competitions than any other play. It's failure to arouse interest here was a major contribution to my "dropping out" of the local theater scene. If it had no more use for me, I had no more use for it. My tenure here ended, in fact, when Peter Fornara's Cubiculo Theatre, where I was resident playwright, went under. After that I only had one new play done here, which came from a critically acclaimed production in Ireland to a big bomb here. And that was the nail in the local coffin, the end of any attempt to get my work done here. I feel like Portland's Ghost Playwright. Fortunately (at least for my mental health ha ha) I moved on to other things, writing novels, making digital films, and now working on an animated chamber opera. And I feel blessed to have been active in theater here in the 1980s, Portland's Golden Age. So it all came out fine despite my occasional tantrums of ego ha ha.

One to go

Only one student left, a relative piece of cake after doing a long evaluation earlier this morning. So I should finish up later today -- and be ready tomorrow to start my summer of downsizing and study.

Obama Warns Of 'Massive Layoffs Of Teachers, Police, And Firefighters'

Obama Warns Of 'Massive Layoffs Of Teachers, Police, And Firefighters'

We are a petty violent species

New "ethnic cleansing" going on in the world, which in tone is not much different from our (i.e. white Americans of European descent) own policy of disguised genocide against Native Americans. I've been doing a lot of reading and re-reading in this area, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee (both book and HBO film, which is not based on the book), the classic Custer study by Evan Connell (author of my favorite American novel, Mrs. Bridge), AIM stuff. It's a consistently depressing story.

Do governments, countries, ever own up to their atrocities? History revision is the ticket, not confession. But Norman O. Brown comes as close as anyone I've read to make sense of all this, in the big picture, and his perspective finds individual but not social salvation for our sins. My perspective is the zero-sum universe. Given all the extraordinary music and literature and art in the world, given all the random acts of human kindness, genocide, torture and other atrocities give the universe its proper balance.

One has to be selfish and protective of one's blessings. Or go crazy trying to "save the world." Or be Mother Theresa and try to save it anyway.

After I finish the Life Is A Nice Place To Visit chamber opera animation, if the gods grant me time, I may explore something I've been brooding about for a long time, putting Brown's themes to music and drama. I'd need more time than I may get. We'll find out.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

NCAA Track & Field Championships: Oh, my! Andrew Wheating, A.J. Acosta and Matthew Centrowitz go 1-2-3 for Oregon in 1,500 meters | OregonLive.com

NCAA Track & Field Championships: Oh, my! Andrew Wheating, A.J. Acosta and Matthew Centrowitz go 1-2-3 for Oregon in 1,500 meters | OregonLive.com

Old school fiction

I have at hand a hard cover first edition of James Jones' 1957 novel, Some Came Running. It's 1266 pages long, and I don't have time to read it. But I wanted to hold it. I read the paperback, which is abridged, as a young man. I love the film and saw it recently, still loving it. But I wanted to see the original because Jones, who followed his blockbuster From Here To Eternity with this huge book, considered it his best work.

Critics at the time hated it. They haven't mellowed much. Some, but not much. Yet the book does have its fans. The writer Willie Morris called it "the towering work of native social realism that American writers once dreamed of writing." He compares Jones to Dreiser and Lewis. These were "old school" writers who told big stories taking big books, "social realism" in America. No one writes books like this any more. I think the reason why is that social realism narrative has been usurped by film, a transition that began in the 50s with films like On the Waterfront and Marty. Why read a huge novel when you can get your gritty fix of social realism in two hours in a theater? For the busier and busier rising middle class, the new fix became attractive and the rule. Novels went on to do other things.

Jones, like Dreiser, is not a good writer so much as a great storyteller. Jones style is driven by adverbs and the credo that more is better. This is why readers preferred the abridged paperback, significantly shorter (as I recall, about 25-30% was cut), to the hard cover original. But it's the original I wanted to see. I never had seen it before and I managed to get it via university loan from a distant college. I didn't want to read it. I wanted to touch it. Such is the magic of literature.

Interestingly, Jones uses this epigraph for the novel, from Don Quixote: "At last he was free of the damnable books of Romance." This is interesting because Jones wrote his own kind of Romance, in a classic sense, continuing the mythology of the hard-drinking, hard-living, misunderstood literary writer who is his protagonist. The social realism of the book embraces its gritty setting and back alley behaviors but the attitude toward Dave, the writer, the worship of the writer in this context, presents another kind of damnable storytelling.

Now that I've held it, something I've wanted to do for decades but could never find it, I'll return this fat unread novel. I applaud Jones for writing it. I applaud him for sticking to his guns. Writers get to be their own best/worst critics, and Willie Morris is right to put Jones in the family of Dreiser and Lewis, an old school of writing that is long, long, long gone.

Two down

Did two of my four remaining students so far this morning. I'll do another before the US soccer game, maybe. But I'm in good shape. If I don't finish today, I'll finish tomorrow.

Which means Monday I start downsizing. A challenge! And back to animation. A challenge! And I already have high energy for banjo again. It looks like a great summer to me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oh my


Report: Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State joining Pac-10; Texas A&M has 72-hours to decide | OregonLive.com

Report: Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State joining Pac-10; Texas A&M has 72-hours to decide | OregonLive.com

The end of west coast football as I've known and loved it. Greed wins again.

What's left

Four more students to evaluate and I'll be done. Hope to finish up tomorrow morning.

Who Needs Agents When You've Got YouTube? - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Who Needs Agents When You've Got YouTube? - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Another singer scores big after YouTube video.

Headline of the week

HBO Developing Female Orgasm Comedy

The World Cup begins

It took me a long time to pay attention to the most popular sporting event in the world. I don't remember soccer as a kid; I remember kick ball. I first became aware of the event in my twenties. On a summer of traveling, we drove into a small southwestern town on a hot afternoon and everyone was listening to the world cup. Ends up the American team had a player from the local college and they were playing. After that, it still took years for me to pay attention and I actually became a fan of the women's game before the men's. But each repetition finds me more interested, and I'm more interested this year than ever. But I still prefer the Olympics for world competition.

NCAA Track & Field Championships: UO men take a big hit in the javelin and appear to fall out of contention for the team title | OregonLive.com

NCAA Track & Field Championships: UO men take a big hit in the javelin and appear to fall out of contention for the team title | OregonLive.com:

"EUGENE — Oregon’s hopes for a men’s team title at the NCAA Track & Field Championships probably washed away Thursday at Hayward Field when the Ducks came up empty in the javelin.

UO senior Cyrus Hostetler entered the competition as the collegiate leader in the javelin, and junior Alex Wolff was projected to score. Neither made it out of the preliminary rounds."

Abby Sunderland Found Alive And Well By Search Plane

Abby Sunderland Found Alive And Well By Search Plane:

"Speaking outside the family's Thousand Oaks home, Bennett said Sunderland said she was inside the boat and doing fine with a space heater and at least two weeks worth of food.

Bennett said the mast had broken off the disabled boat.

He said a fishing vessel was en route to pick her up. The vessel is expected to reach her in about 40 hours."

What an amazing young woman!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Experts' predictions for the 2010 World Cup - SI.com - World Cup 2010

Experts' predictions for the 2010 World Cup - SI.com - World Cup 2010

What does it take?

I wish Obama would begin to act as if the country were facing an emergency. Maybe he'd do things like put hundreds of thousands on BP's payroll to clean up the mess. Maybe he'd follow the Manhattan Project model and gather scientists in a remote spot to get us off the oil energy standard ASAP. We have the brains and brawn to do all of this. What we lack is will and especially leadership. The tragedy is that Obama has the rare rhetorical gifts that could make this work. He could inspire the country.

US vs England in soccer's moment in America - Yahoo! News

US vs England in soccer's moment in America - Yahoo! News:

"American soccer has never been more popular in the United States or its players more well-known across the world. And on Saturday comes the first competitive match between the U.S. and England since the great American upset at the 1950 World Cup. For one afternoon, millions will be watching from California to New York island. Like never before in the United States, this is the sport's moment."

John Wooden: action, words and respect

It's been a long time since I've witnessed such a sad irony as the rhetorical tributes to UCLA's great coach John Wooden. Wooden is old school all the way. He walked the talk of his Midwestern old-school roots with old-school values like discipline, honesty, character.

In athletics today, there's precious little old-school values anywhere. It's one thing to praise Wooden after he's dead, quite another to participate in university sports following corporate models of growth and greed. While Wooden clearly influenced individual athletes in positive ways, college sports has not followed his principles or his values. Colorado jumping to the Pac 10 in what may start a landslide of conference defections and changes is just the most recent example of change driven by money. The loss of character among sports athletes is too common to need explanation. Arrogance, drugs, selfish desire over team spirit run rampant in college sports.

Look at the Oregon QB just dismissed. Not every jock is an arrogant jerk, of course, the majority aren't, but there's never been so many who give sports a bad name. The world of sports has changed in  major ways of which the Coach did not approve. His death is really the official end of an era of old-school values. R.I.P., Coach, the sports world will never be the same. I'm glad your world was still in place when I was a kid and sports fan growing up. I'm glad Hugh McElhenny never did a dance in the end zone.

Out of gas

Not done but I think I'm through for the day. Energy has tanked. A preview of the World Cup about to start on ESPN, first game bright and early tomorrow, I think it's time to do something else besides read student scripts.

By the way, during short breaks I made real progress on the banjo today. Man, this teacher is inspiring.

Oil Disaster Shows Need for Endangered Species Act Overhaul | Wired Science | Wired.com

Oil Disaster Shows Need for Endangered Species Act Overhaul | Wired Science | Wired.com:

"Oil companies never considered the impacts of a massive spill on the Gulf’s sperm whales or five sea turtle species. They didn’t have to, because the law doesn’t require it.

“We need to include disaster planning in the Endangered Species Act consultation process,” said environmental lawyer Keith Rizzardi. “We can learn from experience.”"