Thursday, September 30, 2010

Capitalism: A Love Story

I am not an unqualified fan of Michael Moore, even though I more often agree than disagree with his politics.  I don't always like his methods. For example, on a speaking tour here, he gave out the unlisted number of our best known conservative radio jock, urging the audience to call him, which they did so much the jock had to change his number. No need for this. Left wing intolerance is as repugnant to me as right wing intolerance. I also don't like the way Moore sometimes stages his documentary scenes without owning up to it.

However, I saw Capitalism for the first time today and, despite some gimmicks toward the end, believe it's a well done and important film, the best work of Moore I've seen.

Hard to shake

Man, this cold is hard to shake. I organize my day so that, hopefully, I can have two decent hours in which to teach. Hell of a way to organize your day.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Update

Still fighting this damn cold. Not much progress today.

9 Great Southern Literary Places To Visit (PHOTOS)

9 Great Southern Literary Places To Visit (PHOTOS)

Haiti Still Waiting For Pledged U.S. Aid

Haiti Still Waiting For Pledged U.S. Aid:

"PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Nearly nine months after the earthquake, more than a million Haitians still live on the streets between piles of rubble. One reason: Not a cent of the $1.15 billion the U.S. promised for rebuilding has arrived.

The money was pledged by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in March for use this year in rebuilding. The U.S. has already spent more than $1.1 billion on post-quake relief, but without long-term funds, the reconstruction of the wrecked capital cannot begin."

How Hollywood thinks

‘Infidel’ Producer Plans Teenage Hitchcock – Deadline.com:

"EXCLUSIVE: Slingshot Productions and BBC Films are co-developing a teen thriller partly inspired by Strangers On a Train. The working title is Teens On a Train."

Here is one of those "why didn't I think of that?" marketable ideas that is pure, pure Hollywood, i.e. create something new from a proven success by tweaking it. It's also laughable but laughable all the way to the bank.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Film scheduled

Wednesday November 10th, 7pm, Blackbird Wineshop, is the date to show my new film. More as the date approaches.

Playing by ear

I'll have to play class by ear today. I'm fine for a couple hrs, then I'm coughing like crazy for a couple hrs.

Monday, September 27, 2010

24 hrs

To be honest, I'm glad I didn't have to teach this evening. Now I have 24 hrs to improve. I hope it happens. If not, well, I'll deal with it. No choice.

Best Books For College Students: National Association Of Scholars List

Best Books For College Students: National Association Of Scholars List

A coffee table book that never happened

Here is the mock up of a coffee table booked based on my sonnets that never happened. I had nothing to do with it, really, other than giving permission to let a photographer and designer try and put a deal together. I like what they came up with. I'm sorry nothing came of it. Here is the mock up.

Dark Mission

There are 782 opera piano/vocal scores in our public library. Man. One of them is the John Nugent opera to  which I wrote the libretto, Dark Mission. I love John's music but this opera has gone nowhere. So it's a relatively big deal when someone checks it out of the library, as recently. You don't check out a piano/vocal score, it seems to me, unless you intend to play some of it, to check it out. And this done, I believe John's music can speak for itself. Someone really should do this opera.

Meeting John, and discovering what a dismal opportunity for exposure the contemporary composer faced, was my original incentive for founding an online journal: to publish contemporary music, as audio files and music scores. Thus began the evolution that has ended in a journal focusing on video about the arts, Oregon Literary Review.

Whoever is checking out the score, I hope they dig it as much as I do.

High-Speed Videos: The Hidden World of Insect Flight | Wired Science | Wired.com

High-Speed Videos: The Hidden World of Insect Flight | Wired Science | Wired.com

The school year begins

My spirits soar to welcome a new school year but my body lags behind. I could teach today in a pinch and hopefully, presumably, tomorrow I'll be better. But I'm thinking I won't be 100% tomorrow. We'll see. Normally the first week includes a 2-hour introductory lecture, which is what worries me. I can shuffle a few things if I have to and show a documentary before the lecture rather than the usual order.

I've been rejoicing over the ending of my film. It's quite new for me -- an optimistic ending! The ending of recent work with similar themes -- my novels Love At Ground Zero and Kerouac's Scroll have darker endings -- but the ending of The Farewell Wake is not dark at all. It is playful, it is fun, it is optimistic. Resolution as play, as dropping out imaginative fun. I like it.

It's revealing how this ending came about. First, it is based on the biographical experience of one of the actors. I've gotten good at incorporating biological events into my fictional stories. So when I learned that Rick, playing the director, had taken a motorcycle trip over the entire old route 66, I knew I had to use this in the film. However, at the time, I did realize how important this would be and how it would inform the resolution of the story. And once done and decided, how could the ending be anything different? It's so organic and natural to the events in the story.

None of which would have happened had Rick, the actor, not taken his trip! A fascinating process.

Given its optimistic ending, maybe the film should be my swan song. Hmm.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In praise of dead white men – Prospect Magazine � Prospect Magazine

In praise of dead white men – Prospect Magazine � Prospect Magazine:

"But the literary canon should not be the preserve of any one race. As both a writer of colour and an ardent (but not uncritical) devotee of the canon, I have little time for people who say that black people cannot relate to books written 2,000 years ago by a bunch of dead white guys, or that Maya Angelou is better than Shakespeare. This denies us our shared humanity across racial divides."

Aging and health

No doubt about it, the common cold takes more out of you when you're old. That's why you learn to appreciate good health as you age, rather than taking it for granted. Overall, I've been blessed with good health all my life, which is not to say I'm not suffering right now with this damn virus. Two more days to shake it -- and I am making progress, albeit slower than my wife's recent progress through it (as, of course, she must remind me).

Well, I'll just take it easy today. I'm not a great NFL fan but I may take a look at the Seattle or Indie game. I like to watch Manning. And I feel a regional loyalty to the Seahawks, who aren't any better than the Mariners.

We have house guests for a week, which I am not looking forward to although I like the people, H's sister and brother in law. But this place is too small for house guests. Includes a short trip to the coast, I believe, which could be nice. Of course, all this when I should be shooting!

A big scene scheduled Wed. and I hope I don't have to cancel. I cancelled three days so far, and I may not be able to make them up until mid Oct. Have to study my calendar.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

2nd upset in a row for Bruins

UCLA beat #7 Texas 34-12 in a game much closer than the score. But the Bruins deserved the win, thanks to a superb defense and good running game. No passing game yet that is consistent but this team is young and gets better every game. Good times ahead. I really want them to beat Nike Univ, er, Oregon, one alma mater against the other.

Arrogance as style

I've been watching college football for over half a century now. Here's a recent change I don't like at all: the sudden focus on "style points." This refers to how big a team wins. For example, once upon a time, if a team was leading by 28 points in the 4th quarter, the coach would put the reserves in. No one wanted to be accused of "running up the score," which was considered bad sportsmanship.

Today it's the opposite. You DO run up the score in order to get "style points" and improve your computer rating, which affects your overall rating in the BCS. In other words, a computer is more impressed with a team that wins 70-0 than one that wins 50-0. Sad but true.

But this goes along with the cultural standard today of arrogant behavior everywhere you look. A linebacker sacking the QB, which after all is his job on a blitz, prances around like he did something special. Wrong. He did his job.

An arrogant society like ours loses its sense of history and proportion, its sense of a proper place in the cultural universe. Mediocrity is praised to the hilt. It's quite amazing to witness actually. It's like visiting a planet of aliens.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Progress despite

Crawled out of bed long enough to deliver my syllabus to the copy center. Necessary. Tomorrow, fortunately, is college football, which keeps me quiet at home. I think I'm improving.

And I'm eager to finish shooting this film!

Terraforming Earth: How to Wreck a Planet in 3,000 Years (Part 1) | Wired Science | Wired.com

Terraforming Earth: How to Wreck a Planet in 3,000 Years (Part 1) | Wired Science | Wired.com:

"The term “terraforming” was invented by author Jack Williamson in his 1942 short story “Collision Orbit,” published in Astounding Science Fiction. In the intervening decades, its literal meaning (“Earth forming”) has shifted. It still commonly refers to the speculative act of altering non-Earth planets to make them habitable by humans. But anything that drastically changes geography to suit human interests can be called terraforming, even if it happens here on Earth. If only we all had the same interests."

What we've come to

Christine O'Donnell Will Stop America From Sexing Each Other (VIDEO)

There was a time -- honestly, there was -- when such a suggestion would be so ignorant and absurd that its source would be dismissed as delusional, not embraced as a major party's candidate for the senate.

I recall what Mark Twain wrote in the calendar of Pudd'nhead Wilson: "October 12, The Discovery. It was wonderful to find America, but it would have been more wonderful to miss it." We must remember that the political imbeciles on the scene today do have a tradition, and a long one at that. But I don't recall a time when they appeared to be so popular. 

Time-Warping Occurs in Daily Life | Wired Science | Wired.com

Time-Warping Occurs in Daily Life | Wired Science | Wired.com:

"“Modern technology has gotten so precise you can see these exotic effects in the range of your living room,” says physicist Clifford Will of Washington University in St. Louis. The experiments don’t reveal any new physics, Will says, but “what makes it cute and pretty cool is they have done it on a tabletop.”"

5 Meanest Book Reviews Ever: Franzen, Foer, Larsson And More (PHOTOS)

5 Meanest Book Reviews Ever: Franzen, Foer, Larsson And More (PHOTOS)

I've had a few mean reviews in my career and a few overly flattering ones. As my mother used to say, It all comes out in the wash. Say what?

Still hanging in, sort of

And sometimes sort of not. 4 quiet days to let it work its way through and out of my system. Knock, knock.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hangin in, sort of

Not getting worse and not getting better. Good chance to be good for school, I think.

With so little left to shoot I am chomping at the bit to get scenes done. Scheduling wake event, the last thing to shoot, I expect, on Oct 16.

The nights are worse than the days in sickness.

Blockbuster Bankruptcy Shows Danger of Being Inflexible In Digital Age – Deadline.com

Blockbuster Bankruptcy Shows Danger of Being Inflexible In Digital Age – Deadline.com

The pits

Cancelled shoots today and tomorrow to concentrate on getting well before my first class Tuesday. Cough, cough.

400 Richest Americans Got Richer This Year, As Most Americans' Net Worth Tanked: Forbes

400 Richest Americans Got Richer This Year, As Most Americans' Net Worth Tanked: Forbes

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Film teaser #3

video

Art of the gods

Film teaser #2

video

Cough cough

Well, I seem to have a cold, first in a long while, but thus far it's the kind you can function with, so let's hope it stays that way rather than getting worse.

A short short today and tomorrow, but both essential, than one of the two major sequences left will be shot on Friday, the meeting of the brothers in Guam. The scene we talked about on Monday, giving us a direction. It's still improvised, of course, but improvised with some planning.

I'm taking it very easy today. The shoot is here. I'm doing a short sequence with my ex wife as a ghost, less than a minute, should work both as comedy and as relief with a certain minor tenderness during a serious sequence. For making her a ghost, I'll run two identical background clips in sync, she is in the one of which I reduce the opacity, as long as the backgrounds match, she will seem to be a ghost in the scene.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Film teaser

video

Resting

 One day, for a fact, my luck with the gods will run out. Not soon, I hope. But it's inevitable. Indeed they have granted me time far beyond what I've earned by my lifestyle, especially in my younger wilder days. When I'm well into a project, I ask the gods for the time to finish it. As now. I add the time to teach another year; I seem to enjoy teaching more, the older I get. I suppose it's because I actually have something to offer. I have a stronger sense of this in the classroom than in my art, where the audience is invisible and appreciation, or its opposite, unmeasured (since I seldom do commercial ventures where money is the measure). But then I am the primary audience in my art, which is not the case in the classroom. There, there are students who need to know, for their own possible success, a few things I've found out about reality in the world of screenwriting. The audience is clear. In my art, I am the primary audience and one hopes to pick up a few with compatible tastes along the way.

And I'm very excited about the film thus far. Fewer problems than I expected and so far I've been able to solve the problems that arise. Major challenges still ahead, of course, but soon enough I'll know what I have and whether I can call this project a success.

The throat tingles with the threat of illness. My Achilles heel. I am taking steps to head off the bad guys at the pass.

LHC Detects Evidence of New Physics | Wired Science | Wired.com

LHC Detects Evidence of New Physics | Wired Science | Wired.com

Under the weather

Feeling sick today, like something coming on, last thing I need, but I'm concerned enough to cancel my small shoot today. May just go to bed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why Cellphone Talkers Are So Grating | Wired Science | Wired.com

Why Cellphone Talkers Are So Grating | Wired Science | Wired.com:

"These new results raise the unsettling possibility that drivers operate vehicles poorly not only while talking on cellphones (SN: 3/13/10, p. 16) but also when passengers gab on the devices."

First Habitable Exoplanet Could Be Discovered by May | Wired Science | Wired.com

First Habitable Exoplanet Could Be Discovered by May | Wired Science | Wired.com:

"A new mathematical analysis predicts the first truly habitable exoplanet will show itself by early May 2011."

Saveur: 15 Fall Vegetable Soups

Saveur: 15 Fall Vegetable Soups

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Reconsidering Nietzsche–Six Questions for Julian Young—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)

Reconsidering Nietzsche–Six Questions for Julian Young—By Scott Horton (Harper's Magazine)

Portland weather

We've been in a gray damp spell lately but a moment ago the sun popped out. Great, I thought, I'll go mow the side yard, which needs it. So I go down to the basement, open the door, remember a chore H wanted done on the deck, did the chore, came back to get the lawn mower -- and stepped inside just before an absolutely downpour. So much for mowing the lawn.

The Crumbling of America - The History Channel is running a compelling documentary - Democratic Underground

The Crumbling of America - The History Channel is running a compelling documentary - Democratic Underground

If you need a little cheering up, check out this documentary about our infrastructure's deterioration. When Obama was elected, I foolishly hoped he'd start some kind of WPA-like massive project, putting hundreds of thousands if not millions to work, addressing these problems. Then I remembered that this would be called "socialism." Better to embrace catastrophe as an American than to solve problems as a socialist.

Jupiter Making Closest Approach To Earth In Nearly 50 Years

Jupiter Making Closest Approach To Earth In Nearly 50 Years

It's always good to look to the skies to keep things in perspective.

Houston Cougars vs. UCLA Bruins - Recap - September 18, 2010 - ESPN

Houston Cougars vs. UCLA Bruins - Recap - September 18, 2010 - ESPN

The headline in this story ... UCLA handles Houston AFTER its QB is injured -- is a complete lie. The Bruins handled Houston from the first possession, sending them 3 and out, and when their QB was hurt, UCLA already had a sizable lead. The headline makes it sound like the injury contributed to the win. It didn't, except in so far as it may have reduced a considerable comeback attempt. The Bruins played a better first half overall than 2nd half, most of which Houston had all its starters playing, and the defense really won the game.

Goddamn misleading headline writers! Alas, typical. UCLA demonstrated the most remarkable turnaround of the season thus far, a credit to its coaches, and gets no credit for it. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Will they blow it?

For 3 quarters, huge underdog UCLA had its way with #23 Houston, taking a 28 pt lead into the final quarter.. But now, with over 8 mins left, Houston is threatening to come within 14 and the Bruins can still lost this game. Man, they looked good for three quarters in their variation of the pistol offense, which they call the revolver. And the defensive has been especially impressive against the top offensive team in the nation. This renewal can crash if they blow this. Hang on, Bruins!



6:27, Houston kicks a field goal (why?), 31-13 UCLA. We need a sustained drive. It's been 3 and out the several possessions.



4:43, UCLA on a drive!

2:32, 4th and short. Field goal or go for it? I say go for it. And ... QB keeper, first down.

1:10, UCLA takes a knee. It's over.

A huge upset!

UCLA 31, Houston 13

Caesar Salad

The chainsaw is your friend

I tell my students this often. Today I made use of the axiom myself, cutting the hostage sequence from 7 minutes to 4 and a half, a length which will work fine in the context of the film, I believe. I had fun facing this challenge.

Portland State trails 69-0 after three quarters. Will Oregon go for 100?

New toy

Caught a big sale at Woot on one of these, decided to give it a try. Looks cool and very portable.

Saturday mellow

If there a more mellow way to spend Saturday morning than to watch college football while making scrapple? Probably not. New batch cooling now. Same standard recipe but a variation: I bought the sausage at a different store because, well, I happened to be there.

I love Saturdays during college football season,

EatingWell: 6 Biggest Myths About Food Busted

EatingWell: 6 Biggest Myths About Food Busted

Weekend break

Last night I saw the most entertaining football game of the season thus far. Nevada of the non-BCS conference WAC beat up on California of the mighty Pac-10. I loved it. I should be a Pac-10 loyalist but I'm not when smaller conferences in the west play. I'm almost always for whatever makes the BCS look as stupid as it is. And Nevada runs the exciting "pistol offense" with a senior QB who owns it. After he ran for a touchdown, an announcer said, "How about that! He handed the ball to the official. You don't see that much of that any more." One of the things wrong with modern football.

A good if somewhat complicated afternoon shoot yesterday. My rough edit, which I like as a stand-alone sequence, is 7 minutes long, which I think will be too long within the context of the whole film. We'll see.

Massachusetts is giving Michigan a game so far, another possible upset. Lots of games to check in on today. I don't get Portland State at Oregon, which is just as well.. This one may get ugly.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tenkara

Sounds legitimate but ...

I've just been asked what my "conditions" are to go to Nigeria and deliver a screenwriting lecture. There's a group of screenwriters there who say they are fans of my work on the web. If I were younger, I'd snoop around to see if this actually is legitimate but frankly at my age the invitation does not excite me. But I'll mull it over and not share with H yet, who would say GO GO GO.

Maybe I'll see if they have the tech for a live video feed. I'd lecture from here.

American poverty

News from The Associated Press: 1 in 7 Americans live in poverty. We are the greatest what?

A good sleep

Had my first decent night's sleep in days.

Another non-shooting day. Big and important shoot tomorrow, however.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Vanishing Line Between Books And Internet - Forbes.com

The Vanishing Line Between Books And Internet - Forbes.com:

"In other words, what is a book, but a website that happens to be written on paper and not connected to the Web?"

Dog Poop Powers Park Lights | Wired Science | Wired.com

Dog Poop Powers Park Lights | Wired Science | Wired.com

Daily Kos: Concert Banned by College Due to Inability to Explain Irony

Daily Kos: Concert Banned by College Due to Inability to Explain Irony:

"Calvin College, a Christian college in Michigan, has cancelled a planned concert by The New Pornographers solely because of the name of the band."

A Republican Takeover Of Congress Would Threaten The EPA And The Planet | The New Republic

A Republican Takeover Of Congress Would Threaten The EPA And The Planet | The New Republic:

"It's been a good year for climate skeptics. Not, mind you, because they've been vindicated at all on the merits. Quite the opposite: 2010 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record, Arctic sea ice continues to thin out, heat waves have been torching Russia, and nearly one-fifth of Pakistan has been submerged underwater. The science on global warming is still overwhelming. But politically, skepticism is at its zenith."

Stepping back

A new focus for the next two days, from film project to teaching prep, with classes starting in two weeks. I look forward to it. Each fall, I look as forward to classes starting as I look forward to them ending each spring. A nice cycle.

The film remains in good shape with the challenges ahead I've mentioned here before. I did some minor audio editing last night, deleting here, changing parameters there. Improvements. In my context, audio is the one area that never will be perfect or even professional. Instead I work for coherent and workable.

Thinking next video project will be a documentary of the labor songs group General Strike.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Progress

I'm pleased with the clips from the shoot this afternoon. I also found some perfect supplemental video for the ending of the film. Progress continues.

Now to take a couple days off for school prep, then a big shoot on Friday.

Best college class in the nation? Playboy magazine says it's at Oregon State | OregonLive.com

Best college class in the nation? Playboy magazine says it's at Oregon State | OregonLive.com

Monday, September 13, 2010

Impossible dream, eh, game

I cannot imagine it but Portland State actually plays Oregon in football on Saturday. What is the point spread, 80 points? Man. On paper, this is cruel and unusual punishment but maybe I'll be surprised.

Elation & trepidation

Watched the first 54 minutes of the film in rough edit, minus a scene for the opening credits and one short scene in the body, and I like what I saw. A few things to improve but it's pretty much there. And this is scary because there are still many, many ways I can screw up this entire project and royally so. We have a long way to go but we definitely are on the right track.

One of my actors for tomorrow had to cancel. No problem, makes my day easier.

Do it, do it!

Elizabeth Warren Under Consideration For Interim CFPB Chief

Check this out

First Sound Press is the new home of the work of Mark Marchus, a man who, at 75, is still learning and who already has much to teach us. He is challenging and never dull. Check out his blog and his work.

Mark Marchus on film: a profile at Oregon Literary Review

Good cameo

Another good cameo shoot and, even better, a nice long chat with Bob Hicks of ArtScatter, the arts blog, who was the actor. Always enjoy talking with him, maybe because we agree on so much about old v. new Portland.

A more ambitious shoot tomorrow, two scenes in the afternoon, one especially essential. Onward.

Looking for a Blockbuster Film in the ‘Mad Men’ Age - NYTimes.com

Looking for a Blockbuster Film in the ‘Mad Men’ Age - NYTimes.com

Robots Taught How to Deceive | Wired Science | Wired.com

Robots Taught How to Deceive | Wired Science | Wired.com:

"Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology may have made a terrible, terrible mistake: They’ve taught robots how to deceive."

No high like an ending

Man, this ending is perfect in tone and action ... I'm sure of it now. I knew I'd eventually come up with something that worked, experience told me so, but this is better than what I expected because, in a dark comedy that could easily turn into dark drama, this ending actually is an existential upper, which is quite out of character for me ha ha. I love it. It come completely out of the material, thoroughly organic, and yet it's strikingly personal, though no one will know that. It's just right on. Amazing, actually, to find it so suddenly. It's about my sixth notion for an ending along the journey. I guess the sixth time is the charm.

And with the ending more FUN than I first thought it would be, I somehow am energized as an actor as well.

Well. Let's not get too excited. If I screw up filming the wake itself, the entire project will crash. Same with the vital last scene between the brothers. Lots of ways to screw up yet.

But if I don't screw up, by the gods, I have one terrific ending!

Ending

I really do believe I found the ending of my film this morning, including the last line. It's actually an upper. Did I say that?

Back in gear

Only one small scene to shoot today, then larger shoots on Tues and Fri ... mid week I need to do school prep and much delayed office downsizing, the front burner summer project that never got done. Why is creative work so much more fun than necessary grunt work, which always moves to the back of the line?

Been dreaming about the film's ending, which is a good use of wake up time. I think I found a key this morning, and I actually remember it. We'll see.

Meeting near school for shoot, will check out the fancy new computer in my office again.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Video Games That Bring Afghanistan Home - NYTimes.com

Video Games That Bring Afghanistan Home - NYTimes.com:

"Unless you regard something like “Iron Man” as a film about Afghanistan, the movies inspired by America’s contemporary wars have consistently been box-office flops. Even “The Hurt Locker” grossed only $16 million in theaters. Video games that evoke our current conflicts, on the other hand, are blockbusters — during the past three years, they have become the most popular fictional depictions of America’s current wars."

The fallen status of books makes it hard times for hardcovers. - By Jack Shafer - Slate Magazine

The fallen status of books makes it hard times for hardcovers. - By Jack Shafer - Slate Magazine:

"By making books commodities, the modern market has stripped them of much of their romantic charm. I like the smell of a moldy book as much as the next bibliophile, but not as much as I once did. And while I've yet to purchase a Kindle or iPad, which make buying books in a store or online seem like hard work, I keep some titles on my netbook and iPod and can see myself making a fuller transition to e-books. And as I do, I'll become even less romantic about books—just as I became progressively less romantic about music as my collection has shifted from vinyl to CDs to mp3s. Holding an LP cover or even a CD jacket used to anchor the listener to something corporeal. But not anymore."

Tarantino Charged With Favouritism – Deadline.com

Tarantino Charged With Favouritism – Deadline.com

Favoritism or not, artistic competitions ALWAYS have more to do with judges than with artists. I've been a judge in literary and screenwriting competitions and my selections are MY selections. Another judge would select different winners. This fact is reinforced by the juries I've been on to make awards when disagreement can be extreme. Once, as I've related here before, I was one of three judges appointed to award ten scriptwriting fellowships from some 75 finalists. Each of us made our personal "top ten" list. Not one writer, NOT ONE, made two lists! We had no consensus whatever! What resulted is what often results in juried competitions, a compromise: each of us got our top three and we argued for hours about the 10th award. Competitions are a crap shoot.

Homebody

A day for chores at home. Feeling like I need a battery charge anyway.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Video time machine

YouTube Time Machine lets you watch video associated with past years.

Peter Steinberg: 9/11: 'Flashlight Worthy' Recommends 9 Unforgettable Books About September 11 (PHOTOS)

Peter Steinberg: 9/11: 'Flashlight Worthy' Recommends 9 Unforgettable Books About September 11 (PHOTOS)

Entering the day

I had a fine contemplative, meditative cruise this morning. It's a good way to start the day, reflecting on one's blessings.

Should be a mellow day, a lot of good college games to watch, a break to go to my reading, out to dinner afterwards and then home for the UCLA game.

I'm much more comfortable this season rooting for my UCLA alma mater rather than my Univ of Oregon alma mater because I so much disapprove of the Nike influence at the latter. It's a bummer because I "want" to root for the Ducks, and do in a half-hearted way, but  my enthusiasm is compromised by the designer uniforms, financial chains, and other negative contributions of the mega-corporation to the university's major sports programs. It will take a very strong and principled university president to bring this to an end and, to be honest, I'm not sure such a president exists any more in the major college sports arena. Everything has become so corporate and corrupt.

I watched the hour rough cut early this morning. Like it. Only a few things I may want to change.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cockroach Brains, Coming to a Pharmacy Near You | Wired Science | Wired.com

Cockroach Brains, Coming to a Pharmacy Near You | Wired Science | Wired.com

Networks Go For Dramas Based On Source Material; 3 More Adaptations Enter The Fray – Deadline.com

Networks Go For Dramas Based On Source Material; 3 More Adaptations Enter The Fray – Deadline.com

In the evening when the sun goes down

I'm a morning person. I generally crash early and rise early. However, as I age, night becomes more complicated. Often I am too tired to work and too sore to sleep. I resist taking pills but now and again, rather in desperation, give something a try, which never seems to work very well. The best cure for pain seems to be the distraction of obsessive work. Hell of a deal.

On the radio recently I heard a version of the blues classic (written by Leroy Carr, I believe) that is the title of this entry. However, no one ever sang this song as powerfully as Big Bill Broonzy. He owns it in my book.

As Toronto Unveils Inventive Oscar Films, Why Can’t Hollywood Prize Originality Too? – Deadline.com

As Toronto Unveils Inventive Oscar Films, Why Can’t Hollywood Prize Originality Too? – Deadline.com:

"I asked a group of well-established writers, executives and dealmakers to list the factors preventing originality in Hollywood films:

A) An aversion to risk-taking which is a lingering byproduct of the recession and credit crunch. 'Studio executives are always afraid of taking risks unless they can point to a big success,” said one writer's agent. “If a Western did well, they’d want another Western, and they'd get a lot of bad Westerns.'

B) An over-reliance on “branded” properties that became prevalent over the last several years. Rights holders got first dollar gross deals and say over creative issues and release deadlines, even though they don’t know the first thing about making a good movie."

And ... (hit the link above)

Quran Burning Story: This Is How The Media Embarrass Themselves

Quran Burning Story: This Is How The Media Embarrass Themselves:

"The story of how one lone idiot, pimping an 18th-century brand of community terrorism, held the media hostage and forced some of this nation's most powerful people to their knees to fitfully beg an end to his wackdoodlery is an extraordinary one. It's a modern media retelling of Faulkner's 'As I Lay Dying', in which a gang of Islamaphobes, cast in the role of Addie Bundren, bamboozle the media into carrying their coffin full of malevolence on a journey of pure debasement. Let's begin at the beginning."

And what an extraordinary depressing story this is, leaving little reason to believe sanity can survive in the land.

Prepare to perform

I don't perform all that often any more, so I like to be prepared when I do. And tomorrow at 4 I am reading, by invitation, at the McMenamin's sponsored celebration and festival in NW. McM's continue to be fans of mine in memory of the old days, which is to say several decades ago when I used them as a kind of office. At any rate, I think I will read two comic poems, a diversion for me from the usual northwest play thing. I'm thinking of reading "The West Meets East Talking Misery Blues" with minor editing for a family environment, and "Advice to an Artist on Choosing a Wife." I'll time them today and see if it works.

Yesterday's shoot was my greatest challenge yet in editing. I didn't do a good job of setting things up right for the actors, there's too much unnecessary information in the scene. However, I did manage to edit it into something that makes an important emotional point and I figured a way to set it up differently with the scene that comes before it, which I shoot Oct 1, so I think I'll be okay. This is the first real problem I've had with editing a scene, however. I should be so lucky.

Next week I shoot Monday, Tuesday and Friday.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

The 10 Best Road Trips In America (PHOTOS)

The 10 Best Road Trips In America (PHOTOS)

I've been on 8. Missing is the Columbia Gorge highway.

11 Most Generous Countries of 2010

11 Most Generous Countries of 2010

Guess who is number SIX?

Off to the country

A trip into the country for today's shoot. Will be fun. Hope it doesn't rain but can deal with it if it does.

Only two real major hurdles left: the technical challenge of filming the wake and the dramatic challenge of filming the final scene between the brothers. The rest of the pieces are important but less challenging.

I like everything I have so far. Some very fine performances.

The best of worlds: I think it can be said, when I'm done, that whatever is wrong with it is my fault, not one or more actors' fault, and this is how I want it. I'd love to work with some of these actors again but I doubt if I'll do another feature. Not sure I'd have the energy for it, let alone a workable idea. I think after this I return to the chamber opera and Alice animation, which of course is its own challenge.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Portland Mayor Sam Adams shakes up police citizen advisory panel that criticized him over the police budget | OregonLive.com

Portland Mayor Sam Adams shakes up police citizen advisory panel that criticized him over the police budget | OregonLive.com:

"Community members on the panel -- which includes bankers, business executives and labor specialists -- said they're insulted by the impersonal letter and questioned the mayor's motives."

How weird is Portland? This guy probably will be reelected.

SHADES OF GREENE by Jeremy Lewis reviewed by Gabriel Josipovici - TLS

SHADES OF GREENE by Jeremy Lewis reviewed by Gabriel Josipovici - TLS:

"Does seeing Graham Greene in the context of his family help one understand him?"

Universal Lands Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ And Plans Unprecedented Feature/Network TV Adaptation – Deadline.com

Universal Lands Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ And Plans Unprecedented Feature/Network TV Adaptation – Deadline.com

Adams & Canzano trade fiery barbs on talk radio show | kgw.com | KGW News | Portland, Oregon

Adams & Canzano trade fiery barbs on talk radio show | kgw.com | KGW News | Portland, Oregon:

"PORTLAND – Oregonian sports columnist John Canzano and Portland Mayor Sam Adams traded barbs in a fiery exchange on talk radio Tuesday.
At issue – the end of Triple-A baseball in Portland and what the city did or did not do to try and save the Beavers."

Go Canzano!

Early prep

First location this afternoon is in our driveway, so I did a test run. Don't see any problems unless it's raining, which we then may have to live with. The second location is a gas station, a Chevron just up the road. While we're there I'll buy the actor a full tank for his trouble. He commutes a ways. And we shoot at his place in Newburg tomorrow.

Asteroid Double Whammy Near Earth Wednesday | Wired Science | Wired.com

Asteroid Double Whammy Near Earth Wednesday | Wired Science | Wired.com

Visit Thoreau's birthplace in Concord - Framingham, MA - The MetroWest Daily News

Visit Thoreau's birthplace in Concord - Framingham, MA - The MetroWest Daily News:

"The home of Henry David Thoreau located on 341 Virginia Road in Concord just opened to the public to visit. Thoreau is the American Transcendentalist author best known for his book 'Walden,' a book about simple living in natural surroundings."

Melissa Petro: Thoughts From a Former Craigslist Sex Worker

Melissa Petro: Thoughts From a Former Craigslist Sex Worker:

"Ultimately, while my experience as a 'non-pro' was not the 'fun' I had come looking for -- I found the lifestyle physically demanding, emotionally taxing and spiritually bankrupting, and so I made a decision to desist some months after I'd gotten started, exiting the industry just as freely as I'd entered -- never have I felt it was the state's obligation -- nor its right, in fact -- to protect me from the decisions I made."

See the light

Except for the wake event itself, there's not all that much left to shoot for my film. There's a bunch of stuff for which I don't need actors. Maybe half a dozen scenes left other than the wake. It's been moving right along. I remain delighted with what I have so far, delighted in the performances.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Wired Science - News for Your Neurons | Wired.com

Wired Science - News for Your Neurons | Wired.com:

"The research lays the groundwork for cheap, self-repairing solar cells with an indefinite lifetime, a team reports September 5 in Nature Chemistry."

Progress

A good shoot and we got it wrapped before the rain came, which has arrived with some force at the moment. A short important good scene ... rough cut looks great.

Op-Ed Columnist - 1938 in 2010 - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Columnist - 1938 in 2010 - NYTimes.com

Paul Krugman is right on.

The 10 Most INTELLECTUAL Colleges (PHOTOS)

The 10 Most INTELLECTUAL Colleges (PHOTOS)

Reed and Pomona make the list. But the list appears biased against the sciences, no Cal Tech or MIT.

Today's shoot

Only one short scene this afternoon but it's an important one near the end of the film. And it requires I put on a suit, happening at a coffee shop after I've attended yet another funeral.

Monday, September 06, 2010

No. 3 Boise State stuns No. 10 Va Tech 33-30 - Yahoo! News

No. 3 Boise State stuns No. 10 Va Tech 33-30 - Yahoo! News

I was impressed how Boise State came back after losing a 17 pt lead early on. Very cool in the end. I also was impressed how VT overcame early errors to take control of the game until the very end.

Canzano: Kicking dirt on Sam Adams' shoes | OregonLive.com

Canzano: Kicking dirt on Sam Adams' shoes | OregonLive.com:

"Oh, we have an aerial tram, that ran four times ($57 million) the original budget. And we have those silly bike lanes and a $613 million Portland Bicycle Plan. But what Portland doesn't have after today is a Triple-A baseball team playing in a ballpark where you can bring your family. A piece of the infrastructure of a city just got ripped out.

I'll think about that every time I see the underused bike lanes and that blasted empty tram running overhead. And you should never forget the names of the politicians who were on watch the next time you go to cast a vote. Adams -- Fritz -- Saltzman and Fish. As dreams for the city go, that's some Murderer's Row.

What kind of city does Portland want to be?

Don't ask the city's leadership."

The real meaning of Labor Day


Remembering the Wobblies, a show I put together some years ago for the Unitarian Church.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Farewell to the Portland Beavers: From 1903 to 2010, more than 100 years worth of memories | OregonLive.com

Farewell to the Portland Beavers: From 1903 to 2010, more than 100 years worth of memories | OregonLive.com

Sad, sad. Soccer and politics drove them away.

Levels of retirement

I'm finally beginning to feel "retired" as a writer. I don't mean this literally. I mean retired from the work rhythm that possessed me for over 40 years. My creative work has a different focus now. Indeed I can't imagine writing a novel -- I have neither the stamina nor focus for it. I thought I'd be writing screenplays until I drop because they're so much fun but maybe not, I found something even more fun to do: edit video. I first called myself "retired" as a playwright, then sneaked in a "posthumous play" and there may be others. I think I'll be doing more video projects but I'm not sure I have energy to do another feature. And I still expect to return to the animated chamber opera project, which I hope becomes front burner when the film is done.

I also don't expect to retire from teaching soon. It's the social highlight of my life ha ha.

But I definitely do not move through the hours, the days, the weeks, the months, as I did only a few years ago. I do have a level of retirement.

Movie prop

The Bottom Line, a poem

Just when I'm about to give
humanity a second chance
the planet a second chance
I lean over a salad
at the Student Union
and bite into
a tomato

--Charles Deemer

Out of the nowhere's forehead, born full armed

Something I remember from some poem or other. At any rate, a flash for a great plot change in the story, new high comic elements replacing a rehashing of stuff I'd already established, obviously more engaging. Also, thematically more in sync and also suggesting a path to the ending. I love these surprises.

A day of chores! Chores! Chores! Shoot Tues, Wed, Thur, a busy week.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

13 Books Nobody's Read But Say They Have (PHOTOS)

13 Books Nobody's Read But Say They Have (PHOTOS)

Oh my

UCLA not looking good against Kansas State and only its defense is keeping it a game. The offense is impotent. In another game, Nike Inc (Oregon) had scored 49 against New Mexico in the first half, so offense is no problem there. But I was hoping the Bruins might begin their comeback to old glory this year. Not a good start.

Leonard Maltin: Off-Hollywood: The Five Indie Films Worth Seeing This Month

Leonard Maltin: Off-Hollywood: The Five Indie Films Worth Seeing This Month

Friday, September 03, 2010

Jeremiah Masoli wins NCAA appeal, cleared to play for Ole Miss immediately | OregonLive.com

Jeremiah Masoli wins NCAA appeal, cleared to play for Ole Miss immediately | OregonLive.com

This decision really sucks. These jocks get away with anything. Talk about sports and character building! More arrogant millionaires for the pros.

Chores & disaster

Good day for chores ... and for a disastrous accident. My dear sweet wife -- have to blame someone -- left a bottle of paint on a fragile shelf near the basement door and when a board fell over, it hit the shelf, which sent the bottle to the floor, spilling pink paint all over the basement, even splattering into my office and onto my guitar case and briefcase, a considerable mess that I did not enjoy cleaning up, nor did I enjoy the absence of H at the time so I couldn't yell at her and now, with her due home, so much time has passed that I don't feel like yelling at her at all. That's no fun.

Spent time shuffling the order of scenes, too, trying to improve pacing and suspense of certain plot flows. I'm really excited that the 90 min goal looks very doable now. I was uncertain.

Vanity Fair's Sarah Palin Profiler: 'The Worst Stuff Isn't Even In There'

Vanity Fair's Sarah Palin Profiler: 'The Worst Stuff Isn't Even In There':

"'This is a person for whom there is no topic too small to lie about,' he said. 'She lies about everything.'"

I think we have a feature

By the gods, I've now got a rough edit, with a couple gaps, of the first 45 minutes and the wake event probably will begin around the one hour mark, so a 90 min. feature looks well in hand. I may end up with more and edit down, which is better than padding -- and I see now that I shouldn't have a problem reaching feature length, thank the gods. I hate padding. Maybe 15 or 20 mins for the wake itself and a short 10 or 15 minute last act.

Stay tuned

Terry Simons -- poet, playwright, novelist, blogger, political commentator, football fan -- is starting a podcast radio show. Tentative times, Sunday 2-4 pm at House of Sound, which is filled with alternative programming (if mostly for generations younger than mine). Be good to hear an old fart like Simons on the schedule. I expect the format to become very personal and eccentric, both pluses. Go, Terry!

His blog is Round Bend Press.

On my end, it's a day of chores, inside and out, into which occasional editing may be fitted.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

College football

As corrupt and corporate as college football has become, I still feel excited about the season starting tonight. Old habits die hard. And I miss my old buddy Tom Campbell, the Oklahoma fanatic, because no one enjoyed college football more than he and through the 80s it was our habit to see the first game of the season together at Nobby's. If I get sick of college corruption, I see that cable is showing a ton of high school games this season.

Taking a needed break from editing, is what I'm up to tonight. College football is as good an escape as anything.

Oh yes. McMenamin's, the local tavern phenomenon, wants me to read at their annual Stumptown celebration in NW and I agreed. Their "Tavern and Pool" establishment in northwest was one of my homes through the 80s, along with Nobby's and Seafood Mama's. They like to think I wrote all my plays in their tavern. Close actually, in terms of conception and brooding.

Mind and Matter

So my leg is killing me all morning. I go to the shoot and work for two hours and forget all about it. I swear to the gods, I didn't give my leg a thought! Then I come home to relax -- and it hurts like hell again.

The irony is I relax more when working than when relaxing.

A brief return to summer

Sunny, blue sky. Forecast to move into the 80s today. My spirits soar! I belong in the Southwest, I really do.

A fun shoot today, setting up an old school v. new school disagreement between father and son, should be a delightful scene. Couple short things in addition but in general a much easier shoot today than yesterday. Best, today I get the clips I need to set up some of the cameos I already have, so I can do a lot of editing over the weekend.

And start planning the new term at the university.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sarah Palin the Sound and the Fury | Politics | Vanity Fair

Sarah Palin the Sound and the Fury | Politics | Vanity Fair:

"Even as Sarah Palin’s public voice grows louder, she has become increasingly secretive, walling herself off from old friends and associates, and attempting to enforce silence from those around her. Following the former Alaska governor’s road show, the author delves into the surreal new world Palin now inhabits—a place of fear, anger, and illusion, which has swallowed up the engaging, small-town hockey mom and her family—and the sadness she has left in her wake."

Harriet's new website

You can see Harriet's art here. Very nice website!

Wish list

In the best of all worlds, I would have ...
  • Warmer weather. Lows of 70. Ha ha ha.
  • Fewer body aches.
  • Live in a neighborhood within walking distance of a grocery, a coffee shop, a park, a traditional politically incorrect greasy spoon, a bus stop.
  • No more outliving anyone I care about. I don't want to be the last man standing.
  • Fewer bills.
  • Continued reasonably good health.
  • Continued online connectivity.
  • All of the above.

The professor's cap

Usually I don't switch to Teaching Mode until after Labor Day but I'm adding a new book to supplement mine this year, so I need more prep time -- so today I'll start preparing my fall class. I also shoot today and tomorrow, important scenes ... well, they all are important or they don't belong! I am beginning to see little holes in the story I need to fill. Nothing major. Easy fixes, ten seconds here, fifteen there.

If  I can pull off the wake itself, I think I'll have a film. The wake needs to be, in  practice, organized chaos. I'm working on it.

Practiced a little banjo last night. Long time. I don't know why it's so easy to practice when I'm in class and so difficult when I'm not. Well, yes I do. I am spread too thin. I'm too damn busy. And this feature, of course, is all consuming, it's on my mind at all times. I decided I'd put some banjo playing in  the film, incentive to practice!

It's wet and chilly outside. I feel like I've been cheated out of summer. 

Harriet is gone for a week at the end of the month, visiting grandkids back east. I'll try to schedule a bunch of shooting then but don't think I'll hold the wake here without her help on camera and in preparations. I may change my mind ... we'll see how the first half of the month goes with shooting.

I'm even toying with a device I used in my play The Half-Life Conspiracy, a play within a play within a play. In this case, film within a film within a film. The film within a film is already set up, I may have the narrator, yours truly, get interested in making his own film (as opposed to shooting for his brother's film), layering the lenses through which reality appears. May also be too much of a distraction. The ending is the key, and I may not know what I need until I film and see the ending, the scene between the two brothers, their bonding of a sort.

I am close, though, to shooting everything up to the wake. Then I will shoot the ending, I think, and save the wake itself to the last thing I do.

This is like juggling with 100 balls in the air.