Monday, February 28, 2011

Will Amazon's Kindle Be Free By November? - Yahoo! News

Will Amazon's Kindle Be Free By November? - Yahoo! News

IMDb: Most Surprising Oscar Winners of the Past 20 Years - a list by Mark Englehart

IMDb: Most Surprising Oscar Winners of the Past 20 Years - a list by Mark Englehart

Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan's Girlfriend and the Muse Behind Many of His Greatest Songs, Dead at 67 | Rolling Stone Music

Suze Rotolo, Bob Dylan's Girlfriend and the Muse Behind Many of His Greatest Songs, Dead at 67 | Rolling Stone Music

Her fine memoir of the era.

March Madness

As the selection day approaches, less than 2 weeks now, there are 4 ranked or near-ranked teams I can root for: BYU, Utah State, San Diego St, and UCLA. And underdogs everywhere, esp teams with high graduation rates and high GPAs.

On the women's side, Stanford, UCLA, BYU and Princeton.

And who you root for isn't about predicting the winner, it's about focusing your enthusiasm.

A blackeyed peas kind of day

During a break I decided to make a big pot of blackeyed peas and once started it quickly became non-traditional, with okra, sausage, bacon, a kind of blackeyed pea stew or something. Lookin' good!

Got the necessary stuff done today. Not moving very fast. A slow mellow gray day that I am enjoying a lot. Ah, also wrote a new vignette chapter on the novella, which I'm trying to move front burner and attack daily or close. Haven't decided whether or not to serialize it.

Story strategy

The developing story strategy in my new novella, with the working title The Return of the Puddle City Radicals, is a narrative built on vignettes, chapters 1-3 pages long. Here the model is one of my very favorite novels, Evan Connell's Mrs. Bridge. Short pithy vignettes that can stand on their own, building a slowly evolving narrative. This also means most can be written in one sitting. And I've started, so far, so good.

Texas, Budget Cuts and Children -

Texas, Budget Cuts and Children -

"And in low-tax, low-spending Texas, the kids are not all right. The high school graduation rate, at just 61.3 percent, puts Texas 43rd out of 50 in state rankings. Nationally, the state ranks fifth in child poverty; it leads in the percentage of children without health insurance. And only 78 percent of Texas children are in excellent or very good health, significantly below the national average."

Pay Up, Corporate Tax Dodgers | Common Dreams

Pay Up, Corporate Tax Dodgers | Common Dreams

Barack Obama May Be Forced to Delay US Climate Action | Common Dreams

Barack Obama May Be Forced to Delay US Climate Action | Common Dreams

The very opposite of what is needed, i.e. a sense of CRISIS.

Wind, rain, mellow

A number of chores today, beginning with several student script to work at; also time to start preparing tax info for our accountant; end of term stuff, only two weeks and a final left. Which means write a final, this I think rather than use an old one.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Against procrastination

Yet another dear friend of H has the Big C and is passing swiftly, right before her eyes, never easy to watch, but it's another reminder, as if I needed one, how quickly the end can happen when it happens, which in turn is more pressure to do what needs to be done while I still have enough health to do it. I think I need to move this novella front burner because many of the things on my mind are in the mind of my protagonist. Death waits for no one.

King Lear bust

First, the production of King Lear in the London National Theatre Live in HD series is just first rate. Jacobi is incredible, the pace is urgent throughout, this is Shakespeare that races forward with its narrative. But it's also a play best watched after doing some homework, and the HD format here is not as user-friendly as the Met's and the host doesn't even provide a quick summary of plot and characters, so you're on your own, in my case relying on an imperfect memory. But here's the rub. The seats were so uncomfortable that both H and I had serious back pain by intermission -- so we bagged it. Yes, we left at intermission, even though I loved it, although I wish I had done my homework first. Came home and rushed to the pain medicine. Tonight I'll do something much more mindless, like watch the Oscars.

Julie Gray: Why I Don't Watch the Oscars Anymore

Julie Gray: Why I Don't Watch the Oscars Anymore:

"a couple of years ago, it hit me -- this is not about rewarding good films. This is about rewarding the industry of publicity and hype. Not that good films are not rewarded -- there are nominees this year that were absolutely great films. There are good directors and actors nominated. Don't get me wrong. But the intentions of the Oscars has gotten so bald that I find myself bored."

Recently read: Hot - Living through the next 50 years on Earth

Here's a book that will break your heart. An investigative journalist becomes a father and becomes obsessed with the dangerous future facing his daughter. Following the science, he begins to understand that the disastrous effects of global warming have already begun. What can be done to make the planet that his daughter will grow into more livable than it will be otherwise if nothing meaningful is done, which has been the response to global disaster so far?

Amazingly enough, this is not a depressing book. Yes, the science is frightening. But here and there, communities are showing that adaptive and corrective measures can be taken to improve future life on the planet. What is lacking is political will. This book was written before the victories of right wing Republicans, which makes the hurdles even greater since many of them deny a problem in the first place. Maybe this book is more depressing today than it was last year.

At any rate, what makes this book unusual is its personal point of view. In an epilogue, Hertsgaard writes a letter to his daughter in 2020, including the gift of the book, a year by which much will be determined about the future livability of the planet. 2020 is less than a decade away. The science is firm, according to the vast majority of climate scientists. The politics is a wild card. There is little political leadership in this area, including the lack of leadership from President Obama. As I've written here before, I see little reason for the optimism of a Thornton Wilder, that yet again the human race will avoid catastrophe by "the skin of our teeth."

I'm so glad I'm not younger than I am. I feel sorry for everyone younger. Maybe they'll get in the streets and make something happen, get the politicians off their asses. And maybe not.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Could A Small Nuclear War Reverse Global Warming?

Could A Small Nuclear War Reverse Global Warming?

Terrific. Cheney is an environmentalist.

Fake California school steals website content from Portland's Reed College; Reed warns of scam |

Fake California school steals website content from Portland's Reed College; Reed warns of scam |

I hate these education scams, like buying a PhD.

Recently seen: Pirates of Penzance

Not often does one see a college theater production without a weak acting link here and there but if Clark College's energetic fun-loving version of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic had a singing/acting weak link, I sure couldn't find it. This was a strong production top to bottom, for which main credit goes to director Kirk Mouser. However, two parts of the show really blew me away: the choreography and the double-role of straight and pirate Ruth. Looking at the program, I see these two accolades go to the same person, Lisamarie Harrison. Hats off for a stellar job!

The now-catered dinner part of the evening was excellent but somehow not as exciting as the culinary extravaganza when the students did it. I missed it. But then I often miss "the old days."

Oregon track & field: Ducks run away with the women's title at the MPSF Indoor Championships, but still have work to do |

Oregon track & field: Ducks run away with the women's title at the MPSF Indoor Championships, but still have work to do |

83rd Academy Awards: A Clenched Fist on Every Lapel | Common Dreams

83rd Academy Awards: A Clenched Fist on Every Lapel | Common Dreams

Deadline Banned From Covering Oscars! –

Deadline Banned From Covering Oscars! –

"UPDATE: I've now decided to reveal more. Such as the fact that some (but not all) of the 'spoilers' reported by Deadline -- including Billy Crystal's scheduled appearance -- were done so with the permission and encouragement and even timing suggestions of Oscar insiders who were hoping to spike more viewership for Sunday's show. Yet Deadline gets banned from covering the Academy Awards."

So silly.

Iphigénie en Tauride - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Iphigénie en Tauride - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Today's Live at the Met in HD opera. I was unfamiliar with this work by Gluck and enjoyed it very much, especially its dramatic structure and economy. Nice music. A good morning.

Portland's best kept culinary secret

Busy day, opera in a.m. and musical dinner theater in p.m. The dinner theater at Clark College in Vancouver, which we've been going to annually for over 20 years, is the best kept culinary secret in the area. Dinner is a gourmet buffet made by students in the college's culinary program and it is amazing. The desserts alone are worth many times the ticket price but this a full multi-course buffet in which students try to outdo one another, so it is an extraordinary feast. Dinner comes before the play so you can even skip but we never do, college musicals are usually fun. But it's the food that sets this extravaganza apart. Happens only once a year, usually in late winter term. An absolutely amazing feast put on by the culinary students!

LATER. Alas, I'm told this is now catered due to school budget cuts. Another gem comes to an end.

Older Audience Makes Its Presence Known at the Movies -

Older Audience Makes Its Presence Known at the Movies - "LOS ANGELES —

"Hollywood and older Americans have never had much use for each other. The 50-plus crowd doesn’t go to opening weekends or buy popcorn; a youth-obsessed Hollywood has happily ignored them.

But in the last few months an older audience has made a startling reassertion of its multiplex power. “True Grit,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Fighter,” “Black Swan” — all movies in contention for a clutch of Oscars on Sunday — have all been surprise hits at the box office."

I've maintained for years that seniors are the largest untapped movie audience in the country. Maybe producers will start paying attention.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Corporate takeover of Internet

The joy of rewriting

Spent some of the morning rewriting the first 70 pages of an unfinished screenplay I found, which now I plan to finish. Rewriting is by far the most fun part of the writing process. It is slow, contemplative, less frenzied than the fragile writing of a first draft, when ideas are so nebulous and a loud noise can ruin the moment. There is a certain psychological stability in rewriting than makes it refreshingly stable and enjoyable.

PCs: The New Cool Kids?

PCs: The New Cool Kids

i.e. compared to Macs.

Why actions speak louder than words

Daily Kos: Mother against Drunk Driving arrested for drunk driving

'Abortion' Second Result In Google Search For 'Murder'

'Abortion' Second Result In Google Search For 'Murder'

Search engines aren't "neutral." So be careful.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Daily Kos: US media ignores Germany's Spiegel's report that Wall St committed a monumental insider bank robbery

Daily Kos: US media ignores Germany's Spiegel's report that Wall St committed a monumental insider bank robbery:

"As an American expat who holds an MBA degree in marketing, currently living in European Union, I was struck once again by the reality that the job of the American media doesn't seem to be about really informing us but rather to sell commercial advertising space as a marketing profit center. I've learned through truthful reporting to rely on the European mainstream media sources like Germany's Der Spiegel and Britain's BBC networks. What I have also learned is that we have to reach out to our fellow Americans and citizens of the world in alterative media and ask each of our readers to help us get the word out through email and social networking sites like Facebook in order to get the truth out."

Snow event came, went, coming again?

Who knows? a very strange day actually.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The future of the book - O'Reilly Radar

The future of the book - O'Reilly Radar

Money II


Daily Kos: Media yawns as a third federal judge upholds constitutionality of health care reform

Daily Kos: Media yawns as a third federal judge upholds constitutionality of health care reform:

"Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler became the third federal judge to rule in favor of the health care reform law's constitutionality, but as with each of the other rulings in favor of reform, Kessler's decision has barely made a ripple in the media.

In contrast, coverage of Judge Roger Vinson's decision against reform saturated the media, even though his ruling had no immediate impact on health reform."

Daily Kos: Rethinking Unions

Daily Kos: Rethinking Unions:

"We may have forgotten the historical reasons why collective bargaining became law: companies made huge profits on the backs of the employees and did nothing to provide safe work conditions, reasonable hours or any benefits. When employees organized to protest, they were beaten and even killed, sometimes at the hand of government militia.

I may not always like what unions achieve, but I’ve realized that I’ll fight to keep collective bargaining rights on the table for all employees. I don’t want history repeating itself – not in Wisconsin and not in New Hampshire."


Round Bend Press: from Cello Music & Other Poems

Round Bend Press: from Cello Music & Other Poems

A fine poem by Terry Simons.

Editorials | The Washington Legislature should legalize marijuana | Seattle Times Newspaper

Editorials | The Washington Legislature should legalize marijuana | Seattle Times Newspaper

Wow. Don't see a stand like this often.

OSCAR: Hammond Predicts Who Will Win –

OSCAR: Hammond Predicts Who Will Win –

King Lear

I'm a huge fan of Live at the Met in HD, this weekend trying for first time the theater equivalent, King Lear live from London in HD with Derek Jacobi as Lear, really looking forward to it.

Robert Creamer: Why Americans Need Unions Now More Than Ever

Robert Creamer: Why Americans Need Unions Now More Than Ever:

"The bottom line is that people who work for a living (most of us) are getting a smaller and smaller share of the nation's economic pie.

In August of 2006, the New York Times reported that Federal Reserve study showed that, 'Wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation's gross national product since the government began recording data in 1947; while corporate profits have climbed to their highest shares since the 1960.'"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cal Tech wins game, ends 310 game losing streak!!!

 News from The Associated Press:

"PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- Caltech has ended a 310-game conference losing streak in men's basketball, beating Occidental College 46-45 in its season finale Tuesday night."

Liveability ranking: Where the livin' is easiest | The Economist

Liveability ranking: Where the livin' is easiest | The Economist:

"VANCOUVER remains the most liveable city in the world, according to the latest annual ranking compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The Canadian city scored 98 out of a maximum 100, as it has done for the past two years."

I've only visited but I can see why it would rank #1. Also doesn't surprise me that no U.S. city is on top ten. We're "exceptional" that way ha ha.

The Princeton Review's Best-Value Public Colleges For 2011

The Princeton Review's Best-Value Public Colleges For 2011

None on the west coast.

Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About | Mother Jones

Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin Is Really About | Mother Jones

Morning musings

Standing room only on the bus in, maybe because of a snow forecast coming soon. Safe than sorry and all that. At any rate I like the bus except when we're packed like sardines.

I hobbled to school, making my usual stop at Starbucks, coffee and a cheese & fruit plate for lunch, to the office, here very early, which is fine by me. The world feels a tad more sane here in the academic cocoon.

About hobbling: I'm clearly a candidate for knee replacement surgery down the road but the thought of turning into a bionic man doesn't excite me. I think far too many of our serious problems are caused by our arrogance in "controlling" Nature. So I'm not sure what the hell I'll do if I become immobile. With a bit of luck I won't reach that point.

More and more I am thinking of a summer of writing and composing, not filmmaking. I really like my current novella idea because it would be a political novel, a dark comedy of a political novel, and I've never written one. And I want to write the art song for a music video later.

I "tried" to "retire" as a writer, honestly I did, but it ends up that writing is the only thing keeping me sane, sort of, on the planet. It's my way of being in the world. When I'm not writing, bad thoughts come to me.

My spring class is full with a waiting list, as usual. But first, a month to go on winter. Let's not get ahead of the game here. Some good writing going on now but a few still aren't where they need to be. They'll get there, I think.

Breakfast eccentricities

Over my breakfast of oatmeal and scrapple this morning, I found my mind wandering to the 1960s and breakfasts in Eugene. We had a favorite, which many would call eccentric, that was introduced to us by our neighbors, a couple with the worst timing of anyone I've met. They were both on PhD programs in lit, she in Shakespeare and he in D. H. Lawrence. They were older, returning to school because with only M.A.'s they couldn't get tenure anywhere. They'd taught at the Univs of Montana, Oregon State. Prior to that they lived for a couple years in Paris on an inheritance. Learned, cultured, European -- afternoon brandy at their house became a common ritual. And the breakfast they turned us on to was lamb kidneys.

I haven't seen lamb kidneys in the market for years. Decades. They used to be common. The breakfast was a broiled lamb kidney on an English muffin, topped with a poached egg. We loved it. But whatever happened to lamb kidneys in the supermarket?

Our friends got their PhDs just in time for the great market glut. They couldn't find teaching jobs! They ended up in Seattle. She returned to school yet again and ended up a high school teacher. He became a tech writer for a bank. Two more literary scholars bite the dust.

Haven't heard from them in years and years. I hope they are doing well. Pleasant memories of afternoon brandy and morning lamb kidney for breakfast, both instigated by these good neighbors.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wisconsin State Representative Mark Pocan: Scott Walker's Top Ten Lies

Wisconsin State Representative Mark Pocan: Scott Walker's Top Ten Lies

Fighting the 5 Fascisms in Wisconsin and Ohio | Common Dreams

Fighting the 5 Fascisms in Wisconsin and Ohio | Common Dreams:

"The escalating confrontations in Wisconsin and Ohio are ultimately about preventing the United States from becoming a full-on fascist state.

The stakes could not be higher---or more clear.

As defined by its inventor, Benito Mussolini, fascism is 'corporate control of the state.' There are ways to beat around the Bush---Paul Krugman has recently written about 'oligarchy'---but it's time to end all illusions and call what we now confront by its true name.

The fights in Wisconsin, Ohio, and in numerous other states are about saving the last shreds of American democracy. They burn down to five basic realities: "

Wisconsin Power Play -

Wisconsin Power Play -

"You don’t have to love unions, you don’t have to believe that their policy positions are always right, to recognize that they’re among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle- and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy. Indeed, if America has become more oligarchic and less democratic over the last 30 years — which it has — that’s to an important extent due to the decline of private-sector unions."

Recently read: Political Folk Music in America from its Origins to Bob Dylan

This is an engaging history that focuses largely on the influences of three major figures: Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan. Their careers are put in context, giving opportunity to tell many other stories as well, resulting in social and political history told in a compelling way. Only near the end does the author go astray by spending too much time on his own take on Dylan's lyrics in his early rock period. But this is a small diversion in an otherwise strong and focused story of social and political history.


As Pete Seeger tells the story, Woody asked Seeger where he could find a typewriter.  Seeger took him to a friend's sixth-floor apartment. Woody sat at the typewriter,   accompanied by a half gallon of wine, and his guitar. Using the  melody from the song "John Hardy," Woody worked through the night.  When Seeger arose the next morning, he found the wine bottle emptied,  Woody sleeping on the floor, and the ballad "Tom Joad" still in the typewriter.

Woody hated songs with slogans. He was a balladeer, a songwriter   who liked to tell a story about a real person and have any lessons  emerge from the story. He thought too many of the folk songs the Left  wrote and performed were about abstractions, not people.
Woody and Pete reacted to this new role in very different ways.  Woody, while wanting recognition, could never see himself as a popular  entertainer, as someone singing for someone else's pleasure rather than for  their political education. Pete was much more conflicted. He shared Woody's disdain for the corporate powers that put him in front of audiences.   But he thought once he got the audiences, he could shape them.
As quickly as fame had kissed them it slapped them. Three days after  the "This Is War" show, the New York World-Telegram  ran a story connecting   the Almanacs to the Communists. The New York Post had a story  the next day repeating the charges but with an emphasis on Songs for John  Doe.Bookings were canceled. So were future radio shows. The Morris  agency dumped them. Decca told them there would be no record.
Hammond was trying to find a singer who could carry on the tradition   that Hammond so admired. It wasn't that Dylan was the most gifted  musician. It was that he was angry at the country, and he could write. That  was it. Hammond had found his man. Dylan's new embrace of politics  after meeting Suze Rotolo led him to speak Hammond's language.

Quotation of the day

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."
--M. L. King

Daily Kos: EARTH: 'UNrecognizable' by 2050

Daily Kos: EARTH: 'UNrecognizable' by 2050

Robert M. La Follette, a Wisconsin legacy

Robert M. La Follette, Sr. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Remembering Wisconsin's progressives.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Recently viewed: Unknown

I really like the concept of this thriller -- but there were so many car chases and other narrative distractions that I finally lost interest.

Animal Farm

Previews at the multiplex (poem)

Previews at the multi[plex

I never feel older
nor more headed for extinction
than when I watch previews
at the multiplex

it wasn't always this way
I used to recognize people
and places on the screen
and care what happened to them

now it's all catastrophe
mayhem and destruction
wise-cracking and flesh
3D and wrap around sound

so I close my eyes
and try to remember
what the feature is

and how cleansing the rain will be
when I get out of there

--Charles Deemer

The Bobby Fischer Defense by Garry Kasparov | The New York Review of Books

The Bobby Fischer Defense by Garry Kasparov | The New York Review of Books

The Real Reason for Public Finance Crisis | Common Dreams

The Real Reason for Public Finance Crisis | Common Dreams:

"If you want to know why we have budget deficits all over, look no further than the roaring success of corporate tax avoidance

by Richard Wolff"

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Recently viewed: Inherit the Wind

It's shocking, and sad, how very contemporary this film is a half century after it was made. But the sides of the arguments here, and the use and non-use of evidence, are repeated frequently in news stories and in board meetings about textbook approval, as the evolution v. creationist conflict goes on and on and on.

The most frightening experience of my life

I stumbled into a live Tea Party chat this morning while looking for some updates in Wisconsin -- and stayed a few moments in morbid fascination as dozens of folks lauded Palin and Beck as the best MINDS in the country today and so forth and so on, and finally had to flee in a marriage of disbelief and despair. And as so often lately, I recalled the words of the late Senator from Oregon, Wayne Morse, the very words I use to close my one-man play about him, American Gadfly:
     So if you asked me, Wayne Morse, name
            the one thing in our country that you
            think will do more to strengthen
            American foreign policy in the next
            half century, you might be surprised
            at my reply. I would say, Do something
            to protect the educational standard of
            American boys and girls.  Do something
            to protect American brain power. 
            Because the only sure and lasting
            defense of peace is a highly educated
            and enlightened citizenry.
By which standard, that chat room gets a big fat F.

Friday, February 18, 2011

And on the bright side ...

With thanks to Mark.

4 a.m. (poem)

4 a.m.

waking up to pee
at 4 a.m.

it occurs to me that
my weekend has begun

but I don't celebrate
everyone I know

who would go out for coffee
who would go out for breakfast

at 4 a.m.
is dead

--Charles Deemer

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Go, Rachael!

On Wisconsin!

Hang in there, teachers, public employees! Don't let the Republicans break you!

A summer project

I'm thinking my summer project might be to put together a small book of poems, assuming they keep coming as they have been lately. I think I'd call it In My Old Age. I'm also working, sort of, that is I have an idea and a few opening pages, on a new novella, two old guys again, this time resurrecting a radical folk group they had in the 60s. Might be fun, writing radical lyrics for today if nothing else. The Return of the Puddle City Radicals.

The world is too much with us

Man, the world is in a mess. I think it's always been in a mess but it's harder to hide from this today. Can get you down. Moreover I am reading Zinn's classic A People's History of the United States for the 3rd or 4th time and find it more depressing than on previous reads. And I'm reading about global warming and about 9/11 lung diseases -- maybe I should find some light reading ha ha. Watch some silent comedies.

Strange Fruit: the first great protest song | Music | The Guardian

Strange Fruit: the first great protest song | Music | The Guardian

Powerful article.

Breathing room

Finished reading student scripts, some good ones to read in class today, but now I have breathing room until 2 when I leave for school. Read, banjo, maybe watch "The Kids Are All Right" again since I've decided to teach it. The script is brilliant in its scene design.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In the Age of Medical Miracles (poem)

In the Age of Medical Miracles

Doc, I say
I'm interested in quality of life
not quantity of life
and as far as I'm concerned
your job is to make my passing
when the time comes
as comfortable as possible

and your job is not
to prolong my life with
medical miracles
medical wonders
not even tests

I've had a blessed life
and live on bonus time now
I'm letting Nature take its course
what happens happens
and it is not your job
to stop it from happening

She listened and she
thought about it
and then she said

Good luck
in finding another doctor

--Charles Deemer

Varieties of scrapple

I usually eat scrapple in one of two ways. Most often, I heat a slice in the microwave, put it in a bowl and cover it with oatmeal and milk. Otherwise I coat a slice with flour and fry it. But this morning I tried something different, putting a slice in an egg wash, then very fine cornmeal, and frying this -- quite good!

I eat scrapple about 5 times a week. My doctor hates this, of course. I try to explain to her that I'm living on bonus time, in a quality over quantity mode and a let nature take its course mode, and her job is to make my end comfortable, not to extend my life. She, like most doctors, maybe all, would prefer to turn me into some kind of bionic man kept alive with technology. No thanks.

Actually, philosophically I think I should qualify for Oregon's doctor-assisted suicide before I get sick, not after. I've lived a long, blessed life -- and if I chose this option, which I'm not choosing today, I should be able to get it. I think death should be a celebration of life, like a permanent retirement party. The farewell wake. Fat chance, of course, that's what I believe. It's far less lonely and irrational my way. When I do decide to take a hike, no doubt I'll have to go do it alone in the worst of circumstances because I live in such an irrational culture. Pisses me off.

Scientists connect global warming to extreme rain - Yahoo! News

Scientists connect global warming to extreme rain - Yahoo! News:

"WASHINGTON – Two studies in the journal Nature link global warming to extreme rainstorms and snowfalls and find these weather events are getting substantially worse."

Daily Kos: In honor of Darwin: Let's fight for science

Daily Kos: In honor of Darwin: Let's fight for science

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Daily Kos: Students and Packers support Wisconsin public workers

Daily Kos: Students and Packers support Wisconsin public workers:

"Wisconsin is coming together around its state workers in the face of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's attempt to drastically curtail their workplace rights and effectively cut their pay.

Current and former members of the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers issued a statement in support of the workers:"

Office sweet office

My home away from home. In early again, to mellow out and wait for a student meeting at 3.

Lara Logan Suffered 'Brutal' Sexual Assault In Egypt

Lara Logan Suffered 'Brutal' Sexual Assault In Egypt

Incredible. She's the excellent CBS correspondent. And this was on the day of celebration.

Having Coffee With An Old Girlfriend (poem)

Having Coffee With An Old Girlfriend

a chance meeting at Starbucks
a table together to catch up
and I keep imagining her
naked in 1980

we were a couple then
pulling in the same direction
ending each other's sentences
laughing at the same absurdities
and never sad after sex

what went wrong?

I study her face as she tells me
about divorces, breast cancer, a troubled son
deep lines and blotches
on the ripened beauty of a young woman
eyes a shade of blue
all the oceans should demand

what went wrong?

on a Sunday morning in 1980
embraced, out of breath
damp with sweat and sex
the phone rang

my mother asked
"are you all right?"
which blew my mind
how does my mother know
about my sex life?
"on television it looks terrible"

mom, what are you talking about?

"Mt. St. Helens erupted!
the mountain exploded!
it's on television!"

after that we celebrated May 18th
as Cosmic Sex Day
and now over coffee
I wonder if she remembers this
but don't bring it up

we finish our coffee
how nice to see you and all that
but don't exchange phone numbers
and for the life of me
I can't remember what went wrong
after we caused Mt. St. Helens
to explode

it must be this way

happiness and ecstasy
are so rare in a life
that memory hordes them
and protects them
driving out any threat
that may compromise the power
of their echoes

and in this way we believe
what happened once
can happen again
and maybe we're right about that

but also maybe wrong

--Charles Deemer

Monday, February 14, 2011

IBM computer, Jeopardy! champ tied after first day - Yahoo! News

IBM computer, Jeopardy! champ tied after first day - Yahoo! News

Round Bend Press: A New Book

Round Bend Press: A New Book:

A new book of poems by Terry Simons.


When a man grows old and his
energy ebbs he turns to writing poetry
When a man grows old women look
beautiful but what can he do
When a man grows old he resents the
machinations of politicians and kids
When a man grows old and his teeth
turn yellow he scorns his friends
When a man grows old his poetry leaves
him empty until he drinks a beer
When a man grows old night becomes
stranger than the days of his past
When a man grows old time flows
backward to a sense of what lasts"

Have we lost the art of writing love letters? - Features, Books - The Independent

Have we lost the art of writing love letters? - Features, Books - The Independent

George Shearing, noted jazz pianist, dies at 91 |

George Shearing, noted jazz pianist, dies at 91 |

A former vibes player with Shearing was our neighbor the year "Sally" and I dropped out of grad school and came to Portland. He reminded me of Chet Baker, so sweet and lyrical in his music and so loud and self-destructive in person. I'll never forget the morning he came over with a "new drug" that he said was "rocket fuel." I declined. When the guy was straight, he played beautiful vibes.

IFC Renews ‘Portlandia’ For Second Season –

IFC Renews ‘Portlandia’ For Second Season –

I am truly sorry to hear this ha ha.

A first rate student

I'm not big on vampire stories but an advanced student of mine is working on one that is so original, so compelling, so potent in its meaning and social commentary, that I'm really impressed with his talent. At least thus far. He still has the challenge of act two to meet, where the "blue collar" work of screenwriting begins, to quote Lew Hunter. But man, it makes my day to read a student script this good.


For a while after she retired and moved to Bali, I had an email pen-pal thing going with "Zeena," the muse of the sonnets. Then she stopped replying and disappeared. Another friendship down the drain. So I figured. But today she reappeared on Facebook, wanting to "friend" me. So she's still alive and kicking, which is good to see.

A day dedicated to student scripts, mostly of my advanced students, half a dozen to look at, long and leisurely through the day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Thornton Wilder

Been thinking a lot about Wilder this morning. He wrote what I consider to be the greatest American play of the 20th century, The Skin of Our Teeth. Its theme of survival, despite all our stupid and irrational behavior, Wilder's faith in the final decency of the human animal, the human heart, gets challenged today by the environmental crisis that we Americans, whose lifestyle is the crisis' greatest contributor, refuse to embrace and deal with. Indeed with crisis-denying Republicans now in charge of essential environmental committees in Congress, the situation deteriorates daily. Nature will win, however, and it looks like our suffering will be great. I've started a book, Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth, that should be required reading for every parent on the planet, if only to educate them about what their children can expect. It's not a pretty picture (and it's a least likely scenario of disaster at that!). It's not too late to make it better (it's now beyond fixing, alas) but the immediate action required seems highly unlikely in our current uneducated suicidal political climate.

Wilder had faith that we could muddle through in the end, despite everything. I used to agree with him. Indeed this was one of the miracles of our species. Creative survival. But this time we may have gone too far. And as much as our American lifestyle, it will be our American tradition of anti-intellectualism, our stubborn self-made bias against knowledge, our preference for religion over science, that will do us in. Who cares if the world comes to an end if Christ is going to drop from the clouds and reward you for keeping the faith?

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but in Rapture

The arts in HD, an arts lottery, two great ideas

With satellite and HD technology now bringing live performances at the Met to locations around the world, many other arts events are jumping on the band wagon. Soon, for example, we'll see the LA symphony live and King Lear from London live.

This won't happen any time soon, but here is an opportunity to redefine what local arts groups do. If we can see the major canon in HD from the best arts groups in the world, then this releases local arts groups from the responsibility of performing the major works -- and instead can focus on more development and performance of local and regional artists. In the past, the local arts mantra has been something like, Okay, you aren't living in New York but we will show you some of the plays you'd see if you were in New York. But if we CAN see plays in New York, as more and more we will be able to, via the new technology, then local arts groups can give us the single thing that New York cannot, which is to say, the work of LOCAL ARTISTS. This can be a great boon to new arts development!

Well, dream on. But I think it's a great idea, just as I think my idea of disbanding all arts funding institutions and replacing them with arts LOTTERIES, adding more money by decimating administrative costs. And an arts lottery also removes POLITICS from the process, which drives it today. Believe me, it's true, I've been on panels that decide these things and politics rules. An arts lottery would be fair, exciting and surprising. I think better new art would result.

In summary, here are two ideas that would hugely improve the arts scene by invigorating new arts work but neither has a chance in hell, in this corporate world, of ever happening.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Walk like an Egyptian

Our American politicians so seldom walk the talk of freedom, I found it both mind-boggling and admirable that the Egyptians in the streets were able to keep their peaceful cool through those long days of protest, especially after being beat up and bombed by thugs. They are an inspiration. If they get screwed, I'm sure they will be back in the streets. These folks have character. Maybe Americans were like that once.

More about Nixon In China

Opera is mostly about music, of course, and what I find so compelling about Adams' music here is that from its first notes it is both lyrical and suspenseful. There's a suggestion of dread, of impending doom, throughout the opera, the libretto in summary at the end when Chou sings, Did we do any good? This suspense, lyricism, dread is the musical theme I hear, varied for characters but something the score constantly returns to.

A highlight of the Met production, esp in comparison to the Pdx production, is the choreography. We loved it. And Madam Mao's rousing number almost knocked me out of my seat -- I didn't get this reaction at all in the Pdx production, and I think some of this was from the choreography, the dancing.

The Met opera left me in breathless admiration. I wish they hadn't turned Kissinger into such a caricature, it keeps the opera from being greater. This is a problem in the libretto, however, not the production -- as opposed to the American flag prop in the Mahagonny I saw in L.A., which almost ruined an otherwise strong production, a cheap shot by the director in this case. Mahagonny remains my favorite opera.  You cannot help a dead man.

Recently viewed: Nixon In China

Man, what a brilliant production, at the Met in HD, of the John Adams now-classic modern opera! Top to bottom. John Adams himself conducted, Peter Sellars directed both the production AND the digital film, just an amazing piece of work. I don't like everything in this opera -- Kissinger is a cheap shot characterization -- but I can't imagine how the production itself could be improved. I saw it live in Portland a few years ago but the emotional experience in the theater this morning was 100x more moving to me. Part of it is the advantage of a "film" treatment with its closeups, and the added experience of between-act interviews, but most of it comes from the production itself, for which Peter Sellars must be given full credit. What an achievement! I liked the Portland production, too -- but I can't even speak of it in the same breath as what I saw this morning and afternoon.

What is unfortunate is that 90% of the audience was over 70. It's always so at these Live at the Met events. I don't understand it. It's so much cheaper and it's usually so much better than what local opera does. There are half a dozen colleges in this area, where the hell are all the music majors? This is the best arts value in the city in my judgment and only old fogies show up. Fortunately, a good many schools participate in these showings -- of course, no Oregon school does. Oregon education has been in a mess all the decades I've lived here, surely can't afford something like this. They listed the schools that participate in the credits. People love living in Oregon but it's sure a terrible place to educate your kids. Very sad.

test from kindle

(sent the test above from my Kindle, to see if I can blog on it. I can.)

Sometimes I Awake (poem)

Sometimes I Awake

sometimes I awake
feeling like a character
in a Kafka novel
life imprisonment
without a charge

sometimes I awake
and feel instant disappointment
not another day

sometimes I awake
my head filled
with mulligan riffs
let's boogie!

sometimes I awake
and I am younger
and she is younger
and we are younger

sometimes I awake
the dog licking my face
we have to stop
meeting like this

sometimes I awake
a moment of panic
where am I?
who am I?

sometimes I awake
but only for a moment
a return to sleep
as silent as prayer

sometimes I awake
at the end of a speech
to great applause
an award I think
but maybe not

sometimes I awake
feeling like myself
I ache therefore I am

--Charles Deemer

Friday, February 11, 2011

What I Did (poem)

What I Did

when my wife, my soul mate, told me
she was a lesbian
I didn't give her a hug
I didn't send her flowers
I didn't take her to dinner
I didn't call her my Valentine

I didn't throw a party
I didn't dance a jig
I didn't sing a song
I didn't pop open the champagne
I didn't serve the caviar

what I did is
get out of Dodge
before I killed someone

--Charles Deemer

Be careful, Egypt

acornnut1 RT @tony_hartin: so what now? We have military rule with vague promises once everyone goes home. Doesnt the military torture also? #Egypt #Tahrir #jan25

RedPleb RT @Tom__Paine: Power is in the hands of the military. Not #Suleiman nor Mubarak. May the people take the power soon!#egypt #tahrir #jan25 #dsot

Uncucumbered RT @Reemao8#EGYPT STATE TV just announced #Suleiman is in charge of 'political policy' #jan25 #tahrir

nmoselhy Egypt Is Freeeeeeeeee #egypt #tahrir #jan25

Breaking: Mubarak Resigns - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Breaking: Mubarak Resigns - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

"'People were crying, some people fell to their knees, praying immediately on the floor. The tears are everywhere, the smiles, the dances.'"

A good first step but the transition is far from over. I think they know that.

Battle Lines (poem)

Battle Lines

sometimes it feels like the genders
are divided into two armed camps
until I am honest with myself
and realize it's not women in general
who upset me so much today
but my wife

--Charles Deemer

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Twitter traffic

The tweets streaming in from Egypt are staggering, at the rate of hundreds, maybe thousands, a minute! Extraordinary to witness.

Wouldn't it be lovely (poem)

Wouldn't it be lovely
if there was world peace

and if I didn't make a rolling stop
and forget to count the morning donut
and swear at the driver who cut me off
and sneak a gander at her cleavage
and forget to put the cash gift on my taxes
and lie that I was sick and had to stay home
and pretend to admire her new hair style
and forget to mention that he's a real ass
and access the porn site
and steal a ballpoint from the bank
and exaggerate my credentials
and pretend everything is really great

wouldn't it be lovely
if there was world peace

--Charles Deemer

Twitter updates

advorec_II RT @AJArabic Thousands of demonstrators heading towards t television build. surrounded by troops #jan25 #Egypt#aljazeera #Tahrir #Mubarak

MikeFWT210 RT @JomanaCNN1#CNN 's Fareed Zakaria:#Mubarak seems to be trying to bait protesters into violence.#EGYPT #JAN25 #TAHRIR

Sohamohsen RT @Egyptocracy: They kept us on the edge all day ... now they just pushed us off the edge. #Egypt #Mubarak #Jan25#Tahrir

MYTAHRIR RT @jamesmb: Never let it be said that Mubarak did not have the *chance* to leave Egypt in dignity. That time has passed.#jan25 #Egypt #Tahrir

ProtoInfinity @YaraElSiwi Please tell the Egyptians not to be manipulated by Mubarak into violence. Instead.... STRIKE!!! #Egypt#Tahrir #Mubarak

nvilakazi RT @Egyptocracy: Whoever wrote #Mubarak's speech intended to tick the people off. This is deliberate. #Egypt #Jan25#Tahrir

Uncucumbered RT @abdu: It's not yet Friday and there are 3 million people in #Tahrir square and the surrounding area #Egypt#Mubarak #Jan25 #P2

omally176 #Egypt #Tahrir #Jan25 #Aljazeera People are going to die possibly, and the blood is on #Mubarak and #Suleiman's hands.

rebroger RT @WMPost@monasosh Psychologic warfare#mubarak #suleiman want to get #Tahrir protesters angry and violent so can use Army against them as excuse

anissahelou hope not- RT @binbreik i have strange feeling about the army's role, i think they will be used for something ugly soon #egypt#tahrir #jan25

You are there

Watching Al Jazeera English in my office, the Egyptian crowd more furious than ever that M won't step down, I'm reminded of the old TV show hosted by Walter Conkite, You Are There, which covered historical events in the same manner that history gets covered live today, and who would have known then how predictive this kind of coverage was? I loved that show. It seemed so real. And now, when real is real, it seems a tad surreal. Fascinating.

Tweet of the day II

Angry crowds in #Tahrir, watching#Mubarak on big screens, waving shoes in the air. Crowd erupts as speech ends:

Man, this sure raises the stakes and increases the chance for violence.

Al Jazeera English is doing a great job in covering this.