Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Very productive day ... research mainly ... but important progress.

Football season starts tomorrow.


Recently remembering the sad expression of a Dos Passos scholar who was an early office mate of mine at the university, I recall today, springing from the Wordstock rejection, a Portland writer of note who had established himself long before I arrived on the scene. In his view, I was a new kid on the block, as indeed I was, and as my star rose, his descended behind the mountains. I caught, now and again, an expression of dismay from him, which didn't make sense to me at the time; I thought, in fact, he was something of a snob. He was just experiencing the waning of local visibility and not enjoying it. An endless ebb and flow of the writer's ego.

And I always come back to the UCLA class I took, 19th C Popular American Lit, reading all the writers famous in their lifetimes that no one remembers, reads, or gives a shit about today.

Writing inside-out is more difficult, but also more noble, than writing outside-in. As Camus says, the struggle itself is enough to fill a man's heart.

Literary culture

Just learned that Wordstock, the fall literary festival, does not have a reading spot for me. Although I'm not surprised, I'm mildly irritated by this reminder of how little my literary stock is worth here these days. This rejection would have been unthinkable during my time in the sun, when I was credited with writing "an Oregon classic," when the state's most popular columnist called me "one of Oregon's most precious natural resources." Beware of honey from the lips of critics and columnists ha ha! Yet this decision has a strong logic, given the current literary climate here, in which I'm pretty invisible. It's a zero-sum universe. Never forget it.

I'm not big on giving readings but I wanted to read from my book of poems at Wordstock. If I were younger, I'd park myself outside the building and read, a kind of alternative event, but I'm long gone from the energy required for such egotistical exercises. These affairs are set up to sell books, which interests me little. If a few more old farts had been on the selection committee, I might have been given a spot out of respect (that alien word), for indeed now and again my contribution is remembered in print by someone (their numbers always fewer each year), but youth rules, we all know that. If anyone wants to hear me read, they can do so online -- the entire book has been recorded. Here is the link.

In more important matters, my nighttime brooding has resulted in yet another major tweak of my protagonist, which changes everything in subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways, so I think I'll yet again go over the first 80 pages and fix things before stumbling forward.

More hot weather ahead in the weekend. Good! I've not had enough summer, not nearly enough.

My life is good.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Under the weather

Feel sick, drained ... skipping opera class but H is going. Vegetating, crash early.

Monday, August 29, 2011

UFO Sightings Increase 67 Percent In 3 Years, History Channel Investigates Unexplained Aerial Phenomena

UFO Sightings Increase 67 Percent In 3 Years, History Channel Investigates Unexplained Aerial Phenomena:

""I was trying to be a conscientious scientist and let the chips fall where they may and I immediately found a great deal of bias and fear by people who shouldn't be afraid. Science should not be afraid," Haines told The Huffington Post."

'via Blog this'

Republicans Against Science -

Republicans Against Science -

Paul Krugman: "Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect."


We may be a two-car family again before the day is over. Our Chevy Cavalier, which we bought new in 98 and has served us very well for almost 200,000 miles, is old enough, with periodic problems, to make H nervous and wanting a "new" car. So she's been looking and found a Chevy Cobalt with 30,000 miles she likes -- if her mechanic approves, she'll buy it today. There's so little trade-in value on the other, we'll just keep it -- and hence the second car, which I'll be driving most of the time. Convenient and doesn't even raise our insurance much.

Up to speed on the novel. Calling it a novel, not a novella now, because of its complexity and what I assume is the length required to resolve everything. This feels like "a swan song," "a last work," "a summation of themes," and all the rest. I go hot and cold about whether I actually can pull it off. It surely will take far longer than the summer novella I envisioned when I began. I kept piling layer upon layer, eliminating the initial simplicity of the story. But I very much like my notion of its possibilities. And I see all my usual themes in it, giving it that "summing up" feel, which is perfect timing at this stage of my life and career. The trick now is to hang around long enough to finish it. And if I do, I certainly have musical and video projects I can turn to, if indeed this is my last substantial written work. (Or I may return to the posthumous play mode, if I need to WRITE).

I move so much slower through my work than I used to, without the past obsession, which also is appropriate for this time and place, but it lengthens the time to finish something as well. I just keep putting one foot after the other.

A major goal this week is to remember to go to our final opera class tomorrow!


I like Stanford in Pac 12 this year. They have a quarterback who could have gone pro and become an instant millionaire. He stayed to graduate, risking injury, etc., because it was this important to him. A mighty contrast to the character of my poor Ducks. But then Stanford, with its higher academic standards, always did have a higher priority on character in sports. I wish an Oregon university president would swing the hammer and get on this track. Fat chance with Big Daddy Nike in the wings. And, of course, many, probably a majority, alumni buy into the "win at any cost" mindset.

This is a critical year for UCLA if the coach wants to keep his job. He needs to get the team to a bowl game. They're having a good QB contest there, which gives them a strong backup if the first choice doesn't work out. I like the new guy myself.

I miss college football before the corporations took over.

Thousands of Oregon students at risk of not graduating, reading scores released today show |

Thousands of Oregon students at risk of not graduating, reading scores released today show |

Unfortunately, I'm not surprised.

Back into rhythm

After the necessary detour for house/deck chores, getting back into rhythm is the priority this week. Starting with an early work session in my basement office ... still inputting changes from the red ink reading.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Would Want a Revolution, Not a Memorial -

Martin Luther King Jr. Would Want a Revolution, Not a Memorial -

Oregon alumni

Steve Prefontaine
Got to see Galen Rupp finish 7th in the 10,000 meters at the world track and field championships -- and let me tell you, this brought out my rah-rah Oregon self more than anything the Nike football team can do! Distance runners are incredible, a very different class of athlete than football players obviously. Rupp is the most exciting Oregon distance runner since Steve Prefontaine (who was at U of O when I was in grad school there).

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Watching footage of Hurricane Irene moving up the east coast, I wonder if maybe certain tribes have the right idea with their dances and rituals of magic, trying to placate Nature and at any rate declaring a fearful wonder to the Boss. We can get a bit too cocky in our own attempts to understand the wonders of Nature.

Seeing footage in Ocean City, I recall many visits there when I lived in Salisbury on Maryland's Eastern Shore not far away. In fact, once I was in both Atlantic and Pacific Oceans on the same day (!), swimming at Ocean City around sunrise before catching my flight west, which was like swimming in warm pee, and then around sunset wading in the freezing Pacific at Cannon Beach, just to say I'd been in both oceans on the same day.

Home owner Saturday

I was painting the deck at 630 a.m. and will be doing the same tomorrow with a 2nd coat, our periodic maintenance. A big chore that my back appreciates less each time. We are hoping this is the last time we have to do it.

Otherwise a day of watching Little League World Series, though both my teams, Mexico and Montana, lost. But this is the best sporting event I've seen all year. Next weekend college football starts, which isn't as exciting to me as it used to be, though I'll still watch my share of games I'm sure. I am hoping for UCLA to turn around and for Boise State to play in the championship. Alas, I have lost nearly all enthusiasm for my graduate alma mater, Nike U. Very sad. Unless Oregon gets a college president (or even a football coach) with balls, the corrupt marriage will continue indefinitely.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Kindle free books

I subscribe to blog listing free books ... 99% pop lit I never read. My tastes a galaxy away ... Dos Passos for example. Literature has become elitist in these dumb times.

New Duck Uniform Announced for Cowboys Classic - - The University of Oregon Official Athletics Web Site

New Duck Uniform Announced for Cowboys Classic - - The University of Oregon Official Athletics Web Site

Since when are football uniforms ANNOUNCED like a goddamn fashion show? Since Nike took over Oregon!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Modest Proposal

Let's play the LSU-Oregon game without either starting quarterback. Each has shown recent poor judgment and broken team rules, though each coach is too chickenshit to do anything about it. Bench them for a few games and play on. If only one team loses its QB (maybe LSU), hardly fair. Let's bench them both. And get rid of all athletic scholarships while we're at it, that will clean up the game in a big hurry.

Yes, the start of college football season used to be a great high in my fan life but the game has become so corrupt I look forward to it less and less. Really the only game I look forward to this year is Army-Navy.

How refreshing to watch the Little League World Series! (Though you can see corruption sneaking in via media hype.)


Dog of fallen Navy seal at funeral

Senior moment x2

A terrible thing happened this week. We're taking an opera class on Tuesday nights and really enjoying it. Only 2 sessions to go, last Tuesday's being a visit from singers, a highlight. So what happens? We both space the class out! We don't go! We have simultaneous senior moments and sit around the house Tuesday night, missing class, and don't even realize it until the next day. Incredible.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Little League World Series

A great series this year! Sports without the greed and egomania that define so much of adult sports. Terrific playing, too. A local Pennsylvania team is drawing over 30,000 a night!

Grunt work

Lots of notes on first 80 pages. Now to start inputting and rewriting ...

Tennessee's Summitt has early onset dementia - Yahoo! News

Tennessee's Summitt has early onset dementia - Yahoo! News

Remarkable woman. Not even 60!

Cruising at sunrise

From Portland Sunrise Photographs
Iced coffee, mellow jazz on car radio, no traffic, getting the kinks out, a new day and a gorgeous one by the preamble.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Transformation of a garden

We bought our house in 1998 and almost immediately I made a water garden based on my first computer, a Kaypro 2x. I was pleased with how it turned out -- at first. Unfortunately in my rush to make it, I had chosen a location that proved to be terrible for enjoying the water garden from the deck. So it slowly became useless and a pain to clean every spring.

Then H came up with a terrific idea. Transform the water garden to a flower garden! Perfect. And the Kaypro is still on display. If I plugged it in, I bet it would boot!

Christy Crawford: Flip Movies Easy Enough for a First Grader to Complete | Top Teaching

Christy Crawford: Flip Movies Easy Enough for a First Grader to Complete | Top Teaching

Great stuff.

Brooding and printing

Did my last read on the Kindle ... I think it's time to print what I have and go over it leisurely with a red pen. I think I need to crank up character, that it's too plot-driven at the moment. I need a very slow read. Red pen. Old school. This is today's project, along with various household chores and an afternoon trip to the doc. So much for Tuesday.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brooding & chores

Taking a brooding break and doing some necessary chores, like restaining the deck and changing my water garden to a dirt garden. Still worried about narrative forward energy in the draft.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


A morning vignette down. Now I can download the Sunday NY Times knowing the day's writing quota is done.

Sports, now and then

 From my novel Kerouac's Scroll:
7: Rap #1 – Sports, now & then
“Compared to the fifties,” I began, “sports suck. Especially professional sports. What’s the difference? Lack of team spirit. Lack of personal character and class. Today team sports are a game of inflated egos. Look at professional football. Some lineman sacks the quarterback. Big deal. That’s his job. That’s what he gets paid to do. So what does he do? He does a little dance and pounds his chest and struts around like he’s the best lineman of all time. What an asshole.”
“And how they carry on after scoring a touchdown!” Hooker put in.
Hugh McElhenny
“Exactly. All that showoff garbage. Can you imagine Huge McElhenny doing a dance after scoring a touchdown?”
“No way! Or Jim Brown, Alan Ameche, Joe Perry, Gayle Sayers.”
“It’s disgusting. And they’re all  millionaires.”
“More millionaires are sitting on the bench,” said Hooker.
“You got that right.”
“You know what started it?”
“And free agency,” Hooker added. “No player is loyal to a team anymore.”
“Exactly. I mean, it used to be every team, no matter how far down in the standings, had its superstar. The Pirates had Ralph Kiner. Know what I mean?”
“I do,” said Hooker. “There was stability. You rooted for the home team. You knew all the players and knew they’d still be around tomorrow.”
“They played on grass, for God’s sake! I can’t believe they started playing on carpet.”
“Sports heroes used to be heroes, somebody to look up to.”
“Exactly. When I was a kid, I used to collect autographs.” I told the story again, even though Hooker had heard it many times before, about how as kids a friend and I would go to the Green Hotel in Pasadena, where I grew up, to get autographs from visiting teams coming in to play the Los Angeles Rams. On one occasion, my hero, Hugh McElhenny, asked Roger and me to help him pick out a birthday present for his nephew. We spent an entire afternoon with him! It was like hanging out with God.
“Once McElhenny was asked to compare college ball and pro ball,” I continued, again telling Hooker what he’d heard countless times. “I like pro ball all right, he said. But I don’t like the salary cut.”
Hooker said, “I ever tell you about meeting Archie Moore in an airport?”
Of course he had. Many times. He told me again.
“Now there was a gentleman,” Hooker concluded. “There was a man with class.”
“That’s what jocks don’t have today. Nobody has any class. I think Cassius Clay started it.”
I glanced at Hooker. He looked at me with narrow eyes. I continued.
“He’s the template for egomania in sports, right? He started the loud, flamboyant, show-offy style. The media loved it, nurtured it. Now any third string jock has to strut around like Cassius Clay.”
“Mohammed Ali,” Hooker corrected me. “Who was one of the great heavyweights of all time.”
Boxing was Hooker’s sport, not mine. 
I said, “You can defend his skill but you can’t say he had class. He was a loudmouth.”
“He was psyching his opponents.”
“In the beginning maybe, but it became his trademark even after he’d established how good he was.”
“He had the balls to live by his convictions,” Hooker said.
“I understand he’s one of your heroes, Red. What I’m saying is, the rampant arrogance in sports today may well have begun with him.”
After a silence I said, “I feel sorry for kids today. You look up to a jock and he ends up beating his wife or doing drugs or creaming some asshole in a bar. At the very best, he’s just an arrogant jerk who couldn’t walk in the shoes of a player from the fifties.”
“I don’t know about that. Records keep getting broken. Jocks must be getting better.”
“Improved technology, sure. Steroids and all the other enhancement drugs they take. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. Soon we’ll be building robots that break all the records, too, but so what? Where is the team spirit? Where is the humility? Where are the jocks a kid can look up to?”
“They do look up to them now,” said Hooker. “That’s the problem. You watch a basketball game in the park lately? Kids after school or on the weekend? They strut around as much as their heroes. They obviously look up to them and mimic them.”
“That’s depressing.”
“But there it is.”
“Arrogance begets arrogance.”
Hooker said, “Parents can be just as bad. Look at Little League games. Parents cussing out the umpire, screaming at their kids, even getting in fights.”
“Winning matters too much.”
“Maybe it always mattered too much.”
I said, half singing, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”
“Yeah, right.”
“I think it was true once. When I was a kid and played what used to be called sandlot ball, sometimes I was on the winning team, sometimes the losing, but the game was fun no matter what side I was on. It was sports. It was fun. Winning or losing was just what happened on a particular day. Didn’t you feel that way?”
“Yeah. But it’s different if it’s your job, the way you make your living. Because then winning means more money.”
“It always comes down to money, doesn’t it?”
“The bottom line.”

Modern sports: today's headlines

Mexican Soccer Match Suspended Because Of Gunfire

2 Shot In Stadium Parking Lot After 49ers Game

Rookie Fights Veteran In Chiefs Locker Room

Friday, August 19, 2011

Kindle apps

Applications for Kindle keep improving. Got wind today of a new calendar and new notepad, each better than the current app I am using, so I am switching to both.

Read first 80 pages of novel and made notes.

Friday relaxation

Uploading book in progress to Kindle, spend a few leisurely hours reading it on the deck, take notes, the continuing process, two steps forward, stop and regroup, fix, two steps forward, etc. Still worried about narrative energy moving forward but not a major issue until I have a complete draft and know where the hell I'm going. Right now, it's still a bit chaotic with lots of faith earned by experience, i.e. it will work out in the end. There's gold at the end of that rainbow.

Round Bend Press: Audio: Deemer Reads "In My Old Age"

Round Bend Press: Audio: Deemer Reads "In My Old Age"

In case you missed it.

Noise, noise, noise

I keep thinking of a moment in My Dinner With Andre when Andre says we are entering a new Dark Ages. All we can do is hide out and privately try to keep civilization alive until the new dark ages runs its course and passes. Often this feels pretty much what I'm trying to do these days. But it's not easy.

I don't look forward to 2012, an election year in which I can't imagine a candidate I'd actually get enthusiastic about, unless some kind of viable third party progressive candidate emerges. I don't trust Obama any more, alas alas alas. I'd like to see him challenged in the primary but doubt if it will happen.

Media noise is everywhere and it's not easy to dodge it. Increasingly I make the effort. Hide out and do my work, waiting for the dark ages to pass. I'll likely pass first.

Productive morning

Early start, couple vignettes down, a productive morning, already a productive day, this is the rhythm I like with which to begin a Friday. Now I feel like the rest is downhill, no matter what I do.

The book remains a challenge, its evolution uncertain but I remain confident I can pull this sucker off.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Decisions of the elderly

From a 9 a.m. medical appointment until now, it's been a day of dealing with the deteriorations of aging. A few months ago I had a hearing test, showing moderate loss in higher frequencies, explaining my experience, so I made an appointment, which was today, to explore options for dealing with it. What "they" wanted me to do would cost a couple grand (and this on the low end of things), which struck me as outrageous until I learned more, knew more, tried more. H agreed with me. So I spent the rest of the day doing research online and made a decision to try an option that is 10x less expensive. If it doesn't work out, I've lost a couple hundred, not a couple grand, a gamble worth taking. I can always trade up, as they say.

So I've done no writing today, which is why I am in my basement office in late afternoon, hoping yet to get a vignette done. But if I don't, well, sometimes to have to take a day off to take care of business. Tomorrow is Friday and Fridays can be productive.

Saturday I believe we're going to a tomato tasting event. Tomato tasting! I can't remember the last time I had a decent tomato, not counting the cherry tomatoes that H grows on the deck.

My knees have been better lately. Knock on my wooden head.


The Mariners are the best last place team in the American League!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Canzano: Sorry, but Oregon's Darron Thomas is no great leader |

Canzano: Sorry, but Oregon's Darron Thomas is no great leader |

Hear, hear!

Sketch on a summer afternoon

A vignette a day ...

etc ... looking good. onward.


Teeth in good shape, all things considered. Driving home in sunshine, good jazz on the radio, I relished my good fortune. Also a good story twist popped into my head, as if one good turn deserves another.

I do know this book will take longer than I at first expected, given its complexity; and also that it's beginning to feel more like a short novel than a novella, which is to say, pushing 200 pages rather than hovering around 100.

A start at writing today but hopefully much more to do before the day's over. Don't want to sit around grinning all day. Do I?

Fermat's Last Theorem

Read the story.

Open wide

Begin the day with a dentist's appointment. Then home to work, I hope, I trust, I expect. Summer weather continues.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


34th anniv of death.


gorgeous afternoon on the deck listening to dos passos ... he writes great drinking scenes .... onward

By the way

Last night was one of those (rare) wonderful Mariner games. Down by one in the bottom of the 8th, they got back-to-back solo home runs for the lead, then League shut down Toronto in the 9th for the come-from-behind win. We take our joy where we can find it.

Second wind

Turned into a very productive day after all. Finished a new vignette, polished the first 70 pages, feeling a bit more secure about the narrative energy though later I'll need to crank up the focus.  But a good day.

Opera class tonight. Look forward to it.

What we have to look forward to

Rick Perry Asks Texans to Pray for Rain | Mother Jones:

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICK PERRY, Governor of Texas, under the authority vested in me by the Constitution and Statutes of the State of Texas, do hereby proclaim the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas. I urge Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on that day for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal and robust way of life."

Slow but moving

A little bit of work this morning ... stuck, need brooding and a stronger line of action.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Portland weather stays cool; halfway through August without a 90-degree day in 2011 |

Portland weather stays cool; halfway through August without a 90-degree day in 2011 |

What is the world coming to?

2nd fan email in one day. Highly irregular. This one for the book of poems.

Great deal

Free ebook from U of Chicago Press. Get on email list, free ebook every month! Alas, not Kindle compatible.


After a great start, I found a piece of news that dropped me into a funk despite earlier joy, took me a few hours to get out of it. But back in the groove. Made a chapter outline, very rough, a security blanket to keep the big picture, narrative direction, in view. Onward.

Fan letter

checking email on kindle found long friendly fan letter re kerouacs scroll ... what a great way to start the week ... renews the faith sort of ... well time for work on the new one ... but kscroll is special always glad to get positive vibes

Want to read it?

Ebook in variety of formats, you set the price. Also available in paperback at Amazon.

Science is rock and roll

When I heard about the program to excite kids about science and technology, I applauded it. National robot-making competitions. Great stuff. Then I saw the TV show last night, promoting the results, and was appalled. There was no celebration of science here. It was all rock and roll of the most glitzy kind, yet another wooing of the lowest common denominator. "Science is rock and roll" should mean that science can be as exciting as rock and roll.

Maybe it was for the kids. Small glimpses of them at work permit such a leap. Maybe the competitions weren't as horrifying as the TV show. But, man, this was marketing at its worse and a betrayal of the excitement of science.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Meaning by Czeslaw Milosz

Meaning by Czeslaw Milosz:

"When I die, I will see the lining of the world.
The other side, beyond bird, mountain, sunset.
The true meaning, ready to be decoded.
What never added up will add Up,
What was incomprehensible will be comprehended.
- And if there is no lining to the world?
If a thrush on a branch is not a sign,
But just a thrush on the branch? If night and day
Make no sense following each other?
And on this earth there is nothing except this earth?
- Even if that is so, there will remain
A word wakened by lips that perish,
A tireless messenger who runs and runs
Through interstellar fields, through the revolving galaxies,
And calls out, protests, screams."

The Christianist Takeover - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

The Christianist Takeover - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast:

"This is what this party now is: a religious movement clothed in anti-government radicalism. It has nothing to do with the conservative temperament, conservative political thought or conservative ideas. It is hostile to most existing institutions, especially government, contemptuous of the courts, and seized of an ideology as rigid as any far-left liberalism, as utopian as any wide-eyed socialist, as fanatical as anything the left spawned in the 1960s.

And it has hijacked an entire political party; and recently held to ransom an entire country. I knew it would get worse before it gets better. But this bad?"

Sunday drive

Sketch and I went to Mary Young Park in West Lynn, host of our favorite dog park, but it's "arts in the woods" festival time, so a lot of the dog park was out of bounds for the occasion, but we got a little exercise in on the edge since it was early, before the hordes arrive, and then on the way home I got so carried away listening to boogie woogie piano on the radio that I ended up in the wrong lane and had to go across the bridge into Sellwood, which gave us a long scenic route home. Been doing home chores ever since, about ready to take a break and watch the Mariners, who are leading the Red Sox after beating them last night.

Sketch is a great travel companion. Sits in the back seat with authority, as if he knows a chauffeur when he sees one.


Still gray outside, maybe rain tomorrow. Very strange non-summer.

Not sure how today will go. Might grab the dog for a Sunday drive. At a turning point in the novella, brooding time. At a point where it stays a novella or becomes a novel.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The crawl

A gray day all day, funky and slow, with funky progress to suit the weather. But funky progress is better than no progress at all. And with the house to myself, the day is young.

Literature as an industry

I've been thinking about the last line in the essay below: "In the age of BookScan, only an unpublished writer is allowed to keep his dignity." 

This is not quite true. For example, one can embrace print-on-demand technology as I have done, either with my own imprint (Sextant Books) or finding a POD publisher who responds to my work (Round Bend Press), publish and do little or no marketing at all. (I've done more with Round Bend than with my own imprint, figuring I need to help the publisher out). One doesn't sell many books doing this but if selling books is not the point, no matter. And at this late stage of career, it isn't.

But I worry about how POD technology affects the young writer. It's too easy, young, to be blind to one's faults. POD is really made for old farts with a history. I had my 10 or 15 years in the sun and don't have to prove anything to anyone. When I need is for my work to be available, and it is now in two archives, one digital, the other hard copy, at two universities. This is about as much "security" and posthumous existence as a "marginal writer" like myself can hope for. No complaints.

But I still advise young writers to play by traditional rules and learn in the school of hard knocks. This advice would be irrelevant to a literary genius, and I'm sure a few are lurking around in dark hidden corners of cyberspace, to be discovered at a distant date. But today it's too easy to make mediocre work seem important. To give mediocre work a lot of visibility. All one has to do is turn to a classic, the way I've turned to Dos Passos lately, to experience the difference between great and mediocre work, and the vast majority of things published now and in all ages is mediocre. What I and every serious writer strives to do is to rise above this.

I had no sense starting out that literature was "an industry." I thought of it as a cultural precious stone, a gem, to be nourished, protected, extended. The literary novel, so called with respect half a century ago, was not supposed to sell a lot of copies. Repeat, it was not published to sell a lot of copies! What a concept. This is a horrible business principle, which is why it was changed once genuine businessmen took over the publishing industry. These books were published because that's how a publisher made a reputation and participated in the cultural dance of respect for literature.

I think literature is still out there, the tough serious books that last forever because they speak to elements of the human condition that never vanish. Even Moby Dick was a monumental failure in its day. Some young writer, some genius, is writing remarkable things and sticking it online. I'd bet on it. Where is it? Who the hell knows. Among the hundreds of thousands, millions, of such ebooks. What we need at this time and place are a few bright critics who can filter through all this mediocre work and find the true gems. Critics may be more important than writers today for the survival of the literary culture.

In the meantime, writers, literary or not, have become hucksters if they want to be visible and possibly successful. It's too bad. Old writers like myself are damn lucky. We paid our dues before the bottom liners took over the literature industry.

Friday, August 12, 2011

In case you missed it

Mark Marchus on film (video).

Remembering Tom Shaw  (early Portland film producer, video).

Screenwriter Dan Yost: to Hollywood and back (video).

n+1: Money

n+1: Money:

"In the age of BookScan, only an unpublished writer is allowed to keep his dignity."

A very special look at the writing life.

When life isn't fair

Parents shouldn't outlive their children, Esther told me more than once (re my best buddy Dick, her son), and by the same token teachers shouldn't outlive their students. Just heard a former student of mine has the Big C. Maybe he'll still get some time around it. Here's hoping.

Friday adventure

We went to a downtown shop selling olive oils and vinegars, which had a self-service tasting setup, a first time experience. Pretty cool except there's only so much olive oil you can taste! We left with a bottle of garlic olive oil and pear vinegar.

Then to a movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, first rate Hollywood entertainment. A good break in the routine. With H in Seattle I now expect a very productive weekend here alone.

UK may disrupt social networks during unrest - Yahoo! News

UK may disrupt social networks during unrest - Yahoo! News

A day off

Apparently today is a day off. I've done little all morning, H is scurrying about to enter a competition before today's deadline, later we plan to go to an olive oil tasting, a first for me, and an afternoon movie. I suppose I can use a day off. H is off to Seattle for the weekend and I'll have the house to myself to make noise at hours usually forbidden.

The Berlin Wall

50 years ago the wall went up -- and I was there, a Russian linguist in the Army Security Agency, stationed in the surreal "sin city of Europe," Baumholder, where we all thought WWIII was beginning with the Russian army invading Berlin. This is the backdrop to my novella, Baumholder 1961, available free in a variety of electronic formats, including Kindle, and also inexpensive as a paperback. In the opening scene, with the Russian army on its way to Berlin for no known reason other than to invade (they would build a wall instead), Kennedy extends service for soldiers about ready to get out, spoiling a short-timer's party for the best friend of our protagonist. Their relationship is the focus of the drama, against the important surreal backdrop of Baumholder itself.
   This work has worn well with me. It's not a story for everyone, to be sure, but it captures with humor and detail one of the informative early experiences of my adulthood. Excerpt (Bass is the protagonist, Amazon a bar girl):
Bass stayed outside The Family Club, watching the newk start up the road to the kaserne. While Buckley was still in sight, Amazon joined him.
“You got zigarette?” she asked.
Bass lit her one, passed it over and lit his own. They blew smoke in unison.
“He said the Russians are invading Berlin,” Bass said.
“You kidding, right?”
“That’s what he said.”
“How you say? Shit in the van.”
“Shit in the van,” said Bass.
“How come ve have no alert?”
“I expect they’ll be calling one pretty damn quick.”
A real alert, Bass thought, not the play-war game that periodically was part of their training.  Every four to six weeks, an all-Europe alert would be called, scrambling all American military units to designated rendezvous locations. For Processing Company, this meant the linguists piled into trucks and drove down the hill, parking along Main Street in town while they waited for the all-clear signal, a wait that could last several hours. Since the alerts were usually called between three and five in the morning, the linguists who were not on trick were in bed and not happy to be charged into activity. Most slept in the back of their deuce-and-a-halfs until the all-clear signal was given.
Bass remembered an alert that turned into a disaster and resulted in a reprimand for the entire company, which added to the linguists’ reputation of being clumsy, cowardly soldiers when compared to the real troops at Smith Barracks. Somehow, in the scramble to get out the fenced kaserne through the main gate, two trucks crashed head-on and their bumpers locked, blocking the gate for all the trucks waiting to exit behind them. Processing Company had no machinery for separating the trucks and human labor, such as it was, could not separate them, which meant the linguists could not drive down the hill to their designated area. A crane had to be fetched from Smith Barracks, which took several hours, and by the time the trucks were separated, freeing the gate to traffic, it was late morning. The alert wasn’t called off until noon because every soldier in Europe was waiting for the Russian linguists to reach their designated area. An investigation quickly identified the problem, Processing Company was given an official reprimand, and the Commanding Officer relieved of his duty. Not one of the linguists felt remorse, however, especially since the new C.O. was Capt. Pierce, a short timer who quickly gave the linguists more personal freedom than they’d ever enjoyed. The infamous alert had been a blessing in disguise.
Amazon said, “I hear notting of dis.”
Bass blew smoke.
“Do you know who rented Sullivan and Heidi a room last night?”
“Could be anyone. Jakob rents rooms. Isaac, Adolph. Many varmers rent rooms now.”
“What time do the Animals usually come back to life?”
“Late. Noon.”
Bass looked at his watch.
“I should be long gone by then,” he said.
“No Denmark.”
“No Denmark. If this is really happening, I expect an alert this morning.”
“You no tink real?”
“The newk may have got it wrong. Probably not. Wishful thinking.”
“If Russians invade Berlin, vat Americans do?”
Bass shrugged.
“You stop dem, yes?”
“I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A big step

I just did something I've been thinking about for some time: I cancelled the automatic renewal of three of my domains. Weaning myself off the Internet, in a sense, especially in the peripheral areas of my activity. Taking care of business so H doesn't have to do it if I croak within the next few minutes.

I retained two domains that remain pretty active.

Jan Schakowsky Announces New Budget Plan With Focus On Jobs

Jan Schakowsky Announces New Budget Plan With Focus On Jobs:

"Titled the “Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act,” the plan would cost $227 billion and would be implemented over two years. It would be financed by separate legislation introduced by Schakowsky called the 'Fairness in Taxation Act,' which would raise taxes for Americans who earn more than $1 million and $1 billion. It would also eliminate subsidies for big oil companies while closing loopholes for corporations that send American jobs overseas."

50% off sale

Screenwright: the craft of screenwriting on CD.

Time marches on

It just occurred to me that by the time I sit down to see the women's U.S. soccer team, not only will my class be starting the following week but football season will be entering its fourth game! The season opens Sept. 3, less than a month, and Oregon plays LSU, a major test.

Fortunately the summer finally feels like summer and I'm getting work done. I uploaded 70 pages to Kindle, even as I write forward, just to polish along the way. Mainly concerned about focus and forward momentum of the narrative. With so many balls in the air, this is essential.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

FDR's Economic Bill of Rights

Sketch follows the sun

There's a little patch of sunlight on the floor, and Sketch is napping in it, until it moves to present shade, then he slides over into the sun and goes back to sleep. "Happiness is sunshine and a bone," as he says at my blog.

A few square feet of paradise

On the deck earlier, listening to 1919 (audio book), with the birds at the feeders and the butterflies, humming birds and bees at the bush, the sun warm, the sky blue, Sketch stretched out at my feet, and feeling good after two great writing sessions earlier, I have to say that despite what the news will report tonight, I'm one lucky dude who is doing just fine.

I must be fucking mad

No sooner do I write "retire as a wordsmith" in the previous entry than a thought bullies forward in my mind, an idea for a future project: my autobiography in verse! Jesus. Just what the world needs. I'll probably do it, too. I'm incurable.

Order from chaos

Good afternoon writing session, complicated scene putting more balls in the air, just what I need, and it's clear the key to making this work is getting all the layers pulling in the same direction, and this is the task of rewriting mainly because I don't want to slow down to figure out the small stuff yet since everything is always in flux anyway and I won't really know where I am until the end, when I end up there. It's an adventure. It's a marathon. It's a leap of faith.

And I am very damn excited about the possibility that it will work! Maybe if it works well enough I won't have to write anything else and can enjoy my last years composing, or trying to, trying to get that libretto kick started toward a future composer. Vocal/piano score and/or Alice animation. Actually retire as a wordsmith. What a concept.

Perfect end of summer

Just bought 2 tickets to see the women's U.S. soccer team play Canada. It happens on the Thursday night before the first week of school, a perfect end to the summer and a return to teaching. Lots of writing to do and hopefully sun to enjoy between now and then.

I'm even down in the office in the afternoon to see if I can figure out a particularly difficult scene.

The Writing Life II: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

The Writing Life II: Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Periodic pointer.

Quotation of the day

Olympia Snow, Republican senator from Maine:
“I’m embarrassed by all of us,’’ Snow said, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve never seen a worse Congress in my whole political life.’’

Another good morning session

2 more vignettes, into a 3rd, this morning. Time for breakfast.

Designing an opera

Designing "The Spanish Hour"
Last night's class was first rate. We were treated to a two-hour presentation by three artists of a design team -- stage director, costume designer, set designer -- who reproduced the skeleton of their process from first meeting, through brainstorming, drawing, renderings, as they struggled to bring the director's concept into visual, material form. The session was informative, funny, human. Great behind the scenes drama and exposition.

This is a first rate class, put together by Education and Outreach director Alexis Hamilton. It's also the first time they've done it. I think most in the small class (limited to 30) enjoy it as much as I do, and thus it will be repeated.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Newport Folk 2011: Ramblin Jack Elliott, Live In Concert : NPR

Newport Folk 2011: Ramblin Jack Elliott, Live In Concert : NPR

53 minute gem. Pete Seeger joins him. (Thanks for the link, Eric!)

He starts the concert as he traditionally does with Jesse Fuller's "San Francisco Bay Blues" and over the long years he's done many versions of it, this one a slower bluesy feel. I met, spent a few days with, and interviewed Elliott in the 80s and he warmed up considerably when I told him I had all the European records he'd recorded before he returned to the U.S. and Prestige picked him up, the Elliott-plays-Guthrie record I played endlessly in the Army. In the 60s I saw him many times at the Ashgrove. Anyway, it was an extraordinary interview here in the 80s, published in a shortened version in Willamette Week here. He's a giant and I've been a Major Fan since  I discovered him in 1960. I also highly recommend the documentary his daughter made, The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack. Available on DVD.

Opera class

I was about to plan something for the evening when H reminded me we have opera class tonight. I had spaced it out. Ah, me.

Football fever

It's catching. TS's blog about college football got me thinking about it, too, and the first thing I did, over the last half hour or so, is update My Yahoo! page to include 3 football blogs, a UCLA blog, an Oregon blog, and a general NCAA blog. I'll get daily updates automatically. Ah, me, as corrupt as it's become, football is still football. As a poem of mine ends, Hell, as long as people can shop, they'll put up with anything.

OK, you may be thinking, what am I doing in Oregon these past 30+ years, rooting for UCLA? Well, I have 2 Pac-12 alma matera, UCLA and Oregon, undergrad and grad school. And UCLA was the team I rooted for as a kid, from about 1950 onward, so I just keep rooting for them. But it's tough when UCLA and Oregon play one another, I admit.

Great morning

What a difference a day makes. Great morning, 2 vignettes down, started a third, got some other chores done. My best days are like today when by 10 a.m. I feel like I've put down the important work for the day and the rest is coasting.

I wish the sun would come out -- I want to do some yard work without freezing my ass doing it.

Seahawks play their first exhibition game on Thursday. I prefer college to pro football but I'll take my diversions where I can find them. Give me something besides the poor Mariners to watch.

UCLA doesn't play Oregon this year. Unless they meet in the conference playoff. Not likely. I am waiting for the resurrection of the Bruins under a coach I like.

Willamette Week | 25th Anniversary Issue | They Rule

Willamette Week | 25th Anniversary Issue | They Rule


SAM ADAMS, the musical: Lynne Fuqua sings!

SAM ADAMS, the musical: Lynne Fuqua sings!

Lynne in Paris
Down memory lane. The mayor isn't running for reelection. The fun is over.

Using Kindle

I use Instapaper a lot: this is a service that saves and formats any text you find on the web for reading later on Kindle. It's great when browsing newspapers and journals. If you have a Kindle (and you should!), check it out.

London riots

What occurs to me observing the London riots on the news is this: the same thing can happen here. Anger, frustration, powerlessness fill this country as much as fill England. Fill Europe, fill the Middle East. I'm also reminded that during the American Revolution, mobs ransacked the homes of British officials, riots now given praise by the mythology of the winners. I didn't used to think that an actual violent revolution was possible in this country in "modern times". I've changed my mind.

I'm dealing with these same themes in my current project. Life comes from whole cloth.


A vignette a day keeps the doctor away. One down, maybe more to come before the morning is done.

A much better start than yesterday.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Round Bend Press: Life Begins Today

Round Bend Press: Life Begins Today

A true college football fan confesses.

Going with the flow

OK, if it's not going to be a creative day, it can be a day of necessary chores, like prepping my fall class. I usually don't start this early but this afternoon I made real progress in this area. So the day is hardly a waste, just different from what I had expected.

Homefront 911


Not a productive day so far. A bit done but mostly I'm trying to keep warm on a gray chilly day, waiting for the clouds to break and summer to return. Gray putting me in a foul mood.

Former Sen. Mark Hatfield of Oregon dies at age 89 - Yahoo! News

Former Sen. Mark Hatfield of Oregon dies at age 89 - Yahoo! News

From an era when Republicans were sane. Tom McCall is another Oregon Republican of this era.

I did a profile on McCall for a magazine. Spent a week with him. He told me how much he hated "Yes men" around him, unlike most politicians, and in fact he and his Chief of Staff were always arguing. "He thought I was a communist," McCall told me, "and I thought he was a fascist." McCall also said he was the best Chief of Staff he could've had. What a different era!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Bring on the week

Inputted corrections, changes, into the novella, ready to move forward. Ready for Monday.

Where is Phyllis Kerns?

I tried to phone my old friend Phyl Kerns yesterday and her number was disconnected. Since she's in her 80s, I got worried. I called the retirement center where she lived -- or at least where she told me she lived. I'd never been there. The lady who answered the phone never heard of her!

When did I last call? Hmm. Maybe 4 or 5 months ago? Could the person on the phone be new and that's why she answered the way she did -- or could Phyl be senile and giving me wrong info? And why is her phone disconnected when I'd talked to her some months ago?

Are you there? Are you there?

What Happened to Obama’s Passion? -

What Happened to Obama’s Passion? -

"The president is fond of referring to “the arc of history,” paraphrasing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous statement that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But with his deep-seated aversion to conflict and his profound failure to understand bully dynamics — in which conciliation is always the wrong course of action, because bullies perceive it as weakness and just punch harder the next time — he has broken that arc and has likely bent it backward for at least a generation."

Very thought-provoking analysis.

Novel of ideas

American literature, unlike its European counterpart, has a weak tradition in what might be called "the novel of ideas," in which writers don't shy from speaking to the "big questions of existence." At the start of my career, with early success with literary short stories, I wrote two novels that went nowhere and part of their difficulty was that each followed the European model. I abandoned fiction for drama.

I haven't returned to the novel of ideas since returning to long fiction -- until now. More and more, Sodom is getting layered with head-on encounters with the big questions. The secret, of course, is to handle this like a magician, keeping the central narrative entertaining and fast-paced. Durrenmatt is the perfect model for this strategy of storytelling. Durrenmatt, my hero. The Physicists, The Visit, extraordinary, successful examples of a narrative getting it several ways, as entertaining and suspenseful black comedies, as serious reflections on difficult ethical questions. If I succeed, I'll do the same thing with the novella -- which may or may not expand into novel length. I want it as short as it can be.

Just a wonderful day once the sun came out this afternoon and the air warmed up. I had a great reading session on the deck, as noted below. Just a few things to fix at this early stage. Focus on moving forward.

The "crazy" young woman is going to know Norman Brown's Love's Body backwards and forward, influence our protagonist historian regarding it ... man, the real key here is to keep the entertainment level narrative in constant view and fast forward gear, so all this serious stuff doesn't muck up the works. A great challenge. And one I'll have fun trying to meet.

The real fun, of course, will begin once I have a draft. It's the rewriting that is the joy of writing.

A wee bit of paradise

Reading my fifty pages on deck with sun birds butterflies ... novella looking good and I came up with new idea making it even more ... well .... layered. Involves Norman Brown.

My changing musical profile

I often marvel at the fact that the jazz I listen to on the radio today is by and large the same 50s, 60s cool jazz I listened to fifty years ago and ever since. Mulligan, Baker, and company seem to be constants in my life.

As a musical performer, however, I find myself changed in major ways. Beginning with the Army in 1959, and six months before that in Berkeley, I carried my instrument around with me everywhere, a five-string banjo in the Army days and a six-string guitar while at UCLA and a 12-string guitar in grad school and later on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

When I returned west in the late 70s, 20 years after the Army, I began a life without the constant companion of my instrument. Earlier, I took it as a part of who I was, someone who played music wherever I went, was expected to play. Friends were other musicians or people who appreciated the music. A week would not go by without one or two songfests included in the rhythm of the night. Even in the Army, anywhere from four to eight of us would gather somewhere with lots of beer, I with my banjo, and we'd sing the night away.

All this changed when I came to Portland in the late 70s. Divorced, a bit broken, starting over. I still had my 12-string and I played it at home but I didn't venture out with it. In time I defined myself in a different way as a performer, in a more formal way. Instead of playing at home and the homes of friends, free, I wrote a show, got a grant to tour it, and managed to maintain the tour through much of the 1980s, getting paid. This was Ramblin': the song and stories of Woody Guthrie. I performed it in Seattle, in Los Angeles, and throughout the Northwest.

After putting it aside for a few years, I resurrected the show in the 90s, adding Jim Wylie as a second musician. We did a few shows, perhaps the best being at the Newport Performing Arts Center. Then I set it aside again, some years before Jim passed away far too soon.

I didn't perform for several years once again. Then I picked up the banjo again. I played the "Pete Seeger lick" and wanted to learn clawhammer, so I found a class and ended up taking 3 from an excellent teacher, Leela Grace. But I found myself playing more when class was on than when not. I wasn't playing banjo much on my own. Yes, I'd pick out a tune now and again but I wasn't practicing regularly, which is what one needs to do to keep the chops up.

In fact, I've lost a lot of interest in playing music. I'm not sure why. Instead I find myself wanting to compose music, small operas, chamber operas, writing down music I'm hearing in my head. I've done a little of this but I haven't vigorously attacked any of the several projects that focus on this.

I may yet get to a composition project. The present novella feels like "a last work" in several ways, a kind of dramatic summing up of my themes as a writer. I have a libretto I really like that needs music, having lost its composer, an adaptation of my stage play Varmints. If I get lucky and live long enough, it might be a nice swan song.

I'm still trying to figure out why I don't get the old kick from playing music, though. And if another class came up, I might well take it. Curious. But I have no answers. I just don't play music the way I used to.

Mainstream Media Ignores S&P Attack On Republicans | Truthout

Mainstream Media Ignores S&P Attack On Republicans | Truthout:

"Have you seen, anywhere, in any media, or even heard reported or repeated on NPR, the following sentence? “We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.”"

And now campaigning Republicans are running around Iowa blaming Obama for the downgrade! When the report itself blames REPUBLICANS! Here, folks, lies the problem with our filtered news sources.


Been fiddling with my syllabus. Doing a couple things differently in the future. For example, I've always had writing assignments due Tuesday and returned them Thursday. Wednesday, then, was spent reading them. Now I'm going to have them due Thursday and return them the following Tuesday, giving me more time to read them. In the past, I liked the long stretch Fri-Mon without concerns for students because I was involved in some time-consuming project of my own. This no longer applies -- I've slowed down in my own work and can give greater blocks of time to students.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


I've been using my cloud at Amazon (20G, free) as an alternative to transporting files upstairs and downstairs via flash drive or email, and it's much more convenient. So far just using it for text, still have used less than 1% of space ha ha, I'd never run out, not even with a few films on there. I think it's cool and convenient.

Never did get the 50 pages looked at. Tomorrow.

Worked a bit on my fall syllabus, making a couple of major changes in the way I administer the work in class.

Vonnegut Library Donates Copies Of 'Slaughterhouse-Five' To School District Where It Was Banned

Vonnegut Library Donates Copies Of 'Slaughterhouse-Five' To School District Where It Was Banned:

"In response to the Republic, Mo., school board's controversial decision last week to remove 'Slaughterhouse-Five' from its high school library and curriculum, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis announced that it would offer a free copy of the modern classic to 150 of the school's students, thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous donor."

"Senior living"

My model for "senior living," or what the rhythm of life might look like after retirement, or semi-retirement (well, writers never retire, do they?), was my favorite teacher, Bob Trevor. I've written about him here before:

This came to mind this morning because I now have a "routine" in semi-retirement, just like Trevor in Hawaii, and at the foundation of mine is my daily large iced coffee from Starbucks down the way. Everyone there knows me. They know what I drink and sometimes have it ready when I walk in the door, having seen me park. Yesterday H stopped by and got a coffee and for me all she had to say was, "And one for Charles."

Yet I am not living my fantasy rhythm. This would be in a small desert down in the southwest, within walking distance of a cafe or Starbucks with free wifi, a grocery store, a library, a community center of some kind. I don't expect to get there because H doesn't share the fantasy.

We have to make a decision in 2014, one that will change both our rhythms. To sell the house or refinance and stay? Last time we chose to refinance and stay but we'll be closer to 80 this time, it might be time to move into some kind of senior community. The yard work here already is too much for us and we've started hiring a young lad in the neighborhood, or H's grandson when he visits. We are isolated in a small house with lots of privacy and trees, so the change and adjustment will be major, to say the least. And the way time flies when you're old, the decision must be made tomorrow.

Of course, one or both of us may not live that long. I am far, far beyond my allotted years by any rational evaluation of my past life style. I enjoy an extraordinary gift from the gods in this respect. H, interestingly enough, because she is very conscious of having a healthy life style, while I ignore same, has more health issues than I do. This makes no sense to me. It makes less sense that I've outlived all my closest male friends, all of whom should have outlived me. I have no idea whatever why I'm still here -- but I am enjoying the gift, and I think a lot of good literature has resulted, though of course I am very biased on this issue.

So between now and 2014, decisions to be made. And our rhythm of "senior living" will change accordingly.

Meanwhile, I enjoy my present routine, and my daily iced coffee is an addiction I enjoy immensely. No, I'm not giving it up.

First fifty

I have fifty pages in the draft of my novella now. These are fifty published-format pages, not manuscript pages. Some time ago I stopped writing first drafts as double-spaced manuscripts and changed to a 6x9 published page format. I like seeing what the book looks like in print from the get-go. This coincided with my departure from the commercial marketplace. I no longer had to play by their rules.

At any rate, later today I will print what I have so far, take out the red pen, and do a leisurely read-and-polish session. Input the corrections and carry on.

The story has taken so many surprising twists and turns that it's barely recognizable from its conception. Thematically the same, or mostly similar, but several new characters have appeared, one especially important, who were not part of the impetus for all this. I find these surprises exciting and challenging.

My characters are:
  • Carlton "CJ" Jones. Retired professor of history. Specialist in 19th C. Native American history. Has written books on U.S. policies of genocide. A recent widower. Depressed by his loss, even more depressed by the state of the world. Plays guitar in folk group, the Old Fogy Folk Trio. My protagonist.
  • Matt. CJ's friend and colleague for many years. Retired avant-garde artist and art professor. Banjo picker in Folk Trio. Eccentric, recently obsessed with amateur porn sites on the Internet. Where he meets:
  • Cheyenne. College student. Fiddler who will replace deceased fiddler in Folk Trio, changing group focus and name to Matt's college group, Diseases of the Soul. Runs Internet college porn site, promoting "green sex."
  • Molly. Best friend of CJ's deceased wife. Has eyes on CJ.
  • Kayla. Molly's granddaughter, in and out of mental hospitals, who believes she and CJ were soul mates in a previous life.
  • Dr. Peters. CJ's shrink.
  • Adam. Matt's son, who wants him committed to a rest home.

"Sodom and Gomorrah" by Rebeca Pittman
These characters surely suggest the kind of trouble they can get into. The story is told with titled vignettes. Working title, Sodom, Gomorrah, and Jones.

Friday, August 05, 2011


Wrote more on the novella this afternoon, incredibly productive day. But I'm exhausted, not just mentally but physically. Writing takes more out of me than it ever did when I was younger. The physical exhaustion is interesting since I'm doing no physical activity except typing, and yet I feel like I've been doing endless labor.

Dinner out tonight with H's son visiting from SF and her daughter who lives here, and I actually am looking forward to it. I'm sure it's because I got so much writing done today. Sometimes, when I haven't, a social engagement feels like an interruption in my rhythm, like the recent BBQ here. My mood of the day is so damn tied to how the writing has gone. The same for a good many writers, this. A curse of sorts.

Remarkable sessions

Wrote 4 vignettes and started a 5th, more than making up for no writing yesterday. A great morning indeed.

Round Bend Press: Deconstructing Simons

Round Bend Press: Deconstructing Simons

My bit part

Here is my small part in the TS 80s no-budget film The Visitor.

Dos Passos

Starting 1919, the 2nd in the USA trilogy (as audio book). Remain overwhelmed by the achievement here. Extraordinary.

And I'm enjoying the audio book more than reading it, or as I recall my last reading years ago. For one, the Newsreel sections, which look like art collages when reading, now are performed and seem to be much more dramatic as a result. Indeed, this is a very poetic book, more revealed when listening than when reading, especially with such a good reader as the one engaged here (whose name, alas, I forget). This is becoming one of the better "aesthetic experiences" of my life.

Full day

Have already completed a full writing day. Might do more but otherwise might read and relax the rest of the day, maybe rewatch Stone's JFK, which I rented. A great start to the day!

Daily vignette

My minimum writing goal is a vignette a day, and I've satisfied this early today. This makes the rest of the day downhill.

And I'm not done writing for the morning yet. Onward.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

A strange day

This was a strange day. I got things done -- but no writing done. More video work and some other chores. I never did get settled into a rhythm. Our monthly housekeeper was here and H was gone, and the dog was freaking out, and I ended up spending more time with the dog than in my basement office. It's amazing I got anything done at all.

So I look forward to a productive WRITING day tomorrow to get back on track.

At least the summer weather is holding firm. 80s and steady.

Quotation of the day

"Stock market movements are, of course, like the shapes we see in the clouds. You can tell whatever story you like, assign whatever characteristics seems fitting, and no one can prove you wrong." Peter S. Goodman, Business Editor, The Huffington Post

Oregon mid-distance star Jordan Hasay named indoor scholar athlete of the year |

Oregon mid-distance star Jordan Hasay named indoor scholar athlete of the year |

22 seconds of fame

Eileen O'Connor, friend, old girl friend, NW regular in the Golden Age, who now lives in Bali, like myself had a bit role in Terry Simons' film "The Visitor" in the 1980s. Chris Thompson plays the lead.


It's not hard to find nonsense on the airwaves these days but surely the most meaningless babbling one can find comes out of the mouths of those "explaining" the daily behavior of the stock market. This is after-the-fact quarterbacking at its most pretentious and, if you listen carefully, hilarious dimension. The fact is, of course, no one knows how the stock market will react to anything, which history establishes well enough, and which explains why everyone isn't a millionaire, but to hear these commentators you'd think we were dealing with "a science" here. Economics is our national religion.

Butt in the chair

Back to the novella today, after yesterday's side trip down rendering lane. Hopefully a productive day, despite a late start.