Monday, October 31, 2011

Grape Nuts

As a kid, this was my favorite cereal. I don't think I've had a bowl for over 50 years until a few weeks ago when I bought a box for some reason. Now I can't get enough.

Wordstock's rejection

I must admit I was not happy to be rejected as a reader at our big book festival, Wordstock. This happened some weeks ago. I wanted to read from my new book of poems and, Christ, if nothing else I thought they'd honor my contribution to Portland letters over the decades. I also was irritated that the rejection notice said "not this year," as if I'd read in the past or was sure to be alive next year. I've never read there.

At the same time, I'm in a pretty mellow time of my life. So my immediate reaction was to laugh. Then I thought, What a bunch of dumb shits. And my estimation of the local literary power structure declined considerably. I secretly hoped the book would get some public acclaim to make my stiff middle finger look a bit less egocentric.

This makes Bob Hicks' generous remarks today especially well timed. He's one of a handful of really good arts writers in this town. His praise is worth more than Wordstock's rejection.


I didn't get my check today because "I'm not in the system." Say what? Haven't I been teaching there for 14 years? Amazing. Anyway, gonna be fixed of course. Curious how screwups like this happen in the first place.

Fortunately I'm not in my younger starving writer mode, when something like this would have raised my blood pressure considerably.

Reflection on my book of poems

What I did best in putting together my book of poems is this: I went through all the poems and selected those I still own up to.   Had a bunch. Then I went through this assembly again and eliminated about half of them! So in my view, there's not a dud left in the book. That was my goal, at any rate. The book is like batting .400! The emphasis is not that I eliminated 60% but kept 40%.

On teaching screenwriting

I love teaching screenwriting. I do not love teaching playwriting or fiction or Eng Comp. What's the difference?

Screenwriting is not really about "writing" in the usual sense. Screenwriting is about film storytelling. The key to good screenwriting is this, something that would be absurd to say about other forms of writing: don't let the writing get in the way of your story! This is what is meant by the often repeated directive, A screenplay is not a literary document; it is a blueprint for a movie.

What is nice about teaching screenwriting is that there is clear content, or at least content clearer and less ambiguous than other forms of writing. It's more objective than other forms of writing. If you write a screenplay with the same rhetoric you'd use to write a short story, or an essay, it can be demonstrated beyond a doubt that you are over-writing in a style inappropriate to screenwriting. And everyone starts out doing just this. So immediately all students can be shown what they are doing wrong and can improve at a basic technical level.

There are reallly 3 learning curves in screenwriting: learning the appropriate "minimalist" writing style; learning screenplay format; and learning film storytelling. The first two get you to the starting line. That is, producers don't give a hoot about your writing per se -- they assume you know what a screenplay is, a blueprint, and therefore will write accordingly. So the first two learning curves, if abused, are ways to shoot yourself in the foot. Indeed, whenever I'm a judge in a screenplay contest, I can eliminate half the entries on page one! This is shocking but true. How? Because the writer is writing like a novelist, not a screenwriter. Sometimes the page has such heavy text density you don't even have to read it. This is not what a screenplay "looks like", any more than a 4-line poem looks like a sonnet. You don't have to read it to know it's not a sonnet. So with the screenplay. A good screenplay is airy, lots of white space on the page, short sentences and (often even better) fragments, short paragraphs, what we call "a vertical read."

Screenwriting is not a writer's form. The best "writing" students usually have the biggest adjustment in my classes. Screenwriting is a storyteller's form.

I've worked in virtually every form of writing there is, and I think screenwriting is more "fun" than any of them. It's fun because you can do so much with so little, because the agony of word choice is not as extreme as in other forms of writing. This is not a rhetoric-driven form but an action-driven form. You get to tell big stories with few words and don't lose sleep over what those specific words are.

Since virtually every student starts writing screenplays the same way they write anything else, as teacher I immediately have concrete advice for improvement. There is concrete subject matter here, more than subjective opinion (which comes in soon enough with storytelling issues). If students pay attention, they can greatly improve their skills in the first few weeks -- which gets them to the starting line. Now the real work begins, which is storytelling. Which is dramatic structure, William Goldman said that screenwriting is about "structure, structure and structure" and who would argue with him?

It's a joy when a student learns that sometimes in a screenplay a sentence fragment is more powerful than an elegant sentence!

Ready or not ...

Finally have everything I need for class tomorrow uploaded, etc. Man, this new way I am teaching is much more labor intensive -- but I have the time now and I actually enjoy most of the grunt work. I hope it is effective, that's the bottom line.

So I have the rest of the day and tomorrow morning to work on this layered chaotic mess of a short novel I'm in the middle of. Actually it is looking good. I can't imagine an audience for this, though. You'd have to have my own tastes ha ha! So few do. So this is a project for me and whatever aesthetic clones there may be out there. I know there are a few, know this from past experience. But this is mainly a project for my archive. What would I do without my archive?

What would I do without the support of Bob Hicks? Whatever visibility I have left in this town is pretty much a result of his continued support of my work over so many years. I feel fortunate to have it.

I think there may be a problem with my check. It hasn't shown up in my account yet and I never did get the usual email several days earlier. I'll call payroll later today if nothing changes. Need my check!

Thursday we watch The Kids Are All Right, the script/film we are studying this term.

And to think in the winter I teach at noon. That will be different, I think, being on campus when a lot of students are actually there.

H didn't have too many problems with the snow storm. We'll try to connect via Skype this afternoon.

A generous review
"I suppose Deemer could have written about raindrops striking puddles in the woods and reminding him of the eternal wisdom of the pantheistic gods and our responsibilities to our fellow man and beast, the way so many other Northwest poets do, but I confess I’m glad he didn’t."

Midterm Monday

Main focus today, finish up midterms.

I think the Occupy Portland movement has reached a turning point that will hurt its cause. It says it is going to occupy other parks to spread the message, and the city says it won't permit this. So if this comes to pass, more confrontation, more arrests. Where have I seen this movie before?

Occupy Portland is to the redistribution of wealth as masturbation is to raising a family.

The 99% is going to get smaller very quickly if this all deteriorates into a law and order issue.

Another interesting development, the high end of the 99% -- many living in the affluent Pearl area (where subsidized housing also exists) -- are being called the enemy by some in the movement. There's so much fuzziness here, compounded by the idealistic nonsense and a poor reading of history. The best PRACTICAL result of this, in my view, is a viable third political party. But I don't see it happening. What is clear is that the goals require legislation if you plan to stop short of overthrowing the government entirely. Laws have to be changed, including tax laws. How do you influence this in the direction you want? Not by confronting police in one park after another, if that is the plan.

What I see happening is a deterioration of the message into law and order issues as youthful idealism faces realpolitik and urban demands for law enforcement. This will alienate many of the original 99% (which already disagree on basic things -- all they have in common is sharing an economic statistic.)

Yesterday a dear friend from LA called and we chatted a long time, mostly about how no one learns shit from history. Every generation has to reinvent the wheel, and this seems to be what is happening now.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A crazy Saturday

Undefeated teams get beat, many other upsets, Stanford gets by USC in 3 OT, and the most incredible game of all, UCLA beat Cal.

Stanford was lucky. This will hurt their BCS chances, I think, but I also think it will help Luck's Heisman chances because after throwing a pick for a TD, he came right back with a long drive to score. A very cool QB.

Going to watch the BCS show tonight to see the new rankings.

Did lots of work this morning, getting midterm stuff online. More to do.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Slow reading

Reading my draft on Kindle, even though I haven't written the last act yet. It's looking good, the difficult balance I'm shooting for getting closer each time I go through this ritual. I'm enjoying the less obsessive process as well, certainly a rhythm more suited to my age.

I'm in a good space these days, as long as I can keep out of reach of the ghosts in this town. I generally do a good job of that. I also get my battery charged because I enjoy teaching so much. This term I have a couple of potential pro's that really excite me. I think I can save them some time and false starts.

My new teaching method takes more time to prepare but it's worth it so far.

My Oregon Ducks problem

I wish I could cheer for the Oregon football team with more enthusiasm. After all, it's my alma mater (MFA). I like Eugene better than I like Portland. I have only fond memories of my years in grad school there, as dramatized in my short film Deconstructing Sally. So what's the problem?

I have two. I don't like the choke hold that Nike has on the sports programs, making a university a de facto subsidiary of one of the more corrupt corporations in the land. And I don't like the way the football coaches refuse to give meaningful discipline to jocks who screw up time and time again. I think the Univ of Oregon football team is an embarrassment, in fact, especially when you compare the program to a university with class like Stanford. So it's hard to root for them, as much as I want to and feel I should.

Thus I find myself hoping a big underdog like Washington State beats them. Won't happen. But there you have it, my Oregon Ducks problem.

With UCLA, my undergrad alma mater, it's a different situation. Their football program is so bad, so inept, you just want to fire everybody and start over.

I don't have much enthusiasm for "my teams" this year.

Sports memories

Some memorable sports experiences I've had as a fan and participant.

  • Sandlot games of football, basketball, baseball, even track, in my junior high and high school years.
  • Going to football games, esp LA Rams, with my dad.
  • Following horses at Santa Anita with my granddad.
  • Wonderful "Football Circus" extravaganza thru school in Pasadena, all school teams at every level on the field at the Rose Bowl, an annual fund raiser for charity, one side of town against the other, first elementary schools, then jr highs, highs, finally our two community colleges. Very special night!
  • High school chess champion, beating good friend in finals.
  • Lettering in football, basketball, track as freshman at Cal Tech. A surreal experience actually.
  • Playing flag football in Army, both in basic and in Germany. Great fun! I was QB in single wing variant.
  • Watching basketball at UCLA, 1960s, Wooden era.
  • Watching track events at Univ of Oregon, Prefontaine days, late 1960s, early 70s, during grad school.
  • Also during grad school, watching Eugene Emeralds, AAA farm team of Phillies, dime beer innings.
  • Watching football with faculty friends in Salisbury, Maryland, mid 1970s. Party time!
  • Watching football with regulars at Nobby's in Portland, 1980s. Party time!
  • In 90s, sports stopped being a social event, usually watched alone at home. Not a bad thing.

Decisions, decisions

Do I make scrapple today or tomorrow? This is my most pressing decision for today. Ain't I lucky?

My kingdom for a strike!

Last night's St. Louis victory in the world series magnifies the two moments, TWO, when Texas in game six was one strike away from their first world championship. They didn't get either one, St. Louis heroics managing to get major clutch hits.

But there's another moment that haunts me and haunted me at the time. In the top of the 11th in game six, the score 9-9, Texas up with two outs, a man on first ... and the pitcher due up. Here was a pitcher who finally was performing well. So I was shocked when he was taken out for a pinch hitter. I understand Texas wants a rally and with one out, I could see it, or in a low scoring game. But St. Louis batters were killing the bullpen -- but here finally was a pitcher working well. Why take him out?

Well, Texas did, the pinch hitter did nothing, and the new pitcher came in -- and his first batter hit a home run to win the game. Lack of patience lost them the game in my view. They should have let the pitcher bat and kept him in, thinking they could get their rally in the 12th.

St. Louis had a miracle season. They earned it.

First reading of midterms. Some good stuff, some errors they shouldn't still be making. I'll respond to them with a second reading tomorrow.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Prepare For Winter Weather [LIVE UPDATES]

Occupy Wall Street Protesters Prepare For Winter Weather [LIVE UPDATES]:

I think this is misguided and will lose them support in the long run. I think new and creative actions are necessary.

Cardinals stun Texas, force World Series to Game 7 - Yahoo! News

Cardinals stun Texas, force World Series to Game 7 - Yahoo! News:

""You had to be here to believe it," St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said.

In one of the greatest thrillers in baseball history, the Cardinals twice rallied when they were down to their last strike of the season. First, Freese saved them with a two-run triple in the ninth, then Lance Berkman delivered a tying single in the 10th.
And when Freese led off the bottom of the 11th with his shot to beat Texas 10-9 and stomped on the plate, this Game 6 had already been stamped forever.
"Turned out to be one for the ages," said Daniel Descalso, who keyed a Cardinals comeback."

Man, what a game! And all the drama demonstrated why baseball is the perfect sport for television. Baseball's slowness, its progression by pitch, by dramatic module, allows time for the camera to get reaction shots -- batter, pitcher, runner, infield, outfield, fans, coaches -- and a good TV director can stretch the drama to excruciating limits. So last night, especially when TWICE Texas was one strike away from their FIRST world championship. Some are already calling this the best game in world series history. I came home to catch it at 4-4 in the sixth, so I saw all the late drama. Lovely game, even though I'm rooting for Texas. Lovely game.

And great games ahead this weekend, game 7 tonight, Stanford-USC tomorrow night.

Midterms to read, usually a highlight because so many are so good, the students finally getting into screenwriting stride. Hope this class is typical.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Gave the class a collaborative story development exercise, dividing them into groups, and they seemed to really get into it. Eager to hear their discussion next week.

When I left at 1 I gave Sketch a chew so he'd amuse himself for a while -- I was leaving him alone longer than usual, what with H gone. I returned at 730 and he greeted me at the door -- with the chew in his mouth! Now that's an engrossing doggy toy.

Time to vegetate

You don't have to pitch a tent

In the small town of Ashland, pop. 21,000, Internet marketer Robbie Lindauer has been asking people to take their money out of the local branch of Chase bank to show their opposition to the role of big banks in the economic crisis. One local credit union attributes a spike in new members to the Occupy movement.


Here's a list of recent U.S. productions of Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, which suggests how rare a performance is. I flew down for the LA production, able to see my favorite opera before I pass.

Friday, February 23, 2007
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
Opera Boston

Saturday, February 10, 2007
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
Los Angeles Opera
My thoughts on LA Mahagonny

Saturday, November 14, 1998
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
Lyric Opera of Chicago

Saturday, November 25, 1995
Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny
Metropolitan Opera

Sick joke

One good consequence of the Occupy movement having no visible leaders: the heavies on the other side don't know whom to assassinate!

Academic requirements for jocks

News from The Associated Press:

"STORRS Conn. (AP) -- Changes in NCAA rules are expected to keep defending national-champion Connecticut from participating in the 2013 NCAA men's basketball tournament.

Under the rules adopted Thursday by the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors, a school cannot participate in the 2013 tournament unless it has a two-year average score of 930 or a four-year average score of 900 on the NCAA's annual Academic Progress Rate, which measures the academic performance of student athletes."

This is a good start -- require ACADEMIC marks to be tournament eligible. They should do the same thing for bowl eligibility in football.

Robert Scheer: Thirty Years of Unleashed Greed

Robert Scheer: Thirty Years of Unleashed Greed:

"It is class warfare. But it was begun not by the tear-gassed, rain-soaked protesters asserting their constitutionally guaranteed right of peaceful assembly but rather the financial overlords who control all of the major levers of power in what passes for our democracy. It is they who subverted the American ideal of a nation of stakeholders in control of their economic and political destiny.

Between 1979 and 2007, as the Congressional Budget Office reported this week, the average real income of the top 1 percent grew by an astounding 275 percent. And that is after payment of the taxes that the superrich and their Republican apologists find so onerous."

Adam And Pete: Love In A Time Of War

Adam And Pete: Love In A Time Of War:

What a cool story.

Kathleen's of Dublin closes after 18 years |

Kathleen's of Dublin closes after 18 years |

I liked this store, bought a few things there.

The Portland Police Bureau has spent $186,400 in police overtime for Occupy Portland |

The Portland Police Bureau has spent $186,400 in police overtime for Occupy Portland |

This is how the message will get turned around. The movement seems to lack the creativity to avoid this by doing protest in new, less expensive, less alienating ways. This is all a movie rerun so far.

Why Our Brains Love Horror Movies: Fear, Catharsis, a Sense of Doom - The Daily Beast

Why Our Brains Love Horror Movies: Fear, Catharsis, a Sense of Doom - The Daily Beast:

The medium is the message

I worry that the Occupy movement is going to branch off topic and become a law-and-order issue. Part of the problem is that protesters are doing nothing new. There is shockingly little creativity in the movement so far. With such a majority on their side of the issues, they should find ways to stay visible without alienating institutions that in fact are behind them in spirit. They especially need to bring this protest face to face with reality: the issue is capitalism, at least as practiced by the wealthy class today. This is why I think teach-ins could be an effective tool. It's time to un-demonize socialism and to look at its strengths and weaknesses as a political system. It's time to learn the same, strengths and weaknesses, about capitalism. So far the air is filled with slogans that don't mean much.

Perhaps it is too much to hope for that a protest movement would have solid intellectual foundation. Has this happened since the New Politics in the 60s?

What I fear, and actually predict, will happen with the Occupy movement is that it will overplay its hand, creating a law and order backlash that will push real issues away and elect those on the wrong side of the money issues, i.e. conservative Republicans. I don't expect this to turn out well -- and I very much hope I am wrong.

Shell Posts Nearly $7 Billion Profit In Third Quarter 2011

Shell Posts Nearly $7 Billion Profit In Third Quarter 2011:

La de dah

Most Millionaires Want Higher Taxes For Millionaires: Survey

Most Millionaires Want Higher Taxes For Millionaires: Survey:

Tell the Republicans.

The Crawl

Moving slower than usual today. Fortunately it's not a lecture day, so I don't have to "perform" a lot in class.

Took H to the airport at 5 a.m. But crawling ever since. Be glad when I'm home this evening, maybe catch the end of the ballgame.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The War Against Climate Science Unravels | Common Dreams

The War Against Climate Science Unravels | Common Dreams:

Income Inequality Reaches Gilded Age Levels, Congressional Report Finds

Income Inequality Reaches Gilded Age Levels, Congressional Report Finds:

"But it's among the top 1 percent where the growth was breathtaking. That contingent saw their incomes spike by 275 percent.

Happy birthday to me

I didn't realize it was my bday until H greeted me this morning. That's what happens as you get older: individual bdays are easily forgotten. Maybe 70 was the last memorable one. 80 would be the same, though I wouldn't take bets I'll make it.

I'm looking forward to my birthday lunch!

Finally settled on a newspaper to read on my Kindle. I get the Oregonian M-F because it's free and keeps me up on local stuff. The paper really sucks. I'd been reading the Sunday NY Times but missed good reading during the week and the daily is too expensive. I tried samples of the major papers and passed, either for lack of features I wanted (film stuff) or price. Then I found something that will work: the LA Times. Has film stuff, UCLA stuff, I recognize all the areas so it's not as foreign in local coverage, even has Santa Anita track results, the first thing my grandfather would have turned to. And the price is okay. So when my sample period ends, I think I'll go on and become a daily reader of the LA Times. And I quit the Sunday NYT, which makes the daily price even more reasonable. Like getting a discount.

How many Portlanders read the LA Times on a daily basis?

College prices up again as states slash budgets - Yahoo! News

College prices up again as states slash budgets - Yahoo! News:

An undergrad education was comparatively so inexpensive when I was in school. At Berkeley in 1959, the figure $14 a unit for tuition rings a bell. You could save a school year's tuition from a summer job then. Man, those days of affordable public education are long gone. I'm shocked by what my students have to pay.

‘Cognitive Chaos’ May Fuel Marijuana’s Side Effects | Wired Science |

‘Cognitive Chaos’ May Fuel Marijuana’s Side Effects | Wired Science |

Northern Lights Travel South: Aurora Borealis Seen In Over 20 States (PHOTOS)

Northern Lights Travel South: Aurora Borealis Seen In Over 20 States (PHOTOS):

"But thanks to a Coronal Mass Ejection -- a burst of solar wind -- that resulted in a moderate-level geomagnetic storm, much of the United States was treated to an unusual and stunning light show on Monday evening."

Coffee May Keep World's Most Common Cancer At Bay, New Research Shows

Coffee May Keep World's Most Common Cancer At Bay, New Research Shows:

"New research presented at an American Association for Cancer Research conference suggests daily joe consumption may help reduce the risk of basal cell carcinoma, the world's most common cancer."

Val McDermid

Val McDermid
Came home exhausted, crashed early, a bit after nine, so naturally I am up. Actually I got up to research Val McDermid, a British crime novelist, because I was impressed with a BBC interview I just heard. Really like where she's coming from, her attitude toward writing and such. Will check her out.

Today I can coast, recover, read, write. A movie development exercise in class on Thursday, where I also collect their midterms, the weekend work.

Halfway through the term! It's amazing how quickly the term passes.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Second wind

Just in time, I am getting a second wind, which means I'll be ready for class. This week and next week pretty set, with some useful and fun activities. And then we're on the downhill side of the term. Where does the time go?

And in winter I teach at noon! What a concept.

Dr. Cornel West: "We Are in a Magnificent Moment of Democratic Awakening"

Dr. Cornel West: "We Are in a Magnificent Moment of Democratic Awakening":

I hope he's right but, alas, I've seen this moment before and ...

Durban May Be Last Chance to Stabilize Climate Under Two Degrees | Common Dreams

Durban May Be Last Chance to Stabilize Climate Under Two Degrees | Common Dreams:

" The window to limit global warming to less than two degrees C is closing so fast it can be measured in months, a new scientific analysis revealed Sunday."

Northern Lights Seen Near Hillsboro | -

Northern Lights Seen Near Hillsboro | -

Quotation of the day

"All humanity's troubles come from not knowing how to sit still in one room," - Blaise Pascal.

Occupy UCLA Athletics - We Are The Bruin Faithful!

Occupy UCLA Athletics - We Are The Bruin Faithful!:

Plan to go to Cal game wearing paper sacks because UCLA fans are too embarrassed to show their faces. This movement, like others with more serious content, has spread through cyberspace like fire. UCLA alumni and students are in rebellion against their football team. I'm fascinated. What if rape and poverty inspired energy like this?

I still say UCLA should hire Mike Leach.

Patience tested at protest sites

News from The Associated Press:

"Fed up with petty crime, the all-night racket of beating drums, the smell of human waste and the sight of trampled flowers and grass, police and neighbors are losing patience with some of the anti-Wall Street protests around the U.S."

The popularity of this movement can turn around if the movement overplays its advantage, which not only is possible but likely. I think it would be more creative and more effective to hold teach ins, have daily noon rallies in huge numbers, keep the narrative moving rather than stagnating in a park. But I'm just an old fart, what do I know?

Grad rates of top football teams

News from The Associated Press:

"1. LSU, 77 percent
2. Alabama, 69 percent
3. Oklahoma State, 65 percent
4. Boise State, 74 percent
5. Clemson, 62 percent
6. Stanford, 87 percent
7. Oregon, 63 percent
8. Kansas State, 62 percent
9. Oklahoma, 48 percent
10. Arkansas, 56 percent"

Stanford really stands out. I'm surprised, impressed, with LSU.



"The paper predicts war with China. It is so difficult to predict war? Who has seen peace? If not China, Africa. Or Japan again. A friend, an enemy; an enemy. a friend. China, then, and I give odds she wins. Any odds I would give. China is thousands of years. China is hundreds of millions. China is immortal. Look at history, read the books of her old men. "

From Mississippi Review, 1974

Student loan relief

News from The Associated Press:

"Obama on Wednesday will use his executive authority to accelerate a measure passed by Congress that reduces the repayment cap on student loans from 15 percent of discretionary income to 10 percent. The White House wants it to go into effect in 2012, instead of 2014. About 1.6 million borrowers could be affected."

'via Blog this'

Virtual storytelling

La de dah

A little reading -- proof-reading on the Kindle, actually, which is a great way to do it -- and a little mindless browsing and a little double-checking on my class material online ... and I'm impatient for class to start so I can go home and crash. Feeling a tad sick again.

Opening pages of the book looking good on Kindle.

Time to Act: Cease All Financial Support to UCLA Athletics - Bruins Nation

Time to Act: Cease All Financial Support to UCLA Athletics - Bruins Nation:

Man, the alumni are pissed! They want blood, i.e. firing of the AD and football coach. This could get interesting.

Wouldn't it be cool if this outrage were about something other than winning and losing. For example, Oregon alumni outrage at selling out to Nike. Fat chance. Can't even start smaller, with actual real discipline against jocks who screw up. The coach needs to start kicking players off the team.

Last words

Charles and Dick
My best friend was dying in a hospice in Idaho. I visited. He looked like shit, like a derelict, unshaven, unkempt. I stood at his bedside. He looked at me, half alert, drugged with pain killers, an impish smile on his lips, and said, "All gone. All used up." I knew what he meant. He'd spent the last of the Life Force. And the grin said, Ha! you assholes, I lasted longer than you thought I would! I bent forward and kissed him on the forehead. He said, "Lovely," and closed his eyes. I went to my motel, planning to visit the next day, but he died that night.

Dick's grave at White Bird, Idaho

Tea Party v. Occupy Wall Street

A bit over-stated but the gist strikes me as accurate.


Last night I got to watch the 5th game of the World Series from start to finish. I was rooting for Texas, where I started school, but St. Louis outplayed them. And yet SL couldn't score, leaving 12 stranded before it was over, and Texas went on the win, though clearly not the best team last night. I'll take it.

I like baseball for the same reason that many dislike it -- it is SLOW. Indeed my one and only essay on baseball, published over forty years ago in Northwest Magazine, is called The Last Slow Dance. You can see I was influenced by the New Journalism in this stylistic piece about the Portland Urban Minor League Baseball Experience.

Should be able to watch Wednesday's game, too. I'll miss Thursday, if there's a game, because of class.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Energy collapse

My energy level has really tanked of late. Not sure if it's because I'm not totally well yet, which I'm not, or if it's part of the aging dance, what with a birthday this week, or what. But I for damn sure notice it.

But I did get some work done today, both on class and book in progress. Wrote up a very cool movie exercise for my class to do this week.

Out to lunch for my birthday, which I do look forward to. Then H is off on her periodic east coast trip, leaving Sketch and I to batch it for 16 days.

Education Petition: University of California, Los Angeles: Fire Dan Guerrero; Fire Rick Neuheisel |

Education Petition: University of California, Los Angeles: Fire Dan Guerrero; Fire Rick Neuheisel |

I signed the petition!

Orangutan Culture Develops Like Human Culture | Wired Science |

Orangutan Culture Develops Like Human Culture | Wired Science |

Oregon Poetic Voices- Charles Deemer

Oregon Poetic Voices- Charles Deemer:

Winter adventure

Class schedules for winter out today, I am listed at noon, after 15 years of teaching in the evening. I look forward to seeing what campus looks like in the daytime.

A busy morning of class work. Now soon to get to novel stuff.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Blown Series call shows it's time to expand replay - Yahoo! News

Blown Series call shows it's time to expand replay - Yahoo! News:

Hear, hear.

Iceland's Midnight Sun

Midnight Sun | Iceland from SCIENTIFANTASTIC on Vimeo.

Ready to roll

Have my Tues class material online and ready to go.

Some good fiddling with the novel this morning, more through the day I'm sure. Still much to do but I have a sense of improvement each session.

Nov. 12: Oregon at Stanford

This should be some game! I'll take Stanford as a betting man. Mixed feelings personally since I don't approve of  what Nike has done to my alma mater. Stanford, in contrast, is all class.

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of the Rick Neuheisel Era - Bruins Nation

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of the Rick Neuheisel Era - Bruins Nation:

Daily Kos: Programmer admits computers rig elections

Daily Kos: Programmer admits computers rig elections:

The 9 Best Universities In The World To Get An English Degree

The 9 Best Universities In The World To Get An English Degree:

UCLA is #9, which surprised me. Where I got my BA. MFA at Univ of Oregon.

BCS shakeup

A Saturday of upsets. In the BCS poll, #3 lost, #6 lost, #5 played poorly enough to drop, #8 and #10 played well enough to climb despite losses ahead of them. Might look like LSU, Alabama, Ok St, Stanford, Oregon, though Boise St, which played poorly, may not drop this much. We'll see soon enough.

Up to do a little grunt work on the novel.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Round Bend Press: Is Boho Dead?

Round Bend Press: Is Boho Dead?:

TS thinks bohemianism is dead. I disagree. I think it's underground, less fashionable, less romantic, and therefore harder to find. It may have moved from urban low rent districts to small towns. It may be a smaller slice of the social pie because it's less romantic, and therefore less attractive to young people. But I guarantee you that starving artists are still among us, getting by as best they can to save as much time and energy as possible for their work. I even get a few of them in my class now and again.

A good morning

Up early, to Starbucks for iced coffee and a delicious feta-spinach-egg white wrap, home to work. Good reordering of opening vignettes. Fiddle, fiddle.

'World Of Opera' Dumped By NPR Because Host Participated In Occupy DC Protest

'World Of Opera' Dumped By NPR Because Host Participated In Occupy DC Protest:

"WASHINGTON -- NPR will no longer distribute the member station-produced program "World of Opera" to about 60 stations across the country because the show host helped organize an ongoing Washington protest, a network official said Friday evening.

Instead, North Carolina-based classical music station WDAV, which produces the show, said it will distribute the nationally syndicated program on its own beginning Nov. 11. The station said it plans to keep Lisa Simeone as host and has said her involvement in a political protest does not affect her job as a music program host."

Good for WDAV.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Clean the House: Time for Wholesale Regime Change at UCLA - Bruins Nation

Clean the House: Time for Wholesale Regime Change at UCLA - Bruins Nation:

Food Republic: 15 Beloved Regional Dishes

Food Republic: 15 Beloved Regional Dishes:


Long-Married Couple Gordon Yeager And Norma Yeager Die Holding Hands

Long-Married Couple Gordon Yeager And Norma Yeager Die Holding Hands:

"The nurse told Gordon and Norma's son, Dennis Yeager, that the monitor was beeping "because they're holding hands, and [Norma's heart beat] is going through them," Dennis recalled in an interview with Des Moines' KCCI news station. "Her heart was beating through him."

Norma died at 4:38 pm, exactly one hour later.

Gordon and Norma's children say they're glad the couple passed this way. "They just loved being together," says Dennis. "He always said, 'I can't go until she does because I gotta stay here for her.' And she would say the same thing."

Canzano: With BCS headed for an undefeated trainwreck, let's hope it will bring real change |

Canzano: With BCS headed for an undefeated trainwreck, let's hope it will bring real change |

"Hancock can't possibly believe that nobody wants a playoff. He can't believe that a meaningful regular season is justification for a less meaningful postseason. And he said Thursday, "the current system isn't all about money," and I nearly spit soda through my nose.

Yup, I've defended this system before. I've noted that we're a society with a fascination with closure. We crave finality. Also, that the controversy of the BCS gives us lots to talk about. That's good. But I challenge you to look across college football in a season such as this and not be left flat with what you see waiting at the end.

Still crave closure?

Root for the end of the BCS."

Hear, hear!

Occupy the Classroom -

Occupy the Classroom -

"“Schooling after the second grade plays only a minor role in creating or reducing gaps,” Heckman argues in an important article this year in American Educator. “It is imperative to change the way we look at education. We should invest in the foundation of school readiness from birth to age 5.”"

Hear, hear!

1. Tiger Stadium (LSU) | College Football: Ranking the 50 Loudest Stadiums | Bleacher Report

1. Tiger Stadium (LSU) | College Football: Ranking the 50 Loudest Stadiums | Bleacher Report:

Oregon's Autzen Stadium is #2.

So I come home from class, looking forward to watching the 2nd half of the UCLA - Arizona game. Two mediocre teams but on paper evenly matched, a close game. I learn the halftime score has the Bruins behind 42-7. At halftime! 42 pts, over 400 yards. I didn't watch what turned out to be a boring second half, I expect, 6-5 Arizona, for a final score of 48-12. If this doesn't lose the coach his job, what will? UCLA needs a magician like Mike Leech to turn this program around.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lauren Myracle: How I Was Un-nominated For The National Book Award

Lauren Myracle: How I Was Un-nominated For The National Book Award:

"What I've realized:

- it's just one more reminder not to be so invested in validation from external sources;
- some people are idiots;
- far more are generous and kind;"

'via Blog this'

'Catch-22' 50th Anniversary Remembrance: Robert Gottlieb, Christopher Buckley, Mike Nichols (VIDEO)

Joseph Heller
'Catch-22' 50th Anniversary Remembrance: Robert Gottlieb, Christopher Buckley, Mike Nichols (VIDEO):

U.S. Median Income Falls To $26,364 As Pessimism Reaches 10-Year High

U.S. Median Income Falls To $26,364 As Pessimism Reaches 10-Year High:

"Not everyone is suffering, however. The number of workers making $1 million or more actually rose to nearly 94,000 last year from 78,000 in 2009, according to Reuters."

'via Blog this'


When I changed my teaching schedule this term, collecting work on Thurs instead of Tues, I didn't realize what a major impact this would have on the rhythm of my day. But I couldn't have made the change earlier because then I was a writer first, a teacher second, a writer who also taught. Now I seem to be a teacher who also writes. Teaching has come front burner, while before I wore my teacher's cap Tues-Thur only. I was obsessively protective of my writing time. Now, with the current short novel in progress, I am astoundingly relaxed, mellow and non-obsessive about my writing time. It happens as it happens. Part of the change is that I've done so much work already, I have nothing left to prove.

So this term is more relaxed than I've been in, well, maybe ever. It really does feel like a kind of semi-retirement. I like it.

Another longshot

Learned that a major prodco is reading my update of the Dickens' Christmas classic. What's nice about this is that they read the synopsis a few days ago and downloaded the script this morning -- in other words, they didn't stop at the synopsis, which usually happens. They have initial interest.

It's great to embrace these nibblings from such a mellow place. Younger, I used to go crazy wondering if anything would come of it.

Let's have coffee

Meeting tomorrow with a director from Brazil who's been working on a project in town. He was impressed with a script of mine, wants to chat about possibly commissioning a script or otherwise having my input. I snooped around his website and he's much into expanding the parameters of storytelling (which echoes my interest in hyperdrama, of course), so we may have something in common.

What's best about this meeting is I am retired and not "hungry" for a project, so the younger writer's stress that commonly is part of such a meeting, a younger writer always looking for a gig, is absent, and whatever is offered, I can take or not take strictly according to the fun factor and/or remuneration factor. At any rate, I like what's he up to and it will be cool to meet him. Of course, it's a good way to enter a meeting, with someone admiring your work. I suspect I will admire his work as well. I certainly like where he's coming from.

My favorite teacher

Found myself thinking about Bob Trevor, my favorite teacher ... but I can't write about him more warmly than I already have in the past. About Trevor. I wish I had a photo of him.

Round Bend Press: On Charles Lucas

Round Bend Press: On Charles Lucas:

Artist featured in the press' first art book.

Daily Kos: The Case for Climate Alarmism

Daily Kos: The Case for Climate Alarmism:

"My point is simply this: When we have the facts behind us, we must not shrink from presenting and pushing them into the public domain even if they seem sensationalist or alarming. The truth must prevail, even -- no especially -- when it is awful, shocking and disturbing.

We have ample evidence that climate change is not just coming, it is here, with dire consequences, from killer storms to droughts to floods to the destruction of forests and countless species. Don't ever shrink from broadcasting that message loudly and unapologetically, because the consequences of denying this inconvenient truth will be even worse."

Quotation of the day

"To rid the world of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi within six months: if Obama were a Republican, he'd be on Mount Rushmore by now." --Andrew Sullivan


Going to go Italian for my birthday next week, and lunch instead of dinner. At Mama Mia's. I look forward to it. (It speaks to my age that I chose lunch over dinner!)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Daily Kos: Student loan debt will exceed $1 trillion this year

Daily Kos: Student loan debt will exceed $1 trillion this year:

iPhone Accelerometer Could Spy on Computer Keystrokes | Wired Science |

iPhone Accelerometer Could Spy on Computer Keystrokes | Wired Science |

Through the new see-through wall, of course.

Homeless Portland man robs a bank for a place to stay: federal prison |

Homeless Portland man robs a bank for a place to stay: federal prison |

Makes sense to me.


I love Wednesdays on my new teaching schedule. In the past, they were the busiest, most stressful day of the week. For 15 years! Now they are, well, relaxing.

MIT researchers devise see-through-wall technology – This Just In - Blogs

MIT researchers devise see-through-wall technology – This Just In - Blogs:

Great. Just what the world needs.


In my office before class yesterday, I started a difficult chapter of transition. An hour ago I woke up with the rest of it in my head, so I came down to my basement office and finished it. Looking good. The book's ending is coming together, though I have fixing to do in the earlier parts. But the transition is a major one and I have most of it right, I think.

So real progress is being made.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Daily Kos: Indians 201: Soul Sickness

Daily Kos: Indians 201: Soul Sickness:

"With a society that seems to emphasize the individual over the tribe (that is, the community, the country), the stage is set for w├ętigo or soul sickness. With an emphasis on winning and losing, on acquiring great individual wealth (greed), it is easy for people to become windigos—soul cannibals fixated on “feeding” themselves without concern for the common welfare."

'via Blog this'


Ran across this bit of past kudos ...
In his 1997 book Every Writers Essential Guide to Online Resources and Opportunities, Gary Gach wrote, "Charles Deemer should win an Oscar for best screenwriters' Web site, but the Academy hasn't come to grips with the Internet yet."
This was in reference to The Screenwriters and Playwrights Home Page that I put online in 1994. Impossible to imagine this was 17 years ago! I can't remember the web address for the Wayback Machine but I did find this:

End of my website

P.S. I found it!

My original website, circa 2000

Internet Archive: Wayback Machine

Internet Archive: Wayback Machine:

Find old discontinued websites.


I have to do something about Oregon Literary Review. It's been just sitting there since Primus retired. He was the primary video energy of late. I have precious little energy after teaching and my own work lately. Yep, getting old.

So what to do? Thinking about any combination of ...

  • storing it as an archive, the end
  • making it a digest of arts highlights from around the web
  • making a new permanent site of the Best Of..., another kind of archive.

Some of the videos and texts are definitely worth archiving, making available for scholars and others in the future.

What to do, what to do?

Daily Kos: Bank of America reports $6.2 billion profit for third quarter, but must have your $5

Daily Kos: Bank of America reports $6.2 billion profit for third quarter, but must have your $5:

La de dah!

Round Bend Press: from Ubiquitous Serpentine

Round Bend Press: from Ubiquitous Serpentine:

TS spreads his wings and publishes an art book, available in November.

Oregon Arts Watch Audio: decoding ‘No Man’s Land’ with Bob Hicks | Oregon ArtsWatch

Oregon Arts Watch Audio: decoding ‘No Man’s Land’ with Bob Hicks | Oregon ArtsWatch:

The Blog : The Mystery of Consciousness : Sam Harris

The Blog : The Mystery of Consciousness : Sam Harris:

Early arrival

To the office at noon! I'm in a particularly difficult part of the novel draft, requiring considerable uninterrupted brooding time, and it's easier done here than home. So here I am.

Hobbling from the bus stop, I was stopped in my tracks by a severe pain in my side. Came and went in thirty seconds. Very strange. Reminded me of a Deemer trait: falling over dead. Dad did, mom did, an aunt did, an uncle did. Now you see them, now you don't. No preface. Bam! So I wonder if this is my family fate, about which I wrote a poem for my book. Dropping Dead.

Very busy day in class. I'm ready.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Portland worries Commissioner Nick Fish; he calls park damage 'inconsistent' with group's goals |

Occupy Portland worries Commissioner Nick Fish; he calls park damage 'inconsistent' with group's goals |

The plot thickens.

Ready to roll

Have everything online now that I need for class tomorrow -- prep finished. And the sun came out after a morning fog, so maybe it will hit 70 tomorrow as forecast. I would love it.

Sketch restless, so we ran some errands to get out of the house.

Turner plays From Here To Eternity this afternoon, and I'm copying it. One of my favorite films, and a rare film that is better than the novel. (So is Some Came Running -- Jones was a better storyteller than a writer.)

Finished 1919, the 2nd in the USA trilogy, on to The Big Money. This is an exhausting but incredible experience, hearing this long trilogy not read but performed by David Drummond, about whom I know little. Need to do some research on him. He turns an already major literary accomplishment into an epic performance in the audio books. I am completely blown away.

The world as it is

Occupy Philosophy

Occupy Philosophy:

Philosophers discuss the new movement.

Carlin on Plutocracy

Ruthlessly brilliant.

Occupy The World - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

Occupy The World - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast:

Very thoughtful commentary.

Sarah Jarosz

So I'm station-surfing on FM radio and come across eTown, on which Sarah Jarosz is singing. I'd missed her along the way, as I miss so much since I really don't go looking for new music performers, most often listen to favorite music (I've been listening to Gerry Mulligan for 60 years) just as I most often read books I've already read before, but I'm really blown away by this young woman, who is 20. I'm an instant fan.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A busy day

I'm doing some new things in my screenwriting class, all of them very labor intensive to prepare, and I spent a good deal of time today getting this week's material online. It's work I enjoy, at least this early on when the new approach seems to be working well.

In other words, nothing on the novel today. But that's fine. Always brooding about it! Writing a novel is a 24/7 activity. And I expect to move forward on it tomorrow.

Daily Kos: Explaining the 1960's to a cast of "Hair"

Daily Kos: Explaining the 1960's to a cast of "Hair":

Daily Kos: Everybody look what's going down: The Occupy movement's success

Daily Kos: Everybody look what's going down: The Occupy movement's success:

"While aware of the Occupy movement a month ago, it was neither at the top of my interests nor was it something I was following. That changed when the Occupy movement gained my 17-year-old daughter as an adherent.

This example of successful engagement intrigued me in that my daughter, bombarded by a hyperpolitical parent, never was especially interested in political issues. Obviously then, I was interested in trying to understand what was it about the Occupy movement that had engaged her and how they did it. so I went to the source and talked to my daughter as she was preparing to join Occupy Wall Street last night. Here is my interview:"

Robert Reich: The Rise of the Regressive Right and the Reawakening of America

Robert Reich: The Rise of the Regressive Right and the Reawakening of America:

"Listen carefully to today's Republican right and you hear the same Social Darwinism Americans were fed more than a century ago to justify the brazen inequality of the Gilded Age: Survival of the fittest. Don't help the poor or unemployed or anyone who's fallen on bad times, they say, because this only encourages laziness. America will be strong only if we reward the rich and punish the needy."

Whatever Happened to Global Warming? -

Whatever Happened to Global Warming? -

"After he was elected, President Obama promised “a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change,” and arrived cavalry-like at the 2009 United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen to broker a global pact.

But two years later, now that nearly every other nation accepts climate change as a pressing problem, America has turned agnostic on the issue."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, October 15, 2011


There are so many unnecessary roughness penalties in the Oregon - Arizona St game, it's becoming a drag to watch.

Sunday morning p.s. Ariz St had more punks than Oregon, which is why they lost the game. Ariz St gave Oregon at least 14 pts, the margin of Oregon's victory, with unnecessary roughness penalties that kept drives going. The Ariz St coach is more forgiving of bad behavior than Oregon coach is, who is more forgiving than he should be. Man, I wish university coaches would quit cuddling these jerks. Let the pros cuddle them.

Daily Kos: Scientists Revolt

Daily Kos: Scientists Revolt:

"Officials in Rick Perry's home state of Texas have set off a scientists' revolt after purging mentions of climate change and sea-level rise from what was supposed to be a landmark environmental report. The scientists said they were disowning the report on the state of Galveston Bay because of political interference and censorship from Perry appointees at the state's environmental agency.
By academic standards, the protest amounts to the beginnings of a rebellion: every single scientist associated with the 200-page report has demanded their names be struck from the document. "None of us can be party to scientific censorship so we would all have our names removed," said Jim Lester, a co-author of the report and vice-president of the Houston Advanced Research Centre."

'via Blog this'

Courtroom Science Drama: The Saga of Amanda Knox’s DNA | Wired Science |

Courtroom Science Drama: The Saga of Amanda Knox’s DNA | Wired Science |

Protest and personality

It's not easy, and perhaps impossible, to be in a group without leadership. You can make decisions collectively but someone has to count the votes, someone has to take roles of leadership to get things done, if only temporarily. In the end, in my experience, groups evolve so that certain personalities, extroverts, begin to embrace more power and influence than quieter sorts. This happened in the sixties as groups began meeting with the same democratic ideals, and naive expectations, as the groups meeting today.

What's always troubled me about democracy is what I consider a wrong popular focus. What matters most is not that majority rules but that minority rights are preserved. Majority rules in America frightens the hell out of me because I see no evidence that the majority are educated enough to understand the contexts needed for the best decision making. And a third of the population, according to some polls, consider themselves evangelicals. I find this frightening. Democracy depends on an EDUCATED citizenry, as Wayne Morse so passionately states at the end of my play about him, and when the citizenry is not educated, we get the kind of dumb politicians we see today, and have seen before.

I wonder what the country would be like if we actually learned from history, if each generation didn't have to reinvent the wheel.

All Live Streams

All Live Streams:

Live video streams of Occupy movements across the country, around the world. Ain't technology amazing?

Teach In Opportunity

If our universities want to participate in public affairs, let's have some Teach Ins on Capitalism! There is so much misinformation about capitalism, socialism and such, educating the public would be a great service. Of course, many in power would not want this because the myths that demonize socialism, for example, work in their interests. I hope the students participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement realize what a great tool the Teach In can be, just as it was in the 60s educating the public about Vietnam's history and the context of the war.

This is an incredible opportunity. What university, if any, will have the foresight to take the lead here? There's nothing like a 24/7 Teach In to get the brain waves vibrating!

Why I love Saturdays

A while ago I was on the divan. Sketch was sitting beside me, close, his paws on my leg. We were watching the Washington-Colorado game on TV with the sound off. On the radio was the Portland State - Montana game. I had an iced coffee, my signature drink of late. H was off at class, we had the house to ourselves. I'd already gotten some grunt work done, grading the quiz I gave the class Thursday, vacuuming (boy will H be surprised!).

Later Sketch got restless so I gave him a bone-treat for him to wrestle with for a few hours.

Five scripts, opening pages, to look at later, maybe tomorrow. On the quiz, there was one perfect score, which is great at this stage. 3 others were very close -- in the beginning, I'm a very picky hardass grader, so they learn what's correct, not mostly correct. The grades are for their benefit, a reality check.

The big game is tonight, Ariz St at Oregon. I do all my game watching Saturdays and skip Sundays, little interest in the pro's.

Friday, October 14, 2011

What Does the National Book Award Stand For? What Should It Stand For? : Monkey See : NPR

What Does the National Book Award Stand For? What Should It Stand For? : Monkey See : NPR:

"If the National Book Award nominating committee serves to shine a light on the year's most worthy novels, then it would seem that the literary establishment — us included — really dropped the ball.

But did we? And that's where the arguing comes in."

'via Blog this'

Small adventures on a gray day

H and I spent a few wandering hours today, to her exercise class, where I read; to get our flu shots; lunch at a great Pho restaurant in Beaverton; the kind of mellow running of chores that can fill a few lazy hours. I came home and took a nap. Now ready for a bit of work at the computer, on the novel.

Teach-ins on capitalism

I thought teach-ins in the sixties were a positive important tool. Today's protesters who are students might organize the same energy around educating the public about capitalism, socialism, money, labor, etc. Of course, the Republicans would call it a left wing plot. To too many, knowledge is always a plot.

A rally for Sarah

Staggering corporate profits

Occupy Portland protesters: Glad to be rid of street issue, so they can focus on economic message |

Occupy Portland protesters: Glad to be rid of street issue, so they can focus on economic message |

""The police have been great, and we've shown them that it's safe to accept our coffee," she said.

Knight and other protesters said they expect their "village" to stay in place for the foreseeable future, not just to convey the overt message that the economic system needs change but to show by their actions that "there is another way to do things," Knight said.

At that moment, a protester approached Knight to report that some war veterans had asked that chalkings on the Chapman Square war memorials be removed.

Knight immediately went to the outdoor food service set up in Chapman Square, found damp rags and got help from other protesters. Within an hour, the granite obelisk was clean. "

One of the valuable tools of the sixties, I thought, was the teach-in. I'd like to see the students involved in this get behind a teach-in on relevant topics like Capitalism v. Socialism, the history of money, the history of corporations, etc. They could make short educational videos for YouTube. There's much more they can do constructively beyond "being a presence."

'No Man's Land' at Artists Rep: critics find fascination in Pinter as much as in Hurt |

'No Man's Land' at Artists Rep: critics find fascination in Pinter as much as in Hurt |

Nice piece on Pinter's play. There are decent writers on the arts in this town.

Exhilaration & exhaustion

Great class last night. A number of students are "getting it" and realizing the power of dramatic structure in their storytelling efforts. I expect some good work to come from them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Artist at work

Harriet on a boat in the river, drawing, an organized arts event of some kind (I think).

Moving forward

Still moving through the 200-odd draft pages I have of the short novel, touching things up, eliminating a few vignettes, adding a few ... I want to finish the draft in its present rough form before I face the more important issues of pacing, tone, the things that will make or break reader interest ... reader defined as someone who reads like me ha ha ... and I think the book is still too quiet, too textured, so getting the strategy for a driving narrative, however subtle, will be the challenge. Already I recognize the two influences here, Connell for his vignette strategy in Mrs. Bridge and Dos Passos for his layered history in the U.S.A. trilogy. But the vision, of course, is my own.

But so far, so good. I'm not in a rush here -- and that in itself is something new, another consequence of old age.

So ... onward!

Jim Wallis: An Open Letter to the Occupiers from a Veteran Troublemaker

Jim Wallis: An Open Letter to the Occupiers from a Veteran Troublemaker:

"I would advise you to cultivate humility more than overconfidence or self indulgence. This really is not about you. It's about the marginalized masses, the signs of the times, and the profound yearning for lasting change. Take that larger narrative more seriously than you take yourselves.

Finally, do not let go of your hope. Popular movements are the only force that truly brings about change in society. The established order is never as secure and impervious to change as those who preside over it believe it to be.

Remember that re-action is never as powerful as re-construction. And whatever you may think of organized religion, please keep in mind that change requires spiritual as well as political resources, and that invariably any new economy will be accompanied by a new (or very old) spirituality."

October sky

Froze my ass off walking from the bus stop, feels like winter out there. The noon news, however, forecasts a few 70 degree days next week. That would be lovely.

Also on the noon news, several protesters said they'll stay in the park protesting "until the country is made right." Well, how about that!? Clones of Bartleby. Brings to mind a story idea, in the sixties some protesting college students vowed to stay "until the country is made right," and now it's 2011 and they are still there, in their 60s and 70s. But a new mayor is going to get rid of them -- he's a PROGRESSIVE mayor, you see, and understands that it's the past right wing governments that kept them in the park because then they were easy to keep tabs on and weren't out overthrowing the government. OR, alternatively, a group of young protesters today remove the old fogies who've been there half a century because now it's THEIR turn to take over the park and protest. Lots of dark political comedy possibilities in a premise like that.

Life would suck if the human condition wasn't so comic.

Portland police remove Occupy Portland protesters from downtown street |

Portland police remove Occupy Portland protesters from downtown street |

"For the most part it was a peaceful interaction between protesters and police. Two men who sat in the middle of Third and Main were physically removed by police. Officers made eight arrests in all, with protesters facing charges of second-degree disorderly conduct or interfering with police if they didn't follow orders.

Police moved in calmly and without engaging protesters, most of whom looked on quietly. "

Not a bad result at all. Fortunately the vast majority of protesters wanted the street open anyway. Hopefully we're done with this diversion.

When we were younger

I can't recall who took this picture. Anyway, I've always liked it.


Will progressives ever learn that we are not in the majority and therefore rhetoric about "the people" always stretches reality? Here, for example, is a sampling of comments about the street closure.

It has taken 3 days for his patience to were thin? Should have been more like 3 hours.

sammy, you indulge a bunch of spoiled brats and you expected it to not be like this when you finally start thinkng about doinf your job? what a tool.
 Martial law anyone?

They've made that area look trashy...I wish they would get out of there!

Tear Gas

Start charging the protesters money to use the park and surrounding areas. Like a public event. $25 per day, per person.

I will not go downtown until these nutjobs are gone.

Clearly the real issue gets lost because of this diversion. Progressives need to be inspirational, not confrontational over irrelevant issues. A minority can taint the overall message, twisting it to work against our best interests. This is happening here now. Idealism has to be rooted in reality.


“All idealism is falsehood in the face of necessity. --Friedrich Nietzsche 
“Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power.” --Bertrand Russell 
“Idealism is the despot of thought, just as politics is the despot of will. --Mikhail Bakunin 
“Idealism is the noble toga that political gentlemen drape over their will to power --Aldous Huxley 
“It is not materialism that is the chief curse of the world, as pastors teach, but idealism. Men get into trouble by taking their visions and hallucinations too seriously.” -- H. L. Mencken 



Texas officials censor report on local climate changes

Daily Kos: Open thread for night owls: Texas officials censor report on local climate changes:

"Perry is a notorious(ly dim) climate denier, and the decision from this Texas commission points rather squarely to what happens when plain scientific results clash with a predetermined ideology: The research has to be erased, so that there is no longer a conflict. You say the bay is rising by three millimeters a year? Well, we'll just see about that, Mr. Measuring Guy. Our leaders say it's not happening, and they have hell of a lot more clout than you.

It sounds like something from North Korea or the old Soviet Union."

It's ironic and a black comedy that what may save us from ourselves in our political mess is ... Nature. May you live in interesting times.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Interesting juxtaposition of these recent photos. May you live in interesting times.

City: Reopen Main St, 'Occupy' protesters: No | Portland

City: Reopen Main St, 'Occupy' protesters: No | Portland:

""We're going to take Main Street no matter what," a protester shouted into a bullhorn, as a pair of police officers on bicycles stood watch nearby. "We are prepared to be arrested."

But Occupy Portland activists distanced themselves from the faction in the street.

"All I want to say is that it is not the intention of Occupy Portland to continue to block the street," protester Owen Sanders said."

If 80% of the protesters want the street opened, then maybe THEY should remove their colleagues.

This reminds me of when 13th Ave., which went through campus, was closed in Eugene. It began as a fraternity stunt, then radicals took it over, at one point a faction from Springfield drove their pickups and brought their shotguns to open the street ... ah me. If only history wouldn't repeat itself so often. If you get old enough, you get BORED because you've already seen this movie. Been there, done that. I still wish for a different ending. But it will take brains and something the protesters don't seem to like, a leader with vision.

How's that Cummings poem end? There's a hell of a neat universe next door, let's go ...

Common ground?

Occupy Yourself

When you've been an observant adult for over half a century, as I have, you experience a lot of "been there, done that" moments. I get some of that observing the Occupy Portland scene here. The same youthful marriage of idealism and ignorance (particularly in identifying the "enemy"), reinventing the wheel, a poor sense of history, a lot of posturing, but also some sincere, dedicated people as well. But somehow the dumber elements seem to get the press. At any rate, clearly the system isn't working, and the real question is how do you change it. Can it be changed legally, within the system, or must it be changed illegally, as our Founding Fathers reluctantly came to realize? And if the latter, at whom do you point the guns? There will be guns. The assassinations of JFK, King, Bobby K, various Black Panthers, reveal the stakes when power gets threatened. And everything is made more complicated by the international parameters, including our indebtedness to China. May you live in interesting times.

None of this will be decided in the few years I have left. I'm an observer on the sidelines, no heirs to be affected by the outcome. But I'm interested and curious, of course. And so goddamn delighted not to be younger than I am!

I think the best thing that could happen is the birth of a genuine third party focusing on getting money out of politics. Get Bernie and Liz on board. There are some decent progressive politicians out there. The Democrats haven't been worth a shit in decades. Maybe campaign finance reform and a complete overhaul of the tax system are the places to begin. But that's just my opinion, which matters not at all. And the occupy folks and the tea party folks actually share some concerns.

The kids are going to do it their way. I hope the brightest among them take charge. I hope the dumber ones don't find any cameras to speak to.

Meanwhile my protagonist will struggle with these issues even as I do. I occupy myself.

Main Street access divides Occupy Portland protesters |

Main Street access divides Occupy Portland protesters |

The beginning of the end? We'll see. Alas, I am not optimistic about this in the long run, mainly after hearing interviews with protesters. Hopefully this was far from typical ("we're not opening the street because it'd be like having a parade, always moving.")

Daily Kos: Topeka, Kansas legalizes domestic violence to save money

Daily Kos: Topeka, Kansas legalizes domestic violence to save money:

The myth of liberal media

Daily Kos: Occupy Wall Street has an important lesson for protesters: keep at it:

"There was immediate national buy-in for tea party protests from traditional (newspaper and television) media outlets. Occupy Wall Street, by contrast, had to keep protesting for three weeks before it was able to achieve the level of coverage the tea party received just five days."

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Standing in line

I don't stand in a lot of lines these days but one I stand in several times a week is at Starbucks. I'm reminded of how much of a person's personality is revealed by how s/he stands in line. Today, for example: at Starbucks on my way to the university, stopping for my usual iced coffee, I found one person at the counter and a student standing some eight feet behind him. Are you in line? I asked. Yes. So here we have a person who gives the person in front of her eight feet. I give about two. Different notions of space, privacy, standing in line itself. Fascinating.

Here early, hope to do some rewriting on the novel. Busy class, going over their story ideas. I'm using the net in class more, a more labor intensive approach than before, but I think it will be helpful to students. That's the point ha ha.

Hope and fear

The Occupy Wall Street movement may or may not have important consequences in the real political world. I hope it does. However, locally, I am not impressed by the young "occupiers" I've seen on TV. They talk without any sense of history, as if no one has ever done what they are doing before. Naive, young. If this is going to work in the universe of Realpolitik, it has to be different. There has to be some awareness of the real power structure they are facing, of what is and is not worth fighting for.

Here in Portland, we may see this played out right on Main Street. It's a major city street that the protesters have blocked. The police want them to unblock it, staying in the parks on each side but letting traffic through. The protesters' arguments for not clearing the street, the ones getting play on TV, are idiotic: "we're not a parade, always moving." "We want to feel safe." (by alienating the police?) There is no practical reason whatever to block the street -- except to show off. They have to keep their eyes on the prize.

In practical terms, what needs to come out of this is a viable third party, a genuinely progressive party. But in reality, I confess to too much cynicism to believe this will happen. I fear the worst -- violent confrontations, splintering, the 60s dance. Backlash, a conservative sweep in 2012. And things become worse than ever.

Let me be wrong.