Wednesday, November 30, 2011

21 Underrated Films By Great Directors & Michael Bay

21 Underrated Films By Great Directors & Michael Bay:

The Deepsleep Narcotics Co.

The Seattle band one of my screenwriting students was in before moving to Portland recently. Getting together a new band here.

About the band.

Recent reading

Trauma Room One: The JFK Medical Coverup Exposed by Charles A. Crenshaw
According to Saundra Spencer, the autopsy photographs of President Kennedy that she developed at the Naval Photography Center in 1963 were different from those in the National Archives since 1966.Read more at location 106
I have no idea who shot President Kennedy or why. What I do know is that somehow and for some reason, there was a medical cover-up. The "official" autopsy photos do not depict the same wounds I saw in Trauma Room One at Parkland. The wounds I saw were wounds of entrance, and thus they could have not come from the rifle of Lee Harvey Oswald.
 The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements (Perennial Classics) by Eric Hoffer
Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil.
 JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why It Matters by James W. Douglass
JFK took Morse out into the White House Rose Garden to avoid being overheard or bugged by the CIA.[40] The president then startled Morse by saying: “Wayne, I want you to know you’re absolutely right in your criticism of my Vietnam policy. Keep this in mind. I’m in the midst of an intensive study which substantiates your position on Vietnam. When I’m finished, I want you to give me half a day and come over and analyze it point by point.” Taken aback, Morse asked the president if he understood his objections. Kennedy said, “If I don’t understand your objections by now, I never will.”[41] JFK made sure Morse understood what he was saying. He added: “Wayne, I’ve decided to get out. Definitely!”
Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics by Nick Herbert
Bell’s theorem proves that any model of reality, whether ordinary or contextual, must be connected by influences which do not respect the optical speed limit. If Bell’s theorem is valid, we live in a superluminal reality. Bell’s discovery of the necessary non-locality of deep reality is the most important achievement in reality research since the invention of quantum theory.
 The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold by Acharya S.
Shocking as it may seem to the general populace, the most enduring and profound controversy in this subject is whether or not a person named Jesus Christ ever really existed.
 Augustine (354-430), admitted, "I should not believe in the truth of the Gospels unless the authority of the Catholic Church forced me to do so."'
 The Soul of Man Under Socialism by Oscar Wilde
Private property has crushed true Individualism, and set up an Individualism that is false. It has debarred one part of the community from being individual by starving them. It has debarred the other part of the community from being individual by putting them on the wrong road, and encumbering them. Indeed, so completely has man's personality been absorbed by his possessions that the English law has always treated offences against a man's property with far more severity than offences against his person, and property is still the test of complete citizenship.

Cry, the Beloved Climate | Common Dreams

Cry, the Beloved Climate | Common Dreams:

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a group with thousands of scientists who volunteer their time “to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change.” The group won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Last week, the IPCC released a summary of its findings, clearly linking changing climate to extreme weather events such as drought, flash floods, hurricanes, heat waves and rising sea levels. The World Meteorological Organization released a summary of its latest findings, noting, to date, that 2011 is the 10th-warmest year on record, that the Arctic sea ice is at its all-time low volume this year, and that 13 of the warmest years on record have occurred in the past 15 years."

How a Collapsing Scientific Hypothesis Ended in an Arrest | Wired Science |

How a Collapsing Scientific Hypothesis Ended in an Arrest | Wired Science |

"A long chain of events led not only to the collapse of the XMRV hypothesis, but it landed Mikovits in jail — and brought death threats upon some of the researchers who debunked her ideas."

AP source: Leach agrees to be new WSU coach - Yahoo! News

AP source: Leach agrees to be new WSU coach - Yahoo! News:

"SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Mike Leach has reached an agreement to be the new football coach at Washington State, an official within the athletic department told The Associated Press on Wednesday."

UCLA screwed up big time! They could have out-bid the Cougs. Well, it's nice to have him in the northwest, and Washington State is somebody I can root for. This is going to be a damn good unconventional team in a couple years, trust me. I can't believe UCLA let him go elsewhere.

Fantasy literary culture

Writer as priest
What if certain writers were like priests? Groups of readers -- dozens, hundreds, thousands -- formed a literary club and hired a writer to serve their needs. The writer was provided with a room and modest income, enough to live comfortably if not extravagantly. His or her job was to write work for the congregation of readers. This work would be published by the congregation's print on demand imprint and could be published nowhere else. Once a week the writer would speak to the congregation, perhaps reading work, or talking about a literary figure, or entertaining questions about literature and life. The writer also would be expected to give advice to budding writers in the congregation.

Where do I sign up?

Part of the problem

A story in the LA Times the other day about a mother who brought her two children to Occupy LA so they could experience history in the making. They planned to spend a night there. Unfortunately it was much different from what they imagined. Burning sage gave the area a pungent atmosphere they found uncomfortable to breathe and in a short time the constant drumming got on their nerves. The experience of history in the making lasted only about an hour and they went home.

There's an old-fashioned word that you don't hear much any more: rudeness. Noise pollution, air pollution, it all boils down to being rude and arrogantly assuming that your neighbors will like it because you like it. A pandemic for some time now.

The Farewell Wake

Charles is to be applauded for building a remarkable, maze for the viewer to enjoyably amble through, with some hard truths buried along the way. It’s kind of like Borges and Nabokov got together with Linklater to make a Rob Reiner mockumentary.
--Steve Patterson
 The Farewell Wake plays sometimes as a satiric romp about avant-garde art, and sometimes like a private-eye detective story, and sometimes like a philosophical reverie on the process of aging and death. It’s really a movie for grownups, and even its pacing is different from the Hollywood norm: its rhythm is more like a novel’s, which isn’t all that surprising, because Deemer’s a novelist, too. 
--Bob Hicks
Options for watching the film.

Rick Zimmer as C. D. Yarowski, an avant-garde artist
I watched the 2011 director's cut yesterday and enjoyed it. Naturally I saw more to cut ha ha but that's the way it goes. Dramatic projects aren't finished so much as abandoned. When Christmas at the Juniper Tavern was revised here some time ago, I attended rehearsals and cut a couple minutes off the ending. Rewriting never, never ends.

Seattle Theater: Smartphone Ban Dropped By 2014

Seattle Theater: Smartphone Ban Dropped By 2014:

"With the newly constructed 2,000 seat theater set to open in 2014, the move is intended to attract younger audiences by cultivating a digital-friendly environment where people can update Facebook and send text messages and tweets throughout the performance.

"This is the wave of the future for the people we worry about attracting," John Haynes, the theater's executive director, said in an interview with The New York Times."

Progress marches on. How delightful I'll miss most of it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Poop-Throwing Chimps Provide Hints of Human Origins | Wired Science |

Poop-Throwing Chimps Provide Hints of Human Origins | Wired Science |

Did Jonathan Swift write this headline? I think this is a very profound, if not surprising, discovery!

Quotation of the day

"If you rock the boat, you won't see much of a future at the University of Oregon."  --Alexander Murphy, UO geography professor

University of Oregon rally pushes for independent board after firing of president Richard Lariviere |

University of Oregon rally pushes for independent board after firing of president Richard Lariviere |

""We are in mourning," said Priscilla Southwell, chair of the political science department. "This is a betrayal of the UO. I will never forgive the board. I will never forgive the chancellor. We should never let this happen again."

Patrick Phillips, professor of biology, summed up the university community's unease.

"We are angry because this was a great leader for us," he said, "and we are nervous about the future." "

Fahrenheit 451 ebook

News from The Associated Press: "'Fahrenheit 451' finally out as an e-book"

Portland State students find 56 percent of bicyclists run red lights in crosswalk 'behavior' study |

Portland State students find 56 percent of bicyclists run red lights in crosswalk 'behavior' study |

"Their findings (PDF): 56 percent of bicycle riders ignored stop signals, compared with 7 percent of motorists."

But then bicyclists occupy a higher moral plane than motorists. Or so some will tell you. Is my bias showing? Actually I dig bicyclists who wear normal clothes. It's the designer costumes that get me.

3rd party

An email from an actor friend and reader of this blog insists that my blabbering about a third party is wishful thinking. Well, he's absolutely right. It won't happen. But blabbering about it still provides some kind of escapist relief from the insanity around us.


I'm losing energy to do animated art songs, the project I expected to turn to after the short novel is done. Too much work and my energy decreases daily. More and more, I get satisfaction in being a consumer, not a creator.  After all, I've been so obsessive about my creative projects for so long, I've had little time to consume at all. I am terribly "behind" in reading, seeing films, hearing music, and so on. Maybe it's soon time to do that front burner and forget about adding to my already bulging archive. Scribble, scribble, scribble. Not.

I still have energy for teaching. In fact, teaching seems to be more important to me than ever, which is to say, I get more satisfaction from it and have a sense of actually doing something constructive. I can make beginning screenwriters better -- well, if they listen to me I can, ha ha. I find it much easier to do this than to make playwriting or fiction students better. Screenwriting has more "rules." It's like teaching someone how to write a sonnet. You can't show them how to write a good sonnet but you can show them the rules and correct their mistakes. It's a step in the right direction. Same with screenwriting. You can show someone the rules for a spec screenplay. And it's amazing how few teachers seem to be doing this.

University of Oregon: Pursuing excellence in a state committed to mediocrity |

University of Oregon: Pursuing excellence in a state committed to mediocrity |

An uphill battle, obviously. I remember in the 70s when I was a grad student and Utah State (!) stole away Barre Toelken, the popular folklore scholar, giving him all the academic freedom and support he wasn't getting in Eugene, and more money to boot.. It's easy to steal the best Oregon professors because U of O is ranked 46th among public universities, a shameful statistic.

Institut du Court-Métrage Rhône-Alpes - Afficher le sujet - La dramaturgie - Yves Lavandier

Institut du Court-Métrage Rhône-Alpes - Afficher le sujet - La dramaturgie - Yves Lavandier:

""Je préfère La dramaturgie d'Yves Lavandier à Story de Robert McKee, probablement le seul autre livre de même envergure." - Charles Deemer "

Well, looky here, an old endorsement of mine for a French classic on dramaturgy (the English translation long out of print) has been translated for publicity. You find the most amazing things about yourself online.

Dear UCLA: Hire Mike Leach!

Film at five.

Pentatonix scores 'The Sing-Off' title |

Pentatonix scores 'The Sing-Off' title |

"The Texas-based a cappella quintet Pentatonix, known for its intricate arrangements and futuristic sound, took home the golden microphone on last night's finale of the extended third season of "The Sing-Off.""

"If I'm gonna sing," says the unemployed log truck driver Rex in my play Christmas at the Juniper Tavern, "I'll sing aker-peller." I've always like a capella music and so watched the recent Sing Off show. From the start, I liked two groups: an old men's doowop group and Pentatonix, 5 singers who made extraordinary arrangements.

Watching each week, I really only liked about 10% of the music, being no pop music fan, but always like Pentatonix's arrangements. I kept waiting for them to be eliminated since I have long proof that my tastes and the tastes of "America" are far apart.

Imagine my total shock, then, when Pentatonix won the national popular vote to become champions. I thought the rapapella group Urban Method would win, hands down. Shows you how little I know.

Many stories in LA Times this morning about the firing of UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel. Alas, the real problem may be the athletic director, who now has hired and fired 3 coaches in 10 years. Where's the evidence he'll ever get it right?

Mike Leach
He is wooing the Boise State coach. I hope he stays in Boise State. I hope UCLA comes around to remembering Mike Leach. Leach is a little crazy, LA is a little crazy, it would be a great fit. But some see Leach going to Kansas or Washington State. He is available, is the point. And he's going to win his lawsuit against Texas Tech and ESPN, too. He was screwed royally.

Last week of classes. Easy week, showing student and other videos, collecting projects. Real work starts on Friday, with projects to give a final grade.

I'm positioned well with the short novel to finish a draft over the break. I think I can do it.

In spring, I'm going to teach Brokeback Mountain because there's a book that includes both the screenplay and the short story it's based on. Also some essays by the creators about the adaptation process.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Image Tool Catches Fashion Industry Photo Alterations | Wired Science |

Image Tool Catches Fashion Industry Photo Alterations | Wired Science |

""You look at what photographs looked like in magazines 10 years ago, and there's a huge difference. And that is escalating," said Farid."

UCLA Relieves Rick Neuheisel of His Duties as Head Football Coach - UCLA Official Athletic Site

UCLA Relieves Rick Neuheisel of His Duties as Head Football Coach - UCLA Official Athletic Site:

About time. Now to fire the Director of Athletics!

The Descendants

Read the script last night, saw the film today, Alexander Payne's new film reinforces his stature as my favorite contemporary director. First rate stuff.

Read the screenplay.

Round Bend Press: Lally Reviews B. Deemer

Round Bend Press: Lally Reviews B. Deemer:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Portland State tops Maryland-Eastern Shore 79-69 - College Basketball -

Portland State tops Maryland-Eastern Shore 79-69 - College Basketball -

"LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP)—Charles Odum scored 25 points to lead Portland State to a 79-69 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore in the Jim Thorpe Classic on Sunday."

Aha, they didn't go to Maryland.

B. Joe Medley

This is the time of year when I remember B. Joe Medley's wonderful performance in my play Christmas at the Juniper Tavern, including his telling of the Christmas story as Santa.

For some reason, I remember during rehearsal he was reading and cracking up over William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade. Funny what one remembers.



"Jim Blashfield's work covers a wide range--from genre challenging experimental films and videos, through live-action and animated narratives and multiple-screen video and sound installations."

A Portland video artist long on the cutting edge.

Same issue, different covers

Interesting difference in covers for Time magazine's Dec 5th issue. Do they think we Americans can't handle the real lead story of the week? Or are they afraid to give Occupy movement some ideas?

College football

...just ain't what it used to be. Even yesterday, both Stanford and UCLA came out in new "designer" uniforms, copying the horrible precedent set by Nike U. I have enjoyed this season less than any previous season and I expect this trend will continue until I stop watching games, period. Maybe I'll get into high school football. Maybe I'll stick to Big Sky football.

The only thing that keeps me interested in college basketball is March Madness, where at least for a week or two I can root for teams with high Grade Point Averages. You know, student-athletes. (I still remember when Princeton beat UCLA! I can't help it, alma mater or not, I liked it.)

Eastern Shore

I just noticed Portland State has an away game, playing Maryland - Eastern Shore. They travel there!? or is the game at a neutral site. A 3000 mile trip for a pre-season game seems a bit much. Maryland-ES is down the highway from Salisbury. They dedicated a big jazz center and auditorium when I lived there in the mid-70s. The present Salisbury University was called Salisbury State College then. Later all the state colleges in the land got a hair up their butt to be called universities.

Living on the Eastern Shore inspired my West Meets East Talkin' Misery Blues.

Have a late script to read today but I've been putting it off, enjoying my leisure, brooding about the novel.

I'll be ready to get some focused heavy duty work on the manuscript during my long break. About a month off.

A little bit of Eden

San Gabriel Mts, east Pasadena
In 1948 my dad must have thought he had discovered Eden. He'd bought a house in Pasadena in Southern California, a present to himself after getting out of the Navy at San Diego. We -- mom, Bill and I -- were still in Navy housing in Dallas, where dad had been recruiting officer, his last duty. I was 9, Bill 3. Now mom was going to drive us to California, a very big deal in those days because it meant crossing the Mojave desert. We'd do that leg of the trip after midnight, in the coolest part of the day. All the same, canvas bags of water were mounted outside on the hood, evaporation to cool the engine.

Mom made it. Our 2-bedroom house at 2862 Estado Street in east Pasadena faced north to an inspiring view of the brown San  Gabriel mountains, and even today when I see them during a Rose Bowl telecast, I feel a little homesick. We had sycamore trees in front of the house and fruit trees in a large back yard, where dad and granddad would build a patio shaped like a navigator's compass, a tribute to dad's role in the Navy, and I'd use new skills in trigonometry to figure out the exact location of the patio's center in latitude and longitude for a plaque to be set there.

California dreamin'
In the late 40s and early 50s, Pasadena was indeed a little bit of Eden. The Pasadena Freeway recently had opened -- I'd learn to drive on it later -- but the congestion to come was beginning invisibly. Many ex-GI's from all around the country shared my dad's journey, leaving their home towns for the promise of California. Great weather, great schools, a great house and neighborhood (solidly middle class, mostly blue collar). A little bit of Eden.

"Home sweet home" in Pasadena
Our house on Estado St. no longer exists but one of the sycamore trees in the front yard is still there. Where the house sat is now the foundation for huge pillars that hold up a freeway above. Our neighborhood was chosen for the new Foothills Freeway, and we were located at the very edge of the area to be demolished. Indeed, the houses across the street are still there! Visiting my childhood neighborhood is a very surrealistic experience.

I still get goosebumps more quickly from the brown San Gabriels than from snow-capped Mt. Hood. I still think of Pasadena as my home. But you can't go home again. So here I am.

What UCLA alumni are asking

Who among us would keep our job if we performed like Rick Neuheisel and Dan Guerrero?
Not since 1930 did USC cream UCLA so badly. 50-0. And Nike U is next. Nike U. who surely wants to make up for their loss to USC by creaming UCLA even more than the Trojans did. Shall we expect 80-0?

Man, I've never seen such angry fans as those writing in the UCLA football newsletter, which I read (masochistic behavior).

But it was a lot of fun to read the stories in the LA Times about the game. Being home town, a lot more coverage than other papers.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Era Of Corporate Profit - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

The Era Of Corporate Profit - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast:

Nathalie Rothschild: On 'Buy Nothing Day,' It's the Occupiers vs. the Masses

Nathalie Rothschild: On 'Buy Nothing Day,' It's the Occupiers vs. the Masses:

The backlash begins.

Leftovers? What leftovers?

Downside to going to a Thanksgiving buffet -- no leftovers! A turkey, cranberry sandwich would taste great about now.

Oregon creamed Oregon State. Next week they get to cream UCLA. If they do it big time, maybe the UCLA coach will get fired on the spot, which would be a step in the right direction for the program.

Finished my scripts but just got a late one via email. Will look at it tomorrow. Haven't done any work on the book today.

H went to some show or other, not sure when she gets back. Maybe I'll make a snack.

The First Stoplight in Wallowa County

The First Stoplight in Wallowa County:

Joseph, Oregon
My 1988 short story. In the early 80s, one of my writing hideouts was Joseph, before it was "discovered" and became artsy-fartsy. I'd rent a cabin on Wallowa Lake for a month for peanuts from a family who gave me a deal to "support the arts.". In fact, this is where I wrote my first hyperdrama, Chateau de Mort, or I should say started to write it. My experiences in Joseph, and hanging out at Swede's Tavern, contributed to this short story.

Buckle down

One script to go, time to get it done ... and free up the weekend. Rivalry weekend, Oregon - Oregon State and UCLA - USC. Neither on paper should be competitive but these rivalry games can fool the odds.

Plan to do some raking today once it warms up.

Friday, November 25, 2011


trying to remember how to blog from kindle ... LATER. Got it!

The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy | Common Dreams

The Shocking Truth About the Crackdown on Occupy | Common Dreams:

"So, when you connect the dots, properly understood, what happened this week is the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence. It is a battle in which members of Congress, with the collusion of the American president, sent violent, organized suppression against the people they are supposed to represent. Occupy has touched the third rail: personal congressional profits streams. Even though they are, as yet, unaware of what the implications of their movement are, those threatened by the stirrings of their dreams of reform are not."

This is why I had hoped to see a radical change in the aesthetics of protest, a creative recall movement, in the style of "clean for Gene" in the sixties, something to avoid the echoes of clashes we've seen before, blowing minds rather than inviting confrontation. But it looks like it's going to be the same old story. More violence. More division. From 99-1% to 50-50%.

Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood | Culture | The Guardian

Frank Miller and the rise of cryptofascist Hollywood | Culture | The Guardian:

"Fans were shocked when Batman writer Frank Miller furiously attacked the Occupy movement. They shouldn't have been, says Rick Moody – he was just voicing Hollywood's unspoken values"

Harvard beats Florida State!

News from The Associated Press: "Harvard upsets No. 22 Florida State 46-41"

That's the score. The average IQ score is ...

Black Friday 2011: Waffle Maker Riot Caught On Tape

Black Friday 2011: Waffle Maker Riot Caught On Tape:

"And now, crazed shoppers reportedly got in a fight over $2 waffle makers at a Wal-Mart near Little Rock, Arkansas WBTV reports."

In another store, a consumer sprayed her rivals with pepper spray!

The many faces of the 99% ha ha.


I missed the documentary Enron: the smartest guys in the room when it first came out. Watching it now, I feel sad that I am not surprised or shocked by any of the greedy corporate managers depicted. Corporate culture makes such behavior inevitable in the long run. So does football culture, i.e. the recent troubles at Penn State. All these "good old boy" subcultures have set themselves up for defending the indefensible. These aren't easy attitudes to overturn, it seems to me.

Only one script left to go, one I keep shoving to the bottom because I don't look forward to reading it. This happens now and again. But I'll get it read today if for no other reason than to free up the weekend. I'm eager to get back to writing vignettes for my novella. Short novel. Whatever the hell it is.

I know its two major influences: Dos Passos for its layering strategy and Connell for its delivery by vignettes. Two of my favorite works, the USA trilogy and Mrs. Bridge, definitely shaped my approach.

I hope I can make the new work so close to how I conceive it that I have no reason to write anything else. I'm ready to retire and spend my time watching movies, reading, and listening to audio books. My archive is too goddamn large as it is ha ha. Scribble, scribble, scribble. Hopefully to some worthy end.

Looking for a book?

The best resource I've found is Book Fiinder, which searches the Internet and lists all places the book is available by price. A great comparative shopping tool. I've never been unable to find a book, even long out of print ones.

Homo consumerus

Black Friday began last night, according to the news, with thousands of shoppers at our area malls. I'm reminded of the end of my poem American History In My Lifetime:
And the original
criminals who assassinated the
sonofabitch President in the
first place retained power
and now could relax because
they learned a profound lesson:
in the end shopping wins out
and if you let people shop,
hell, they'll put up with
Back to reading student scripts today. Hope to finish up, then spend the weekend writing vignettes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A buffet done right

The McMenamen brothers know how to throw a homey buffet. Our holiday experience at Hotel Oregon in McMinnville was made special not so much by the food, which was good top to bottom, but by the relaxed atmosphere. No sense of being herded, rushed, crammed into an overly crowded dining area here -- instead a festive decor, very slow and relaxed pace, lots of room for everyone, probably the best buffet I've been to for good vibes and enjoyment. We'd go again.

Round Bend Press: KC Bacon

Round Bend Press: KC Bacon:

Round Bend Press: Joan Gratz and the Jan-Mar

Round Bend Press: Joan Gratz and the Jan-Mar:



"A Dramatic Collage For Four Actors"

You find readers v. readers find you

There's a great emphasis today among the gurus who give writers advice on going out there to find readers. Market yourself. Have a website, a Facebook page, twitter often (twit twit). Market yourself.

This advice was not around when I started writing, or if it was, no writer I knew paid attention to it. There was a different strategy at work. Write well -- and readers will find you.

What a difference!

I occasionally have gone out to "find readers" but I never enjoyed it much. And I certainly don't get the rush I get when I learn that readers have found me.

Write well and the readers, the appropriate readers, will find you. It almost sounds un-American today.

A breakthrough

In the foggy half-dream state of waking this morning, I found myself writing what is perhaps the most difficult vignette in the book. I knew it was coming, had no idea what angle to take. But this was working, and I still remember the approach, so I think I may have solved, or at least found the direction where I can find a solution, to something that's been troubling me for weeks.

A quiet house

H still in bed ... Sketch had breakfast and went back to bed, at the end of the divan ... I read the LA Times, something to look forward to each morning, and am about to make a bowl of Grape Nuts, a light breakfast before our drive to McMinnville and a holiday buffet. It's overcast but dry outside so far.

Earlier this morning a lawn crew made major noise pollution while blowing leaves around on a 400 sq ft lawn belonging to a neighbor. Didn't last long because the lawn is so small!

Interesting article in LA Times about all the things more popular than Congress today: Nixon during Watergate, BP during oil spill, the U.S. becoming communist. Hilarious, in its way. And people still vote for the two parties, making it a self-perpetuating nightmare. Been one since 1968, the year the Democratic party died.

Half my scripts read, will do the rest tomorrow. Maybe tonight, depending on my energy.

From the early 60s to the early 70s, 10 of us, 5 couples, always got together at Thanksgiving. These were my most festive thanksgivings over the years. This started in LA but continued when I moved to Oregon and someone else moved to San Jose. I stopped going when I moved east after grad school.

2 of the couples still do it, with others added over the years. We could go any time if we flew down but that requires more energy than I have. I hate flying in my old age. I hate the hassle at the airport and the discomfort in the crowded small seats. I'd rather stay home and read or watch a game.

But today I will enjoy the drive to McMinnville and the Thanksgiving buffet at Hotel Oregon. I'm looking forward to it. I have very much to be thankful for, not the least of which is my very life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Daily Kos: Moving from Occupying Wall Street to Occupying Strategy

Daily Kos: Moving from Occupying Wall Street to Occupying Strategy:

"If we’re serious about winning, we must build a movement that can garner broad popular support – one that’s nimble, strategic, and smart. Revolutions aren’t won in a day, and the successful ones employ plans of action that build upon smaller but significant victories.

We’re not there yet in this new burgeoning movement called Occupy Wall Street. And if we don’t focus our direction and energy, we may never get there at all.

As we endlessly engage in shouting matches at the General Assembly and postpone – or even reject – strategic decision-making, we fail to focus our energy where it’s needed most."

Hear, hear!

Education pays

Police Tactics In Occupy Protests Vary From Crackdowns To 'Peaceful Coexistence'

Police Tactics In Occupy Protests Vary From Crackdowns To 'Peaceful Coexistence':

Why Do Police Officers Use Pepper Spray? | Wired Science |

Why Do Police Officers Use Pepper Spray? | Wired Science |

Happy Thanksgiving

From the new project ...
Thanksgiving, 1962
AS HELEN AND CJ applauded, Mrs. Stevenson set the turkey in front of her husband. The bird was golden-brown and aromatic, large enough to feed three times their numbers.
CJ had never seen anyone use an electric knife before. Instead of picking it up, Mr. Stevenson looked at CJ and asked, “Would you do the honors, Carlton?”
“Excuse me?”
“Say grace?” CJ had never said grace in his life. He shot a glance at Helen across the table, who nodded.
“Of course,” said CJ. Mrs. Stevenson smiled at him. CJ closed his eyes, getting ready, then opened them. “Thank you,” he began. He stopped and started over. “Dear Lord. Thank you for the bounty of food we enjoy today and for the opportunity to share it with family and loved ones. Let's not forget the noble savages whose kindness got us through our first winter, even though we later rewarded them with a policy of genocide that--”
Mr. Stevenson bolted to his feet with such effort that his chair toppled to the floor. “That's enough!” he said. He was so red in the face that CJ wondered if he were having a stroke. He turned and hurried out of the dining room. Helen was on her feet, also red but rising more carefully, and chased after her father.
CJ closed his eyes again. What had possessed him? How could he be so stupid? When he looked up, Mrs. Stevenson was smiling at him.
“Carlton, would you carve the turkey, please? You do know how to use an electric knife, don't you?”
And later ...
Return Flight, 1962

ON THE FLIGHT home to Eugene via Portland, they were mysteriously bumped up into seats in first class. It was months before they learned that Helen's father was responsible, a gesture of forgiveness or apology, CJ was never sure which.
They were glad to be out of there and celebrated by drinking too much free champagne. To CJ's amazement, Helen quickly forgave him.
“You have an inability to resist speaking the truth,” she said. “It's one of the things I love about you. It's also going to get you in a ton of trouble.”
CJ always remembered two lessons from the Thanksgiving trip to L.A. to meet her parents: Helen was the love of his life, clearly the best thing that ever happened to him; and to get along in this world, you best shut your mouth and keep the truth to yourself.

Military families

A news story on public radio this morning said that military families more and more have less in common with families in the public sector. This is a dangerous trend. We need a draft, which is the most direct way to get "civilians" involved in military affairs. Presently it's easy for civilians to dismiss the wars in the Middle East because they aren't viscerally affected by them. But let it be their sons and daughters coming home in body bags or with missing limbs or with PTSD and suddenly the war has very personal consequences and raises the question, Is it worth it? A draft keeps civilians in control of the military. If we had a draft, protest against the wars would have hit the streets in huge numbers long ago.

A separate military class is a step closer to military autonomy. Yes, military overthrow of the government could happen here under the right circumstances. By the gods, there's already been a coup via assassination! Anything is possible. The government has to be reclaimed to meet popular needs, but it ain't gonna happen in the present two-party system.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

John Stoehr: The Media Bias No One Talks About

John Stoehr: The Media Bias No One Talks About:

"If this were a war zone, the OWS protesters would be called innocents, victims of war, or some such thing. Police violence would be described as a crackdown, a suppression. As it is, they are "clashing" with police as if they have anywhere near the weaponry police have. As if they have weapons at all. Most are just engaging in acts of civil disobedience. Perhaps, with enough people being traumatized by police, the media will start talking about the police in terms actually experienced by those who "clash" with them."

'via Blog this'

Daily Kos: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber stops executions

Daily Kos: Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber stops executions:

We have a governor with balls.

Loyal Dog In China Refuses To Leave Owner's Grave, Goes Week Without Food

Loyal Dog In China Refuses To Leave Owner's Grave, Goes Week Without Food:

Occupy Has the Power to Effect Change | Common Dreams

Occupy Has the Power to Effect Change | Common Dreams:

"If the movement can convert its polemical slogan into a political standpoint, no authority will be able to resist co-ordinated action"

But apparently this is a big if.

Elliott Negin: Congress Ignores Scientific Reality, Kills National Climate Service Proposal

Elliott Negin: Congress Ignores Scientific Reality, Kills National Climate Service Proposal:

"Given what scientists now know about the link between climate change and heat waves, floods, droughts and heavy downpours, the time for a national climate service is now."

What we lost

From JFK and the Unspeakable:
Kennedy says he wants “to splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”
 Meeting, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and CIA director Allen Dulles present a plan for a preemptive nuclear attack on the Soviet Union “in late 1963, preceded by a period of heightened tensions.” President Kennedy walks out of the meeting, saying to Secretary of State Dean Rusk, “And we call ourselves the human race.”
 November 21, 1963: Before leaving on his trip to Texas, President Kennedy, after being given a list of the most recent casualties in Vietnam, says to Assistant Press Secretary Malcolm Kilduff: “After I come back from Texas, that’s going to change. Vietnam is not worth another American life.”


Great progress on the story in the last two days. Today I articulated a new plot point that must be the result of my recent weeks of brooding -- it's organic, essential, I wonder how I could have told the story without it. It was there all the time, waiting for what T. S. Eliot called its "object correlative" and now it exists concretely with important dramatic consequences. The clearer this all becomes, the more I like it. But its emotional complexity remains, and I hope I have the craft to pull it off. We'll see.

Monsoon, Oregon style

Quite a wet walk from bus stop to campus, helped considerably by summer shoes that quickly got soaked and almost filled with water. Ah, me. But I am safe and dry in my office, iced coffee at hand, two hours to kill, feeling good. A monsoon is more fun than the gray mist we usually get.

Robert Reich: The First Amendment Upside Down: Why We Must Occupy Democracy

Robert Reich: The First Amendment Upside Down: Why We Must Occupy Democracy:

"If there's a single core message to the Occupier movement it's that the increasing concentration of income and wealth at the top endangers our democracy. With money comes political power.

Yet when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with all this, they're told the First Amendment doesn't apply. Instead, they're treated as public nuisances -- clubbed, pepper-sprayed, thrown out of public parks and evicted from public spaces.

Across America, public officials are saying Occupiers have to go. Even in universities -- where free speech is supposed to be sacrosanct -- peaceful assembly is being met with clubs and pepper spray.

The First Amendment is being stood on its head. Money speaks, and an unlimited amount of it can now be spent bribing and cajoling politicians. Yet peaceful assembly is viewed as a public nuisance and removed by force."



My 1987 essay, first published in an Oregon education magazine, later collected in Northwest Variety, essays by 14 Northwest authors. I was honored to be invited to be one of them. (Yes, I used to receive invitations! ha ha).



Mark Marchus on Orson Welles.

Penguin suspends library e-books, citing security - Yahoo! News

Penguin suspends library e-books, citing security - Yahoo! News:

Could be significant if it starts a retreat by other publishers.

George Will: Money in College Sports Leads to 'Moral Derangement' |

George Will: Money in College Sports Leads to 'Moral Derangement' |

I don't often agree with George Will but we're on the same page here. I've said here often that I think all athletic scholarships should be ended, that professional football and basketball should finance and run their own minor leagues (leasing stadiums from colleges, which would be a better way for the latter to get income from sports), that there should be a greater emphasis on inter-mural sports. Never happen but I'm for it.

Stormy Tuesday

Apparently we have quite a storm coming, high winds, lots of rain. Feels appropriate on such an anniversary. All I have to do is get to school to show a documentary.



48 years ago, a few days after the assassination, I sat down and wrote this in about 15 minutes, to the tune of a song I often was singing in those days, Woody Guthrie's "Dust Storm Disaster." I was a Cold War vet in my mid-20s, politically naive, another dumb American citizen, and at the time I had no clue of the horror and historic significance of what was happening in my country, a de facto coup d'etat. I would learn a lot in the near and distant futures, all of it frightening and disheartening. I learned from Voltaire that the world was one thing, my garden another. I learned to enjoy myself despite politics.

Here's a vignette from my new novel in progress ...

The Old Masters, 1963

COMING DOWN THE HALLWAY, CJ ran into Henry, a graduate student in English, whom CJ knew from folk music circles. Henry's face was wet and swollen, as if he'd been weeping.
“About suffering they were never wrong, the Old Masters,” said Henry, his voice shaking.
“Is something wrong?”
Henry said, “How well they understood its human position. How it takes place while someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.”
“Henry, what is it?”
Suddenly Henry embraced him. He said something that was muffled against CJ's shoulder. CJ pulled back.
“They shot JFK,” said Henry.
The President died before CJ was able to get home to Helen, where they cried together. As painful as it was, they couldn't stop watching television. Helen called her parents. CJ called his mother. They stayed up too late and went to bed too tired to make love.
Apparently a lone nut had killed the President, who in a few days would be killed himself on live television. CJ watched the rerun in horror. First all the horrific beatings of Negroes in the south, and now this – what was the world coming to? Over a decade would pass before CJ began formulating an answer to the question, one that was far more terrifying than anything that had occurred to him at the time.

Monday, November 21, 2011

JFK and the Unspeakable

Embracing insights by Thomas Merton, Douglass has written the most thought-provoking and maybe even important book on the assassination (and the 3 other major ones of the era) yet, putting events in a broader historical and spiritual context.

Incredible Time-Lapse Video Gives an Astronaut’s View of Earth | Wired Science |

Incredible Time-Lapse Video Gives an Astronaut’s View of Earth | Wired Science |

Frank Rich: How Obama’s Presidency Mirrors JFK’s -- New York Magazine

Frank Rich: How Obama’s Presidency Mirrors JFK’s -- New York Magazine:

"What Killed JFK
The hate that ended his presidency is eerily familiar."

Occupy Wall Street and the Importance of Creative Protest | Common Dreams

Occupy Wall Street and the Importance of Creative Protest | Common Dreams:

"Perhaps the single biggest factor that helped lead to the Occupy movement’s success in capturing the media and public’s attention has been its creativity. Novel protest strategies have served as OWS’s foundation since its first days. The very idea of occupying, and sleeping in, a park twenty-four hours a day was new and exciting."

Interesting perspective since I think the failure of the movement is a LACK of creativity. To me, a creative change would be to make it more like a recall movement than a protest movement. Gather support, throw the old government out, found a new Occupy party. Especially since evictions from parks, I see no creativity at all.

Search for Alien Life Should Include Exotic Possibilities | Wired Science |

Search for Alien Life Should Include Exotic Possibilities | Wired Science |

Egypt Clashes: Violence Breaks Out Between Police, Protesters For 3rd Day In Tahrir Square

Egypt Clashes: Violence Breaks Out Between Police, Protesters For 3rd Day In Tahrir Square:

There's an important message here, and it's not the idealistic euphoric dream of democracy of the Arab spring. It's that power is very seldom given up by those who hold it. Some of us who saw this coming were called cynical at the time. I defended myself by saying I was a realist. I couldn't see the military giving up power once they held it -- not without considerable violence. Which has begun.

The same thing holds here. Corporations are not going to give up power voluntarily. Fortunately we have peaceful methods in place to change the power structure BUT IT REQUIRES VOTES. The Democrats and Republicans will not provide those votes. We need new political power in government, and this is accomplished with a new political party, not by griping, whining, screaming about injustice. There's a method to change power without violence in this country but it is not being taken advantage of yet. A national recall election, even as a symbolic first step, would garner the forces and start the ball rolling. This can be done without violence, even without protesting. Change the style. Change the aesthetics. This is what would blow everyone's mind and win even more to the cause. The time is right for a Humane Revolution. Usually change is driven by minorities. This time majority opinion can lead the way. This is a very rare historic moment, and so far it is being wasted and becoming self-defeating.

It's been a while

A great writing session this morning. Feel like I've put in a day's work before 10 a.m., just like in the old days of my obsessive writing career. I also see how much work the flesh of my story still needs. That's fine. I can do it, if the gods grant me the time.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Let's have a playoff

News from The Associated Press: "Playoff would increase drama BCS curtails"


Egyptian Army Enters Tahrir Square, Disperses Protesters

Egyptian Army Enters Tahrir Square, Disperses Protesters:

Those of us called cynical at the time couldn't imagine the military actually giving up power once it had it. Q.E.D.

Can Science Solve–Really Solve–the Problem of Beauty?

Can Science Solve–Really Solve–the Problem of Beauty? | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network:

The sky

Failure Is Good -

Paul Krugman: Failure Is Good -

"But don’t we eventually have to match spending and revenue? Yes, we do. But the decision about how to do that isn’t about accounting. It’s about fundamental values — and it’s a decision that should be made by voters, not by some committee that allegedly transcends the partisan divide.

Eventually, one side or the other of that divide will get the kind of popular mandate it needs to resolve our long-run budget issues. Until then, attempts to strike a Grand Bargain are fundamentally destructive. If the supercommittee fails, as expected, it will be time to celebrate."

Never looked at it this way. That's why I don't have a Nobel Prize ha ha.

Puttering progress

It's been a delightfully slow puttering kind of day but I've actually gotten significant work done on  the book. Made an important decision and collected notes to support it. Probably will input later today or tomorrow.

As the Thanksgiving season approaches, I am full of awareness of my blessings. The gods have been kind to me.

Michelle Obama Booed At NASCAR Race

Michelle Obama Booed At NASCAR Race:

By folks in the 99% (Occupy Portland take note).

Cavaliers stun No. 3 Lady Vols, 69-64 in OT - College Women's Basketball -

Cavaliers stun No. 3 Lady Vols, 69-64 in OT - College Women's Basketball -

I prefer women's college basketball to men's because there is far less dunking. I think the men's game should raise the basket significantly, like three feet. Without dunking, it's more of a team sport.


When I quit drinking in 1993, a doctor convincing me it was this or hit the blue yonder, I never assumed I was quitting for life. I expected to drink, for example, if I learned I had a terminal illness. I assumed I'd go out partying.

But now I'm not so sure. What's interesting to me, after all this time, is what little desire I have for booze. What I miss about my drinking days are not the beverages but the laughter and camaraderie of my drinking buddies (before we all got too wasted to be entertaining). One of my VA counselors in treatment tried to get me to think of these times as the "bad old days" but I refused. Fuck fooling myself. These were great times! I wouldn't trade them for anything.

There was a lot in treatment that made no sense to me -- especially since my VA job was to work in the medical library, where I read European journals about alcoholism and treatment and discovered a far different mindset than the quasi-religious hidden-Christian formula of 12-step AA programs. Knowledge is frowned upon in AA -- "keep it simple, stupid" -- so an intellectual like myself was constantly being lectured about being in denial etc, ad nauseam, and if it weren't for my primary counselor, who fed me books officially "forbidden" by the program (because they were critical of AA), I would have had a far less transforming experience, I think. (For the record, I am not against AA per se, just the AA monopoly in our society.)

My program was knowledge. Hear that, AA? My program was knowledge, and it has worked for 18 years now. I think I'm the only one in my VA class still sober. Even one of my counselors relapsed. It's because I'm not powerless, as AA maintains, but existentially powerful through knowledge. The gravity of booze doesn't affect me if I refuse to jump off the building in the first place.

But I still want to party if I get a terminal disease. I just have to find the right way to do it.

Outrageous culinary idea

So I'm having an open-faced headcheese sandwich for lunch and enjoying the hell out of it when for some reason a strange recipe pops into my consciousness: a headcheese quiche! Wow. Would that work? I may have to try it, preferably when H is out of town ha ha.

Round Bend Press: How to Lose a Football Game

Round Bend Press: How to Lose a Football Game:

"Last night's game was about Nike marketing, Phil Knight, and the star power of USC.

Chip Kelly should have told Phil no when the NBA circus landed. But then he would have likely been fired for insubordination."

Ah, even big Oregon fans see the reality of Nike U and its destructive influence.

Creativity. Faith. Impotence.

"Writing is fucking." An essay. Read now.


I didn't mean to rake today but didn't have much choice with a week of rain forecast. The ground and leaves were very wet; it was like raking in a swamp. But I filled our green container to the brim for pickup tomorrow, the wet leaves so heavy I could barely push the sucker out to the street. Need to do this every week and maybe by New Year's the leaves will be raked.

Now I need to dry my wet feet before I catch a cold.

Oldies but goodies

You can listen to Eugene radio KRVM online and the reason to do that at 11 a.m. on a Sunday is to hear Jivin' Johnny Etheredge's classic long-running (I first heard it as a grad student in the late sixties or early seventies!) tribute to oldies, Son of Saturday Gold (originally Saturday Gold, Rock and Roll). You won't find a better more knowledgeable DJ than Jivin' John. He rules.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Democrats, Stop Caving In

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Democrats, Stop Caving In:

"This is a pivotal moment in American history. The rich and large corporations are doing phenomenally well while the middle class is collapsing and poverty is increasing. Now is the time to answer the question that the Woody Guthrie song poignantly asked, "Which side are you on?" The Democrats must answer boldly that they are on the side of working families and the middle class and that they will fight to protect their interests."

The Democrats are spineless, Senator. You should start a new progressive party and bring in the Occupy movement.

Well over half a century (!) has passed since the Almanac Singers were singing, "Take the two old parties, mister; there's no difference that I see ..." And Mary Ellen Lease identified Wall Street as a problem in the late 19th century! Is there supposed to be reason for optimism in these facts?

Super Committee Failure: Bush Tax Cuts Obstacle To Deal

Super Committee Failure: Bush Tax Cuts Obstacle To Deal:

"The leaders of a special deficit reduction panel signaled Sunday that they will fail to strike a deal to reduce the deficit before their Wednesday deadline."

What makes this especially pathetic is now Congress has a year to repeal the consequences of automatic cuts. In the end, nothing nothing nothing accomplished, more wasted time, more reason for a national recall movement. Come on, Occupy, get some energy and creativity to do more than replay the sixties. "Don't mourn, organize!"

In case you missed it, check out my fantasy.

Daily Kos: Fiscal inequality: Godzilla vs. Ants

Daily Kos: Fiscal inequality: Godzilla vs. Ants:

"It's a staggeringly uneven distribution, with 42% of the wealth in the hands of 1% of the people. Even so, a chart like this doesn't begin to really capture how lopsided the nation really is."

Sunday LA Times

Lots of good reading this morning: a fair, balanced story on our mayor and his handling of the Occupy Portland removal; much coverage of USC's hanging on to beat Nike U in what is being called the true Pac 12 playoff game (and a piece on Nike back D Thomas, who changed a commitment to USC to go to the Ducks); a piece on Joe Hill to support the "don't mourn, organize" advice that should be (as I've often said here) the Occupy mantra; articles on two movies high on my list to see, the new Alexander Payne film and "The Artist," a silent film.

Is the end of the world really nigh? | Science | The Observer

Is the end of the world really nigh? | Science | The Observer:

"Science is moving ever closer to understanding how, and when, humanity may be extinguished"

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The End of Cheap Coffee

The End of Cheap Coffee: Why the Diner Staple Is About to Become a Luxury - Lifestyle - GOOD:

Wait ... cheap coffee ended decades ago. So it's going to get even worse.

Police Abuse On Parade

Police Abuse On Parade - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast:

Which has not (yet?) happened in Portland, thank the gods.

Univ of Nike

No doubt about it, Univ of Nike is an exciting team to watch, probably the most exciting team in the country. They have incredible speed and can score instantly from anywhere in any number of ways. Thus despite being 24 pts down late in the 3rd Q to a USC team soundly outplaying them, they came back to get within 3, admittedly helped by a couple of self-inflicted turnovers by the Trojans. They had a chance to tie for overtime as time ran out but the kicker hooked it left. USC wins 38-35.

Meanwhile Baylor beat Oklahoma on the last play, first win ever over the Sooners. So the BSC 2, 4, 5 and 7 teams lost. Wow. Alas, this looks like an LSU - Alabama rematch for the title unless more upsets are ahead of us. All of this actually is yet more argument for a playoff system. A playoff system! Why is this so hard to understand?

Feel good about making plans for Thanksgiving.


Decided to do the Thanksgiving buffet at the Hotel Oregon in McMinnville. An hour holiday drive, great small town, buffet, will be fun.

Game of the day

Harvard - Yale! Harvard has 21-7 lead in 2nd quarter. I guess I'm rooting for Yale: I attended the first hypertext conference there, it's home of the Yale Drama School, former home of a theater professor who taught me about playwriting by teaching me about acting at Salisbury State College in the mid-70s. He directed me in a number of plays, my most active experience as an actor. Essential experience for a playwright, though of course I didn't know it at the time.

The US is Now a Corporate Monarchy | The Big Picture

The US is Now a Corporate Monarchy | The Big Picture

I can buy this. But to expect the sitting government itself to fix it is an adventure in fantasy, no matter how much outrage is expressed in protest. The protest movement should be a recall movement. Recall the government. In practice, protests seem to assume Democrats will see the light and fix things. Nonsense. They've had half a century, since 1968, to fix things.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Marian Wright Edelman: Cuts in Education: A Failing Choice

Marian Wright Edelman: Cuts in Education: A Failing Choice:

"Aristotle got it right when he said, “All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.” Once upon a time America professed to believe in a strong public education system—at least for some children. And we still talk about public education as the great equalizer and pathway out of poverty but continue to fall far short in assuring millions of poor children, especially those of color, upward mobility."

And here's Wayne Morse in my one-man play American Gadfly:

            So if you asked me, Wayne Morse, name
            the one thing in our country that you
            think will do more to strengthen
            American foreign policy in the next
            half century, you might be surprised
            at my reply. I would say, Do something
            to protect the educational standard of
            American boys and girls.  Do something
            to protect American brain power. 
            Because the only sure and lasting
            defense of peace is a highly educated
            and enlightened citizenry.

Our long and continued failure in this regard is monumental and shameful.