Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Movie Awards: Big Change, Big Chaos, Big Controversy, Big Academy Comeback –

2011 Movie Awards: Big Change, Big Chaos, Big Controversy, Big Academy Comeback –

Climate Story of the Year: Warming-Driven Drought and Extreme Weather Emerge as Key Threat to Global Food Security | ThinkProgress

Climate Story of the Year: Warming-Driven Drought and Extreme Weather Emerge as Key Threat to Global Food Security | ThinkProgress:

"“Feeding some 9 billion people by mid-century in the face of a rapidly worsening climate may well be the greatest challenge the human race has ever faced.”"

Happy New Year.

The Artist, or an Oscar for Uggie!

I enjoyed The Artist. It's an entertaining, sometimes touching story done professionally. I would not nominate it for Best Picture, which means it likely will win. My Best Picture, Margin Call, probably won't even get nominated.

My favorite part of The Artist was the "dreaming of sound" sequence. But another part of the film bothered me considerably. This silent movie wasn't silent enough. The musical sound track never stopped, and it drove me crazy. I left the theater with a headache. Sound movies use SILENCE to good effect but there's no silence in The Artist. A silent movie that is never SILENT.

And Uggie the dog is worth the price of admission. Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Uggie!

New Year's Eve 2011: Celebrations Around The World

New Year's Eve 2011: Celebrations Around The World:

Canzano: At ESPN, money talks, journalism walks |

Canzano: At ESPN, money talks, journalism walks |

I know a few sports fans here who hate Canzano but I love him.

The year in review (video)

Six months

Looking back through my blog, I see my first notes about the short novel were in June. So it's been a six month process to get a presentable draft, maybe even a pretty close draft from my reading thus far. The older I get, the harder the work is.

Sneak preview?


Cal Tech coach Bert LaBrucherie
I was quarterback at Cal Tech both for the 1957 freshman team and during spring training for the varsity team. Each ran a different offensive formation, the freshman a standard T and the varsity the old single wing because the coach was the former UCLA coach, coach of the year in 1948, a diehard single wing guy. (Imagine, NCAA coach of the year -- and a decade later you're coaching at Cal Tech. A cruel profession.)

I had a ball in both formations. As a freshman, as starting QB, I played every down except two, when I was out catching my breath after being creamed. I was creamed a lot. In fact, this is why I was the QB! The coach gave all the big guys the ball and I was the best passer among them. In fact, I was a decent passer and that saved me, I could throw on the run and usually got the ball off before being creamed but not always. I got creamed often enough that dear mother wouldn't come to my games after seeing the first quarter of the first game. Dad came to them all, however. We weren't very good. Our best game we lost only 52-12. Our worst game we lost 85-0 in a rain storm and mud bath.

During spring training, I also was set to be starting QB, which in the single wing is a blocking position. I also was 2nd string tail back. But QB at single wing was fun because I got to call out the signals and most of my blocks were of poor linemen who'd been trapped, so I got them blind-sided. I'd call signals and knock unsuspecting people down. Great fun. But I got injured during spring training and then decided to leave Cal Tech, so that was the end of my football career.

I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. You get a good perspective on competitive sports when your best game is a loss by 40 points. Of course, we were smarter than anybody we played! We were the students in student-athlete.

Sacking the QB
I thought of this watching the UCLA game after the QB got creamed. And I thought, ah yes, I remember what that feels like! No wonder poor mom couldn't watch ha ha.

Looking good

I'm delighted with my reading of the draft so far. I've added a few vignettes and cut a few, sharpening the focus. So far I see no major structural issues. I think the fine-tuning may boil down to pacing. We'll see.

But I like what I see so far.

End of year?

Just doesn't feel like the end of the year, or New Year's eve, or any of that. Feels like just another day, with the usual work to do. I'm not complaining. Just find it a tad interesting.

With WeVideo, you can edit video in the cloud, then share it -

With WeVideo, you can edit video in the cloud, then share it -

" the first company to offer a video-editing platform in the cloud as powerful as many desktop editing tools. WeVideo, which has versions ranging from free to $60 a month depending on the amount of video you want to edit and share, allows people to edit within their Web browser — to splice video clips, add audio and weave in visual effects to create the kind of polished video that previously required sophisticated and pricey software like Apple's Final Cut Pro."

This sounds pretty hot. Check it out.

Friday, December 30, 2011


Proof reading on the Kindle is one of its best features. Just email any .doc file to your Kindle address, it uploads, and you're in business. Fantastic feature.

New Year's Eve

An early dinner downtown. Then to a movie, The Artist, the silent movie that has become an Oscar front-runner.

I made a silent movie myself a couple years ago, a short comedy called The Heirs. Does this make me ahead of the curve? ha ha. Don't I wish.

All four of my readers are available. Think I'll be able to get the pdfs off next week, the hard copy a week or two after that, two and two by request.

I am doing a final reading on Kindle before releasing it. Reading on Kindle gives me distance, as if I'm reading somebody else's book. I find this useful.

I have had almost no interest in the bowl games this year. Overkill. Corruption. Watching college football isn't as fun as it used to be.

Well, there's always the Triple Crown in the spring and this year the Summer Olympics. (March Madness has gone downhill, too.)

10 Famous Authors' Famous Addictions

10 Famous Authors' Famous Addictions:

Wisconsin should beat Oregon, according to 'Beef Bowl' results [Video] -

Wisconsin should beat Oregon, according to 'Beef Bowl' results [Video] -

"The team that eats the most meat goes on to win the Rose Bowl 71% of the time, according to Gina Doyle, the general manager at the restaurant's Beverly Hills location.

If that stat proves true, Wisconsin should win by a landslide."

Solid start, rapid fizzle hits movies' domestic box-office take -

Solid start, rapid fizzle hits movies' domestic box-office take -

"Die-hard fans are still rushing to see a film in its opening weekend, but more casual audiences are becoming increasingly difficult to lure to the multiplex."

Best of 2011 in Movies: Kenneth Turan -

Best of 2011 in Movies: Kenneth Turan -

Instant ebooks

Digital technology permits a far quicker birth cycle for new books than the old print media does. Here, for example, hot off the e-press, is The Patriot News' consolidation and expansion of its coverage of the Sandusky scandal:

Hear No Evil: How the Sandusky sex abuse scandal rocked Penn State, toppled Joe Paterno and stunned a nation [Kindle Edition]

This is an engaging book, fair and comprehensive, that brings the situation up to December, when the book was published. It covers much more than one saw on the daily news.

Another new ebook is by writer and editor Dan Meadows:

The book is based on his blog, with each entry updated by Meadows. This is a personal and passionate book written by a man whose own journalistic career was affected by the changes in technology.
It’s the story of how I got from Point A (a total disgust for the industry that had fed and clothed me) to Point B (an actual plan for a real, viable future to feed and clothe myself). Most of all, it’s the result of a nearly three-year experiment in the modern forms of mass communication.
Each of these new ebooks are a great read.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Movie crowds dip to 16-year low as apathy lingers

Movie crowds dip to 16-year low as apathy lingers | Entertainment News | -


I invited 4 readers to offer feedback ... see how many have time and interest.

Kudos to me

Some of my favorite strokes over the years, official and unofficial, in no particular order.
  • "This play has balls!" The spontaneous exclamation of a guy sitting behind me after the final lights came down on Country Northwestern.
  • Each of my three "Roll of Honor" citations in Best American Short Stories in the early 1970s, validation when I needed it most.
  • The critical success of Famililly, winning two contests, one international, and (especially) being the highest ranking stage play in the New Millennium writing awards.
  • A sweet little old lady creating a theater award so she could give me a five grand check and write it off. Closest I've had to a patron.
  • A poet telling me my short story "The Idaho Jacket" is the best fiction he'd ever read about the Pacific NW, including Kesey.
  • 3 writer friends being blown away by my novel "Kerouac's Scroll" and taking the time to write me so, totally "getting it."
  • Being the only writer in Oregon (as far as I know) to get Oregon Arts Commission fellowships both for fiction and drama. (This happened in a small window when they allowed repeats, then changed their mind again.)
  • The director telling me the blue toilet paper bit in Christmas at the Juniper Tavern is the best visual joke he's ever seen on stage.
  • Getting a standing ovation for my Guthrie show. Whenever and wherever it happened.
  • Arts writer Bob Hicks' continued enthusiasm for my work over several decades.
  • Harriet's heartfelt response to my book of poems.
  • My acting partner in Albee's "Zoo Story" amazed that as Peter I could cry on cue.
  • A short letter from Hal Prince praising The Comedian In Spite Of Himself.
  • Dick Crooks' life-long enthusiasm for my guitar playing. The fool.
  • Self-congratulation for living this long.
  • Sketch licking my nose, no matter what I've done, ever.

Just little sweet memories that pop into the head once in a while. I have many more good memories than bad memories.

Brooding about the future

Now that the short novel is in a secure spot -- no ringing telephone or interrupting remark from H can shoo away a budding thought now -- I've been wondering what my creative life will be like after Sodom is done. I really do hope this is my last novel -- I don't want to work this hard any more, to be honest. If I write something new, and I probably will, I want it to involve fewer words. Maybe more posthumous plays. Or very short stories. Nothing as difficult and as ambitious as the work at hand, which I rather consider my swan song in the Go For Broke department. I want to relax in my final years.

I also want to catch up on reading. I've been so prolific for so many years that I've never had time to do all the reading for pleasure I've wanted to do. I want to fill my Kindle with classical literature and read it all. I want to discover new and exciting audio books, like the U.S.A. trilogy I'm still listening to (about 6 hrs to go).

I've put aside, retired, some projects I thought I'd be doing -- the art song animations, the music for the Varmints libretto -- again because I just don't have the energy to work as hard as the projects would require. I'm through with marathons, so to speak. I may still jog around the track once or twice.

I wish I could come up with a video project that wouldn't be as demanding as my past projects -- just so I have an excuse to edit. Editing is great fun. But you have to have something to edit. I was toying with putting together A Day In The Life Of Sketch story on video and may yet. I don't want to quit video entirely, though The Farewell Wake surely was my last Go For Broke project on video, having the same relationship to video as the present project has to writing prose.

Well, something will occur to me, I'm sure. I ain't dead yet. Knock knock knock.

At the end of the short novel, CJ the protagonist is listening to Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale" as an audio book as he drives across Mississippi countryside on his way to Florida for the winter. He starts laughing so hard that he misses a stop sign ahead and ...

Actually it's a positive ending. A positive ending! Written by me! Listen up, o ye gods ...

Coming to grips with death and dying -

Coming to grips with death and dying -

Progress report

Looks like I'll have 144 vignettes in the book. Also I have a good shot at preparing the public draft before school starts. Onward.

Amazon sold more than 1 million Kindles every week in December |

Amazon sold more than 1 million Kindles every week in December |


Oklahoma foundation buys Woody Guthrie archive - Yahoo! News

Oklahoma foundation buys Woody Guthrie archive - Yahoo! News:

Wylie & Deemer
Ramblin': the songs and stories of Woody Guthrie performed by Charles Deemer and Jim Wylie.

When I think back through my life to everybody that I owe, I mean the ones I can remember. Of course I know that I owe these folks, and that they owe some other folks, these are in debt to others, and all of us owe everybody. The amount that we owe is all that we have. --Woody Guthrie

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Robert Reich: My Political Prediction for 2012: It's Obama-Clinton

Robert Reich: My Political Prediction for 2012: It's Obama-Clinton:

I would like this but it sounds too good to happen. I like it because it makes Clinton the front-runner in 2016. Apparently Biden really wants Sec of State. They switch.

The mystery of Vachel Lindsay - Slate Magazine

The mystery of Vachel Lindsay - Slate Magazine:

"How did the most visible poet in America—and a father of the Beats—become nearly forgotten?"

Do the Classics Have a Future? by Mary Beard | The New York Review of Books

Do the Classics Have a Future? by Mary Beard | The New York Review of Books:

Proposed New Calendar Would Make Time Rational | Wired Science |

Proposed New Calendar Would Make Time Rational | Wired Science |

Production Locations: Top 10 US, And Beyond — According To P3 Update –

Production Locations: Top 10 US, And Beyond — According To P3 Update –

Oregon not on list (naturally).

Old school

Put the book on a flash drive, took the flash drive to a copy center and got it printed. Now I'm going through page by page at a snail's pace, red pen in hand. After this is complete, maybe I'll have the public draft.

Thinking about the cover

Painting by PardonWill.

Painting by Joe Reimer

It's a wrap, or Now we can begin

The draft of Sodom, Gomorrah and Jones is done, coming in at 216 published pages, 47,000 words.

This is to the finished book as a sketch is to a painting. But I think the structure is solid, the characters mostly there.

Now the real fun begins. Today? Not sure. Maybe I'll brood. Maybe I'll browse through it. Maybe I'll read it and take notes on the Kindle. Maybe I'll go to the copy center and get a hard copy. Not exactly sure what to do with it at this moment.

But it's done! One door closes, another opens. The challenge: I know now the book I conceive can be done. It's all there. I don't yet know if I'm actually the one who can do it. Maybe I'm not good enough. We'll see.

The next milestone, which I hope is completed sooner rather than later, is the next draft, the first "public" draft, the first draft I'd actually share with someone, i.e. assume it is intelligible to someone.

Record number of whale sightings something to spout about -

Record number of whale sightings something to spout about -

"Whale spotters stationed at Point Vicente in Rancho Palos Verdes have logged a record 163 sightings so far this December, more than they have seen at this point in 28 years."

The same farther north?

Rose Bowl Notes: Oregon will have new uniforms for Rose Bowl -

Rose Bowl Notes: Oregon will have new uniforms for Rose Bowl -

Terrific. Fire the university president because he emphasizes academics, then make a big deal of new football uniforms. Presumably this is a new permutation and not a new expenditure.

I may have to root for Wisconsin. I've never rooted against the west in the Rose Bowl in my life but Nike U may provide a first. Nike has ruined a great university. It gets embarrassing to root for Oregon.

'Gump,' 'Bambi' among 2011 National Film Registry selections -

'Gump,' 'Bambi' among 2011 National Film Registry selections -

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

NCAA Football in 2011: Year of the scandal - College Football -

NCAA Football in 2011: Year of the scandal - College Football -

The incredible joy of rereading a great book

Lew Welch
I'm here to pitch a book. I didn't write it. Aram Saroyan wrote it in 1979, and I've recently blogged more about it below.  It's called Genesis Angels: the Saga of Lew Welch and the Beat Generation. I think it's the best book ever written about the Beats.

Here I am pitching it more earnestly than earlier, hoping to convince you to read it. It won't cost much of your time or your bank account. The hard cover is only 128 pages long. You can read it in an afternoon. An incredible afternoon.

Many used copies are available here for as low as $2.20

An ebook version for Kindle is available here for $2.99

Either will be the best book buy you've made in a long time.

Many things distinguish this book and make it so different from other books about the Beats, including the new The Typewriter Is Holy that I just finished, a fine book in its own traditional way. But Genesis Angels is something different entirely. It's more prose poem than history or biography, a short book whose brief chapters read like stanzas, written in a style reminiscent of the Beats themselves. Take a listen.
And one night—in the history of you and me—at the West End Bar, with alive tables and chairs and beers, and incredible conversations about everything under the sun, under the electric light—with West Side traffic outside, and goofed-up drunks, and young couples, husband with his tie loosened, wife with a new permanent—one night John Kerouac is introduced across the table to young, deep-fabled, not long out of New Jersey, Allen Ginsberg. This is the primal meeting, the plug-in that reverses historical currents and lights up new rooms in the mind of generations. One poet and another poet, in America, getting to know the drift of their own, single mind: Hello, I see you. Hello, I see you, 
And here ...
 In America, each of us is a stranger. The communities are mostly too large. Our neighbors are sphinxes, as we are to them. Passionate men and women are confused and rendered inefficient, and suspicious of their own enthusiasm and energy. We hide the poem written in our own soul, or offer it obliquely to the light: daisies in the city window, roses on the dining car table: the landscape speeds by, and our dream is unloosed in meaningless efforts: buying and selling pieces of a lost vocabulary of feeling, the dollars and cents can never replace. These Beat people were gardening in each other's real earth, starting to water and plant a new estate of the mind in the midst of American urban commerce. All the rehearsals of their identities are now like sacred texts of the genesis of an original, native American culture. We hunger for more of the truth of ourselves which they allowed themselves to be.
But the focus here is someone treated as a minor figure in other accounts of the literary brotherhood, Lew Welch.
 Lew was a poet, and he was still, too, an apprentice poet, which is a complicated thing in its own way. The poet's apprenticeship ends when his life and his art become one, much as any writer's apprenticeship ends. And yet, this is a more difficult passage at times for the poet: words are a kind of spell for the poet to break through; and they can hold a poet longer in their thrall. Finally, when he becomes himself fully, the poet knows the language with an intimacy that is rare among writers because he has endured through so deep an awareness of the autonomous powers of the language itself.
,.. When the Beat Generation broke over the national media, Lew Welch was surprised and awakened and struck with the pang of yearning to be there, finding his old friends Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder right there in the news. What is this? Where am I? Why didn't I continue to bicycle into the stars? What left me out in this silly charade of being a normal American copywriter when I know I'm as crazy as the others, and sincere.
...Good-bye advertising. Hello poverty and joy, pain and language. This was April. By July he had written a dozen poems that cut through all the rhetorical, Yeatsian superfluity and apprentice questions of the past, and started an original, Leo talk with the entire planet from his neat desk. "Chicago Poem," for instance, beginning: "I lived here nearly 5 years before I could/meet the middle western day with anything approaching/Dignity."
...He was talking now, and his language was suddenly inhabited by his life, rather than a squeezed version of himself between rules of grammar and precision choices. He was on.

Reed College poets: Snyder, Whalen, Welch
I won't mention the end of the book or of Welch; if you know about the Beats, you probably know how Lew Welch "ended" in a physical sense and if you don't, you'll be so blown away I don't want to ruin the response for you. But it's incredible -- and it gave me the title to what I consider to be my best screenplay, The Brazen Wing.

If you have a few hours, if you have a few bucks, if you respond to literature, get Genesis Angels. You won't be alone in your appreciation of this book, even though it seems to have fallen out of sight. I hope the new ebook version can give it a renewed readership. It well deserves one.

What others have said:
It is immensely moving. Joan Didion.
...approaches Lew from the inside--a comradely, intuitive, bold book that is a creative work in its own right. Also accurate, I vouch for that. Gary Snyder.
A fine memoir. Lawrence Ferlinghetti. 
This book is so poetic it should be read aloud -- and to this end, it deserves an audible book version read by an accomplished actor. I'd love to hear it read this way. I've been listening to David Drummond read -- perform is more accurate -- the U.S.A. trilogy by Dos Passos, and it's an extraordinary experience. A good reading of this book would be just as moving.

Don't rush it

Was in my basement office and started one of the last three vignettes but stopped and thought, Why am I rushing this, the key to the development of this story has been patient brooding, no need to rush because the end is so near ... and I stopped.

OSCARS: Nomination Ballots Mailing Today –

OSCARS: Nomination Ballots Mailing Today –

Steinbeck's lonely high

Nearing the end of my draft, I'm reminded of what Steinbeck wrote in a letter to his agent about finishing the draft of "Of Mice and Men." He was alone in a cabin in the mountains -- the Sierra Nevadas maybe. Anyway, he finished the draft of the novel and found himself both exhilarated and lonely -- he was high from finishing but had no one to share this emotion with except his dog, alone in the mountains.

To celebrate, he started drinking -- and kept drinking for a couple days. When he sobered up he discovered that his dog had destroyed the manuscript. Then he drank because he was depressed.

Finally he sobered up and decided to start over -- but he didn't have the energy to write the long novel all over again so he told the same story as a short novel. This is the wonderful hit version we have today. Steinbeck thereafter called the dog the best literary critic he ever knew.

I don't think writers ever get to celebrate their highest high, alone or not, because this happens during the work, at the moment when one sees that everything has come together and is working. This is a solitary moment but the highest high of the entire process, at least in my case, that first realization that the concept has found form and has been done. The rest is fiddling.

Round Bend Press: A Year in the Life--Wrap Up

Round Bend Press: A Year in the Life--Wrap Up:

The press history concludes.

On a personal note, Terry has done wonders with the press, and I am honored to be associated with it and in such good company. This is the new technology paying the right kind of dividends, something that would have been so costly as to be prohibitive for Terry before print-on-demand. Far down the road, this period will make an interesting literary history indeed.

Top Scientific Discoveries of 2011 | Wired Science |

Top Scientific Discoveries of 2011 | Wired Science |

First day at Santa Anita

An 80-1 shot won the 4th race at Santa Anita yesterday. I picture my granddad having a ticket on the horse. He always played the long shots, usually lost, but he had a ticket on the gray horse Miche that beat the great Citation by a  nose (giving up a ton of weight). It was the highlight of his betting career, I think. Later I named a gray cat Miche, ended up giving it to friends in L.A. when we moved east after grad school, and they gave her a great home until she passed away. They still talk about Miche.

Three to go

Okay, have the rest of the book scribbled out, 3 vignettes to go. I could finish later today or tomorrow. This is very exciting, even though it really is just the prelude to the real work, the sketch for an artist's painting, but it is the most fragile step in the process because it's the only step in which something is created from nothing. All the rest is reshaping something that already exists, which provides a kind of security blanket. Interruptions when nothing yet exists can be disastrous, a thought can disappear like smoke in the wind. But interruptions during rewriting do not remove the existing material at hand. Very very different levels of work, in my view. I'm a nicer guy when I'm rewriting than when I'm creating a first draft.

So I'll take a break, get dressed (still in my bathrobe), go out for coffee -- and see where I am and what I feel like doing the rest of the day.

I love this book. Serial monogamists always speak this way.

Getting close to the end

My draft is at 45,000 words, and I have 4 or 5 vignettes to go. Barring disruption, finishing the draft this week is a cinch. Knock on my wooden head. Or is this the moment I crash to the floor with a heart attack? Well, like I say, barring disruption, the week looks great for finishing up the draft -- and then the "real" writing, the re-writing, the high fun of the process, can begin. The draft will be in excellent shape, structurally. The characters are full, though still clearer in mind than on paper, some filling in to do. No major plot tweaks seem necessary. I think the rewrite will be a focus on tone and pacing. We'll see.

At any rate, another good morning of writing.

I've started rereading Genesis Angels. What a joy! I'll have much to say when I finish. Reading great writing is a real high.


Found this comment at a Yahoo! Group for Defense Language Institute alumni, which is what the Army Language School in Monterey is now called:
An example of participation is RU Alumnus Charles Deemer, who is writing a screenplay about 'Monterey Marys' set in cold war era Berlin. If you have annecdotes, please visit the community discussion, ALS era. 
This became a novella instead, Baumholder 1961 (free pdf; also available as paperback).  It must have been quite a while ago when I conceived this as a screenplay, which would be expensive to make and therefore a risky spec script. You'd need an actor or director married to the material to get this done as a film. It would make a good movie. It's a surrealistic setting that has received very little attention in any media. Actually the entire era would make a better documentary film if done accurately, including all the raunchy elements. In the 1950s an American magazine called Baumholder "the sin city of Europe" and this was right on. I don't think any of us, American students for the most part, were ready for it.

Here's one of my favorite passages from the novella:
Sullivan disliked sentiment and sloppy thinking and
sometimes performed a routine that demonstrated as
much. With a few drinks in him, he was known to recite a
portion of a poem by William Blake to much delight and
hoopla from his inebriated colleagues: “Tiger, tiger,
burning bright,” Sullivan would begin, his blonde hair
short but long enough to comb, which really meant long
enough to look uncombed because Sullivan always had the
shaggy look of an absent-minded professor, and as he
began the poem, his hand would sweep the hair from his
forehead in a theatrical gesture, “in the forests of the night,
what immortal hand or eye, could frame thy fearful
symmetry?” Here Sullivan would look positively baffled by
the question, as if it had cosmic significance. “What the
hammer?” he asked next. “What the chain? In what
furnace was thy brain? What the anvil?” – and at this
precise moment Sullivan would scrunch his ruddy face into
an expression of speechless horror and bewilderment, as if
the questions were too great for the contemplation of mere
mortals, hanging in the air like painful reminders of
human ignorance and insignificance – and after holding
the moment for all it was worth, and perhaps making yet
another theatrical sweep of his hand to brush hair from his
forehead, Sullivan would shout with an exuberance that
never failed to set the first-time listener aback, “What the
fuck!? WHAT THE FUCK!? 
This routine is a true story, performed by a Russian linguist colleague and drinking buddy named Jim Donovan, from Boston, who introduced me to the guitar jazz of Charlie Christian. I adapt a lot of "true events" for the novella.

The swastika on the cover has puzzled some. It's because many of the German farmers in Baumholder remained unrepentant Nazis, as noted in the story. So here you have clean cut American students (think 1950s) coming into a town filled with Nazis farmers, prostitutes for the G.I. bars and con men after the American buck. Quite a mix.

When I became a writer, I knew this was extraordinary material, but it took me almost half a century to get it down. I had many false starts as an epic Army novel. They ended up boring me. What was essential to the experience didn't need that much space, hence finally the novella. I remain pleased with how it turned out. This got rid of one of the narrative monkeys on my back, and the short film Deconstructing Sally got rid of the other.

No more monkeys!

Anonymity and pseudonymity have a long history -

Anonymity and pseudonymity have a long history -

"Authors have many reasons for writing anonymously or under a pseudonym. While less prolific these days, Anonymous is still at it."

Death doula: A midwife for the end of life -

Death doula: A midwife for the end of life -

The colors of a family -

The colors of a family -

"The white son of a black man: May he transcend the differences."

Monday, December 26, 2011

Contrasting images

Japan is quite a bit ahead of us in the practical use of digital technology. I remember a decade or so ago seeing a short documentary about the future of technology. The film contrasted two students taking a working holiday to write on their graduate theses, one from Japan and one from the U.S.

The U.S student took several boxes of books with him, having to haul them to the car, upstairs to the room at his destination, and so on. The Japanese student had more books than the U.S. student and stored them all on an early electronic reading device, which he carried in a small backpack.

I saw this and thought, wow!, I can't wait for the convenience of a reading device. It's the content of a book that interests me, not the package. Books are better than scrolls and e-readers are better than books. Technology moves on, making content easier to access.

It took about a decade for U.S. students to catch up. Who knows what the futuristic Japanese are doing today?

Introducing the Anonymite

In my book v. Kindle post below, an anonymous reader left a comment suggesting I am not a "real" reader because real readers read BOOKS. Pre-Gutenberg, no real readers existed, apparently.

Well, "real" commenters leave their damn names instead of hiding behind "anonymous" ha ha.

The comment, however, does remind me that the book is a technology. People read before books and they will read after books, and the issue is not which mode is more "real" but more convenient for the particular reader making the choice. Indeed, Kerouac typed his draft of On the Road not on pages, in the manner of a book, but on endless teletype paper in the manner of a scroll, because it was more convenient to write spontaneously when he didn't have to stop to reload sheets of paper.

I think I'll coin a new word, in the fashion of Luddites. Anonymites are those readers who refuse to accept new technologies for reading. (But are the "real" anonymites reading clay tablets or scrolls or ... ?)

Zero-sum universe

The tears of the world are a constant quality. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.
--Samuel Beckett

Power start to the week

Three vignettes written this morning. The end gets closer.

2011's Top UFO Sightings And Paranormal News (VIDEO)

2011's Top UFO Sightings And Paranormal News (VIDEO):

Round Bend Press: A Year in the Life--Fall

Round Bend Press: A Year in the Life--Fall:

The history of the press continues.

Bill Dwyre: Santa Anita opener brings a sense of renewal -

Spectacular Santa Anita racetrack
Bill Dwyre: Santa Anita opener brings a sense of renewal -

"Horse racing has been written off in many quarters as a dying sport, but the start of Santa Anita's annual winter/spring meet suggests a sport very much alive as buildup to Triple Crown races begins."

Willie Shoemaker
The opening of Santa Anita was a big deal when I was growing up, even though no one but my granddad played the horses very much. My dad followed jockeys more than horses, as one might follow a baseball team. Willie Shoemaker, Eddie Arcaro. When we did go to the track, mom bet colors, not horses. Interesting, in retrospect, that horse racing was such a big deal without the gambling element. I think it was the spectacle. And, of course, the location of Santa Anita, with the San Gabriel mountains in the distance, is spectacular.

I've lived in Oregon longer than I've lived anywhere. But stories like this in the L. A. Times this morning remind me that my soul is still in Southern California. (It's the weather, stupid.)

Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state is 'on the brink' -

Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state is 'on the brink' -

"The toll of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is catching up with the Washington state communities near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the form of suicides, slayings and more.

Nancy Linehan Charles and Salty Shakespeare take to the streets -

Nancy Linehan Charles and Salty Shakespeare take to the streets -

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A surprise hit

The Christmas meal was great. The surprise was one of the two stuffed mushroom recipes, which I made up myself, so here it is ...
In heated butter and olive oil, saute: diced scallions (3 incl green part), diced shallots (3 bulbs), a small handful each of chopped almonds, walnuts and macadamia nuts. Add mixture to just enough soft room temperature cream cheese to hold the nuts together. Stuff liberally into stemless mushrooms. Top with grated cheese (I used a pre-grated Italian mixture from the store). Arrange on cookie sheet, bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Yum!

My Christmas present to myself

Aram Saroyan
While looking for something else, I stumbled upon a Kindle edition of Genesis Angels (see below) for $2.99. I mean, this is about as clear a reality as I can think of to demonstrate how far off the mainstream my literary tastes are. This book, which I think is brilliant, has been out of print almost since the day it was published. Moreover, the new The Typewriter Is Holy doesn't even list it in its extensive bibliography! -- an oversight so major, in my view, that it suggests a personal motivation. Aram Saroyan must be on somebody's shit list.

Well, naturally I bought the book and now, after I finish the new one, I'll have the pleasure of rereading it on Kindle, probably my 5th or 6th time through the short book. I marvel at its poetic delivery every time I read it.  My brother, by the way, is listed in the "thanks to" section, Bill having known Lew Welch in San Francisco.

Genesis Angels for $2.99! Oh American literary culture!

Damn, it's exciting to have this book on my Kindle! It is always at hand. Another nice thing about Kindle, you can carry around your favorite books without effort. Always close at hand.

LATER. And to add to my excitement, my favorite novel (Connell's Mrs. Bridge) just came out on Kindle and next year Mailer's major works are coming out. Good reading in 2012!

If I have a good week ...

I have a shot at finishing the draft this week! I have less than 10 vignettes left, I'm sure. Man, that would be so cool! Also have to update my syllabus but there's no rush yet with that. Finishing the draft is first priority. Then it will be SO MUCH FUN to start the serious rewrite! I love rewriting.

Christmas meal for four humans and a dog

H has the turkey in the oven, stuffed with sausage and cornbread stuffing. I have my stuffed mushrooms ready to go into the oven later for a first course:
oh those or-durvies, ain't they neat; little piece a'cheese and a little piece a'meat
as we used to sing at Thanksgiving after too many Ramos gin fizzes. At any rate, I have a selection of two, crab-stuffed and a nut mixture stuffed (walnuts, pecans, macadamias, shallots), 19 mushrooms for four folks, should be enough. They are large mushrooms.

I don't know why I'm in a holiday mood. I usually am down on Christmas (it reminds me of how un-Christian many Christians are the rest of the year), although I used to like the bar scene on big holidays, everybody was buying everybody else drinks, lots of sentimental histrionics, felt like being in a Cheever short story. Maybe I appreciate the holidays because I have so few left.

Got a phone call from L. in L.A. She often calls on a holiday. But with the cheer was bad news, her cousin and son of my long-time friends down there, got arrested late last night and may have relapsed. He's a film editor with an on again, off again, drug problem. I knew him when he was a kid. At about 8 he got a kid's typewriter for Xmas because he wanted to write books. He's also gay, which the traditional family had to come to accept, which they finally did in flying colors. He's a great guy and I hope he actually didn't relapse and there's another reason he got arrested (someone was with him in his car). L. is worried, though, because he's been "out of sight" lately and disappearance from the family often means bad news. And the family traditionally hosts the large extended family Christmas dinner -- so it's a bad time for something like this to happen. He'll miss dinner because he's in jail.

I went to Starbucks for an iced coffee and it was a zoo. I was 18th in line! After a few slots forward, a barrista recognized me, mouthed "same?" to me and I nodded, he made my drink and opened a new register, gesturing me forward. I was in and out of there like a, well, like a regular. Merry Christmas.

Books on the Beats

I've long considered the best book ever written about the Beat generation to be the slim poetic 1979 masterpiece by Aram Saroyan, Genesis Angels. I still believe that.

But a recent book, The Typewriter Is Holy, is a recommended companion to the earlier book. While Saroyan's book focuses on Lew Welch and is written like a prose-poem, Bill Morgan's 2011 book is a history with an unusual slant: he defines the Beat generation in terms of the network of friendships maintained and directed by Allen Ginsberg and tells the story of the group through time, providing fascinating details ignored in other histories of the beats.

We know, for example, what Kerouac was doing when Ginsberg was elsewhere doing something else, and so on for the core group, which includes many figures usually ignored. So the new book is rich with detail and juxtapositions that enlighten the era.

Kerouac's suffering to get On the Road published, for example, writing other books before it finally came out, is communicated in a way that makes the reader feel Kerouac's pain. Morgan also is excellent at putting this literary movement in historic perspective, then and now, detailing how the core meaning of the movement got railroaded by media and publishers out to get copy and money from the new literary energy. In the end, the Beat generation involved none of the core members and turned into a trip to Disneyland, and this legacy remains with us.

These two books read together make an excellent introduction and appreciation of Ginsberg and friends.

Gene Autry

This smash hit was a "B" side that Autry had to be talked into recording, he hated it so much.

What year was it when I got a Gene Autry guitar for Christmas? Must have been 1949 or 1950. My first guitar, with Gene's lasso twisting up the neck. Hot stuff.

2011: The Year in Pictures - Interactive Feature -

2011: The Year in Pictures - Interactive Feature -

Mexico's UNAM aims to put it all online: Cultural Exchange -

Mexico's UNAM aims to put it all online: Cultural Exchange -

"But to prove it really matters, the 100-year-old National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, is placing its work on the Internet.

All of it."

Michael Hiltzik: Looking for a reason to love the iPad -

Michael Hiltzik: Looking for a reason to love the iPad -

"My black-and-white Kindle e-reader may be worthless for Web browsing, but the sharpness of its print display leaves the iPad in the dust and its passive non-backlit screen is much easier on the eyes."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Stevie Oedipus Wonder, Lost Blind Dog, Reunited With San Antonio Family

Stevie Oedipus Wonder, Lost Blind Dog, Reunited With San Antonio Family:

"The dog showed up at the Animal Care Services on Dec. 11. He would have been euthanized, but a high school teacher agreed to care for him over the holiday. Then she found the lost dog notice on Craigslist, and Stevie went home Thursday. He's getting doggy treats, carrots and toys for Christmas."

Reading: Kindle v. Book

I did a lot of reading tonight, moving between two books, one a library hard cover, the other on the Kindle. Comparing the two reading experiences, I don't see one advantage of the book over the Kindle. The Kindle is superior in these ways:
  • easier to hold
  • easier to turn pages
  • clearer text (in fact, you can vary the type size on the Kindle; this is true in daylight as well)
  • easier to mark passages (simply highlight and it's automatically saved at Amazon)
  • easier to look up words (built in dictionary on the Kindle, put the cursor in front of the word, get the definition)
  • easier to take notes (just start typing)

For the life of me, I can't think of one advantage of the book over the Kindle. No, here's one: a book will survive being dropped to the floor and the Kindle may not.

e.e. cummings on christmas

little tree
by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)
ITTLE tree
little silent Christmas tree
you are so little
you are more like a flower
who found you in the green forest
and were you very sorry to come away?
see i will comfort you
because you smell so sweetly
i will kiss your cool bark
and hug you safe and tight
just as your mother would,
only don't be afraid
look the spangles
that sleep all the year in a dark box
dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,
the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,
put up your little arms
and i'll give them all to you to hold
every finger shall have its ring
and there won't be a single place dark or unhappy
then when you're quite dressed
you'll stand in the window for everyone to see
and how they'll stare!
oh but you'll be very proud
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"

"little tree" was originally published in The Dial Vol. LXVIII, No. 1 (Jan. 1920). New York: The Dial Publishing Company, Inc.

Christmas in Afghanistan

Soldiers with the NATO- led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and service members attend in a ceremony on the eve of Christmas in side a church at the ISAF's head quarter in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

Christmas At War

Christmas At War:

Experiences from the First and Second World Wars

Merry Christmas to intellectuals and other despised minorities | WriteBlack

E. B. White
Merry Christmas to intellectuals and other despised minorities | WriteBlack:

by E. B. White, Dec 20, 1952, The New Yorker

Baz Luhrmann Injured On ‘The Great Gatsby’ –

Baz Luhrmann Injured On ‘The Great Gatsby’ –

"This week Warner Bros released the first official stills for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. Now Australian news reports say an on-set injury to the filmmaker forced an early end to this year’s shooting of the pic due in theaters next Christmas."

Christmas joke of the day

"The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn't for any religious reasons. They couldn't find three wise men and a virgin." -- Jay Leno

Doggerel of the day

A vignette a day keeps depression away.
Got mine in this morning, after a nice if short Christmasy cruise with coffee, some nice jazz versions of Christmas carols on the radio.

My protagonist bought a minivan camper. Settled on a 1998 Roadtrek. He's getting close to taking off, living in his van, starting an adventure (that ends the book). Couple more shockers to do first.

Christmas spirit

Strange company

From a comment on Tom Clark's blog:
The poems posted on this blog over the past thirty days have all been written by poets (Giuseppe Ungaretti, George Seferis, Stevie Smith, Nizar Qabbani, Bill Deemer, and Charles Deemer, Thomas Hardy, Jim Dine, Ed Sanders, among others) who got better with time, had the courage to stick to their guns. 
Ha ha.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Study rejects faster than light particle finding | Reuters

Study rejects faster than light particle finding | Reuters:

Indie films that vanish

I hate this: an interesting indie film comes to town, like Martha Marcy May Marlene, but before I get around to seeing it -- like immediately -- it's gone. Maybe it'll show up in one of the smaller theaters later. Or I can rent it still later. But this is happening to me all the time. You have to see an interesting indie film in the first couple weeks before it leaves town.

Hollywood Writer Gets Notes On Film Script Of ‘Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer’ –

Hollywood Writer Gets Notes On Film Script Of ‘Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer’ –

Salvaging the day

Managed to get some writing done after all. Getting very close to the end and trying to hold back my excitement. Looking good for finishing before school starts, as hoped. Then the real work begins but it's work that's a hell of a lot more fun because you are working with something that already exists, rather than creating something from nothing.


A strange slow day, except for some necessary shopping so I can make stuffed mushrooms on Christmas day, I haven't done squat. Haven't written. Haven't read. But maybe I can find a gear this afternoon and get something done.

Round Bend Press: A Year in the Life--Variations

Round Bend Press: A Year in the Life--Variations:

The history continues.

Oleg Shuplyak, Ukrainian Artist, Paints Incredible Optical Illusions (PHOTOS)

Oleg Shuplyak, Ukrainian Artist, Paints Incredible Optical Illusions (PHOTOS):

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A rare chance to pitch

Got a line on a producer looking for a serious story for an actor over 70. The Brazen Wing, my favorite script! Not often I get a chance to pitch it. Not many stories for old dudes. So I have, via email as requested. I'd rather have this one done than any other. Close to my heart.

But this may be too expensive for them, though it easily could be down-sized.

Recommended Christmas story

Christmas at the Juniper Tavern


American hallucination

I'm tired of hearing about "the 99%." Yes, this is a statistic about wealth. However, it has no political meaning whatever. Repeat, there is no political consensus that the 99% would ever agree on. Anarchists are in the 99% statistic and Tea Party conservatives are in the 99% statistic. Yes, it might be nice if they decided they had something in common but this will never happen. There is no 99% in political terms.  And it does not serve any useful purpose to assume there is, except to reinforce the fact, long apparent, that the English language has syphilis.

Progressives are not now, and never have been, in the majority in this country.

Round Bend Press: A Year in the Life--Summertime

Round Bend Press: A Year in the Life--Summertime:

The history of the press continues.

Tis the season

Got an address book for Kindle and discovered I could import all my Yahoo contacts without having to retype anything. Very cool!

So I'm listening to holiday music and cleaning up my Contacts in Kindle, deleting the deceased, and I'm struck by how many of them there are and by the complete illogical non-sense of my being alive and all those others being dead, especially those with a more healthy lifestyle than I've had over the years. The marathon runner drops dead at 40 and the fat slob on the couch lives to 80 -- you can't figure it out.

I've been living what Raymond Carver called "gravy years" for some time now, a gift from the gods for reasons beyond me, but I surely am making good use of the gift. I've written some good stuff. And I am enjoying myself without worrying about much. As I told my doctor, I'd rather live five years less eating scrapple for breakfast than living longer by restricting myself to a healthier diet. I figure, you can't figure it out anyway so why waste time worrying about it? What happens happens.

I just hope, now, the gods continue to grant me good fortune until I finish the project at hand. And I hope it's my last project about which I say that. I don't want to push my luck more than I already have. After this project, I hope to enjoy teaching, still, but relax with the work and become a consumer/reader/listener more than a creator. My archive is too damn large as it is ha ha.

But this one I'm working on, it's very special to me, and maybe to an audience of a dozen if I'm lucky. I obviously want (and expect) to finish it.

Productive morning (once again, on a roll)

Down in the basement office, writing, here because I don't get interrupted in the work as easily. A couple good new vignettes, figure I have only about a dozen left to do, I should be able to finish before school starts, the goal.

Man, it's a mess. But it's a good mess. The structure is there, more or less, and that's always the first thing I want to get a handle on. Structure holds everything together -- or not. The fun will be in the small details but right now it's the big picture I look at, the forest instead of the trees. And I feel pretty good about where I am so far. If the gods grant me time to finish, I should be fine.

Hope to read the O'Hara novella later today. In the mood for it. In the mood to look at those long Arthurian poems by Robinson, too.

Many years ago I heard a story about E. A. Robinson I like -- and then later I heard it about several other poets. It must be folklore. At any rate, it makes a good point and goes this way:

E. A. Robinson (or your poet of choice) was at a dinner party. A woman cornered him and asked what the daily life of a poet was like. Robinson replied, "Well, madam, today was a typical day. In the morning I inserted a comma in the third line of my new poem. In the afternoon I took it out."

Two good vignettes, a start on a third. A decent day's work in my new non-obsessive mode. Time to go upstairs and join the world.

TV TEASER: Julianne Moore As Sarah Palin In HBO Film ‘Game Change’ –

TV TEASER: Julianne Moore As Sarah Palin In HBO Film ‘Game Change’ –

I can't wait -- till it comes out on DVD.

Starting the day

I'm a routine kind of guy. My day usually happens this way:
  • I get up
  • I feed the dog
  • I turn on Kindle
  • I pee
  • I brush my teeth
  • I take my pills
  • I let out the dog
  • I let in the dog
  • I plop down on the sofa and start reading the L. A. Times on Kindle

After all this, I begin thinking about coffee, breakfast, work, whatever special projects may come to mind.

The more stability in the external life, the more reckless and cutting edge the mental life can be without interior destruction. This is why so many writers are so different in person than you'd imagine them being from their books.

I'm reminded of one of Norman O. Brown's favorite quotations from William Blake, to paraphrase: the real fight, the mental fight, the Fiery Chariot of His Contemplative Thought.

Our culture is in a rush to destroy environments conducive to contemplative thought.

Socially networked reading: Tab it -

Socially networked reading: Tab it -

"Or maybe when you get to that passage, with the swipe of a finger you highlight it and email it to your dad, adding a thanks for his gift. Or you click to add your thoughts to a chorus of readers who found that same passage interesting; or you check to see if there's a link to a video clip; or you find an annotation from the author; or you post it to Twitter or Facebook or Google+, where others can comment on it too.

That's called "social reading," and it's coming to an e-reading app or device near you."

We are losing the art of brooding, contemplation, silence. We see more and more "group think" being heralded with terms like "social networking." Thoreau's "majority of one" becomes an alien idea. And then there's:
"All humanity's troubles come from not knowing how to sit still in one room," - Blaise Pascal.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Marissa Gaeta And Citlalic Snell, U.S. Naval Petty Officers, Share First Same-Sex Kiss At Ship's Return

Marissa Gaeta And Citlalic Snell, U.S. Naval Petty Officers, Share First Same-Sex Kiss At Ship's Return:

"VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- A Navy tradition caught up with the repeal of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule on Wednesday when two women sailors became the first to share the coveted "first kiss" on the pier after one of them returned from 80 days at sea.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta of Placerville, Calif., descended from the USS Oak Hill amphibious landing ship and shared a quick kiss in the rain with her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell of Los Angeles. Gaeta, 23, wore her Navy dress uniform while Snell, 22, wore a black leather jacket, scarf and blue jeans. The crowd screamed and waved flags around them."

Very cool! Especially the crowd cheering.

Finding a book

Blessed be the university library. If you can't find a book, they will track one down for you in some other university somewhere on earth and get it for you. Thus I made a trip in to get The Novellas of John O'Hara, a hard bound copy that looks like it's never been opened, even if it is long out of print. Maybe there's not much demand for the novellas of John O'Hara. But I remember, years ago, reading a novella of his that blew me away, maybe the best novella I'd ever read. I wanted to check it out again, and it only took my university a few weeks to find it. Academia has its advantages.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Study: As teams like the Ducks win more games, grades drop |

Study: As teams like the Ducks win more games, grades drop | Local & Regional | - Portland News, Sports, Traffic Weather and Breaking News

""They drink more when the team wins, they party more than the teams wins, and they study less when the team wins," said professor Jason Lindo, who is one of three co-authors and says the study is the first of its kind."


A story about art and the artist

At the end of the documentary Tales from the Script, screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin, who won an Oscar for Ghost, tells the story of being crucified by critics for My Life, which he also directed. The response was unmerciful and threw him into a state of deep depression. Could the film really be this bad?

Some time later he was at a party. A woman cornered him to tell him a story -- and thank him for My Life. Her husband had died of cancer, and their son was never able to deal with it. Now she had cancer. She and her son saw My Life together, which allowed them to talk about cancer afterwards, and about the boy losing his father, and now his mother sick -- the film brought mother and son together as nothing else could.

Rubin realized that he had written the film not for the critics but for this woman. She was his audience. And it was enough.

This is one of the more important and true stories about the meaning of making art that I know.

Best Films Of 2011: 11 Great Films You May Have Missed

Best Films Of 2011: 11 Great Films You May Have Missed:

A first rate biography

Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair by Anthony Arthur is highly recommended. Sinclair's life was so full of adventure, controversy, ambition and historic significance that it might be harder to make the life uninteresting than otherwise. But Arthur does an admirable job here of walking between two extremes, the passionate approval or disapproval of his subject, which camps had many followers then and now, and I find this book even-handed and convincing in its final evaluations of Sinclair's stature as a writer and historic figure. Some excerpts:

His public position was that he had created a “beautiful Utopia,” no mean achievement. He had “lived in the future.” When he moved with Meta and David into a New Jersey summer beach cottage, back into the “single-family mode of life,” he thought it was “like leaving modern civilization” and retreating to the dark ages.

Sinclair leaned toward conspiracy theories for much of his life, occasionally with good cause. But he had spent not just the monetary but the psychic and artistic capital he had won from The Jungle. He had worked hard, winning a reputation for accuracy and common sense, somewhat compromised by excessive zeal. Now the zeal predominated. He was an American Savonarola, attacking too many evils, too indiscriminately and with too much intensity, to be taken seriously.

A few days after Sinclair returned from jail, he looked through the window of Scott Nearing’s adjacent cabin and saw his best friend and his wife making love. Sinclair now found himself in the first act of what would become a long-running drama. It was the greatest tragedy of his life, not least because for the public at large it was a long-running seriocomic spectacle, a French farce, a scandal almost as juicy as the Harry Thaw / Stanford White / Evelyn Nesbit triangle in 1906.

More positively, Don Quixote, Sinclair suggests, asks a critical question that is obviously close to his own heart: “What shall be the relation of the idealist, the dreamer of good and beautiful things, to the world of ugliness and greed in which he finds himself?” If he tries to apply his vision of the good, “the world will treat him so badly that before he gets through he may be really crazy.”

When American Outpost finally appeared, in 1932, Upton Sinclair was fifty-four years old. He had written one epochal novel, The Jungle, and two others of considerable merit, Oil! and Boston, plus half a dozen works of nonfiction that, taken together, constituted an impressive critique of American institutions as a collective “dead hand.” The moment was right for a summing-up, if not a valedictory—and for a corrective reshaping of the impression that Floyd Dell had left with his 1927 biography. Dell’s Freudian interpretation of Sinclair’s life was admiring and sympathetic, but too narrowly grounded in the notion that Sinclair was a puritan and a neurotic.

Sinclair turned sixty in September 1938. One month later, after nearly four years in search of a proper subject, and at an age when most men retire, he began his new career as a historical novelist. Before that career ended, in 1953, the first year of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration, he would write eleven novels about a charming spy named Lanny Budd— a heroic saga admirable both for its achievement and for the unique combination of qualities it required of its irrepressible creator.

Despite the encomiums of Shaw and Mann, among many others, Sinclair’s books were dismissed by the academy as too popular, too old-fashioned, and too resistant to the tools of literary criticism to be considered as works of art. These objections are valid, but they are overstated and they miss the point. They are overstated because they focus on the poorer examples of Sinclair’s writing instead of the better ones, as this book has tried to do. And they are beside the point because they ignore Sinclair’s effort to reach out to an audience of less well-educated readers without talking down to them, an effort in which he was remarkably successful.

: Artist Liszt : Harriet Kaufman Levi :

: Artist Liszt : Harriet Kaufman Levi ::

Love At Ground Zero

International Children's Art

Wambach handily wins Female Athlete of the Year - Yahoo! News

Wambach handily wins Female Athlete of the Year - Yahoo! News:

Special morning

One of those remarkable productive days when I feel like I've put in a full day's work before noon. The writing went very well this morning, two vignettes covering important ground. The end gets closer. If I could duplicate this energy each morning this week, I'd be very close to the end indeed.

I am anxious to finish because the real fun begins after the first rough draft is done. Then I have better bearings, I have the security blanket of a complete draft, I can wallow in the time-consuming exercise of getting the smallest thing right. Presently it's all about the big picture.

So the rest of the day is mine to read and ... whatever else occurs to me. A great start for the day.

A wealth of warmth and kindness in Century City -

A wealth of warmth and kindness in Century City -

"When that ran out "we discovered that if you're drug and alcohol free, married, employable, not mentally ill … the assistance out there for you is minimal," Kimberly said. Most shelters, she said, don't take families. There's a two-year wait for subsidized housing."

Monday, December 19, 2011

OSCARS: 265 Feature Films In Contention –

OSCARS: 265 Feature Films In Contention –

Space Travel: The Interplanetary Tours Reservation Desk | Wired Science |

Space Travel: The Interplanetary Tours Reservation Desk | Wired Science |

"Today, space travel is closer to reality for ordinary people than it has ever been. Though currently only the super rich are actually getting to space, several companies have more affordable commercial space tourism in their sights and at least one group is going the non-profit DIY route into space."

My head is swimming

Reading the bio of Upton Sinclair is at once a dizzying, humbling, mind-boggling experience, seeing what an energetic, prolific, catholic (small c) writer the guy was. No wonder my high school buddy, who was reading him at the time, couldn't shut up about him.

I knew a bit about Sinclair but had no idea how prolific and versatile he was. And his reputation was better than I thought, despite being controversial. Sinclair Lewis, on getting the Nobel Prize, said 3 other American writers deserved it as much: Dreiser, O'Neill and Sinclair. And his long novel Boston about the Sacco-Vanzetti affair, would have won the Pulitzer except for its Socialist bias, according to the chair of the prize committee.

Besides writing, Sinclair was into communes and movies, all this before running for governor An extraordinary man, personality, crusader, writer.

ESPN football analyst Craig James runs for Senate

News from The Associated Press:

Perfect. This is the asshole who caused Mike Leach all the trouble by advocating for his son of limited talent and otherwise being a pain in the butt. I think Leach is suing him.

Geologists Find Source of Stonehenge’s Inner Stones | Wired Science

Geologists Find Source of Stonehenge’s Inner Stones | Wired Science |