Thursday, March 31, 2011

Portable apps

In the office early setting up my flash drive for class. Not sure why I never did this before. U3 programs like Firefox, Celtx, getting everything I need together so I don't have to use whatever computer is in the classroom -- a matter of convenience, I suppose. I can make the bookmarks I need etc. Took me over 10 years to figure this out ha ha.

Running errands

I love running errands -- as long as I am alone. Because if I'm alone, then I can turn the experience into a slow brooding creative private brainstorming session about whatever the hell I'm working on or what's bugging me to be worked on ... I can mumble, talk to myself, take my time, and otherwise take an hour doing a 15 minute chore. Doesn't work too well if the wife or anyone else is around.

Hence this morning, when returning library books and buying supplies for scrapple became a long session of brooding. Brooding is one a writer's most valuable tools. When those early producers in LaLaLand found the studio screenwriters staring out the window all the time, they didn't think they were working. Little did they know.

Easy day in class, I think, the first couple weeks usually are because I introduce so many concepts that are new to most of the students. Today I'll try out the Portable Celtx I put on a flash drive and talk about format and writing style while developing a script on the screen. Usually I do it by hand on a chalk board or whatever they call those white boards that sometimes replace "black boards," as they were called when I was a student in class. Also have a couple short videos to show, interviews with screenwriters ... and then next Tues I'll show the feature documentary "Tales from the Script." I give them a lot of exposure to the pro's from the start, who of course say the same thing I or any competent screenwriting teacher says. But when so many are saying the same thing, more or less, it has an impact.

I need a short project of my own for this term. I'm not ready to get serious about the novella yet, I see that as being obsessive and taking most of my mental time. A summer project. I'll keep writing poems, of course, and I can get a jump start on putting the book together ... but I'd like a new project that takes a couple months. I've had a couple ideas for stage plays but I keep remembering what a "former playwright," now successful screenwriter, once told me, that now and again he had an idea for a stage play but he found that banging his head against the wall and drinking a lot of whiskey got rid of it for him. He was speaking, of course, to the lack of remuneration for such work, especially when compared to screenwriting. I mean, you can make more money on screenplays that go nowhere than on stage plays that do well!  This may have been more true in the 80s when Option Fever became a pandemic among producers. But playwriting can be thankless unless it's so much in your blood, you love it so much, that you do it, and theater generally, despite everything. I don't have the energy or dedication any more -- though I still flirt, now and again, with the idea of forming my own company and doing small serious plays, writing and directing myself. Well the video does the same thing with larger exposure.

On the other hand, I feel genuine relief and excitement about doing a project, the novella ahead, that requires no collaboration. I love working with actors. But I also love, and often more, working alone.

Well. The point is, I am fumbling around for a term project to get me to the summer. Or maybe I should just spend all that energy on practicing the banjo and get much better at it.

Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why west is best

Lazy afternoon

Got some actual work done this morning, finishing an old screenplay and getting into passive marketing. Feel like I've accomplished something. Then a little banjo practice for my first class tonight. I'm presentable if not great.

It occurred to me, there's a periodic string band class in town but it's always on Tues night when I teach. BUT next school year I teach at noon -- so I can take the string band class! And by the gods I think I will. Something else to look forward to.

It's nice to look forward to things, especially when some folks think I'm morbid ha ha. Morbidity looks forward only to one thing.

Songs of Woody Guthrie

Charles Deemer and Jim Wylie sing the songs of Woody Guthrie.

When someone remembers

A comment on a 2007 post here, in which I remember my mentor the late Dean Regenos, has good things to say about Dean from someone who knew him before I did, who credits Dean with the reason he got excited about and went into theater. We're not forgotten by everyone all the time, which is comforting to remember.

Portable Celtx

Celtx, the terrific FREE screenplay format software, has a portable version that you can run from a flash drive on any PC, thus giving screenwriters great mobility. It's available at a Danish website.

Portable Celtx homepage.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Home sweet home

Exhausted and glad to be home. Teaching takes more out of me the older I get. I couldn't teach two classes back to back any more.

And Baylor is losing! God I hope the Baylor women lose. I dislike them because they play men's style with their gigantic center. Boring.

Curtain Call (poem)

Curtain Call

I suspect it will happen
without warning or fanfare
without drama or premonition

now you see him now
you don't sort of thing

and of course there will be
those who are surprised
and those who aren't
but no one collapses
from shock

the tidbit in the paper
gets published or not
and a gathering of sorts
arranged by my wife
and some come
and some don't
a few nice things get said

somebody reads something
if I get my way but
of course I'll never know

and that's about it really
maybe a few mentions now
and again but there's no family
legacy to speak of

just a library full of writing
an online archive the same
gathering dust and whatever it is
that happens in cyberspace
to megs of forgotten bytes

finally no one remembers much
of anything and says less
silence begets silence

even dust to dust suggests
more activity than merited

by oblivion

--Charles Deemer

Life In Portland (poem)

Life In Portland

you own the sky she said
look up and claim your space
but when I did all I got
was water in my eyes

--Charles Deemer


Managed to take notes and finish the proofing of a manuscript, which I can update tomorrow and send off. So the afternoon was very productive here in the office. A former student roamed by  and stopped, and we chatted. He's doing very well, just took a full time job with a publisher.

Office sweet office, or Excitement

A new term! I'm here 4 hours early with bells ringing. And I'm looking forward to fall already, when I teach at noon, which will be a new experience on campus here for me.

I brought work to do, some proofing on Kindle, some newspaper/magazine catch up reading. I can keep myself busy. I've always been good at that.

A very full class this term, a bit larger than usual. They upped the minimum and I usually let a few strays in. Also I am using a new book, the new collection of screenwriting exercises that I contributed to. Gives students a very wide sampling of approaches to craft.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Civilization (poem)


reading today about
Guatemala I am reminded
how we who call ourselves
civilized wear blinders
to the red core of
our violent world

in civil wars especially
where bodies are
hacked dismembered
women raped
babies crushed
their brains splattered
against wall and tree
the natural order of death

we prefer to pretend
such things never happen

how much easier to drop
bombs from great heights
where victims are too
small to reveal suffering
than to lift a crying
baby in your hand and
swing its small head
against the nearest

fruit tree

--Charles Deemer

Romance (poem)


in line at Starbucks
she leans forward
and kisses him
soft as her skin
in the shower earlier
their glow still fresh
all things possible

divorce for example
when this moment
gets forgotten
and there's the tragedy
not the divorce
but the forgetting

let nothing negate
the kiss at Starbucks
it matters it counts
and without it
in a zero-sum universe
the balance of the world
tips askew

you must horde the good
moments in memory
despite everything

--Charles Deemer

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Unthinkable foursome heading to Houston - Yahoo! News

Unthinkable foursome heading to Houston - Yahoo! News

What do people live for?

Thanks, Mark.

Coming this summer from Round Bend Press

Sports Pundits

I've never liked sports pundits but they've become more outrageous than ever as the culture entered the Age of Arrogance and Hype. They are verbose, obnoxious, egotistical with few exceptions. So I am delighted they are so wrong about March Madness. Almost no upsets, they said. They were outraged, OUTRAGED, that VCU got into the tournament.

So what happens? More upsets than usual! And VCU upsets #1 Kansas today and goes to the Final Four, where they will play ... BUTLER! I love it.

Obituaries (poem)


the morning paper gives
an artist friend several
dozen inches and photo
but only because my wife
hounded them to do so

nearby an old man
who drove a bus
gets brief polite
required notice
of his passing
no photo

does it come to this?
coverage in the obit
section of the paper
with the squeaky wheel
getting the grease?

later in households
throughout the city
both artist and driver
wrap the garbage

another monument to

--Charles Deemer

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My favorite mother-in-law story

In the early 70s, "Sally's" parents visited us in Eugene, where we were both grad students. It was summer, we had time off, so planned a trip up the coast together, ending up in Seattle to visit S's brother. On the FIRST NIGHT, staying at the Oregon coast, at one of the fancier resorts, S and her father got into a huge argument during dinner. It continued after dinner at the bar. They were arguing about how he treated her jr high school boyfriend. I couldn't believe it! Anyway, Martha and I bailed and ended up taking a long walk on the beach. I really dug her, so this was a grand time. However, we returned to discover that S and her father refused to continue on the trip together, so we drove back to Eugene and they rented a car and continued up the coast. Unbelievable!

However, decades later, I would be reminded of S's capacity to hold a grudge because after she came out, she held one against me and holds it to this day. Unbelievable once again. UNBELIEVABLE.

Well, my dear departed mother said it all: "people are more interesting than anybody."

Belated R.I.P.

I just learned one of my favorite people, my ex mother-in-law Martha Stewart, died late in 2008. I thought I'd be on the list to know but just learned from my former sister-in-law that I wasn't. Apologies etc. Out of sight out of mind and all that.

Martha Ross Stewart

7/14/15 – 12/10/08

After a long struggle, Martha Ross Stewart died in her sleep of heart failure at age 93. She was born during the First World War to Harriet Wightman and Milton Hurlock Ross in the Forrest Dale ward, west of Sugar House. All the stories indicate she was an active, bright, talented, child. At age seven she won first prize at the Utah State Fair for a water color. She skipped two grades to graduate from LDS High School at age 15, then entered the University of Utah. There she honed her artistic and poetic skills, affiliated with phi kappa alpha and Mortar Board honorary societies, edited the Pen literary quarterly magazine and graduated with honors in Art at 20.
Martha married Justin Call Stewart NewYears Eve, 1935 in New York City. They had three children, Peter, born in 1938, Polly, in 1943, and Heather, in 1948. While raising them, she found time to pursue her painting and poetry, and later took up stained glass work. Martha was celebrated among friends and family for her magical lino-cut Christmas cards which she produced for over fifty years.
She and Justin were long-time members of the First Unitarian Church and Humanists of Utah.
In 1954 Martha began to work at the Salt Lake Public Library, and subsequently worked at the State Library for the Blind and the Utah Historical Society, retiring in 1980. She became a docent at the University of Utah Art Museum, often wearing thematic costumes and delighting in teaching children around Salt Lake valley. Martha also enchanted generations of children with her paper cut-outs of birds and butterflies.
Through her last fifteen years, Martha hosted a bi-weekly waffle brunch at her home in the Avenues where the company was always lively and provocative.
Preceded in death by Justin, Martha is survived by her siblings, Ruth and Zaner and her children Peter, and Polly Stewart and Heather Stewart Dorrell, six grand children, Kate, Rachel, Leslie, Brett, Justin and Gawain; eight great grand children, and one great, great grand child.

Martha was an accomplished artist and a warm and witty woman. She was infamous for her puns. Her death leaves a void in our lives. 

I like this Saturday because ...

  • all necessary chores completed by 10 a.m.
  • lots of banjo practice time
  • women's March Madness back in gear
  • beginning to feel like spring is here
  • summer not far behind
  • lots of brooding about summer novella, which will be a hoot to write
  • usual blessings

A new Candide

Voltaire covered the bases for the "best of all possible worlds" mentality in Candide. Maybe it's time for the equivalent satire of the "worst of all possible worlds" mentality. If it's already been written, I don't know it.

Hope to get some banjo work done today. Received files I missed from first day of class a few days ago when I was at the beach.

Also women Madness reengages, Sweet 16. Women play a more interesting game than the men do, and this will be true until they raise the men's hoops by at least a foot.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Why grammar matters

"I contain multitudes"

Despite the last two poems, I'm in great spirits tonight! How can this be? Whitman told us: "I contain multitudes."

Many people, it appears, are more humane than their governments.

At any rate, did some revising of the syllabus and more to do. Should be able to print it tomorrow and get it copied.

Why Life Is A Comedy (poem)

Why Life Is A Comedy

if Victor Frank can find
meaning to life in a
Nazis concentration camp

surely yours truly
can find something meaningful
in Portland Oregon

--Charles Deemer

Despair (poem)


I despair for those
who will outlive me

their world soon enough
will become horrific

getting even worse
through all their days

voting and all that
never fixes anything

the elected President
always belies the campaign

Wall Street gets anything
it wants rich getting richer

nobody protests money anyway
because everybody wants it

and here's the final insult
Nature is sick of us

Nature is sick of us
before we're sick of ourselves

instead of riots in the streets
earthquakes floods and fissure

and as we await Death
we cry out for God

passing the buck
even at the end

in one final gasp
rejecting responsibility

--Charles Deemer

Teaching hat

Wrote draft of new syllabus this morning. Need to proof and digest it, make necessary changes. To copy center tomorrow.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ralph Nader Calls For Ending Athletic Scholarships

Ralph Nader Calls For Ending Athletic Scholarships

Hear, hear!

Arizona creams Duke 93-77

Takes some of the sting off BYU and SDSU losing earlier. Also Butler winning big so far, which would make me 2-2 tonight.

R.I.P. Lanfod Wilson

A nap at the beach

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coastal trance

The ocean does not inspire work. I have things I can do, should do, but I keep staring at the ocean in a state of half-sleep with no energy to do a damn thing.

Ocean (poem)


what draws me to
the inscrutable ocean
of many moods is

a larger constancy
a reach toward eternity
a voice like immortality

coming before everything
remaining after everything
always, always Ocean

--Charles Deemer

Fame & faith

Roiphe's incredible memoir (see below) raises questions that linger. Yes, as a young writer I sought "Fame" but this was not the fame of a movie star or rock star. This was the fame of Einstein. This was the fame of someone who discovered and shared a profound truth, in literature's case about the human condition. One wanted to be not just good but damn good, amazingly good. One wanted to get a response from others like the response you gave your favorite authors.

Of course, I learned as I aged how little "Fame" has to do with merit. This is a similar insight to learning, when I reached the point in my career when I was asked to judge literary competitions, that contests are about judges, not writers. Fame is about the culture, not art.

Yet there is a kind of fame wedded to merit but for the writer it works on a more one-to-one basis, a connection between the work and the individual observer. This is why I am so pleased about Sirc's comment on my essay -- especially his description of reading it in the dark basement of his university library. He found a treasure! That's what I want to do, write something that a reader finds in an unlikely place and considers it a treasure. Like I now treasure Roiphe's memoir, which I had never heard of but found and was attracted to its title, Art and Madness,

Or it's the fame of spontaneous appreciation, as when a single audience member at the curtain of my play "Country Northwestern" yelled out, "This play has balls!" No critic's praise can make me feel better than that. Or when a poet acquaintance caught up with me to say that he thought my short story "The Idaho Jacket" was the best fiction he'd ever read about the Northwest, including Kesey.

These are just opinions, of course, but they also are sincere connections. You write for the people who "get it," who get what you are trying to say. This is not a message, however; it's an experience, an emotional moment to share, an emotional truth to share. And I've been fortunate in this respect, despite not being a Superstar Writer. I've had my share of folks get it and communicate to me they get it, including a few critics who do that sort of thing for a living. And I've had the opposite, just to keep me honest, just to keep me from getting a swelled head. As my mother used to say, It all comes out in the wash.

I'm also fortunate to have two large archives of my work at two universities, one of them maintained online. This means the possibility exists that another Sirc will wander to my work after I pass. Indeed I have faith, the usual irrational faith, that this will happen. A grad student, most likely, wandering the Univ of Oregon library for a thesis topic. Stumbles upon my archive. Is blown away. This, too, is the ultimate compliment, "I'm blown away by ..." The one work of mine that drew this more than any other is my novel Kerouac's Scroll, no doubt because it is truthful and real about male experience of a certain generation and environment. Those who shared this react accordingly.

Roiphe ends her book by saying she would never do it all over again. Terry Southern's ex wife, in contrast, would. And I would myself. I made my share of mistakes but I'd do it all again. In fact, I'm not sure I'd be capable of doing otherwise.

And despite having outlived all my closest friends, which results in a new experience of loneliness, I like where I am today. I don't have a lot of years left but I sure as hell am going to live them with gratitude and as much energy that a still vibrant mind can muster from a weary body.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Afternoon in Lincoln City

The wonders of traveling with a Flip and a netbook.

Why write?

"One of the Composition-specific articles in this genre of radical sixties pedagogy, one which I have never been able to forget since the day I first read it in the dimly-lit stacks of my university's library, was written in 1967 by a young graduate teaching assistant at the University of Oregon, Charles Deemer." (G. Sirc)
Because writing assumes a reader who matters. Because writing assumes community, however small. Even if writing for "a majority of one," writing never happens in a vacuum.


Gerry Mulligan & Chet Baker
One of the things I love about Portland -- and I find less to love every year -- is its jazz radio station, KMHD. It's the first thing I turn on when I'm in the car, and I usually stay there, though now and again I won't like the music and switch to the classical station. (I almost never listen to the renowned local community station KBOO which is too new agey for me but I do like its Sat morn bluegrass). KMHD plays a lot, a whole lot, of music from the 1950s west coast "cool" jazz period that I grew up on. So here I am in my 70s, often listening to the same music I listened to in my 20s. Indeed the argument can be made the cool jazz is the greatest common denominator in my life. A rather startling thing to realize.

Always Money for War, But Never for Schools | Common Dreams

Always Money for War, But Never for Schools | Common Dreams

Monday, March 21, 2011

Gonzaga 89 UCLA 75

Station finally returned to give me the 2nd half of this and what a victory for 11-seed Gonzaga! If UCLA had to lose, this is a team I also like a lot. Go Zags to the Sweet 16.

Zag's Courtney Vandersloot became first Div I player, man or woman, to have 2000 career pts and 1000 career assists. Best point guard in the country.

March Madness improvement

To see how much better March Madness coverage is for the men's tournament this year, with ALL games telecast on four stations, all one has to do is watch the women's tournament with the older style coverage where they cut between games. Thus I was involved in the UCLA-Gonzaga game, close early on, and the station cuts to give me Kentucky-NC, which doesn't interest me at all. Stanford is also playing now. 3 teams in the west are not featured in the west! I hate it. But can the women's game get the commercial interest to copy the new men's coverage template? Probably not.

My career: a summary by books

If you read these books in order, you'd have a roughly chronological literary experience of following my career.

The Man Who Shot Elvis and other stories The Man Who Shot Elvis and other stories ... I began writing seriously as a writer of literary short stories, finally breaking into the market and publishing with some consistency. Three stories were selected for the Roll of Honor in the annual Best American Short Stories anthology. At about this time, I abandoned fiction (a failing novel) for playwriting.

Seven Plays Seven Plays (finalist, Oregon Book Award) ... The best decade for my playwriting career was in the 1980s when I was playwright-in-residence at the New Rose Theatre and later at the Cubiculo Theatre. I had a solid regional reputation.

Movies They Should Have Made Movies They Should Have Made ... I started screenwriting after a producer bought the film rights to my play Waitresses. I optioned scripts and eventually had several shorts made, then much later started making my own digital films. I've actually made more money as a screenwriter than as a playwright despite more production and critical success in the theater.

The Seagull Hyperdrama The Seagull Hyperdrama ...  A commissioned theater piece introduced me to what is now called hyerdrama and I became addicted. This is the area in which I am best known internationally, my work considered in several graduate theses in European countries. I even am credited with coining the term hyperdrama in one book but this may not be true. At any rate, just as moving to theater took energy from short fiction, my enthusiasm for hyperdrama took energy from traditional theater. In both cases, my overall career was not advanced by these enthusiasms -- but I followed my bliss, as they say.

Kerouac's Scroll (n/a) Kerouac's Scroll ...  As I aged, I got tired of collaboration and returned to fiction, not to stories but to novels. This is the book that has received the most praise from my peers.

Dead Body in a Small Room: A Mystery Dead Body In A Small Room ...  I also tried my hand at mystery fiction. This one was a Mystery of the Year finalist at Foreword Magazine.

Dark Mission (Library Edition) Dark Mission ...  I wrote the libretto for John Nugent's fine opera.

Dress Rehearsals: The Education of a Marginal Writer Dress Rehearsals ... My somewhat complicated career is the focus of my memoir.

All these books (and others) are available at Amazon. Here is the link to begin.

Coming this summer, In My Old Age, my first book of poems.



My own adventures at the end of the era about which Roiphe writes. Well, maybe the era never ends.

Anne Roiphe nails it

I've never read a better depiction of the darker side of creativity than Roiphe's memoir Art and Madness, focusing on her late teens and twenties during the 1950s-60s when she was an artist-writer groupie, in essence, all this prelude to her own considerable achievements as a writer. She is frank and revealing, nails the period and its primary male forces, and raises questions about "art and madness" that may still be unresolved. This is as fine a memoir of the era as I've read. I haven't finished it yet and may have more to say later. From the book:
Only jazz musicians took drugs. It wasn’t that everyone else was cautious or uninterested. But the bar was open and men drank and writers drank more and no one I knew thought of this as a disease, no one intervened to prevent anyone else’s thirst. A dry writer was to be pitied.

Deemer's special breakfast

I've never seen anything like this on  a menu anywhere but it's a first rate breakfast.

  • Make Snoqualmie Falls Lodge oatmeal. No other brand will do. Try it and you'll understand.
  • Heat a cold slice of scrapple in the microwave for one minute.
  • Fry two eggs, preferably sunnyside up.
  • Put the scrapple in a bowl. Put the eggs on the scrapple. Cover with oatmeal. Add milk or cream.
  • Incredible!

Body and Soul at 4 a.m. (poem)

Body and Soul at 4 a.m.

in bed beside me
a guttural staccato
heavy breathing
a symphony of sleep

and then a change
softer and melodic
almost like longing
almost like desire

somehow my wife
regresses to find
her voice as a
teenage girl

--Charles Deemer

Sunday, March 20, 2011

At the Bar (poem)

At the bar

they are not hard to find
sitting at the bar
alone but talkative
laughing smoking coughing
telling jokes even if
nobody is listening
maybe buying a round
men needing attention
men needing distraction
if only for a few drinks
before paying up
before heading home
another lonely man
another married man
who needs to get laid

--Charles Deemer

Conversations (poem)


when my closest friends
were still alive
we'd often get together
for coffee or drinks

and our conversations
reached deep into
our essential selves
with trust and affection

today my conversations
have little reach
beyond some trifling
remark about whatever

it is that people
talk about when
they have nothing
important to say

in my head I still
talk to my friends
but they have yet to


--Charles Deemer Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach finding it difficult to land his next coaching job | College Sports Blog | Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach finding it difficult to land his next coaching job

I think he got royally screwed because the kid's father is an ESPN bigshot. I hope he wins in his lawsuit.

Ritual for first day of Spring

To recite cummings: as long as you and i have arms and lips which are for kissing and to sing with, who cares if some oneeyed sonofabitch invents an instrument to measure Spring with?

The Only Time a No. 16 Beat a Top-Seeded Team - New York Times

The Only Time a No. 16 Beat a Top-Seeded Team - New York Times:

"That matchup has happened 148 times in the men’s or the women’s tournament, and the 1998 Harvard team remains the only one to pull that most improbable feat, beating host Stanford, 71-67, in a game that resonates for members of both teams 10 years later."

The Harvard women did it in 1998!

The Tourist (poem)

The Tourist

I feel like a tourist
without a destination

which is to say
where I am isn't home

where I'm going
isn't clear

waiting for the bus
that never comes

leaving me to do
what I do well

which is to amuse
myself in solitude

--Charles Deemer


Just sent off notes on my last script, Double check grades and I'm done, my break begins on Monday.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Highlight of the day (so far)

#11 seed underdog Gonzaga women won and move on. UCLA men lost. By the Elite Eight (men's) I may have no one left to root for. Best game upcoming, Gonzaga-BYU men's and I'll root for Gonzaga but will root for whoever wins in the next round.

Tennessee women won by 60 pts. Ouch.


It's so much easier to read on the Kindle that "normal reading" almost has become a nuisance. Consequently I uploaded my two student scripts to Kindle, figuring out how best to do this, and I'll read them there -- I can take notes, too -- and we'll see how this works out.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Nicholl deadlines approach

April 1 early, May 2 final. Information.

Almost there

Only 2 scripts to go and the work of a late student. The scripts are from advanced students and longer. Hope to get one done today, one tomorrow, then hear from the late student and I'll be done.

Can't imagine how the games today can be more exciting than yesterday, which was a rare day indeed. Tomorrow the women start, and I follow them more closely usually, after the initial games. 4 very strong women's teams this year: Conn, Tenn, Baylor and Stanford. I'm rooting for UCLA and Stanford. One interesting  pairing ... UCLA meets Montana for first game. If Portland State had won the Big Sky tourny, as they were favored to do, it would have been UCLA v. Portland State, which would have been fun if a mismatch.

Made a batch of scrapple. Mental health project.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's never over

I mentioned UCLA's inconsistency. With 8 mins left they had a 23 pt lead over Mich St .... now with 4 secs, a ONE point lead. They are bringing it inbounds ... tick tick ... quick foul ... UCLA shoots 2 ... makes first ... misses, 2 pt lead ... Mich St travels ... UCLA wins by 2. Whew.

#11 seed Gonzaga looking like the 3rd upset ... if all holds, 16 games, 3 upsets, 3 favs win at buzzer. Not bad for the first day.

Corned beef and cabbage

Harriet made this last night and it's even better tonight. Man!

Solartopia, Not Nuclear Dystopia | Common Dreams

Solartopia, Not Nuclear Dystopia | Common Dreams

Summit Scandal At The Hollywood Reporter –

Summit Scandal At The Hollywood Reporter –

This sort of trade off is not rare nor recent. Saw it all the time in my journalism days, esp with business publications, incl the one I worked for.

Princeton Tigers vs. Kentucky Wildcats - NCAA Tournament Game - Recap - March 17, 2011 - ESPN

Princeton Tigers vs. Kentucky Wildcats - NCAA Tournament Game - Recap - March 17, 2011 - ESPN

So far, so good

Mostly competitive games, more than the usual buzzer beaters (3 games!, all won by favs), and two big upsets, a great start to March Madness. My favorite game thus far, Princeton's 2 pt loss to Kentucky, genuine student jocks against a professional farm team, and the brainy kids only lost by a bucket. I think there will be at least one more upset before the day is over. In fact, I worry about UCLA being one of those upset victims. They aren't very consistent.

An early upset in March Madness!

#13 seed Morehead State beat Louisville 62-61! I love it. The pundits said there would be few upsets this year but, as usual, who can trust the pundits and upsets make for a better dance. Off to a good start. Moreover, brainy Princeton hung in with storied Kentucky in the first half. The more upsets the better.

Amateur night

"Serious drinkers" hate St. Patrick's Day. It's a night like New Year's Eve when the amateur drinkers come out of the sobriety stations, fill the bars, change the environment, drink too much, get sick, and otherwise ruin the usual night of drinking for the pro. I know, I used to be one of them. Hated St. Paddy's, hated New Year's eve. Hated, hated, hated. Bars were turned into fraternities. Amateur night.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Need a second wind

Current student grades in, continuing/advanced students left to do.

Tomorrow probably.

Time for a coffee break. Time for a basketball game break.

North America Safe From Radioactive Particles | Wired Science |

North America Safe From Radioactive Particles | Wired Science |

Famous After Death: Posthumously Appreciated Authors (PHOTOS)

Famous After Death: Posthumously Appreciated Authors (PHOTOS)

How an invading army changes from Chinese to North Korean: Reel China -

How an invading army changes from Chinese to North Korean: Reel China -

"Without Beijing even uttering a critical word, MGM is changing the villains in its 'Red Dawn' remake from Chinese to North Korean. It's all about maintaining access to the Asian superpower's lucrative box office."

Morning Fantasy (poem)

Morning Fantasy

in this morning's fantasy
I'm in bed with a young beautiful
poet ballet dancer
professor of Greek mythology
whose husband is furious
to find us in bed together
discussing Sisyphus

I'm lucky to escape with
my life my underwear
hobbling through the gray damp
morning wearing only skivvies

a middle-aged overweight
woman picks me up
who assumes I'm on my way
to the VA hospital where
she's a psychiatric nurse
no the nearest bus stop
would be nice can I
borrow a dollar for fare?

when she drops me off
she says you don't remember me
do you? a former student!
still angry I gave her
a B not an A

the bus driver won't let
me on until the riders
protest in chorus
"let the old coot on!
let the old coot on!"

of course I don't have
my apartment key telling
the manager some story or
other he lets me in
where I take a very
very hot shower ready to
go back to bed and wake up
from this nightmare

but not yet because
the professor poet
ballet dancer is
in bed waiting for me
wearing her tutu
humming Tchaikovsky

I scream at her
"I don't want to hear
any more about Sisyphus!"

when the manager arrives
complaining of noise
I tell him the TV volume
was on too loud sorry
and he reminds me the rent
is due so I write a check
on his arm and head back
to bed and he says

you sure do have an interesting

--Charles Deemer

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The company you keep

I read an obscenity in the news today. The online story was about librarians boycotting ebooks from HarperCollins because they want to limit their use. The story said the publisher's authors include Doris Lessing, Joyce Carol Oates ... and Sarah Palin! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS!?

Summer book

Terry Simons at Round Bend Press wants to publish a book of my poems, which sounds good to me and by summer I should have enough for a slim volume, which I'd call IN MY OLD AGE. There are the ones I publish here, which I'll consider drafts to revise, discard, or keep as is when I assemble them, plus I want to add three short libretti I did based on Maupassant short stories, an old project with a composer that fell through but may be getting revived. At any rate, Terry is excited to do it and you can't argue with enthusiasm. I also hope to plod forward on the new novella, to do some composing myself on the art song to film later, maybe in the fall, and also to continue my growing banjo skills and maybe even make a CD for friends (certainly nothing more than this with my average playing).

Thinking about those stories by Coover and Sorrentino that knock my socks off, I was wondering if I've ever written something that does this. Moments, surely. But a complete work? I know it wouldn't be any of my popular things, though these also are some with moments I cherish ... but candidates for whole pieces that wow me now, as in "man, was I really that good (once)?", are several early short stories, especially "The Thing at 34 degrees..." and "The Idaho Jacket" and maybe the novella "Love At Ground Zero" and maybe the plays "The Stiff" and "Sad Laughter" (and a former agent puts the screenplay version of this at the top of his list) and maybe the screenplay "The Brazen Wing," but none of these really knock me for a loop the way Coover and Sorrentino do, so I'll probably never reach their mark, but then this is all "matters of taste" (already heard from someone who thinks the Coover story is pretty STUPID (!!!)), and anyway great moments are nothing to sneeze at and I've written quite a few of those in various works over the years, perhaps some of the best in my novel "Kerouac's Scroll." Well, suffice to say, I can be proud of my archive and that is no small way to be when one comes around the clubhouse turn.

Hmm, I think when you don't have kids and grandkids you spend a lot of your old age trying to justify your existence ha ha.

Puddle City

Man, it's raining hard! Better check the basement. Hope it lets up before I have to hobble to campus in it.

Old Couples (poem)

Old Couples

I envy old couples
who were young together

who can see through
wrinkles and flab

and find the young
firm and innocent

bodies full of wonder
full of wonder

whose aged minds
still see mysteries

whose aching limbs
embrace like young


--Charles Deemer

My Memorial (poem)

My Memorial

when I'm gone I won't know
what happens so maybe it's
not worth mentioning but

I hope a few people gather
and read from my work
to send me off

my wife knows what
to do with my ashes
which is a private affair

but something more public
would be nice though of course
how the hell will I know?

and anyway most the people
inclined to do such a thing
are dead or long gone

you couldn't fill a room
with those who remember
anything I've done

or so it seems to me
but honestly I don't know
if I'm right or wrong

and will never know
so what the hell
what happens happens

it's been nice

--Charles Deemer

With praise like this ...

"I really liked your film. I fell asleep in the middle of it but what I saw I liked."

Gee, thanks.

Around the clubhouse turn ...

A few more projects to evaluate this morning. To the university to pick up finals this afternoon. They are easier to grade, should get through them tomorrow and Thurs and turn in grades before the end of the week.

Then lots to do before school starts again.

Daily Kos: Wife Plans to Sign Recall Of Wisconsin R Senator.

Daily Kos: Wife Plans to Sign Recall Of Wisconsin R Senator.

The maid already signed it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Daily Kos: Why There Are So Few Scientists And Engineers In Politics

Daily Kos: Why There Are So Few Scientists And Engineers In Politics:

"Given that all of our serious challenges have a scientific or technological component, and that half of all economic growth over the past century can be attributed to technological advancement, and that the US is rapidly losing its scientific and technological edge, this lack of scientists and engineers in government is a serious problem for our country. "

Daily Kos: The New Corporate Media: $315 Million for Huffington Post Owners Costs Pink Slips for 200 Americans

Daily Kos: The New Corporate Media: $315 Million for Huffington Post Owners Costs Pink Slips for 200 Americans:

"Huffington Post celebrated this acquisition by announcing a ramped up corporate team as their 'contributors,' but do you know what they have to say about this AOL layoff? Nothing, except the syndicated AP report. That's right. A website famous for its opinions and 'fighting' cojones has nothing original to say about its new corporate overlords laying people off."

Greed knows no political boundaries.


I have no experience in parenting, which puts me in a minority of those without one of the basic human experiences. I decided half a century ago that my "children" would be my literary works, for better or for worse -- and it's been for both over the years. As I've gotten older, I occasionally regret this decision but whenever I do the gods expose me to the dark side of parenting, parents suffering incredible grief over addict kids and worse, and my own regret turns to counting my blessings. I am godfather to two grown men I've known since they were babies, sons of my late soul brother, so I enjoy this small part of the experience. All in all, I suppose I would do the same thing all over again. Yet, it would be nice to have grandkids playing sports to watch etc.

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

Here's a major form of mindless television entertainment, drooling over amazing food concoctions from around the country. Now and again a Portland joint is featured but, alas, I've been disappointed when I visit the place myself. It always looks better on TV than it ends up being in person. I keep waiting for a place to feature scrapple but not yet.

Jordan Hasay

His Death (poem)

His Death

His death was a stone
dropped from a great height

shattering on the sidewalk
to startle a few passersby

by its silence

--Charles Deemer

Coover's story is "stunning"

That's how a writer friend in Paris describes it after I sent her the link. Man, it has been a very, very long time -- since the 60s and Gilbert Sorrentino's story "The Moon In Its Flight" -- since a short story has hit me so powerfully. I keep rereading it in total awe at the literary accomplishment. This story, like Sorrentino's, reaches a level all its own and makes "realistic" fiction seem, well, almost quaint. The truth here is delivered in such an original, quick, instant way, it's yes stunning. Stunning. Best story I've ever read about what Thoreau called man's "lives of quiet desperation."

In contrast, the Sorrentino story is about first love. I can still remember the last line, at least to paraphrase it. The first love doesn't go into the future but many years later the lovers meet and go to a hotel room. Then he goes home to his wife. Sorrentino writes something like, I know you'll accuse me of sloppy writing when I say she told him he was white as a ghost but that's exactly what she said. Art cannot rescue anybody from anything.

Pow! I stand in awe of Sorrentino and Coover.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Robert Coover: “Going for a Beer” : The New Yorker

Robert Coover: “Going for a Beer” : The New Yorker:

"He finds himself sitting in the neighborhood bar drinking a beer at about the same time that he began to think about going there for one. In fact, he has finished it. Perhaps he’ll have a second one, he thinks, as he downs it and asks for a third. There is a young woman sitting not far from him who is not exactly good-looking but good-looking enough, and probably good in bed, as indeed she is. Did he finish his beer? Can’t remember. What really matters is: Did he enjoy his orgasm? Or even have one? This he is wondering on his way home through the foggy night streets from the young woman’s apartment"

The best short story I've read in decades! Brilliant.

Undaunted! More Than 100,000 Wisconsinites Rally "To Take Our State Back!" | Common Dreams

Undaunted! More Than 100,000 Wisconsinites Rally "To Take Our State Back!" | Common Dreams

Greensboro, NC, war stories

Greensboro always comes front and center during March Madness, always hosting games. And I knew this years ago when I took my one and only trip there. Their community theater company was doing my play Christmas at the Juniper Tavern and they flew me out for several days to see the opening and also to visit a number of colleges in the area and talk about playwriting. It was a good gig.

To my surprise, the theater was in the same huge complex as the basketball court -- so when I was asked what I wanted to do in town, the first thing I wanted to do was see the court! They found a janitor to open it up and I got to peek at the basketball court where I'd seen so many games on TV.

Later I also visited the memorial where the Greensboro sit-in at the lunch counter happened and also O. Henry's house. But the first thing was the March Madness court.

It was an amazing production because the actor playing Swami Kree was dying of cancer. On opening night, he decided scene by scene whether he had strength to come out or to pass to his understudy. He did over half the scenes and he died before the run was over. Given the content of the play, and the Eastern attitude toward death, this made for a pretty unique experience for all involved.

I remember a party with the actors when, as guest of honor, I was given the worm in a bottle of whatever it was called, like tequila. I took it but didn't swallow, figuring to spit it out later. Shortly afterwards I was talking to an actress and she suddenly screamed. One end of the worm was peeking out between my lips! There went my image as Mr. Cool.

It was a very good gig in Greensboro and a trip I'll always remember.

Sunday morning

NY Times on Kindle & coffee ... breakfast (scrapple & eggs on toast) ... read a project ... TV special on March Madness ... back to projects.

Each year the Madness has more hype, more greed, it may not be worth watching down the road. Very sad. Greed and hype ruin more good things.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

NCAA Indoor Championships: Tough, determined, Jordan Hasay leads Oregon to the NCAA women's title |

NCAA Indoor Championships: Tough, determined, Jordan Hasay leads Oregon to the NCAA women's title |

"COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- No. 1 Oregon landed the knockout punch when Jordan Hasay led a 1-3-4 finish in the mile, and the Ducks won the women's NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship going away Saturday in Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium.

Hasay broke a 29-year-old school record by finishing in 4 minutes 33.01 seconds, then came back to outkick Villanova's Sheila Reid and win the 3,000 meters in 9:13.71.

It was a dominating performance before a crowd of 4,487, by both individual and team."

I saw her run in Eugene as a high school student -- and the crowd maintained a deafening chant, "Come to Oregon! Come to Oregon!" It worked.

Oregon high school girls: Jesuit 42, Clackamas 39

Caught audio on the net and rooted for Jesuit all the way. Boys team also in  finals, be great if they sweep.

Day's end

Think I've done enough projects for the day. Back at it first thing in the morning.

Didn't see as much basketball as I would've liked but just saw Washington upset Arizona in OT for the Pac 10 crown. One of my few winners today. Harvard lost. UCLA and Portland State women lost.  I also had Navy women winning.

Need to get out and get a pepsi, stir crazy and blurry eyed.

Etc Etc Etc (poem)


here's another politically
incorrect opinion:

I was never impressed with
male jocks who had sculptured
bodies unless, of course, they
were weight lifters
(weird enough but not as weird
as those Japanese wrestlers)

but I want mainstream jocks
football basketball baseball
to look like normal joes
somebody I'd have a beer with

and this being the case

just imagine my opinion of
WOMEN with sculptured
arms legs torsos
bulging muscles shiny
with their sweat

it's enough to turn my
stomach and that tells you
what a dinosaur I am

etc etc etc

--Charles Deemer


As expected, the Stanford women came roaring back but UCLA helped them considerably, losing composure and permitting an 18 pt turnaround, Stanford winning by 9. The Bruins will get to the dance but they need to learn how to stay focused for an entire game. They made really stupid mistakes in the 2nd half.

Portland State women, in contrast, played a terrible first half but only trail by one. They need to win to get to the dance.

The Harvard men, who have never been to the dance, lost a last-second heart-breaker to Princeton. Damn, I wanted them to go.

LATER. The favored Portland State women also are shooting themselves in the foot and looks like they'll miss the big dance, losing against Montana.

Nikki Caldwell rocks!

UCLA's recent women's basketball coach has taken a team that hasn't been competitive in decades and turned it into a team to be reckoned with, who has a 9 pt halftime lead against Stanford at the moment. Amazing! It's going to be exciting to see UCLA women enter the national picture again. Meanwhile, I know Stanford will come roaring back -- I picked them to win the Big Dance! -- but UCLA is clearly making a game of it. Caldwell played and mentored under Pat Summit at Tennessee and it's paying off. Go, Bruins!

Will the GOP outlaw gravity?

Boo hoo

I love it when LaLaLand loses its shirt on stupid movies.
But the movie that all of Hollywood was talking about Friday is Disney's lamely titled Mars Needs Moms 3D. Why? Because the Dick Cook leftover is going to be one of the biggest money losers of all time. It cost $150M but, even with the higher 3D ticket prices, it'll be lucky to pull in $10M this weekend -- that's rightall weekend. "It's about as bad of an animated miss as possible," one rival studio exec emailed me. It's rare that any Disney toon flops at all, much less this badly.

Michigan Governor Plays Fast and Loose with Democracy, Invokes Radical New Powers - E.D. Kain - American Times - Forbes

Michigan Governor Plays Fast and Loose with Democracy, Invokes Radical New Powers - E.D. Kain - American Times - Forbes:

"Perhaps lost in the Wisconsin shuffle is the story of what exactly is happening in Michigan. Newly elected Republican governor, Rick Snyder, is set to pass one of the most sweeping, anti-democratic pieces of legislation in the country – and almost no one is talking about it.

Snyder’s law gives the state government the power not only to break up unions, but to dissolve entire local governments and place appointed “Emergency Managers” in their stead. But that’s not all – whole cities could be eliminated if Emergency Managers and the governor choose to do so. And Snyder can fire elected officials unilaterally, without any input from voters. It doesn’t get much more anti-Democratic than that."

Rain, gray, daylight savings, projects

A very wet weekend. Keep my nose in the projects with occasional breaks to check basketball scores or maybe pick the banjo.

Friday, March 11, 2011

GOP Assault on Environment Defeated — For Now | Wired Science |

GOP Assault on Environment Defeated — For Now | Wired Science |

Slow start

Divided the term projects into piles but am very slow to get to today's pile, finding it easier to practice banjo and watch basketball. Ah me. What else is new?

It's official

In 2011-12 I teach noon-two. I really look forward to the change. Get to see campus in the daylight!

Common Sense

Banjo III

New class starting, and I want to take it. Would miss first class, but that should be okay. We'll see if I can work it out. This is just what I need for spring term.

LATER. Signed up!

8.9 Earthquake In Japan (poem)

8.9 Earthquake In Japan

no matter how selfishly
viciously the powerful prey on
the vulnerability of others

Nature waits in the wings
ready to take suffering
to a new level

and remind us
who's boss

--Charles Deemer

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A brief survey of the short story part 32: James Joyce | Books |

A brief survey of the short story part 32: James Joyce | Books |

Alma mater v. alma mater, or home sweet home

Great to be home! And home with a pile of term projects to grade.

But tonight it's the Pac 10 tourny and UCLA v Oregon, the latter with a 10 pt lead in early 2nd half, a huge upset if it holds. I guess I don't care who wins.

I'll read half a dozen projects a day for the next five days. Rain, rain, rain, so it's not as if I'd be doing something outside, though I am eager to do a spring mowing when weather permits.

My dad's favorite saying

"Don't let the bastards get you down." Nice to keep this in mind.

Hobbling to school on the last day of class

Thinking along the way to my office, I've been doing this routine for 12 or 15 years, same days and times, so it will be a tad exciting to teach at noon next all. I actually look forward to it. Spring term, though, it's the same routine, Tues and Thur, 440-630 class, 3-4 office hrs. I suspect I miss out on a lot not being on campus in the heart of the day.

Idaho blew a basketball game, just tossed it away. Amazing.

Owen Laster, Literary Agent, Dies At Age 72

Owen Laster, Literary Agent, Dies At Age 72

Laster was the first agent to take interest in my fiction. I was in grad school, had published literary short fiction, was working on a novel THE IDAHO BLUES and he loved my early chapters. Alas, I got stuck (the idea later became my 1974 Roll of Honor story The Idaho Jacket) and ended up changing my emphasis from fiction to theater and got my MFA in playwriting, not novel writing. Sometimes wonder how my career would have been different etc etc etc until I realize those kind of mind games bring no rewards and possible false grief. But I have fond memories of Laster for his early encouragement of my writing.

History Lesson (poem)

History Lesson

if we look at history
over the long haul
the clearest common
denominators are these

powerful cultures decline
powerful cultures die

thus our own decline
should surprise no one
and wishful thinking will not
keep the dream alive

what is unfortunate
what is new
is that now we can take
so many others with us

I won't be here to learn
if we do or not
I'm happy to miss
the end game

in the meantime
I hold tight onto
the people I love
the things I treasure

and I cherish the time
I spend with my dog
because more than anyone
my dog makes me


--Charles Deemer

The Experiment (poem)

The Experiment

as I watch the news this morning

angry citizens in Wisconsin
suspicious senators questioning Muslims
wars hither and yon
and your kid getting bullied
not to mention floods and
the usual "natural" mayhem

I wonder if it might not be
time to admit that this
gallant experiment called
homo sapiens
(homo consumerus)
is a failure

though there has been much
to praise about our efforts here
(Brahms Beethoven Bach and such)
this zero-sum universe still feels
negative, which is to say
much less than zero

we survive if at all
by embracing survival cliches
by wearing blinders
by burying our head in the sand

yes, the world is too much with us

under the circumstances how fortunate
to be the old man that I am
than young and trying to find
level ground in a world tilted
toward extinction

how much better to have
a memory than a life

how sad to say so

--Charles Deemer

Missing Morse and McCall

It's been a while since we've had politicians like Wayne Morse or Tom McCall -- Morse, the Oregon senator and very early opponent of the Vietnam war, like Obama a Constitutional scholar, who was in order a Republican, an Independent and a Democrat (who in the Eisenhower administration sat in the aisle of the Senate because he refused to join either side!); and McCall, the moderate Republican famous for saying visit Oregon but don't stay (famous last words), whom I profiled in Oregon Business Magazine when I worked there, honored to spend a week with him with a tape recorder on, an extraordinary experience, whose desk was messier than mine and who said, so my boss could hear, "empty desk, empty mind" (which shut up my boss on this issue); two principled politicians who were not ideologues, which is the occupational hazard today. I miss them. Moreso, the country misses them.

My play about Wayne Morse, 1989, originally commissioned as a teleplay by Oregon Public Broadcasting, which fell through the cracks for political reasons after a changing of the guard and which I later revived as a one-person stage show, which toured the state a few years ago.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Weigel : Wisconsin Senate GOP Tries Nuclear Option for Passing Anti-Union Bill [UPDATE: It Worked]

Weigel : Wisconsin Senate GOP Tries Nuclear Option for Passing Anti-Union Bill [UPDATE: It Worked]:

"In thirty minutes, 18 State Senators undid fifty years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten. Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people. Tomorrow we will join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government."

PSU students move on in the TBS and Rooftop Comedy National College Comedy Regional Rival Competition last week |

PSU students move on in the TBS and Rooftop Comedy National College Comedy Regional Rival Competition last week |

Duncan: 82 Percent Of US Schools May Be Labeled 'Failing' Under No Child Left Behind Policies

Duncan: 82 Percent Of US Schools May Be Labeled 'Failing' Under No Child Left Behind Policies:

"The Department of Education estimates the number of schools not meeting targets will skyrocket from 37 to 82 percent in 2011 because states are toughening their standards to meet the requirements of the law. The schools will face sanctions ranging from offering tutoring to closing their doors."

Is this country dying on the vine or what?

Jay Inslee: Republicans Suffer From 'Allergy To Science And Scientists'

Jay Inslee: Republicans Suffer From 'Allergy To Science And Scientists':

"'If Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Einstein were testifying today,' Inslee, an environmentalist with a knack for confrontation over green initiatives, posited, 'the Republicans would not accept their views until all the Arctic ice has melted and hell has frozen over, whichever comes first.'"

Among the Assisterati: Bottoms Up with the Highbrow Bottom Feeders | The New York Observer

Among the Assisterati: Bottoms Up with the Highbrow Bottom Feeders | The New York Observer

Ethics and student athletes: BYU v. Ohio State

An interesting contrast, two ethics issues at two universities in two weeks. BYU suspended its star basketball player for the rest of the season, this by a ranked team just before the tournament starts! The player had sex with his girlfriend, violating the team's code of conduct at this Mormon school. Whatever you think of the rule, the player knew it and the university owns up to it.

In contrast, the football coach at Ohio State was caught lying to the NCAA and received a slap on the rest, missing two games next season, this for a violation more flagrant to the game itself.

Conclusion: at Ohio State, winning matters more than ethical behavior, and at BYU the opposite.

I'm not a big fan of Mormons, or any organized religion for that matter, though Benedictines impressed me when I did a story on their seminary once, impressed me with the rigor of their high school classes, but despite this I plan to root for BYU as far as they can go without their superstar. I like how they walk the talk.

Teaching change

A dozen or more years ago, whenever it was that I was invited to start undergrad and graduate screenwriting classes at Portland State, and the timing couldn't have been better, I accepted under one condition: I didn't have to teach in the morning, which was my writing time.

Ever since then I've taught TuesThur 440-630 pm. Now for fall 2011 I am changing, having been invited to do so due to conflicts ... I'll be teaching TuesThur noon-150. I really look forward to it! I can see the school at the height of its rhythm. I think the change will affect the demographics of my class but we'll see. Less older students with jobs, I would think.

Almost feels like the good old days

Up at 3 a.m. to write, most of a poem in my head, and I haven't done that in a long time. Almost like the old days when creative insomnia was the norm. However, my knees remind me soon enough that it's not the old days at all.

A good day, I think. I have Soldier's Joy down on the banjo and I am about ready to tackle Arkansas Traveler.

The Birth of the People’s Party? | Common Dreams

The Birth of the People’s Party? | Common Dreams

Summer Solstice 1967 (poem)

Summer Solstice 1967

it was 1967
the first night of summer
and P and I drove from Portland
to the Stonehenge replica
along the Columbia River
high on a bluff
on the Washington side

P's brother and friends
drove over from Seattle
engineers at Boeing
and arrived with a case
of strong homemade mead
and we'd brought pot brownies
and the party was on

we partied the long warm night
above the river under the stars
drinking eating laughing
and laughing some more
and had Stonehenge to ourselves
a revelry ahead of the curve
a night never to be forgotten

finally the sun rose and someone
decided to test the shaft of sunlight
through the placement of stones
but the beam was placed wrong
the stones were out of joint
these builders were poor Druids
but it didn't ruin the party

we crashed into sleeping bags
on the hard ground above the river
but slept only a few hours
before the interstate traffic below
filled with trucks and woke us
and I remember a frowning tourist
not pleased with our party scene

did they report us? who cares?
the party was over
a night for the ages
and it wasn't just the mead
it wasn't just the pot
it was mainly the laughter
loud and repeated into the night

we didn't think we were Druids
we were young and alive
and thought we could do anything
so when P's brother had the idea
we gathered at Stonehenge
for the summer solstice
and had our all night revelry

and P and I were happy
so it didn't matter
if the stones were out of place
or a morning tourist disapproved
P and I were happy that summer
the divorce still years away
oh yes P and I were happy

--Charles Deemer