Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Chaucer

Is Chaucer the most neglected writer in English literature? Aside from reading him in school, does anyone read him at all? I am returning to him with great expectation because I've always rated him very high -- but it's been a long time since I've turned to him, in this case with a well reviewed "performance" audio book (that is, multiple voices), and thus far it is first rate. Indeed, I'm impressed with all the audio books I've listened to on Kindle thus far. Still listening to Huck Finn and loving it. Hamlet, and loving it. Now the Canterbury Tales, a long 20 hr haul. I also recently listened to Candide, which I revisit often, and Voltaire's masterpiece remains my favorite satire.

I suspect I will finish the Chaucer audio book a greater fan than ever. We'll see in a month or two.

And next on the audio list, the Dos Passos trilogy U.S.A. Listening to old favorites, one after the other.

Routine

Last week of classes. Caught a ride since H is putting up an art show near campus. Stopped a Starbucks to pick up my usual fruit and cheese plate and large iced coffee, came to campus with less than usual hobbling since my knees have improved with the illness' weight loss, and here I am with a few hours to kill, which is fine by me. Today I give the two hour marketing lecture I was supposed to give two weeks ago but had no voice for it.

The forecast is for 80 degrees this weekend. I'll love it if it actually happens.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

The Sky Really Is Falling | Common Dreams

The Sky Really Is Falling | Common Dreams:

"The rapid and terrifying acceleration of global warming, which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a swifter pace than even the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago, has been confronted by the power elite with equal parts of self-delusion. There are those, many of whom hold elected office, who dismiss the science and empirical evidence as false. There are others who accept the science surrounding global warming but insist that the human species can adapt. Our only salvation—the rapid dismantling of the fossil fuel industry—is ignored by both groups. And we will be led, unless we build popular resistance movements and carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience, toward collective self-annihilation by dimwitted Pied Pipers and fools."

Worst Ever Carbon Emissions Leave Climate on the Brink | Common Dreams

Worst Ever Carbon Emissions Leave Climate on the Brink | Common Dreams:

"Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A stage of one's own

Some disucssion I chanced upon today brought to mind Pemberton Free Theater, a company I founded in Salisbury on Maryland's Eastern Shore during my brief stay there in the mid/late 70s. We produced plays and showed them without an admission price. Hugely successful! We did a very good production of Albee's Zoo Story, with myself as Peter, Tom Strah as Jerry, directed by Jeff Rollins, who in fact recently emailed about it in a moment of nostalgia. We did it on a park bench in a parklike setting, the back area of the farm house we rented at the time. A delightful experience and memory.

I also had my own hyperdrama company, producing Cocktail Suite. The most financially successful production I've done on my own. We formed a co-op of shares and everybody did well since our overhead was so low. Another great experience.

I had my own de facto film company when I started making digital films in the summer of 2007.

My most ambitious theater company never happened. In the 80s I joined a group of writers and artists who rented a huge Victorian house in ill repair off the Ross Island Bridge, the idea to form suites of artistic activity. I was going to start a theater company in the basement. But I didn't get the grant that would have funded it. It was a great idea. Too bad.

I always wanted to create a permanent space for hyperdrama, using a design I came up with and share in my video about hyperdrama. Too old now, alas. Too old, too old, for these ambitious collaborative endeavors. But not too old to do some work on my own.

blah

minor relapse today ... health so precious ... watching lots of softball ... staying warm and quiet ... need to lecture Tues ... the pits ... already said that .... blah

The Corporate Dream: Teachers as Temps | Common Dreams

The Corporate Dream: Teachers as Temps | Common Dreams:

"As Democrats hustle to shovel a billion dollars into President Obama’s campaign coffers – making promises to rich people and their corporations every step of the way – America’s billionaires are spending even more money to seize control of the nation’s public schools."

Indy 500

Race a big deal growing up ... dad glued to radio rooting for Floyd or Vukovic .... just noise to me.

Mariners

What a change after dismal start ... beat Yankees last night ... joy to watch in last month.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Oregon softball

The Univ of Oregon softball team not only got eliminated from the NCAA super regional by Florida in two straight games but they failed to score and were so over-matched they all but embarrassed themselves. How did they even get to the super regionals? I haven't seen such a mismatch in a long time. A little sad to watch.

Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State make the Oklahoma-hosted world series for the first time. Ought to make the series very exciting for the home crowd.

Not sure what team I'll root for. UCLA got eliminated in the regionals. Arizona State is still around. Stanford is gone. Cal may still make it. Washington may still make it. Washington is the only of these I could get excited about. They still have to get out of the super regionals.

Unmarried Households Put Married Couples In The Minority

Unmarried Households Put Married Couples In The Minority:

"Data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau shows married couples have found themselves in a new position: They're no longer the majority."

Friday, May 27, 2011

An actual "summer" "off"

Come spring term, I always look forward to summer because I usually have some obsessive project to start. Lately these have been very time-consuming video projects. My summers are busier than the school year as a result.

But not this year, I think. Indeed I am looking forward to something close to "a vacation." Not that I won't be working -- but I'll be working at a less obsessive, more leisurely pace than usual. I'll spend more time reading and listening to audio books than in past summers. I'll keep up with yard chores. I'll have one mellow day after another. This is the plan, at any rate, and I hope I get close to it.

In a couple weeks it can begin. Maybe I'll have stopped coughing by then.

Coffee

Have I said how much I like my hand espresso gadget? Makes a GREAT cup of coffee easily, quickly, with easy cleanup. Best buy I've made recently.

Health

H's heart ok, says the doc, looking elsewhere for cause of chest pains.

On a less troubling scale, my cold hangs in with the daily small step of improvement. This is really getting old.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

3 classes left

Got a ride to the university but not for the best of reasons. H has an emergency appt with her doctor concerning chest pains ... she does everything right, I do everything wrong, so naturally the gods may come down on her first. Makes no sense but it wouldn't surprise me. Hopefully it's nothing major. The only thing H doesn't do right is that her life is filled with stress. I have almost none because, well, not much bothers me any more and my sense of living on gravy time provides a kind of cosmic tranquility, having already "won" in this game, at least by my lights. Eager to get home and see what the doctor had to say.

After tonight, only one week to go, then finals, grades, and my summer begins. I am ready!

Downhill

Finished my hardest day of the term.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Last drafts

In some ways, this is my hardest day of the term: reading all the project drafts before submission next week for a grade. My last advice. And all of them to go through in one day. But I have a good start this morning. One foot after the other.

Sickness hangs on but better.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer

I am really looking forward to summer. Part of it is that I have no huge time-consuming obsessive video project to do, which means I can relax this summer more than I have in past years. I look forward to relaxing, which means working more slowly, casually, than usual.

First up, the poetry book. Next up, the novella and the educational video to use in class next year. Finally, I hope to fiddle with music composition, see if anything grabs me.

And spend a lot of time in the yard and on the deck. Home owner stuff.

Stay mellow.

Haven heaven

Early to my office. Not up to speed, still, so I've pushed up another DVD to show today. One thing, though, some relief in my knees because I've lost 10 lbs while sick -- lighter load etc, and I rather knew that was the first cure to try. See if I can lose some more over the summer. Been drinking a lot of green smoothies for some meals. Only meal I can't give up is breakfast. If scrapple kills me, so be it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guarded optimism

This illness usually gets worse at night but tonight I'm feeling much better than last night, so I embrace a guarded optimism that relief may actually be in my near future. At any rate, school goes on and tomorrow I pick up their drafts for the last time, the final projects due next week. This makes Wednesday a very heavy day of reading and evaluating and giving last minute advice. Health, obviously, would make the day easier. We'll see.

Same

cough cough

Sunday, May 22, 2011

from kindle

seem to be watching a lot of softball ... so tired of coughing ... old age at its worst when sick ... try to convince myself of progress ... what a time to read voltaire ha ha

Univ of Michigan

I've never been a fan of Michigan sports teams. Growing up in Pasadena, I naturally rooted against all Big 10 teams, one of which came to the Rose Bowl each year. All the same, I must admit that Michigan's fight song must be the best of the large lot.

This comes to mind because I heard it a lot today during the Michigan - Kentucky softball game. Michigan controlled the game until the bottom of the 7th, last inning in softball, when Kentucky got a lead off home run. And the Michigan pitcher, who had 9 strikeouts, lost it. 2 walks and a hit batter loaded the bases, a blip single won the game for Kentucky and eliminates Mich from more games. Heart breaking for the pitcher -- and shows you how much of the game is mental. She just lost it completely after the homer. The coach didn't take her out, maybe a mistake. She was the star player. But never could get it together after the homer, and ended the game in tears.

Snails

Recovery, if that's what it is, is so damn slow but I do perceive a slight improvement day to day, and so assume that eventually I'll be rid of this virus crud that has taken over my body. The experience gets worse the older I get. Sick is for the young.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Experts ha!

I found myself attracted to a horse named Shackleford as jockeys mounted for the running of the Preakness because this had been a player's name on the great UCLA freshman basketball team that beat the #1 varsity on the night Pauley Pavilion opened. But the horse was unhappy, bucking around, hard to control, and by the time they reached the gate the horse looked tired, glistening with sweat. All the experts on TV quickly discarded him, of course, as unfocused, wasting energy, not a horse to be considered.

So naturally Shackleford goes wire to wire to win the Preakness.





Improved a bit but still in the pits. Desperate enough that somebody came over with bottles of strange Chinese herbs, and I'm trying anything.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The banjo kid

Downhill side

I think I'm on the downhill side of this viral crud I picked up. And it's Friday! Morover, we' re having a one-day heat wave here, forecast to 75 today (low 60s for the weekend), so I'll try to spend some time in the sun on the deck, reading, and maybe even try a tad of lawn work, though I don't want to do anything to relapse.

For some reason, my knees felt better yesterday and today. Maybe because I lost some weight being sick. Maybe for no reason. But it's nice.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Round Bend Press: Planning Ahead

Round Bend Press: Planning Ahead

Getting ready for my book of poems.

Amazon Sells More E-Books Than Printed Versions - Yahoo! News

Amazon Sells More E-Books Than Printed Versions - Yahoo! News

Winging it

I barely have voice and now and again I have a five minute coughing fit, so class may be interesting today. Winging it obviously. I at least have their take home finals to pass out. After that, we'll see what happens.

I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, which was a favorite saying of my dad's.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Weather Report (poem)

Weather Report

This is the season of earthquakes.
Nature pulls our comfort like weeds,
firm footing begins to shimmy and shake,
the ground nothing to trust,
solid walls and treasured monuments
crumble to dust, everything breaks.
This is the season of earthquakes.

This is the season of tornados.
What Nature knows, it doesn't tell
and what begins as thunder ends in
random rage, one home obliterated,
its neighbor saved. There is no reason,
no pattern, in this crap shoot of woe.
This is the season of tornados.

This is the season of floods.
Nature's wailing sky saturates the earth
with tears until rock becomes mud,
all flee to higher ground, Noah
nowhere to be found. A damp
fear rises in the blood.
This is the season of floods.

This is the season of our shame.
We are victims of our own making.
Long ago we lost our fear of unseen
things, called ourselves masters of
the realm. We never learned that
Nature is not ours to tame.
This is the season of our shame.

--Charles Deemer

Getting through the day

If I had to do more than show a DVD today, I'd be tempted to cancel class -- but surely, sick or not, I can start a DVD and stop it 2 hrs later. I don't even have to spend the time in between in the classroom, coughing away. So class today is a go.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Let's call it progress

My sore throat isn't the killer it was yesterday, progress for sure, but otherwise feeling no better and in other ways worse. I doubt if I can give my scheduled two-hour marketing lecture tomorrow but fortunately I can fiddle with the syllabus and instead show a documentary I planned to show next week. It will take up the entire class time, so I only need to be functional enough to start and end it. I think I can do that.

As I said before, this is the pits. It's worse when you're older, too. If I had only this to look forward to, well, I'd look seriously at alternatives.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A cold glass of water on a hot day

"In the end, like in Stardust Memories, we all get flushed. The beautiful ones, the accomplished ones, the Einsteins, the Shakespeares, the homeless guys in the street with the wine bottles, all end up in the same grave. So, I have a very dim view of things, but I think about them, and I do feel that I've come to the conclusion that the artist can not justify life or come up with a cogent reason as to why life is meaningful, but the artist can provide you with a cold glass of water on a hot day," - Woody Allen.

Climbing out

A bit better today. Cautious optimism. Yesterday I had the sorest throat I've ever had. Constant burning, almost unbearable to swallow, quite a trip Much better today. And taking it very easy.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The pits

Very sick today. Not much fun.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jim Caputo, veteran Portland actor, dies of heart attack | OregonLive.com

Jim Caputo, veteran Portland actor, dies of heart attack | OregonLive.com

It's Official- Cell Phones are Killing Bees | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

It's Official- Cell Phones are Killing Bees | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World

A day without rain

Which is rare enough that I figured I had to mow some yard today, even if I am feeling sick. So I did a little but now I may regret it. Feel worse than when I started. Need to take it very easy the rest of the day.

Insomnia (poem)

Insomnia

"I, too, dislike it."
I look for a way
to get some sleep.

I imagine a rural scene
walking through an Aspen grove
into a meadow filled with wildflowers
an explosion of colors
zooming in on a single specimen
its petal    molecules
atoms    electrons
a wave of energy
by the gods, this is cosmic!
awesome spiritual ... wakeful

I list all the women I've ever
gone out with. Damn! I'm proud
to remember so many and surely
some I've forgotten.
I remember them in different ways.
Names faces personalities
voices bodies sexual encounters
arguments.

I don't remember everything about
any of them. I realize I owe many
an apology. Only two owe me
an apology. I linger with each
remembering the good times
forgetting the bad times
and soon I'm more awake
than when I started.

I meditate in my head
imagining a lotus position
imagining my voice
ooooommmmmm
which becomes aaaaahhhhh
which becomes eeeehhhhh
at which time my wife
elbows me in the ribs
shut the fuck up

I scoot away and close my eyes
and when I open them again
it is morning the room
in gray light and apparently
I dozed a bit after all
though surely I'll need a nap
in the afternoon.

Naps are the children of insomnia.
I, too, dislike it.

--Charles Deemer

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hangin' in like Gunga Din

Spirits good, body fighting infection, we'll see how it goes. I have my iced coffee, my fruit, nuts and cheese plate, and 90 minutes to kill before class. Mellow is the key.

Ran into a dean who 15 or so years ago was head of the Eng Dept and the guy who hired me. Had a nice chat. I owe him much. Not sure where the hell I'd be if that phone hadn't jingled with an offer to start a screenwriting program here. I was early in sobriety, struggling to find a safe rhythm, which meant avoiding the high stress, flexible scheduling of the freelance writer's life, which is what I'd been living in recent years. I got a job teaching Comp at a community college but didn't like it much. Then the phone rang. Serendipity. I fell into a job I love and I've been at a pretty long time now. Perfect for me. And they found me online. They were looking for someone and at the time I had the huge The Screenwriters and Playwrights Home Page, the first comprehensive site on the web for this. For the first five or so years of the web's initial popularity, it ruled. And it got me this job because a faculty member said, You know, I think the guy who runs this is right here in Portland.

Most of the good things and breaks I've had in my career happened exactly this way. Right place, right time, right person finds you. Total accident. Juniper Tav getting on public television, same thing. Director in town, looking for a project, family connections with Oregon Public Broadcasting, was able to put it all together in weeks instead of months. Amazing really. My first big hit. (My later hits, interestingly enough, were not hits here but on a broader playing field. You'd think at least a little local dribbling would follow but nope. Most here still remember me for Juniper and for my hyperdrama at the Pittock Mansion, both from the mid 80s, and <i>nothing else</i>. Can be frustrating if you let it so I try not to let it.)

Yesterday's Movie Game in class was quite successful. We'll wrap it up today, plus read a few student scripts. Then home and maybe even to bed. 

No change after all

Just checked the fall schedule and my class is almost full -- and the same time as usual. They had asked me to change to noon, I said fine and actually was looking forward to the change, but it's the same at 430 and can't really change it with the class almost full already. Minor disappointment but no biggie.

Feel like I'm coming down with something. Overloaded my morning green smoothie with vitamin C.

Caught up and have a relatively easy day in class. At least there's that. I hate getting sick. Hope I can fend this one off.

Relax the morning, listen to audio book, and go in around two.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

National Jukebox LOC.gov

National Jukebox LOC.gov

Audio from the Library of Congress. Incredible resource.

Greene and Durrenmatt

Greene
Having recently finished outstanding audio books by my favorite novelist and my favorite playwright, Graham Greene's The Human Factor read by Tim Piggot-Smith and Friedrich Durrenmatt"s The Physicists performed by L.A. Theatre Works, I am reminded of a storytelling gift they share: they can infuse gripping suspense-driven stories with layers of rich characterization and twists of plot, putting stories under the lens of complex social and political issues. Their stories are timeless because the issues are timeless. Though sharing plot interests with popular genre lit, these stories leave them in the dust with their richness and complexity. Each story ends darkly, not happily, the protagonists "sad but wiser" (to use David Mamet's term for such endings).

Durrenmatt
These stories are especially effective as audio. Tim Piggot-Smith's reading is dramatic and nuanced, like an actor playing all the parts of a play. The Durrenmatt play was recorded from a live performance. Each audio book is gripping -- and each is delivered by audio slower than if read, which gives more time for the richness and artistry to sink in and be appreciated. I give each audio book the highest recommendation. I'm sure I will listen to each again in the future.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gielgud as Hamlet

Started a 1941 radio broadcast of Hamlet, unabridged, with John Gielgud in the lead role. Quite good -- act one is as far as I've gotten. Going to study Hamlet in some depth as part of a complex future project I may tackle. The study comes first, and we'll see what comes of it. Among other things, I am rereading one of the more influential books I've read, which was assigned in a graduate course, Morris Weitz's Hamlet and the Philosophy of Literary Criticism, which became a sort of bible in my thinking about such matters. I may pick up the Burton Hamlet on audio as well and watch some of the films over the years. My story is going to be set during rehearsals of a college production of the play.



The Greene novel is very intense now. It was hard to put down to come to the university.

Innocence & Desire

video

Around the clubhouse turn ...

We'll play The Movie Game in class today. I provide a story idea and 4-person teams compete to structure the best movie from it. It's mainly a lesson in the advantages and disadvantages of creative collaboration.

In the last month of school now. Ever onward.

Monday, May 09, 2011

The unfettered mind

Out of nowhere an idea came to me that I like a lot. It's complex, a context for a story, probably a novel or even a play within a novel. I am determined not to let it "take over" as ideas are prone to do, to continue my summer plans and develop this back burner in all its complexities, maybe my fall project or 2012 project. But I like what I see of it thus far a lot because it layers many of my usual concerns in a new way. And it would take considerable research/reading to do it right, which I can begin any time.

Been a while since my mind flirted with a dramatic structure this complex.

Recently viewed: Rabbit Hole

This is a finely crafted moving film, a drama of family tragedy, a genre you see too little of in recent years. What impressed me most is that it's based on a stage play, I learn today, but the film was successfully translated so this was not apparent to me when I watched it last night. The film wasn't "talky," as movies based on plays often are. Instead visual storytelling was the prominent dramatic tool and with great success. Nicole Kidman is brilliant -- but then she often is. I'd consider teaching this if the screenplay were published. One thing bothered me a tad, though: the ending felt like the ending of Monster/s Ball and duplicated the ending gesture of The Kids Are All Right, which almost suggested moments like this are becoming a cliche in film. Join hands and go on. A small thing but a new gesture would have been nice.

Existential Star Wars

Trust For Teachers - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

Trust For Teachers - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

Finland does it differently (video).

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happiest cities, 2010 Well-Being Report

Oregon doesn't do very well. Portland is 81st of 95 ranked. Ahead of it are Salem and Eugene at 64 and 65. Austin, the original "keep x weird" city, is #11. Boulder is #1, which was a lead story on Sunday Morning today. Best news perhaps is that the west smokes the east.

And this reminds me of my West Meets East Talkin' Misery Blues.

See the report.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

The common denominator of my life

Something that fascinates me in my old age is that I hear on the radio today the same 50s west coast cool jazz that I was listening to when the music was recent. The jazz station here plays tons of it. I also listen to it on my mp3 player. Indeed this is the thing that has changed the least in my life, the music I listen to much of the time, the same Mulligan and Baker and Kenton and such. 50+ years later, same music. No complaints! But it is interesting to me, with just about everything else in my life having changed in major ways.

Podcasting

Looking into this for a variety of applications. Smashwords just partnered with a podcast and audio book company. I could get into it free doing the production work myself...rather the point. Hmm.

Green smoothies

My latest kick.

For example:
1c OJ
1c water
1 banana
1/2 apple
1 jalapeno pepper
1c tofu
3 handfuls spinach

Derby day adventures, 1959

On the day of the Kentucky Derby I always think of Derby Day 1959. I was in Louisville, 19, walking the streets with only a few dollars in my pockets. I had hitch-hiked from Berkeley and was halfway through my first great adventure in life. I was keeping a journal, which I still possess, fascinating reading indeed. (You can read journal excerpts in this 2007 post.)

Today what I remember most from that personally important trip are the characters I met, the stresses I felt and the acts of kindness I received. Even though I had traveled a bit as a Navy brat by 19, I still was a sheltered, naive kid. I saw a lot that shocked me.

  • Characters
    • the old woman living on the road, tattooed on every visible area of flesh
    • the teenage boys who wanted me to help them rob a bank
    • the man who wanted me to screw his wife with a rubber so he could drink the semen and regain his potency
    • the young men who gave me my first taste of moonshine, which we drank from a jar just like in the movies
    • men who befriended me only to sexually proposition me
    • the drunk who was going to invade the Soviet Union and save the world for democracy and wanted my help

  • Stresses
    • being alone and sick as a dog, perhaps with food poisoning, puking in a farmer's field, sleeping, puking some more, then seeking shelter from a rain storm
    • stuck 7 hours without a ride on the California desert
    • broke in Louisville, wondering how I was going to hitch-hike home with only a few dollars in my pocket
    • wondering how I was doing to ditch the young bank robbers (they finally just let me go)
    • being hassled by police in North Platte, thinking I was going to jail for vagrancy until they drove me to the outskirts of town and told me never to come back
    • arriving in Pasadena at end of trip, breaking into my house because no one was home, and then waiting to face my parents, who thought I was still going to school in Berkeley

  • Kindness
    • the guy who saw me on the streets of Louisville and asked if I were hungry. Out of the blue. Took me to a fast food restaurant, where I had several cheeseburgers. He later drove me to a good spot to catch a ride west. And he made no advances.
    • the teenage girl who found me hitching in the rain at night. She offered me a dry spot for the night in the family barn. Later delivered me dinner. Never told her parents. And found me gone in the morning.
    • the newly weds who let me out of the car after a ride with a twenty dollar bill, which saved my young ass the rest of the trip.
    • my parents, for getting home and not giving me the riot act.
For a sheltered 19 year old, this was one hell of an introduction to a world out there I had never seen before. So I always remember Derby Day. 

And in August I would join the Army in Berkeley, be put into the Army Security Agency because the recruiter had a quota to fill, after Basic get sent to the Army Language School in Monterey, leaving for Germany a year later as a Russian linguist in the Cold War, on a new adventure even more life-shaping than the trip to Louisville as a teenager.

My novella Baumholder 1961 tells more of the Army adventure.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Audio: "Applegate"

video

Audio: "Nostalgia"

video

TGIF

Ah am I looking forward to a few lowkey days. If weather permits maybe I can catch up on a few chores. Read listen banjo.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

A visitor

Primus St. John dropped by with his new artificial hip, finally getting a little mobile. We had a fine long chat. He'll be doing more videos for the review this summer.

Dylan in Chronicles

Mike Seeger
Great audio book! I didn't know how Dylan came to focus on songwriting: he realized he could never match the greatness of Mike Seeger as "a folksinger," he'd have to dig deep and find a new territory for himself, maybe compose his own original folksongs. And the rest is history. So thank you, Mr. Seeger!

Heaven

I like my office at the university so much I came in very early today. Also brought the Kindle so I can read or listen ... and I can fool around on the web a bit, as now. We discuss JUNO in class today, both film and script, and it should be a helpful informative session. They usually are when we both read the screenplay and watch the film and address the differences.

My energy is better today. Had a few days of low energy. Got revived by yesterday's sun, I bet. Of course today it is raining. Portland! Beyond comprehension that I live here ha ha. Well, I do love the university job. I also love my wife, whom I would have to leave to move. Ah me.

3 summer projects

Looks like I have three projects for the summer:

  • Prepare the manuscript for In My Old Age, my collection of poems and deliver to Round Bend Press. I may add the libretto to my operatic version of Varmints since I like it so much.
  • Write the novella about two old farts resurrecting their 60s folk group. Tone will be everything. All stops out.
  • Make an education video to use in class, illustrating the relationship between script and film in The French Lt's Woman, the stark writing of Pinter against the plush cinematography. What the screenwriter does and does not do in the evolution of a story on film.

Additionally I have a couple video stories lined up for the review. It looks like a fine summer indeed -- as long as the strange local weather gives us some actual semblance of the season.

Audio book adventures

Listened to L.A. Theatre Works production of Durrenmatt's The Physicists as audio book. Very good. This is perhaps my favorite play, even though it is a flawed play. But the concept is so brilliant, the ending so moving, I can forgive the small imperfections.

The worst mistake here is casting children. This greatly reduces the productions this play gets and it would have been so easy to cover the very same ground without putting children on stage. If the script were more "practical," it would have reached a larger audience.

I continue listening to the brilliant reading of Greene's The Human Factor and I started Sean Penn's reading of Dylan's Chronicles, which does not disappoint.

Ah to be living in a hotel on a tropical island and sitting on the deck with an ocean view, listening to all this wonderful literature that the serial killers and torturers of the world have made possible in a zero-sum universe! We all are connected, you see.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Audio books and baseball

Both require a slower rhythm of perception than the culture maintains in recent decades. Life went into overdrive after the fifties, and it is very refreshing to engage in slower dances of activity. SLOW is good. Hence audio books and baseball.

Surprise myself

I've become such a dinosaur, I sometimes shock myself. Had a different idea in mind for old age ha ha.

Penn reads Dylan

The audio book of Bob Dylan's Chronicles I is read by Sean Penn. Gotta get this one!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Portland 1978

"Poems, prose and interviews featuring some of the best writing in Portland, Oregon from over three decades ago. Poems by Sam White, Mark Wilson, Carol Knox and others. Interviews with famed poets and writers, Katherine Dunn, Walt Curtis, and James Bash. A valuable addition to the Pacific Northwest literary archive, and an important contribution to the literary history of Portland, Oregon."


Ordering info

Constant renewal

The greatest thing about "being a writer," or living in a creative mode in any field, is its opportunity for constant renewal. I came close a couple of times to selling a detective series but I would have been horrible at it. Horrible! Because, in fact, after the second or third novel, I know I'd be bored. It would begin to feel like writing outside-in, not inside-out. I wrote freelance journalism for many years, outside-in writing, and it's a good gig but it is not anything like inside-out writing, which is akin to reinventing the wheel with every project because each has its new dynamics and parameters. Inside-out is never boring. It becomes outside-in before it gets boring.

Hence I am very much looking forward to the summer and writing a new novella, the story of the two old farts who revive their 60s folk protest song group. And it's not the story so much as the writing itself that I look forward to, the attempt to find a new and appropriate style in which to tell the story. It's the FORM that fascinates me. To create a form special to the story that tells the story in just the way it needs to be told. Best, I am feeling a bit reckless in this regard, and looking back I find that my most reckless writing has lasted best with me. The Half-Life Conspiracy (link) is my favorite play because it took the most chances, it was the most reckless in the way it was put together -- a play within a play within a play, for example. I found a way to marry politics and relationships. For the same reason, my short stories "The Thing at 34 degrees..." and "Fragments Before the Fall" and "The Man Who Shot Elvis" each found a special form in which to tell the story in the best way, 3 very different narrative approaches.

So I am hoping to be reckless this summer. To just let her rip, so to speak, and to tell what should be a rollicking fun story in a rollicking fun way. We'll see. We'll see. I remain optimistic.

My new retirement fantasy

I'm someplace WARM, low of 65, ever, into the 80s and 90s during the day, on the ocean, tropical I suppose, money no issue, and I lounge about listening to great lit as audio on my Kindle most of the day. This sounds delightful.

A poor man's version: I live in a van, stay in warm parts of the country, and listen to the greatest literature on my Kindle most of the day.

You can tell I'm really getting into audio books. Wonder why it took me so long to discover them. I think "being raised" on audio books would change the way one writes -- and probably for the better.

Reading a novel v. listening to a novel

About a third of the way into the audiobook of Greene's The Human Factor, a favorite novel, and I may be enjoying it more than ever. Listening, rather than reading, develops the story at a much slower pace, allowing time for the mind to wrap itself around various nuances of the telling, including language, in a way that passes more quickly in a reading, or seems to, though of course in reading one can stop and think about what has been read. But with a superb reader, as here, the novel seems to be resonating with me in a different way. I'm enjoying the hell out of this.

Now all I have to decide is whether my next audiobook is Derek Jacobi reading The Iliad or a dramatic reading of The Canterbury Tales. I think the latter since I've been away from Chaucer for a very long time. Not true with Homer. I joined a "club" (despite Pound's warning) and have a long list of audiobooks already, all things I've read before thus far. Why read anything new? The trouble with this question is that it leads to, Why write anything new?, a dangerous question for a writer to ask himself.

Periodic shouting against the wind, or proposing an ANNUAL U.S. ARTS LOTTERY

Recently was reading an article about literary prizes in which the author stated it has become common knowledge that they are "akin to a lottery." Indeed. This is why WE SHOULD HAVE A LOTTERY. Get rid of all these arts administrators who give out prizes and such, or redirect their energy to creating a database of artists and have an annual drawing, giving away dozens or hundreds or thousands of monetary prizes, each winner drawn as in a lottery. Get rid of the pretense of quality and especially get rid of competition between apples and oranges, and just have a lottery. So simple! It could be a magnificent day of suspense and celebration -- and "losing" wouldn't suggest an insult, "they hate me," as now but simple poor luck. THE ANNUAL U.S. ARTS LOTTERY, prime time, an hour of drawing and giving out money to artists and artistic groups. No competition! All based on good fortune! This is the best idea on the subject in ages. Someone with youth and energy should take this ball, run with it, and score a touch down.

End of periodic shouting against the wind. Well, hell with the compromise -- end of periodic pissing against the wind.

World is Drowning in Corporate fraud | Common Dreams

World is Drowning in Corporate fraud | Common Dreams:

"Hardly a day passes without a new story of malfeasance. Every Wall Street firm has paid significant fines during the past decade for phony accounting, insider trading, securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, or outright embezzlement by CEOs."

All Hail the PUBLIC Library | Common Dreams

All Hail the PUBLIC Library | Common Dreams:

"This is not the time to take the word “public” out of the public library. It is time to put it in capitals."

Monday, May 02, 2011

Knee Jerk (poem)

Knee Jerk

As soon as I heard
Osama bin Laden
was dead I wondered
how long it would take
for the racists and crazies
to spin the event
into a conspiracy
perpetrated by
the Great Pretender
our so-called President
foreigner Muslim (sshh) nigger
a fake death
to make us over-confident
to make us more vulnerable
in his unholy quest
to make the world Muslim.

It took less time
than it took to write
this poem.

--Charles Deemer

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Audio books

Graham Greene
One thing I find disappointing about the new Kindle universe is that so many books I want to reread are not scanned. Indeed, literature of the 40s-70s, where so many of my favorite books are found, more likely than not will not have a Kindle version. I am particularly disappointed that my favorite novelist, Graham Greene, is not "Kindlized" yet. However, many of his books have audio book versions, including in a Kindle friendly format, so I decided to try one. I purchased the audio book version of The Human Factor.

Tim Piggot-Smith
The book is read by Tim Piggot-Smith, and this audio book is a gem. I regard the novel very highly, of course, and this reading is superb. Dramatic, engaging, just a joy to listen to. I've become a new audio book fan and after this I think I will listen to Derek Jacobi reading The Iliad. Audio books are a regular part of my "reading" now, I think.