Saturday, June 30, 2012


Stumbled across the special effects climate disaster spectacle The Day After Tomorrow. Doesn't seem as far-fetched as when it first came out. Switched to see the news and the top three stories were about climate disasters. Not as extreme but extreme enough and all in the family. Tick tock tick tock.

O boy

An email from an actor friend -- are you going to make any more movies? -- got me thinking that, actually, a film adaptation of the recent novel would be doable. Small cast. All local settings. Challenges to find ways to do News and Heavy Reading in the film narrative ... this could be done. For starters, I invited the actor to read the novel and see what he thought. He'd be a good CJ.  His wife would have a role. Hmm. HMM.

Blue Muse Escapes Paparazzi

Recent work by Tom Strah. He's on a roll. Here is his drawing that I call "CJ" after my recent protagonist.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Best thing about feeling better is a better attitude. Almost human again ha ha. Now for energy and stamina to get work done around here.

Was New American Review the best literary magazine ever? - Slate Magazine

Was New American Review the best literary magazine ever? - Slate Magazine:

"I dare you to name a better one."

So do I. And a regular contributor was M. F. Beal, one of the great short story writers to come out of Oregon. She wrote a novel, Amazon One, long out of print. She lived in Seal Rock for years and may still. She, her husband at the time David Shetzline, and myself were all at the U of O at the same time, getting grad degrees in writing (we already had better publications than some of our professors!). Beal and Shetzline both need to be rediscovered for their fine literary work.

Thomas Mann Said

Thomas Mann Said

How true

Slug city

I can't believe it. 2 weeks into my summer and I've gotten no planned chores done. Well, yeah, I've been sick, more or less bedridden for two weeks, these viruses always knock me out for a couple weeks, but it's gone now, I feel, leaving me weak and exhausted but on the mend. I need to get right and get to work.

Having fun with a comic story idea. Ah, me.

Rupp Edges Lagat In Thrilling 5000m At Trials - Track & Field Video | NBC Olympics

Rupp Edges Lagat In Thrilling 5000m At Trials - Track & Field Video | NBC Olympics:

"Galen Rupp beats Bernard Lagat in the men's 5000m for the first time in his career as both men, along with Lopez Lomong, qualify for the London Olympics."

Good long story on this in LA Times this morning. Can'f find a full story in The Oregonian anywhere. The Oregonian has become a terrible paper. Rupp also broke Prefontaine's track record! Man, can he get a medal in London? The build up begins.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Waiting for normalcy

I feel like I'm in a sanitarium. However, this is no staff and no services.

Ah, the media!

The bewitching hour, 7 a.m., Supreme Court rules on health care: and the headline at CNN is, Obamacare unconstitutional! but over at MSNBC is, Court upholds Obamacare! Terrific. Ends up MSNBC was right and CNN looked a bit stupid.

Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberals (!) for the 5-4 decision.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sun returns

Forecast has summer returning. About time. Maybe I can work in office and yard if just a tad. Feel less like a slug.

Recent reading

Winner Take All: China's Race for Resources and What It Means for the World by Dambisa Moyo
This fact means that we find ourselves on earth at a unique time with the extraordinary challenge of managing and navigating the headwinds of commodity shortages that the world faces over the next two decades. At present we are ill prepared to contend with this eventuality, yet the challenges we face go beyond our living standards to the survival of the planet as we know it. This fight is about life or death.
 Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life by Caroline Moorehead
When Martha could not write, when what she called lockjaw of the brain paralyzed her for week after week, or when she read back what she had written and decided it was worthless, she despaired—not only of herself as a writer but as a person, a friend, a human being. She felt herself to be literally pointless and would sit brooding, disconnected, haunted by the futility of the human condition.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fragments Before the Fall

Fragments Before the Fall: Click title for full story

The Literary Review (Summer, 1971)

Charles Deemer

I WALK a tightrope between two mountain tops over the Valley of the Waters of Fire. The waters are rising and all too soon the flames will disengage the embracing strands of fiber which hold me up, casting me to my fate below — incineration. I stand very still. To move would be to lose my balance and become cinder too soon.

I RECOGNIZE the voice: "Mummy, can I take this magazine to school? It has a story in it that is full of symbols, and Mr. Walker just loves symbols.""

This surrealistic and strange story has a very specific history, which I remember vividly. We were living in Portland, our year out of grad school, and I finally was beginning to publish in the literary magazines but not yet with consistency. One day the mail brought six -- count 'em SIX -- rejections at the same time. I was in the small woodsy house we rented outside of Multnomah Village alone. Two of the rejections came from The Literary Review, where I really wanted to be published.

I remember throwing all the stories across the room. I sat down at my big Remington manual and pounded out this "story" in the time it takes to type it. It came quickly, it came from the heart. It's the closest thing to a Poetics that I've ever written, before or since. I typed it and didn't even reread it. I put it in an envelope and drove straight to the post office and mailed it to The Literary Review. Take that! I was thinking.

They did. A few months later, I got a letter accepting this. A rather amazing story.

Not so fast

Frustrated and impatient, I decided to start on my office this morn, sick or not. Until I walked determinedly across the room ... and almost passed out. Back to bed.

Quotation of the day

After the match, it was beautiful 35-mile sunset drive back across the mountain to Malad, listening to '50s-60s love ballads on the box. I swear, life does not get sweeter. .  --Tom Strah
Sunset near Malad, Idaho (Google)
The "match" was a jalopy destruction derby kind of deal that my friend Tom had taken in with family and friends. I just liked his description and values here, the mountain west, the radio. I dig what he's saying.

Penalty kicks

Peter Handke
Yesterday's high dramatic football match between Italy and England, scoreless after regulation and two extended periods, reminded me of one of my favorite literary titles, Peter Handke's The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick. Because this was how the match would be decided -- even though Italy outplayed England throughout and, except for hitting crossbars, could have won easily in regulation. When England took a temporary lead during penalty kicks, I thought Italy might be robbed, but they recovered and won and move on to the semis.

What is incredible about European football is that a scoreless game can be so engaging and tense and dramatic. It took me a while to understand this -- several years, in fact. But the key is understanding attack strategy in the more popular game. And understanding time and its relationship to drama. In American football, most of real time is spent between plays -- in other words, nothing is happening most of the time! Time in European football is always active, building tension, increasing the dramatic moment. It can drive you crazy. It's much more tiring to watch this than slow, slow, slow American football. I'm very curious how I'll make out this fall when it returns, after finally understanding why the world is right and American is wrong about "football." Of course, most Americans can't admit anything they do is inferior to another country's version. Americans are too arrogant to embrace "football" the way the rest of the world does, despite various attempts in leagues here.

After the game, I tried watching the Portland-Seattle soccer game but the level of play was so poor in comparison I found it frustrating and stopped watching. We have a very long way to go in this country to gain the skill of teams like Germany or Spain. Give either the ball, and the atmosphere becomes electric as they move down the field with an evolving attack strategy. There is never a dull moment in this game because the ball is always in play. The drama is relentless.

Here's what the Guardian wrote about the game:
"a night of grand footballing drama in Kiev that was first explosive, then thumb-gnawingly attritional, and finally, for England, rather desolate.
Most American sports fans don't get it because they haven't taken the time to understand a game that's more complex (chess to checkers) than their version.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Breaking up

A tad better, the cold breaking up, messier but maybe on the road to recovery. Still moving very very slowly. Thank the gods for soccer tournament in Europe, something to distract me, and the trials in Eugene. Lots of watch instead of feeling sorry for myself. Not to mention several great books I'm in the middle of. Weather sucks, health sucks, everything else on the homefront fine.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

More from Gellhorn bio

Already, at twenty-four, she minded intensely about weather, hating and fearing the wet and the cold, her spirits continually altered by the presence or lack of sunshine. “On the whole,” she wrote on one of her more tolerant days, “I think the weather in Britain is a national catastrophe borne bravely by the inhabitants.”
 To go to Spain was to be present at the birth of a new and better social order. The burning of books by the Nazis in 1933, and the exodus of writers from Germany and Italy, only confirmed to them that art could not flourish in a reactionary atmosphere, a feeling expressed by many of the writers canvased in ]1937 by Nancy Cunard for a symposium on the Spanish civil war in the Left Review. As Hemingway would soon tell the Congress of American Writers in New York, “There is only one form of government that cannot produce good writing, and that system is fascism.”
 “I thought I knew everything about the war,” Martha told Hemingway, “but what I didn’t know was that your friends got killed.”
 Making love with Hemingway had never been much pleasure for Martha, who still found sexual relations less a matter of happiness than an awkward obligation. She told a friend many years later that she had been astonished to discover, talking to Tillie Arnold during one of her visits to Sun Valley, that making love was actually something women could enjoy.

Galileo to Turing: The Historical Persecution of Scientists | Wired Science |

Galileo to Turing: The Historical Persecution of Scientists | Wired Science |

"Turing was famously chemically-castrated after admitting to homosexual acts in the 1950s. He is one of a long line of scientists who have been persecuted for their beliefs or practices"

O misery

Coughing reading puking reading

Fascinated with Gellhorn. Hubby Hemingway was an arrogant jerk.

A turn for the worse

Sicker today than yesterday. Frustrating because I should be redesigning my office. I barely have energy to move across the room.

The Olympics – ancient and modern | Books | The Guardian

The Olympics – ancient and modern | Books | The Guardian:

"Traffic congestion, corruption, professional athletes and spiralling costs – despite our rose-tinted view of the ancient Olympics, they were not so dissimilar to our modern Games … the Olympic tradition has never quite lived up to its own ideals"

Friday, June 22, 2012

Live blogging the Olympic trials

Here's what it's like to follow live blogging at a track meet ...

Now Flanagan into lead
Friday June 22, 2012 11:05 
Rogers takes lead!
Friday June 22, 2012 11:05 
Rogers leads
Friday June 22, 2012 11:05 
Friday June 22, 2012 11:06 
Hastings takes lead last 50!!!
Friday June 22, 2012 11:06 
65.32 last lap for Hastings, Rogers 2nd, Flanagan 3rd.

U.S. Olympic trials: Galen Rupp, Matt Tegenkamp, Dathan Ritzenhein book 10K spots in London |

U.S. Olympic trials: Galen Rupp, Matt Tegenkamp, Dathan Ritzenhein book 10K spots in London |

Jerry Sandusky verdict: Sandusky found guilty of 45 of 48 abuse charges |

Jerry Sandusky verdict: Sandusky found guilty of 45 of 48 abuse charges |

Who Forgives?

Who Forgives?: Click to read play
a play in two acts
by Charles Deemer

First performed (in a slightly different version) at the Cork Arts Center in Cork, Ireland, on December 9, 1996. Directed by Charles Ruxton.

Ed, 40s, the boarder, a music teacher
Cynthia, 40s, the landlord
Alice, 30s, the neighbor
Amy, teens, the girl, a music student
Heather, teens, a former student of Ed's (played by same actress who plays Amy)

The central playing area is the living room of Cynthia's home. A sofa, coffee table, chairs, phone, answering machine, tape deck, books.
Neutral playing areas as indicated; area where Amy plays her violin.

The present."

'My play about child abuse, a hit in Ireland, a bomb in Portland.

On the same subject, a significant "verdict watch" now as many await the Sandusky verdict. In the play above, a man is falsely accused. But I can't see a shred of logic in the defense of Sandusky, which makes him a very sick man indeed -- and one grinning through the prosecutor's summary to the jury, weird enough. I hope the jury doesn't have the contrary oddball who could let this sick man free.

What courage it took for the victims to testify. What an injustice if their perpetrator isn't punished.

Here is the opening speech in the play:
(SHADOWY MOOD LIGHTS come up on Amy, playing the violin, part of a string quartet (recorded music), haunting, which becomes the play's THEME. Mendelssohn's String Quartet in A minor, first movement, Adagio. AREA LIGHTS up on Ed, facing the audience, as the music softly continues.)

ED: Mendelssohn's String Quartet in A minor. Opus 13 — "13," which should have been a sign. The first movement. Adagio.
The first time Amy played it, I wept. I'd never had a student evoke such emotion from the piece before. From that moment on, I never doubted her talent. But the rest...the rest is more complicated.
She was 12 or 13 at the time, playing like an angel, evoking emotions she couldn't have been aware of at her age. So I am not ashamed of loving her.
But I did not abuse her. You can think what you want, but that's the truth.


Time drags when you're sick. I should be getting my office in shape. All I can do to walk across the room. Great soccer uh football game in an hour. Gellhorn bio is astounding. Terrible start to summer.

Sick sucks

Still sick ... cold wet day .... colder wetter tomorrow ... at least I have distractions ... good books ... greece v germany ... olympic trials ... Sketch ... life is good cough cough ... not how I thought my summer would start.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

ISS - Visible Passes

ISS - Visible Passes:

See the Int Space Station pass over Pdx, next four nights.

2012 Olympic Trials Schedule - Runner's World

2012 Olympic Trials Schedule - Runner's World:

Live coverage of many events.

Galen Rupp: His Time is Now | Olympic Trials

Galen Rupp: His Time is Now | Olympic Trials:

Oregon track & field rundown: Galen Rupp, Matt Tegenkamp, Ashton Eaton and Britney Henry take center stage as the Olympic Trials begin |

Oregon track & field rundown: Galen Rupp, Matt Tegenkamp, Ashton Eaton and Britney Henry take center stage as the Olympic Trials begin |

Here we go!

Perfect for a sickly afternoon

Czech v Portugal in soccer ... uh Football. Amer football is to Euro football as checkers is to chess. Will I ever be able to watch Amer fball again after understanding a far superior game?


Sicker today ... guess being a patient is the dance today. Bummer.

The Power in Publishing is Shifting – a Video Interview with the Founder of Smashwords

The Power in Publishing is Shifting – a Video Interview with the Founder of Smashwords

Commissioners recommend BCS football playoff plan |

Commissioners recommend BCS football playoff plan |

"Once the presidents sign off -- and that seems likely -- major college football's champion will be decided by a playoff for the first time starting in 2014.  "

Only 4 teams but a step in the right direction. Will it reengage my energy for American football? We'll see. is history, but Halfway lives on with small-town charm and small-town problems | is history, but Halfway lives on with small-town charm and small-town problems |

One of Oregon's gems.

Stayed in Halfway during the summer theater tour I did in the 80s. Stayed in an amazing house, mostly underground and solar/thermally heated in the winter, patio on roof, landing strip and private plane down the way, the guy commuted to work to Arizona! This was before I bought my first computer and this guy's "grand tour" of his Radio Shack computer, which he loved and did his business on, was instrumental in getting me to buy my first, a Kaypro, some months later. Have long loved Halfway.

The democratizing of art: Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park:

"Shakespeare in the Park is one of New York City's most beloved summer traditions. New York natives and visitors alike have been enjoying free Shakespeare since performances began in 1954. Now 50 years after the opening of Shakespeare in the Park's permanent home at the Delacorte Theater on June 18, 1962, The Public Theater is proud to continue to produce Shakespeare in the Park."

Listening to an NPR story this morning, it occurred me that here we have the proper template for making the arts "democratic." It's not about "anybody can be an artist" but rather "anybody can enjoy the arts" -- in other words, as here, not about artists but about audience. Anybody can see Shakespreare for free here. But not anybody can be in the production. Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline don't have to draw straws for their roles. Casting is elitist. Watching the play is democratic. This is an essential difference but an important one for a discussion that gets misconstrued and misunderstood.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Distribution of wealth

A comment on: Hyperdrama: An Introduction - YouTube

Hyperdrama: An Introduction - YouTube:

"This is an amazing idea. Absolutely amazing."

OK! This is why it's so important to have work "out there." You never know who will see it and when, and get turned on by it. Hopefully this is a theater person, or passes his wonder to a theater person friend, who explores the concept more, and maybe even does something with it. This is the best kind of networking, not chatting at Facebook. The best networking is like passing the baton.

Andrew Sarris Dead: Famed Film Critic Dies At 83

Andrew Sarris Dead: Famed Film Critic Dies At 83:

"Sarris was best known for his work with the Village Voice, his opinions especially vital during the 1960s and 1970s, when movies became films, or even cinema, and critics and fans argued about them the way they once might have contended over paintings or novels."

Ah, the good old days! A time when aesthetic ideas were electric. Today it's a little hard to find such ideas anywhere ha ha.


A scary moment at the market. After mowing some lawn, hot and sweaty, I went on an errand. In the market I got dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out. Since each of my parents dropped dead on the spot, it occurred to me this might be a family tradition. No warning. Bam! Well, I steadied myself, took a deep breath, and it passed and I got the hell home.

Novel's production notes

I've been meaning to do this for the record for some time. Some background/production notes on my recent novel, Sodom, Gomorrah & Jones

  • CJ Watches the News, p9. These sections follow the Newsreel sections in Dos Passos' USA trilogy. The obvious purpose, putting action in the context of the times. In this case, the horrific news of a typical day in the world, and CJ's challenge to live in such a world.
  • Routine, 13. CJ's book, You Get the History You Deserve, echoes the curtain line, my favorite curtain line, of my one-act play The Stuff:  "What the people expect, they deserve. What they deserve, they get. Always." The play was written in 1975. In other words, this theme has been in my work for a very long time.
  • CJ's Poems, 15. The decision to use poems came late. This section begins the series and is the only poem I do not take from my book In My Old Age. This novel borrows more from previous work than anything I've written, which reinforces my sense of its being a final statement, a swan song.
  • Books, 16. This chapter sets up the "CJ's Heavy Reading" series, which I borrow from a technique Norman O. Brown uses in Love's Body, incorporating "my authors" into the body of the narrative itself. I consider this one of the more important techniques in the novel, without which its intellectual context diminishes. But also I suspect it is something that turns off many readers. Fine. Who needs such readers?
  • A Long Friendship, 19. The folk song here, "MIssissippi Hippy," is a song I wrote and performed often in the late 1960s. Perhaps this is the oldest work I steal for the novel.
  • CJ and the Shrink, 23. Perhaps the most important chapter in the "first act" of the narrative. The main theme becomes explicit here: "Why aren't you upset?" CJ cries. The most sensitive among us are declared insane.
  • The Trunk, 28. Sets up an important plot point that thrusts CJ into a new life. Here, it's set up as if other issues were at stake, which are, but are not as important as the surprise to follow (although to those familiar with my work, it may not be surprising at all).
  • Chateau de Mort, 1986, 34. This, of course, is the very hyperdama I wrote for the Pittock Mansion, the commission that began my obsession with the form. It neatly fits into the wife's interest in the new physics, the edgy theatrical interests of CJ's good friend, Matt. An important link -- and of course, the intro of Jasa, so important later.
  • A New Eros, 40. Moving the sex theme forward, for its later twist.
  • A Cartoon, 2003, 55. You can find this very cartoon in the right column of this blog. Been there for a long time.
  • The Old Masters, 1963, 64. This scene happened to me but with a teacher, not a colleague. I was going to a community college after the army, before transferring to UCLA.
  • Summer Solstice, 1962, 72. An actual party I attended but about five years after this date.
  • A Song, 87. This is one of the poems in my book.
  • Man on the Moon, 1969, 96. Based on an actual conversation when I was in grad school.
  • Mike Cummings, 1969, 102. Based on a student I helped as a TA in grad school.
  • Zero-sum Universe, 142. Readers of this blog are familiar with this theory.
  • Nostalgia, 1990, 160. Like CJ, I wept at the Baez song. Nothing is sadder than lost innocence.
  • Letter from a Former Student, 199. An actual email I received from a former student. Mind-boggling.
I'm sure there're more sources to document but these are some main echoes from my past work and life that appear in the novel. My work comes from whole cloth.

What I'm reading

Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life by Caroline Moorehead
IN THE LAST years of her life, Martha Gellhorn wished to see her friends just one way. She liked to meet them in the late afternoon or early evening, in her own flat, over drinks that could go on for many hours but that very seldom turned into dinner.
 Scorpios, she wrote, referring to herself, were either “geniuses or miserable or both, well known to be very spiky characters… for whom life is not lined with smiling faces.”
 What very few of them were ever allowed to see, however, was the degree of loneliness, self-doubt, and sense of failure that ran like a sad refrain through a lifetime of letters, and which grew more marked in the last years of her life.
This woman feels like a soul mate. How did I miss her for so long?

Hanging in

Feeling a tad better. Strange day. Up at 3!! and then back for a nap at 9, then up at 10 to do yard work.
Time has little meaning when you have no reference points ha ha.

When University Presses Fail

When University Presses Fail

An article that begins: American literature is slowly going out of business. 

The good news is that digital technology makes it easier, not harder, to publish work with limited audiences, whether scholarly, artistic, or whatever. It's the old publishing model that is dying, not the content published. What we need is a university press with imagination, that takes advantage of the new reality.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Revolutions of 1848 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Revolutions of 1848 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

"The uprisings were led by shaky ad-hoc coalitions of reformers, the middle classes and workers, but it could not hold together for long."

The template for our future?

Sick but good

A decent day for being sick, sleeping late, then watching a film, reading a book, taking it easy. Not feeling better but not feeling worse either. Onward.

Kerry on climate in Senate

Quotation of the day

"I know that I am old because passionate anger has turned into weary disgust: nothing impresses me." --Martha Gellhorn

Barely familiar with this woman. Time to find out more. Sounds like a writer/thinker after my own heart.

Furious Greenpeace Moves to 'War Footing' at Rio+20 | Common Dreams

Furious Greenpeace Moves to 'War Footing' at Rio+20 | Common Dreams:

""Greenpeace and other organizations are winning some of the battles but we are losing the war."
-Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace"

The Earth Cannot Be Saved by Hope and Billionaires | Common Dreams

The Earth Cannot Be Saved by Hope and Billionaires | Common Dreams:

"World leaders at Earth summits seem more interested in protecting the interests of plutocratic elites than our environment"

Hemingway & Gellhorn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hemingway & Gellhorn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

 "Telling the story of one of America’s most famous literary couples, the movie begins in 1936 when the pair meet for the first time in a Key West bar. He was a famous writer and she was an up-and-coming war correspondent. They ran into each other again in Spain where they were both covering the Spanish Civil War. They were staying in the same hotel on the same floor, and she resisted his advances. However, during a bombing raid, they found themselves trapped in the same room, frightened for their lives, and lust overcame them. They became lovers and stayed in Spain until 1939. In 1940 Hemingway divorced his second wife so that they could marry. Over time she became prominent in her own right. She was unfaithful to him on occasion and in 1945 asked Hemingway for a divorce. He credits her with inspiring him to write the novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls."

The best thing about this HBO film is Nicole Kidman's preformance as Martha Gellhorn. The worst thing is just about everything else. Hemingway is a caricature, Dos Passos is a wimp, the dialogue is overly melodramatic, the changes from color to black & white to sepia get artsy fartsy.

But it's worth watching for Kidman's performance.

DarwinTunes 'Evolves' Music From Noise | Wired Science |

DarwinTunes 'Evolves' Music From Noise | Wired Science |

"From Mozart to the Beatles, music evolves as listeners get used to sounds they initially find strange or even shocking. As trailblazing music becomes mainstream, artists strike out in new directions. But in a new study, a computer program shows how listeners drive music to evolve in a certain way. Although the resulting strains are hardly Don Giovanni, the finding shows how users’ tastes exert their own kind of natural selection, nudging tunes to evolve out of noise." Sodom, Gomorrah & Jones (9780985073022): Charles Deemer: Books Sodom, Gomorrah & Jones (9780985073022): Charles Deemer: Books:

I read my novel this afternoon. Had been away from it for a while. What can I say about it?  It's a book I'm proud of. It can stand on its own, even though it's the perfect "end of career" book, having been influenced by much of my earlier work, some of which I "steal" for this book. There's no book quite like it. It's not perfect but it's pretty much the book I conceived it to be. And damned honest. I think it will have more fans twenty years from now than it has today.

Football v. football

The transition took a number of years but I now can say I prefer international football, or what we call soccer, to American football. Here's why.

  • In American football, nothing happens most of the time -- that is, the time it takes to have a huddle and call a play is usually longer than the play itself. The rhythm of American football goes 3 parts inaction, 1 part action, 2 parts inaction, 1 part action, and so on. Most of the time is spent between plays.
  • In soccer, action is a continuous flow of rising and fading possibilities with very few breaks. Tension mounts incredibly. The players must be in incredible shape -- no Refrigerator Perrys here.
  • Being an international favorite sport, real football is played on a world stage, which is far more exciting than the parochial equivalent here.
  • International football is as exciting when women play as men.
In the early 1970s "Sally" and I spent the summer traveling around the country, from Eugene to Nova Scotia, camping, no plans, going hither and yon on whim, best vacation I ever had. One afternoon we drove into a southwest college town, I forget which, ready for lunch and a beer. 

The little town was like New Year's Eve! Ends up the World Cup was going on and the college had many foreign students, who were going bonkers with such energy that many American friends joined them. I knew nothing about the World Cup at the time but it's popularity made a lasting impression on me. What's all the fuss about? Some 40 years later, I get it.

From Kindle

Sick, damn it. Read and watch movies all day. Sleep. Bummer. Hell of a way to start my summer. Rain appropriate.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Theater opening of the season: Thousands turn out for 'Vagina Monologues' at Michigan Capitol

Thousands turn out for 'Vagina Monologues' at Michigan Capitol:

"A crowd of at least 2,500 gathered outside the Michigan Capitol Monday evening for a performance of "The Vagina Monologues," reported.

Eleven female Democratic Michigan lawmakers, including State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, performed the reading in the presence playwright Eve Ensler, the report said.

The performance is part of an organized response to the recent banning of state Rep. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, from publicly speaking in the House after she uttered the word "vagina" during a speech."

Good news & bad news

Grades in, bills paid = good news. Cool gray rain, getting sick = bad news.

Need to kick this whatever illness cold thing in its bud. Right.

Why Do Men Grill? | Food & Think

Why Do Men Grill? | Food & Think:

"Steak again?" My 10 y/o brother to my dad at the grill one Pasadena summer evening.


The Martian
Been reflecting on my excitement yesterday, watching The Oxford Murders and thinking, At last! a film that gets it both ways, suspense and substance, issues of Ethics and Epistemology, gripping and unrelenting -- and so afterwards I check it out on the net to discover it's a great bomb that everybody hated. Or, everybody in America hated. It was in English but produced jointly by several foreign countries, I'm not sure how it played overseas. Better, I suspect. But this is just so typical, so illustrative of how different my tastes are from mainstream America. Why I feel like a Martian so often.


THE TEACHER: click for full story
By Charles Deemer

From The Colorado Quarterly, Summer 1969

            If I were a menial clerk, to whose gloom a Dostoevski or a Melville could give cosmic importance, then readily would I win your understanding. We are in an age the sensibilities of which are riveted to the absurd and what, after all, is more absurd than filling a ledger book with numerals, sorting out dead letters, filing away last year's purchase orders or pulling a lever in a factory? If I made my livelihood in so dreary a fashion, you would accept my gloom as being inevitable, deem it significant, and find in it an occasional metaphor for your own misgivings, whatever your employment; you would offer me understanding, empathy, sympathy, at least something more meaningful than what you now offer me, which is flattering but undue praise, or what usually is called "a good press." "

Summer begins

Turned in my last grade. But wouldn't you know it, feel sick, going to kick back and take it easy.

A physicist's view on The Physicists | Culture | The Guardian

A physicist's view on The Physicists | Culture | The Guardian:

Disappointing commentary on my favorite stage play, though Sizwe Bonzi Is Dead is a close second.

Euro 2012: Greece to take on Germany in ultimate grudge match | Football | The Guardian

Euro 2012: Greece to take on Germany in ultimate grudge match | Football | The Guardian:

Man, this Friday match is not to be missed! Talk about political subtext.

Richard Ford: 'America beats on you so hard the whole time' | Books | The Observer

Richard Ford: 'America beats on you so hard the whole time' | Books | The Observer:

Without subsidy, our theatres will run out of hits | Culture | The Observer

Without subsidy, our theatres will run out of hits | Culture | The Observer:

For me, the case is very simple indeed. I work in a subsidised theatre because subsidy enables me to escape the strictures of the marketplace in three enormously valuable ways.
First, it allows me to invest in truly unpredictable work. In my experience the most valuable encounters we have with works of art occur when we and the artist meet in a state of mutual uncertainty.
In 1978 Portland saw the benefits of subsidized theater in an incredible season produced by Peter Fornara. See my essay Risk In Rep. Nothing here has come close to this season, before or since, in terms of entertaining, challenging theater over an entire season. Indeed, my own career could not have developed as it did without the personal subsidies of grant support through the 1980s.

End the macho culture that turns women off science | Athene Donald | | The Observer

End the macho culture that turns women off science | Athene Donald | Comment is free | The Observer:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

An uplifting story

I missed this 60 Minutes story the first time around but saw the repeat tonight about UMBC's president, with his emphasis on science, math and academic enthusiasm, his success to get students to buy into this, his decision to have no football on campus (making the chess team the admired "jocks"). We need many more college presidents and campuses like this.

Discovering a small gem

In Durrenmatt's plays like The Physicists and The Visit, two narrative strands weave together to combine both suspense and substance, an engaging and accessible plot wrapped in the most serious questions of Ethics and Epistemology. This rare approach came to mind as I watched the 2008 Spanish-British-French film The Oxford Murders tonight. This gripping whodunit raises equally gripping questions about the relationship between knowledge and responsibility, action and influence. I love discovering little gems like this.

At the same time, my appreciation is quite out of line with many of my fellow Americans, according to Wikipedia:
The Oxford Murders received mostly negative reviews. David Lewis, a critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote that despite the fact that "there were plenty of talented people involved", the film had a "clunky script" and was "just plain boring, from beginning to end".[11] Jonathan Holland from Variety was less critical, calling the film a "polished but verbose whodunit", though he found fault with the dialogue and the romantic subplot.[12] The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 10%.
 There's no accounting for taste ha ha! Boring? I was on the edge of my seat for the entire film!

A few lucky rolls in the crap shoot of life

Good and bad things can happen to us by chance. Here are a few lucky rolls I've be thankful for lately.

  • Getting my parents. We don't get to choose them. Mine provided a stable family life and support for my interests, talents, and unexpected changes through life. Love and stability matter.
  • Being born before Pearl Harbor. Until 9/11, I thought those who could remember Pearl Harbor had a very different national experience from those born later. The knowledge that we can be hated enough to be attacked has consequences.
  • Being a teenager at the birth of rock and roll in 1954 -- and living in LA with a large black community (hence black radio stations). 
  • Coming of military age after Korea but before Vietnam. And facing a military draft, which I believe is important because without it, as now, many citizens easily space out military activities overseas. If you had a draft today, you'd also have a very active peace movement, believe me.  I had more luck. My personal journey was such that it made sense to "bide time" in the Army in 1959, and a military recruiter in Berkeley, to fill a quota, put me in the Army Security Agency, leading me down a path that found me working as a Russian Linguist in Germany at the height of the Cold War -- with colleagues older and more well read than I, who were forever handing me books. My Army experience included many times fielding the question, Have you read this? Not your typical Army career!
  • Being in grad school in my 20s during the Vietnam era. Old enough to have significant prior experience to put the times in a different context from the mostly younger protesters.
  • Ending up in Portland in the late 70s, a playwright writing plays about the people in small Oregon towns, just at a time when several theater artistic directors in town welcomed such material.
  • In my 50s, in the VA hospital, kicking booze, I had the good fortune to be assigned a counselor who knew how to deal with someone like me, for whom AA would never work. Also being assigned to work in the medical library during a 9-month in-house program, which let me define my "higher power" as knowledge. Knowledge is power.
There are many other things that were not accidental, of course. But the changes above, to large or small degree, have an element of good fortune attached. Different rolls of the dice would have had different results.

Sunday thoughts

Tried my buffalo scrapple for breakfast, good, but next time I'm tweaking the spices a bit. Some thoughts this morning:

  • Father's Day. I miss my dad, of course, but otherwise it's a meaningless day. Never been a parent.
  • As a matter of fact, I've never played a video game either. These two facts surely make me a Martian in American culture.
  • Couldn't find Sketch. He was visiting the neighbors. Too damn friendly ha ha.
  • The older I get, the less I know. But I think I know this: Nature wins. Man's ills are a direct result of going against or ignoring or being ignorant of the laws of the natural world. This is true of human relationships, too, I think, particularly with regard to sexuality. Note the root meaning of "infidelity" is not about sex, which would be "ineroticity" or something. It's betrayal of friendship in its root meaning. Fidelia, eros, agape, as the Greeks had it, which is better than the term Love, so broad as to become meaningless.
  • Been watching Euro 2012, the soccer/European football tournament. The more I watch soccer, the better I understand it and also understand why it's the most popular sport in the world. It is a more engaging game than American football, relentless in its tension, and soccer players have to be in far, far better shape than American football players. Living here, we get so brainwashed about "American things" being better than counterparts elsewhere. I still haven't tried to understand cricket but it wouldn't surprise me to learn it's as good or better a game than baseball. 
  • Back to lousy weather. A day or two of summer, back to sucky Portland's one shade of gray.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Buffalo scrapple

Today's cooking project. Found a recipe I couldn't resist. Finished, cooling, looks like a winner this early on. Need to freeze some because H wants to try it.


Here's what it is about the Olympics. I grew up loving all the major American sports, just like most kids. Loved football, baseball, basketball. I also loved horse racing and track because it was followed by adults in my life, especially my grandfather and father. I went on to play football, basketball and track in my freshman year at college, and sandlot participation before that. I used to organize track meets in my neighborhood, running various distances around the block, timing and measuring everything.

I had jocks I worshiped. Hugh McElhenny, my favorite football player. Mickey Mantle, my favorite baseball player. Wooden's UCLA teams when I was there (esp the Freshman team that beat the Varsity on the night Pauley Pav was dedicated!).

But in all this sports worship and participation, I can't say I ever stood in awe of an athlete. Sure, they were good. But they didn't seem inhuman, beyond human capacity.

I stand in awe of Olympic athletes every two years, winter or summer games. What endurance! How do they get themselves in such incredibly good shape? What grace under pressure! What fortitude and dedication and skill! This reaction happens all the time when I watch the Olympics. It never happens watching American mainline sports.

That's why I admire Olympic jocks so much. Some athlete from some village I never heard of and can't pronounce can give a performance that leaves me in jaw-dropping awe.

Of course, at the administrative level, there's corruption in the Olympics. But individual competition is not corrupt and perhaps saved by the fact that in the vast majority of Olympic sports there is no professional temptation ahead. There are no future millionaires here, except those exceptional ones who advertise underwear. Relatively speaking, it's still about the competition, one on one, not perverted by the arrogance common in American mainstream sports, not about the money. But it does get worse each time, I suppose. Corporations, as they get control, change priorities.

Bud Greenspan on the Olympics

Greenspan's documentaries on the Olympics, "Tales of Hope and Glory," focusing on incredible athletic journeys by individuals, stories of success and "failure", are engaging and focused on what is best about the Olympics. This is sports at its best -- the individual discipline, focus, dedication. Very moving  series of films.

American football and basketball players look pretty spoiled compared to these athletes. No, it's not the jocks' fault. It's what the culture gets fed by the media and in turns decides what is important.

But the Greek Olympic ideal is alive and well in these stories! How can I care about the  current NBA finals with athletes like this in the world? American mainstream sports are turning into a corporate entertainment scam.

The Olympics offer the real thing.


I love the Olympics but I'm not wild about adding team sports, as they have. I think it's about individual sports and achievement. I don't think they should keep tabs of country medals. No baseball, no basketball, no hockey. Individual sports! Okay, and non-commercial team sports like bobsledding, rowing.

Why the Scientist Stereotype Is Bad for Everyone, Especially Kids | Wired Science |

Why the Scientist Stereotype Is Bad for Everyone, Especially Kids | Wired Science |

Olympic Trials: Collegians face challenge of drawing out peak performance multiple times |

Olympic Trials: Collegians face challenge of drawing out peak performance multiple times |

"Oregon distance runner Jordan Hasay, who will compete in the 5,000 meters at the trials, echoed Marra, stressing the importance of athletes respecting their coaches.

"My coach noticed that once I do peak, I kind of sit there for a little bit," Hasay said. "I wanted to start peaking around this time in the season so I would have enough going into the Olympic trials."

Hasay set a U.S. high school record in the 1,500 at the 2008 Olympic trials in a performance that thrilled the Hayward Field crowd and set off her path toward becoming a Duck. Four years later, she is hoping to make the U.S. team. "

After Hasay's high school victory, thousands in the stands chanted endlessly, "Come to Oregon! Come to Oregon!" I remember the moment well on TV. Quite a sight. And she came to Oregon.


At last, the President is leading, not trying to be everybody's good guy.

Immigrant kids are among the highlights of the country today. They have dreams without feeling entitled and so work their asses off. No wonder they win all the science fairs and spelling bees.

I once taught a "bonehead" Eng Comp class, about half white American kids born here, about half immigrants, mostly Vietnamese. The former were mostly lazy and poor students, hating the fact they had to take the course. The latter were serious. focused, eager to do well and do the work required to succeed. The American kids slowed the Vietnamese kids down.

Immigrants come here, and it's like being in a frontier. Where's the frontier for white America today?

Home sweet home

 Texas Rangers3827.585--18-1220-15341265+76Won 16-4
 Los Angeles Angels3431.5234.016-1518-16262247+15Lost 16-4
 Oakland Athletics3035.4628.014-1616-19247255--8Won 46-4
 Seattle Mariners2739.40911.510-1917-20265285--20Lost 63-7

The Mariners, now dug 3.5 games into last place, seem to have found the comfort of home, the same home they've enjoyed for a few seasons now. Damn. It wasn't too long ago that the Angels were warming up last place for the Mariners. And look how they turned it around. It can be done.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bon voyage

Took H to the airport, she's off the Vietnam. Hope she survives with the bad foot. I worry about her.

Round Bend Press: Three Women

Round Bend Press: Three Women:

TS's good tribute to three actresses in town in the glory days.

Amy had some time in the sun through her work at Storefront Theatre, including a much publicized nude role. We had a very brief period of mutual flirtation during the same era, which we liked to joke about for years afterward.

Diana directed revivals of several of my plays in the 1990s. She also performed in my hyperdrama "The Bride of Edgefield," at the McMenamen brothers classy eastside eatery and more. For a period, in my living-on-grants rhythm, I rented a room from her in a sprawling Victorian and got to know her kids pretty well. Diana, sadly, had finally found happiness with a guy and a life -- and in no time at all, both were gone.

I didn't know Danae as well as the others. She poured me lots of beer at Nobby's, and I knew she had talent.

There's a great photo of the three together at the link above.

Kara Goucher: Former Duluth star takes 26.2-mile road to the Olympics -

Kara Goucher: Former Duluth star takes 26.2-mile road to the Olympics -

Brief Chat: Flanagan, Davila, Goucher | News

Brief Chat: Flanagan, Davila, Goucher | News:

As the Olympics draw ever closer ... USA's marathoners.

Sketch in the sun

Sketch found a patch of sun on the couch. My kind of dog!

Portland under sunshine

Had to go in to the university this morning. A quiet campus, last day of finals. A beautiful sunny morning. Campus, the city, Portland can be a lovely city when it gets out from under its habitual gray digs.

Later Sketch and I walked to the nearby middle school, the kids off now, and he ran up a storm, He needed it. Man, he was so pooped at the end that on the way home a man familiar with rat terriers said, Sure is calm for a rat terrier. Plumb tuckered out.

Four students left to grade. Probably finish tomorrow.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Cleveland Speech - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

The Cleveland Speech - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast:

"Romney has decided how he will portray Obama - as a socialist who hates business - and any facts that go against that are not just ignored; they are actually inverted to their opposite. Romney did this in the New Hampshire debate. He'll do it as long as the press remains supine in their false equivalence."

Sullivan is a conservative, But he hates lying and liars like Romney.  The press seldom has anything to say on the matter, which gives the lies mileage.

Summer's hearth

Here's where I hope to spend much of the summer, cooking, eating, reading, practicing harmonica, hanging out with Sketch.  Just one requirement: the sun!

The Rise of the Authorpreneur

The Rise of the Authorpreneur

What a different literary world. From priest to entrepreneur.

First Painters May Have Been Neanderthal, Not Human | Wired Science |

First Painters May Have Been Neanderthal, Not Human | Wired Science |

"European cave paintings are older than previously thought, raising the possibility that Neanderthals rather than Homo sapiens were the earliest painters."

Another blow against exceptionalism ha ha.

Stepping into the market

Only a few more students left to grade. I took a break and with the sun out, decided to shop for sausages to barbecue later. A confession: I doubt if I'll ever make my own sausages better than what I can buy at New Seasons and elsewhere. My scrapple and pate are great but my sausages leave much to learn and I'm not sure the energy and effort are worth it.

At any rate, entering the market it occurred to me -- I am FREE this summer! That is, my summer usually is a rush from teaching mode to creative mode, starting a 3-month summer obsession with one creative project or another, writing a novel one summer, making a feature film the next. No rest or relaxation at all. Which was not something I missed at the time.

But this summer -- no creative projects at all! Just household chores to do, at my leisure. It's quite a different feeling. Maybe it's a little like what retirement actually feels like. House chores, harmonica, cooking. I think I'm going to like this summer.


Next week the Sandusky defense begins. I have this foreboding that something horrific and bizarre is going to occur, more weird than the man's refusal to try and cut a deal. All these kids, all these witnesses, all these previous suspicions and cover-ups over the years -- how the hell can the guy have a defense? I expect some very sad, horrific behaviors ahead.

Report: PSU president thought it ‘humane' not to report Sandusky -

Report: PSU president thought it ‘humane' not to report Sandusky -

Talk about twisted values and morality. It's really hard to find any reason to think Sandusky innocent, which makes his insistent of a trial, putting his victims through their pain again, doubly troubling. A very sick man. But he's not the only one needing punishment here. Is he actually going to take the stand and claim to be the victim himself?

There are false accusations, of course, and they are as tragic as the alleged crimes. There were a mess of them a couple decades ago, like a virus, ruining lives of innocent people, a famous case involving those who ran a daycare center. My play Who Forgives? speaks to this issue. It can get very complex at many levels.

Here, with so many victims, so many similar stories, it's hard to find the case for Sandusky.

My play has a curious short history. It premiered in Cork, Ireland, in 1996 and went on to be a finalist for a prestigious Irish drama prize. Then it opened here and bombed. It was a decent production but it didn't take fire either critically or commercially. Cork loves me, Portland hates me -- you get the picture ha ha. I actually can and do laugh about it. "Success" is such a crap shoot -- and in the end, the artist is the only audience that matters. You try to do your best and you know when you do and you know when you don't.

Thomas Pynchon finally gives in to gravity as digital backlist is published | Books |

Thomas Pynchon finally gives in to gravity as digital backlist is published | Books |

3 money-makers and 5 busts

Reflections on some past projects, in particular three that made me decent money and five that disappeared into the black hole of near oblivion more quickly than I anticipated.

3 money-makers

  • Screenwright: the craft of screenwriting.
    My electronic screenwriting tutorial and ebook, first published in 1997 and updated annually until 2005, earned more steady royalties for me than anything I'd written. Not in total but in steady, consistent income during the period when I actively marketed it. Moreover, it generated more positive feedback than anything I've written. By far. Its fans gush with admiration, which of course made me feel good. This product was and remains ahead of its time. I kept waiting for a corporation to copy my idea and blow me out of the water but it never happened. It's still a viable product but no longer updated or actively marketed, so sales have plummeted. Marketing matters more than content. I got bored with the grunt work of adding analyses of current films. I brought down the price when I stopped updating it and today it may be the best bargain out there in the screenwriting instruction field. But few seem to know about it.
  • Ramblin': the songs and stories of Woody Guthrie
    Institutions that gave out grant money loved this show in the 1980s. The former Metropolitan Arts Commission especially loved it, giving it a total of three annual grants during this period (they not only suggested the additional grants but told me to ask for twice as much money!). Other grants came to the project as well. I practically lived on this show, which I toured from Seattle to LA in the west, but mostly in Oregon, during the decade. Even as I was busy doing other things. I think one of the reasons it was attractive was that I had constructed it in thematic modules and could perform anything from a ten-minute to an hour full show. Also the full show was only an hour. I'd started with a three-hour show with an intermission but had the good fortune to see a local one-man show about Kerouac while I was assembling mine. It was too long! I vowed to keep Guthrie at an hour so I could do it without intermission. I've always thanked the Kerouac actor for giving me this insight. Both Kerouac and Guthrie tend to play a two-note tune, and it can get old quickly. I finally got tired of doing the show and retired it. A decade later I revived it with a second musician, the late Jim Wylie, and we had some decent shows, perhaps the best at the Newport Performing Arts Center. We also got it online for posterity (one hopes).
  • Waitresses / Ruby's Tune
    This play is significant in several respects. It was my last production as a resident playwright, here with Peter Fornara's Cubiculo Theatre, where I'd gone after administrative changes at the New Rose Theatre that found me homeless where I'd be the resident playwright. I looked forward to a new long relationship with Fornara, something of a theatrical genius, but the producer pulled the plug about a year after I got there. Too bad because Peter was going to produce a four-play cycle I was working on, The Quantum Quartet. Never happened. But it's not as a stage play that this became a money-maker. It's the first play I optioned to Hollywood. A producer fell in love with it, kept optioning it year after year, good money for which I had to do absolutely nothing, decided to direct it herself, and at one point told me it was a done deal, contracts were being signed in a few days. Didn't happen. Fornara called this my best play (I don't agree) and if nothing else, it got me into screenwriting, which changed my professional life.
5 crashes into the dark hole of near oblivion
  • The Seagull Hyperdrama
    There's no doubt that this is my Magnum Opus. I never expected it to be produced, actually, but I thought it might generate more than the occasional interest it gets in Europe. If I were younger, I'd try and raise money at Kickstarter for it today, producing it myself in my design for a hyperdrama theater space. But I'm about 15 years too old for the energy that requires. I did get brownie points for this: a letter from the Dean at the university complimenting me on my scholarship. I was pleased he realized the work this took, not only in writing but in dramatic criticism and scholarship. This is the ultimate commentary on Chekhov's play, of course, daring to be specific about what happens to characters when off of his stage.
  • Dark Mission, an opera by John Nugent
    I wrote the libretto. I love John's music, and I love this opera, a retelling of the "Whitman Massacre" from the Cayuse point of view. I hope it gets done some day. It's harder to be a composer than a writer, I think.
  • Varmints, a libretto in search of music
    This was to be another collaboration with John but life intervened, he moved to LA to make a living in musical theater, where he struggles today, and I decided to release the libretto on its own. It's now a Kindle book and in the fall will be published by Round Bend Press. The stage play, written with a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission to conclude a retrospective of my work called "Charles Deemer's Oregon" (a de facto wake! it turns out), had mixed reviews and indeed I prefer the libretto to the play. The verse adds another layer against "realism" where the dark satire works better, I think. Not until my recent novel Sodom, Gomorrah & Jones would my anger at American history find such passionate expression.
  • The Man Who Shot Elvis and other stories
    I had success as a literary short story writer early in my career. This anthology brings together the best of these stories. I thought someone might notice. Well, if it had come out in the 1980s, I'm sure I'd have gotten good local press. But later, when I became an ant on a turd miles from the picnic, well, nobody much gave a shit.
  • Dress Rehearsals: the Education of a Marginal Writer
    The same can be said about my memoir of the writing life. In the 80s, my decade in the sun, I expect this would have done well. By the time it appeared, I was of little interest to the local, regional, or national literati. Only in Europe, did I retain an audience, and this for my work in hyperdrama. What I like about this memoir is that it documents something that has always fascinated me, the relationship between autobiography and creative recreation as fictional narrative. I make many connections between my life and my work.
So there you have it. 3 projects that made me decent money. 5 that crashed sooner than I expected, none of which were expected to be money-makers but perhaps attention grabbers. Nope. Oh, somehow they've managed to find a few fans but expectations were higher than this.

The memoir has a review at Amazon slapping my hand for being too hard on myself. Ha! If I were to write the ending of my memoir today, it would be far darker than what I wrote then. 

Round Bend Press: Morning Shoot

Round Bend Press: Morning Shoot:

TS continues working on his film.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Columbine story uncensored Columbine eBook: Dave Cullen: Kindle Store:

Written by Dave Cullen, read by Don Leslie, this 14-hour audio book never once releases the taut narrative tension with which it opens. This tells a story far different from the myths perpetrated by media and evangelical churches at the time of the tragedy. It's a complex and frightening story, filled with psychopathic behavior, media myth-making, church martyr-making, institutional cover-ups, understandable parental confusion, anger and frustration.

What's remarkable, in this largely unflattering look at our species, is that a few genuine heroes emerge: a dedicated FBI agent who refuses to embrace easy answers; a high school victim told he will never walk again and who a few years later dances at his wedding; and, I would say, the author, for his thorough investigation from day one to put together, after ten years, a comprehensive and dramatic analysis of this complex event. The reading by Leslie is masterful. These 14 hours pass quickly.

Why 'Fifty Shades' Is a Best Seller | The Passive Voice

Why 'Fifty Shades' Is a Best Seller | The Passive Voice:

The “Golden Age” of Bookstores: A Myth? | The Passive Voice

The “Golden Age” of Bookstores: A Myth? | The Passive Voice:

Poetry should be subversive | Simon Armitage | | The Guardian

Poetry should be subversive | Simon Armitage | Comment is free | The Guardian:

The Public Domain Review |

The Public Domain Review |:

Looks interesting.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tarzan at 100: lord of the superheroes | Books |

Tarzan at 100: lord of the superheroes | Books |

Last trip

Today is my last trip to campus this term, to pick up take-home final exams. Grades should be in by the end of the week. H is off to Vietnam, so my first 3 weeks of summer are batching it with the dog.

Eager to get this term wrapped up. A good term at that.

The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

Monday, June 11, 2012

Audio books

Audio books share the same advantage and disadvantage over reading: the narrative rate slows down considerably. This is an advantage in poetic, dramatic and complex material but otherwise can be frustrating. A book you can read in 3 hours takes over a dozen hours to listen to.

Dave Cullen's monumental study Columbine is a book I'm listening to rather than reading -- and I'm glad. Cullen pulls no punches here, looking at the tragedy from many perspectives, and I'll have more to say about it later. But as an audio book, this is hard to put down. Gripping, complex, tragic, helpful. More later.

Farce is everywhere on stage – but why? | Stage | The Guardian

Farce is everywhere on stage – but why? | Stage | The Guardian:

If the gods don't have a sense of humor, well, we're doomed.

French Open 2012: Historic slam shows Russian side of Maria Sharapova | Sport | The Guardian

French Open 2012: Historic slam shows Russian side of Maria Sharapova | Sport | The Guardian:

"After completing the full set of major titles, the 25-year-old talked of her pride at representing her country"

HBO v Netflix: an epic struggle unfolds | Media | The Guardian

HBO v Netflix: an epic struggle unfolds | Media | The Guardian:

"Just as cable channels disrupted the networks in the early 1980s, so the internet is threatening cable's throne"

Claxton, Norfolk: The bumblebee: a life in perpetual transit | Mark Cocker | Environment | The Guardian

Claxton, Norfolk: The bumblebee: a life in perpetual transit | Mark Cocker | Environment | The Guardian:

The Literary Writer

Hardly a day passes without word of another success story of a self-published author making terrific money on book sales. Even established writers with major publishers are beginning to self-publish. This is what a publishing revolution looks like. Here success is easily measured in book sales and royalties.

But what about literary books with limited audiences? Has the revolution touched them?

When I began writing short stories, my goal was to get published in lit mags read by the editors of Best American Short Stories, this list in the back of each edition. Some mags were beyond reach for a beginner: The New Yorker, Esquire, The Atlantic, Paris Review. Better to focus where I had a shot. So I made a list. High on it were two lit mags with international audiences: Prism International and The Literary Review. Five years later I had placed three stories in each, great success by my own standars. I also was publishing widely elsewhere. Three stories were cited by the anthology, one of the 100 best stories in the land that year. More success. But little money. Money was never part of the goal. Literary writers taught or did journalism for money. I mostly did the latter.

What are literary writers doing today? My students seem to have goals to make money in pop genres. Even MFA candidates are writing zombie novels. I see this as very strange and a little depressing. What is happening to American literature?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Recent visitors

Glad I don't depend on Portland for my audience here ha ha.

Here's a longer time period:

The Thing at 34-03-15N, 118-15-23W

The Thing at 34-03-15N, 118-15-23W: Click title for full story.

The Colorado Quarterly (Spring, 1969)

Charles Deemer

Falling into the generation gap, I miss Willie Mays' home run

I CAN HEAR THEM out there. They are, to ignore the language's index of elasticity, dancing. And they are dancing with each other, I am asked to believe, although the fact of the matter is that when I left the patio they were exhibiting their individual spasms of ecstasy over a separation of six to twelve feet. Now I ask you: is that dancing together? I will admit that they are — for lack of a better word — involved. Yes, they are involved. They are so involved that they neglect to admire the new patio, the excuse for this party in the first place. I finished it last Wednesday, designing and building the whole thing myself, setting it into a three-colored form of a navigator's compass, at the center of which a brass plate marks the exact location of the patio: 34 degrees, 3 minutes, 15 seconds north, 118 degrees, 15 minutes, 23 seconds west. Having been a navigator in the Navy during the war, I made that measurement precisely. Myself."

Early in the 1950s, my dad and granddad, who was living with us, built the patio in this story behind our home in Pasadena, including the plaque. Years later after our home was torn down to make room for the new Foothills Freeway, my dad searched the rubble for the plaque but didn't find it.

This early story has worn especially well with me. I'd list it high on my list of favorites, even though it wasn't one of the three honored by Best American Short Stories during this period of prolific short story writing and appearances in literary magazines, late sixties through early seventies.

My frequent appearances had attracted the notice of agents. One liked the first few chapters of a novel I was working on, an agent who went on to make a considerable reputation for himself. However, I never finished the novel, called The Idaho Blues. I switched my focus to playwriting instead.

Similarly, just as doors began to open for my (traditional) plays, I became obsessed with the non-commercial hyperdrama form. I've always followed my literary passions over common sense for what was best for my career, at least in the usual terms. I'd do it all again because it's the only way I know how to write without boring myself.