Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Conservative Case For Obama - Again - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

The Conservative Case For Obama - Again - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast:

Sketch loves the sun

Theatre producer hopes to take London Olympic opening ceremony to ... Beijing | Stage | guardian.co.uk

Theatre producer hopes to take London Olympic opening ceremony to ... Beijing | Stage | guardian.co.uk:

"David King claims a musical version of Danny Boyle's spectacular ceremony could be an 'international winner'"

Stretching the definition of Historical Pageant.

Pussy Riot: will Vladimir Putin regret taking on Russia's cool punks? | World news | The Observer

Pussy Riot: will Vladimir Putin regret taking on Russia's cool punks? | World news | The Observer:

"The feminist collective hit the headlines when three members were arrested after an anti-Putin protest. Now they face up to seven years in jail, a prospect that has shocked and radicalised many Russians. On the eve of their trial, some of the women speak exclusively"

So far, so good

Doc passed me on all counts. Healing well, tech working (after hooking me up to computer). In 2 or 3 weeks I'm getting a home monitoring system. Plugs into phone line. Monitors my pacemaker and sends info to hospital. I don't do a thing, i.e. "it finds me." Creepy ha ha.

So all is well, except getting comfy to sleep at night.


A better night. See doc today. Need it. Knowledge rules. Meanwhile hanging in with O.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Art Scatter » Blog Archive » Link: Farewell, my lovely music shop

Art Scatter » Blog Archive » Link: Farewell, my lovely music shop:

A sad event inspires Bob Hicks to his strong suit, sensitive writing on the arts.

Poor Hollywood

Think back before The Hunger Games. When's the last time you saw someone in a movie shoot a bow and arrow? Robin Hood? Now you can't turn around, film or TV, without seeing a cute young woman with a bow and arrow. Hollywood calls this imagination.

American football

True American football fans, of which I was one for decades, begin to feel the excitement of fall approaching about now. But I don't expect to have my usual level of interest this year. However a few things interest me:

  • I hope Mike Leach does well at Wash St
  • I hope a new coach makes UCLA competitive again
  • I hope Nike stock goes down
  • I hope Peyton Manning does well
  • I hope Nike stock goes down
  • That's about it.

USA's Marti Malloy earns bronze medal in judo – USATODAY.com

USA's Marti Malloy earns bronze medal in judo – USATODAY.com:

A highlight today!

Watch the London Olympics Opening Ceremony Footage Censored By NBC [Video]

Watch the London Olympics Opening Ceremony Footage Censored By NBC [Video]:

NBC censored tribute to UK bombing victims in the olympic ceremony // Current TV

NBC censored tribute to UK bombing victims in the olympic ceremony // Current TV:

Mitt Romney Comments At Fundraiser Outrage Palestinians

Mitt Romney Comments At Fundraiser Outrage Palestinians:

""It is a racist statement and this man doesn't realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation," said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people," Erekat added. "He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority.""

Our future president? Well I survived Nixon, maybe I can survive him if it comes to that. I remain hopeful it won't.

How disappointing

One of our fine theater companies over the years has been Jane Unger's Profile Theatre, which dedicates a season to the work of a single playwright. Great concept! How exciting to get their new brochure today and learn that the upcoming season is dedicated to Athol Fugard!

Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, Fugard's best play
Sizwe Bansi Is Dead, as readers of this blog may recall, is one of my very favorite plays, probably top three or four. So I rushed into the brochure to make my reservations. Instant disappointment. They are not doing the play. They are giving it the lip service of a free one-night staged reading, this to what I consider his most powerful work. Pisses me off.

Fortunately, I saw a brilliant production at Ashland some time ago. But why they aren't producing it is beyond me.

Rethinking Walden

I've been floundering about since finishing my novel Sodom, Gomorrah & Jones. Am I retired as a writer or not? I thought so. But writers never retire until they die -- writing has become a way to exist in the world. So I began looking for a project. I thought of a film adaptation of the novel. I'd have to simplify it. I looked for another video project. I had an idea for a new novel, with a title I loved, but does the world need another novel by me or anyone else?

Lately, brooding in my convalescence, I thought of a non-fiction book. Not a memoir but a reflection, a summary of what life has come to mean to me. And the perfect reference would be Thoreau's Walden, about which I used to know a lot. In my graduate seminar on Walden, I did so well my professor thought I should write my Ph. D. thesis on Thoreau. I dropped out of school instead.

Thoreau went to the woods asking the right questions. We don't hear the questions very much today. Are they even possible to ask in a meaningful way any more? Churches of all denominations attempt to and fail miserably in the shackles of their individual ideologies. It's all form and ritual. Thoreau was after bone marrow.

So such a book could be both a love song to Thoreau and a reexamination of his quest in the context of a world very much changed from the 19th century. And it could be personal.

Obviously the place to begin is with a rereading of the book, which I haven't looked at in decades. Then I'll decide if there's any worthwhile "rethinking" to do about the issues raised.

I like this idea. It has absolutely no commercial possibilities, which makes it doubly attractive. I'll start the rereading soon and see what happens.

Bad night

Couldn't get comfortable with my sling, no sleep. May try sleeping in a chair. Presumably I'll nap a bit in a chair through the day.  A bad night gives me no sense of "progress."

Olympics turning me into an Anglophile.

Paula Radcliffe forced to pull out of London 2012 Olympic marathon | Sport | The Guardian

Paula Radcliffe forced to pull out of London 2012 Olympic marathon | Sport | The Guardian:

Sad. I'm a big fan.

The world as seen by Republicans, in a land of myth and amnesia | Gary Younge | Comment is free | The Guardian

The world as seen by Republicans, in a land of myth and amnesia | Gary Younge | Comment is free | The Guardian:

 "US conservatives are increasingly keen to interpret their country's woes primarily in terms of threats from abroad"

London 2012: Danny Boyle's story of Britain was a celebration of freedom | Shami Chakrabarti | | The Guardian

London 2012: Danny Boyle's story of Britain was a celebration of freedom | Shami Chakrabarti | Comment is free | The Guardian:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Being a patient

A part of me wishes I were back in the hospital. It's easier being a patient when you don't have to do everything yourself. I miss room service ha ha. I miss being checked out.

Excitement in competition

7 Olympic golds in a row
Picture a crickets stadium in London. 5000+ fans, vocal fans at that, all there to see the Gold final in women's archery between So Korea and China. A tense competitive incredibly close match -- in the rain, no less. I am totally into it. The fans are totally into it. This is competition at its best.

You can't imagine this happening in America. No violence.

So Korea wins by a single point -- its 7th straight Olympic gold in Archery. SEVENTH! Archery is the national sport in South Korea. Think about that, my fellow Americans, and contemplate the relationship between national sports and foreign policy.

Ariel Hsing
And then there's Ariel Hsing. What a story! The California teenager is still alive in the late rounds of table tennis, playing China's #2 veteran (Hsing ranked far over 100) and giving her all she can handle. She loses 4 games to 2 but is never out of it. An upset would have been far greater than USA's hockey upset.

And the skeet shooter, an American woman, who wins gold, her 5th Olympics in a row with a medal. And in shooting, contestants sometimes go into their senior years.

And the bicycle road race today, the women, in the rain, where England got its first medal, a silver, and where a flat tire knocked USA out of it late in the race.

I know why the Olympics don't happen every year. One needs a year to recover from two weeks of such competitive intensity!

Had to take a pain pill last night. Better today but reminds me that recovery isn't simple or automatic. See the doc on Tuesday.

Richard Muller: 'Humans Are Almost Entirely The Cause' Of Climate Change

Richard Muller: 'Humans Are Almost Entirely The Cause' Of Climate Change:

""Humans are almost entirely the cause" of climate change, according to a scientist who once doubted that global warming even existed."

This guy recently was a right wing darling.

Can you make any kind of living as an artist? | Culture | The Observer

Can you make any kind of living as an artist? | Culture | The Observer:

"With the exception of household names, most people in the creative arts need a day job to make ends meet. But should artists have to work or should they be supported by the state?"

My very productive 1980s had much grant support. But I've also been productive without it. It was less stressful with it.

The 10 best… closing lines of books | Culture | The Observer

The 10 best… closing lines of books | Culture | The Observer:

Not my list. Nor yours.

A Simple Concept for Publishing

A Simple Concept for Publishing

There will be no more professional writers in the future

There will be no more professional writers in the future

Democratization of art.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

World's media lavishes praise on Olympic opening ceremony | Media | guardian.co.uk

World's media lavishes praise on Olympic opening ceremony | Media | guardian.co.uk:

"Danny Boyle's ceremony variously described as 'outrageous', 'inventive and offbeat' and 'the world's biggest inside joke'"

London 2012: Danny Boyle thrills audiences with inventive Olympics opening ceremony | Sport | The Observer

London 2012: Danny Boyle thrills audiences with inventive Olympics opening ceremony | Sport | The Observer:

There's no accounting for taste

Watching in Canada, H thought the opening ceremony was "disjointed". I thought it was brilliant, director Danny Boyle presenting a dramatic national history and vision. TS finds the entire Olympics "a big bore." I've had more sports-fan excitement today than I can stand and there are hours left to watch. USA got silver in archery after a huge semifinal upset of 3-time winner South Korea. France women upset Norway in handball by one pont. Come on! This is gripping stuff! And here comes rowing ...

Change of scenery

Need to get out, getting blurry eyed. A trip to the store in search of pecan pie. Pick up a six pack of Kaliber.  


The best sporting event on the planet has started. I've already seen incredible table tennis, handball and fencing matches. The next couple weeks are the highlight of the sporting year. And to think it began with a celebration of socialized medicine. Go, England!

Currently the USA - So Korea archery semi-final is a nail-biter. Gotta run. (Who needs football and basketball?)

Friday, July 27, 2012

England, My England!

Watching the opening ceremonies. Director Danny Boyle has the balls and sensitivity to celebrate England's socialized medicine at the opening ceremony! I love it.

Patient at home

I'm still wearing my hospital bracelet and I think I'll keep it on for two months, just to remind myself that there are hoops to jump through, I'm still "a patient." I feel like I could go out and mow the lawn now, for example, which is a no no. The hardest hoop is wearing a sling to bed, so I don't move my left arm in my sleep. My usual sleep positions don't follow the new rules.

Live Blogging the Opening Ceremony - NYTimes.com

Live Blogging the Opening Ceremony - NYTimes.com:

What don't they live blog today?


Hmm, Kindle messages not getting here today. Anyway, a mellow day, still icing wound per instructions, no pain today, petting the dog, listening to music. H off to Canada. Turned chilly, alas. Portland summer! Yuk. But suppose to turn back soon. We'll see.

Just keeping mellow and lowkey. Doc visits next week. So far, so good. Still high energy, despite staying quiet. A true transformation, this pacemaker.


Icing the wound ... petting the dog ... no pain ... H to Canada ... Olympics tomorrow!

Bionic report

H off to Canada ... no pain yesterday ... taking it easy today ... still icing wound per instructions ... Eight Olympics football games yesterday ... I watched most of four ... Directv has interactive menu can select sport ... eager for table tennis fencing rowing tomorrow ... refuse to watch bball ... a joke ... millionaires in the O sad ...

Thursday, July 26, 2012


How different my summer turned out to be! The plan was to clean my office right after turning in grades, redesign it, get rid of stuff -- but instead I immediately got sick for 3 weeks. Then I emerge from the sick bed with no energy whatever, drag myself to the doctor, learn my heart isn't functioning right and end up with a pacemaker. Now I have a two-month "recovery" schedule, after which the new term will start.

I'm thinking I still can clean my office next week as long as I'm careful with my left arm. We'll see.

I still marvel at my new energy: not only in the afternoon but, unheard of, late at night as well. Amazing to me. Now to do something with it.

The last thing I did at the hospital was watch the USA-France women's football/soccer game. USA down 2 quick goals! But they came back like champs and won 4-2. But they have weaknesses, though favs for a gold again, they can be beaten and had better be careful.

I tried to watch a streaming soccer game this morning but couldn't connect. Hope that isn't a clue about how it will go.

I'm so damn clear headed I figure something profound should occur to me. It hasn't.


My good friend Tom celebrates his upcoming 67th with a hike up a mountain, during which he wrote a new poem. It concludes:
Around the corner is an old man wearing 
Shirt-front slobber, incontinence painted on the trousers.
I know wiring gets hinky when brain matter mushes.

Standing on my head to avoid the swelling -- inevitable
with enlarging numbers -- I come up with a 99 but
Don’t expect much of it.   
Sometimes the best gifts are one's own.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Doc and nurses kept pushing pain pills because I was supposed to be in pain after the operation. But I wasn't feeling pain and wouldn't take the pill. Well, finally hit me late this afternoon. Filled the prescription for some heavy duty med and took it. Interesting it took so long for me to follow the usual path.

But man, I like having energy in the afternoon!

Another thing that impressed me was that a rep from the manufacturer of the pacemaker came by my room in the morning with a computer and magnetic device, hooked me up and tested the hardware to make sure it was working right. It was. Later, I guess, I'll be able to check it from home using the phone. High tech, man.

Streaming summer Olympics

This year NBC is streaming live every single event at the Olympics! I just registered to see them (have to be a cable subscriber of some kind). Handball! Table tennis! Fencing! I can't wait.

The Certainty of More Shootings - James Fallows - The Atlantic

The Certainty of More Shootings - James Fallows - The Atlantic:

"There will be more of these; we absolutely know it; we also know that we will not change the circumstances that allow such episodes to recur. I am an optimist about most things, but not about this. Everyone around the world understands this reality too. It is the kind of thing that makes them consider America dangerous, and mad."

American exceptionalism.

Does Money Make Us Write Better? by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

Does Money Make Us Write Better? by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books:

"Paradoxically, then, almost the worst thing that can happen to writers, at least if it’s the quality of their work we’re thinking about, is to receive, immediately, all the money and recognition they want. At this point all other work, all other sane and sensible economic relation to society, is rapidly dropped and the said author now absolutely reliant on the world’s response to his or her books, and at the same time most likely surrounded by people who will be building their own careers on his or her triumphant success, all eager to reinforce intimations of grandeur. An older person, long familiar with the utter capriciousness of the world’s response to art, might deal with such an enviable situation with aplomb."

Not for a long time

I have energy in the afternoon for the first time in ages. Not that I am doing anything with it ha ha.

Clinton urges IOC to commemorate Munich massacre - Yahoo! News

Clinton urges IOC to commemorate Munich massacre - Yahoo! News:

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling on the International Olympic Committee to commemorate the massacre of Israeli athletes by Palestinian gunmen at the Munich Games in 1972 with a moment of silence at the opening ceremony of this year's Games in London."

Bears & salmon

Alien abduction

Here's the most curious, amusing image of my operation: I felt like I had been abducted by aliens.

They wheel me into a room that looks more like a warehouse than a hospital surgery room, with big machines everywhere. They stretch me out on a long flat metal bed. They put some kind of canvas tent over my head, so I can't see anything, but I can hear three or four of them hovering over me, poking me, all very mysterious. The image that came to my mind was: I've been abducted by aliens.

Greenland Ice Melt, Measured By NASA Satellites, Reaches Unprecedented Level

Greenland Ice Melt, Measured By NASA Satellites, Reaches Unprecedented Level:

"According to a NASA press release, about half of Greenland's surface ice sheet naturally melts during an average summer. But the data from three independent satellites this July, analyzed by NASA and university scientists, showed that in less than a week, the amount of thawed ice sheet surface skyrocketed from 40 percent to 97 percent.

In over 30 years of observations, satellites have never measured this amount of melting, which reaches nearly all of Greenland's surface ice cover."

Only a matter of time, alas.

About health and hospitals

First, getting a pacemaker is remarkable. I dragged my way in and came out energized. Immediately. Well, my pulse rate doubled, before and after.

Our health care system sucks. But this is at the level of coverage and opportunity.We have decent health care (a good thing, it's a forty grand operation), able to afford it,and I was impressed with the experience at Kaiser Sunnyside. Professional, convenient, flexible, my short stay was first rate. Room service and wifi perks. I don't know how to improve the experience.

Now it's great to feel better and all that, but there's something else going on here. We are creating persons with more technological than natural parts. That seems to be where this is heading. And I've heard no public debate on the wisdom of this. In fact, we get no public debate on most things that matter in our lives, from cars given us to buy to politicians given us to vote for. We take the alternatives offered to us. Maybe we should have something to say about choosing the alternatives in the first place.

Modern medicine is wondrous. However, there's the temptation of arrogance that goes with this, i.e. any problem has a technological solution. This has gotten us into trouble before. It's contributed, in fact, to global warming. There usually are unforeseen consequences we later regret. You don't see this arrogance in pure science so much because there is no immediate money to be made on the goal of pure science, which is truth. You have to adapt the truth, applied science, to make money. So pure scientists tend to be incredibly humble. Applied scientists tend to be arrogant.

All of this avoids an important discussion this culture needs to have about death. Never happen. But we need it. We need to accept it and institutionalize it. We need Death Celebrations the way we have Birth and Marriage celebrations. We need wakes where the departing one is the host. We need a pill that makes all this painless for the one leaving us. Never happen. But a sane, compassionate culture we move in this direction.

To put new 20s energy onto old 70s knees is to invite more bionic manipulation. I am going to resist it. I like being old, in general. I like having some energy. I don't need to become a stud. Been there, done that.

The 2-month "recovery" period for the area to heal will be more trying than the operation itself. Keeping the left arm restricted is the key, which is changing a lot of habits. The adventure begins.

CD imitates LBJ

LBJ, 1966
CD, 2012
Home sweet home!

A new dilemma: 20s energy on 70s knees. I see a pattern here. Homo robotus.

Details re the operation, the nature of medicine, the denial of death, later.

When it works out

From a former student:
I was in your class a couple of years ago. I don't know if you remember me...I wrote a screenplay/musical that you suggested I adapt to a stage play. It was titled "Somewhere" but I re-named it "For Pete's Sake!" and wrote lyrics for all the songs. I took your advice and made it into a play. 

I have had it read by theater critics and got some very encouraging feed back- it could actually be produced! I just wanted to let you know and thank you for being such a great professor! 
Since I've worked professionally in virtually all forms of narrative, one of the things I can do well is see when a story will work better in another form. Many students resist this advice. But now and again someone takes it and it works out.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Room 277

Private room with room service ... just ordered food ... give me a break ha ha. I need to get sick more often.

Kindle at hospital bed

All is well. I am a bionic man. No pain so far. Hardest coming with very restricted activity for two mos. More later. I am good.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Last post as a natural man

Appreciate the good wishes. Back in a few as a bionic man.

Last lunch

Old school Chicken Chow Mein
Over the years I've ordered Chicken Chow Mein perhaps a dozen times at a dozen Chinese restaurants in the area and got a dozen different dishes. It can be anything a cook wants it to be. Only one of these resembles the dish I love and grew up on in Southern Calif, one ordered at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Main St in Tigard, where H took me to lunch today for my "last meal" ha ha. I don't know why it's so hard to find any more. Bean sprouts, crispy noodles, chicken. Love it.

My signature verse in all the wide spectrum of music

Runner up:

Last day

On this, my last day as "a natural man," ha ha, I have some prep stuff to do before checking into the hospital bright and early tomorrow. Lab work mainly. Not sure what time I come home Wed., just that I'm staying overnight. Operation apparently takes only an hour.

This, of course, has become quite an ordinary routine -- just not for me.

LATER. After some snooping on the net about post-operation activity, I realize this is a bigger deal than I thought. Looks like a month before I'd be back to normal activity. Well, at least the Olympics are on to watch.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The comfort of home

Sketch's actual snoring.

USA women's soccer

The team gets a head start on the Olympics, playing France on Wed, early morning our time. I'll be in the hospital after surgery and staying overnight -- hope I get to see it. I am taping it but live is better. No idea how long my "recuperation" is on this bionic gadget but at least the Olympics start and I'll have plenty of distractions.

Love the little Bloggie. Want to have it in my pocket as a habit, always video ready. But I still need a video project that turns me on. Other than the possible adaptation of the novel. Something more vignette-based, on-going. Haven't found the key, the point of view, the voice, for such a project. Still brooding.

World's shortest R&R album

Room with a view, Astoria

Sketch sucks on a blanket

Testing the Bloggie

But on the other hand, baby

That video project is too static. Back to the drawing boards.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Annotated video memoir

What I'm considering for my video project is an annotated reading of my memoir.

  • Short sections within chapters, modular construction, lending itself to a series of short videos
  • commentary allows upgrading, reevaluations, asides
  • would fill months of time, the distraction I'm looking for
  • might inspire other, more ambitious projects
  • functional as overview and intro to my archives, i.e. immediate home
  • easy to do
Not committed yet but almost sold because it's immediate and practical and would take up considerable time, all pluses.

Meanwhile enjoying R&R though definitely moving slowly, dizzily. 

R&R brooding

Think I have my video project. More later. Meets the criteria and can be foundation for more creative ambition later.

RR report

Fuzzy and well ... details follow ....

Friday, July 20, 2012

R & R

Need a little diversion before surgery. Sketch is ready!

Left hand, right hand

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? Now they moved my surgery up to next Tuesday.

Oops, a long wait

Heart surgery scheduled for August 2.

I'm reminded of something Woody Guthrie wrote in his journal, that I included in my show:
But I sure am glad I inherited my Huntington's Chorea because now I can stay dizzy and drunk all the time without paying my bartender one little blue cent.

Once upon a time

Here I am arriving for the opening of my hyperdrama in the Pittock Mansion, Chateau de Mort, 1986. Sold out at $100/ticket, which in Pdx in those days was astronomical, about as high society as the city could get, which was enough to get written up in a Seattle arts magazine in glowing terms. I don't show it but I was a total nervous wreck, here and later and still later. This was my first white tux opening, which became my signature for a few years. Then I returned to my normal slob casual self.

Watch Out, Mama, Hyperdrama's Gonna Mess With Your Pittock Mansion!, my essay about this experience.

Or more seriously, The New Hyperdrama.

Or more seriously still, Changing Key, a video lecture-demonstration.

Hyperdrama drives computer game narratives. Here's Ellen Page on the challenges of acting in a computer game, i.e. in hyperdrama.

On becoming fuzzy

I can feel the mental clarity and energy with which I started the day slipping away. I'll be dragging ass soon enough. Fascinating process.

Covering a tragedy

Here's something I stumbled on and which surprises me: the most comprehensive current coverage of the tragic theater shootings in Colorado is not in the NY Times or Denver Post or CNN ... but at Deadline, Hollywood, an online trade website. I'm impressed.

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math | Politics News | Rolling Stone

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math | Politics News | Rolling Stone:

"Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe - and that make clear who the real enemy is"

I think we're doomed.

But I think a Romney/Republican victory might help us since instead of gridlock and frustration we will get a series of wrong decisions that may just get great numbers protesting on the streets and raise the heat of the debate, no pun intended, and get the seriousness of this out front and center where it belongs. Of course, if the populace were educated, we'd get an Obama/Democratic victory and with a Democratic congress and a last term, the President may find his balls and do some necessary radical things.

But all this is probably wishful thinking, either way. We're probably simply doomed. Nature wins. Always.


I'm really struggling to define a new video project. I want it to be a series of short pieces on my blog. I want it to have narrative continuity and, of course, be interesting TO ME, and therefore to those with my sensibilities (few as they are). But so far, nothing. I expect to come up with something eventually.

I know how I want it to look. I want the narrative to require mobility through the city and area. I want to be able to do most of it alone, only occasionally engaging either an actor or a character on the street. I'd love for Sketch to play a major role. It might be a mystery. I suppose I am the lead character by default, which is fine. I want a strong but subversive element of social commentary, particularly about issues of aging. It might be a movie within a movie, serialized. It might have the feel of a video diary. I suspect there may be a mystery to solve at the head of the narrative.

I'll do some experimenting. The greatest challenge, perhaps, is getting the right look. The visual element. I have an idea for a 2-camera shoot through much of it. Do I get H involved? She's a character, to be sure.

Well, brooding is good for the soul. So I continue to brood about this. I bought a new camera, unable to resist a sale (and turning two others on to it), so now I am a three camera guy, and H has a fourth.

But I won't start until I am satisfied with the concept and structure. And I am a long ways from either, or so it seems to me at the moment. But this strikes me as the project to do, rather than writing something. My goddamn archive is large enough with writing! Words, words, words. I want to do something smaller, visual, that grows. I want to do something where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

And boy, do I have a lot of energy this morning! I suppose the crash will come about 9 or 10 this morning.

Sales v. reviews

I read a publishing blog daily and feel like I'm up on trends in the industry. And I'm again taken by how different the publishing universe is today than when I began, at least for "serious" writers. (Or are there any serious writers left?). We never, never talked about sales! We were not aiming to write "best sellers." Our high goals were to publish a story in The New Yorker or Esquire, get published and reviewed in the NY Times or New Yorker and selected as a Best Book of the Year or Best American Short Story (I made all but the last cut, the "Roll of Honor," three times). Sales? I swear, sales never entered the mind. We weren't writing genre fiction, after all. We were trying to write literature. The only possible way to make money at this was to sell the book to LaLaLand. But this had nothing to do with us. Our agents handled all that sort of thing.

You can't find a more different universe than the one today. Fascinating.

In today's universe, in fact, I doubt if I would have aspired to become a writer. Why? There are easier ways to make money, if that is the goal.

I should say that I feel great this morning! The first few hours of the day have been pretty good. Then, apparently, the heart starts misfiring and I start dragging ass. Obviously the doctor isn't overly concerned about the timing here, there is no rush to give me my pacemaker. The physical and mechanical aspects of the heart are good, he says. It's just old and not handling electrical charges right. Poor conductivity. That's my understanding, anyway.

H is more stressed out by all this than I am. I'm getting used to dragging ass. It's a little like being high. As long as there is nothing I have to do, I can almost "get into it," a kind of fuzzy surrealistic drag ass world where nothing is in sharp focus.

H leaves for Canada Thursday and definitely wants this settled before then. We'll see.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Read recently on Kindle

The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam
Bill Walton loved the basketball program at UCLA because it was so tightly disciplined and so meticulously well run, so little left in the hands of chance. By contrast he loved the rest of his college years because they represented the height in personal freedom. He was lionized, but in a very light sophisticated way, and on his terms, not so lionized that he lost his privacy. He loved the informality of the school, the quality of its education, the political excitement that UCLA in the early seventies seemed to be at the center of. Where he wanted discipline in his life there was discipline, and where he wanted freedom there was freedom. He switched early in his career from engineering to history and his grades were excellent.Read more at location 5163
In his senior year Walton talked with Wooden about his need to smoke marijuana after a game. He asked for permission to go back to his motel room or his apartment after a big game and smoke. He needed this, he said, to relax. It took him hours to come down from the excitement of competition. Wooden said he was absolutely against it. Walton insisted; he was so tense after a game it was costing him sleep and affecting his readiness for succeeding games. Finally, reluctantly, Wooden had given his permission. All right, he had said, but don’t tell your teammates about it.
 Bring Your Own God: The Spirituality of Woody Guthrie by Rev. Steve Edington, Woody Guthrie
I believe Woody Guthrie struggled with the same question as did Gandhi and Jesus, as cited earlier: “Who is my family?” It likely was a painful struggle for Woody to face this question, however consciously he asked it of himself or not. He felt a mystical link to a greater human family even as he surely knew he was coming up short with the families who needed him the most. He loved deeply while struggling to show his love for those who personally needed it the most. Artistic creativity, more often than not, grows out of, or is a response to, emotional pain. How many of Woody’s wonderful songs and poems grew out of a painful emotional and psychological and spiritual struggle he was having with the contradictions he found within himself?
 Woody Guthrie’s vision for America was not bound up in a particular, hard and fast political ideology, be it communism or any other “ism.” The roots of his vision were spiritual. If Woody believed, as one of his songs clearly indicates, that every step one takes is on holy ground, then all human beings who are taking those steps should be meaningful participants in our earth’s essential holiness. Such was Woody’s vision; he left it to others to work out the details—details we’ve yet to complete.
 Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire by Morris Berman
It’s all a catch-22, because as long as the goal of our society is to advance the standard of living, no alternatives to the technological paradigm are possible.Read more at location 1522
Humankind’s nightmare of seeing our machines taking control of our world seems on the edge of becoming reality—not in the form of robots…but as an electronically based system of financial transactions.

More about heart

Echocardiogram revealed no additional issues, i.e. not a mechanical problem but a conductivity problem. Still waiting to be scheduled. I hate waiting.

Growing Doubts About Advertising | Common Dreams

Growing Doubts About Advertising | Common Dreams:

Nader on advertising.

Terry Simons on advertising.

I have experience similar to Simons'. My last "traditional job" (9 to 5 etc) was Managing Editor of Oregon Business Magazine. Here the content-ad relationship is more complex because they are one and the same, we report on businesses who are the advertisers. What I hated were the ad salesmen who would come in 15 mins before we were going to press with a half page ad to insert. And the boss made us do it. So we were forever cutting up stories at the last minute to get in more ads.

I was a misfit as a business journalist. We were under-staffed so I wrote a lot of features myself -- interviewing CEOs in downtown high rises in jeans (but wearing a tie) and a full beard. I had a long interview and argument with Phil Knight for our Nike story. I tried to convince him to give some crumbs to the arts. He hated me and told my boss. It was the beginning of "cleaning up my act" but fortunately shortly thereafter I received a fat grant and was able to give notice. I'd already done all the fun work, which was converting a total piece of shit into a respectable state business magazine. Myself and the art director did virtually all the work. We were the only two employees at the time!

Norman Brown on Kindle!

At last Brown's Life Against Death released for Kindle. More coming I hope.

First introduced to this as senior at UCLA ... one of texts in Amer Intellectual History. Loved the course and professor who lectured. Did not like Grad Asst who ran the class most of the time. GA read and graded all work except the final. He didnt like me much. I had a C going into the final.

Then an academic miracle. I got a call from the professor after taking the final. He wanted to see my midterm and term paper ... low grades from GA on them. Prof read and changed grades to A! Amazing. Ends up Id written one of best finals hed ever seen esp on Brown and Life Against Death. I got an A and a generous letter of rec to grad school. GA it turns out hated Brown. He and prof always fighting. Ah academia.

Anyway very exciting to reread after all these years.

p.s. up after a bit of sleep .... a little energy ...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dragging ass

Energy early a.m. but really dragging ass since mid morn. Get tired texting here on Kindle. Jeez. Come on pacemaker.

When the Army Was Democratic by William Pfaff | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

When the Army Was Democratic by William Pfaff | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books:

"At a recent event in Aspen, Colorado, General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of the international force in Afghanistan, said that the United States should go back to the draft in order to continue waging its wars. “I think we need a national service,” he said. McChrystal argued that a professional army is unrepresentative of the citizenry, and if a government goes to war, “everybody [should have] skin in the game…every city, every town, needs to be at risk.”"

A draft also provides for a more energized peace movement. Today it's too easy to look the other way because there's no personal stake in war.

Death with dignity

I really would like to see this law challenged ... presently to use must have terminal illness six mos to live ... what defines terminal illness is area to challenge ... how about being ready to go ... terminal disinterest in hanging around ... in other words challenge accepted morality of quanity over quality of life ... in fact if one has had a decent life and is a certain age and clearly quality now can only diminish ... and this person is ready to pass it is inhumane to make them wait for a quote terminal illness unquote ... Ive thought of challenging law myself but cant find a lawyer who agrees with me ... cant find non lawyers ha ha ... left to writing about it instead but really needs a court case and arguments ... de facto forcing messier more painful options.

Death of a Natural Man (poem)

My heart is old
My heart is tired
My heart is dying

And no wonder!
24/7 through 7 decades
pumping without stop
or hesitation

through bodily abuses
booze and women
not enough sleep
not enough nutrients

taken for granted
the engine that
drives it all
taken for granted

If I were my heart
I'd be tired too
and maybe a
little pissed

If my heart had
stopped in my sleep
saying screw you!
I would have understood

but it didn't, it
pumped as best
it could, misfiring
out of sync

and I dragged ass
before dragging myself
to a doctor

who gave me the lowdown
on this miracle machine
my heart

which in old age
needs a little help
from high tech

unless I want to
drag on like
a car on half cylinders

but a tiny wondrous
coin-shaped pacemaker
should do the trick
says the doc

and I say
I never intended to
become a bionic man

but I do feel sorry
for my old tired heart
I want to help

since this dying heart
for reasons known
only to itself
decided not to
cash in and
call it a day

which is what
I would've done

--Charles Deemer

Theodore Bikel, Songs of a Russian Gypsy

Used to sing this in a group in LA.

Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins

Three doowop classics

The Flamingos

The Moonglows

The Five Satins

The Killer

The London sessions, 1983

Last days of a natural man

Feeling really good this morning. But taking it easy, waiting for the heart surgery to be scheduled.

Awoke with opening of poem in my head, "Death of a Natural Man," hmm, wonder where that came from. May fiddle with it today and see if it goes anywhere.

A long neglected household chore to do: clean out my closet and get rid of stuff I no longer wear. A perfect day for it.

We want to get this heart business done before H leaves on her next trip, to Canada end of next week.

Man, the Olympics are close. We have a woman going for her third gold here in town, a fencer. I love all the minor sports more than things like basketball. I doubt if I'll even watch a basketball game, certainly not if rowing or fencing or table tennis is on! I get no kick out of watching amateur millionaires. I want to see some of our Oregon distance runners do well.

As a bionic man, ha ha, I hope I discover a return to the incredible energy of earlier years, or some approximation thereof. I'd love to find a second wind in the creative life.

I bought a Sony HD camcorder on sale,couldn't turn down the price, and it should come this week. Now I have to figure out what to do with it. I now have 3 mini cams. I did a lot of 2 camera shots in Farewell Wake and the Shaw documentary. Now I can do 3 camera shots ha ha.

I'd like to find a voice, or point of view, or angle, to do a series of short videos for my blog, something that would keep my interest. Been looking for this without luck for a couple years. Maybe there's no answer.

Haven't heard from actor reading the novel since he said he was halfway through and liking it.  No rush.

I hope I hear from the hospital today to schedule and get this show on the road.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Update Lite

Exhausting day at hospital ... yep tis heart ... upper lower chambers firing out of sync ... if out feel bad if in feel ok ... can let it ride slowly get worse ... or pacemaker to fix it ... chose latter ... waiting for surgery appt ... bionic man

Blog scammers

Here's how scammers have learned how to infiltrate blogs:
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Health report #1": 

What's up, just wanted to say, I liked this post. It was funny. Keep on posting!
My web site:
 They leave generic comments with a link to a website that sells something, usually. Ironic, though, that the comment is on my health report and is "funny"! Once these started, I began to moderate the comments, publishing only legitimate ones, but I had to share this. It did make me laugh.

Without anticipation

Very mellow this morn ... have energy and focus ... had dream nothing wrong with heart at all ... which doesnt answer why recent issues ... strange ... and as Dear Abby once wrote, Half docs graduated in bottom half of class .... soooooooo ... we'll see ...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Country mourns loss of 'Queen' Kitty Wells – The Marquee Blog - CNN.com Blogs

Country mourns loss of 'Queen' Kitty Wells – The Marquee Blog - CNN.com Blogs:

Google's Marissa Mayer Becomes Yahoo's Chief - NYTimes.com

Google's Marissa Mayer Becomes Yahoo's Chief - NYTimes.com:

I think this will prove to be a big deal.

Saroyan on Welch -- an excerpt

Health report #1

First thanks to those expressing concern ... reason Im dragging around is I have very low pulse 38.... starved heart ... see cardiologist tomorrow ... main doc guess is heart surgery and pacemaker and Im fine with that having witnessed nonlethal stroke of my dad ... no thanks ... hope planned weekend at coast still a go ... well I can insist!

But it depends on the severity of the issue, which likely is blockage. I've had friends go to the cardiologist and end up in surgery an hour later! I've had others go and schedule surgery a week away.  I've had others go and not need surgery at all, getting a less radical procedure to clear arteries. In other words, anything can happen. I could die in my sleep tonight, although dying before the summer Olympics would be a cruel hand even if I've had more than my share of luck.

What me worry? I will say this, on the drive home from the doc's, even in traffic the world looked like a pretty neat place to be. And of course who can discount the welcome of a loyal dog? Sketch knows how to make me laugh.

Round Bend Press: Joe Paterno/No Defense

Round Bend Press: Joe Paterno/No Defense:

TS is right on. Football culture at its worst. But by God the NCAA sure put Cal Tech in its place!


An hour before heading to doc .... I have that pit in my stomach Id get before going on stage to perform .... expect unpleasant news ... been too lucky ... how in hell can my almost vegetarian younger bro have a heart attack and I havent ... why am I the last one standing among close drinking buds .... gods have really cut me a deal ... cant last forever ... actually I dont mind passing but for damn sure mind close but no cigar incapacitation... better to go the whole hog ... Ive done my spiritual work to go ... this is not morbid or suicidal but a simple spiritual truth that scares the bejesus out of folks ... at any rate lets get this done so I can eat ha ha.

On This Day

On This Day

Hey doc

Maybe today I get an answer or theory about why I am dragging these days ... I need heart surgery or I have a vitamin deficiency or am just old or who knows what. Meanwhile Im hungry i.e. fasting for blood test. Come on lunch. So far summer is not what I had in mind.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Contemplative Revolution

A Contemplative Revolution:

"For you see, contemplative spirituality is like the French resistance of the Nazi era."

LA Stories

Two stories in LA Times today of special interest.

History of Sunset Blvd. I lived on Sunset in Pacific Palisades while going to UCLA. Sometimes caught the bus across the street. Near ocean. A zoo on weekends. Might take five mins to get out driveway.

Cal Tech details re NCAA infractions. Secretary caught it. Students dont enroll until third week of term so they can shop classes. Hence first two weeks of term all jocks breaking minimum credits rule. Sec told boss...up chain of command...decided to report it with voluntary sanctions. Should have been end of it.

Idiots at NCAA...who have done nothing against Penn St...decided on stiffer penalties. No scholarships...oops Cal Tech has none. Forfeit victories...oops there are few. Baseball 0-112...soccer 0-66 etc etc etc. What fools.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The old writer in the hotel

Early in my career circumstances led me to formulate an image of what life as "an old writer" might be like. It happened this way.

My first play, Above the Fire, was one of three winners in the national Tennessee Williams Playwriting Competition sponsored by the Univ of Missouri at Columbia. This is very significant for what happened as a result. At the time I was working on a novel to complete my MFA in fiction at the Univ of Oregon. The writing wasn't going well -- hence trying something new, like a play.

As a winner I was flown from Eugene to Columbia and put up in the Daniel Boone Hotel for a week. We three playwrights were treated like bigshots, visiting classes, giving readings, being on panels, being guests at many faculty parties. It was as if we really mattered. And you couldn't find three more different writers: a slick mod NYC gay man, who brought along his young lover; a businessman-looking Wallace Stevens, TS Eliot kind of writer; and yours truly, in my Paul Bunyon period.

I loved being treated like a bigshot so much that back in Eugene I changed my MFA from fiction to drama. Well, I also was looking for a way to stay in school and take advantage of the new Cold War GI Bill.

Staying at the hotel was an old writer, a permanent resident, of local renown. At 4 each afternoon he came down to the bar for his 2 or 3 martinis before dinner. At the bar was a sign-up sheet to visit with him at his booth! Young writers and students lined up to get their 15 or 20 minutes while he held court.  Observing this, I thought, now that's a cool way to be an old writer!

Needless to say, my own experience as "an old writer" is not holding court and sipping martinis in the hotel bar where I live. But I used to think it might be.

Woody Guthrie: a century of protest | Cerys Matthews | Music | The Guardian

Woody Guthrie: a century of protest | Cerys Matthews | Music | The Guardian:

Guthrie getting his due. 30+ years ago, when  I was touring my show about him, I often had to pitch him to folks who never heard of him, though they knew several of his songs. But there were a few around who knew, including this reviewer:
Deemer's act [Ramblin'] is unusually faithful to the material, graced with the selfsame sense of commitment and trust in the common people that continues to keep Guthrie's spirit alive in this country, a spirit that's needed now more than ever.
Doug Marx
Willamette Week
Listen to RAMBLIN' 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Second wind

from Kindle ... did some audio for project for class in fall ... dog to park in heat of day ... both home to cool off. But work done today!

Univ of Oregon archive

My archive at the Univ of Oregon, Special Collections, is almost up to date. Budget cuts have made them under-staffed and it takes a while. They do a great job with their resources. Very supportive.

59 items listed. Not a bad career.

Energy 2

I blew it. I didn't use it while I had it and now I don't have it. Eager to hear what the doc has to say about all this come Monday. No way I could do a project with so little energy, for example. I can read and I can sit and I can watch the tube and I can scratch the dog.

Why leaving Tom Cruise makes Katie Holmes a feminist hero - Yahoo! News

Why leaving Tom Cruise makes Katie Holmes a feminist hero - Yahoo! News:


A bit of energy today. I do believe I'll use it.

Morgan Freeman: Obama, Mandela, Batman and me | Film | The Guardian

Morgan Freeman: Obama, Mandela, Batman and me | Film | The Guardian:

"The veteran actor on The Dark Knight Rises, how the right is out to destroy Barack Obama at any cost – and why he hates the phrase African American"

Bob Dylan in row over Newport folk festival electric guitar | Music | guardian.co.uk

Bob Dylan in row over Newport folk festival electric guitar | Music | guardian.co.uk:

"Representatives for Dylan, however, say it is impossible that Peterson has discovered the songwriter's lost electric guitar. "Bob has possession of the electric guitar he played at the Newport folk festival in 1965," said Orin Snyder, Dylan's lawyer. "He did own several other Stratocaster guitars that were stolen from him around that time, as were some handwritten lyrics.""

Woody Guthrie novel to be published … with help from Johnny Depp | Music | guardian.co.uk

Woody Guthrie novel to be published … with help from Johnny Depp | Music | guardian.co.uk:

Woody Guthrie at 100: the return of a pariah | Billy Bragg | | The Guardian

Woody Guthrie at 100: the return of a pariah | Billy Bragg | Comment is free | The Guardian:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's time for Joe Paterno's fans to open their eyes: David Jones | PennLive.com

It's time for Joe Paterno's fans to open their eyes: David Jones | PennLive.com:

"As the investigation of Jerry Sandusky has progressed, it has become clear to even some of Joe Paterno’s more zealous followers that he was well informed of his former assistant’s heinous crimes and not only did nothing, but participated in a cover-up.

It doesn’t mean that those finding it hard to get their minds around such conclusions are either delusional or stupid. Only that they are horribly disillusioned and need time to digest what can today not be plainer."

Caltech’s famously futile sports teams get NCAA sanctions that usually come to athletic powers - The Washington Post

Caltech’s famously futile sports teams get NCAA sanctions that usually come to athletic powers - The Washington Post:

This is hilarious -- at least to this former Cal Tech jock.

New narrative line

I also have been brooding about the probably future novel, Old Age v. The United States of America. An addition. On the road trip, the buddy of the protagonist brings his dying wife -- she convinces him that he should administer the drug to her where they had their honeymoon in Mexico. I think maybe in the end the protagonist will be arrested for murder, the other two dead (the buddy decides to join  her), though of course he didn't kill them at all. But assisting in suicide is a crime. Not sure what role the drug cartel stuff will play, or maybe even be dropped. I like using it as backdrop more than front and center. As ordinary. Not sure when I'll actually start on this in a disciplined way. Still brooding. And brooding is such fun.

CJ on film

I really want to make a new film based on my novel. But instead of an adaptation, do an "inspiration" -- that is, same protagonist, same journey, many of the same devices, but a more simple rendering to avoid the parts that are virtually impossible in a no-budget shoot, like scenes in the 1960s etc. A more simple rendering of the same journey, is the deal.

I'm thinking along these lines lately. Still waiting for interested actor to finish the book. Even if he passes, I could cast someone else, of course.

I'd need to write a script ... so we are looking at, what?, a 2013 shoot? My wife likes me to have distant deadlines. Keeps me going ha ha.

The pitts

Just dragging today. See the doctor Monday.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Morris Berman nails it

I just finished Berman's The Twilight of American Culture (the first book in a trilogy) and cannot praise it highly enough. Here is a book with a "depressing" theme -- yet which I find invigorating to read because maybe, after all, "the truth will set us free." Berman pulls no punches and offers no pseudo-mystical remedies for our cultural decline. His theme is not new. But as an historian he brings together from a wide variety of sources parallel narratives that wrap together like strands of rope to present a strong and clear interpretation of our recent and current culture. And he suggests a reasonable way for many of us to live in such a future. Just listen to some excerpts.
economic and technological appearances to the contrary, American civilization is in its twilight phase, rapidly approaching a point of social and cultural bankruptcy. The gap between rich and poor has never been greater; our long-term ability to pay for basic social programs is increasingly in question; the level of ignorance and functional illiteracy in this country is so low as to render us something of an international joke; and the takeover of our spiritual life by McWorld—corporate/consumer values—is nearly complete.
 As Marshall McLuhan once pointed out, if you could ask a fish what was the most obvious feature of its environment, probably the last thing it would say would be “water.” If you swim in it all the time, you just don’t notice it; this is how any culture functions. What is crucial, of course, is the nature of the water. In the case of the United States, the “water” is corporate consumerism.
 If literature survives at all, it is as a retreat for those who refuse to assimilate to American mass culture.
 When I say, then, that I am optimistic about contemporary “monastic” possibilities, it represents no more than an educated guess on my part, and maybe it is just wishful thinking; history remains a strange and unpredictable creature. But this much I do know: If we make no attempt to preserve the best in our culture, we can rest assured that the possibility of cultural renewal is pretty much ruled out.
 The more individual the activity is, and the more out of the public eye, the more effective it is likely to be in the long run. Not that like-minded souls shouldn’t make connections, but the key is to keep these links informal.
 Most of those who claim to oppose the world of corporate sci-tech consumerism will themselves become commodities, making the round of the talk shows and selling “soul” or “green earth” or “total health” as the latest commercial fad. Their ideas will become slogans on T-shirts; they will become the trendy spearheads of the latest form of “liberation,” soon to be forgotten for the next fad on the horizon.
 Craftsmanship should apply to all of life, and since its core value is the work itself—the very opposite of the purpose of American corporate consumerism—those genuinely committed to the monastic option need to stay out of the public eye; to do their work quietly, and deliberately avoid media attention. Indeed, a Taoist rule of thumb might be that if the larger culture knows about it, then it’s not the real thing.
 You and I can lead the “monastic” life, and we can start to do it right now. And don’t worry about being marginalized; this is good. As Don DeLillo says, in a culture such as ours, the writer, for example, is likely to be more significant for being marginal. “In the end,” he suggests, “writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.” The same can be said of all monastic activities, and of the people who engage in them.

The bottom line indeed: writing as survival.

On to the next book in the trilogy. This is heavy stuff -- but somehow exciting reading.

DARK AGES AMERICA -- Blog for Morris Berman

DARK AGES AMERICA -- Blog for Morris Berman:

Just discovered my favorite cultural historian has a blog.

Vacation mode

Yesterday was nice. Lowkey, slow, but never dull, like a day on vacation, here at home. And H around the whole day, which was nice.

Artist v. Inventor

Two thoughts collide in the brain, releasing a new Higgs boson of a thought, a new way of looking at things. The first thought, a remark by composer Philip Glass, that works of art should be presented anonymously. The second thought, an appreciation of four kitchen gadgets I use regularly -- an espresso hand press, a large French press coffee pot, a small coffee bean grinder, a small meat grinder -- each well designed, user friendly, efficient, perfect for the job at hand, each invented by someone known by few if anyone, the anonymous inventor. And the new thought, maybe artists would be anonymous if art were as useful as a kitchen gadget, if art was, well, practical, something that fit into the natural rhythm of a life, like a prayer or a ritual. And, of course, for some of us, this happens, but for the culture at large, art is something stuck in a museum or a library, apart from the daily routine.

Inventors are anonymous because what they make is more important than who they are.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Computer Watches Humans Play Connect Four, Then Beats Them | Wired Science | Wired.com

Computer Watches Humans Play Connect Four, Then Beats Them | Wired Science | Wired.com:

Magnetic Cells Give Sense of Direction to Fish | Wired Science | Wired.com

Magnetic Cells Give Sense of Direction to Fish | Wired Science | Wired.com:

Citizen as monk

I've talked about the writer, the artist, as monk here before. I'm reading Morris Berman's The Twilight of American Culture and find this:
The new monk is a sacred/secular humanist, dedicated not to slogans or the fashionable patois of postmodernism, but to Enlightenment values that lie at the heart of our civilization: the disinterested pursuit of the truth, the cultivation of art, the commitment to critical thinking, inter alia. Above all, he knows the difference between quality and kitsch, and he seeks to preserve the former in the teeth of a culture that is drowning in the latter. If she is a high school teacher, she has her class reading the Odyssey, despite the fact that half the teachers in the school have assigned Danielle Steel. If he is a writer, he writes for posterity, not for the best-seller lists.
And later:
 This is, then, a book for oddballs, for men and women who experience themselves as expatriates within their own country. It is a guidebook of sorts, to the twenty-first century and beyond. It seeks to give the reader a sense of where we are, in historical terms, and what this means; a way of orienting him- or herself to contemporary events, so as to be able to find meaning in a disintegrating culture, and perhaps to contribute in some way to the eventual reconstruction of that culture on a very different basis.
This book looks like one I'm going to enjoy. I'm a big Berman fan since The Reenchantment of the World.

Everybody has a bad day

Upton Sinclair, author of "The Jungle"
Reading Chris Hedges' recent book on illiteracy and found this: "It was Sinclair Lewis who took us into the stockyards and shantytowns of Chicago in The Jungle."

Ah, me! How many editorial readers let this get by? Depressing.

When a book leaves your hands

When a book leaves your hands

Monday, July 09, 2012

Round Bend Press: The Gang

Round Bend Press: The Gang:

TS on his vision for RBP.

Back in the saddle again?

Hmm. I may have another novel in me after all. At least the old obsession/possession has returned, in the form of two old farts going to Tijuana to buy "security" drugs for rational exits when it's time, this in 2006 at the beginning of the cartel drug wars, in which they accidentally get involved. An original working title of "The Peaceful Pill Wars" became "Old Age v. the United States of America," a title I'm in love with. I switched to a first person narrative after an omniscient point of view in early pages of exploration. I have an opening paragraph I really like. Why, it's like Old Home Week in my brain!

No rush, no deadlines, no pressure. We'll see what happens. A novel written "on vacation". Because "on vacation" is my mantra these days.

I always like to imagine what such a project might look like, hence fiddling with a cover. 

In narrative strategy, I follow the Durrenmatt model here: a surface mystery/thriller overlaying strong ethical themes. I have a lot of research to do for this -- lazy, one of the reasons I switched to first person is to have LESS research to do, ha ha, I don't have to know anything the narrator doesn't know. Well, there are other reasons, too. But I am lazy in my old age.

How I got a big advance from a big publisher and self-published anyway

How I got a big advance from a big publisher and self-published anyway

Trads havent a clue.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Songs of Jim Wylie

Oregon Literary Review:

 "Jim Wylie
Folk Songs"

Woody Guthrie still inspires, 100 years on from his birth | Music | The Observer

Woody Guthrie still inspires, 100 years on from his birth | Music | The Observer:

Charles Deemer and Jim Wylie perform Guthrie, the 1990s resurrection of my touring show from a decade earlier. This is a good show, if I say so myself. Audiences from Seattle to LA sure loved it in the 1980s.

Gabriel García Márquez's writing career ended by dementia | Books | The Observer

Gabriel García Márquez's writing career ended by dementia | Books | The Observer:

"Brother of Nobel prize-winning Colombian writer says side-effects of cancer treatment have accelerated his decline"

When the cure is worse than the disease. Why we need a self-deliverance pill!

If you're old, better be a celeb | Carole Cadwalladr | | The Observer

If you're old, better be a celeb | Carole Cadwalladr | Comment is free | The Observer:

No lie.

O what a beautiful morning

On deck with Kindle ... LA Times and Guardian ... morning watering done .... whole family home ... mellow hot day ahead ... a gibbous moon over the trees nearing third quarter .... camping at home ... vacation at home ... good feelings.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Friday, July 06, 2012

Why Are American Kids So Spoiled? : The New Yorker

Why Are American Kids So Spoiled? : The New Yorker:

"contemporary American kids may represent the most indulged young people in the history of the world. It’s not just that they’ve been given unprecedented amounts of stuff—clothes, toys, cameras, skis, computers, televisions, cell phones, PlayStations, iPods. (The market for Burberry Baby and other forms of kiddie “couture” has reportedly been growing by ten per cent a year.) They’ve also been granted unprecedented authority. "

I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers

I’m asked if I think the universities stifle writers

Moving slowly

H home late tonight, so I'll spend the day puttering with home chores. I'm moving slowly today anyway.

Heard from actor, halfway through novel, liking it and very much identifying with CJ, so possibilities remain. Still some major narrative issues to work out, given our very limited technical resources. Hoping I find imaginative solutions, of course. We'll see.

Wish I could get my energy back.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The slug is dying

This is the first day since turning in my grades three weeks ago, after which I immediately got sick, that I haven't felt like a slug. I got something done today! Not much but a decent start on my office, which was the front burner project three weeks ago and only now has a genuine start. Well, that's fine, as long as no relapse is ahead. There's lots of summer left. And H returns tomorrow so things can return to normal until her next trip, all too soon but at least the rest are shorter, I think. And the forecast is a week of sunny 80s. It's about time.

If it's a go with the film, I may do a kickstarter deal to try and get a budget to pay the actors. They deserve it.


Actually made a bit of progress cleaning my office -- and found some old photos. Putting them here as a safer deposit than the chaos of my office.

Baby me

Grade school

High school

W/ ma



Toby and brother Bill