Thursday, February 28, 2013

The TV series

It's not easy to maintain dramatic tension in a series. I have great admiration for the production values in the first season of The West Wing. But in episode five of season two, two new characters are introduced, neither of whom I believe. They are over the edge, changing the tone of the series. I am close to quitting.

Modern education

The Great American Novel
Today I learned that none of my students, including several grad student English majors, has ever heard of John Dos Passos. O my.

Quotation of the day

From The Passive Guy ...
If my books had been any worse, I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better, I should not have come. --Raymond Chandler

Why Isn't Closing 129 Chicago Public Schools National News? | Common Dreams

Why Isn't Closing 129 Chicago Public Schools National News? | Common Dreams:

"If you don't live in Chicago you might not know that the CEO and the dozens of other six figure a year mayoral cronies who run the Chicago Public Schools want to close 129 public schools this year, more than a third of the city's total. It's not national news for the same reason that closing 40 public schools in Philadelphia last year wasn't national news, and massive school closings in the poorer neighborhoods of cities across the country is not news either."


For reasons known only to them, the little coffee stand in the Student Union only stocks three maple bars a day, and they are typically gone by 9ish in the morning. Imagine my shock today, then, to see one left at 10:30! Naturally I grabbed it, and naturally I am presently enjoying the hell out of it. A good surprise with which to start the day.

Marketing lecture today, and a kind of recap of where we've been. No scripts due today, which is convenient since H has her surgery Saturday and I'll have more free time than usual over the weekend.

Going to a retirement party Sunday: the professor who hired me. I want to thank him.


Rachel Bruner has a Fire blog full of tips and info. I just downloaded a player that lets me watch the flash files in my archive. Kept getting error msg before. Frustrating. The solution was quick and easy but, of course, you have to know what to do in the first place. Thanks, Rachel!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Close calls in the neighborhood

Almost got creamed on the way home from the store. Made a right turn and as i did an impatient driver in left lane swerved to pass on the right and just missed me. I should have taken the long way home without rush hour traffic. Safe now with stock simmering. Two hour process.

In the kitchen

Time to head to the store, get what I need to make scrapple this morning. A return to normalcy. Also tofu in Korean marinade.

Later a bit of prep work to do.


Baseball fever

Thanks to the Fire, more prepared to follow the Mariners than ever, with team and baseball apps, news feeds, a real obsessive array of audio tools lined up. It's a young team but mayby they can climb out of last place. Great to see Ibanez back. My favorite old man on the team.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rob the weatherman

A few years back, a new weatherman came to one of our stations, named Rob Marciano. He was good. Moreover, he was young, handsome, charismatic on camera. And it was easy to guess, well, he won't last here long, he belong in bigger markets. And sure enough, after a few years he went off to CNN.

I saw him do the weather there. I saw him stand in the middle of a hurricane, on location reporting. He narrated a weather special or two. And then on a Sunday, I saw him sit in the anchor chair. He was going places, clearly.

Imagine my shock, and hilarity, when I saw him last week as the new co-host of ... Entertainment Tonight. With a do-over to make him look more like a Hollywood stud! My, my. I'd accuse him of selling out but clearly this must be a pay raise and promotion.

So Rob made it. What can be next? A book! You heard it here first.

Zags #1?

Indiana got upset tonight, in the craziest season in memory. If Gonzaga, ranked 2 for first time in school history, keeps its nose clean all week, it should be numero uno. Imagine!

The Last Slow Dance

The Last Slow Dance: minor league baseball in Portland.

"THE PORTLAND Urban Minor League Baseball Experience begins at the New Moon Tavern before the game.  It begins in Fred Vranizan's long tunnel across the street from the stadium, Westside, the New Moon Tavern, where pennants hanging from the ceiling cite championship years for the Beavers, where the walls are papered with superstars from Ruth to Mays, where behind the bar autographed baseballs and Louisville sluggers are found instead of go-go girls."

Bullpen Tavern, Portland
I have baseball fever. Here's something I wrote some 40 years ago for Northwest Magazine. I think "the last slow dance" today is distance running, the longer the "slower."

Back to normal

Hitched a ride to the office with H on her way to taking our guest to the airport. So we will be getting back to normal. HOORAY! I have fallen behind on a number of things. Time to catch up.

H has her first knee surgery on Saturday, so the routine will change again, but this time to a necessary good purpose. We have too small a house to make this as convenient as it might be, I fear. We'll see. She has many friends who have gone through this, getting lots of advice and having models of how good it can turn out.

All the same, I think I would decline the surgery if it were me. I'd rather fast, lose 150 pounds, and reduce the weight the knees must deal with. I'd rather use a cane. Maybe I'd think differently at the time but that's my take on it now. I think we're becoming guinea pigs for wonderful new medical devices. Until everyone gets a "peace pill" on the asking after age ... what? 70? 75? ... I am not convinced the medical establishment has my best interests at heart. If they did, a high priority would be Comfortable Death, at a time of personal choosing, rather than at a time of Terminal Illness, and very few states provide even that. I know, hardly anyone agrees with me. That's what I get for not being a Christian ha ha.

How interesting the protagonist in my new book is a Catholic. I'm still trying to figure Brinkley out. CJ I have down pat (hint hint). How interesting the argument is from Brinkley's point of view, not the other way around. Well, the latter would be too easy. Easy is boring. So I struggle on ...

Remembering Holden

There's a nice moment in The Catcher in the Rye when Holden Caufield expresses the desire to call the author after he finishes a good book. Indeed I've always enjoyed the occasional fan email.
I bring this up because The SF Chronicle has a feature I haven't seen in other papers: a live email link to an article's author. The LA Times gives an author's email address but it's a dead link. At the Chronicle one tap gets you into an email and another gets you back at your spot in the paper.

Thus I find myself thanking writers for good work, as I did a moment ago on an analysis of the Oscar app that I thought was right on.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Perfect storm

The incredible ineptness of Congress meets the accelerating revenge of Nature ... and we do the very opposite of what we should be doing with regard to policies (and spending). American political life is more of a sick joke than ever. This is the reality of American Exceptionalism.


A great time to rewatch the series of films on baseball by Ken Burns. I begin today!

Following the Mariners

Listening to Mariners via MLB Audio, a good service, but it only works on my netbook, not Fire, alas. But I do have a Mariners app that gives me pitch by pitch text to follow the game, so I can follow anywhere.

A few loose ends but mostly done with prep for class tomorrow.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Headline of the day

From The Huffington Post, re Argo as Best Picture.

Which they quickly changed to: How Do You Like Them Apples? Oh yes, where do we live now, and what can we expect our readers to understand? Our spoon fed culture deserves a spoon fed headline, right? How many would understand the delightful grammatical thrust of the first? Change it! O by the gods, must we always play to the lowest common denominator?

App revisited

Oscar app does have one cool feature: video archive from various cams in the program. It's free, too, so worth getting after all. Just disappointing during the live show.

Oscar app

Not impressed, alas. Like the concept. Executed with too many commercials, disappointing options in actual real time.


Like any new Fire owner, I've been loading up with apps, most of the them free. Many I try and then delete -- but many are also surprisingly useful. I can find what movies are playing where easier than ever. I can access newspapers all over the country with a single tap of a finger. Another tap will access my mail. Another relevant bus schedules for the trip to PSU. Apps expand the usefulness of the device greatly.

Tonight for example I'll be watching the Oscars with my Fire in my hand with its Oscar app. Supposedly I can access any of ten cameras during the ceremonies -- when an actor leaves the stage after an acceptance speech, I can follow them. Or I can just stay back stage during any moment. We'll see but it does sound more engaging than the usual show.

And I also did some editing of my thriller in progress on the Fire, this yesterday, minor stuff, but I could save it etc for use later here on the netbook. That's a real plus because I read the Fire was weak in this area. It's strong enough for my uses with the Office software I installed. Love it.

Back on track

Got a very early start this morning on student work, make enough progress to relieve yesterday's stress of having fallen behind. Two scripts to read today and I'll be where I want to be.

Also had time to watch the last episode of season one of The West Wing. The usual cliff hanger but at least I don't have to wait to continue. I am very impressed with the production values of this series, top to bottom. Excellent acting, camera work, writing. If I have a minor criticism, it's that most of the story lines are predictable. But there are a few wonderful surprises, too, one being the episode pointed out by my actor friend Eric (Toby helps bury a homeless vet). You can tell the strength of a production when the performances of the minor roles are as strong as the leads, and that happens here. Good stuff for network television.

Ah, also had time this morning to prepare tonight's dinner, beef strips in my Korean marinade. It's 9:15, Miles Davis is on the Fire, and I've already put in a day's work.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Falling behind

Got too late a start this morning to have a good day. That's the problem with house guests. I'm an early morning person and there's all this activity through the morning before folks go off on whatever they're up to. Did I say I hate house guests?

Anyway now I'm behind, which means I have to find a way to get a ton of prep work done tomorrow. Maybe I should spend the day in my university office.

Not my best week.

Play ball!

Spring training league games start today, and the first pitch in the Mariners game just happened. I prefer baseball on radio to TV by far -- and I decided to go for it and subscribe to MLB audio when I discovered it was so inexpensive, $20 for the entire pre-, season, post- games, no blackouts, usually a choice of home or away broadcasts. Wow. Alas, it is not compatible with the Fire (stupid stupid) but on the netbook it's working great, and I'll usually be in my basement office anyway when I listen.

Scripts to read. Did a bit of school work but lots to do, I am very glad it's only Saturday. House guests change the rhythm of everything. I'm not a great fan of house guests, to be honest. But I deal with it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Berkeley in the Sixties

I've seen this excellent documentary half-a-dozen times, I suppose, but never watched it more intently, more intimately, than today on the Fire. It's the antidote to the bulshit pop culture view of the era, a documentary driven by the articulate, smart and fair recollections of the political activists being interviewed. Everything good about the sixties is here, and so too the fantasies and conflicts that compromised the movements' better angels. This is what good documentary filmmaking is all about.

I used my admiration of the film in my novel Sodom, Gomorrah & Jones.

Nostalgia, 1990

A NEW DOCUMENTARY film, Berkeley in the Sixties, opened for one night only at the campus theater. CJ and Helen arrived early, expecting a crowd, but found themselves taking seats in a half-full movie house. Most of the audience were their colleagues at the university.
The documentary affected CJ strongly and early. He was not expecting this. On screen Joan Baez was singing to a group gathered around her, many sitting on the ground at a building on campus, Berkeley students who were part of the Free Speech Movement in 1964, and as Baez sang, “all my sorrows, soon forgotten,” students sang along, such expressions of innocence and hope on their determined young faces, “all my sorrows, soon forgotten” and Baez's angelic voice rising to heaven itself, and CJ couldn't help himself, he started softly weeping.
Helen leaned close and whispered, “Are you all right?”
All my sorrows, soon forgotten.
CJ excused himself and went to the men's room. Looking in the mirror, he experienced a moment of shock when he saw himself as an old man, not all that far away now. His best years were behind him.
When he returned to his seat, Helen took his hand and kissed him on the cheek. They watched the rest of the film in silence.
In the lobby after the film, they ran into George and Mary, colleagues in history.
“Boy, that brought back memories,” said George. “Those were the days, hey?”
Mary added, “Would you like to join us for a drink?”
“I'm under the weather,” CJ said quickly.
Helen drove home. Before they arrived, CJ said, “It was a good film. It captured the moment pretty accurately.”
“I thought so.”
That was the end of their discussion of Berkeley in the Sixties.
A few years later CJ was renting a video cassette when he ran across Berkeley in the Sixties on the shelf. In a yellow circle on the box cover was a blurb from the New York Times: “A potent blast from the past!”
“Jesus Christ,” CJ muttered under his breath. The sixties had joined the ranks of panty raids and eating goldfish.

Mason bees

So I'm on the bus to PSU, sitting in an aisle seat, when the lady next to me pokes me in the ribs. She points to  the sign at an A-boy we're passing and asks, "What are mason bees?" The sign proudly proclaims: We have mason bees.

Damned if I know. I think mason-->masonry, maybe it's a tool for brick layers. But it's one of those questions that keeps bugging you but at school, before I get a chanced to look it up, I get an email from the lady on the bus (we'd chatted about writing after bees broke the ice since she's interested in Willamette Writers), giving me scientific info about the mason bee, an actual bee. But scientific info tells me nothing, really, so I snoop around, finally, and discover that the mason bee is "the work horse of the garden" in the task of pollination. So now you know. And here are folks who know more about it than I do.

In First Big Speech, Kerry Sounds Like A Climate Hawk With The Courage To Reject Keystone XL Pipeline | ThinkProgress

In First Big Speech, Kerry Sounds Like A Climate Hawk With The Courage To Reject Keystone XL Pipeline | ThinkProgress:

Kerry has greater courage than Obama.

Tired of this

Man, I am tired of the concern over historical inaccuracies in recent films. Shakespeare's history plays are terrible history! The dramatic mission is more challenging and more noble than being factual. See my essay on the subject:  Writing the history play...

A revealing observation

A curious insight this morning: when I browse books at Amazon - free or bargains or best sellers - I rarely find a book I want to read, and when I do, it's something published years, decades, ago. Yet when I browse books at Gutenberg, the library of public domain classics, I am overwhelmed by how much I want to read and how little time I have to do it. The authors who speak to me have been dead for centuries.

No wonder I don't write pop lit.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Watched this old fav from 1971 on the Fire tonight. Still love it.

Indeed in the 80s, when I had visibility and standing here in Puddle City, a journalist phoned one day to ask what my favorite film was. He was asking local big shots for a story. Myself and an actress named this one.

No journalist has asked my opinion of squat in a quarter century.

What Is Hypertext?

What Is Hypertext?

My seminal 1994 essay. Translated into many languages on the web, got me an archive at the Univ of North Carolina's Ibiblio Digital Library (because a librarian there admired it so much), a major benefit to me it turns out, and opened quite a few other doors. I think it's because I was ahead of the curve on all this, from a creative writer's standpoint. For example, I also was teaching online screenwriting for college credit (via Eastern Oregon Univ) years before most universities in the country had accepted the validity of serious online courses. My math background turned me on to html coding from the get go. This essay is almost 20 years old! And describes a hypertext adventure I had almost 30 years ago! Incredible. No wonder my traditional playwright's career crashed ha ha.

A cyber-performance

Early experiment with an old poem of mine.
Begin the cyber-performance.

Close encounters

Thanks, Mark.

Favorite scenes

One of my favorite scenes, from my early play The Pardon. The actors speak to the audience. Above love and sex in the 1950s.
FRANK: Harriet, you see, married Daniel while I was at the University of Maryland. I thought I was still in love with her then, so it hurt. In 1959, when we were seniors at Rutherford High, our petting had finally, inevitably, reach its (ahem) climax on a spring moon-filled night in the back seat of my '52 Merc convertible. We had the top down.
HARRIET: Were you a virgin? It's not so unfashionable to ask today.
FRANK: I plead guilty.
HARRIET: At the time I thought I was the only virgin over sixteen on the planet.
FRANK: In 1959, genitalia hadn't gone public yet. We didn't have Penthouse. We had nudist magazines filled with naked families playing volleyball, and to a person their genitalia were depicted as hairless smudges. This wasn't much help.
HARRIET: Despite this handicap we succeeded — how does one put it? — in lining ourselves up properly. I believe we did.
FRANK: Eventually.
HARRIET: I believe I told you I loved you.
FRANK: And not for the first time.
HARRIET: And did you love me?
FRANK: Of course. This was 1959.
HARRIET: Then what went wrong?
FRANK: I'm not sure. Perhaps it was the special logic of the fifties. Or maybe it was only Rutherford. Or only us. I do know this: that if you slept with a nice girl in 1959 —
HARRIET: And was I a nice girl?
FRANK: I knew no other kind. If you slept with her, then ipso facto you were in love with her.
HARRIET: Ipso facto.
FRANK: The times knew no other moral possibility. And if you loved her, ipso facto you married her. One's sense of moral responsibility was strongly syllogistic in those days.
HARRIET: Shoo-be-do-be: we were in love, therefore we made love.
FRANK: Sha-na-na: we made love, therefore we were in love.
HARRIET: Ipso ...
FRANK: ... facto.
HARRIET: Actually I felt like a tramp afterwards. I was sure you'd drop me in a minute.

(A beat: Frank clears his throat.)

FRANK: Will you marry me?
HARRIET: Yes. I believe I said yes.
HARRIET: What else could I say? There was blood all over his back seat upholstery. He loved that car!
FRANK: So we were engaged, and not thirty minutes after sharing our loss of virginity.
HARRIET: Very secretly engaged.
FRANK: And very secretly rehearsing, continuing to rehearse, for the real thing: the marriage bed.
HARRIET: Four months later I missed my period.
FRANK: But no slinky abortion, folks!
HARRIET: The proverbial false alarm. But it did scare the hell out of us.
FRANK: And she means both of us.
HARRIET: So thereafter we refrained from climbing into the back seat.
FRANK: But not without wall-climbing discipline, certain insatiable appetites having been whetted.
HARRIET: And he means in both of us. Though, of course, a nice girl didn't admit such a thing in 1959.
FRANK: Unsatisfied appetites lead to frustration; frustration to arguments —
HARRIET: And to make a long story short, since we really didn't want to get married quite yet anyway, we did the next best thing.
FRANK: We broke up.
HARRIET: Rationally and only temporarily.
FRANK: We were biding time until we finished college. I went away to the University of Maryland. I would date other girls.
HARRIET: I stayed home and attended Rutherford College and would date other men. Why do you say girls and I say men?
FRANK: The times were chauvinistic all the way around.
HARRIET: Then I met Daniel and was swept off my feet and we were married the summer after my Junior year.
FRANK: So ends the love story of Frank and Harriet. Still friends?
HARRIET: Still friends.

(They peck, and Harriet moves off.)



I write, therefore I am.

Can They Patent Your Genes? by Daniel J. Kevles | The New York Review of Books

Can They Patent Your Genes? by Daniel J. Kevles | The New York Review of Books:

 "Can genes be patented? This spring, the Supreme Court will hear a case that may well decide the question, and the consequences for American biomedicine could be huge.1"

Sorry, the short story boom is bogus -

Sorry, the short story boom is bogus -

 "“Good Fit for Today’s Little Screens: Short Stories” was greeted with hurrahs in many quarters of the literary world. That’s understandable, given that so many have striven to write and publish the best short fiction they can, only to have their work greeted with general indifference. But just because publishers are, in Kaufman’s words, “sensing a market opportunity” does not mean that a new market — let alone a booming one — actually exists. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t be lovely if smartphones suddenly led to an expanded enthusiasm for literary short stories, but a newspaper’s job is to describe the world as it is, not as the members of an industry wish it would be."

New details emerge of potential sequester cuts to national parks

New details emerge of potential sequester cuts to national parks:

 "The automatic budget cuts set to take effect on March 1 will delay the opening of the East and West Rim drives at the Grand Canyon and reduce hours of operation at the main visitor center. At Gettysburg, 20 percent of student education programs would be eliminated this spring.

The Blue Ridge Parkway would lose 21 seasonal interpretive ranger programs, resulting in the closure of half of the park’s visitor stations and leaving 80 miles between each one.

Mount Rainer would permanently close a key visitor center, and Glacier would delay the opening of a well-visited mountain pass."

Classroom adventures

One of my better students came to class "wasted" today. Not sure on what. Would have gotten away with it, as others have in the past I'm sure, if he had kept his mouth shut, but he insisted on participating in discussions a lot, more than usual, and the accumulative effect of his disjointedness led me to the inevitable conclusion. I took break early and asked him if he was wasted. When he said yes, I sent him home but kindly so. When next I see him, I'll make it clear that the first time is forgiven but the second time will be a disaster for him. If he slips, at least have the common sense to keep quiet!

Otherwise we worked some scenes and somehow I got inspired to tell some war stories.

And I gave them a sneak preview of their take home final exam. I'll pass it out next week.

Good class. But as always, I'm also glad the week is over. Not as much reading this weekend as last weekend.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Workshop prep

Workshop scenes tomorrow, which requires some work to get ready.

Still listening to Caruso. So will Brinkley. Already had him as amateur baritone, singing chorus in operas. Connections blow my mind. It all comes from whole cloth. It's all material.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Listening to an album of Caruso arias on the Fire tonight. What an extraordinary treat, indeed a gift, to be able to do so.

Good class

A good class today, I thought ... and a good meeting with a student about his story development.

Going to wait around for the 4 p.m. bus.

Reasonably busy day tomorrow. Workshop scenes in class on Thursday, pick up more scripts for the weekend. Ah, turn them back, pick them up, an endless (and necessary) cycle.

Decolonize the Consumerist Wasteland: Re-imagining a World Beyond Capitalism and Communism | Common Dreams

Decolonize the Consumerist Wasteland: Re-imagining a World Beyond Capitalism and Communism | Common Dreams:

"The first step toward re-imagining a world gone terribly wrong would be to stop the annihilation of those who have a different imagination – an imagination that is outside of capitalism as well as communism. An imagination which has an altogether different understanding of what constitutes happiness and fulfillment."

The New Know Nothing Party and the High Price of Willful Ignorance | Common Dreams

The New Know Nothing Party and the High Price of Willful Ignorance | Common Dreams:

 "Ignorance: The condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uninformed.

Here in the 21st Century the Republicans have become the new Know Nothing Party.  Just as the original Know Nothings employed fear, bigotry, ignorance and hate to motivate its base, so too does the Republican Party."

This is not to say the Democrats are without fault!

An emerging meme in publishing? | The Passive Voice | Writers, Writing, Self-Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe

An emerging meme in publishing? | The Passive Voice | Writers, Writing, Self-Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe:

"PG suspects that more than a little of the vitriol directed toward Amazon and scorn toward self-published books by trad authors is driven by insecurity and fear that a new world is coming, one for which they are almost entirely unprepared.

But PG could be full of beans."

Will the Spec Script Rise Again in Hollywood? | Vanity Fair

Will the Spec Script Rise Again in Hollywood? | Vanity Fair:

"Monday mornings in Hollywood used to mean something. Back in the 1990s—before the weekend box office was entirely dominated by sequels, prequels, movies based on board games, and other pre-sold “franchises”—Monday mornings were when original screenplays hit the auction block, and here’s how it used to happen: A lit (literary) agent called a series of studio executives and barked, “We’re going out with a hot spec.” Within the hour, a phalanx of messengers descended on the agency’s front desk, took copies of the script, and dashed off to the major studios—Columbia, Paramount, MGM, Disney, Warner Bros., Universal, Fox—and to mini-majors such as Miramax and New Line Cinema."

Man, in the 1980s the spec market was good, a screenwriter could make some bucks much easier than today, with options for real money, not necessarily sales. I did pretty well myself then. Be nice for young screenwriters if the spec market returned.

Office sweet office

Nice to be in the office early. Get my head on for teaching at noon.

Interesting book waiting for me in my box: Scriptwriting 2.0: writing for the digital age. Browing through it, I'm impressed with its economy and clarity about the basics of film/video/online storytelling. However, it is very over-priced ($23) for a book with less than 200 pages, well, in the opinion of this dinosaur. No Kindle version. Maybe I can use parts of it as a handout.

Uploading Deconstructing Sally to my cloud. Using the very fast connection here.

Week 7, 4 to go. On the downhill side. Onward.

Universe Has Finite Lifespan, Higgs Boson Calculations Suggest

Universe Has Finite Lifespan, Higgs Boson Calculations Suggest:

"BOSTON (Reuters) - Scientists are still sorting out the details of last year's discovery of the Higgs boson particle, but add up the numbers and it's not looking good for the future of the universe, scientists said Monday.

"If you use all the physics that we know now and you do what you think is a straightforward calculation, it's bad news," Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, told reporters."

Kansas Bill Would Require Teachers To Misinform Students About Climate Change | ThinkProgress

Kansas Bill Would Require Teachers To Misinform Students About Climate Change | ThinkProgress:

American Exceptionalism.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Game begins ...

Conn. off to fast start ... keep it going.  LATER. Baylor wins by six. Damn.

Second writing session in afternoon. Thriller well crafted so far. I could be a popular novelist if I didn't bore so easily ha ha.

This review made my day

Speaking of my novel Sodom ...

Posted at Amazon yesterday. I have more readers out there than I realize if I could just reach them. Well the word is marketing ... not into it in my old age. Too much work ... and for what?
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting February 17, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
This book surprised me. It is intelligent, funny, bawdy and real. The protagonist is such a likeable fellow adrift in an America he no longer understands, that one cannot help but root for him.

Later in the story, we realize that much about his life has already eluded the good professor just as the same thought seems to be occurring to him.

I read the story almost at one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it.
"Almost at one sitting" reinforces my theory that ebooks benefit from vignette structures (had read this on Kindle). And also the layering effect, as noted in previous post. Interesting.

The Millions : A Multiplicity of Voices: On the Polyphonic Novel

The Millions : A Multiplicity of Voices: On the Polyphonic Novel:

"Just as polyphonic music combines melodies to create texture and tension, the polyphonic novel collects a multiplicity of distinct, often conflicting voices around a single place, family, object, or idea. Polyphony widens the novel’s geographic, psychological, chronological, and stylistic range, while simultaneously focusing its gaze. Drawing inspiration from classics like The Brothers Karamazov, The Sound and the Fury, Mrs. Dalloway, and John Dos Passos’s USA Trilogy, contemporary polyphonic novels make music from the messy cacophony that is life in the 21st century."

Not a bad description of Sodom, Gomorrah & Jones actually.

Arctic Death Spiral Bombshell: CryoSat-2 Confirms Sea Ice Volume Has Collapsed | ThinkProgress

Arctic Death Spiral Bombshell: CryoSat-2 Confirms Sea Ice Volume Has Collapsed | ThinkProgress:

UK Climate Change Secretary Slams Deniers As 'Dogmatic And Blinkered' | ThinkProgress

UK Climate Change Secretary Slams Deniers As 'Dogmatic And Blinkered' | ThinkProgress:

"You know, when I am confronted by some of the most dogmatic and blinkered people who deny that climate change is happening, I am reminded of the sentiment of the famous USA Today cartoon.
“If we really are wrong about climate change, we will have created a better world for nothing”.
In reality, those who deny climate change and demand a halt to emissions reduction and mitigation work, want us to take a huge gamble with the future of every human being on the planet, every future human being, our children and grand children, and every other living species.
We will not take that risk."

A productive morning

I seem to be caught up with school chores and ready to go tomorrow.

Did some work on an outside-in entertainment I've been dragging along with, a thriller. I think I need a break from the heavy Brinkley story, as I continue necessary research about Catholicism, among other things.

Some escapist writing might be a nice change of pace.

Come on upset!

Baylor at Conn. today, women' s bball, and I'm cheering for the home team.

Fascinating fantasy provided by West Wing, a progressive govt that sort of works. Wishful thinking and escapism. Done well, too. The usual American irony.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Women's indoor mile on TV ... Oregon senior Jordan Hasay and high school phenom Mary Cain in same race ... Hasay fades badly but Cain sets personal record, comes in second.

The positive end of the spectrum

As readers of this blog well know, I doubt if we will act to reduce the global catastrophe now set in motion. News will get more and more unpleasant.

But in a zero-sum universe, this means there also is a positive balance to disaster. The video and audio expressions of this are so readily accessed on the Fire that I intend to meet the future by surrounding myself with, and filling my mind with, works of genius and near-genius. I've already begun. Celebrating our better angels, even as we crash.

West Wing

Enjoying this series, esp characters and acting ... and editing. Very well done. Stock liberal storylines, heartfelt but with few dramatic surprises, but the characters carry      it.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


Half scripts read ... the good news. Bad news ... several hours trying to print from Fire without success. No biggie but would be very convenient.

Quick entry

This blogging app is quick and convenient but limited. But FREE so no complaints. I can blog via email and also via the browser in the usual way ... each option takes more steps.

I have to start looking at student work.

But discovering new tools and options for Fire is so much fun.

H loves her 3G.


Ta da! An app for blogging, which will save a little effort.

Writing on the Fire

My best investment for the Fire was buying the inexpensive Pro version of Office Suite software. This gives me word processing power the freebie doesn't include. One feature I use is the ability to save to a clipboard and paste into a different application. Thus I can write emails offline and mail them later. And I can edit and write on my book on Fire. I am a very happy camper with Amazon Fire!

Comfort breakfast

Scrapple and eggs on milk toast. A perfect way to start the day.

Student scripts to deal with today, as every weekend now, as the projects grow.

I found some nifty apps for Fire and now can pretty much write on it with the same versatility I have here, just a harder smaller keyboard to deal with. But I can write and edit things, so I am a happy camper. I wish I could comment on pdf files, as I can here, but I'm still looking around. There are millions of apps and not all turn up in searches, I've discovered.

A good day ahead, I think!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Broonzy to McGhee to Deemer

Brownie McGhee
I played my best guitar in the sixties, especially folk blues in the tradition of Big Bill Broonzy and Brownie McGhee. Memories of those days tonight, listening to a Best of Brownie album on the Fire. I covered many of their songs ... Pawnshop Blues, In the Evenin', Key to the Highway, Sporting Life Blues, Texas Tornado ... and I wasn't half bad, even had small followings in the Army, LA, Eugene.
"My baby's a Texas Tornado / and she howls just like the wind / She'll blow the house down / if you ask her where she's been"
"Gonna leave here runnin' / walkin' is most too slow"
"This ol' Sportin' Life / it is a mean life / and it's killin' me" 
Great music, still. Less is more.

My late good friend, PF, and I sometimes argued all night after an evening of playing music together with others, arguing about the guitar skills of Brownie McGhee v. Lightnin' Hopkins. I favored the former, P favored the latter. Folks might crash at midnight or one and wake up again at six or seven and find us still huddled over the phonograph, arguing, playing examples, and of course drinking beer. We had a great time. P drove a pickup truck, The Blue Goose, with our stuff to Eugene when I started grad school, I rode shotgun, and it was a two day trip to remember. Many, many fine experiences with P and the LA crowd.

A success

Sent a test blog entry from FIre. Worked. Writing here slow but easier with practice. Onward.



Does Side Effects offer clues to why Soderbergh is retiring? : The New Yorker

Does Side Effects offer clues to why Soderbergh is retiring? : The New Yorker:

Amazon scores again

Customer service impresses me once again ... in Maine H's Kindle stopped working ... phone call to A ... immediate replacement with two day shipping ... when she looked at it, free upgrade from wifi to 3G! ... A often goes the extra step like this ... great customer service.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Everywhere, Forever: End Violence Against Girls | Common Dreams

Everywhere, Forever: End Violence Against Girls | Common Dreams:

"Today, Feb. 14, the One Billion Rising coalition is mobilizing men and women across the world to demand an end to this violence. "

Kathleen Peddicord: Pioneers In Cuenca--How Lee And Julie Retired At Age 49

Kathleen Peddicord: Pioneers In Cuenca--How Lee And Julie Retired At Age 49:

"The cost of living in Cuenca has increased steadily in the dozen years since Lee and Julie first took up residence. Still, this remains one of the most affordable options in the Americas. You can rent an apartment for as little as $300 per month. More typical is $500 monthly. Figure a total budget of $1,600 per month if you rent; $1,200 per month if you own your own home."

Home sweet home

H is back safe and sound from blizzard country. She begins her knee replacement surgery next month, one knee at a time, a long ordeal.

Pick up more scripts today for a busy weekend.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Washington Post Overlooks Obama's Extensive Remarks On Climate And Energy | ThinkProgress

Washington Post Overlooks Obama's Extensive Remarks On Climate And Energy | ThinkProgress:

"Coincidentally, former VP Gore had this to say about the major media in a book tour event yesterday covered by ClimateWire (subs. req’d):

“The American networks, they won’t cover it,” he said. “It changed a little bit after Superstorm Sandy, but not much. It’s almost like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage at the mention of alcohol or his problems, and so everybody in the family learns to keep quiet, don’t mention the elephant in the room, let’s just don’t ever say it.”"

Promoting your Book on Facebook and Twitter is a Total Waste of Time | The Passive Voice | Writers, Writing, Self-Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe

Promoting your Book on Facebook and Twitter is a Total Waste of Time | The Passive Voice | Writers, Writing, Self-Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe:

I rather thought so but assumed this was because I found it distasteful.

Amazing app

Used an app that lets my Fire access the files on my netbook. It works! I can even run a few programs on my netbook. Amazes me. Not much actual use for it but I am impressed.

Film/video as novel

I find watching film or video on the Fire, or any hand held device I suppose, to be a more "intimate" experience than watching the same on TV or the big screen. I think it's because the screen is only a foot or so away, the image is sharp, the sound (with earphones or without) is more personal somehow -- viewer as intimate voyeur rather than as general audience member. I like the difference. Yes, I see advantages, for example, to watching a great documentary like "The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer" on the Fire rather than in a theater or on TV. Indeed, watching it the other day, I felt the exhilarating experience of witnessing great dramatic art as intensely as anything I've encountered since the USA trilogy audio book. Watching film or video in this way suggests the personal interaction of reading a novel, rather than "watching a movie," which is more of a social experience. It's more private, more intimate, more contemplative and reflective. I like it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

West Wing

I didn't watch West Wing when it first came out. I'm enjoying it on Fire after the first two episodes of Season 1 and will continue as long as I find it engaging. What fun, as Jimbo used to say.

BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime, The Bell Jar, Episode 1

BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime, The Bell Jar, Episode 1:

NRA Convention Helps Distribute Literature Calling For Secession And Civil War | ThinkProgress

NRA Convention Helps Distribute Literature Calling For Secession And Civil War | ThinkProgress:

How surprising. That's why they need assault rifles!

More random thoughts about Kindle Fire

In no particular order ...

  • The best thing about it is its design. It has turned a small screen into a clear and versatile navigation system. Quite impressive.
  • It is heavier than the reader but can still be held in one hand. That is essential for me.
  • Although it does everything the reader does, the reader still is better for a few things. The screen is better, esp outdoors. Fire has a glass screen with the usual glare. Works fine but outdoors might be an issue. Haven't tried it yet. Reading is about the same on both, maybe a tad more glamorous on Fire, but note taking is definitely easier on the reader. 
  • The claim to fame of Fire is video, hands down. It is tremendous -- I am talking about the low end model! I watched a 2 hr doc without a single glitch on our home network. Great color. Size actually is about the same as our TV when I watch it across the room. I am going to pig out on old movies and old TV shows, all free, hours and hours of delight ahead.
  • Music is a close second. I especially liked browsing world radio stations. The audio universe, too, is a bit overwhelming.
  • Email is a snap on Fire, a bit cumbersome on the reader. One tap gets you there. 
  • The browser is not great but it beats the reader. Not close to Chrome or Firefox on a computer, though. But Fire has a "read later" app, which helps.
  • Apps, too, are overwhelming. You can turn the Fire into a flashlight and a dog whistle with an app! My word.
  • I haven't tried any serious writing on it yet. The keyboard is fine. It did take me a while to figure out the best way to tap/touch the screen, etc, having never done it before, but it comes.
  • Some of the menus are hidden. Took me a few hours to figure out how to adjust the general volume ... ends up you flick down the screen at the top to expose a series of menus! Also, holding on an icon exposes a menu. Lots of tricks like that and the user guide isn't very organized in telling you about them.
  • I would recommend the Fire to anyone who wants to do what it does. It doesn't replace a netbook for many computer tasks. But it is well worth it, to me, for the video and music.
  • I see no advantage to go HD on such a small screen, even expanded to 9 inches. 
  • When I was fantasizing some time ago about my ideal hand held, expanding the power of the reader, well, the Fire 7 inch comes damn close. I am delighted.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Well i am blown away ... and this by low end Fire ... I'd have nervous breakdown with Ipad ha ha ... video the mind blower ... so much free quality work ... watched a favorite doc The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer ... watched pilot of West Wing and will continue ... email is easier than here on Kindle reader ... music great on Kindle ... Overwhelmed by apps and possibilities ... used right the Fire will fill my leisure with greatness ... just an amazing brilliantly designed tablet.

Thoughts on marketing

Texting on Kindle ... At breakfast M had theory that book titles need verb for best marketing ... from PG guy and tested with gothic romances of wife ... but here is the rub ... genre marketing is feeding frenzy ... hyper competitive ...reason to stand out and necessity of short term marketing strategy ... but this is not true for serious literary books ... there is no reading frenzy ... here the goal is long term not short term ...the slow accumulation of interest not a best seller ... here is an example mentioned before ... as a grad student I write an essay about radical pedagogy ... gets published in journal ... decades later ... I say DECADES later another grad student finds it on shelf in library basement and is so turned on he writes a book on same subject ... a stated homage to my idea ... this is fantastic just what I want my work to do ... keep it going ...

wow kindle fire just arrived BYE

In Australia, Wind Power Is Already Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels, And Solar Is Right Behind | ThinkProgress

In Australia, Wind Power Is Already Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels, And Solar Is Right Behind | ThinkProgress:

Australian Exceptionalism! Wake up, America -- there are important things to do.

A Reader's War : The New Yorker

A Reader's War : The New Yorker:

"Why was the candidate Obama, in word and in deed, so radically different from the President he became? "

Elizabeth Gilbert Versus Philip Roth: Is Writing Torture? : The New Yorker

Elizabeth Gilbert Versus Philip Roth: Is Writing Torture? : The New Yorker:

Out for delivery

Anticipation of receiving my Fire! Typically our deliveries come late afternoon, so I have prep time today, which I definitely need. When I get it, I'm sure all prep will be shoved aside ha ha.

Out for delivery

Anticipation of receiving my Fire! Typically our deliveries come late afternoon, so I have prep time today, which I definitely need. When I get it, I'm sure all prep will be shoved aside ha ha.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sinking ... sinking ... sunk

Good talking with Mark thru ninety min breakfasr. Home to do errands ... and then my energy level tanked. About three hrs of prep yet to do. In the morning. Fire scheduled to arrive tomorrow ... that will kill the rest of the day. So I have to get pre done early.


Bishop Will Willimon: Writing fiction | Religion News Service

Bishop Will Willimon: Writing fiction | Religion News Service:

 "Q: Can you say things in fiction that you couldn’t as a bishop or a pastor?

I think you can be more truthful. And the truth rendered by fiction is usually a much more textured, rounder truth than the truth available in straight discourse and analytical, philosophical writing.

We are, as Luther said, simul justus et peccator. In the church, we believe we are being redeemed. We have been — we are being — redeemed, but not yet. We are not there yet.

And in fiction, you can capture that same quality.

It’s no surprise that some of our greatest novelists — Flannery O’Connor, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene — were Catholics. There is a sacramental quality of fiction, an incarnational quality of fiction, whereby the earthy people, utterly human people, have been in some mysterious way embraced by the divine and become themselves sort of sacramental. We see God through the most mundane and quotidian of devices."

Climate Change And The Blizzard: Nor'easters More Fierce With Global Warming, Scientists Say

Climate Change And The Blizzard: Nor'easters More Fierce With Global Warming, Scientists Say:

""In the past, temperatures at this time of year would have been a lot below freezing," Trenberth said. In other words, it's been too cold to snow heavily. But that may become less of an obstacle for snow in the Northeast.

In addition to warming the air, climate change is adding moisture to it."

And we ain't seen nothin' yet ...

Saturday, February 09, 2013


As politically incorrect as it is in some circles, I like Amazon. One reason is what just happened. They uploaded FOR FREE mp3 versions of every CD I ever bought from them, these to my Cloud so I can play them on my new Fire. This is customer service far beyond expectations. And not the only example.

Harriet's POV

Out a window in Maine.
Finished the midterms!
Making scrapple.
Sunday breakfast with Mark. Really looking forward to it.
Lots of work to do but make take a break the rest of the day, read, maybe write a little. Brinkley going through another metamorphosis in my brain. Ah, me. He is the narrator, he must be right!

Gulliver was American

Watching the news is like reading Jonathan Swift. This must be a dark satire we are acting out. No culture is so much against science that it risks its own survival ... is it? Well we are. Congressional science committees are manned with anti science ideologues. In this setting Nature gets the last word and we get what we deserve. These idiots keep getting reelected.

We need a Manhattan Project on climate. That should be the State of the Union but Obama is too weak to do it. Hillary would do it. Saunders would do it.

If we survive by the skin of our teeth it will be on Mars. We are done here.

Kindle Fire

I broke down and ordered one ... the low end model at a sale ... glad I did after reading more about it. What tipped the scale besides price ... my model can be held in one hand ... great web interface say reviews, which is what I miss here ... lots of free movies and video ... lots of great free apps incl equivalent of Read Later that I use all the time ... saves web page fo offline later. More decent writing apps than I expected ... positive review from workikng writer ... sync between Kindles ... ability to watch and show my vids on the run ... actually getting much more use than I expected ... should have done this earlier ... well no price was more. This low end has given way to HD but high vid is not an issue with me. So I look forward to discovery and adventure.

Dancing on the Titanic

Feeling great. Blessed with a wife. Blessed with a dog. If I had a gun, I could make commercials for the American way of life.

Should finish midterms today. Still lots of prep to do. Busy busy. But happily so.


H is in Maine in the great storm. Was able to visit aunt before the storm hit. Probably no one hundreth bday party tonight.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Loose Thoughts on Youth and Age, Music and the News : The New Yorker

Loose Thoughts on Youth and Age, Music and the News : The New Yorker:

 "American culture belongs to the young, and, for that reason, it isn’t really mine any more. "

Polly Stewart Obituary: View Polly Stewart's Obituary by Deseret News

Polly Stewart Obituary: View Polly Stewart's Obituary by Deseret News:
Polly was a lode star and mentor to countless people in the Gay Pride and AA communities.
We got married in 1967, not 1966. Is it common to mention an ex-husband in an obit? I had no idea she had a daughter. She must have partnered with a woman with one. Or ... ?

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Silicon Valley Mini Series

Watched the wonderful American Experience documentary on the development of the Silicon Valley again. What dramatic material! It's all here, human stress and struggle and courage and risk taking against long odds. The material deserves treatment focusing on the human drama, rather than the historic facts, and a mini series would be a perfect vehicle for this. Years ago public TV did a first rate mini series on the Manhattan Project. This could be the same kind of project. I hope young dramatists find this material as exciting as I do.

This backdrop also lends itself to something like a detective series, crime set against the development of the silicon valley, with its competition, jealousies, nerdy characters.

And the consequences of what happened here, beginning in the late 50s, with a kick in the pants from Sputnik, are far, far more influential in shaping American  lives than anything that happened in San Francisco or Berkeley at the time, even though those "revolutions" got all the press and still remain stronger in the popular imagination.

Man, these engineers totally changed the world! You can even plug in the rise of rock and roll with their work because the tiny transistor radio, which they made possible, became an  important component of teenage appreciation of the music. And, of course, without their work, no text messaging today etc etc etc. The roots of the digital revolution are filled with possibilities for the dramatist.

Ah, to have youthful energy to pursue it.

Daily Kos: Their guns are to fight "tyranny".

Daily Kos: Their guns are to fight "tyranny".:

"So, yesterday on my facebook newsfeed I ran into one of those "My right to have guns is so I can fight against tyranny" guys, so I asked "Just how many U.S. Army soldiers or local police do you intend to kill, anyway?"   I've been making a point of asking them this question in just those terms.
His answer was typical of the sort.

"As many as come to my house to take my guns or infringe on my liberties!""

Daily Kos: My Journey as a 9/11 Republican Turned Modern Progressive

Daily Kos: My Journey as a 9/11 Republican Turned Modern Progressive:

Largest Prime Number Known Is 17-Million Digits Long, Mathematician Says

Largest Prime Number Known Is 17-Million Digits Long, Mathematician Says:

 ""It's analogous to climbing Mt. Everest," said George Woltman, the retired, Orlando, Fla.-based computer scientist who created GIMPS. "People enjoy it for the challenge of the discovery of finding something that's never been known before.""

Oregon track & field rundown: Jerry Schumacher dishes on Chris Derrick, Matt Tegenkamp and Alan Webb |

Oregon track & field rundown: Jerry Schumacher dishes on Chris Derrick, Matt Tegenkamp and Alan Webb |

Magnetic Memories May Guide Salmon Home | Wired Science |

Magnetic Memories May Guide Salmon Home | Wired Science |

"After years at sea, sockeye salmon returning to their freshwater homes may be guided by an early memory of the Earth’s magnetic field, encoded at the site where natal streams empty into the Pacific Ocean, according to a study published today in Current Biology."

Where Have You Gone, Barack Obama? « The Dish

Where Have You Gone, Barack Obama? « The Dish: Andrew Sullivan

"No, Mr president. It is not our job to trust you; it is our duty to distrust you."

IMF Chief: 'Unless We Take Action On Climate Change, Future Generations Will Be Roasted, Toasted, Fried And Grilled' | ThinkProgress

IMF Chief: 'Unless We Take Action On Climate Change, Future Generations Will Be Roasted, Toasted, Fried And Grilled' | ThinkProgress:

"Turns out IMF managing director Christine Lagarde is also a climate hawk — and she’s the former conservative finance minister of France."

Progress (snail's pace).

Sounds Of Silence: Weekly Science Sections In Newspapers Drop From 95 In 1989 To 19 In 2012 | ThinkProgress

Sounds Of Silence: Weekly Science Sections In Newspapers Drop From 95 In 1989 To 19 In 2012 | ThinkProgress:

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Asiantii Woulard to UCLA: Bruins Land 4-Star QB Recruit | Bleacher Report

Asiantii Woulard to UCLA: Bruins Land 4-Star QB Recruit | Bleacher Report:

"...the top-rated dual-threat quarterback in the 2013 class. At a time when dual-threat quarterbacks are excelling in the football world, Woulard brings a lot of promise."


Got my new video online this morning ... and then my energy level collapsed. Wanted to get out with Sketch but he wouldn't abandon his warm spot near the heating vent. At least two of the three TV shows I watch are on tonight ... The Americans and Nashville.

Pick up midterms tomorrow. That will keep the weekend busy.

Polly's memorial not until March. I'm not going. Will send flowers.
My card will say Farther Along.

I need a battery charge.

Woody Guthrie's "Dirty Overalls"

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Silicon Valley

1960s: the real revolutionaries at Fairchild Semiconductor
Watched an impressive, dramatic, informative doc on American Experience about the development of the Silicon Valley from the the 1950s to the early 1970s. Here was the true revolution of the sixties. While the counter-culture thought it was changing the world, and ended up changing music and fashion at best, down the road labs full of bright nerds were developing the micro-processor and creating the digital revolution that has changed the way everybody does everything. Many fascinating individual stories, many cultural consequences. But bad news, too. Politics and power changed in ways quite opposite to the meritocracy being developed at Intel. We haven't gotten to the FADE OUT part yet.

Farther Along

I considered Farther Along to be Polly Stewart's signature song. She accompanied herself on autoharp and had learned the song from a Carter Family record, I believe. This is Mississippi John Hurt, who understates the song the way Polly did.

Small world

I dropped H off at the airport at six this morning. Ten hours later she phones me ... she's at a symphony in Maine with a cousin, getting ready to listen to Beethoven's Fifth. My, my.

Home sweet home

Man am i glad to be home. Mentally exhausted. More than I shoukd be. H back east to celbrate 100 bday of aunt. Lucky my drinking days are over ha ha. This was an old trigger. But no problem ... one glance at Sketch the philosopher and my cosmic sense of humor straightens me out.

Amazon reviews

I have a lot of books at Amazon but I don't hustle my friends to give them good (or any) reviews. Apparently this is the first thing you should do if you want to sell books. The author as salesman has never been my model.

Consequently when I do get a review at Amazon, it's unsolicited and something more than curious. I received two pleasant ones recently, for my novels Dead Body In A Small Room and Emmett's Gift.

4.0 out of 5 stars Good book. Interesting. February 3, 2013
By Millie
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
Dead Body in a Small Room
Interesting story line, fast paced. A good read. I'd read more by this author.

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful January 15, 2013
By paul little
This book captivated me from the start to the end. The vicariousness of individuals with different moralities, outlooks on life and ambitions make for a splendidly complex universe through which we are taken. Somehow it reminded me of college and endless days discussing 'character is fate' in english literature; that is not the whole story in Emmett's Gift though, there are emotional layers beyond the obvious.
I like the reader's reminder of college days. He was more than entertained. 

How Smart Is Your Dog? Test Your Pet's Brain Power for Science | Wired Science |

How Smart Is Your Dog? Test Your Pet's Brain Power for Science | Wired Science |

Blacks, Hispanics Waited Almost Twice As Long To Vote As Whites In 2012 | ThinkProgress

Blacks, Hispanics Waited Almost Twice As Long To Vote As Whites In 2012 | ThinkProgress:

Marty Kaplan: Being American Is Bad for Your Health

Marty Kaplan: Being American Is Bad for Your Health:

""Americans are sicker and die younger than people in other wealthy nations."

That stark sentence appears in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and it comes from the authors of a landmark report -- "Shorter Lives, Poorer Health" -- on differences among high-income countries."

American Exceptionalism strikes again!

P.S. to Cal Tech sports

In our first game, the Cal Tech freshman football team, of which I was QB, scored twice in a 52-12 loss to Occidental. We broke a record by scoring twice in one half (the first)! Our future looked bright. We didn't score again for the rest of the season, ending in a mud bath 85-0 loss to Whittier College, Nixon's alma mater. We got so bored in the mud we tried a 75 yard field goal, much to our coach's chagrin, who thought we were making a mockery of football. He threw a temper tantrum on the sidelines.

I kicked it. It fell about 50 yards short. It was a nice try, though. I got the impression we were the only ones on the field who thought so.

In truth, we all had a blast playing football for Cal Tech! You never heard so much laughter in a huddle in your life.

Monday, February 04, 2013

When is the end the end?

The death of Polly feels like the end of something that already had ended. We hadn't communicated in decades ... and yet the sixties and seventies were such impotant decades to me and she was so much a part of that, her being alive seemed to fuel something in my memory of those times. Just as the death of one's parents suggests a formal end to childhood, I sense another formal ending now. Maybe it's the fantasy that we might be friends again. Maybe it's the curiosity if she took anything valuable from the relationship as I did. Maybe it's just my growing bewilderment about almost everything. (Everything short of my art.) Well, as Lew Welch has noted ... What an extravagance! What a relief!

Rough cut

Finished a rough cut of the Guthrie video I'm making. Been a while since I'd edited video. Man, is it labor intensive! This old netbook kept crashing, which didn't help, but I persevered. A few hours from getting it online, probably Wed or Fri.


Sports weekend

Well, the Super Bowl did its job and provided sports entertainment that fans can argue about for weeks to come, and brought in a ton of cash while doing it. Another victory for pop culture.

But for those who admire less ostentatious achievement in sports, the weekend offered other goodies. Mickelson had an incredible week playing golf. But first on my list, by far, unrivaled, is teenager Mary Cain taking 17 seconds off the high school two mile record, while finishing third in a Boston race filled with Olympians. This lady has a future if she stays healthy.

Man, that race made my weekend! No hype. No bullshit. Just an amazing feat. The TV broadcaster for the track meet went ape about it, and rightly so. I'm not alone ha ha.

It's come to this in America: if you hear a noisy fanfare, look the other way, you're likely to see something extraordinary!

Caltech baseball snaps 228-game losing streak - More Sports -

Caltech baseball snaps 228-game losing streak - More Sports -

TS alerted me to this. Monumental!

R.I.P. Polly Stewart

My ex-wife Polly died yesterday, her sister informed me. Polly and I were together from 1967 to 1978. She was hugely important and influential in my early writing career. Later, as "Sally," she became the model for a character in several of my works, including Kerouac's Scroll.

Models, remember, are fictionalized, but nonetheless I never revealed this while she was alive. It was easy enough to guess if you knew me at the time.

The representation closest to the facts is in my short film, Deconstructing Sally.

Polly was an accomplished folk musician and folklorist. Polly interviewed about the Salt Lake City folk revival.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Hype Histrionics Bullshit

The pre-kickoff program has begun. It gets more gawdy every year. Behold the wost about American culture. Apparently also the most popular.

After all this ... maybe an actual football game. Those distance runners look like saints compared to this ha ha. A solitary ten mile run to prepare ...

Forget the Super Bowl, distance runners rule!

The highlight of the sports weekend happened in ... Boston. 2013 Track and Field season officially opened at an indoor meet in Boston. Talk about excitement and competition! Galen Rupp got upset in the 3000 m.

But the highlight was a new running prodigy, a Salazar-trained high school girl from New York, Mary Cain, who finished third in an international Olympic-caliber field, taking 17 seconds off the two mile high school record. An exciting race! And this even though the winner, also the world record holder, won by 30 seconds! The real race was to see if the high school kid could hang in. And boy did she!

Nothing in the Super Bowl will match this, I suspect. Distance runners earn my admiration far more than football players.


Eager to get back to Brinkley ... this afternoon! Have this week online ... only a couple loose ends.

Not really into Super Bowl. Think Elway was last time I was engaged.

Taping a track meet. Track rules esp long distance races.

Yesterday's sun has vanished. Puddle City gray.

Good dinner last night ... variation of Korean paella with orzo.

Albee bio is quite good.

Need to know more than I do about Catholicism ... my fav aunt's conversion influencing Brinkley ... shocked her sister my mother ... I thought she was as fun as ever. I remember her laughing to tears when I played her Lehrer's Vatigan Rag.

I hear a subtext of Chesterton v. Sartre in my novel. Makes it more European than American. Big deal ha ha. My contemporary American audience has become irrelevant to what I do. Lberating. Also a little lonely at times. Comes with the effort.

Missed opportunity

Over at Round Bend Press TS has been insisting his beloved Oregon Ducks basketball team is over-rated and not a top ten team. The experts were way off. Wednesday and yesterday he was proven right when Nike Inc was swept in the bay area. Too bad he didn't take that insight to Vegas and place a bet. He'd have that motor home he daydreams about!

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Home team hysteria

Cal just upset #10 Oregon and Berkeley fans are going nuts. Fan energy is the best thing left in collegiate sports. Always fun to see the upset no matter who is playing.

And #3 Indiana upset #1 Michigan at home for more fan hysteria. A good night for the underdogs.

In Conversation: Steven Soderbergh -- Vulture

In Conversation: Steven Soderbergh -- Vulture:

"One thing I do know from making art is that ideology is the enemy of problem-solving. Nobody sits on a film set and says, “No, you can’t use green-screen VFX to solve that because I’m Catholic.” There’s no place for that, and that’s why I’ve stopped being embarrassed about being in the entertainment industry, because I’m surrounded by intelligent people who solve problems quickly and efficiently, primarily because issues of ideology don’t enter into the conversation."

Exxon, Chevron Made $71 Billion Profit In 2012 As Consumers Paid Record Gas Prices | ThinkProgress

Exxon, Chevron Made $71 Billion Profit In 2012 As Consumers Paid Record Gas Prices | ThinkProgress:

Chu Resigns, Writes Of Our 'Moral Responsibility' For Action Amid Growing Evidence We're Making Weather More Extreme | ThinkProgress

Chu Resigns, Writes Of Our 'Moral Responsibility' For Action Amid Growing Evidence We're Making Weather More Extreme | ThinkProgress:

"Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced his resignation today. He sent out a remarkable letter to Energy Department employees."

A very early start

Hit the student papers before the sun was up. And I've read everything before H is even out of bed. And the sun is out! I can rake leaves later. Tomorrow I'll do the grunt work of putting things online but there are far fewer examples of errors this week then last week. They are learning from the mistakes of others.

Only Saturday. Feels like Sunday for some reason. I'll take the extra day.

Time to get some writing done today, too. Not guaranteed in this strange new work habit I seem to be in. I know I'll be cooking dinner later, a labor intensive idea. Does cooking matter more than writing in my old age?

How are we to face death? | Tim Lott | Life and style | The Guardian

How are we to face death? | Tim Lott | Life and style | The Guardian:

 "Death brings everything into focus. It purifies and clarifies. It is awful, yes, but not so awful as we make it, in our denial of temporality and change and impermanence. The impulse to cling on is very human, but it, not death itself, is at the heart of human tragedy. Life is dissolving smoke. To cling on to it is like clutching running water with your open fingers."

CJ and Brinkley get into this in the new story.

The 10 best stew recipes | Life and style | The Guardian

The 10 best stew recipes | Life and style | The Guardian:

A wealth of ideas and inspiration here!

Virginia Woolf and other great literary cooks | Books | The Guardian

Virginia Woolf and other great literary cooks | Books | The Guardian

Including yours truly!

The Bell Jar's new cover derided for branding Sylvia Plath novel as chick lit | Books | The Guardian

The Bell Jar's new cover derided for branding Sylvia Plath novel as chick lit | Books | The Guardian:

This is amazing. Bean counters rule!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Bohemian neighborhoods

In the early 80s I had a wonderful agent at Fifi Oscard repping my plays. She got me a commission from Actors Theatre of Louisville, for example, which I blew. I was abandoning traditional theater for hyperdrama. At any rate, my agent had a business trip in Seattle and flew down to Portland since we had never met.

Our afternoon together, hanging out in Northwest where I lived at a time before gentrification, was an experience I've cherished. She loved the neighborhood ... This is the way Greenwich Village used to be! she kept saying. (A few years later I'd hear the same thing from OyamO, a NY playwright whose work I admired. Stay put, he advised me, you are fortunate to have all this.)

Probably at no time did a traditional career in theater seem more likely to me. My agent was a fan and true believer in my work. It seemed to be just a matter of time.

But even before I divorced traditional theater, something happened that changed everything. All the arts are changing, she wrote me a few years later. Everything is becoming too commercialized ... small gems are losing their home in theater, publishing, galleries ... the reasons I became an agent are disappearing. I'm leaving the business.

She did. And the NW neighborhood lost its bohemian atmosphere. And I became obsessed with hyperdrama. Instead of a playwright in residence at a Portland theater I was in electronic residence with a company in Santiago, developing hyperdrama in a chat room.

Portland's NW bohemian days came to mind as I read about Albee's days in Greenwich Village in the 50s. I can relate.

Oregon track & field rundown: Former Oregon coach Bill Bowerman kick-started a running revolution 50 years ago |

Oregon track & field rundown: Former Oregon coach Bill Bowerman kick-started a running revolution 50 years ago |

Round Bend Press: Daydreaming

Round Bend Press: Daydreaming:

Man, when Mr. Simons daydreams, he doesn't mess around! When do we leave?