Thursday, October 03, 2013


The Writing Life II

As part of the personal and professional downsizing I've been doing for some months now, I am bringing this blog to an end but keeping it online as an archive. I'll continue literary blogging at A Writerly Retirement. Now you see him, now you don't.

You will follow. You must, for I have a parting gesture in mind but it depends on your following in order to make sense, and I give no value (absolutely none!) to gestures which do not make sense. You will follow and so I say, Welcome, my friend, Welcome to the Valley of the Waters of Fire, where you will be consumed. And sooner than you think, even as I will be consumed sooner than I think, since we all get tired of waiting and jump from the rope in the end. As we fall our hands trail over our heads, making the hand the last organ to go and the appropriate vehicle for whatever parting gesture can be mustered by flesh heated in agony. What do you think it will be, my friend? An erect middle finger? Perhaps you'll be surprised. I may give you the flat palm of my hand, raised horizontally to cushion your own fall, which so quickly follows mine. But hurry! For I am burning.

Very sad

UCLA plays tonight

Thursday night football of special interest to me. Before then, will make a batch of scrapple using the leftover brother from yesterday's Bowl of the Soup of the Wife of Kit Carson, which was first rate! This is a fine soup: make turkey broth from scratch, then filter and add back the turkey, garbonzo beans, avacado slices and cheese squares (melted in broth). Man! Been a specialty of mine since I discovered it in grad school. Can't resist the name, of course.

Haven't made scrapple with a turkey broth base before ... curious how it turns out.

Playoffs in baseball have started, too, so I have lots of sports diversion from the utter madness of the news cycle.

I started watching Dark Skies last night, which I got because I admire the novel I'm reading by the creator of the 90s TV series, which I missed when it came out. So far, so good ... not great but entertaining.

Need to catch up on writing things tomorrow. I am making a lot of grunt work progress here in the office, which is nice.

How the Shutdown Is Devastating Biomedical Scientists and Killing Their Research - Wired Science

How the Shutdown Is Devastating Biomedical Scientists and Killing Their Research - Wired Science:

'via Blog this'

Oregon Poetic Voices- Charles Deemer

Oregon Poetic Voices- Charles Deemer:

'via Blog this'

Human Assault Pushes Ocean to Limit Unseen in 300 Million Years | Common Dreams

Human Assault Pushes Ocean to Limit Unseen in 300 Million Years | Common Dreams:

"'We are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change,' warns report. 'The next mass extinction may have already begun.'"

Is this a horse race? Do we destroy ourselves by immediate political stupidity or will Nature do the job for us, consequences from earlier arrogance?

Are the Republicans Crazy? No! | Kathleen Reardon

Are the Republicans Crazy? No! | Kathleen Reardon:

"The Republicans have chosen not to be good, not to be fair, not to be rational in the common sense of these words. The needs of the "folks" pale by comparison to the distributive demands of the moment. Since they can't win -- and since where they have positioned themselves anything less than a win is a shameful loss -- they have chosen to bring the game to a halt. Their goal is to "win" by disallowing a win by the opposition and then to worry about explanations later."

...The ball in not only in their court right now, they think they own it. Laugh as we might at the ludicrous nature of their behavior, they aren't playing to the same audience as Democrats. They're in an entirely different theater. The show is underway. The die is cast. Now all they care about is how they look on TV.

Oops, missed!

Daily Kos: Poll: Tea party approves Republican shutdown, everyone else disapproves

Daily Kos: Poll: Tea party approves Republican shutdown, everyone else disapproves:

'via Blog this'

Tea Party Reality

 When I was a freshman at Cal Tech, we had an incredible, creative final in our Physics class. You are an astronaut and have landed on a distant planet. Here, the laws of nature on Earth are different. Instead of F = ma, for example, here F = ma^2 ... and so on. All the basic equations describing physical reality were different! Our job was to express the new planet's various physical laws, changed by and derived from these differences. It was a challenge for us but also a lot of fun because it was so creative.

I think the Tea Party lives on such a distant planet where the laws and principles of LOGIC are different from what is established here on Earth. They are, in other words, aliens in the realm of logical discourse.Maybe someone can figure out their new reality.

Meet Butch Matthews, A Republican Who Came To Love Obamacare After Realizing It Will Save Him $13,000 | ThinkProgress

Meet Butch Matthews, A Republican Who Came To Love Obamacare After Realizing It Will Save Him $13,000 | ThinkProgress:

"But after doing a little research, Matthews eventually realized how much the law could help him. And on Tuesday, his local Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) provider confirmed that he would be able to buy a far better plan than his current policy while saving at least $13,000 per year through Arkansas’ Obamacare marketplace."

'via Blog this'

Hanging out

Yesterday after taking H to PT, instead of reading in the waiting room I drove to a nearby Starbucks, got my ritual iced coffee and ... hung out. I love hanging out. I especially liked hanging out when my two best friends were alive, hanging with either (never together: my two best friends hated one another!). This was more fun because of all the laughter. We were on the same wave length with a dark comic view of the world and things cracked us up that others would ignore. Man., we laughed a lot! Between discussing literature, etc, solving the world's problems, etc, going from bar to bar in our drinking days, coffee shop to coffee shop when we were older and a tad saner, but these were great shared times and we could communicate almost through thought waves. I really miss that. D has been dead 15 years now, G a decade. I could do the same thing with L in Los Angeles if we lived in the same town. That's about it. Sometimes I think Sketch is almost on my wave length ha ha. Or maybe it's the other way around.

So I do my hanging out solo these days. But not often.

Good question

Why Are There Still So Few Women in Science?

What actresses go through

Jennifer Lawrence 'told to diet' to save career

Demon of self-promotion

Franzen: writers 'coerced' into social media

What a different world! Young today, I can't imagine becoming a writer, other than privately. So much disrespect for content. So much hype and bullshit.

Cal Tech #1

Caltech, Oxford and Harvard lead world university rankings

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Spiritual equation

Homer + Lombardo + Iliad = Sanity in an insane world

Happy birthday, Graham Greene!

Should have been given the Nobel Prize.

Have they no shame? Nope.

Exceptional, yep

World baffled by America's self-inflicted wound


These Republicans In Congress Really Hope You'll Forget The Government Shutdown Is Their Fault

Storm the White House!

Mothers whose kids are being deprived of health and nutritional benefits lead the march, followed by at least a million citizens being hurt by this immoral ideological posturing. At root, this is founded in the blatant racism of birthers. You can't convince me otherwise. Fed by the chickenshit shameful Republican leadership. To the streets! Don't let them get away with this racist hatred of Obama.

But actually this won't happen. Pardon the fantasy.

Bowl of the soup of the wife of Kit Carson

Cooking therapy. First step, fresh turkey broth, which takes all afternoon. Perfect.

Fracking and other obscenities

Dangerous levels of radioactivity found at fracking waste site in Pennsylvania

The game is called marketing

Guerrilla Screenwriting: PowerPoint Presentation For Movie Financing

I had an indie producer believe in a splay of mine so much she optioned it annually for five years ... I made good 5 digits on this ... she finally had enough investors lined up ... done deal she told me ... breakfast meeting in Vegas to sign papers ... then she made a newbie mistake and told too much ... she had packaged Jennifer O'Neill (sp?) for the lead, great choice artistically ... but she had several MOWs that bombed ... this was her comeback ... an investor got scared, I ain't paying for no comeback! Then another. Poof! the entire deal crashed! That easily and quickly. Producer never recovered. End of story.

This is relevant because she had regular dog and pony show in pre power point days, poster, original music. She spent a ton out of pocket in marketing this to investors. Watching her, I knew I could never be a producer.

Mum's the word!

Are You Unwittingly Sabotaging Yourself by Talking About Your Writing?

"The problem is, if you spend too much time talking about your story or blog or other writing plans, you’re likely to find that your writing energy dissipates."

Votes are there!

The Two Basic Facts That Should Be in Every Shutdown Story

The new civil war

America’s Long-Simmering, Semi-Civil Civil War

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Day 1

Great start to my class. No complaints.

Quotation of the day

" ...there is something more here. How does one party that has lost two presidential elections and a Supreme Court case – as well as two Senate elections - think it has the right to shut down the entire government and destroy the full faith and credit of the United States Treasury to get its way on universal healthcare now? I see no quid pro quo even. Just pure blackmail, resting on understandable and predictable public concern whenever a major reform is enacted. But what has to be resisted is any idea that this is government or politics as usual. It is an attack on the governance and the constitutional order of the United States." --Andrew Sullivan

Timothy Leary's Transformation From Scientist to Psychedelic Celebrity - Wired Science

Timothy Leary's Transformation From Scientist to Psychedelic Celebrity - Wired Science:

'via Blog this'

Guess who still gets paid?

Quotation of the month

Fellow from New Zealand on bombing after a big lead to lose the America's Cup ... "You won the cup but we have free health care!"

CNN Host Asks GOP Representatives Whether They'd Give Up Their Salary During A Shutdown, Hilarity Ensues | ThinkProgress

CNN Host Asks GOP Representatives Whether They'd Give Up Their Salary During A Shutdown, Hilarity Ensues | ThinkProgress:

'via Blog this'

Just 30 Out Of 233 House Republicans Actually Want The Shutdown Fight | ThinkProgress

Just 30 Out Of 233 House Republicans Actually Want The Shutdown Fight | ThinkProgress:

Tells you something.

Obamacare Enrollment Is Beating Expectations | ThinkProgress

Obamacare Enrollment Is Beating Expectations | ThinkProgress:

Anything to piss off the Tea Party, man, ha ha.

PHOTOS: World War II Veterans Force Open WWII Memorial During Shutdown | ThinkProgress

PHOTOS: World War II Veterans Force Open WWII Memorial During Shutdown | ThinkProgress:

'via Blog this'

For the last time ...

In my office for the new term. It occurred to me, everything this year is "for the last time", i.e. my last "first day of a fall term" and so forth. I want to make sure I appreciate it. This term might be more fun than I was thinking a few days ago, when I was wondering if I stayed on one year too long. Nope. I am going to have fun this year and maybe teach some future screenwriters to boot.

It is REALLY nice that L. got her for-hire gig at my recommendation, and with a much better contract that I expected she'd get. Five digits. Nice. Better than most of my for-hire gigs in the 80s. I did half a dozen, only one more lucrative than what she is getting.

School of hard knocks for her: working with a producer who has very strong opinions about the story. Usually such notions look at the small picture, and she has to make it work within the big picture. She can do it. Moreover, she is taking a work study while she is doing it, so I can give her feedback. But the producer is boss, that's the real trick, especially when he wants somethiing that will do more harm than good. Happens often.

Only have to go downstairs for my class this term. No long hikes like two terms ago.

I look forward to this year of transition. Amen.

Getting ready: JFK assassination 50 years later

4 essential books of the event, 1 thought-provoking read, 1 poem and a ballad.

1. Who Really Killed Kennedy? Recent overview of the various theories, what we know, what is speculation, good overview.

2. Trauma Room One. Most important book establishing a conspiracy, i.e. the medical evidence, more than one shooter, medical cover  up. Written by doctor who was there.

3. JFK and the Unspeakable. A religious scholar puts the assassination in international and moral contexts.

4. Mary's Mosaic. Story of one of JFK's lovers. Author, the son of high CIA agent, makes the case against his father and cronies, and he puts the assassination in convincing personal context.

5. Surrounded By Enemies. Gripping political thriller based on concept that JFK survives assassination attempt and fights back.

Here is my Ballad of JFK, which I wrote a few days after the assassination and performed for years thereafter. (To the tune of "Dust Storm Disaster" by Woody Guthrie.)

From In My Old Age ..

American History In My Lifetime

So there was this President
and he actually was going to
change the power structure in
the country, which of course
threatened those who held the
power. They conspired to protect
what they considered theirs
and successfully assassinated
the sonofabitch President who
dared to think he could change
the status quo. They killed the
sonofabitch. They actually did.
And the plan was so good they
even had a fall guy and they
killed him too so he couldn't
talk. And there was so much
dirty laundry everywhere that
an actual honest investigation
was impossible without dire
consequences,"national security"
and all that, so they made
a half-ass investigation they hoped
would put the matter to rest
forever. Unfortunately a few loonies
didn't buy the official results
and investigated on their own
and came up with unbelievable
frightening theories about what
actually happened, which in fact
was pretty close to what happened,
and many people believed them except
for some reason they didn't get
pissed off enough to take to
the streets and demand full
disclosure. Instead they just
shrugged and said, Well politicians lie
and there's nothing to be done
about it. So nothing actually
changed even though many folks
realized they'd been duped.
They went shopping and forgot
about it. And the original
criminals who assassinated the
sonofabitch President in the
first place retained power
and now could relax because
they learned a profound lesson:
in the end shopping wins out
and if you let people shop,
hell, they'll put up with

Scandanavia rules

The best - and worst - places to grow old are...

U.S. 8th. I believe it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Best high school football logo

Orofino Maniacs

Song butchers

Stumbled on Monday Night Football in time to hear 5 seconds of butchering the National Anthem. I didn't have to hear more.

There are two kinds of singers in our culture: those who use a song to show off their voice, and those who use their voice to communicate a song. In our age of hype and packaging over content, the latter is an endangered species.

Lombardo's Homer

"Soldiers sprawled on the ground, closer now to vultures than to their wives." Still listening to, enjoying, impressed by Lombardo reading The Iliad.

Engaging historical speculation

Screenwriter and producer Bryce Zabel (Dark Skies) has written a gripping novel, SURROUNDED BY ENEMIES, based on the premise that JFK survived the assassination attempt in Dallas. Really thought-provoking stuff ... more after I finish. I like it so far.

Stooges film

Three Stooges film discovered in garden shed

War stories

How we made Monty Python's The Meaning of Life

SuperPuddle City

Oregon storm 2013: Portland, Astoria see highest September rainfalls on record

Sanders on health care

A Single-Payer System, Like Medicare, is the Cure for America's Ailing Healthcare | Common Dreams:

"I start my approach to healthcare from two very basic premises. First, healthcare must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access the healthcare they need regardless of their income. Second, we must create a national healthcare system that provides quality healthcare for all in the most cost-effective way possible."

'via Blog this'


Not running on all cylinders this morning.

The new term begins. A year of transition. Many personal changes ahead.

From bees to us

The Sixth Mass Extinction Is Upon Us: Can Humans Survive?


Associated Press Top 25 Poll

Updated: Monday September 30, 2013 01:28 AM
1Alabama (55)4-01,4951
2Oregon (5)4-01,4222
4Ohio State5-01,3054
8Florida State4-01,0698
9Texas A&M4-11,01210

Read More:

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Our dismal schools

This Year's SAT Scores Are Out, and They're Grim

Manning breaks record

Thanks a lot, Chip!

Denver is beating you so bad (49-13 early in 4th), TV switched games so I can't watch in awe as Manning picks you apart.

A Sunday poem

The Wallowa County Who-Who

I believe this is the last story I published in a print journal, then only because The Portland Review asked for something.

Nez Perce victory

Climate chills

Quits flying as moral issue

Saturday, September 28, 2013

She got it!

The grad student screenwriter I'm mentoring got the for-hire gig with a very sweet contract. Hey, this makes my last year. So fine.

Tweet trouble

News from @AP: Professors chide KU for sanctions over tweet:

TV v. film

Why TV Is Pummeling the Movie Industry


New York City Opera near bankruptcy; Kickstarter effort falling short

College football at its best!

WV upsets Ok St, 30-21, in Morgantown, homecoming, and I heard it on WV radio, first rate old school announcers, exciting to listen to. Doesn't get much better than this.

West Virginia

First rate announcing team! I'll listen to more through the season.


Great fun to listen to underdog's radio station when they are competitive. My morning team ends up being West Virginia, leading Ok St in 2nd. They are excited ... and so am I. Go Mountaineers!


Screenwriting venues don't like promoting my free tutorial because it competes with (and is superior to!) products they advertise. Makes sense and makes it harder to get the word out.

Football Saturday

Wind and rain outside, good day for the entertaining escape of college football. Navy and Harvard games early, later two good Pac games tonight. UCLA off, plays Thur I think.

I usually don't watch pro ball but tomorrow might watch Denver rip Chip Kelly.

But serious work tomorrow on my last day off from a teaching mentality.

Learn something new

According to the LA Times, Portland is the strip club capital of the world. This came out in an article about a NJ politician having a Twitter flirtation with a lady who works at a VEGAN strip club here. What will they think of next? Guys don't beat their meat, they beat their zucchini?

There are lists and then there are lists

Friday, September 27, 2013

Aristotle riffs

Red = David Mamet
Black = George Cohan
Purple = Contour software
Blue/green = Charles Deemer


This is a spectacular music service. I was late to discover it.


DC Mayor Declares Libraries “Essential,” Will Stay Open If Government Shuts Down


I've had six agents over my half century career. The best was the first, at Fifi Oscard, but she fled the profession in dismay at the corporate hijacking of the arts. The last was a few years ago, a boutique agency trying to sell my screenwriter mystery as a detective series. Thank the gods he failed! Sounds like writing EMPLOYMENT and I've been there, done that.

Right now I couldn't be better off, except financially. I've had a great ride and am still in the saddle. I'd do my "mistakes" all over again because they led to engaging experiences. "It's all material." (Wm Goldman)

Two more martinis over here!

We Are Terrifyingly Close to the Climate's 'Point of No Return'


The new narrative form is growing on me. When the experiment is done, after I've reshaped stories that already exist, I might continue to add new, original stories to the series. We'll see.


Thy name is Deemer. Still not in teaching mode. A few days to get there.

I thought old age would be more mellow, more rewarding, slower, warmer, funnier and more coherent.

Overdrive plans

I'd like to add one or two titles a term through the academic year. Next fall I'll bundle 3 stories and begin a series of paperbacks. This should keep me busy with grunt work.

Early chore

Take H to PT first thing in the morning. Trick is to get to work upon return. Easier said than done.

1975: a favorite early short play

The Stiff:


Vikings fall apart in second half and lose. Next week to Missoula, another favorite. Lose, which is likely, and it's an 0-2 start in Big Sky.