How to tell a story

How to tell a story

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Surprise royalty check in the mail - and twice what I would have expected. Adds to this fine day.

Art Scatter » Blog Archive » In his old age: Deemer at 3:17 a.m.

Art Scatter » Blog Archive » In his old age: Deemer at 3:17 a.m.: Sensitive review of my first book of poems by Bob Hicks. A writer is lucky to have such an intelligent, receptive reviewer.

"I suppose Deemer could have written about raindrops striking puddles in the woods and reminding him of the eternal wisdom of the pantheistic gods and our responsibilities to our fellow man and beast, the way so many other Northwest poets do, but I confess I’m glad he didn’t. His verses don’t bump disjointed arcane images against each other, daring you to make connections against all rational plausibility. Nor do they exist simply for the murmuring melancholy of their sound. These are conversational lines, stripped-down but vital, democratic with a small “d,” approachable but also demanding."

'via Blog this'


Thank the gods it is Thursday. Glad to be home. Cougs even play tonight.

DARK AGES AMERICA -- Blog for Morris Berman

DARK AGES AMERICA -- Blog for Morris Berman: the guy pulls no punches. Here he summarizes his blog entries in recent years ...

 "-When we declared the US was going down the tubes, everyone laughed.

-When we argued that Obama wasn’t any different from Bush Jr., except that he could speak English, they laughed even harder.

-When we pointed out that America was, and always had been, about hustling, and therefore had no moral center and thus no future, they spluttered and raged.

-When we predicted that Occupy Wall Street had no coherent ideology or organization, no staying power, and that “the 99%” really just wanted to get into “the 1%”; and (to make matters worse) that the American population literally didn’t have the gray matter to pull off any kind of positive social change, they raged even further. Many rolled around on the floor, foaming at the mouth.

-When we scored technology as the hidden religion of the United States, and thus a bogus form of progress, they became apoplectic, and massaged their cell phones just to calm down.

-And yet, all of these things, in addition to additional arguments put forward on this blog by myself and other Wafers, proved, in the fullness of time, to be true."

'via Blog this'


Haven't done a thing on Overdrive this morning, which is the reason I come to the office early. Been trying to figure out Windows 7 and the new version of Word I have, and this that and the other. Passing time. No big deal.

A busy weekend reading midterms! Usually a highlight, however, because a number of student usually start writing like screenwriters instead of prose/fiction writers. Always encouraging to see.

And I expect to get ukulele time in, as ever, and may even start recording a few things. Good to check out how I am doing.

Chord soloing is a different skill than I've ever tried to master. Depends on finding the right movable chord with the melody note at the high string.

I have a ton of songs to learn once my skill level gets to the point where I can make my own arrangements. Progress is going better than I anticipated when I began. It helped to know clawhammer, of course, one style already in good shape. For me, most of the learning will be left hand, I think. My class is about the right hand. I wonder if they have a left hand class later. They have a blues class, and I'd like to take that one, too ... even in winter if it is offered then.

I am more excited about ukulele studies than I was about learning clawhammer banjo -- I think because the instrument is more versatile and the tone more mellow (for an old man's sensibilities). I was for a while, in fact, thinking of converting my banjo to nylon strings. But this is a much better way to go.

Full of mental energy, my body sometimes has a hard time keeping up.


A Majority of One: Charles Deemer: 9780985073060: Books:

Almost online ... page set up, activation to come.

A favorite story

The Man Who Shot Elvis

Prism International (Fall, 1977)

Charles Deemer

SO HERE HE WAS, in the casino with hundreds of other tourists, waiting in line two hours before showtime, bored, drink in hand, watching his wife shoot craps. Mary was losing and angry but all the more striking for it, her blue eyes intense as she shook the dice in a fist near one ear. She brushed aside a strand of blonde hair that had fallen across her face, still shaking the dice, softly demanding of them five, five — she reminded him of a mad Scandinavian queen who had one roll to win or lose a kingdom. For a moment, he looked away, attracted by the ringing payoff of a slot machine, and when he turned back the blonde queen was coming toward him, dethroned and pouting.

Click for book info


IT at the university has updated me to Windows 7 on my office computer. Fortunately docs I need are stored in Box, so everything is more or less cool, though of course I think Windows 7 is worse than XP so far. Naturally. I seldom like updates better. Part of the corporate conspiracy, however, so you have to live with it or go back to complete self-sufficiency and write in the sand.

A day of experimental writing exercises in class. Curious how they will turn out, trying some new stuff. Trying to get them out of the comfortable box of their prose writing habits. I've tried everything these past 17 years, now I am really getting radical ha ha.

Look like a good classroom for winter term. After that, only one more to go! And I collect midterms today, the term is half over. This is incredible! How time flies when you are ... having fun ... or whatever.

Man, I like my Cordoba ukulele! It has such a rich tone, it really motivates me. The cheapie plays the same notes but they are flat and uninteresting. These notes ring out. I wonder what a $500 uke sounds like. Hard to imagine.

I am making progress on movable chords. I have a few songs close to being recorded: a bit of Fur Elise ... I Ride An Old Paint, for finger picking accompaniment ... You Are My Sunshine, for clawhammer accompaniment and solo ... Five Foot Two, for strumming and chord soloing. 4 different styles! Hey, I've been doing this only for a few weeks. In 9 months, who knows, I may in fact be playing jazz! That is a very exciting prospect. Then, if it happens, I must use it dramatically somehow. A ukulele opera! What a hoot. I might as well go out crazy and swinging.

I gave the publisher a new cover for my book. I didn't like the back cover, tweaked it. Beauty of POD, you can change things easily. This book actually is a bit sad. If I say so myself. But it is ruthlessly honest, and that is all it needs to be.

Other than 7 more books in the Overdrive series (!), not sure what writing is left in me. Occasional poems, I am sure. Great concept for new CJ novel but issue may be energy. It might become an Overdrive novella, or it might just be a fantasy in the mind.

Not to worry. What happens, happens.

Two bitter-sweet comedies about aging

Click image for more info. Each a novella, a quick read, an adventure in aging.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

World champs!

Take me out to the ballgame

Cinch tonight? Ortiz as MVP?
Ready for the series, hopefully the final game. Two late scripts to look at - but not tonight. It's couch potato time.

Joy to the world

Terrific day that would end perfectly with a Boston victory. Good uke practice, poetry books in the mail, dinner in the oven. An outdoor chore left to do. Ah, the wonder of it.

Book in hand

Always a good moment! 3 to mail to friends this afternoon. It looks pretty good.

Been practicing movable chords. Progress, though presently more in the brain than in the hand.

With a little luck ...

... today can be the good day Monday was supposed to be, with structured practice and chores. Be nice but one never knows what shitty surprises are around the corner. The gods are black humorists.

And my uke class starts next week.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Portland in the fall

Winter classroom

My winter classroom was just posted. Like this term, I stay in the same building where my office is, no hobbling across campus or into the neighborhood for distant classrooms. I like it.

I collect midterms on Thursday. Man, this term is racing forward. I like it.

Figured out my Thursday activity. Going to do an exercise to see if I can get them to think outside the box about their stories. Beginners commit too soon to story points.

Early start

To campus bright and early, hoping to make up some of yesterday's missed work. Also some students coming in before and after class. A busy day. Hopefully tomorrow can be what I wanted Monday to be. We'll see.

I'm beginning to think the only way to live a simple life is to be a hermit.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Back to Boston

Red Sox win tonight, take 3-2 series lead home. Let's end it Wed. night!

Hangin' in

Managed to salvage a bit in an otherwise disruptive day. Need to plan Thursday class.

Don't need a lot of days like this one.

A poem from my new book

Sorry, I Don't Trust You

Sorry but I don't trust you.
Nothing personal. What's
at work here is bigger
than both of us. It's called

You see them on TV
all the time, neighbors
shocked by the news
that the young man with
the big smile, who drove
your daughter to the
emergency room, who
drove you to work when
your car didn't start,
turns out to be what?
a pedophile rapist murderer
assassin for the mob
but he couldn't have chopped
up his girlfriend, that sweet
thing? and put her parts
in the freezer in the garage
he gave the kids ice cream
from that freezer this can't be

But it is. Did I mention
I don't trust you?

I am old enough to remember
when everyone trusted everyone.
You didn't have to lock your doors
in Milford, New Jersey. You
kept the car idling while you
ran into the post office.

Even in the 1960s, hiking in
the San Gabriel mountains
north of L.A., you could find
a furnished unlocked cabin
with a note on the table:
"Please clean up after yourself
and leave a contribution for
the food you eat. Thank you."

As late as the 1980s in
Elgin, Oregon, I visited
an old friend and found
nobody home, the house
unlocked, expensive belongings
everywhere, stereo and TV,
art on the walls, all there for
the taking, all safe in Elgin.
I waited an hour before
they got home.

I'm old enough to remember
a different reality.

That was then.
This is now.

You may be Mother Teresa's
clone. You may be the next
TV pervert. Sorry, but

I don't trust you.

Never count on anything

My good day just crashed. No fault of my own. I have someone to blame but it doesn't get the good day back.

CJ brooding

I like my concept of a new CJ story. I don't like the prospects of writing another novel. Not sure I could survive. The last one almost did me in.

But if I develop this story as a film, then it's an easier transition to the new Overdrive form! I might even experiment with it, make it more literary. Anything to reduce the physical and mental demands of a traditional novel. Far in the future, we'll see.

Prep done

Just put student work online, ready for tomorrow. Done early, as I prefer. Much attention to organized uke studies today. Other chores to do, including outside if the weather gets decent enough. A good day, looks like. As I prefer.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cordoba rocks

I love the sound of my new ukulele. A good instrument makes a ton of difference. Proud of my decision to buy it, which came after considerable research. Settled on Cordoba because it's a classical guitar company of note in Portugal. Ukes a new market for them. I liked their solid wood designs. I figured a classical guitar company would know what they're doing.
My Cordoba model

Just had an unstructured practice session. Maybe do something structured tomorrow, now that I'm ahead of my prep.

Funky progress

Despite being in a mild funk all day, I got almost all prep work done ... just have to upload work. Surprised myself.


As much as I enjoy teaching, I look forward to having less responsibility.

Thank the gods it's Sunday

Prep work to do ... I can spread it over two days and not get stressed about it.

UCLA game was competitive for a half. Nike wore sane uniforms for a change! They should go all the way. Impressive team.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Alma mater v. alma mater

Blowin' in the wind

For quite a while I assumed the new book of poems would be my last "serious" work, as I focused on the Entertainments of the Overlook series. Likely not. CJ won't let me rest. He's telling me to reread Norman Brown's Love's Body and Morris Berman's The Reenchantment of the World, and to write a new novel that is deeply philosophical and wildly comic, in the tradition of The Ginger Man and Henderson the Rain King, both to be reread as well, and maybe in a year or two I'll be ready to give CJ a ukulele and let him meet a wild woman for further adventures.

I have never understood how anyone can possibly get writer's block!

Round Bend Press: A Majority of One/Published

Round Bend Press: A Majority of One/Published:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Birthday dinner II

A fine dinner indeed! For both of us.

Birthday dinner

Since I'll be watching football tomorrow night, H is taking me out tonight for my bday dinner. To a Greek restaurant in Sellwood. Lamb, anyone?

Birthdays are a bit surreal when you're old. At least for me. But I will enjoy. myself.

Got little done today except morning computer chores. Little uke. Need lots of practice tomorrow.


Still listening to Lombardo, still blown away. This truly is the mother of all war stories.


H has a friend who raises chickens and now and again we buy eggs from her (or get freebies) and, man, what a difference! Sad how much quality of life we've lost in the name of progress - and how many people are too young to know the difference. Nice to see a few taking the food issue into their own hands.

Free book promo

"Good night and good luck" ...


Tempus fugit

Testing a free app that makes collages with astonishing ease and speed. Most impressive. Possibilities!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Escape Fire

Released last year, this documentary on our health care system is outstanding - but not as hopeful, I fear, as some of the commentators. But I think the insights here are right on. I have less faith in the possibility of change than here because we're really talking about profound cultural change. Maybe it would take another civil war to do this. I surely won't be around to see it.

Today's class

Reverse engineering of Juno. Then watch the old Frontline doc, The Monster That Ate Hollywood, an excellent history of corporate takeover of LaLaland and its unfortunate consequences for screenwriters.

Pick up more script pages, and home sweet home.

2 days until publication day and the sad slaughter in Eugene. Zero sum universe.


On the ukulele, it all starts here ...

I post this because it's the best organized chart of movable chords I've seen and maybe this will be useful to a ukulele player out there. And to document my own studies. And because it's so cool I had to do something special with it.

Three short poems from my new book

Two days before A Majority of One is released by Round Bend Press. Stay tuned. Here are three enticements ...


Look, there's already enough negativity
in the world. I don't need more
here on the small island of my life
where it's hard enough in this dying culture
keeping my own positive thoughts in my head.
Spare me your 
complaints, corrections, criticisms,
venting, whining, raging.
Spare me your soap operas.
Find something you like to do,
do it, enjoy it, and shut up.


No matter what the day brings
it begins here and now at 4 a.m.
in silence as comforting as breath
the mind without distraction
the streets empty, the dogs asleep
only thought alive in reflection
of good fortune, of past blessings
enjoyed before the engines start
the lights come on, the dogs bark
and day begins here where noise
and frantic action drive the hour
and no one knows how to be still.

In My Present Mindset

In my present mindset
I can't remember much
about those distant days
when I laughed so much 
more than I laugh today.
I never paid attention to
the news or events in the world
my universe was very close
at hand my friends the actors
who performed whatever mattered.
My friends are dead.
The news ignored them
but took their place with
nothing to laugh at.


A foggy rush-hour drive to campus. Now warm and secure in the office, no one else around. 3 hours before I worry about class, so I should get some work on Overdrive done, and a few other things. I do like coming into my office. I'll miss it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Musical order

Play ball

So once again I mute the sound during some star's singing of the national anthem because they don't SING the song, they use the song to show off vocal hystrionics. So screw them.

Let's get this usual fiasco, a disgrace to patriotism, over with and play ball. Go Red Sox.

Where is my audience?

Recent visitors to my literary archive. The most popular area? Screenwriting essays and instruction. Next? Hyperdrama!, which gets almost no interest in the U.S.

In comparison, here are recent visitors to this blog:

Better late than never

I have at hand a book I've been lugging around for 25 or 30 years: John Mehegan's "Jazz Improvisation 1: Tonal and Rhythmic Principles." A jazz musician recommended it, and it fed my fantasy of becoming a jazz pianist. I went through it enough to treasure the numerous jazz arrangements of standards, expressed in chord forms, usually two to a measure, and I taught myself a couple tunes on the guitar, cheating by playing only the top 3 strings. Very tasty stuff!

Now I have 4 strings to work with! Yes, I am gaining confidence that I can learn jazz ukulele if I put in the practice time these next 9 months. All the early tests have decent results. And this challenge will be fun! Clawhammer and fingerpicking are relatively easy compared to playing jazz arrangements of standards.

So the real work begins and my formal class starts soon. Onward!

Balance II

Music theory and structure are mathematical. I start out in math, end up in music, with writing and teaching careers between these bookends. Strikes me as appropriate.

World Series

Begins today. I wanted Dodgers-Red Sox, half there. Will root for Boston to sweep.

Harvard-Princeton on Saturday. Have to check if on TV, Harvard not on my radio app. And o yes, UCLA - Nike's Wagnerian Opera Co. Rumor has it latter will wear heliotrope helmets and purple jock straps.


Last night I noticed Venus has become prominent in the evening sky. I just saw Jupiter owning the morning sky. Humans should envy such order.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Been invited to be a judge for this year's world-wide Short Screenplay Challenge where dramatic purposes are met in 5 or less pages. Gonna do it.

My overcoat

I have a great overcoat: a grey Harris tweed, that I got free at the VA clothing store 20 years ago when I was in treatment. I was wearing it today and as I left Starbucks, I ran into a security guard, an older fellow, who said, What a great coat! Indeed it is. When it came in, I knew the clerk working in the room and he told me it was there. I was one of the few guys big enough to wear it and I got to it first. It's a treasure. Do they make them like this any more?

To school early to work on Overdrive but I ended up doing some ukulele research first. My plan of study gets clearer each day. A long haul. Long range goal, play jazz chords up and down the neck and be able to make arrangements. Yes! Actually I think I can get there, as I never could on the guitar. Only four strings ha ha.

I remember one night back in the day where I ran into an old drunk who also was a hell of a jazz guitarist and I invited him and others to my apartment after the bar closed. He picked up my 12-string -- amazed that it was in tune! He played incredible jazz on it, really impressing the hell out of me. I wish I could do that. Well, if I keep at it, maybe I can. We'll see. I am optimistic, from the fiddling I've been doing so far. Won't ever be ready for the recording studio but I think I can get good enough to amuse myself and impress Harriet ha ha. Hopefully Sketch won't go into a barking fit, as he does when I play the harmonica.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Success rocks

Email from grad student with the for hire gig ... got first check, 5x more than she's made writing her entire life ... and this is just the advance to get started. Ah, screenwriting can be cool when you're getting paid. So far, she's getting along with producer, pulling in same direction. Fun to watch this.

Starting the day right

Early start, had student work online by 9. Pressure off! Made breakfast. Now reading the paper, before 10, the essential work for the day taken care of. This is the way I like it.

Occurs to me: in this age of networking and "democratic" arts, what title can be more out of cultural sync than A MAJORITY OF ONE. I embrace it.

Uke notes: giving my sore hand a rest but did manage to conquer the dreaded B-flat and E chords by using a barre farther down my index finger than usual. This is very significant! Also confidence building that I can get pretty good.

Will open a new section in my archive for Ukulele Songs.

Brooding a lot about new adventures with CJ. I have to capture the surreal moment of Ramblin' Jack Elliott trying to improvise guitar to Shakespeare. What a guy will do to get laid.

Deja vu

Been watching the six-part History channel doc "Vietnam in HD", which stitches together home movies, letters and such to focus on the war story through the eyes of foot soldiers. I'm struck by how much like Homer's Iliad the result is. Some things never change. Sadly.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Our tree by the deck

Click to enlarge

Round Bend Press: Hitting the Trifecta

Round Bend Press: Hitting the Trifecta:

"Deemer's latest, his fifth book for RBP, is filled with mirthful  and wry observations on the human condition, which is Deemer at his best, whether he is contemplating his relationship with his dog Sketch or his own mortality as he prepares to retire from a long career in academe.

Throw in his usual salty observations regarding the body politic, and you have classic Deemer."

'via Blog this'

Mellow progress

Script pages read ... now for evaluation. Made a new batch of scrapple. Old recipe - last batch, I used some leftover cooking liquid, no great shakes. The long full routine this time.

Already sinking. The old stamina is shot to hell.

New book out soon!

Teaching prep

Lots to do today and tomorrow: read and evaluate first script pages; put relevant examples online to discuss; prepare reverse engineering of Juno script. Well, I wasn't planning anything else anyway.

Amazing apps

There are apps for everything. So last night I looked for ukulele apps.

Amazing! I found two I'll use often. In one, name a chord and it gives the fingering. Tap a button and you hear it. In the second, alternative fingering are given down the fretboard, useful for fingerpicking.

These apps are free. Amazing again.

But then I think art should be removed as a commercial commodity. Artists should be hired the way priests are hired, to give away their work the way sermons are free. Fat chance.

Although my life was very much like this in the 1980s when I received a number of writing grants. I was paid to write, NOT TO SELL, and this liberation from the marketplace improves art tremendously. More risks, more daring, more insights ... more keepers.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Great sound, easier to play, I'm a happy player. Nothing more to wait for. The hard work, the long practice, begins.

O the drama!

UCLA game started with Navy in OT.

The return of CJ?

Say what? Another novel in me?

It's like this. Sometimes you create s character you fall in l love with and can't put to rest. For me, it's CJ, from the last novel Sodom, Gomorrah & Jones. We leave him on the road, living in his van. What happens to him?

For one, he takes up the ukelele! He teams up with a crazy performance artist woman. Based are two experiences: a true surreal experience of Ramblin' Jack Elliott trying to improvise guitar as his strange girlfriend recited Shakespeare. TRUE STORY! Second, a director eccentric woman I did some projects with back in the day. I need a plot. The woman has a secret. Sixties radical, killed agents, Feds after her?

CJ's Ukelele. Working title intrigues me. Maybe next summer's project?

Retirement? What retirement?

"Out for delivery"

All conflicting sources now agree. Today! This afternoon, I expect. Toward end of UCLA game. Conflicting priorities ha ha.


Uke landed here last night. Delivery today, I expect. Excited! Lots of music in my head. Feels like a lifetime of music is coming together here. Maybe for a purpose beyond great fun in retirement. Maybe not. We'll see!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Conflicting info

One tracking source says my uke is still in Utah. Another says it is being delivered today. Ah, me. Baumholder 1961 eBook: Charles Deemer: Books Baumholder 1961 eBook: Charles Deemer: Books: (get free Kindle app)

Sgt. Malinowski took several steps into the Enlisted Men’s Club and stopped. He had never seen the linguists of Processing Company this drunk, this loud or this disorderly. Everyone was yelling at once, small groups trying to make their conversations heard over their loud neighbors. Someone stood on a table, his pants dropped, mooning the universe (the sergeant didn’t recognize the buttocks) while other linguists clapped and yelled catcalls. My God, thought Malinowski. May their mothers never learn about this, or recruiting into this man’s Army would crash to a standstill. What mother would send her son to a school of drunken debauchery?
This novella  has worn especially well with me, despite rather esoteric subject matter. It's just so goddamn true. One of my better works of fiction, I think, though I doubt if many agree.

New book soon

A week and a day before Round Bend Press releases my new book of poems, A Majority of One. Short of a ukulele music drama, this may be my last "serious" work, though I still have Entertainments (i.e. Overdrive) to write.

I love to watch Sketch sleeping. Peace. There's precious little of it these days.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Getting closer

My new uke landed in Utah. No delivery tomorrow but have s shot at Sat.

Both fretboard and fingerpicking books look great, especially the former. Eager to begin formal study and practice.

Ukulele studies

It feels as if this is going to be my primary activity in this last term of teaching. I don't do things half way ha ha. At any rate, I have a course of study mapped out, that includes both formal classes and self-study. Actually I already am a "good beginner" player from my guitar and banjo background. I want to get better, maybe to the advanced intermediate stage.

To this end, I am working on both left and right hand techniques. Left involves knowing the fretboard like my neighborhood and learning advanced chords. Right involves strumming techniques but also advanced fingerpicking patterns. I already am a basic fingerpicker but can definitely improve. I already have clowhammer technique down as well, including double thumbling and drop thumbing.

So I bring some existing skills to the table. I think my biggest challenge will be the left hand, managing difficult chords with my short stubby fingers. This is a serious problem on the small soprano uke, which is why I bought a concert, the next size up. I originally was going to get a tenor, larger yet, but the more I read, the more the tenor sound was compared to guitar more than to uke ... I definitely want the uke sound. And I found a hell of a deal with a Cordova, a company that makes classical guitars mainly, solid (not veneered) wood, concert size. It should arrive in less than a week, maybe as early as tomorrow. Knock on my wooden head that it arrives safely.

It is being shipped from Florida and the music company gave me a courtesy call when it shipped. I thought that was very thoughtful and speaks well of the company, which is Sam Ash.

I think I can really get into this and make initial progress quickly. But I'll never get as good as the pro's, no time for that, but if I can find my way around the fretboard with ease, with clean chords and notes, at a reasonable, appropriate speed for the song ... well, that would be cool. I'd like to get there by the end of the academic year, only 8 months away. I plan to take a class each term: blues in winter if it is offered, and maybe an ensemble class in spring, to play with others.

I find this exciting and a good distraction from the decline of the planet. Going down playing.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Central Park Five

The Central Park Five

I'm sure you've already forgotten
about the five black teenagers convicted
of beating and raping a white woman
the crime of the century, o tabloids!

and the mayor called them monsters
and many wanted the death penalty
for kids so we could fry them
with their confessions on video, freely given
a slam dunk because nobody cared
that their stories were different, incompatible
and nobody cared their timeline made it
impossible to be at the crime scene
when everything happened, no problem
these wilding teenagers should fry

and off to prison they go
for not enough years because
they're just kids, after all
but long enough if you're living it

and who would imagine the real rapist
would get a conscience and confess
years later and match DNA
no doubt he did it
so the teenagers are released
their convictions overturned
home sweet home at last
after so many years

but for some reason the press
the eyes and ears of the nation
find this incredible story less interesting
no banner headlines to match
the earlier monstrous wilding teenagers
no hoopla, no widespread celebration
late justice being better
than no justice at all

and the bungling prosecutors, o tabloids
don't make good copy
like monstrous wilding teenagers
so let's just forget the whole thing
sorry about that

o America, the tabloid nation
will you ever own up
to your sins? must you forever
celebrate the over reach of power
the Central Park Five
Columbus Day
on and on and on
and when you finally get it right
become suddenly silent
as if mistakes never happened?

don't you see, o mythical nation
you are your own worst enemy?

I love Wednesdays

Busy but mellow day planned ... some promo Overdrive work, pay some bills, practice some uke, rake some leaves to welcome fall on a nice day, or at least so forecast. Get a Sketch run in there.

I bought a better uke. More later. Could arrive as early as Friday. Started on a classical piece last night, sounded good even on the cheapie. I play clawhammer scales and fingerpicking patterns daily. I'm really getting into this.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

YakTale: my items

YakTale: a UK site for wider exposure

'via Blog this'

Secrets of Old Age

Secrets of Old Age

I am here to say loud and clear
since no one else seems to be saying it
or at least not loud enough to make clear
that aging initiates a new and challenging
relationship with one's bowels reminiscent
of the first years of life

and one ignores this new reality
at the peril of great embarrassment
and discomfort -- and, for the record,
this new independence of the digestive tract
actually has nothing to do with current
politics, though of course the Tea Party
inspires among thinking humans a visceral
reaction that might find expression
in the bowels.

Early start

Got to the office at 830 to do school chores. Ordered texts for winter term. Checked out a few things. Now I have time to work on Overdrive before class -- this seems to be the best place to do it. Onward.

Monday, October 14, 2013

School and music

Got my necessary school prep done but not an extra thing I wanted to do. Spent the rest of my time on uke, practing, studying, shopping. A long haul, mastering a new instrument. Practice x3. Still getting my guitar/banjo chops back. Still sore. Still loving it. This was an inspired decision, great for my attitude. I live well with challenges, routine and measurable goals. Retirement has a new vitality.

But let's not neglect Overdrive! Need to spend time on it Wed.

Music goals

These next nine months, after which I retire from teaching, will be filled with activity moving toward a goal: getting good on the ukulele, including clawhammer, classical and jazz styles. To this end, I'm upgrading from my thirty buck cheapie. Duh. Moving up a size, too, to Concert. I'm taking classes, hopefully one each term. This term, on right hand technique. Starts in Nov., 7 weeks. Also was a blues uke class ... hope it is offered winter or spring.

In June I want to be good enough to do something ambitious. No idea what. Possibilities: write a uke opera. Play on downtown street corner for coins. Same, performing original material about the news, ala Tom Lehrer. Put songs online. Instead of opera, a uke song cycle with narrative. Recite my poems at readings to uke music, ala minstrels. Join a uke club. A social life, what a concept.

No shortage of ideas. First things first. PRACTICE. Always the key in music. Watching football Sat., for example, I clawhammered scales, over and over. Too much, sore hands ha ha. Been a year or more since I played regularly.

Best, I like mellow sound of uke, esp in picking styles, and I think I can get good enough to do something in retirement with it, for sanity and distraction ... and FUN.

So! Now I suddenly am very busy. Today, student work to get online. And other school work.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I'm excited about learning clawhammer uke. And other styles while I'm at it. What attracts me: *practice is labor intensive. I like process, and long significant distractions from the sad decline of humanity. *uke music has a mellow tone, unlike banjo. Good for old age. *sky is the limit. There are uke players out the who do everything. Jazz, classical, pop, folk, blues, anything! The uke is much more than strumming along in a singalong. *a uke opera? Ah, my old fantasy and obsession.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sore hands

Practicing uke, mainly clawhammer and double thumb scales ... so much my hands are sore. Break time ha ha.

More about music in retirement

Fiddling with uke ... like the more mellow sound compared to banjo... need larger fretboard to get fancy, should get tenor ... artichoke music where I took my clawhammer classes has wed night uke on right hand techniques, do me good, thinking about it. Yes, getting music playing back into my life.

Round Bend Press: Act Three, preview of my new book

Round Bend Press: Act Three: a preview of my new book of poems by publisher Terry Simons.

"Understand that we are speaking here of a prodigious amount of work over a long career, and it has sprawled in varied expressions and forms over the years, but before he began to concentrate on writing for the stage, the Deemer in act one had published short stories and journalism in a variety of publications, from nationally recognized literary magazines to business journals.  His second act, or mid-career, could be said to center on the stage works that gave him regional notoriety, while act three can be loosely regarded as the post-drinking, screenwriting guru phase, which would evolve into the novel-writing and poetry phase of the past decade and the present."

'via Blog this'

Friday, October 11, 2013

Music in retirement

In my 20s and 30s my guitar was an appendage; it went everywhere with me. When I returned west after the breakup of my marriage, I was almost 40. I still had my guitar but now only played at home or in more structuted performer/audience settings. By the time I was 60, I was hardly playing at all. But I took piano lessons. And later I took clawhammer banjo lessons. Then a time of silence again.

I've been wanting to make music sgain - and today I decided how. Clawhammer ukulele! I know the right hand technique now, I should pick it up with practice. Tons of instruction at YouTube if I need it. Uke has a soft sound, perfect for an old man.

Clawhammer ukulele, here I come.

YakTale has a story of mine

YakTale: a new outlet,, I posted "Meeting Nicole Kidman" there.

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


From In My Old Age ...


in line at Starbucks
she leans forward
and kisses him
soft as her skin
in the shower earlier
their glow still fresh
all things possible

divorce for example
when this moment
gets forgotten
and there's the tragedy
not the divorce
but the forgetting

let nothing negate
the kiss at Starbucks
it matters it counts
and without it
in a zero-sum universe
the balance of the world
tips askew

you must horde the good
moments in memory
despite everything

Monday, October 7, 2013

Rules of the Game

Rules of the Game

Death is the mind and body
out of sync. A natural death
happens over time and
sometimes the body goes
first and sometimes the mind
goes first. I already feel my
body going first, which is
rather like observing your
own death in slow motion.
So here's the deal:

no extra inning game;
no arguing with the umpire;
no steroids and other cheating;
a quick clean game;
and so forth.

And if the future comes down
this way, then I am the lucky
one who broke the usual medical
pattern of extending life at
all costs. I received comfort
over cure, as I prefer.

Good luck.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Orion in the morning

Taking the dog out before sunrise this morning, on our first clear day in a while, I couldn't help but notice the prominence of Orion in the southeastern sky. It brought to mind a poem that appears in my book, In  My Old Age:



seeing Orion on a winter night
stars shivering in the same familiar pattern
I've known since childhood when my dad
back from the war in the Pacific
taught me the constellations
in Dallas 1947

the great hunter's belt
three stars in a line
and below it on the sword
the slightest smudge
like hot breath on steel
a nebula called Messier 42
(I remember to this day)

and above, left, to the west
the reddish star my dad called
"beetle juice" to make me laugh

and behind the great hunter
his dog, Sirius
no star brighter but the sun

The Orion I see tonight looks the same
as the Orion I saw in Dallas in 1947
or in Pasadena in 1953
or in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1961
or on Maryland's Eastern Shore in 1976
or in Portland in 1984

and saw on every winter of my life
the same pattern of shivering stars
in the frosted night

what comfort to know that
despite wars and disasters
despite divorces and drunks
despite anything that happens underfoot
there remains stability overhead
in Orion and his brethren
the unchanging constellations


if only this were true

in fact the stars are wandering
constantly and what we call "stability"
is a kind of optical illusion
due to our limited perspective

the great hunter Orion
who watches over us
knows we long for God
and so keeps Sirius on
a short leash that we may
see today the same pattern
we saw yesterday
shivering in the long
cold night

and in recognition find order
find comfort find God
and forget
if only for a moment
our lost befuddled selves

Saturday, October 5, 2013

3 weeks

3 weeks before my new book of poems is published by Round Bend Press, my fifth book with them. I appreciate the support by Terry Simons. However, this kindness will be set aside the very same publication day when my UCLA Bruins come to Eugene to play TS's Nike Wagnerian Opera Co., sometimes called Oregon. A rout or a game? Only time will tell.