How to tell a story

How to tell a story

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Damn, Bruins

I haven't seen UCLA look this good in years. A young team, too. Far out. Largest margin over USC since 1970. 35-14.


UCLA player threw a punch, gone. Good call. We need more ejections! 6 or 8 should gave left Ohio State game.

MORE EJECTIONS! I say. Get football under control. Wouldn't take long if refs had balls.

Firing coaches

I'd ignore W-L record and focus on player graduation record. What a fool I am ha ha!

Well, here comes UCLA game - and I am nervous!

Practice makes perfect

Tonight I am playing smooth barre chords more consistently than ever. Doesn't take a lot of pressure either. Just seems to work now.

The video of ending

What an ending!!

1 sec, Alabama missed 57 yd. FG (coaching decision!, as was arguing to put 1 sec on clock instead of going to OT) returned 109 yds for Auburn victory! Bye, bye BCS, Bama.

Baker, baker

Yes, this is something to look forward to. H can give bread to her friends.

Coaching decisions

Michigan, 30 sec left, scores TD to tie - except they go for win, fail, lose instead of going to OT.

Auburn, ten mins left in game, a TD behind, 4th and 1 on own 35, and go for it. Fail. Alabama set up to take two possession lead - but can't do it. Auburn escapes, another chance to mount a tying drive.

Actually I liked Mich. going for it but didn't like play selection.


I used to bake a lot. Not in years. I think I'll take it up again after I quit teaching.

Michigan fight song

To my ear, best in country. No rivals. So 35-35 4th Q has given me lots of listening.

My first clawhammer original

About ready to record Sketch Sniffin' In The Grass.

World Cup Draw

Next Friday morning. Going to get into the WC big time this year, an escape from American football. An opportunity to root for the U.S. as an underdog this summer. And to celebrate an end to teaching. I can't wait.

Money = lowest common denominator

Amazon's review policy - which is to say, to value customer reviews as more than opinion - is another step in the democratization of literature that moves the culture toward the lowest common denominator. A review of an Overdrive book today makes the point ... loved the story but wanted a traditional novel. That's fine. Said I was lazy. That's not fine. It's a narrative experiment, hardly lazy, and I've written traditional novels for half a century, hardly lazy, and these facts are public and available in a few minutes by anyone who wonders. What bugs me is this uninformed opinion matters as much as an informed one. Accuracy is irrelevant.

What I'm learning about marketing is that content is almost irrelevant. This is the literary world today. Pound saw all of this coming in The ABC of Reading. Part of the dumbing-down of the culture. Man, I'm glad I'll be out of here soon!

Boys will be boys

Rooting for Michigan against favorite Ohio State. Brawl at start of 2nd Q. Wimp refs only ejected 3 players. Ohio State ejected lineman gave Michigan crowd double fingers on way out. Ah, what good sports we teach in college. No wonder I find the Army-Navy game so refreshing.

Ruling L.A.

Overrated UCLA plays underrated USC ... I'm not taking any bets.

Russia loves me?

Два мира вашего сценария (перевод статьи автора Charles Deemer). ... about the 2 worlds of your screenplay ... referring to, copying, my article on same.

Student script to look at first thing, then ukulele practice.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Woody Allen's serious dramas

Skipped football to watch a very favorite WA film, small gem.
Now turned on game with OSU ahead in 4th.

This is a complex morality tale. A man addicted both to lust and wealth gets away with murder but doesn't escape profound guilt. An extraordinary backdrop and soundtrack of opera heighten the dramatic tension. This is Allen's triumph of style. I hugely admire what he accomplishes here.

p.s. Nike won but no mere sporting event can trump the drama in this film.

Last Man Standing

Last Man Standing

When you outlive your friends
they get off better than you do.
They don't have to face the madness
with no one to vent to, no one
with whom to laugh at the absurdity
of it all, no one to offer example and
assurance that not everyone is mad,
no one to provide a possibility that
madness doesn't last forever.
When you outlive your friends
you get stuck with the check
and the last laugh is theirs.

--Charles Deemer



So I gave it my best shot
and nothing happened. Discouraging
to say the least. So was it
all a waste of time? Oh, there are
a few who appreciate the work.
They let me know. This is not
dismissal in a vacuum. But the
reverberations of rejection
drum a mighty rhythm. They
give me a headache. I know
when I'm not wanted. At least
rejection is mutual because what
they applaud I can't stand more
often than not. We belong on
different planets. You first.

--Charles Deemer

Late feedback

Half a dozen students want late feedback on projects, which will be the morning agenda. After that, ukulele practice. New tune picked out. And have first part of an original. But so far stumped on second part. Calling it "Sketch Sniffin' In The Grass."

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Great food, mellow setting, leisurely drive ... perfect. Home for a movie. Sketch chooses.

Quotation of the day, week, month, year, decade...

"All humanity's troubles come from not knowing how to sit still in one room," - Blaise Pascal.


I don't feel a need to give special thanks today because I thank the gods every day. I've been blessed. I wish my two close friends Dick and Ger were still alive; I wish I had a larger audience for my work; I wish I lived in a warm climate. But these are small things compared to my gifts. But age brings many discomforts, and I hope I miss them by passing before they arrive. I'm ready to go at any time. In the meantime, I'm pretty good at amusing myself.

Country drive

I used to hobnob with the McMenamen brothers when they owned only one tavern. Now they are statewide real estate tycoons. We're driving to Wilsonville for their turkey this afternoon. Last year we tried their turkey in McMinnville and were impressed. So back again, but at a different venue. Maybe this is our old age tradition. But we'll make a turkey next week, too. Need those leftovers.

Thanksgiving in my work

From Sodom, Gomorrah and Jones ...

Thanksgiving, 1962

AS HELEN AND CJ applauded, Mrs. Stevenson set the turkey in front of her husband. The bird was golden-brown and aromatic, large enough to feed three times their numbers.
CJ had never seen anyone use an electric knife before. Instead of picking it up, Mr. Stevenson looked at CJ and asked, “Would you do the honors, Carlton?”
Excuse me?”
Say grace?”
CJ had never said grace in his life. He shot a glance at Helen across the table, who nodded.
Of course,” said CJ.
Mrs. Stevenson smiled at him.
CJ closed his eyes, getting ready, then opened them.
Thank you,” he began. He stopped and started over. “Dear Lord. Thank you for the bounty of food we enjoy today and for the opportunity to share it with family and loved ones. Let's not forget the noble savages whose kindness got us through our first winter, even though we later rewarded them with a policy of genocide that--”
Mr. Stevenson bolted to his feet with such effort that his chair toppled to the floor.
That's enough!” he said.
He was so red in the face that CJ wondered if he were having a stroke. He turned and hurried out of the dining room.
Helen was on her feet, also red but rising more carefully, and chased after her father.
CJ closed his eyes again. What had possessed him? How could he be so stupid?
When he looked up, Mrs. Stevenson was smiling at him.
Carlton, would you carve the turkey, please? You do know how to use an electric knife, don't you?”


The Epistemological Uncle

Whirlwind (May, 1994)

Charles Deemer

IN THE CAREFREE IDYLL of my youth, when Appletons twenty strong gathered at my grandparents' house each Thanksgiving Day, Uncle Buck always drank too much and never failed to do something that would embarrass Aunt Betty. He would return from the bathroom with his fly open, or belch during grace, or tell a very dirty story, or dribble giblet gravy on the tie he wore only on holidays, before grumbling, "I knew the goddamn thing was good for something. Kept the shirt clean, didn't it?"
Aunt Betty, who was my mother's sister, would begin the process of coaxing him home then, and she usually succeeded before the pumpkin and mincemeat and apple and pecan pies were passed around the table.
A bit later, after grandfather began to fidget prior to suggesting that the men retire to the basement, where whiskey and cigars awaited them, the loud backfiring of Uncle Buck's ancient pickup could be heard outside and soon thereafter the slamming of the pickup door in the driveway and then the idiosyncratic howling that was my uncle's habit whenever he had too much to drink, which was often:
"Do you really knoooooooooow?," he howled.
Everyone knew that Uncle Buck was back.

My soul brother, the late Dick Crooks, had a relative very much like this, whom I met in a bar in Idaho and witnessed his howling myself. It stuck with me and years later, this story. Dick loved the story. He didn't always like what I did with "his material" but this one worked for him. Sometimes I wonder what in hell I would have written about early in my career if I hadn't met him. I borrowed excessively from his logging country roots. At first, a wannabe writer himself (but a barroom storyteller instead), he begrudged me my early success with literary short stories, 3x Roll of Honor in Best Amer Short Stories very early in my career, but he came to realize 1. he wasn't a writer and 2. I was doing "his material" justice ... The Idaho Jacket (Roll of Honor, 1974, published in Prism International, my favorite lit mag at the time, where I wanted to  be more than anywhere short of the New Yorker) may have been the turning point, where the relationship between us is dramatized.

Not everyone celebrates

My most memorable Thanksgivings were celebrations of friendship and diversity, from the mid sixties to the late seventies, when the Deemers, Bradleys, Fuquas, Richardsons and Crookses would gather for food, drink, folk songs and laughter. If out of town for most, in Eugene or San Jose, these celebrations (which began in LA) could last 3 days. We were white, black and yellow, and our friendship was the way America was supposed to work. We ate, we drank, we sang. And we were always laughing.

Nothing matched this since. But that's okay.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Two fine films

Watched two favorites ... what a pleasure ...

Clawhammer ukulele

My fav so far ... rough with good moments here. Practice!

The failure of screenwriting education

Judging a contest in NYC. Did first group of 14 scenes today. A bit appalled -- 11 of them were written with a fiction writing sensibility, not a screenwriting sensibility. This is what happens when I judge -- most writers don't know what screenwriting IS. Why?

One reason they go so wrong is they use the wrong models ... shooting scripts, old scripts with earlier rhetorical values. If you can write a lean and mean contemporary spec script, man, you are immediately in the top ten percent! Everybody else is shooting themselves in the foot.

R.I.P. Chico Hamilton

West coast jazz rules.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

One foot after the other

Long walk from the bus stop. Made without falling and only hobbling at the end. Glad to be home! JFK: An American Coup D'etat: The Truth Behind the Kennedy Assassination eBook: Colonel John Hughes-Wilson: Kindle Store JFK: An American Coup D'etat: The Truth Behind the Kennedy Assassination eBook: Colonel John Hughes-Wilson: Kindle Store:

I was looking for a book written by a non-American and found this. I'm glad I did. The author has a long history in British intelligence and has written about the Cold War. Good experience for coming at all this.

Best, though, is that he loathes JFK. This gives him a very new perspective compared to other coup books. Those often go on and on about the loss of Camelot, the loss of promise, etc. The message here is rubbish. The author can't stand JFK's wealthy arrogance, his hypocrisy, his womanizing. Camelot was bunk. The coup here, he writes, is no different from the coup that overthrew Julius Caesar or a hundred other coups in history. Indeed, the coup d'etat is one of the tried and true historical methods for changing power relationships. JFK pissed the wrong people off and paid for it.

This is a good over-view of the large scale case for conspiracy. You don't have to buy it all to enjoy this book; the author's cynical tone kept me engaged. "Just another coup" is not something many want to hear but the historical record speaks for itself. And I confess, it is refreshing to see the case made by someone who hates JFK. He doesn't go so far as to say good riddance but he pulls the rug out from the Camelot folks who think this was the greatest tragedy in the history of mankind. He brings a seasoned, cynical, Real Politik attitude of an intelligence officer to the table.

Photons Seen Without Being Destroyed For First Time Ever

Photons Seen Without Being Destroyed For First Time Ever:

'via Blog this'

A new tyranny

Pope Francis calls "unfettered capitalism" a new global tyranny. Now let's hope he acts on this insight. Would cops tear gas the Pope? Or is this just the usual ineffective rhetoric?

Monday, November 25, 2013


Oregon women had 24 pt lead over Pepperdine in 2nd half - and blew it! Held on, after P missed late shot to win. Biggest collapse I've seen/heard in a while.

Fiddle tunes

These are a blast on the ukulele. Learning a great one now, "Old Greasy Coat." Maybe record it on Wednesday.

Here comes the judge

I'm a judge in a NYC very short screenplay contest ... got a couple dozen scripts today, 2 weeks until deadline ... probably can do much this week. Really an exercise contest. Very different. An international contest to boot. Should be fun.

Going to be a freezing walk to the bus stop in the morning. I do NOT look forward to it.

Clawhammer ukulele

Old Aunt Jenny With Her Night Cap On


Looking at the upcoming football matchups, I discover there's only one game I care about, Army-Navy. Not the Civil War here, though I hope the Beavers win big to shake up the Ducks program, not even UCLA-USC. I just don't care any more. I'll find some Div II and III games to watch. This may be the waning of football fandom. Hmm.


First priority today.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


The Portland Timbers are in a playoff game on ESPN. Gonna watch that sucker. Root for the home team and all that. Or not. See how it goes.

Play that thang, sonny!
Still in my JFK funk. Playing "Old Aunt Jenny With Her Night Cap On" helps a tad. Over and over and over ...

New song

These fiddle songs have great titles. Almost have a new one down: "Old Aunt Jenny With Her Night Cap On." Should be able to record it soon.

Here is something to look forward to

Army-Navy in a few weeks! One of the last games with old school manners.

Here is what a dinosaur I am: I still can't get used to football players with BICEPS ... it looks very weird to me. 

Nike? What Nike?

Here is TS in a mostly sensible analysis of the Ducks football program - that doesn't deal with Nike, which in my view is the entire foundation of the mindset OF THE PLAYERS. We clearly have very different views of reality. And of psychology, for that matter. I hope he is right - it says nicer things about the players. But a grinning Mr. Thomas on the sideline when Stanford is whipping your ass is not my model of a team player or a jock with character. His body language is saying, Fuck this, I'll still get mine in the NFL. Where the hell is my video game?

I'd fire the coach not for losing a game but for failing to discipline TEAM insubordination.


Raked lots of leaves, which zapped my energy. Probably a vegetable for the rest of the day. Did get my uke lesson in. A bit of school prep, pushed to tomorrow. Ah me, feeling old.

I hate to say this but ...

... the best thing that can happen to the Ducks' football program is to get blown out by the Beavers. Then maybe the honchos will look at the Nike-fed football culture that's driven by arrogance, selfishness and a sense of entitlement. Getting blown out by Arizona, a team they should have beaten easily, is a result of this culture and attitude, and an incompetent coaching staff refusing to address it. So as one wanting to root for my alma mater again, I hope that ...

... the Beavers beat the Ducks worse than Arizona did
... players mouth off to show their true arrogance
... the AD and coaching staff are fired
... new old school AD and coach are hired

NEVER HAPPEN! Once a Nike whore, always a Nike whore. I'll die before the Ducks become a team with character as well as talent. Very sad ... and typical in today's corrupt world of college football.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Close but no cigar

Portland State, a heavy underdog against #3 Eastern Washington, lost by a missed extra point late in 4th Q. UCLA, over-rated but a team with clsss, came back from 22 pts and almost won against Ariz St.

A great day of football!

Character trumps talent

Arizona destroying Nike in 4th Q, 42-16. The prima donas from Eugene didn't come to play. I mean, now that they are out of the BCS championship, why bother?

These guys believe what the Nike PR hypesters tell them. Their coaches are too chickenshit to discipline arrogance.

This Arizona victory is good for football!

Countdown sale

Ukulele exercises

Next week will end my 28 day class of uke exercises. I'm going to keep doing them after the class is over, maybe adding new keys on my own. I also am going through other videos at Ukulele Underground. Fantastic material. I will practice my ass off during the holiday break. I'm really enjoying this - and the great tone of the Cordoba surely inspires me.

Great day

Cooking almost done, Oregon game started, uke lesson (yesterday's) done ... ah, a good day so far!

My visit to Yale

I spent a few days in New Haven in the 1990s when I attended the first national Hypertext Conference at Yale. I fell in love with campus and the town, a university atmosphere I had not experienced since the 1970s in Eugene and the Univ of Oregon. At the conference I made some first rate connections that would pay off later. Just a great experience. Made me wish I had gone to the Yale drama school.

But I still root for Harvard because of my association with Harvard Observatory in high school.

Great find

Found an obscure book perfect for my needs: "A book of old-time fiddle tablature for the ukulele," clawhammer style. Lots of songs to learn!

Cooking on a Saturday morning

Beef in a Korean marinade ... stock for scrapple simmering on the stove ... and I haven't had breakfast yet.

Harvard v. Yale

One of my favorite football rivalries but not much of a game this morning, H leading 28-0 in first half.

A poem on the matter

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

The baffling blindness of the media

To believe Oswald acted alone, you have to believe that:

  • a large number of doctors and staff at Parkland hospital are incompetent and/or liars. There were no frontal wounds.
  • over 50 eye witnesses who believed shots came from the grassy knoll (front), many smelling gun powder and/or seeing smoke, were wrong and it is an oversight that the Warren Commission never called them to testify.
  • Oswald, a poor shot in the Army, was able to get off 3 shots in less than 10 seconds on a bolt action rifle called junk by experts, when excellent professional marksmen later could not duplicate the feat on the same model rifle, and that he could hit something without an accurate telescope mounted ... and that it was an accident that a Mauser was identified as the found weapon before it was changed to the Italian model.
  • that the laws of physics were temporarily put on hold so the "magic bullet" could do its wondrous trajectory and damage.
  • that Oswald, after his miraculous shooting, raced down six flights of stairs (unseen or noticed by two women on the stairs), bought a coke and went to the lunch room, all in 90 seconds, where a policeman found him calm, not breathing heavily, quite relaxed.
  • that the clear backward thrust of JFK's exploding head in the Zapruder film is not caused by a shot from the front but by a rear shot interacting with JFK's back brace, causing the rear movement. (Not only a magic bullet but a magic back brace.)

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I'm appalled so many people accept this nonsense. LBJ told Chief Justice Warren he was saving the world from nuclear war with Russia, and this rationale for doctoring the truth makes at least some sense in the context of the Cold War. But 50 years later?

The nuts in the country are those who still believe the "official line." The problem is not that folks can't accept a loner doing such a thing, it's that folks can't accept a coup d'etat right here in the City on a Hill.

Beauty in a cold wind

Taking Sketch out at 4 a.m., met by a geat heavenly picture in south-southwestern skies: the moon and Jupiter high overhead, Orion and Sirius dominating the sky below. Very cold out, so we didn't linger. But it was nice to see.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Big Fade

Had planned to do some ukulele when I got home from class ... but my energy tanked and stayed there. Oh well, had to settle for eggnog ice cream. Poor baby.

Calm before the storm

Light class work this weekend ... focus on ukulele and recording ... in good spirits.

Video Game Allows Players To Reenact Newtown Massacre | ThinkProgress

Video Game Allows Players To Reenact Newtown Massacre | ThinkProgress:

Ah, America! No wonder Buddy Dooley draws monsters!

10 monsters

Posthumous degree

One of my students, who was making up an Incomplete, died last weekend, and since he was going to graduate this term, they are giving him a posthumous degree (for the family) ... so I changed his Incomplete to what he would likely get. He was a very creative guy, shooting a short film for his project. Nice gesture by the university, I think ... apparently the degree meant a ton to him and his family.

Quotation of the day

From The Passive Voice ...
I write for no other purpose than to add to the beauty that now belongs to me. I write a book for no other reason than to add three or four hundred acres to my magnificent estate.
Jack London

U.S. Life Expectancy Ranks 26th In The World, OECD Report Shows

U.S. Life Expectancy Ranks 26th In The World, OECD Report Shows:

American exceptionalism ha ha.

Two headlines of contrast today, below:

Oregon one of many states that allow students to graduate high school unprepared for college or careers |

Oregon one of many states that allow students to graduate high school unprepared for college or careers |

'via Blog this'

Portland poet Mary Szybist wins National Book Award for poetry |

Portland poet Mary Szybist wins National Book Award for poetry |

'via Blog this'

Down the home stretch

Only 3 classes left after today ... and in one I show a film ... and one is the last day. So we are definitely on the downhill side of classes, though of course all the grading lies ahead.

Been working on a new clawhammer song, Angeline the Baker, and really digging it. I need to find more fiddle tunes for the uke. Found a book, might work.

A website lists all the songs he could find about JFK assassination ... includes my 1963 Ballad of JFK ... going to record it tomorrow with uke and send it to him, no doubt post here as well. For posterity. Actually I no longer believe Oswald did it, of course. Was written immediately after event, even before Oswald was shot.

Eager for the holiday break ... PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! I am really doing my homework on this Cordoba because I want to learn how to play it reasonably well. Not professionally, of course, but decently for a hobbyist. I'm close already because of my guitar/banjo background.

Workshop scenes today, maybe next week too if we don't finish.

We're going out for turkey on Thanksgiving. Did same last year, at McMenamen's, dug it, back again but to a different venue.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sports apps

Got a free college basketball app that's like the football app ... can get most games on the radio. Very cool.

World Cup

32 teams who will play at the 2014 World Cup after Uruguay filled the final qualifying berth on Tuesday. Draw for the tournament is on December 6:

Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, England, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, France
Japan, Australia, Iran, South Korea
Brazil (hosts), Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay
United States, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico
Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana, Algeria

The REAL "world series."

Clear skies

On this chilly clear day, smooth sailing on the work front and my list of goals is accomplished. Especially good ukulele day. And good workshop prep as well. No complaints!

Ukulele accompaniment styles

Strumming Picking

Hoping for the best

One of those days when I hope for no surprises because my work is in order and looks good.

  • update online things
  • record ukulele
  • prepare workshop scenes
  • daily ukulele exercise
In a disordered, declining culture, I prefer personal order.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Second wind

Pretty tired after teaching, which takes more out of me all the time. Good class. Now for a second wind for my daily uke exercise class at UU.

Hello back at you.


Here's why Overdrive #3 had over 1500 downloads ...

One of three scifi books featured. Same thing happened a while back with the doowop mystery. This site has a lot of readers!

The Math of Quality (Or Why the Gatekeeper System is Failing) | The Passive Voice |

The Math of Quality (Or Why the Gatekeeper System is Failing) | The Passive Voice | Writers, Writing, Self-Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe:

 "Opening up the flood of books (quality or not) has changed the profit model, pushing the profitability of individual books down so far that its impacted the overall strategy and forced publishers to reduce advances and now they’re considering eliminating print runs for most new authors.  I can only assume that this is being considered because the overhead for a single book from an author without a sales history has decreased so much that they can’t even pay an advance, so rather than eliminate the advance (which is one of the benefits of the gatekeeper system) they’ve eliminated expensive overhead, which is in this case, is a print run (and by extension – the awful returns system.)"

Interesting look at the radically changing book marketplace.

Elevator surprise

Taking the elevator to my office, a gentleman gets on, probably faculty, just the two of us ... he sees my Ukulele Underground hat, which I recently bought, and says, I'm learning the ukulele. I recommend UU very highly. I ask if he plays another instrument. Banjo, in the clawhammer style. I do, too, I say. Clawhammer uke is great! And the door opens, and we go off in opposite directions, grinning.

The great American irony and embarrassment

A seasoned, well known Establishment report explained on radio that conspiracy buffs just can't accept that such momentous tragedy was done by such a small, inconsequential person. Bullshit. This is the way assassinations frequenty happen - and the small person brags about it and feels big, he doesn't say he's a patsy. No, the problem is that some entrenched American reporters can't except that a coup could happen right here in the land of mom and apple pie. Listen to the doctors who first saw the body. Listen to the majority of witnesses. This denial is the Great American Embarrassment.

Coming of (Old) Age

From A Majority of One ...

Coming of (Old) Age

Let's say you've been reading
American history most of
your adult life, over half
a century now, and in that time
you've reached some conclusions
not taught in high school
the usual suspects about
genocide against American Indians
lynchings of black citizens
concentration camps for Japanese citizens
and the most extraordinary atrocity
of all, November 22, 1963,
a coup d'etat orchestrated by rogue
elements in the government
and you accept all these
things as true

and you widen the focus
to the world, where good deeds
get lost in an historic avalanche of
war and genocide and butchery
mass graves, killing fields
(inspiration for future video games)
hard to keep track of it all

and all this, too, is true.

It's hard to avoid the conclusion
that the United States is no better
than a Banana Republic, though
more livable than most, with
perks like shopping and mythology
and escape valves for discontent
like talk shows and voting
and it's hard to avoid the conclusion
that civilization is an asylum
run by sadists.

A lifetime studying history
two sad conclusions
so the question naturally arises
how possibly to live here?

  1. lay low
  2. reduce your universe
  3. remember Nature wins
  4. lay lower

Quotation of the day

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."  --Bruce Lee

Monday, November 18, 2013

Practice, practice!

Lots of ukulele work today.

What's wrong with these people?

Why do so many mainstream media folks, whatever their political persuasion, still support the absurd, unsupportable, and politically obscene propaganda of the Warren JFK Commission?
Dr. McClelland's drawing of JFK head wound, which mysteriously disappeared in later autopsy photos

Go back to the beginning. All the medical folks who first saw the body said the back if JFK's skull was destroyed from an exit bullet, i.e. shot from the front. Many saw another front entry wound at the throat. THE FIRST NEWS REPORT outside the hospital had a doctor saying, and repeating twice, JFK was shot FROM THE FRONT. Most eye witnesses reported shots from the grassy knoll, i.e. the front, though most were not called before the Commission. Several who did later reported their PUBLISHED testimony was the opposite of what they said! The Zapruder film clearly shows JFK's head slammed back by a frontal shot - and get this, both the report and Life magazine published the clips backwards so it looked like a shot from the back. Sorry, printing error, was Hoover's explanation! Two cops behind JFK's car were splattered with brains and blood, i.e. a frontal shot.

Shots from two directions = conspiracy. What's wrong with these deniers of the facts?

R.I.P. Syd Field

The screenwriting guru who wrote the seminal book that began the avalanche of screenwriting, changing a seller's market to a buyer's market in the 1980s.

Bring on Tuesday

Took all morning with an early start, but I am now prepped for class tomorrow. I still have two students writing like novelists. Not sure what else to try with them.

Rest of the is my own for ukulele, Illiad, whatever.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

R.I.P. Doris Lessing

Busy Sunday

Grunt chores on the web this morning ... to the university this afternoon to see Our Town, very high on my list of best plays ... tonight should read scripts, also want to root for Old Man Manning to upset undefeated KC.

Busy day tomorrow, too, with prep work. And fitting Ukulele in there somewhere. Ah, the busy life! Best way to avoid the decline of western civilization ha ha.

New area in my archives

What the heck? I added a Ukulele Studies section in my online literary archive at the University of North Carolina.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Productive day

Half my scripts read, lots of uke practice, a little football - USC beating Stanford in first half ... a mellow, good day.


I'm baffled by the promo strategy of freebies, an Amazon staple. 2 weeks ago a promo of Overdrive #1 resulted in 40 downloads in five days. The next week, #2 promo got 50. Not too hot. Same procedure, same publicity, including the #3 promo this week. And only in the second day, there are almost 900 downloads!

Some other party recommendation must account for this. Nothing else makes sense to me.

Some time back I had over 1000 downloads during a promo - but to be honest, I don' t see any benefit from it, other than getting work out there.

Overdrive #11

Casanova Does California was a blast to write decades ago when I first wrote it as a screenplay. I got to base a character on the porn king of Pdx, whom I knew quite well and who was a comic, eccentric character with a heart of gold. A magic potion brings the historic Casanova to contemporary SoCal where a porno movie about him is being shot. He considers himself a romantic and joins a protest against the film while searching for a way home.

Christmas gift

Michael A. Hollister
Novelist & Critic


"Three historical novels dramatize Hollywood's global influence from the 1930s to the present age of terrorism, through the life stories of Sarah McCloud, a farm girl from Oregon, and Ryan Eisley, the son of a beer distributor from Ohio."


A great read! Highly recommended. Check it out!

Sloppy win

UCLA made fewer mistakes in a sloppy game of penalties and fumbles - in November! Neither team impressed me.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Washington v. Oregon

Washington apparently has the most successful Obamacare website in the country. Oregon is having so much trouble it hasn't put its healthcare website online yet. A meaningful contrast. Mrs. Cratchit's Christmas Carol (Novella) eBook: Charles Deemer: Kindle Store Mrs. Cratchit's Christmas Carol (Novella) eBook: Charles Deemer: Kindle Store:


Finished today's ukulele lesson, key of D. Key of A tomorrow.

Less than two hours until the game. A wee tad nervous.

Major track event in Portland!

TrackTown USA - TrackTown News: "Portland to host 2016 World Indoor Championships"

'via Blog this'

First rate teacher

This guy is terrific.

Release of #10 soon

Working to get Overdrive #10 published late today or tomorrow.

Big UCLA-Washington game tonight. Bruins too inconsistent to predict outcome. I can see them winning big or losing big and everything in between.

Still ukulele lesson to do today. Maybe after next hoop on Overdrive.

Ukulele Underground really rocks. Best use of educational video I've seen. And a very structured approach, perfect for this structuralist.

Good morning

Crashed early, up early. TOO early. Better return to bed.

Busy weekend! But in a good way.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Home sweet home

Made it through class. Scripts, prep, this weekend. Focus on staying well.

In my office, sort of

Made it to campus, no small accomplishment. Not sure how well I'll hold up but I'll give holding class the college try ... at least I have an exercise planned, so for the most part I just have to sit and not disrupt the work. I'm hopeful that I can hold a complete class.

Dead cylinders

Under the weather but not enough to cancel class. Did miss class last night. Social obligation tonight, which I do not look forward to.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Quotation of the day

"I hate entertainment." John Cassavetes

A tsunami of good karma?

Concerning my recent senior moment, sending bills without stamps on the envelopes ... nothing returned, thought I'd better check and pay on the phone to avoid late fees ... so I call electric, gas, garbage and an oil company ... AND ALL POSTED THE CHECK! Stamps don't matter? Good deeds? Blind negligence? Hey, I'll take it. I feel like I won the lottery.

(H thinks the senior moment is I forgot I put stamps on the envelopes ha ha).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Question of the day

"Who would have thought five years ago, after we witnessed firsthand the dangers of an overly concentrated financial system, that the 'too big to fail' problem would only have gotten worse?" -- Elizabeth Warren
My shero.

I can hardly believe this myself ...

I just finished the grunt work (format) on Overdrive #10, the Christmas story. I should be able to get it out this week with Wednesday and Friday to work on it at home, and Thursday in the office. Very cool.



And so Nature rages on
with yet another massive storm
with unprecedented destruction
televised suffering 24/7
and I know in my bones
this is just the beginning.

The world helps as it can
but eventually help will stop
the helpers now victims themselves
and altruism less practical than

None of this surprises me
most of it predicted
ignored by the powerful, the greedy
but horror is not mitigated
by science.

There's nothing to be done.
Christ will not save us.
We are incapable of saving

Under the circumstances
excuse me while I
practice the ukulele.
Time is short and
I have much to learn.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bob Hicks' memorial to his mother

Stanford v. UConn

Women's bball ... what a great way to start the season! Nerd nation!

Clawhammer ukulele

Please notice me!

Boise State home field

Eastern Washington home field

Some football teams go overboard to be noticed.

Veterans Day

Veterans, by and large, are royally screwed in this country. We send them off to hellish environments, often for poor reasons, and then when they return damaged by the experience, we give them the runaround. Then once a year we thank them for their service.

What is wrong with this picture?

SF Chronicle

In the 1980s I spent a year in Bend, living on grant money, house-sitting for a friend, and writing two plays (one commissioned, about Moliere, another inspired by the nearby Rajneesh comedy) and it was there I started reading the Chronicle. Why? Because it was everywhere! It was easier to find than The Oregonian. I got the idea Bend was a bedroom community for San Francisco.

Now, decades later, the Chronicle once again is my daily paper. I also look at the LA Times lite, a free version. I never read an Oregon paper, which tells you something. The Oregonian fired their best writers and their digital version is a disaster. Fortunately Barry Johnson started Arts Watch, then hired Bob Hicks, to provide the best arts coverage and writing the area has ever known. (Now they need an app!)

In other words, I live here but not entirely. My wife won't move so I'm resigned to staying and the university has made this easy, the only place in Pdx that feels like home. (In the 80s the entire city felt like home.) But soon I will leave PSU, so I wonder what I'll call home locally then.

Well, as a song I wrote half a century ago says, "the inside of my head is my country." I'm like a turtle and carry home with me.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Quick Reads #1 (3 short thrillers): Charles Deemer: 9781493676385: Books

Quick Reads #1 (3 short thrillers): Charles Deemer: 9781493676385: Books:

Now in paperback as well as Kindle ebook.

Study strategy

My live ukulele class is great fun. But it also is far more expensive than two excellent subscription websites with books and videos from which to learn, Curt Sheller's site and Ukulele Underground. So I'm not sure I'll take another live class. I'd be tempted with a jazz or blues class ... we'll have to wait and see.

But clearly I can do this on my own. Great motivation: Over 2 hours of practicing each of last two days. Sore hands, may rest a little today, just do the daily class.

Student work first priority today.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Beyond politics

Daily Kos is a progressive, lefty website where there usually is great agreement of ideas. How interesting to read the dog fights and name-calling over the JFK shows on TV now. The Oswald alone v. conspiracy camps are as emotional as ever.

The first book to read
I am solidly in the conspiracy camp. No rational person who listens to the first doctors who saw Kennedy can deny the fact of entry wounds - which means a second shooter. Personally I doubt if O shot at all but this is debatable, as the medical evidence is not. There were entry wounds and the back of his head was shot off - there's too much evidence, too many witnesses, to deny it. And this leads to frightening probable conjecture (like doctored autopsy photos). But the place to begin is with the medical evidence. (The important book here has been updated and recently republished with the new title JFK Has Been Shot.)

But man, progressives are really going at each other over in leftwing heaven! Fascinating.

PS on Nov 11th ... read the re-release and the original is better. The new version adds other material beyond the doctor's story, some of which is controversial, and in my view this lessens the impact of the medical evidence presented by the doctor. Get the version above if you can. I actually believe most of the theory in the new one but the original focus is a better place to begin because of strong medical evidence, with no room to avoid it.


That's my author ranking at Amazon at the moment. They update this stuff hourly! Man, if you gave a damn, you could make yourself crazy with this stuff. They have graphs and the works. In early November, I climbed to under 70,000. I have no idea what any of it means. I don't want to know.

I hope Obama see this: S.F. programmers build alternative to - CBS News

S.F. programmers build alternative to - CBS News:

"With a few late nights, Ning Liang, George Kalogeropoulos and Michael Wasser built "," a two-week-old website that solves one of the biggest problems with the government's site.

Heroes of the week
"They got it completely backwards in terms of what people want up front," said Liang. He added: "They want prices and benefits, so that they could make the decision.""

'via Blog this'

Holocaust Survivors On Lessons Learned (i.e. none!)

Holocaust Survivors On Lessons Learned:

"Holocaust Survivor: 'I Despair Of Human Nature, Nobody Has Learned Anything'"

She is absolutely right, the human tragedy in a nutshell. "We have met the enemy and he is us." What an old story, what an inevitable catastrophe. CJ nailed it.

(I'm thinking I'm not done with CJ ... but his new vehicle needs to be wild and over the top ... brooding about it. Maybe my summer project. Been thinking of working title, CJ and the Crone.)

Musical instruments

I love my Cordoba ukulele! I haven't been this excited about an instrument since I got my 12-string guitar. Great story. It belonged to Barre Toelken, the great folklorist, professor and folk singer, before Utah State lured him away from the Univ of Oregon. I used to play his 12-string at his parties. I loved it. I had a 6-string at the time. 12-string made my inept style sound better.

So one afternoon in grad school I step onto the elevator and there is Barre. Want to buy my 12-string? he asked. No way I could afford it. $500 would be a steal. But he was in desperate need of cash, having IRS troubles. You can have it for a hundred, he said. What!? Yep. Wow. Sold. That was in the late 1960s and I still have it. Always loved it.

And now my Cordoba ukulele. And I am making solid progress this early on, gaining confidence I might learn how to play this thing a bit decently. Very exciting actually.

Harvard game a bore. Dull announcers, Columbia offering no competition. Switched to K State upsetting Texas Tech ... excitement! on the K State radio station. Always good to listen to upsets on the underdog radio station.

Well, our old house has a serious issue we will have to deal with one way or another. I think you face problems like this far differently as old folks than as young or middle aged homeowners. It is stupid to spend a fortune and die the next day, in other words. So this will take careful thinking for our own best and elderly interests.

Having a good morning. Got a whole bunch done on Cratchit, already about a third of the way done. Going in early Tues and Thur, I might get close to finishing.

Marketing isn't going well but then I'm not as active at it as I was early on. It's a big job you have to keep at, and I don't really enjoy it. But I'll make a genuine effort with the bundle since it also is available in paperback.

Well, I might push the student work to Sunday. Not so much to do, wouldn't be a problem.

Putting the government to shame

On the CBS news last night was a story about three young nerds who, out of a sense of challenge and good karma, built a website to supplement the gov's health care lemon. The new one quickly, easily, gives customers the cost of various plans they are eligible for. Quickly, simply, without crashing.

So why didn't Obama hire nerds like this in the first place? They should have had a web design and coding contest!

Why I love Stanford

Stanford, where football players take real classes and STUDY
Nerds beat Nike Wagnerian Opera Co., 26-20 but it wasn't this close. How about 42-18? Time of possession. A great thrashing, during which the celebrated Mr. Thomas is caught grinning on the sidelines, which tells you everything you need to know about the character of Nike's ballet, uh football, team.

Oh, if my alma mater would field a team I could root for! This morning I'll root for Harvard instead (though there are signs even Harvard is sucking the corporate football teat).

Maybe only winless teams have honor any more.

Hours in the basement

Lots to do down there this morning.

  • Read student work
  • Work on #10 format
  • Tweak class resource website
  • Listen to football on Fire ... probably Harvard
  • Practice ukulele
  • Record ukulele!
But first, the SF and LA papers.

Early morning Internet chores

Up and at 'em!

  • Updated my #9 Amazon file
  • Updated my book widget on two blogs
  • Updated Overdrive website
  • Ready to rock and roll
I'll hope to get a lot of work on #10 today, listening to Harvard game on Fire. I assume.

Also student work to read. Mostly tomorrow, though.

My lamb stew was first rate. Lamb stock, meat from the bones, meatballs from ground lamb, lima beans, carrots, parsnips. Will try out the new batch of scrapple this morning. I tweaked it, a minor experiment to make it a tad spicier.

A ton of practice yesterday. Definite progress on my sixteenth notes.

Back to bed and Scott Simon NPR.

Friday, November 8, 2013


I think I found an online station for Harvard at Columbia game tomorrow morning.

A lot of work done today, a lot of cooking and a lot of practice. Tomorrow dedicated to students. With football interruptions.

Hope I can listen to Harvard!

Now available, Overdrive #9 A Writerly Revenge (Novella) eBook: Charles Deemer: Kindle Store:

'via Blog this'

Overdrive #9 submitted

So should become available over the weekend. On to #10, the Christmas story, which I want published this month.

A little bit of heaven

Love days like this ... cooking therapy ... music/ukulele therapy ... a new book almost ready ... no school concerns until tomorrow ... MELLOW!

A Writerly Revenge

Only an hour or two from releasing a new Overdrive ... maybe today!

Big Sky football

Montana State at Eastern Washington is telecast Saturday.

Just did yesterday's uke lesson. Caught up.

Cooking! Scrapple ... lamb stew for dinner ... Friday!

Good reading

Old school coach
Many stories, lots of angles, in the morning SF Chronicle on Stanford's humiliation of Nike bravado. The score is missleading because the Quacks got amazingly lucky at the end. They were bullied big time, no doubt about it. Less than 20 min. possession for the entire game.

Now I'm alumni but the Ducks do need a spanking now and again to introduce their corporate hype mindset to grass and dirt, where the game is actually played. And to have this lesson delivered by a crew who also would humble them in the classroom, well, I think the football gods are smiling today.

Of course, this doesn't mean Mr. Knight gets banned from Autzen. Unfoftunately. Alas, once a corporate whore, it's hard to go back to peanut butter sandwiches.