How to tell a story

How to tell a story

Friday, January 31, 2014

Buttermilk bread

Looks great ... how will it taste?

Sorry, Seattle

I am rooting for Denver, which is to say for old man Manning; and because this UCLA man remembers the USC roots of the Seattle coach. In fact, a blow out would suit me fine.


I think of Fridays as recovery: from the exhaustion of teaching, which gets greater the older I get. Hence today, practicing ukulele, cooking dinner. Tomorrow, a tall pile of student work to start at. But not today. A full day of Recovery.

The Pledge

Was able to tape this, an indie sleeper, Nicholson at his best, directed by Sean Penn, based ln a rare novel by Durrenmatt, my favorite playwright. How can you lose with talent like this? A fine film indeed.

Headline of the day

"Metal band Skinny Puppy send US government invoice after finding out their music was 'used as torture device in Guantanamo Bay'."

Capitalism marches on.

Basketball courts

I know. Let's play on a court-sized screen so we can have a slide show of ads during the game! Score during a Nike ad for an extra point!

Stanford almost crashes

Women blew 30-pt 2nd half lead over Cal to win by 6. Very uncharacteristic.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Nike strikes again

Tried watching UCLA game in Eugene but the bball court makes me sick in my stomach. The Ducks have become Fashion Queens of the worst kind. So far the track team has escaped but I worry about the future.

Olive bread

Next bread challenge

Buttermilk bread. First try was disappointing. Will try again. Present dough in refrig is olive bread. Last loaf baked was sesame wheat. Coming soon, rye.

3 standards are rye, wheat, olive. Want to add buttermilk. Then rotate them.

Pete Seeger: a Dissenting View

Pete Seeger: a Dissenting View » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names:

"Seeger faced loss of livelihood and even prison for standing up for what he believed. He lent his voice and strength to many good causes over the years; and yet, even though I enjoyed his music and many of the songs he sang have become part of me, I cannot bring myself to join in the celebrations of his life. Why? Because the standard I apply to those I take seriously is not simply their support for peace, civil rights, labor and the environment, but their willingness to oppose the misleaders within those movements, and that, so far as I know, he never did. I guess some would call me sectarian."

Interesting argument: Seeger as ideologue.

Free Screenwriting Tutorial

Free Screenwriting Tutorial:

Highlights of my archive

My archive is here.
Here I list my personal favorites in my body of written work.

In the office

Giving my students a challenging in-class exercise today. Wonder how they'll do.

Heard from a former student, thanking me for showing him the power of using sentence fragments in a screenplay. Cool. I learned it from Pinter. Passing it on.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


In my old age, I seem to wake with a finite allotment of energy for the day. When it's gone, it's gone.

Today's sesame wheat bread


A few scripts from advanced students to look at - but I'm done for the day. Ran out of gas. Try and do them before I leave in the morning.

Ah, it will be nice to have nothing I have to read ...

Retired Army General To Tea Party Group: I Would Lead A Coup Against The U.S. Government | ThinkProgress

Retired Army General To Tea Party Group: I Would Lead A Coup Against The U.S. Government | ThinkProgress:

This is why they buy so many guns. Quick Reads #2: Three Short Novellas eBook: Charles Deemer: Books Quick Reads #2: Three Short Novellas eBook: Charles Deemer: Books:

New bundle.

Quotation of the day

"I know I am old because passionate anger has turned into weary disgust: nothing impresses me." --Martha Gellhorn

A very under-rated writer!

A mere job is the curse of the creative class

One of my former students, talented, creative, a dynamo, just went to work as a claims adjuster at an insurance agency. Sounds like a necessary, stopgap job to me, but what do I know? Talent deserves more, that's what I know. Ah, me. The world is too much with us ...

Retirement mode

Really in retirement mode this morning, tying together loose ends (Overlook project, in this case), wrapping things up, getting in a position where only one "literary" action is incomplete: the new CJ.  I am ready for this. I feel good about this. Simplify, downsize.

STORIES IN OVERDRIVE: A new form of narrative: the Overdrive experiment

STORIES IN OVERDRIVE: A new form of narrative: the Overdrive experiment:

I am ending the Overdrive experiment at ten novellas. I pass the torch. I consider the experiment an aesthetic success and a commercial disappointment, typical of my work ha ha. Onward.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Martha Gellhorn

PBS profile. Remarkable woman, life, journalist.

5 essential songs of Pete Seeger - Yahoo News

5 essential songs of Pete Seeger - Yahoo

Not a bad list.


The death of Seeger inspired an old friend from the Army Language School to write ...
It brings back memories of Monterey, The Pad, and drinking beer behind some bushes in the park.  Remember?
Oh yes, I remember indeed. Those were great times (1959-60)..

Magnum Opus

The Chekhov Hyperdrama
 From the introduction:
In the late 1980s, after I had several produced hyperdramas under my belt, I became aware that a great deal of audience education would be necessary before the power and significance of hyperdrama were appreciated. At best, hyperdrama was appreciated as a kind of eccentric entertainment, the way "happenings" were appreciated in the 1960s, a trend that would continue with the later production of the most popular hyperdrama to date, Tony and Tina's Wedding.
But I took hyperdrama more seriously than this. I had come to believe, and still believe, that this dramatic form, more than traditional theater, mirrored reality as the new physicists had come to define it: traditional theater was Newtonian, a passive audience observing in the dark, while hyperdrama was modern ("quantum"), the audience defining its own play by the choices it made.
So the question I posed to myself was: what can be done to give hyperdrama respect, to have it taken seriously? My answer became: by adapting a classic work of theater to the form.
This decided, it did not take me long to decide that Chekhov's The Seagull was a perfect vehicle for this purpose. There was even an appropriate speech in the play to justify the experiment:
"Uncle, what we need is a new kind of theater," says Treplev. "A theater with new theatrical forms!"

An orderly transition

Several recent books have made my hard copy archive much more "user friendly," which means, more attractive to browsers and easier to find similar writings. That's the entire point of the exercise. As soon as I update my digital archive section heads, I'll be in great shape ... and I anticipate only one addition to the literary part of the archive, the new CJ, after which I hope to focus on the audio area, which has been neglected. Music, maybe some readings.

So I feel damn good about where everything is at now. One other change: I am ending the Overdrive experiment at 10 books. I'd gather 9 of them in 3-book volumes (one already done), leaving the Christmas story to stand alone. Grunt work I'll do after retirement, I expect.

The Overdrive experiment has mixed results. A few readers understand its new and even ground-breaking contribution to narrative. A few more hate it, expecting traditional and more verbose writing. But I think a champion of the new form, with more energy than I have, could make it work. I'm not the guy to do it. I hold out the baton for someone younger to run with it.

The new CJ story is very clear to me. What is not clear at all is the right take on the material, the style, the attitude in the telling. Maybe I should try some page ones in different styles and see if anything excites me.

Ever onward.

A Short Guide To The Extraordinary Life Of Pete Seeger | ThinkProgress

A Short Guide To The Extraordinary Life Of Pete Seeger | ThinkProgress:

Daily Kos: Testimony of Pete Seeger before the House Un-American Activities Committee, August 18, 1955

Daily Kos: Testimony of Pete Seeger before the House Un-American Activities Committee, August 18, 1955:

"Mr. SEEGER: I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it."

Where is the will?

Last night I watched a PBS documentary on Hartford, the fuel-making part of the Manhattan Project, and once again I watched in awe at the American ability to meet incredible challenges. We did it with the bomb. We did it with reaching the moon.

Too bad we don't bring the same focus, energy and will to feeding our starving children ... and educating them properly after we feed them. We could improve the world in a generation. But we won't. Sounds too much like socialism.

The New Yorker - April 17, 2006: Profile of Pete Seeger

The New Yorker - April 17, 2006:

R.I.P. Pete Seeger

Became a fan in high school, esp of The Almanac Singers and The Weavers. Never got into sing-a-longs, though.

Once considered doing a play about his relationship with Burl Ives. As young men, they hit the road together to sing at labor rallies. Then Ives grew more conservative, went to Hollywood, and got rich. Seeger kept the faith all his 94 years. (Look at the length of that banjo neck!)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hat pin

Explanation (as told years ago):
I loved Classical Greek, and my professor urged me to take second year. But I was in graduate and get out of Dodge mode, I just took language because I needed the credit.

I thought that was the end of it. It wasn't. Something over a year later I'm at the University of Oregon, a grad student, when I get a letter in the mail from UCLA. They want me to march with Oregon's undergrad seniors to be admitted into Phi Beta Kappa a year late for my graduating class at UCLA. What what what? This is absurd. But a phone call reveals they are serious, I've been admitted into Phi Beta Kappa at UCLA a year after the normal time, which is graduation. It didn't make sense because I had about a 3.3 average, too low for the honor society, and this low because I took, a 21-unit overload every term, picking out a course I'd just get a C in but take for the reading and discipline and lectures. Broadening my humanities education with all the energy of an ex math/science nerd.

So I march, get my Phi Beta Kappa pin, which I wore on my baseball cap till it was stolen ... but never figured out what was going on till I got my certificate from Phi Beta Kappa ... which was signed by my Greek teacher! She was the President of the Society!

So here's what happened. She thought I was hot shit. She was stunned the computer did not kick me out as a candidate for the Society when I graduated. So she took it upon herself to investigate. She discovered I indeed was on the Honors English Program, had an A average in my major, but for some reason took an overload each term, getting a C in things like Chinese Literature, Indian Lit, Introduction to the Opera, African Song Poems and whatnot. So she petitioned that an exception be made and I be admitted into Phi Beta Kappa and since she was the Prez at this time, she got her way.
A fav "total accident" story, obviously. Decided to wear the pin in my old age in protest of the democritization of art.

Stanford band

Stanford women destroying USC. The Stanford band here, as entertaining as ever - eccentic, whacky, Nerd Nation doing its own thing. Love it!

Women's basketball

ESPN (secondary channels) showing a lot of games this season. Dig it! Not many dunks, which I prefer. I think basket should be raised in men's game.

Prep city

Busy morning ... an hour or two yet to do.

Pass out midterms this week. Tempus fugit.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

No energy

Got most my prep done this morning - good thing because my energy is tanking.

Buttermilk rolls

America in the world

Caught part of interesting BBC panel this morning ... at one point Sen. McCain complained that his President didn't even believe in American Exceptionalism. Man, did that bring on the UK and European charges of McC's arrogance, rightly so. The world is tired of such bullshit.

Coho disaster

Calif. Coho are stranded in the ocean, streams used for annual migration to spawning grounds dry from drought. Biologists fear extinction.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Paperback available already

Fresh Grill burgers

Our first visit - and both impressed. Great burgers!

This is more like it

Better rise on this sesame wheat loaf.

Technically, my best loaf. Good rise, hard crust, soft airy interior, good taste. Now to reach this high bar consistently.

No more loose ends?

With the new book of essays, I think my archive is about as orderly and user-friendly as I can make it. A new novel to add ... after that, expansion will be in ukulele studies. Relief!

Paperback approved

Should be up at Amazon in a few days. Kindle already up.

Coming this fall (the gods willing)

Click to enlarge

I structured the story this morning.
  • Part One: On the Road
  • Part Two: The Mission ... the Play ... the Death ... the Arrest
  • Part Three: The Trial
  • Part Four: Last Will & Testament
Roughly, the action moves this way: on the road, CJ meets Felicity Flowers (Flo), croan actress, veteran of SF Mime Troupe ... working on performance art to protest health care ... Kayla's suicide brings CJ back to Portland for services, Flo follows ... Matt and Flo hit it off, Matt the director loves her script, wants to use some of CJ's poems ... they decide on street theater mission, take show on road ... one of actors denied Death With Dignity help, despite terminal condition, gets drugs from Mexico and decides to die "live" during performance of play, this done at State Capitol, huge senior protest ... CJ, Flo and Matt arrested for murder ... the trial ... aftermath of trial. CJ's death? Probably.Many details to work out but overall flow feels good to me, layers and chaos within a solid structure.

I am raring to go! Why wait until summer? 

Room for improvement

As good ss my bread has been, not perfect, definite room for improvement. Also, going to try mixing one loaf dough batches, not two. For issues of quality as well as quantity. Not there yet but learning all the time - and less than perfect is pretty damn good.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Feb. 25th

Updated my baseball app - and this is the date when I can start listening to games. I am ready!

The Pardon

Now available at Amazon as paperback or Kindle ebook.

Nightscape in Empire

New paintings for China

Harriet has a show in China next month and is doing new work for it. Here is one ...

She's also trying to raise some money to help with expenses. Want to help?

Typical Friday afternoon

Creativity. Faith. Impotence. And Other Essays


Working all morning on essays book ... finishing up paperback.

Been there, done that

When I moved to Portland in the late 70s and quickly burst into the limelight, the 80s becoming my decade here, I remember meeting an "older, forgotten writer" who, I learned later, had been in the local limelight in the 50s and 60s. How bemused and bored he looked! It puzzled me at the time, although even then I thought he deserved, he had EARNED, more respect than he received.

Now that I am an "older, forgotten writer" myself, I know exactly where he was coming from. Fame is a dark farce.

Levels of retirement

I've been "retired" as a playwright and screenwriter for several years now. Come July, I'll be retired as a screenwriting professor. I plan to retire as a fiction writer - just a novelist? - as soon as CJ's Last Will and Testament is done. whenever that may be. I'll still write poems. I may do something in the narrative universe around the ukulele. I'll keep busy, that's for sure.

I look forward to retiring as a novelist. Takes too much out of me. Maybe I'll still write short fiction.

I like what the future looks like now.

Something new

Buttermilk bread in the oven.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The sun, the sun!

Sports ahead

Good stuff coming ... winter Olympics, spring baseball, March madness, World Cup ...


Made notes on the beginning-middle-end structure of the new CJ, homage to Aristotle, and it looks pretty good to me. A solid structure essential in such a wild, chaotic and layered story. The flesh will hide the bones but the bones are foundation.

This soup rocks

To chicken broth I added ... soy sauce, dr pepper, rice vinegar, fish sauce, bean paste ... added buffalo meat balls, zucchini, tofu, broccoli slaw. Outstanding!

The Information Counter-Revolution | Common Dreams

The Information Counter-Revolution | Common Dreams:

"Many people in Kiev awoke Tuesday morning to a frightening text message on their phones. “Dear subscriber, you are registered as a participant in a mass disturbance,” it read.

Using widely available technology, Ukraine’s dominant carriers have reportedly helped the government pinpoint the locations of their customers. Anyone with a cellphone in the vicinity of recent protests was added to a list and sent the intimidating text.

The incident is just one in a growing number of attacks on Internet users. It’s a troubling sign that the information age has entered a new era — one where our rights to connect and communicate are under constant siege."

'via Blog this'

There Has Been An Average Of One School Shooting Every Other School Day So Far This Year | ThinkProgress

There Has Been An Average Of One School Shooting Every Other School Day So Far This Year | ThinkProgress:

I sure get tired of these examples of American Exceptionalism.

In the office

A little time to kill before showing Juno ... just as well, not feeling at full speed, still moments of fragility from the recent illness. Will take it easy when I get home.

Breakfast rhythms

Changes. I haven't made scrapple in weeks and feel no urge to. Has the Scrapple King retired? Too soon to say. My kitchen focus has been on baking bread and remains so. Breakfast has been affected. This morning, for example: scrambled eggs with a slice of rye and a slice of wheat toast. Yummy.

We'll see what happens.

A doowop morning

Early shopping so I don't have to do it after class - and the store music was doowop! I dug it.

A very mellow start to the day. I dig it.

Always curious to see a new class' first submissions, hoping to find a "natural born screenwriter" among them. Find out soon enough.

Round Bend Press Books

Round Bend Press Books:

"RBP now stands as a vanguard small press, one example of the uprising. A number of fellow authors who discovered RBP and decided they too wanted to publish their work under our banner have contributed to this lively catalog of books. What the authors have in common is a belief in printed books and the power of writing. They are beholden to printed books and to the allure of the new small press dynamics--an important aspect of the future. "

The new site.

The Decline of the American Book Lover - Jordan Weissmann - The Atlantic

The Decline of the American Book Lover - Jordan Weissmann - The Atlantic:

"The Pew Research Center reported last week that nearly a quarter of American adults had not read a single book in the past year. As in, they hadn't cracked a paperback, fired up a Kindle, or even hit play on an audiobook while in the car. The number of non-book-readers has nearly tripled since 1978."

Week 3

Easy day, showing Juno. Busy weekend with first script page submissions.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Exotic lunch, you say?

Pardon proof

Paperback approved! Available soon.

Jacked. At doc, bp really low.

Greek Olive Bread

CJ rules

Already dreaming scenes from the new book. Really don't want to start it until summer but CJ may not wait this long. Man, it's going to be a hoot, in the tradition of The Ginger Man and Henderson the Rain King.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Scotch eggs



A good day in the classroom, which I needed. To celebrate ... marinading tofu ... baking Scotch eggs. Onward!


After retirement, I am reducing my online activity considerably, I think. I hope. Get it down to basics. I want to bake/cook, play ukulele, do house chores, listen to audio books, watch movies, work on CJ, spend more time with Sketch (and with H, though she usually is too busy to spend time with) , and not much else. I plan to spend very little time online. A disappearing act. Looking forward to it!

Most Authors Make Less Than $1,000 a Year: DBW - GalleyCat

Most Authors Make Less Than $1,000 a Year: DBW - GalleyCat:

"The majority of authors make less than $1,000 a year, according to a new report from Digital Book World. Almost 80% of self-published authors and more than half of traditionally published authors earn less than $1,000 a year, according to the report. "

Being Labeled a 'Radical' Is Meant To Be an Insult. History Tells Us Otherwise | Common Dreams

Being Labeled a 'Radical' Is Meant To Be an Insult. History Tells Us Otherwise | Common Dreams:

 " It's time that America dumps its fear of "radicals" and embraces their political beliefs."

In the office

Almost feels like the first day of class after such an absence, however short. Hope class goes well and I'm back in the groove.

Been brooding about CJ, a 3-part structure in the new novel, a metafiction really, a posthumous manuscript published by a small press. Working titles for the parts: On the Road ... The Play, the Death, the Arrest ... The Trial.

He meets the crone on the road, they hang out, she convinces him to convert some of his poems to street drama, starring herself ... back in Portland for a funeral, runs idea by Matt, who loves it and volunteers to direct ... they do street theater ... in a production protesting senior health care, a terminal actor commits suicide during a theatrical rite, but CJ is arrested for murder ... the trial, from two p of v's, the DA and a journalist covering it ...

Lots of wild layered ideas. As far as I'm concerned, the more formally outrageous, the better, as long as coherence and suspense are not lost. I am getting very excited about this ... and I think the title is a keeper, CJ's Last Will and Testament. Because that is what it is.

Back to the classroom

Today will be my first real class since I got sick ten days ago. Feeling up to it.

Monday, January 20, 2014



Black widows and hackers
al qaeda and guns
a wonder, it is
that I have any fun

fresh bread and scrapple
iced coffee and Sketch
life gets more simple
when in the home stretch

Being quiet

One more prep task but I'm pushing it to morning ... done for the day regarding energy and concentration ... ah me, old age calls the shots, but that's fine. I'm not into the Forever Young nonsense, which tough-minded Susan Jacoby destroyed in a recent book. She has one of the best bullshit detectors in the journalism business.

King Holiday

King Holiday

talk and more talk
this year echoing last year
which echoes the year before

but in fact change
is moving in a direction
opposite to the dream
of all this talk
all this memory of past action

the present action making
the rich richer
the poor poorer

nothing to celebrate
even on a holiday


Finished most of prep work, started fixing essay book ... and my stamina crashed. Exhausted. Better take it easy.

Damn, I make good bread! Toast for lunch.

No relapses!

Cranking up

In my basement office, hoping to finish prep this morning ... afternoon, the essays and ukulele get attention. Bon voyage.

Progress report

Just finished close reading of essay book, lots of fixes. Maybe later today after school prep, or Wednesday. At any rate, Kindle book should be out this week. I like this collection a lot, but it's esoteric and eccentric, without wide appeal.

O Ye Brethren!

O Ye Brethren!

marginal writers of the world
listen up, listen up
don't be despondent
don't be disappointed

yes, we are ignored
yes, we are disrespected
but consider the source
consider the culture

our job is not to please
our job is not to get famous
our job is not to get rich
remember why we write

write what you see
write what you feel
write what you discover
bringing light to dark places

our job is ruthless honesty
our job is artistic growth
our job is stay out of fashion
each is a majority of one

do the best you can
and celebrate your success
make your work available
to readers of the future

this is all we can do
this is all we need to do
o ye working brethren
marginal writers of the world

Sorry, Seattle

I should root for my local/regional team but I can't get excited about how they won and am turned off by their arrogant celebrating ... and at the same time am blown away by Manning's talent and great class as a player and human (even if he does endorse Papa John's, a terrible pizza) ... so I'm rooting for Denver. But I won't watch. I'll tape it and go to a movie. I'm disappointed that Seattle came off bush league at the end.

Headline of the day

World's 85 richest have same wealth as 3.5 billion poorest

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Super Bowl

This is exactly the final I wanted, but my enthusiasm is tempered by Seattle's sloppy play, compared to Denver's mastery. But anything can happen in two weeks. The hype begins.

Denver v. Seattle in Super Bowl

Sloppy game, Seahawks, mostly outplayed, get lucky.

If everybody plays like today, Denver will walk away with it.

Sharapova crashes

Loses next 2 sets, 8 double faults. Amazing. Bye, bye.

Cheese bread

Disappointing to me ... but it makes great croutons!

Rising to occasion?

Sharapova just won first set, 6-3. Best, 3 aces and no double faults. She's tough when she's not beating herself.

26-16, halfway there!

Denver great, Manning brilliant, 400 yds, no sacks or interceptions.

Now ... go Seahawks!

So far, so good

Denver by 10 at the half.

Really enjoying the day. Tomorrow devoted to student work.

Old standbys

Sesame wheat and caraway rye ...

3 bread family

These have become my "show breads":

Sesame wheat ... caraway rye ... olive.

Next exotic to try: feta spinach bread.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pussy Riot For Seniors

This concept becomes better the more I brood about it. Can you imagine the media attention if a dozen old farts performed like Pussy Riot around issues of health and death with dignity? This would keep CJ busy.

Coming to Round Bend Press

Soon, maybe early next month. Looks wonderful.

Will this energize Sharapova?

Serena Williams has been upset at the Australian open. Sharapova's nemesis. The Russian, seeded 3rd, playing poorly but still alive, should realize she has a better chance than before to go all the way. If she can control her serve ...

SAG-AFTRA awards

My favorite awards, actors honoring peers in a dinner party setting, far less hype and bullshit, much longer In Memoriam film, focused and professional. So I watched it tonight.

Quotation of the day

"You say the poet is in the clouds; but so is the thunderbolt." --Victor Hugo
Drawing by Bill Deemer


Getting serious here. Reserved a few books on street theater. Not a new form for me, having written two, THE DRAGON, based on the Russian play, and the commissioned BLOOD AND ROSES, which toured, became controversial, and was featured in an NPR story. CJ needs to write a good one.

Preparing for the summer. I'm excited! Aiming for a tight, solid structure, into which I can put outrageous, culturally dangerous (ha ha) content.

Unorganized brooding about CJ

A lot of brooding about form. Definitely not a traditional narrative!

Layered, like the earlier novel, Sodom. Parts to include: entries from CJ's blog ... a play within a novel - CJ meets a crone on the road, who convinces him to write and with her perform Brechtian street theater, probably directed by his theater buddy Matt ... maybe this idea explodes, a senior theater group gets involved, they become Pussy Riot For Seniors ... maybe CJ and others get arrested ... a court drama as frame action? ... a death, a senior actor has heart attack on stage and children sue CJ as instigator ... an old folks nude sit in, protest, maybe at a beauty pageant ... another frame action? a DA preparing his case against CJ and others.

Fast moving, outrageous, darkly comic, thought-provoking. Theme: old artists and eccentrics, I'm mad as hell and won't put up with it any more.

CJ's Last Will And Testament, still my working title. Drawing by Tom Strah:

So long ago

Was browsing through a scrapbook and found these two items about my play THE PARDON: a note from some audience members, going out of their way to let us know; and a newspaper article about the play's nomination for a Pulitzer by a very enthusiastic local critic. Ridiculous and nice at the same time. So glad I now have it published.

Check it out.

The gift

In the mail bag

I'm referenced in a Portuguese screenwriting manual. You know, if I wanted to create myself as a screenwriting guru, there were opportunities. I even turned down an offer to teach a workshop in Madrid some years back. A distraction from my real work, my writing, though if the money had been outrageous rather than just adequate, I probably would have gone.

Here's the reference. Not a clue what it says.

O mer­cado é com­pe­ti­tivo e a pro­cura de gui­o­nis­tas é escassa, sobre­tudo no nosso país, onde ape­nas exis­tem alguns canais de tele­vi­são, e rareiam os apoios à sétima arte. Como explica Char­les Dee­mer, no manual Scre­en­wright: The Craft of Scre­en­wri­ting (1998), mesmo nos EUA, uma nação voca­ci­o­nada para o cinema, são sub­me­ti­dos a apre­ci­a­ção mais de cem mil argu­men­tos por ano, mas ape­nas algu­mas cen­te­nas rece­bem luz verde (pág. 16). Outras esta­tís­ti­cas refe­rem que só um em cada cem ou mesmo um em cada cento e trinta guiões é aceite.

Looking ahead

One of the things I plan to do after I retire is fill in some gaps in my literary education. Reading the Victorians in more depth than I have ... a lot of Hardy and Dickens, maybe use Chesterton's history of the age as my guide.

I also want - I've been thinking of this for a few years - to write an annotated reading of Brown's LOVE'S BODY, a personal response chapter by chapter, perhaps in a new blog created for the occasion.

CJ still calls, too, but I refuse to let him control my life as earlier, when he came close to giving me a nervous breakdown. In school they never tell you about the physical demands and mental stress of serious writing, which I call writing Inside-out (most writing is Outside-in and commercial to one degree or another).

I am very much looking forward to retirement. But first things first. The next six months belong to my students.

Iced coffee

First cup in a week. Tastes good. I grind Peet's House Blend beans.

Bread therapy

H has friend coming over today, baking her a loaf of wheat bread. Just mixed a batch of carraway rye dough. Going to experiment with incorporating soy flour into a few recipes.



The most natural acts
of waking, walking, peeing,
returning to bed,
fill me this morning
with a sense of good fortune.
Let good fortune prevail.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Lady Ducks v Lady Bruins

My app picks up broadcast ... tip off soon. Who to root for???

Slow down

A work day, and my first full dinner in almost a week - but fragility lingers, and I need to watch against "acting well" before I'm truly well. I would benefit from s slow Saturday

Dusting the archives

The motivation for bringing out my recent books is clear and has absolutely nothing to do with the marketplace: it's to make my archives, particularly the print archive at the Univ. of Oregon, easier to browse. I am thinking of 50 years from now, after I'm long gone, and there's a grad student in literature shelf-shopping for something new to write about, for work that hasn't been analyzed to death. I am offering, like decorative flies to a trout, as many options as possible.

If you laugh at the absurdity of this, consider this: something similar has already happened to me three times in my career. If the work is available, it can be found, no matter how much dust has settled over it. Sirc has written eloquently about "discovering" an essay of mine over 30 years after it had been published. His story gives me goose bumps, still, because this is the connection, the understanding, that gives me the most satisfaction.
From English Composition as a Happening by Geoffrey Sirc:"One of the Composition-specific articles in this genre of radical sixties pedagogy, one which I have never been able to forget since the day I first read it in the dimly-lit stacks of my university's library, was written in 1967 by a young graduate teaching assistant at the University of Oregon, Charles Deemer. His article, "English Composition as a Happening," did what many of these articles did, but did it in a formally compelling way (the article is a collage of brief sound-bite snippets, alternating between Deemer's own poetic reflections-as-manifesto and quotations from Sontag, McLuhan, Dewey, Goodman, and others), and Deemer's ideas seemed to catalyze my own discontent with what passed for Composition during the 1980s." 
More from Sirc:

"Ah, the Happenings. All dressed up in ice cream and candlelight, they had nowhere to go in Composition. Before we knew it, our goal went from participants in the electric drama reengaging their hearts to having students "appreciate the varieties and excellences of academic discourse" (Lindemann 311). Deemer gave up and went off to write plays."

(I love that line!)

"Macrorie's theory, Coles's classroom work, Deemer's and Lutz's materials . . . reading them is like sitting in a circle and listening to a patient elder gently guide us on the vision-quest, using parables and jokes and truths. It's so retro, it's become avant-garde."

"Charles Deemer's (un)original allegory has been a pleasure to cover. I salute the next remake of English Composition as a Happening, on and on through n-dimensions. A great era of the legend continues."

Batter up!

The 2014 MLB app is being released at end of month. Spring training games on radio, here we come! I am so ready for BASEBALL.

Olive bread

My best variety thus far.

About the collection of essays

I found 15 to include but all are short so the book comes in under 100 pages. Most had been published earlier in mags, newspapers and books: in Nothwest Magazine, Northwest Variety, Theater in Cyberspace, Oregon Magazine, College English, Cyber Film School. A lot of tricky format work to do.

Coming soon

Almost human

First morning since hell night that I've met the day feeling a bit human.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cheese bread

A gesture toward normalcy.

Remembering Paul deLay

Deemer & Wylie


Glad I have four days to continue improvement, go from feeling like shit to blah.


Eager to get this film rolling so I can go home and climb into bed.

Oscar Nominations 2014: 'Gravity,' 'American Hustle,' '12 Years A Slave' Lead Nominees

Oscar Nominations 2014: 'Gravity,' 'American Hustle,' '12 Years A Slave' Lead Nominees:

'via Blog this'

You can read Kindle books on any electronic device

Some of you may not know this. All it takes is the appropriate FREE app. Check them out here.

American exceptionalism ad nauseam

Executed Killer Dennis McGuire Gasped And Snorted For 15 Minutes Under New Lethal Drug Combo:


Writers and Rum: Why Authorship and Alcohol Have Gone Together : The New Yorker

Writers and Rum: Why Authorship and Alcohol Have Gone Together : The New Yorker:

 "The critic Olivia Laing has just published a good, sad book on this subject called “The Trip To Echo Spring: On Writers And Drinking,” which tells at length the mostly familiar but still melancholy stories of the drinking lives of Fitzgerald and Hemingway and Tennessee Williams and John Berryman and John Cheever and Raymond Carver, complete, it sometimes feels, with tipped-in napkin stains from each of their favorite bars."

Good review of a good book I happen to be reading now.

For my take, see Liquor and Lit.

Small irony

Well, I made it. Hobbling to campus, this occurred to me: 1. I feel like shit 2. I am damn lucky. I mean, my discomforts and complaints are a flea in the universe of legitimate reasons to complain. But what an interesting thing to say about the world: I'm lucky and feel like shit!

Fortunately, today I show the excellent documentary TALES FROM THE SCRIPT, so as long as I can do that, I'll have a class! Next week the usual routine returns but presumably I will be better. I do continue to improve. I am now improved to the degree of feeling like shit ha ha.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Majority of One

Three documentaries

Warched two excellent docs on public tv ... The Secret State of North Korea ... 1964.

Listened to another on public radio, The History of Civil Rights in America - and every possible minority was covered but one: American Indians! Appalling. No wonder CJ gets so frustrated.

New Kindle book

To my surprise, I discovered I hadn't released a Kindle version of my last Round Bend Press book, the new poems. So I did, adding the essay as intro. Whether RBP updates the paperback is up to them.


On the health front, Tues passed without puking or hiccups. Still no real meal since Sat. ... lost ten pounds. Hell of a diet. Still feel like I'm going to puke at any minute (and not even watching the news!) but I don't. Tomorrow I show a documentary, so I should be able to handle that.

I'm going to retire as a food buff and start eating like a monk. I'd rather be dead than go through 7 hours of puking again.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

If you get a chance to see this HBO documentary, don't miss it. A tad of hope. "Jail is not the worst place for a thinking person."

Creativity. Faith. Impotence.

I confess I don't remember writing this short essay. It must have been written during a kind of trance-like obsession, like Fragments Before The Fall, the birthing circumstances of which I do recall. But this wears well. I like it. I sit in awe of it. An essay that begins "Writing is fucking" surely is headed somewhere challenging.

This should have been the introduction to my recent book of poems, A Majority Of One.

When less is more

In the large cavern of my archive, some of the work I am most proud of are small, thin books. Here are (IMHO) four gems, available in Kindle and paperback formats:

Rare decision

Cancelled class ... only 2nd time in almost twenty years. Show movie on Thurs, so should be there.

Good morning!

Good morning!

Of all the ways to greet the day
here is one, I have to say,
that makes me frown and shake my head
and hurry off right back to bed.

Unpopular Opinions

Unpopular Opinions

You can twist my arm
beat my head with a brick
and I'd still rather be
dead than sick

Monday, January 13, 2014

Bad but better

Haven't thrown up since yesterday ... doc says not food poisoning because it took too long after I ate ... maybe flu virus variation ... maybe gallstones but I'd have other symptoms ... flu most likely ... wait, see if I continue to improve.

May or may not cancel class tomorrow. One hour at a time.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

O What A Night

Alas, I do not refer to the doowop classic by The Dells. I refer to a night of hell orchestrated by the gods of digestion and/or viruses.

Went to bed at 10, feeling good. 30 mins. later, stomach cramps. And then I am puking my guts out, which I repeated every hour or so for the next ten hours! 10 of hell, 50 recovery, through the long night. I didn't know humans could puke up so much. Terrible. H, 20 years with me, had never seen me sick like this.

In the morning, the sessions stretched out, every two hours. I last got sick at 9 but don't feel done yet.

No other symptoms, so likely not the flu virus going around. Maybe a bad oyster at breakfast.

The pits. But slowly improving.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sports in America

UNC Professor Receiving Death Threats For Revealing Athletes' Low Reading Levels (VIDEO)...


I still can't get used to football players with muscular biceps, which bulge more every year. What a dinosaur! ha ha.

That was quick!

The Pardon now available on Kindle:

Soon in paperback!


Women's bball, soon to begin. Perfect for a Saturday morning after an oyster breakfast.

Worked on Pardon book this morning. A special project, the play dear to my heart.


From Round Bend Press ...

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bread report

Cheese bread is good but not great. However, a new batch of olive bread (varying the method) is first rate. Rye and olive on the keeper list.

Oysters for dinner: oyster casserole, + fried. A success.

A remarkable woman

Kathleen Russo is the widow of Spalding Gray. I heard a remarkable conversation between her and her daughter, Gray's step-daughter, about Gray's disappearance and suicide a decade ago.

I know many men and women who would call Gray's action selfish, thoughtless, irrational. Not this widow and step-daughter! To them, what he did was a logical extension of his world view and creative work. They felt blessed to have had as much time with him as they did!

I about fell out of bed, hearing this. They must have had as great a marriage as any I've heard of. She actually understood him.

Ah, those NYer covers!

Coming soon

Wisconsin beer cheese bread

Cheesy morn

First of two loaves of Wisconsin beer cheese bread just out of oven ... man! Making loaf for friend, 2 more for Harriet to give to friends. And one for us. This smells like a keeper ha ha.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Brooding about CJ

Want new CJ novel to have unique form (relatively), like the first one. Think I'll shape it as a play within a novel. CJ teams up with "crone", modeled after dear long friend ... who acts and gets CJ into writing a play, which his director buddy Matt will direct ... gives me considerable layering and thematic possibilities. Liking these initial brood-buds!

Also have notion of starting and finishing with a funeral.

Love the early chaos at this stage. Everything seems possible.

by Tom Strah ... "CJ"

R.I.P. Amiri Baraka

The former LeRoi Jones, activist playwright. Burst on scene in 1960s with political play DUTCHMAN, which Mailer called the best play in America. Kissed no commercial asses.