How to tell a story

How to tell a story

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hangin' in ...

... like Gunga Din.

Definitely not running on all cylinders. In class, students writing exercise. I belong in bed.

A modest proposal

TS suggests a street theater project this summer.

Hear, hear'

'A Riot Is the Language of the Unheard': 9 MLK Quotes the Mainstream Media Won't Cite:

posted from Bloggeroid

Hear, hear'

Words Matter: How the Language Used to Describe the Unrest in Baltimore Supports White Supremacy:

posted from Bloggeroid

Progressive politics

Not as far out as you think, alas

Over Easy: Texas A&M Galveston Professor Fails Entire Class, Quits Course:

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wishful Thinking

I long to be in a foreign
landscape, where no one
knows me, I have no history
I have no memories
I have no ghosts

where I can study Greek tragedy
without distraction, without
interruption, quietly brooding
disturbing no one, happily ignored
happily invisible

Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides
the music of my days


After tomorrow's class, the term is at the half. Time flies etc ha ha.


Been fighting the feeling of approaching illness all day ... getting nothing done.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


If I had remembered how exhausting teaching is, maybe I would have stayed retired. Too old for this, in other words.

Comforts of home

Hobbling from the bus stop in a cold drizzle - it was 80 yesterday - I couldn't wait to play Gerry Mulligan, pour an iced(!) coffee, bake bread ... just what is happening.

An auditing student told me she's learned more in 4 weeks than in two terms with my replacement. Nice to hear but the opposite happens, too. She may be responding to my real world, no ivory tower approach. I mean, we spend two weeks on what a screenplay LOOKS LIKE, unread! Why? Because they can get rejected on appearance alone!

The reach and the grasp

Just finished rereading my novel Sodom, Gomorrah & Jones and am deeply satisfied by it. Here, I think, my grasp is as close to my reach as in anything I've written. This novel is almost perfect, in terms of what I set out to do. It also is a marriage of deeply personal parts: from my life, from my previous work, from my literary obsessions. This is my story, through and through, "a final statement" as clear and strong as my skills allow. This is how I see the world, through my protagonist CJ.

This book deserves a much wider audience but it won't get it unless, far down the road if at all, an enthusiastic advocate for it appears. But it already has attracted enough favorable responses to satisfy me, to tell me I am not alone in my interests or tastes.

"This book surprised me. It is intelligent, funny, bawdy and real," wrote a reviewer at Amazon. Perfect. 

Another wrote, "SODOM, GOMORRAH & JONES is a unique and original look at the world we live in from the perspective of someone who has done a lot of living. What's happened to the world in the last century is sad; the American Dream used to be about having a family, a house, a car, and a comfortable life without worry and stress. Now it's about getting rich, and then getting richer. And to hell with anyone or anything that gets in our way. If this speaks to you, so will this novel. I recommend it to those with an open mind, a progressive spirit, and a lust for life."

The critic Bob Hicks wrote, 
Deemer’s novel flips easily through flashbacks and current events, and it can hit lightly on some of its scenes, like a screenplay (and in fact, Deemer has taught screenwriting at PSU for several years). It also drops in frequently on CJ’s increasingly hopeless and cynical view of the state of the nation: he was, after all, a historian and a political activist. As offhand as these passages can seem, they’re a crucial part of the novel, both in defining its position in the culture and in reporting the core of CJ’s character. Deemer doesn’t dwell on CJ’s political positions, and his references can pass so quickly that they sometimes seem more like sound-bite position statements than explorations of complex social issues. Yet the novel’s opening sentence – Was the American Dream coming to an end? – is a serious proposition that Deemer examines, in various forms, from beginning to end.
Few and scattered fans but that's to be expected, given the parameters of the book's existence. I am glad it is out there, and I am proud that my grasp came so close to my reach. This is success, in my value system.

Monday, April 27, 2015

We v. Them

People in power are perfect. Any bad news is caused by commies and terrorists and criminals and thugs and etc etc etc. But we never cause problems.
posted from Bloggeroid

Neither shock, nor surprise

When the riots in Watts happened half a century ago, I was a UCLA student with a summer job at a campground in the nearby San Gabriel mountains. Black friends of ours, solidly middle class, were frightened enough by the expanding violence to come camp with us for the duration. All of us were shocked by events.

But riots stemming from racial and class injustices haven't shocked or surprised me for a long time. Baltimore today is just another chorus. What shocks me is how little has changed. In fact, with regard to rich and poor empowerment, the present is worse. Double standards of justice are more entrenched than ever. Media bias is more misleading than ever.

I hear the same bullshit rhetoric. I see the same refusal to face racism and classism head on.

We get the history we deserve.

Good morning

At last! Got my class prep done before 9 ... sausage gravy, toast, eggs ... rest of the day is mine. Warm afternoon, maybe a scenic drive with the dog is in order ... check H's schedule.

H off to exercise class for first time in months. Good for her. Can she keep it up?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Gloomy Sunday

Both in funk and without energy today. H went back to bed. I indulge in the masochistic habit of a Mariners game.

posted from Bloggeroid

Generation Empire

The moral issues thrust at German youth in the brilliant miniseries Generation War need an American interpretation, perhaps a Generation Empire miniseries set ... when? The McKinley era, when empire found its fervor? The Vietnam era, during the last significant peace movement? Or perhaps during WWII, challenging the notion of a Great Generation? Or more recently? Or is the film Born on the Fourth of July as close as we'll get?

Of course, it is much harder for winners to look in the mirror than it is for the defeated.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Wishful thinking

What a world it would be if humans collectively learned lessons from history and if great works of art influenced social and political behavior. But except to individuals, history doesn't matter and art doesn't matter.

Leary may have had it right in theory, if not in methodology: turn on; tune in; drop out.

Chestnut bread

Damn tasty!

Cole Porter

Out cruising with Sketch, caught a Porter special on the jazz station ... talk about genius! Mind-boggling how many great songs he wrote. I like the eccentric Kline film about his life. Came home and found a number of free Porter collections on Prime music, incl film sound track.

Gnocchi update

I'm 1 for 1 with ricotto; O for 2 with semolina; and now 1 for 1 with potato. The key appears to be using as little flour as possible. I put them in a casserole for dinner.

H off to an art show. No one acting as if the house is going up for sale. Well, some day. Maybe in the fall if we actually get busy. Beginning to think I'll die here. H isn't much help in prepping the house.

Generation War

Started watching this German miniseries again, for third time - more impressed each time I see it! This really deserves a wide American TV audience. Other than the Iliad, I don't know of a more powerful "war story."


Is there a better morning activity than baking bread and listening to (mellow) music? Nope!

Very curious about the loaf in the oven: chestnut flour! Had never heard of it.

In the hopper, my signature rye (with dark rye flour and cracked rye).

Chores and homework - but all I want to do is cook.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Dear Grandson: I’m Sorry for the World You’ll Inherit From Us:

posted from Bloggeroid



I've never been big about lentils. Then I discovered these. Now I can't get enough of them: I've eaten more in the past two months than in the previous 70+ years. I like them simple, olive oil, salt and pepper. With any meal - including breakfast!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

First try ...

... at risotto not too good but a learning experience and I know the problem and solution. Try again in a few days. I love its labor intensive aspects.

posted from Bloggeroid

The new corporate gimmick

RIP Earth Day: Voices Decry National Day of Corporate Greenwash:

posted from Bloggeroid

Just the beginning, O brave new world

Scientists urge moratorium after Chinese researchers ‘edit’ human embryos:

posted from Bloggeroid

Final Four

Harvard, UC Berkeley, Wellesley, the Naval Academy: of the top 52 ranked colleges, only these still require English majors to take a Shakespeare class.

I'm outraged but not really surprised. Good for the Navy! (says this Norfolk-born brat).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Morning therapy

Felt like making pasta at 5 this morning ... threw together a zuc, mushroom lasagne for lunch. Very relaxing.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Bernie Sanders: Hillary, GOP Won't Take on Corporate Power:

posted from Bloggeroid

Reality 101

Pulitzer Prize winner leaves journalism: ‘It was too difficult to make ends meet’:

posted from Bloggeroid

Asking the right questions

America’s Refusal to Face the Hard Moral Issues of War:

posted from Bloggeroid

Author's picks ...

Waiting for a handout

Kitchen therapy

Came home exhausted ... revived by saffron rice for dinner, a loaf of bread in the oven, H's good mood and Sketch's clown antics.

Now if the Mariners can win tonight ...

In the SU

Iced coffee and a maple bar before class ... somewhat regret taking this on but can use the money ... remember why I retired in the first place ... still, I enjoy the classroom give and take ... and the new approach is good.

Spell of great weather ending. Of course. This is Portland.

Climate change inaction

Why aren't we doing anything? Marilyn Sewell responds.

Insomnia & funk

etc etc etc

Monday, April 20, 2015


Watch Boston marathon ... yard work ... shower ... work in office ... house meeting ... make dinner.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Our house is so great in good weather, when we can enjoy the deck and yard. Doesn't inspire moving.

Boston marathon tomorrow

I get Universal Sports, via Sling TV, so can watch it, starting at 530 a.m. ... very nice.

Yoo hoo!

Mariners come back from 5 to beat Rangers in slugfest 11-10 ... Cruz gets winning walk on after 2 earlier homers, bringing early total to 8. He's on a streak. Great Sunday entertainment!

Eating lunch

Preparing lunch

Pass the test

A prototype ricotta gnocchi is fantastic! Light, creamy, delicious! I'll surprise H with a batch for lunch.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pain of a fan

Same old frustration, being a Mariners fan. Last place, lose again tonight.

Unless you're an adjunct ha ha

Better late than never

Cutting the cord and subscribing to Sling TV are the smartest decisions I made in a long time. For 1/4 the cost I get at least 10x better access to things I actually want to see. Remarkable difference!

Selling the house

We're taking the pressure off to meet any deadlines. Neither of us moves fast ... it may take a year to de-clutter the place! We have a low mortgage, we can hang here until the right offer comes. Monday we meet for an "as is" offer ... don't expect anything we'd like but what a neat surprise if we are wrong.

This place is lovely in good weather! Maybe we stay the summer, at least.


OK ... lots of room for improvement.

First try

See if I can make gnocchi for lunch ... supposed to look something like this ...


I love my breakfasts, which are remarkably simple and mind-bogglingly delicious. This morning, for example: a slice of olive bread toast, a slice of white toast, both mine of course, and two WET scrambled eggs to spoon onto the toast, bite by bite. Talk about starting the day right ...

Morning sanity


Excellent weather ahead ... feeling better ... eager to make yard and house prep progress over next four days. Would really lift my spirits.

New toy

A gnocchi board ... never saw one before.

Pasta by hand

I'm inspired by a new book by a Portland cook to expand my kitchen landscape. I've long made my own fettuccini and lasagne noodles ... but now to try shapes by hand and unusual ingredients. The more time in the kitchen, the better ... and bread goes in the oven right now ...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Made it ...

... to the univ. ... not sure how useful I'll be ... "goin' down slow" etc.

Been here before

Last place for Seattle ... need to keep this from getting worse. The problem has been pitching, supposedly their strength. No one as consistent as last year yet.

Feel under the weather but will hold class.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Energy tanked

The new normal, I think, for the evening hours.

A life

Reviewing The Life of Eduardo Galeano Who Passed Away At 74:

posted from Bloggeroid

Don't remember seeing this before ...

Tribute to Gunter Grass

Very nicely done.

In the office

First intense workshop today ... I have some Harry James passages for them to translate into "screenwriting." Should be a revealing exercise.

Not much else to say ... need to make progress on the house and yard this week!

R.I.P. Eduardo Galeano

Writer Eduardo Galeano, Voice of Latin America's Left, Dead at 74:
posted from Bloggeroid

Ha ha ha - got ya!

Nebraska Farmer Invites Pro-Fracking Commission Members to Drink Contaminated Water:

posted from Bloggeroid


Monday, April 13, 2015

R.I.P. Gunter Grass


Email from editor at Creative Screenwriting mag ... don't I want to write something? Nice to be wanted. Suggested a piece on shooting zero budget feature, lessons for screenwriters.

LATER. Nope, just ran such a piece. Less work for me ha ha.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mozart in the Jungle

Amazon ordered a second season. We loved it. "Sex, drugs and classical music."


Ms give up 4 in bottom of 9th, to extra innings. But take lead ... 3 outs away.

UConn parade

Slowing down

Didn't duplicate yesterday's energy but got some office work done, not a wasted morning anyway. Relaxing, or trying to, while listening to Mariners game.

Email from 1980s actress, now involved in "hyperdrama" in Houston. Sounds pretty tame.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Getting work done in morning makes all the difference for rest of day.

76000 for Nebraska spring game!

Ms needed this

5-4 in 11 innings, coming back several times. This is the team I want to see all year.

My rhythm

Work in the morning ... relax rest of day. Try for same tomorrow and Monday - and office might be done. Then go for rest of house.

At last

Worked 3 hrs in the office, progress but not done with housekeeping. Also did prep for Tues workshop. A good morning!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mariners nightmare

Terrible start to season ... too much preseason hype.

posted from Bloggeroid

Old age

H is dragging ass today, too ... but has a sader to go to. We decided it may just be pushing 80 that depletes our energy.

If I can spend several hrs on office chores tomorrow, my spirits will rise.


I had great constructive plans for the day ... but no energy. Dead on my feet.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Running on empty

What a fine film with this title! .. and how I feel this afternoon ...

Going down slow

Feel an illness coming on ... only have to show film in class ... maybe home to bed then ...

R.I.P. Stan Freberg

Second only to Tom Lehrer as my favorite humorist in early 1950s.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


In an evening funk ... maybe the Ms game will revive me.

No energy

Lots to do, no energy to do it.

Clean deck looks great ... pick paint color on Friday.

So much to do! zzzzzzzzz ...

Blessed are the Aged

blessed are the aged
for they have paid dues
in years and health
and deserve whatever
peace and quiet
the gods will give them

blessed are the aged
who have more memories
of more accomplishments
than youth will ever
experience or know

blessed are the aged
who look at the world
and find no desire
to be any younger

blessed are the aged
who ask for nothing
but a little respect

blessed are the aged
whose time is past

blessed are the aged

Cleaning the deck

Moving prep gets serious ...



Not since the AlphaSmart have I been so enamored of a tech gadget as I am of the Kindle Fire 6. A perfect fit to my needs, the smaller, lighter size making all the difference. And it's faster (not sure why). Like the AS, which I still use (!), I feel this is as good as it gets, or at least as good as I need. Examples of less is more.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Evening at home


I may have made the best rye bread I ever tasted ... bread dough plus dark rye plus cracked rye plus organic carraway seeds ... OMG!

posted from Bloggeroid


Man, I'm done for the day. Teaching gets more exhausting every term. But my new approach works: I leave everything behind in the classroom.

Women's final soon ... on paper, no contest. But you have to play the game.

Deck washing tomorrow, hired out, and I'll strip my office for moving. So much work to do to prep for selling ...

Catch up

Need to get back to Brown posts ...

Great tablet

The Kindle Fire 6 has to be the best tablet under $100 on the market. I prefer it to the 7 inch: lighter, faster, smaller but not too small. Sling TV and WatchESPN run great on this, loading faster than on the larger model. The camera is good enough for me, with front and back lenses. Obviously I am delighted!

Monday, April 6, 2015



Not even watching D v W ... Mariners glow uninterrupted or something.

Opening day win!

Check out the Angels @ Mariners on Yahoo Sports

36 lectures

... each half an hour, on Classical Greek Literature, my audio "class" at the moment. Transcendentalism comes next. Maybe do Shostakovich again, too ...

Play ball!

Mariners start soon ... morning chores done. Gonna enjoy baseball on the radio.

Rise and shine

The way it is

in a zero sum universe
full of horrors & atrocities
balanced by wonders & gifts
I am unapologetically selfish
preferring one to the other
and thereby passing the lance
of evil to the next guy

Wee small hours

Still testing camera ...
man, the 6 inch is so light and convenient, but more powerful than the7. Love it! 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Milk toast

I must have gone over 50 yrs without once eating milk toast. This was what my mother gave me when I was sick: warm milk toast with a poached egg on top.

About five or ten years ago, I began living on homemade scrapple and often would put a fried slice on milk toast, eggs on that.

Then I quit making scrapple when I started baking bread - one obsession at a time. But today's breakfast is typical lately, homemade milk toast and eggs. Still great comfort food.

And these days I need all the comfort I can get.

posted from Bloggeroid

Friday, April 3, 2015

Fly fishing

Yesterday at the university

In the student union ... iced coffee, maple bar, hour before class, ah does this bring back memories. I'm impressed with myself, designing a course like a workshop, which means I bring less home to deal with and instead get them working in class. Harder in class, easier at home ... a good trade, under the circumstances.

Show a doc about screenwriting today, easy day. Real work begins next two weeks, lectures and exercises and workshops. Still working on structure of workshops ... think I'll make groups of four, same four thru entire course, Group work, then sharing with entire class ... lots of q and a. Atmosphere for picking my brain.

Steve and I are marketing the old splay again. Agent friend of his didn't pan out, as I predicted!, so first step is going after agent. None of my old ones still around. Though the agencies are. This is a long shot ... should have been marketed 2 and 3 yrs ago, when all the similar Silicon Valley stuff was getting bought ... may be too late for that fad. It's all about being in the right place at the right time with the right material. In other words, a total crapshoot. Totally!

Am I the only writer left in America who loves using the AlphaSmart, as I am now? Yep, the AS rides again.

Top priority

Working on house for next four days, prep for putting it on market.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Think my Kindle Fire 7 is on its last legs ... served me well, long past warranty, so I can't complain. Excuse to upgrade ... though I may go down to a six inch to save some bucks, now that we have Fire TV.

First week done, 9 to go. Fun so far. More than I expected.

posted from Bloggeroid

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Song of the Innocent

now that the jury
has found me innocent
and without dissent

let me thank you
for the free room and board
in jail awaiting trial

44 months worth!
with opportunities for
solitary meditation

all at tax payer expense
more generous hearts
cannot be found

but my freedom now
is a bit of a shock
so please forgive me

if I don't send out
thank you cards
please forgive me

if my universal answer
to just about everything
you may want to know is

fuck you!
posted from Bloggeroid