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Reflections of a working writer, a university screenwriting professor, and the editor of Oregon Literary Review.

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Charles Deemer

Oregon Literary Review

MFA, Playwriting, University of Oregon

Writing faculty, Portland State University (part-time)

Retired playwright and screenwriter.
Active novelist, librettist and teacher.

Email: cdeemer(at)yahoo(dot)com

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Playwright Debra Neff Nathans

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Maud Newton
literary links, amusements, politics, rants

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Journey of a struggling writer.

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Random musings on a writer's life and times.

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Write Of Way
Samantha Blackmon's written musings on writing (composition and rhetoric).

Alexander b. Craghead: blog
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Rodney's Painted Pen
Rodney Bohen's daily commentary "on the wondrous two legged beast we fondly refer to as mankind." His pen runneth over.

Frustrated Writer
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scribble, scribble, scribble
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William Gibson Blog
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A Writer's Diary
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Bow. James Bow.
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Michael Montoure's weblog about writing, primarily horror and speculative fiction.

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"A wry writerly blog named in honour of a minor character in a minor Shirley Temple film."

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downWrite creative
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Glenn's adventures in screenwriting.

Time In Tel-Aviv
Hebrew modern literature at its best, by Corinna Hasofferett.

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Robin Reagler's poetry blog.

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The Writing Life...
"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."
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A friend over beer, Berkeley, winter, 1959

"And it came to pass that all the stars in the firmament had ceased to shine. But how was anyone to know?"
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The Writing Life II

(Posts archived here are from 01/10/03 - 10/31/06)

Tuesday, April 29, 2003  
Genius & Wit
[from a memoir in progress]
Before bidding goodbye to Cal. Tech., I have to say a few words about the extraordinary world of humor that gets created when genius and wit come together. I never witnessed more outrageous practical jokes or witty behavior than during my short stay as a student there.

One afternoon at football practice David, who played guard, came to me with an idea. David was short, barely five foot, but feisty and fearless. What he lacked in size he made up for in creativity, and his specialty was biting the ankles of opposing linemen in pileups, a practice that earned him more respect than his small stature warranted.

David had been studying the football rulebook and discovered what he considered to be an ambiguity that we should take advantage of. The game of football, he noted, is played with a ball of such-and-such dimensions. Nowhere however, does it clarify that the game is played with only one ball. At most the interpretation would be that there was only one ball of the specified dimensions – but the possibility of using a second ball of different dimensions was totally within the grammatical meaning of the rules, according to David. Since he was a genius with a photographic memory, I took his word for it.

In our next game, therefore, we had a trick play prepared. It worked beautifully, we scored a touchdown, and then we argued with the referees that it should count, only abandoning the cause when they threatened to make us forfeit the game. Why would we want to lose 1-0, the score by forfeiture, when we already were losing 21-0?

Our trick play worked this way. David came into the huddle with a miniature football, which I hid in my jersey. I then tossed a quick incomplete pass to the right with the standard ball. After it fell to the ground I took out the peewee ball and threw a perfect strike to my left end sprinting down the sideline. The greatest surprise of all was that he actually caught it. Touchdown! The argument began, and even our coach was against us. Cal. Tech. never learned to hire coaches with senses of humor.

Another example of the Cal. Tech brand of humor happened on the morning of my first final exam at the end of fall quarter. The exam was scheduled at eight o’clock. I entered the classroom a bit early and sat down. The lights were off. More students trickled in, sitting down without turning on the lights. Finally the teacher came in, and he turned on the lights. As soon as he did, loudspeakers hidden on roofs and in bushes all around campus began blasting at great volume the stirring sounds of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. Welcome to exam week at Cal. Tech.

On another occasion a student living in the dorms flew home during a long weekend. He was wealthier than most of us and had his own sportscar. His room was on the third floor. When he returned, he couldn’t find his car in the dormitory parking lot. With panic he rushed up to his dorm room to phone the police and report the car stolen – and then it was, in the middle of his room, idling as sweetly as a kitten. His buddies had disassembled the car and reassembled it in his room!

A few years later, I was able to witness the Cal. Tech. brand of humor on international television. I was watching the Rose Bowl game. I believe UCLA was playing. During halftime the UCLA card stunt section prepared to start its famous UCLA spell out. As the letters spiraled out across the section, however, they did not spell out UCLA at all. They spelled Cal. Tech.! I and other former Techies all around the world went crazy with delight.

4/29/2003 07:10:00 AM | 0 comments

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