Sunday, April 26, 2015

Philip Glass - NPR Interview

The day before the first interpreted performance of "Cyrano," I finished Philip Glass' memoir, "Words Without Music." It was a pleasure to read about his process, the challenges he didn't let keep him from pursuing what he knew was his path, and the amazing other musicians, artists, theatre people he encountered and worked with and studied with along the way. Who influenced his music and his development; how he thinks.

He was interviewed on NPR and you can listen to it from the website: "The World Music Education of Philip Glass." There is a transcript available if the audio is not accessible.

I'm taking an online poetry class right now, and this week one discussion thread is about inspiration (it's more complicated than that - but the basic premise of this particular discussion is about what inspires us as poets). For me, Philip Glass' music can be an inspiration for writing poetry; sometimes other types of writing, as well - but when I listen to his music, poetry is what tends to come out, or prose written in a more poetic style.

Yes, I am still a Philip Glass fan.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Philip Glass - Memoir + A Video

I am currently reading Philip Glass' memoir, "Words Without Music." If you know me or have followed my posts for a while, you probably know that I am a big fan or his work. I even made a trip to Berkeley a few years ago when his "Einstein on the Beach" was being performed, because that was the closest to home on the tour.

His memoir reads more like a biography in my opinion. But he does have some good stories to tell, he met and worked with some amazing people on his journey. I am enjoying learning more about his beginnings, his passions, his day jobs, and especially more about his music. How he approached his life's work, meanings, how he developed his style, his sounds.

So since his book is my primary read outside of the theatrical scripts I'm preparing to interpret, I've also been listening to his music.

I just wanted to share one piece of his music. He has many. This was just a random video of something I found online - String Quartet No. 3 "Mishma," VI.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

[video] Dorothy Allison : The Power of the Writer's Voice

Today I was able to listen to Dorothy Allison read an unpublished story and talk about writing and life and politics and community at Mt Hood Community College. I am still digesting what I heard, letting her story and her words and her wash through me.

I can't share video what I saw and heard today, but I can share this video from the Chicago Humanities Festival. The first video is an hour long; below that is a 6-minute excerpt from the discussion, "Advice for Emerging Writers."


Tuesday, April 7, 2015


This has been on my mind recently: questions about and satire of the Portland OR culture. Questions about "counterculture" as it is here, or if the "counterculture" doesn't really exist in Portland.

As I often do, I started with definitions and then see where things fit or don't; what paths or rabbit holes appear to give me a deeper look at the things I'm researching or writing about. The first thing that came up was from Oxford University Press, so that would seem to be a reputable resource to quote. And here it is:

  1. counterculture
    [ ˈkountərˌkəlCHər ] 
      a way of life and set of attitudes opposed to or at variance with the prevailing social norm:
      "the idealists of the 60s counterculture"
    Powered by OxfordDictionaries · © Oxford University Press

Oh, let me say right now that if you are hoping I will give you an answer, I won't. I don't know where the counterculture is in Portland OR or if it exists.

I was recently in an online humor writing intensive with Ariel Gore. I wasn't the only one who poked fun at Portland in the course. In the short one week writing experience there were several pieces about different aspects of Portland "weird." I have also been preparing to interpret "The People's Republic of Portland" at Portland Center Stage this week, which is about just this topic. I laugh at some of the jokes along with everyone else - the ones I know are probably coming in Lauren Weedman's show and the improv sections I've never heard before despite having seen the show several times. I nod in recognition of the characters she energetically shows the audience and laugh and the sometimes only mild exaggerations; the show is funny and she is great. And I think, yes, this is Portland and it's not all bad; but is it "counter"? (Side note: the show is worth seeing and it is running right now; if you want to see the interpreted performance it is this Thursday, April 9th, at 7:30 pm. Get your tickets soon as performances are selling out!)

When does "weird" become the norm? What does that look like? What does it take for the self-consciousness of appearing to be "counter-_______" (fill in the blank) to become the standard? Is it counterculture when there is a right and wrong, when there is pressure to conform, when the individual becomes the mass, and when the focus is inward toward individual or group? What is the counterculture countering? Or has it become so commonplace that there is nothing to counter? Has the Portland Weird Culture become so mainstream that we need a counterculture to the counterculture?

Or is the idea of A Counterculture outdated and we should just look at diversity, instead? What is the role of a counterculture? What has the role of the counterculture been historically and is that still true or still needed? If we don't really need a counterculture any longer, what has replaced it in terms of keeping us alert and alive as people? What keeps us from becoming a bland homogeneous unthinking mass which just plugs in to a pod and melds?

I'm not talking about the extremists. I'm not talking about the mentally unstable or sadistic or the outliers.

And here I start going down the rabbit hole of "what am I talking about?" What do I think is wrong? If I think something is wrong then what is missing or what would make it right?

What I do know is that it feels like "Portland Weird" has become just one more thing to conform to or to resist. One more thing to say "yay, I love it," or "boo, I'm better/worse than you." One more thing to make you feel better or worse about who you are.

Do we need a counterculture? Can or does counterculture exist? Or is this one more label to separate the "them" and the "us?"


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Story Structure Video

* Even though this video essay is about making a video essay and about making film, it is also about storytelling. It talks about structure and moving the story forward, which also applies to written storytelling.

I am a believer in cross-pollination in the arts: visual and writing, film and written story, music and anything. This short video can apply to many creative paths, even though the creator's focus is on film and video.

And if you need them, it does have CC.

You can read the article which goes with this video essay here: "The 3 words that are guaranteed to make your writing better"