Category Archives: my novel manuscripts

I get to work on “Angel’s Brother” again (for a third cycle of revisions)

I am starting to get back to reviewing this novel, with all its loose ends, now that I have finally pretty much finished my relocation.

One of the most critical concepts is the “fact or fiction” divide.

It looks like I went into great detail about this on Nov. 3, 2014, where I refer to my other two big manuscripts that I described here July 3, 2014. ‘

Essentially, everything in “Novel 2” centered around the retired FBI agent Ali has really “happened”, up to the events in Minnesota in the middle of the novel, before their characters resume their journey to the “spaceship”.   The “real” Ali had learned about Bill’s manuscript through a grapevine, as Bill had only put some summaries up online.  Then, as a teenager around age 14, Sal has developed his hacking tools to find the entire manuscript in the Cloud.  Sal’s motive is to find out if he really is “gifted” enough to become an “angel”.

Bill’s idea of an “Academy” also really exists;  it had come from a job interview in the 80s with a company that managed “civilian defense reservists”.  But Bill had never lived there.

What then happens in “reality” is that a second “Matt” is born, to be the right age, to a woman who is a doppleganger of the “Kelly Skiis” in Bill’s “Rain on the Snow” novel.

Ali has the pull to get the government to look into Bill’s writings and Sal’s hack, because it does predict an “AIDS II” pandemic, of sorts, a kind of Andromeda strain.  The CIA locates its special “quasi military” agent Randy, and Sal is tracked down (also in Dallas) in his ROTC program. Without any one person in the CIA, FBI or Homeland Security understanding everything, the meeting of Randy, at the prime of life in his 40s. and Sal, 21, finishing college, in Poland at the Holocaust site is set up.  Their relationship, which more or less parallels marriage but is not that, drives everything else, leading to the journey toward the end and the meeting at the space ship and “going up”.

Then, there is the idea of “retrocession”.  Not everyone will make it. Some of the “angels” were ceded to Earth to start civilization, and now they are ceded back.  Civilizations fail and have to start over, while the best of us get to explore the stars.  It sounds so elitist, but maybe that’s how it is.

It’s up to us.  Don’t blow our civilization and leave it to the preppers, the “leftovers”.  But it looks like we are about to do that.

(Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 at 11:45 PM EST)

Why do my two lead characters (Sal and Randy) meet “by chance” in the first chapter of my novel?

Some more notes about the opening chapters of “Angel’s Brother”.

One obvious question would be, why is each major character (Randy, about 40, and the college student Sal) there, at the Auschwitz-Berkenau site on a late spring morning?

This has to be a weekday.  Keep in mind then when I visited the site in 1999, on a Tuesday, there were relatively few tourists walking around the grounds (unlike the situation at some other Holocaust sites, as in the film “Austerlitz”).

Sal would have just finished his junior year of college back in Dallas, and could have been “asked” to go through the ROTC program.

Randy had expected to go to something like the Monroe Institute (in Virginia) for “remote viewing” training at the end of his school year teaching high school history.  (That session now occurs in the middle of the novel.)

Instead he is asked to go, as part of his interim intelligence duties, by himself to Krakow, taking the night train east (as I did) from Berlin, where he may get a chance to spot Sal on the train first in the morning.

Sal is just beginning to grasp his unusual powers as an “angel” (that will be covered in chapter 3) but he has already encountered the old Russian codger Lurku, who was apparently the first to discover the unusual radioactive waste products, associated with a novel biological weapon, in the Ladoga area near the Finnish border.  Sal would be in a position to know that the origin of the material may be alien, and not part even of Russia’s own nuclear arsenal, which is supposed to be accounting for all of its nuclear waste as part of a global nuclear security program (the NTI effort in the US). Lurku is a homosexual, who could have been endangered by the anti-gay laws, but his knowledge makes him too valuable.

Sal seems to be testing Randy’s chemistry with him.  Already Sal suspects he could draw Randy out of his stable marriage and shell job if he wanted.  It seems to be Sal’s decision whether Randy ought to be sent to NW Russia through St. Petersburg to meet Lurku.  It’s risky.

When Randy takes the same back across the Finnish border, the Russians give chase (Chapter 4).  Randy out races them, and then one of the Russian cars crashes before reaching the first town (where there was an assassination).  Finland is not part of NATO (it is a partner for peace), so it is easier for Russia to make a move into Finland than into the Balkans (which were once Soviet republics but are now part of NATO).  While the events of the novel progress in future chapters, there is an enormous international controversy, but the US and NATO don’t respond to the incident.

(Posted: Thursday, May 25 2017 at 11:30 PM EDT)

Characters’ travel itineraries in my novel “Angel’s Brother”

My novel manuscript “Angel’s Brother“, for which I developed a new “screenwriters’ outline” here on Feb. 28, involves the major characters (especially Randy, 40, the CIA agent, Sal, 21, the gifted angel-to-be, and Bill, or “me”) making lots of trips, within the United States, back and forth to and within Europe, as far as Arctic Russia in one chapter.  (Correction: Lake Lagoda is in NW Russia, as is most of Karelia, near the Finnish border.)

There are many novels and films based on road trips.  Most of them tend to be based on one continuous journey from a start to and end, like in a board game.

Clive Barker’s “Imajica“, in the first part, traces its major character Gentle from Earth (the Fifth Dominion), with some running-around between London and New York, through three other dominions (essentially planets);  the second half (“The Reconciliation”) has Gentle and many other characters (one of them very gender fluid) moving back and forth among the dominions through what would amount to wormholes in physics.  He winds up in “Heaven” (the “First”) where, sorry to say for David Lynch, not everything is fine. There is even a “Lenten Way”, a superhighway connecting the dominions.

As I best remember, in J. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” (and Peter Jackson’s film trilogy for New Line) the progress (Bilbo with his ring) is gradually from the Shire to the east, through all the lands of the Middle Earth, until confrontations in a volcano at the end, after which Bilbo sails west and returns home in peace.  But I think it’s one continuous journey, as I recall.   I have to give a hand to Tolkien in inventing bloodlines and families, and a whole language.  The book has many detailed maps (or what amounts to a parallel Earth II) that lend themselves to board and computer games.

Stephen King’s monumental apocalypse, “The Stand“, which became a miniseries in the 90s, traces the lives of many characters after a super bird flu, intended as a biological weapon, is accidentally released.  Generally, the characters progress from New York, Vermont, and Houston to Boulder (the good people), or Las Vegas-Cibola (the bad people).  I remember Tim Cullen’s harrowing journey (to Boulder) up I-15 from Vegas through Utah with an eye watching him.  I’ve even been called “The Walkin’ Dude” myself at work.

In Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged“, which became a three-part movie, and which I read while in the Army in 1969, has the major characters (Reardon and Taggert) wandering around a deteriorating rail system until a crash-landing in John Galt’s ashram hidden away in Colorado.

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(Posted: Friday, March 17, 2017 at 2:15 PM EDT)

Below: Hillary Clinton’s old “Basket of Deplorables”.   For me, in this little video;  I used the guy with the binoculars (the “observer”); the CIA guy has the gun (although be probably needs only the binoculars); the angel looks like the shaman doll, or maybe the man in the space suit.

If “Angel’s Brother” became a movie, this is what the critical elements in the screenplay look like

Here is an analysis of my proposed novel “Angel’s Brother” (the draft exists, about 105000 words) following the concept of “screenplay” structure by Michaek Hauge — presuming this would become a sci-fi movie (about 140 minutes).

Some of the Hauge components are repeated with different characters.  There is the concept of a “teaser” for the “point of no return”,

Part 1 – “Just Friends”

Stage 1: Setup

Randy, around 40, has been asked by the CIA to travel to Auschwitz, and he doesn’t know why.  He has a day job as a high school (mostly AP) history teacher. His occasional assignments are based on his former military background, which he was asked to leave because people thought he was gay. Nevertheless, he had married (with real heart), adopted one child, and has two more with Erin, who is a P.A.  Although physically in good shape, he has only recently started losing interest in his marriage

Sal, a senior in college, was asked to make the trip by his ROTC unit, as part of a senior thesis.

Chapter 2 and 3 provide a “setup” with backstories.

Turning Point:  The Opportunity

After they meet, Randy feels “interest”.     (add: Sal should offer contact info)

Stage 2: New Situation

Turning Point 2:   Change in Plans

Erin tells Randy his boss wants him to go to Brussels and see Foss.  This may require a “TSA physical”. Randy already suspects this could “spoil his fun” or “release” with Sal,

Stage 2a

As Randy rides to Brussels, he wonders how his rejuvenation would affect his remote viewing, which he has only experienced in home courses so far.

Turning Point 2a – Change in Plans 2

Foss wants Randy to stay in Europe and go to Russia to retrieve  an unusual weapon rather than go to his remote viewing course back in VA.   Randy realizes his interest in Sal would have enhanced the remote viewing.

(OK, maybe a “turning point” really should be an “Alan Turing” point.)

Stage 3:  Progress

Randy picks up At sample in  Russia from Lurku, smuggles thru Finland it to US (Russians chase across border, almost WWIII).

Bill picks it up in Nevada and takes it to West Texas to “Academy”

Randy takes family on end-school-year vacation to northern MN (6)

Randy investigates Bill in Vegas (7)

Randy visits Academy (8)

Sal visits Academy (9)

Turning Point 2b  Randy visits Quiller at Langley, asked to visit Leadville, Randy learns about govt plans for high altitude evacuations, he hadn’t known.

Stage 3a – more progress

Randy finds new disease related to Astatine in CO at high elevations (10)

Sal participates in hazing session as an upperclassman but knows his limits (11)]

Teaser for turning point 3

Sal and Randy meet in Dallas, have somewhat intimate encounter at Academy after comparing notes

(Part 1 A – More than Just Friends)

Stage 3B

Randy feels charged to become even more techie and wonders why CIA doesn’t tell him much.  He and Quiller talk about hack on Bill’s writings about suitcase nukes (14).

Randy makes trip to Bilbao, meets up with Bill, then gets assaulted and left with another UF sample.

Teaser 2 for turning point 3

Finally he hooks up for intimacy with Sal in Amsterday (14)

Stage 3C  — Sal makes a trip to Lionsgate in Greece, “goes up” and gets mysteriously airlifted to Texas and hails a ride back to Dallas from “angel” Justin.   He then hightails to Amsterdam  (15)

Stage 3D  Randy goes back to Finland (on order) near Russian border (to stop WWIII) and get “goes up” ad comes down in Archangelsk    The yellowcake is gone as is Lurku’s suitcase nuke.   Russians seem to have material suggesting that the activation codes are embedded in novel virus RNA.

Turning Point 3   Point of no return

Sal meets Matt at a gym in Dallas.  Matt provides a major connection to Bill’s writings and suggests he may indeed be an angel, as may be Sal.  Sal  takes Bill to a motel near the Academy and gives him an “erotic body shave”.   Bill’s whole appearance becomes younger.  But he gets arrested.  (17)

Randy has a last fling with intercourse with Erin (his wife) but she is suspicious and confronts him (18), after she finds his notes on “erotic royalty” models (which had come from Bill and his hacked diaries from Sal)

(Interlude)

Stage 4   Complications and higher stakes

Sal finishes Hacking Bill, meets with Randy in Westover Market in Arlington, gives Randy Bill’s novel notes  (19)

(Reprise of Turning Point 2a – “change in plans” and original novel “prologues” from Bill’s writings)

Randy finally visits Faber VA and has remote viewing preview and learns he must do a “nighthike”  (20).

Turning Point 4 setback   (and another point of no return, which can also be called a “point of recognition” by some fiction writing courses)

At “nighthike” in caves in the SW Wisconsin hills, Randy and other characters undergo various bodily rituals that give clues as to their futures.  (Apparently former Sal’s former roommate Rusty passes.)    Randy “does” Bill (after Bill cycles back among several previous physical states in his own life timeline)  But Bill suddenly ages back and the “roving eye” plasma appear as both Femeri and Bill temporarily vanish then drop back.

Part 2 – Brothers

Stage 5   Final Push

Dick shows symptoms of disease.  Erin demands divorce, but Randy keeps Dick, who gets better after being taken to intermediate altitudes (in southern W Va) (22)

Randy takes Dick to DC, lives gay life, meets Blueshirt

(Setback 2 or Turning Point 4a):

Dick kidnapped (23)

(Setback 3 or Turning Point 4b)

Sal kicked out of ROTC for rules violations (24), must testify against Bill to avoid court martial (hacking)

(Final Push resumes)

Sal must testify against Bill to avoid court martial (hacking).  Bill “ages” again and goes up with the eye

Sal finds Dick, takes him to mountains (to the “right” altitude)  (26)

Randy traces Bill’s escape thru Texas

Everyone assembles in the strip-mine in W Va (27)

Spaceship takes them back up to Titan as everyone learns how he or she will fare in the next worl

Turning Point 5  Climax

Spaceship takes them back up to Titan as everyone learns how he or she will fare in the next world.  Bill proves he can father a child.

Stage 6  aftermath

On Earth, Sal stays behind for the solar storm which ends the disease but throws everyone back into pre-technology age.  Then Sal makes the second voyage.  He finds his ability to continue remotely viewing Bill limited because Bill can now have children.  On the other hand, Bill has an idea what “heaven” could be like for him in a few years.   He has a better take on what it would be like to be Rusty since Rusty is gone.  He knows Matt has already hosted a lot more “souls”., as they all prepare to move to a new solar system.

Tradition plotting talks about a “beginning, middle, and end”.  In Hauge the beginning and end are significant, like movements of a symphony, as if the middle were a “slow movement”.  Here “Part 1” is the “Beginning”, the “Middle” is Part 1A, the “Scherzo” (and recognition point), and the “End” (or Finale) is Part 2 .  The Epilogue or final pedal point (like in a Bruckner symphony) would occur when the major characters know how they must finally turn out (on the last two or three pages).

(Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 1:30 PM EST)

More background on the connections between my novel manuscripts

I do expect to get back to more detailed editing of the novel “Angel’s Brother” within the next week.

But I wanted to make some more notes about the connection between this novel document, which continues from some notes on July 3, 2014.

First, let me give some history.  To the best of my knowledge, “Novel 2”, or “Tribunal and Rapture”, as started first, in the summer of 1999, after I had been to Europe and my mother was more or less recovered from bypass surgery.  (I did not go back from Minnesota but for about a week, but the whole situation then was stressful.)   I believe a draft with most of it was finished by early 2000, all while I was living in the Churchill in downtown Minneapolis. As I note, the story is largely told through the viewpoint of someone other than myself, a retired Muslim-American FBI agent, with considerable military experience, and with a largely secular, modern life (Dubai-like), including a UFO abduction.  He has no conflicts over scriptural religion and modern individualsm, and tends to believe that all three major Abrahamic faiths have more in common than their differences.  I met Muslims like this in the 1980s and 90s during my career and never gave any thought to terrorism.  The book is apocalyptic, ending with the “evacuation of the angels” to a colony on Titan, a moon of Saturn.

I apparently started the “Novel 1” (“Rain on the Snow”) in the summer of 2000, after a vacation and then a minor crisis at work.  The first part, which presents “Bill” getting invited to a “re-education” Academy (in west Texas) to get to join a doomsday prepper squad (the whole “There is no ‘they’” thing), his getting involved with a mysterious youth Matt who comes across as a Clark Kent, and his being jailed after effectively being framed for Matt’s “death”, ending with his escape with the help of his other minions, and climatic ritual at the end of the book, preparing him for a new world.

When I went to Europe at the end of April 2001, I thought about the idea of deploying the novels.  I remember an afternoon in a hotel in Toulouse, France, having a debate with myself, and thinking about “Rain on the Snow” as the logical choice because the events happened first.

Well, not exactly.  I had written a lot of backstory passages for “Tribunal and Rapture”, which also explained some of the setup of “Rain on the Snow”.  I remember a weekend in July 2001 (about two months before 9/11) when I drove from Minneapolis to the Northwest Angle, and gave a lot of thought to the sequel, “composed first”.  I remember “Frankie and the Path Pit”.  (Frankie is one of Bill’s old boyfriends, who becomes a kind or archangel at the Academy.)  I began to think that this background material needed to be put into “Rain on the Snow”.

So between late 2003 (after I returned to Virginia, because of Mother) and 2005 (in the heart of my substitute teaching) I fashioned a new structure for “Rain on the Snow”, as a kind of Opus 111   The original story center at the Academy and then jail – itself a two-act structure, turned into the “Theme and Variations”, and the entire backstory became the Sonata form, the first movement.   But many of the individual passages and summaries had been proposed as passages in the early chapters of TR (like the “Nighthike” scene at the very end became an erotic backstory insert into Chapter 8, when A;I reads the story of Bill’s escape.)   In TR, I had also played with the idea of lumping much of the backstory material into one prologue (as Clive Cussler and Irving Wallace would do).   I called these passages the “Lumps”.

Finally, I made an Access Database of the enhanced “Tribunal and Rapture” but I applied the stages of screenplay analysis  (Hague, see Feb. 3, 2016), to each of four major characters (most of all Bill) separately.  Later I’ll figure out how to get this analysis into WordPress.

The character Ali has been taking training in remote viewing in a manor in Virginia that is probably modeled after the Monroe Institute.  Some of the materials he views are essentially “The Book of Bill” (rather like “The Book of Eli” (2010)), and some have been stored on optical (EMP-proof) CD’s.

But in “Angel’s Brother”, a major element of the setup is Bill’s duopoly of novels.  The plot builds up to another Nighthike-Initiation-Immolation scene before the “real” Armageddon and evacuation of Earth by the chosen.  But CIA agent Randy has to figure out whether what is in “The Book of Bill” is really fact or fiction (like the 1998 indie sci-fi film “The Last Broadcast” about the Jersey Devil).

In “Tribunal and Rapture” (Novel 2), the protagonist, Ali Mogul, is depicted as mixed-race (about the same as president Obama, perhaps).  So the story is told through the eyes of a minority person (who includes his son, Amos, who gets in trouble with the law with computer hacking, at at time when hacking was just getting started). But in “Angel’s Brother” I move back (that is, regress, from the viewpoint of social and political correctness) to making the primary character subjects white males, both attractive, one gay and one “straight” (sort of), one college age and one entering middle age, in the late summer of life. That makes erotic tension buildup through the first two thirds of the novel possible.   (I’ll have to do a Hauge analysis soon. )  I was drawn back to this viewpoint by my interest in shows like “Smallville”, “Everwood”, etc.  with “attractive” late teen or young adult male character leads.

One can imagine a movie franchise based on all three novels, each of which encapsulates its prequel.  Perhaps the sequence would be called “Tribunals”.  Maybe it could be a Sci-Fi cable series of about three seasons, 8-10 episodes each.  I’d be game for it but I couldn’t do all three alone right now.

At the end, it seems that there is an “evacuation” from an Earth that is going to see its way of life challenged.  (That’s also true of “Epiphany”).  I know how this will come across to some people:  I don’t have room onboard for “losers” (as Trump would see them).

(Posted: Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017 at 11 PM EST)

Travel article on Krakow, Poland reminds me of the opening of my novel

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The Washington Post travel section on Sunday, December 3, has a long article by Hugh Biggar on Krakow, Poland.

I visited Krakow on May 1999, arriving on a train from Berlin, that made many night stops in former East Germany and Poland. I had bribed the conductor to get a roomette because I had a wrong date on my ticket.

I found a taxi to take me to Auschwitz-Buchenwald, and spent about 90 minutes that morning visiting the ruins. That experience inspires the first chapter of “Angel’s Brother”.
In the chapter, the character Randy, whose normal day job is that of an AP history teacher in high school in Dallas, who is married with three kids (one adopted), is around 45 and is near the ending of his days of always looking to be in perfect physical shape, has been summoned there by his secret job as a contingent CIA investigator. On the grounds, he meets a seemingly gifted college student, Sal (described as a Caucasian Latino), around 20. A conversation gradually starts, that will build up to major incidents later involving aliens and what happens to the rest of us.

I realize that I have to be careful in the writing about the mechanics of the meeting, of the initial social clumsiness as to whether they want to take the cab ride together back to Krakow. (He had seen the “College Kid on the Train” before.) Oh, yes, Randy’s gay desires are coming back, despite his successful marriage so far – but his wife has only recently gotten a little suspicious. I also have to work on the issue of how much she would really know about his “business trips”. (My own dad, as a manufacturer’s representative, made a lot of them when I was growing up. But it’s harder to pull this off if you’re a high school teacher.)

That day, I also went to the Wielickza salt mine, before coming back to the hotel. panel

I remember that the phone was expensive. I had a clunky cell phone but it didn’t work in Europe. But I would need to explain why Randy would have a problem like that today. Then I mention “Bill”, and some other agents, and leave open the question as to whether people like Ali Mogul really exist or are just meta-characters in Bill’s book (sort of “nocturnal animals”).

Wikipedia link for Krakow picture, p.d.

(Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at 1 PM EST)

Donald Trump may have (inadvertently) already necessitated a change in my novel opening: Russia really could “invade” Finland in real life

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I have started re-editing my novel “Angel’s Brother”.   I hope to have it ready for a third-party editor and later publication in early 2017 (but not before the Inauguration, sorry).

It’s disturbing how I find issues, like in logical sequencing of the action as “Randy” (40) follows Sal (21) back to a taxi from the grounds at Auschwitz in the opening chapter.

But there’s no immediate cliffhanging crisis (or skyscraper-hanging, which opens “Vertigo”, before settling down into talk).

But by Chapter 4, Randy (an ex-military CIA agent who works a regular job as a high school history teacher, even with AP students, which Sal had been) has run a gauntlet of a treasure hunt, visiting a porn shop in St. Petersburg, Russia (even looking at gay porn, which isn’t supposed be allowed in Vladimir Putin’s fiefdom anymore), a step on a Howdy-Doody style treasure hunt that sends him to in a rent car to northwestern Russia, near Lake Ladoga.

He meets an old codger who looks after a secret weapons cache, supposedly hidden among the old radioactive waste that Russia keeps.  This is the kind of stuff that the Nuclear Threat Initiative wants to collar up.

Randy picks up a small device that will be transferred back to the U.S., and eventually be useful in a bizarre psychic education center in West Texas that is supposedly part of a Homeland Security capacity.  But then the Russians see him, and chase him across the border into Finland.

The idea is provocative now because Vladimir Putin is making noise about wanting to take the Baltics back.  Karelia had once belonged to Finland but is now part of Russia (it’s also the subject of a Sibelius suite).  If an incident like this really happened, then the West would have to respond, although Finland is not (yet) part of NATO. Wiki.  This would be a gravely serious matter, although there are questions as to how president-elect Donald Trump will handle relations with Putin regarding Putin’s aggression.

The novel as written doesn’t yet do much with the potential crisis with Russia that it would cause, so I will work on this.

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When a file (from my DADT-2 book) was hacked in April 2002 (on an old legacy site), the overlay looked like jibberish related to the NW-Russia – Finland area.

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Update: Dec. 6, 2016

There is a news story about a gun attack at a town in southeast Finland very near the Russian border, Imatra, in the Karelia area. This is certainly interesting, Guardian link is here .

By Tatu KosonenOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

(Posted: Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at 11:45 PM EST)

More on the idea of “character diversity”, particularly in love or intimate scenes, for my own fiction

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I wanted to add a note about any potential “casting diversity” or, for that matter, character diversity issues in my own manuscripts (last taken up in January 2016).

It’s true that many of my manuscripts (novels and screenplays) focus on “me” or my avatar as a central driving character, and that my tastes in what is “desirable” (Fort Eustis memories) drive the tension.

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In fact, there is a certain pattern in many of them.  A character like “Bill” meets a charismatic, larger-than-life and tall young white male hero (symbolizing “virtue”)  in the early chapters (rather like Ayn Rand’s fantasy for the young John Galt). Later, he loses his “individual contributor” job and has to face becoming more “sociable”.  He gets contacted to go to some sort of re-regimenting “re-education academy” in the country (in West Texas in a couple scripts, in West Virginia in another, and a simple “intentional community” in DADT III last story). He has to learn to do “real jobs”.  It sounds a little like Maoist re-education (the right and left come together at the other side of the Moon, you know).   At the “academy” he encounters the hero, and builds up to an intimate confrontation.  In the meantime, the outside world has an existential catharsis.

“Bill” is different but he’s not supposed to get off as a “member of a group”.  He has to learn to share the risks that others had to endure.  It’s seen through a moral lens.

But a couple of more recent manuscripts present the narrative primarily through a separate, heterosexually married white male character, with “Bill” inn his backstory, and with some gay interests.  In the novel, the character is a good family man whose marriage will be challenged by a gay college student, as well as “extraterrestrial” events (and a mystery virus to boot).  In another screenplay “Titanium” the protagonist is a white male journalist whose fiancé has been abducted (possibly by aliens) when she “went up”.  But the reporter has another girl friend, who is of opposite race, and helps the girl friend raise a child.  But I’m in the background. It get’s pretty complex.

I grew up in a world where most movies and entertainment catered to conventional white stereotypes of what is desirable from men and women.   People did not think about the idea that other kinds of people should be presented as “attractive” then as they often do today,

(Published: Friday, July 8, 2016 at 11:30 AM ET)  Related post today.

Regarding debating diversity at the Oscars: for my scripts, not all casting can work if race-blind

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There has been some “whining” about the supposed lack of racial diversity in Oscar nominations, as in this Washington Post Style article by Lonnae O’Neal, “Only role reversals will end all-white Oscars lists” — online, it’s “Maybe Hollywood’s not racist; it just has a processing disorder”.

Later MLK Day, in fact, Spike Lee (and maybe others) announced boycotting the Oscars under the “Oscars so White” (#Oscarsowhite) hashtag on twitter.

My own experience at the movies (and with television mini-series) is that I see plenty of black actors in favorable roles — especially as police detectives, politicians (especially presidents), athletes, and physicians.  No one would quarrel with Viola Davis’s effectivness as a  law professor in “How to Get Away with Murder“.  It would have been well to nominate Will Smith for his role in “Concussion“, no argument there. I recall Morgan Freeman’s role in David Fincher’s “Se7en” (1995) alongside Brad Pitt  (remember the “chest shaving” scene before they both wear a wire for the climax).  And, by the way remember the climax, “What’s in the box?” (maybe an inspiration for Richard Kelly’s “The Box”), with Kevin Spacey as the satanic villain.

There is a problem, however, in my own mind, with some scripts.  Suppose I get my novel “Angel’s Brother” published and it gets interest, or I get some traction for my “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” screenplay.

In both of these, it’s important that some of the leading characters be attractive young white males, for what I have presented as “gay sexual tension” (however stereotyped and potentially prejudicial) to work.  I wonder if films like “Judas Kiss” or “The Dark Place” could have worked with African-American young actors in at least one leading role, for the same reason.

“Epiphany” particularly has some supporting characters in the “ashram” scenes where the characters can be cast in a race-blind way.  And, for example, in “Angel’s Brother”, the leading characters (Randy, about 40 and Sal, about 21) are conceived as white, the CIA chief could very well be cast as African American (Morgan Freeman would be perfect).

Don’t forget, by the way, that Morgan Freeman has been trying to produce “Rendezvous with Rama”.

(Published: Monday, January 18, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT)

“Angel’s Brother”: the UFO abductions in the novel

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Throughout “Angel’s Brother” there are references to a supposed accident where the character Ali Mogul lost his long legs in an auto accident collision with a landing UFO, but that stays in the “fact or fiction” realm.

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But there are four “real” abductions”.  Randy “goes” up in Chapter 16 and has a pretty good introduction to it from Finland, coming down in Russia;  Sal gets it early in Chapter 15 and gets taken from Greece back to Texas.  Bill, having transformed himself and escaping, gets a UFO ride in Chapter 26, and in Chapter 27, the last, they all take the Angels’ space shuttle to Titan.

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Wednesday, I did drive through some of the Richmond VA suburb of Glen Allen (formerly Hungary), which is immediately west of I-95 and N or 295, and E of US 33 (Staples Mill Road).  One of the more intriguing sightings in the mid-Atlantic happened in June 1990, according to this link.  I believe it happened more or less around the Mountain Road area (an ironic name), veering off to the NW, past the Virginia Randolph house.  The sightings may have continued down into NW Richmond, along Staples Mill, apparently to about where Anthem Blue Cross is today — I spent a weekend there working gathering data for a company buyout back in 1989.  Nearby was the (at the time) affiliated “The Computer Company” in a warehouse-like brick building.  It’s ironic that an incident like this would happen so close to the site of a provocative work experience in my own career.

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Back in 1992, I visited a rural area slightly east of I-81 near Wytheville, VA, where supposedly there were sightings in the late 80s, maybe connected to Brown Mountain 70 miles S in North Carolina, which I want to visit.

(Published: Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 11:50 PM EDT)