NBC “Surface” series, cut short after one season in 2005, resembles “Godzilla” franchise in concept

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The NBC series “Surface”, which aired for only one season, 2005-2006 (with an interruption for the Winter Olympics) presented a curious idea, at least distantly related to that of the Godzilla movies. Some previous unknown sea creatures emerge from the ocean floor, and have been studied by a secret government project. But a teenage boy Miles (Carter Jenkins) discovers one in an accidental surfing encounter, brings home an egg from a pod and winds up raising “Nim” secretly in his parents North Carolina home and bonding to the creature.

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The creatures begin to surface, causing a variety of bizarre catastrophes, finally leading to a tsunami that destroys Puerto Rico and heads for Wilmington, NC (home of a lot of film studios and a big film school).

There are also artefacts suggestive of Noah’s Ark, and of a lost undersea civilization.
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The series was cut short, so it’s hard to tell what the creators really wanted to say with it. But Jenkins was most impressive as the adventurous kid.

Peter Straub’s “Ghost Story” gives an example of what I am doing in a current novel manuscript

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One of the issues for a novelist, in doing a large work, is point of view. Many novels are written in third person from the viewpoint of an “omniscient observer”, who knows everything, and who can pull the puppet strings at will. Movies often show plot points from the private viewpoints of multiple characters, before the payoff at the end. In life, though, an individual knows what he knows (a tautology). You can expand this concept to “family”, but we know that doesn’t always work. *

I’ve had this issue in my own writing more recently. Earlier novels were always from the single viewpoint (almost) of “Bill” (with occasional interruptions, like with dream sequences, to show what others may know). In “TR II” I started telling the same sorties from the viewpoints of others (April 29).

There’s a well known horror novel that shows how established authors tackle this problem. I won’t even get into Steven King right now (although I liked “Dreamcatcher” particularly). The novel in question is the 1979 epic “Ghost Story” by Peter Straub, and author about my own age, so he wrote this novel when he was in his 30s.

I recommend reading the detailed plot synopsis on Wikipedia  if you haven’t read the novel. A major part of the setup is the four elderly men in the “Chowder Society” telling each other ghost stories. This method of plot development allows the transmission of various narratives from the viewpoints of multiple characters, with the idea that the plot threads can be interconnected. In fact, toward the end of the novel, we find out a horrifying connection, a crime that had been stuffed in a trunk and buried in a lake. But the narratives on their own are fascinating. Early in the novel Sears tells about his experience as a teacher and running into the consequences of possible intra-familial sexual abuse in the story of Fenny Bate. But the novel offers an extended middle section with the story of Anna Mobley, who had been the lover of one of the member’s twin brother, who also had been in a teaching position. The entire Mobley sequences was embedded in a “novel” by one of the authors of the Ghost Stories.

The idea that there are interlinked narratives with varying degrees of “truth” relative to the base timeline of a novel is well developed in “Ghost Stories”. Straub deals with the idea that people make up stories of narratives of things they might have done or might have a propensity to do. This issue caused a major issue when I had a substitute teaching job myself (link ). The 1981 film directed by John Irvin (Universal Pictures) cut a lot of the detail from the novel and was not particularly effective. I saw it in Dallas. I think this could make a good TV series, but would it be “brought up to date” technologically?

(Published Monday, May 19, 2014 at 4:30 PM EDT)

With “Rain on the Snow” I go back to the “Academy” scenario: an erotic crime, prison, escape, and alien abductions

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Before moving on to the next “novel” attempt, I want to mention a novel-movie outline, vague as it was, that came to me in a dream as I lay in the University of Minnesota hospital recovering from surgery to repair an acetabular fracture from a convenience store fall, in January 1998.

The unnamed novel was in two parts. Part I took the first 40% of the novel and ended with a mysterious “nighthike” leading to a ritual ceremony affecting various characters, including “me” (“Bill”), and various other young men whom I had “watched” or “noticed”. The idea of such an initiation is explored in the screenpkay “69 Minutes to Titan” which I summarized here March 4, 2014. Bill “goes up” and becomes a nighttime wood spirit, disembodied, able to watch over all his charges from above on autumn nights. In the meantime, in the second half of the novel, the young men who had negotiated the initiation have various outcomes. Some will become immortals and find they are angels. Others have to go through various trials again. Bill gets to play god, from his astral perch, with all the other men. I suppose I have to give this dream a provisional title. Call it “Puppeteer” aka “The Disembodied Anthropologist”.

In a dream, there is something comforting about a Book in Two Parts, rather like the two movements of the Beethoven Op. 111.

The dream probably did influence “Tribunal and Rapture 2” The “nighthike and initiation” is depicted as a flashback (in Chapter 8), and although nobody becomes a ghost, the course of various characters’ lives seems to be affected by the experience. There is a problem with a scene like this if it is in the middle of a movie or a book, the penultimate sexual humiliation and release, the whole idea that a personality can defend and then fulfill itself by enjoying its own desecration, an idea that drives a lot of homophobia, frankly speaking. If too much happens in the middle of the book, the rest of the story can seem anti-climatic. It’s hard to follow up with an even more climactic conclusion.
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Sometime after starting TR II while in Minnesota, I switched gears and started a “simpler” novel to be called “Rain on the Snow”, (conceptual video  to be based on the “Bill gets reeducated at an Academy” concept. I can recall a moment, after checking into a hotel in Toulouse, France while on vacation in early May, 2001 about which novel I would try to finish when I went back.

The novel supposes that “Bill” loses his job in Minneapolis (soon 9/11 would happen, and the layoff did occur at the end of 2001) but gets an “offer” of a job in Texas requiring several months of “training” at an Academy in West Texas (near Abilene). The idea is to become an “asset person” capable of helping the country recover after massive terrorist-induced calamity (and it’s curious that I had thought some of this through in the 80s, (“Rapture of the Believers”, April 4, 2014, and then the first “Tribunal and Rapture”, April 6, 2014). There is a certain work ethic, dealing with the idea that “the buck stops with me” and “there is no They”.

The “Academy” sets Bill up with an apartment in Dallas, and lets him “go home” ever few weeks. At a nearby restaurant, he meets “The Prodigy”, a young man named “Matt”, working in a restaurant. It turns out that Matt has some ties to the Academy, but Bill learns about this on weekend field trips to Oklahoma, somewhere around the Wichita Mountains. Gradually, some of the other characters (from TR II) begin to appear at the Academy, including Naomi, who may be Matt’s mother.

Bill’s encounters with Matt (a softball game, then a chess game) become more personal and borderline intimate. Bill is “invited” to meet Matt at a hideway in Arizona, on the Mogollon Rim, near the site of the Travis Walton UFO abduction in 1975. Bill hitches a ride there from another one of the young men at the Academy,

In a remote hut in the desert (looking like an out-of-place ski yurt) Bill and Matt have an intimate encounter, which is very satisfying to Bill. Suddenly, Matt dematerializes. Bill leaves the scene, and find he enjoys having Matt’s body (in David Lynch fashion) until he returns to Dallas. At that point, he is stuck with his own elderly male body again, and hears on the news that Matt’s dismembered corpse has been found. Bill goes back to see his mother in Virginia, but US Marshalls and police track him down, and he is arrested.

He is held without bond in Arizona, but introduced to a mystery woman named Tovina, who prods him into having sex when she gets into his jail cell. The state drops homicide charges for insufficient evidence, but it wants to prosecute him for prosecuting a minor, because Matt was supposedly 17 at the time, and the age of consent in the state in 18. There is a trial and Bill is convicted of misdemeanor charges and sent to a work camp. Tovina intervenes, and Bill is taunted by a fat prisoner named Oeter. Bill stabs Oeter in the gut at about the time aliens arrive in Arizona. Bill breaks out of prison, and goes back up north to a “nighthike initiation”, after which the world will know that aliens have landed.

The book was set up in 25 chapters, and there was a complete text by early 2003.

After I returned to Virginia, I hit upon the idea of developing a larger novel around the core, with the pre-histories of Matt, his mother, and of the characters who run the Academy (Frankie, who had earlier dealings with Bill, and a mysterious “fallen angel” named Femeri). Of some interest is an opening sequence where Naomi bought a condo from Bill in Dallas in the 80s, lost a husband and child, and then had another child, Matt, under supernatural circumstances. It was necessary to space the years of the pre-story properly so the “age of consent” issue could make sense.

 

Director of “Little Accidents” (look at a coal mining community) gives detailed remarks at Maryland Film Festival

IMG_9392 Sunday night (May 11, 2014) I went to a screening of “Little Accidents“, the new film about life in a coal mining community in West Virginia by Sara Colangelo, with tragedy and redemption. She had a lot of remarks about the writing of the script, with sponsorship from the Sundance Institute, based on her earlier short film of the same name in 2010. Part 1: Part 2: Jorge Ameer had expanded a short film with his 2006 suspense gay sci-fi film “The House of Adam”  (April 18 here). There was an after-party for the festival just north of the Charles Center area.

I “almost” see a fibbie (?) remote viewing center for ET’s; books and films on aliens; remembering Dan Fry and Understanding

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Yesterday, I was returning from Lynchburg, VA on US-29, and got curious about checking the “Monroe Institute” that is mentioned in the 1996 book “Cosmic Voyage: A Scientific Discovery of Extraterrestrials Visiting Earth”, by Courtney Brown, published by Dutton.

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The books describes a process called “remote viewing” with astral projection, which is accomplished by a variety of spiritual disciplines and meditation. It goes on to describe the idea that there was a civilization on Mars billions of years ago, before a tragedy (the planet lost its magnetic field and most of its atmosphere). They seemed to have some powers that we don’t have. I have some more detailed comments on my own DADT site here.

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Brown suggested in 1996 that the federal government and some private interests had set up a property called the Monroe Institute at Faber, VA. Now, it happens that country road 632, about 15 miles south of the Charlottesville bypass, is called Faber Road, and it leads to a baseball field and some unusual, secluded homes and estates. For all I know, there could be an “intentional community” there. However, I checked Google Maps, much more modern today than it was a decade ago, and found that the address given by the web site is actually on the west side of US 29 (on Roberts Mountain) and not on 632. The site has some photographs of the property, which you can view here. I’ll try looking for it again another time. It appears to be a private facility where you pay for extended stays (but that is how intentional communities, like Twin Oaks and Acorn, maybe 40 miles to the east (but still in the Piedmont) from there, work). It might be more like Lama Foundation in New Mexico (which I visited in 1980 and 1984 – origin of “Be Here Now” by Ram Das) but I’ll have to look into it further.

If in fact, humankind (and maybe all of life, or at least animal life) was seeded from Mars (or Venus before runaway greenhouse effect a billion years ago) or from any other solar system some light years away, it raises another question. If a person like “Clark Kent” really did exist, would he have all the legal rights of personhood? What it his DNA gave full human functionality and appearance (perhaps superior functionality in some areas) but could not produce a child when mated with a human? (Or perhaps he produces a “Rosemary’s Baby”.) Would Clark legally be human? Would he be protected by the law? The next time you see a teenager disappear (dematerialize) and reappear instantly in another location, ask yourself.

The “dadt” link above also reviews a book “The Day After Roswell” (1997, Pocket Books), by Philip Corso, who claims that the Cold War was really a guise for building a defense against aliens, like in the 1996 film “Independence Day” where a president Bill Pullman (a David Lynch actor) plays hero. Don’t forget that Paramount made a TV film of “Roswell” in 1994. And Minnesota-based director Timothy B. Johnson (whom I met in 2000 while living in Minneapolis) directed “Six Days in Roswell”.

In 1975, while living in New York City, I learned about an organization founded by Dan Fry, “Understanding”. I found out about it from a pamphlet at a vendor on 86th St as I left a movie theater. I visited the area in Arizona of Travis Walton’s abduction (Robert Liebeman’s film “Fire in the Sky” for Paramount in 1993) near the Mogollon Rim in Arizona, and met a journalist who totally believed the story. I tracked down the “saucer city” at Tonopah just off I-10 40 miles west of Phoenix and met the Fry’s. This was December, 1975, when it was unusually cold for low desert Arizona. I would attend conventions at Understanding in October 1976, 1977, April 1978, and (in Upton CA), the fall of 1979. The 1978 convention was called “Man in Space”. I remember a speaker who warned that one coke of coffee could destroy one’s psychic abilities. We believe we saw a real UFO at night in the 1978 convention.

The Understanding property seems to have disappeared; there is a cotton plantation there now.

Daniel Fry’s life and works are presented on a website in his memory, here.

His best known book (self-published) is “To Men of Earth”. (based on “The White Sands Incident”).  Fry claims that while he was in the military and stationed in New Mexico, he was abducted in the desert and introduced to a young man named “Alan” who would then appear on Earth and function like a regular person. “Alan” met messenger. Fry would get fake documents for him, and help him get a job. This could make an interesting film if someone wanted to try making it. It’s a little more subtle than “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (both versions).

Another book was “Atoms, Galaxies and Understanding”. Fry claimed that the results from the first 1976 Viking lander on Mars might really have indicated life.

I helped sponsor a unit of Understanding in New York City. In early May, 1976, about 40 people came to a meeting in my small apartment in the Cast Iron Building “between the Villages”. One member was transsexual (female to male) and claimed to have been abducted somewhere near Harriman Park NY (40 miles N of Manhattan off the Thruway) in the mid 1970s.

Published: Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at 10 PM EDT.  The third picture is a bizarre strip mine for sand east of US 29 near Faber.