Film “Racing Extinction”, QA with director Louie Psihoyos and others, DC Environmental Film Festival


The screening of “Racing Extinction” was held at the Carnegie Science Center in Washington DC on May 29. 2015 at 7 PM, as the closing night event for the DC Environmental Film Festival

Question and Answer clips

1 : Louie Psihoyos says that the Internet makes environmental messages spread more quickly




5   Note the quantity of actual carbon in a tank of gasoline

6   Even race car drivers like Elon Musk’s Tesla

7   This is about “starting a movement”, not just making movies




(Published Monday March 30, 2015 at 1:45 PM EDT)

Books on libertarianism


As a political and cultural tradition, libertarianism has always offered the publication of a large number of books.

Probably the most straightforward series of books is that by Cato Institute scholar David Boaz.   In 1996, The Free Press published a duet of books:  “Libertarianism: A Primer” to be accompanied by a long collection of essays edited by Boaz “The Libertarian Reader“.  In 2015, Boaz rewrote and updated the primer with “The Libertarian Mind“, now published by Simon & Schuster.  I will give a more detailed review soon on my Book Review blog on Google’s Blogger.

Boaz’s narratives are rather straightforward and stick to basic principles, like non-aggression, freedom to contract, personal responsibility, and the idea that clear boundaries in the rule of law should exist when rights come into conflict.  He pays more attention to “gay rights” in the second version, but still emphasizes the idea of marriage as a private contract, an idea already gaining traction with other libertarian-oriented writers (like Jonathan Rauch) in the 1990s.


Of course, the best known writer might have been former Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne (“How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World“) but Charles Murray may have been the most provocative.  In 1997, he had written the little missive “What It Means to Be a Libertarian“,  but in 2012 he wrote the stunning “Coming Apart“, where he analyzed the breakdown of “social capital”, which he says is particularly harming lower income or working class communities (he examined the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia).   In fact, Boaz seems to share Murray’s concerns about voluntary social cohesion, pointing out that community-centered or “fraternal” companies and organizations (like in life insurance) have tended to serve special needs of people better than government.

My own series of “Do Ask, Do Tell” books has a history that somewhat parallels Boaz’s.  My first book came out about a year after Boaz’s “Primer”, and I was writing it at about the same time.  And my DADT III book was written about the same time as Boaz’s “rewrite”.  There are major differences.  My books have a lot of personal narratives, which Boaz does not (although the essays do).  Curiously, Boaz calls the third book “A Manifesto for Freedom”, and my first book (in 1997) was often called “The Manifesto” by friends.  I spend much more attention to the motivations others have for interfering with personal lives and expressions and demanding loyalty and solidarity with “the group”, even in areas like the military draft as well as public health.

One could even say that Jack Andraka’s “Breakthrough: How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World” is a libertarian book, when it comes to the spirt of innovation.

(Published Friday, March 20, 2015 at 11:30 PM EDT.)

Entering my Sonata #3: Progress


I have started entering a lot more passages from my “Piano Sonata #3” from 1962, and then 1974, in Sibelius 7.5 on a new MacBook in an OS 10.2 Yosemite platform.

The first two movements, and most of the slow movement were composed in the spring of 1962, after I had entered George Washington University and was “living at home” after my William and Mary “expulsion” for admitting “latent homosexuality” the previous November. My father had experienced a mild “heart attack” over the stress and was sometimes unnerved by the volume of classical music coming up from the basement.  Some of the music, especially a theme in the slow movement, recalls that period.

I finished the slow movement and sketched out a finale while living in Piscataway, NJ in 1974, and traveling back and forth to St Paul MN while working for Univac.

I’ll give the “names” of the files, really for my own reference (they aren’t online as such), and note how they were entered.

A segment entered manually (“M”) is fitted to the measures exactly.  A segment recorded through the Midi from an electric piano is harder to read and doesn’t match the measures yet.

In the first three movements. all files have the form “Sonata3Mov1,,,: (or Mov2 or Mov3)

First movement

Ein:  Introduction, Molto Moderato, 4/4

E1  Exposition  C Major. Allegro Moderato, 2/2   page 2

E2  Exposition, A minor, second theme, Scherzando, page 3

D1 Development  Adagio, 4/4 no signature

D2   Moderato, F# Major, based on second theme

D2c  twelve tone fugato, Andante, 4/4  tone row based on first theme

About seven pages of development remain to be scored

R1  Recapitulation, 4/4, Eb Minor, based on first theme, Allegro Maestoso,  R2-R4 continue the Recapitulation with a “false start trick” to go to Ab Minor before returning to C for the second theme (to introduce more asymmetry — remember how the Recapitulation of Mozart’s famous C Major Sonata 15 first movement is a mirror of the exposition, starting in F, that’s a little boring). The Coda R5 goes suddenly to minor, Mahler-style, and introduces the descending third fragment to come back in the Finale.

7 pages of recapitulation remain.  The second theme slows down and reappears in C Major.  Then a new descending third “applause” motive appears, and leads to a quiet coda that suddenly turns to minor.

Second movement: Scherzo

E1 and E2:  Main theme, A-flat major, 3/4, Vivace, a lot of octave passage work, repeated rhythm cycles almost like Bruckner.

T1:  Trio, F Major.  This is a comic majestic section with lots of blocked chords in varying rhythms, followed by leggerio passage work, in many cycles.  The trio is long and takes 9 pages (just 2 are coded). There is a deliberately pedantic nature to it.

Main theme returns, briefly

A second trio, in C# Minor, 3/4 waltz (“Valse Triste”) rhythm, much shorter than the first

Main theme returns, about 5 pages, ends in a flourish, FF.

Third Movement: Elegy (slow movement)

E1  starts with a stately introduction, a twelve tone theme, but harmonized artificially in E-flat minor.

It then proceeds to a second theme, in F# Minor,  Adagio, the “father theme”, although there is a little bit of similarity to the slow movement theme of the Hammerklavier, but this is much more florid. (It’s not quite a “chamber of sorrows”).

E2 is a perfunctory fugato in B-flat minor, followed by a reprise of the “father theme”, expanded into octaves and four voices.

Then R1, “Religiosos”, is a 2-minute hymn, slow tempo, in B Major, very chromatic, rather like a Liszt Consolation.  It could be played stand alone (like as a church offertory).  It would work on an organ. It is essentially the “middle section” of the slow movement.

D1 and D2 “develop” the “father” theme and as well as  the opening tone-row.  They build up to a loud climax.

Here, I want to add a “cadenza” with some chordal passages showing how chromaticism and twelve-tone are equivalent, and introduce a fragment of the “Applause” theme for the finale. After great shouts, the movement will play the opening dirge in retrograde, harmonized again in E-flat minor, and close quietly and simply.

The Finale exists in hand sketch, one manually entered opening, then many passages recorded at the Casio.

The opening Allegretto, C Major (nominally) is a fugato  (“MSonat3FinaleS1”), 2/4 but with changing tempi (7/8 at one point), seemingly playful.

The Fugato “development) occurs in E2, E2a, E3a, mixing toccata-like fugal writing with dissonant chords.

The fugato generates a couple more playful themes, almost by asexual budding, as if to defend the introverted, solitary personality. The music becomes more chordal and modal, with tempo changes, until the true “second subject” appears, which I call the “Hold Applause” theme, based on a dream, but appropriate when a pianist wants to assemble a single uninterrupted program from contrasting composers.  The theme starts in F# Major, migrates though minor thirds to C before coming back to F#.  It is hymn-like, and may recall a Chopin military polonaise.

After more perambulations of the scherzo-like theme, the Applause theme occurs again with great majesty as a Rachmaninoff-style big tune, migrating from F# gradually back to C.

Hymn theme files:  HoldAppauseHymn1, HoldApplause1

Conclusion: Su701FsApplauseTheme (more melodic variety toward end), Su702Cfrom FS

(Published Tuesday,  March 17, 2015, 11:50 PM EDT)





A note about jobs and roles in film production


Because I’ve discussed a number of my own proposed film projects on this blog, and mentioned those of others of which I am aware recently in social media, I thought this would be a good time to review a few of the functions.

The main concept to mention is that typically an Executive Producer supervises the actual Producer(s), and director(s) and other screenwriters (producing the shooting script), who may be supervised first by the producer(s).  The concepts are explained on the PGA website here.  For a film where the content comes from an author who actively promotes the making of a film as he or she imagines it been viewed (without changes), the author may well wind up as an Executive Producer.  But the EP also has to be concerned with finding funding or investors and satisfying them. The concept could well apply to  completing an unfinished film from another source.

Typically there is some arrangement to compensate the EP in various steps.

While I’m mainly concerned with how to produce one of my own scripts, I am interested in assisting other artists with some specific possible projects of which I am aware.  The list is pretty narrow.


(Published: Monday, March 16, 2015, around 11:30 PM EDT)

Will my novel, screenplays be “too close to my own life” for (other people’s) comfort? When will “Imajica” come to the screen?


Today I did discuss the subject of fiction disclaimers for the “fiction” part of my “Do Ask, Do Tell III” book on the notes WP blog.

There’s a remaining question:  when people write fiction, should they write stories modeled after situations they have been in or could be in?  Is fiction expected to be “politically correct” with respect to gender and race interchangeability?   It’s true, the most successful novelists seem to do well with scenarios far away from their own surroundings.

One of my screenplay treatments largely occurs on another planet, and the main one occurs on a “space station” near or on Titan, a moon of Saturn.  But unlike “fantasy” (which is essentially a “parallel universe” concept with no possible contact with Earth), my scenarios all assume that contact with “aliens” is possible and should happen.  In fact, the changes that would happen for life on Earth, over time, is of interest to me.  So I have to deal with problems like speed of light limits, black holes (maybe miniature), and wormholes.

That’s also true of the novel “Angel’s Brother”.

Generally, not all my characters can be interchangeable.  Usually, at least one is similar to me, but “I” and not always a “main” character (except in DADT-III as already published, and in the DADT-Conscripted screenplay).   In the novel, my past writings provide a lot of the “real” and rumored “backstories” for the main characters.  At least a few of them have to be “sexually attractive” in my value system, which means they have to be (fit) young adult white males.  Otherwise, there is no “tension”.  So be it.  But in the “conscripted” play, there should be at least one major character who differs from what “he” wants in order for him to understand the context of his mission.

As for the examples from other writers:  Tolkien would be the prime example of fantasy (with Hobbit and Lord of the Rings), along with all other fantasy like “Game of Thrones”.  “Harry Potter” is a kind of special case of fantasy.  Clive Barker’s “Imajica” has a richness comparable to Tolkien, with a major difference:  In this 1991 fantasy, the five “dominions” (essentially planets) are reconciled (by wormholes) so contact between them and Earth increasingly drives the apocalyptic conclusion of the plot, with a particular interpretation of Christianity.  This novel would be very controversial if filmed, but it is definitely Imax 3-D material (it would require two 150-minute films to cover the story).  It seems a natural for a company with a lot of contacts with British and Canadian film.  I prefer Lionsgate for this effort.  A lot of it would get filmed down under.

Another comparison is Frank Herbert’s “Dune” books and movies (80s), in which the various worlds have contact with one another but not Earth.  The same is true of “Star Wars”.  “Star Trek”, however, was simply far in the future for Earth; same for the “Alien” franchise.  “Pitch Black” (2000) was interesting. So is “Jupiter Ascending” where there is contact with Earth.


Update: March 16

I saw Disney’s remake of “Cinderella” tonight (Branagh’s direction, Weisz’s writing) and, yes, I am struck by how relationships and “marriage” are presented as mattering for the future of a people. I also see that the movie still would work (even better) if you do introduce race into it.  There were some gremlins in the kingdom that sound familiar from the other “Imajica” dominions.


I do have copies of the screenplays “Adaptation”, “Good Will Hunting” and “Storm of the Century”


As I prepare to revamp my major screenplay (“Do Ask, Do Tell: Conscripted”) and tidy-up at least three other works, I took a look at the printed screenplays I had purchased from Amazon years ago, probably when I was living in Minnesota. These appear to be “shooting scripts”.

The most important of these is “Adaptation” (2002) directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman, from Columbia.  I saw this film in a large complex in suburban Edina, MN.  As printed, the script runs just 100 pages, but there is a lot of commentary in the appendix.

This film is remarkable in that it is a “meta-film” — that is, a movie about writing a screenplay to adapt a book to film.  The book is “The Orchid Thief”  by Susan Orlean.   The main screenwriter (and actual writer for “Adaptation”) is Charlie Kaufman.  Now Kaufman has developed writer’s block and hates formulaic screenwriting. So do I!  He finds out that his twin brother (a doppelganger invented for the movie) has sold a horror movie screenplay “The 3”.  Both brothers are played by Nicholas Cage, but the effect in the film is more like that of other doppelganger movies like “Enemy” (Jake Gyllenhaal) and “The Double” (Jesse Eisenberg).  Gradually the film shifts from being about the screenwriting (and ideas in the industry like “spec script”) and the actual events in the novel, leading to a chase in the Florida Everglades and to murder, almost as in a Hitchcock film.  This movie was well liked by critics,

The screenplay draft follows all the industry standards, and doesn’t show the layering.  I have that issue in my own work, and find I need to set up a relational database and number the scenes on the database, and tie them to the draft.


This film is sometimes said to be a sequel of “Being John Malkovich” (Jan. 8, 2015).

The second film to discuss here is the uplifting “Good Will Hunting” (1996, Miramax), directed by Gus Van Sant. Matt Damon (then 26) plays the undiscovered math prodigy Will Hunting, Ben Affleck is his best friend in South Boston, and Robin Williams plays Will’s therapist. Will is very determined that his talents won’t be misused by the government (most of all, the NSA).  This was a very inspiring film when I saw it.  Remember the line, “It’s not your fault.”  This script is longer, 156 pages.

The third is Stephen King’s “Storm of the Century“, a six-hour miniseries on ABC in 1999.  King did not publish this as a novel, just as the screenplay, 376 pages for the equivalent of 3 films.  A monstrous visitor Linoges (Colm Feore) takes over Little Tall Island off the coast of Maine as a record-setting President’s Day weekend blizzard shuts down the town.  It is true that February is the most likely time of year for this kind of Noreaster. Remember the line “Give me what I want and I’ll go away”.  But what he wants is mysterious, and has a lot to do with the lost colony off Roanoke Island, NC back in the 15th Century.

(Published,  Monday,   March 9, 2015, about 12:15 PM EDT)