Category Archives: My screenplays-DADT-conscripted

Two other books with “special” narratives in the LGBT area, by Bazhe and Baker; why they matter to my writing now

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In the screenplay “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” which I am about half-way through rewriting (as a shooting script) in a modern Final Draft 9 (which has a lot more facilities for identifying scenes and making notes), I presume that a character, Bill Ldzet, like me finds he has been abducted and is living in an ashram inside a large space station (part of it on a huge centrifuge to increase gravity) created by “angels”.  He undergoes a certain amount of “re-education”, maybe with a slight amount of Maoist purification.

One problem is identifying all the other characters, and tracing their past association with Bill on Earth, and how that creates tensions among them.  Then, there is the question, why is “Bill” special enough to get all this attention?  What about the life narratives of everyone else there?

Part of the answer is that there are not that many other senior citizens on the ashram, who would have a life narrative as long and convoluted as mine.  (The movie “Youth“, for example, as a point of comparison, presents Michael Caine playing a conductor/composer at a spa, retired and apathetic, gradually getting the back stories of a couple other seniors there, especially an aging film director/screenwriter (Harvey Keitel) and an aging actress (Jane Fonda).)

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In fact, I do believe my own life story, through age 72, is indeed very unusual.  That’s one reason I remain “stuck” on mining it for more ironies, rather than getting hired to write other peoples’.  But there are a couple of books, both self-published and from iUniverse, that tell stories of comparable complexity.

One of the best is “Damages“, by B. K. Bazhe (2002).  The author (from the Balkans) tells a complex story of eldercare, dealing with communism and Islam, military service, sexual orientation, and even some cross-dressing requiring “depilation”.  I have a detailed review on a legacy site here.  I met Bazhe in Minneapolis in the summer of 2003 when he was on a speaking tour, shortly before I moved back to the DC area to start looking after my own mother myself.  Don’t confuse the title with “Dispatches” which is an HBO-Channel4 (Britain) film about anti-gay discrimination in Russia.  The books was well reviewed in Minneapolis gay papers in early 2003, as a story that needed to be told, maybe even filmed.

Another such book is “The Sound of One Horse Dancing“, an autobiographical novel by Tom Baker, reviewed by me in 2012 on Blogger here.  Baker was caught up in an incident at the College of William and Mary in the fall of 1963, two years after I was expelled from there in the fall of 1961, but he would eventually graduate and has been active with William and Mary GALA (I met him first at a book fair in New York City in March 2012).   I’m not sure how much of the “novel” is “true” but it presents rejection by family, a lot of conformist social pressures to compete in conventional ways to get business, a job firing, and then making a living as a hustler in the days just before Stonewall.  Baker has authored at least two other books.

I suppose these narratives would deserve “special” status in the plot logic behind the “ashram”.  But the way the screenplay is set up, some sort of effort would have been set up on the space station in advance to receive anyone chosen as “special” enough.

I’ll add that I talked to the William and Mary libraries (Gregg Swem and Law School (Marshall-Wythe) by phone last week.  The Law School has my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book (don’t know if it is the original 1997 printing, or the 2000 iUniverse which is expanded, more durable, and has some typo  fixes).   The 1997 printing it completely out of stock (and a collector’s item).  The library also has my little 98 page 1998 booklet “Our Fundamental Rights and How We Can Reclaim Them: A Psychological Approach” (original printing only, no POD).  I did encourage the LS library to purchase the next two in my DADT series and to check to see if it has Baker’s book (since Baker graduated from WM).  I would echo the encouragement for Bazhe’s book, which is a complex narrative relating sexual orientation and gender  identity to other social issues (like inherited family responsibility for elders) and political issues in an international context — even more critical today given what happens in Russia, Africa, and the Islamic world.

 

 

Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” and (especially) “Rendezvous with Rama”

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Two particular science fiction novels by Arthur C. Clarke need to be noted on this blog.

Childhood’s End” (1953), will soon be aired as a 6-hour, 3 part series on the SyFy Channel starting Dec. 14, 2015 (link).   I read the novel in 1969, while in the Army at Ft. Eustis.  I recall the arrival of the Overllords, the leader Karellen (who was depicted as looking like an eagle but capable of looking human), and the period of peace and prosperity for Earth (as the Cold War with the Soviet Union was getting going more after Eisenhower took office).  Then a gifted star child is born, and, as I recall, his charisma spreads to other kids, who finally become a group-mind, leading to a ritualistic apocalypse on the final page.

I did watch the series and reviewed it here.

Rendezvous with Rama” (1972) is relevant to my own “Do Ask,, Do Tell: Epiphany” screenwriting project.  There has long been a film project involving Morgan Freeman which Wikipedia describes as being in “development hell”.  It would be possible to imagine crowdfunding, given the popularity of the novel.

The story starts in 2077, when an asteroid hit causes huge casualties and damage on Earth, coming close to permanent extinction.  60 years later, in 2037, Earth has set up better early warning systems, and sends out a space party to examine the approaching craft, which turns out to be a 50-km-long cylinder, rotating to create artificial gravity on the inside surface, and with interesting landscapes and cities inside, divided into two “hemi-cylinders” by a “cylindrical sea”.

There is a scene where an astronaut jumps off a cliff in this world.  My understanding is that artificial gravity requires contact with the inner surface to work, so that the actual surface presses on you and creates “weight” from your mass;  there is no “field” to pull on you without contact (that requires mass, which “Star Trek” gets around with super dense (like neutron-star material) gravity plates underneath).


In my own screenplay, there is a an alien “angels'” space station on Titan, which has 1/7 Earth’s gravity, so the “ashram” (with the “abductees”, so to speak) is built on the inside of a Rama cylinder that sits perpendicular to the surface.  (Of, if NASA has seen it, they just won’t tell us!) But the pull of Titan would still distort the sense of gravity, producing a sense of tilting, and could pull a person (at a velocity of the square root of 1/7 Earth’s) toward a “wall” if he jumped off the group, so people would need magnetic shoes until they got used to the environment.  I’ve wondered how you could really jog inside a rotating space station depending on centrifugal effects for gravity.

(Published: Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, at 1:30 PM EST)

“Dark City” may bear some resemblance to my own screenplay(s)

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On a recent trip, a friend, a high school English teacher, mentioned the 1998 film “Dark City“, directed by Alex Proyas, from New Line.  I recall seeing the film in Minnesota and that Roger Ebert loved it.

The film is a bit parallel to my own (in development) “Do Ask, Do Tell” script in that a protagonist wakes up in an alien environment and is not sure how he could have gotten there.

It turns out that the “Dark City” is a kind of artificial alien planetoid, with a boundary called “Shell Beach”.  The protagonist, John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) and has to interact with the mysterious Dr. Schreber (Keifer Sutherland) and inspector Bumstead (William Hurt).  It seems as though the city, which is rather like an overgrown toy world, is always being manipulated and changed by the “Strangers” who are endangered aliens.  Murdoch is also wrongly suspected of a “murder”.

You could say that the “strangers” are roughly analogous to the “angel candidates” in my script, but then there needs to be an equivalence to the other “proles” (like “Bill”) and even to the kids growing up there.

I don’t have an equivalent concept to “trading identities” or mixing the timeline life memories of various individuals;  but that instead is something that happens in my novel “Angel’s Brother” (with the help of  a bizarre virus that encapsulates mini black holes).

The movie has been compared to the Matrix Trilogy, which is a bit of a stretch (I did like the surface alien world shown at the end of the third “Matrix” movie).  And this film could also be compared to my “Baltimore Is Missing” (discussed Jan. 29, 2014).

(Published: Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, at 3 PM EDT)

What “Do Ask, Do Tell: Conscripted” should look like

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One way to work up my screenplay for “Do Ask, Do Tell: Conscripted” (which I may call “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany“), before tackling the shooting script, is to imagine what a reviewer would say about the hypothetical finished movie.

First, it does seem like a device for me to tell my own unusual life’s narrative, in layered flashbacks.  (On the other hand, while I appear as a background character in the novel “Angel’s Brother”, the novel is told through the eyes of two male characters, one a  conventionally married “spy” and another gifted male college student who draws him into a relationship.)

The film, whatever the personal backstories, will offer a view of what an “alien” civilization might look like — first, a microcosm of it built on a space station near Titan, and then at least a vision of the home planet (or maybe that’s just a tidally locked outpost).

The film would open, before credits, with “me” trying to awaken myself in a dark place, that might come across as “The Core” of a NDE.  Then a flashback into the substitute teaching sequence (mid 2000’s), all shown in BW starts.  But soon we see two other imposing young male characters. One, Brutus, is physically preparing Randall for telepathic viewing of Bill’s consciousness (the actual ritual at this point is minimal). Then a third geek-like kid, Tim, joins them and sets up a lot of software for all the “other candidates” to remote view Bill’s life.

Bill’s narrative continues (it culminates with the background of this posting).  The narrative is itself fiction, a piece that he had posted online in 2005 and that had gotten him fired from his job as a sub and in the territory of possible prosecution. But the film reaches a point in Bill’s fiction where the character Craig (who is Brutus in “real life”) saves Bill’s life at school with a defibrillator.  Bill comes to, with Brutus and mostly Randall tending to him, and wondering where he is.  Is he in the afterlife?  In a hospital?  Prison?  Abducted by aliens to another planet, or at least a space station?

Soon Bill is escorted outside on what looks like an alien world, but not so different from ours (maybe like China). He is placed in solitary confinement in a tunnel with nothing but a trolley track and finds it featureless.  He figures out that he seems to be inside a tube set up as a Mobius strip.

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As Randall progresses in “mindreading” Bill’s screenplay, he finally lets Bill out of the tunnel, but in a new area of the “planet” that seems separated from where he was before.  Bill is sent to a somewhat primitive living quarters, barracks-like, with ammenties about what would have been around in 1900.

While Bill adjusts to the other inhabitants of this commune, a few of them seem to be “non-conforming” adults like him, Randall reads the rest of Bill’s story (“The Sub”).  Bill finds he will have to learn to do his part in a community, and is scheduled for training in “practical work” (like foundry, carpentry, even some sports) at various other locations in the “space ashram”, which are set up in separate little communities that simulate the world as it was around  the time of Christ, then 1775, 1900, 1950, and a city “on the other side” that is for the more privileged and is something like a little Hong Kong, according to rumor.  Outside, there is perpetual twilight, a mild climate, and photosynthetic  plants that are darker, almost black, than on Earth.

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Eventually, Bill, by making rail trips back and forth to the “clinic” in the “Hong Kong” area, will learn how the place is set up.  Bill is told that he needs some surgery — they’ll try to be respectful of what is left of his body.  The HK place is more luxurious, as if good enough for Ed Snowden.  But the entire colony is a bit like a “Rama”, with artificial gravity from centripetal force.  A subway connects the “dominions”, said to be set up to resemble another Mobius strip (as at an amusement park in Orlando, maybe).

In time, the rest of the set up becomes apparent.  A number of young adults have been assembled and are in some sort of contest for “immortality”.  They will go back to some other distant planet.  And a selected portion of Earth’s inhabitants, who “qualify”, will eventually be invited to go.  It’s logical to expect that the home planet (Earth) is in deep trouble.

Their destination is interesting — a tidally locked planet with landscapes that will resemble what has been set up artificially on this space station, which has been constructed by “angels” on Titan.

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Bill apparently will play judge — something like a game of “Mother May I” among the candidates, but like an Army recruit, he has to get through his own training and even the PT tests.  (Remember the PCPT in Army Basic in 1968?)

The candidates seem to first think they are in a competition, rather like players at a table of “Clue” (or maybe Bridge or Poker in Las Vegas back on Earth, for that matter).  They note the difference between “chance” card games, and “deterministic” contests like chess. (Football, soccer, and baseball are somewhere in between.) In due course, they learn to cooperate and share more of what they know, as a paradox of self-interest.

In time, a couple of them (a cybersecurity guru named Wechsler, and a physicist named Aaron) interview Bill about what must have happened to his real substitute teaching job.  Aaron, it turns out, was one of Bill’s students and was involved in the backstory behind the reaction of the school system to finding Bill’s screenplay online.

In time, several of the other candidates are lightly “prepped” physically, and they all learn each other’s connections to Bill in the past, and can “remote view” them through a “Viewmaster”. At this point, Bill starts to remember his circumstances before his “abduction”, having to do with his mother’s being in hospice and then suddenly improving and returning home.   The other candidates can now view the other big incident in his life, the “William and Mary Expulsion”, and how that had led to his involvement in overturining DADT.

Bill has his surgery, survives, and continues “basic training”.  He learns that other people who were brought to the ashram expect to move, but will not be immortal, and will have to be able to reproduce in space.  So Bill realizes he will have to, as Tovina, who helps run the 1900 colony, draws closer to him, even tempting a new kind of heterosexual curiosity Bill had never explored before.

Then Bill discovers that a couple of older people in the ashram had been connected to him during the earlier troubled period of his college years.  They all discover that if they cross the “Mobius subway” to a special compartment below, they become young again.

A major issue will be, in what sense is Bill “special” and asymmetric, and deserving of this usual treatment, compared to all the other people in the ashram (including children raised there).

Finally, they set up a concert in the 1950 area, and Bill wants to play some of it “on the other side”.  After the concert, the “Tribunal” from Bill’s WM narrative unfolds, and the angel candidates have to line up for their competition, to find out who will “win” (the “rules” are in a posting here June 9, 2014). They all find out how Bill was “abducted” and his narrow escape when he arrived.

Bill finally impregnates Tovina, but only when he is stimulated first by the “winner”.  (The final ritual could be quite erotic.)  They return to Earth, and learn of the major tribulations faced, as many parts of the country are now without power after a solar storm.

Bill realizes he has in fact survived a peculiar kind of NDE.  He learns his mother is still alive, and, in a broken world, ponders a second journey “home”.  But he loses his self-control just once, and is taken out for good.  The real nature of “death” is shown.

But many of the other people do move on and board for an “Interstellar” migration.

(Published Thursday, July 30, 2015, at 7 PM.)

 

 

Character list for screenplay “Do Ask, Do Tell: Conscripted”

Here is a list of characters in my screenplay treatment and script “Do Ask, Do Tell: Conscripted”  (July 17, 2014):

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Name Gender.DOB physical identification location, category role, access
Bill Ldzet M, 1943 elderly me 3-1900, abductee trainee, source of narrative, intended return
Randall M, 1995 Undergrad student, philosophy 78,200,32,103-104-90 0-station, abductee angel cand; interviewer, reviewer
Brutus M,1995 video artist, possibly alien 79(?), 195,31,102-104-0 0-station, alien angel, telepathic, reviewer
Adam M,1989 physicist, part of Bill backstory-S 70, 160, 30, 103-104-70 1-city, abductee angel cand, reviewer
Ricky M, 1948 prole immaterial 3-1900, abductee cook, housekeeper; interviewer

(Published, Thursday June 18, 2015 at 4:30 PM EDT)

 

“Do Ask, Do Tell: Conscripted”: Film proposal

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Do Ask, Do Tell: Conscripted” is currently my most important film treatment of my three DADT books.

The basic set-up is that “Bill” (me) suddenly wakes up in a barren room, and is processed by a sequence of young-men, into an apprenticeship experience in a small “extraterrestrial” world.  While he is going through a certain kind of purgatory, he will wind up in the position of judging which (additional) young men become angels.  He may be able to return to Earth, but it will soon undergo tribulations.

At first, he doesn’t know where he is.  This could be end-of-life (a near-death experience), or a job interview, or jail, or some kind of apprenticeship.   While he reminisces or daydreams, the other men decipher his story.  He settles into a community, one of several on a space station constructed on Titan, a moon of Saturn. He gradually gets to show what he can do (music is central to the effort), and will be tested before returning to Earth, as will the men who tend to him.

The film has a variety of constructs, and it’s helpful to consider them separately.

Construct Set I: Storytelling layers.

The “immediately reality” of life on the spaceship is shown through sepia tones of reduced color sensitivity and unusual hues (as for plants), as might be found on another planet.  Bill may experience this layer with partial color-blindness.

The “true history” layer is Bill’s own historical backstory, and is shown in full color.   The “true history” is known to other “angels” (or “candidates”) through Bill’s own social media.  The story became known through legal proceedings on Earth necessary after Bill’s own “fantasy” (screenplay), “The Sub”, created a disruption when he was substitute teaching.

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The “fantasy” layer is Bill’s own screenplay, “The Sub”, and is shown in black and white,  It was considered disturbing in large part because it shows Bill’s fantasy of a “peak experience” in conjunction with a brief homosexual relationship.  (There are details on March 6, 2014 in my “Do Ask, Do Tell Notes blog here, and the “behind the scenes” secrets will be explored in the screenplay.) The lead “angel”, named “Brutus”, believes he is the “Clark Kent-like” character in the screenplay.  Brutus can read the screenplay through telepahty, and another character,  Timo, has the technology to translate the telepathic materials to digital video, but only in black and white.

Construct Set II:  The Communities

The  “angels” have a base on Titan, with a power plant, hospital, their own living quarters, and space port.  The geography of Titan, with methane lakes, is presented.

Attached to Titan is a long, more or less rectangular and two-sided rama, or Post.  It has a variety of communities where residents (other captured humans) live and train new arrivals, such as

(1) The modern city Urbana

(2) The 1950world

(3) The 1900 world

(4)  The 1775 world

(5) The BC world  (the model layout has a Middle Ages world, and an 1850 world, too(

Two railroads and one regular road with tram run through the communities.  There is also an underground monorail set up as a Mobius Strip.  Candidates can cross the Strip rail and sometimes experience themselves as they were at earlier points in their lives.

There is also a “Core” tunnel, where an initiate is placed before release into training, for testing of his resolve.

Construct III: The characters

The movie does center around “Bill”, and an angel “Brutus”.

There are several other strong young adult male characters who interact with Bill, and seem to be “candidates”.  “Randall” apparently lives and works in “The City”.  The other characters work in the other communities, about two per area.

Each community has permanent residents (only a few of whom were “abducted” recently from Earth, according to rumor)  who seem to have children but who live in larger social units than nuclear families.  Most of them see Bill (and the angel candidates) as a bit privileged and potentially as having authority over them.  A woman. Tovina, in the 1900-level community, will develop a certain “romance” and Bill will be surprised at his receptivity.  There seems to be a small birth rate, enough to sustain a small “planet” population to support the angels’ efforts.  Most feel they live in an authoritarian environment and tend to be obedient. Some of the children may be intended to become angels and have “powers” when they visit Earth!

Some characters from Bill’s past appear (at least one is an angel candidate, in the 1775 commune). They are contemporaries of Bill but can become “younger” by crossing the monorail at certain places.

There is an issue of what peer characters could be “candidates” at other communities.  Most peers have some of Bill”s personality issues:  physical inertia, schizoid, judgmentalism, some issues with focus or regimentation, fantasy.  They probably aren’t quite as close as Bill to the edge between “divergence” and “factionless”.  But they may be even more sensitive than Bill to some other issues with the angels: like fleeting powers (telepathy, telekenesis, maybe rare teleportation).  They could be of varied age, gender and race.

Construct IV:  Communications:

The other characters (mostly young adults expecting to become “angels”) have various was of communication.  Some of it is the typical Internet and mobile phone technology, with super command of programming.  But some of it is also telepathy.  Because (as in “Angel’s Brother”) telepathy can communicate deeper consciousness and the “free will” track of another, it has more effect in enabling an individual candidate angel to oppose entropy, even without reproducing conventionally.  Therefore, the candidate angel might remain young much longer/

More on plot:

The “life story” of Bill has its own ironies, twists and turns.  Bill comes to expect that the “angels” will help him solve it, and explain some of the hidden mysteries (or at least coincidences) behind some of the incidents.

The movie actually starts with the embedded screenplay “The Sub” and carries it to the point that Bill has a cardiac arrest while substitute-teaching PE and trying to play softball (after just batting).  He “comes to” in sepia color in the patient room, but that is in the hospital om Titan, where the “real” Brutus sees him,.  But there is another character, Randall,  in charge of his case, and apparently just another “candidate” for the angelic host.  Randall lives in the “urban” community and is somewhat advantaged.  Another character of some interest, TomPom, lives in a more “primitive” community than where Bill is sent.

Bill travels to the infirmary or the headquarters a few times by underground monorail, where he cannot see the layout of the place at first.  The entire set-up is a little bit like a military base, in that when someone lives there and is trained, he gradually sees more of it, although always being marches back to the “company area” (like in Army Basic — hence the title of the film).  As he goes to different training assignments, he can travel above ground and see the progress of the place.  He has to accept a more “regimented” and simplified way of life, resembling both military basic training but also life in an “intentional community”.

In time, he learns he has to have heart surgery, to cure the problem that he suspected in his own screenplay (which in the fiction setting he dies).  It will be of the keyhole laproscopic variety, to reduce the impact on his body, so that the “tribunal” session at the end is as effective as possible.

As he passes through the training sessions, he meets a few people from his past, especially when he gives a piano concert, shortly before the final “tribunals”.  At least two of them sharing the experience of “looking younger” after transiting the Mobius element of the monorail .

The final “tribunal” (mentioned in his own book as a hazing ceremony at William and Mary back in 1961) will put the “angelic contestants” and Bill through the same rituals.  Bill will prove that he can “perform” with Tovina and provide the community with progeny, before he can go back, to find a world that has indeed been changed.

(First published Thursday, July 17, 2014, at 11:55 PM EDT; to be continued).