Category Archives: my work

Film treatment: “Two Road Trips”, based on the fiction section of my DADT III book

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The “Fiction” section of my “Do Ask, Do Tell III” book concludes with two short stories that present parallel road trips.  The first is called “Expedition“,  set in the Allegheny coal and strip mine country, and has a character like me about 28 years old; the second is called “The Ocelot the Way He Is“, and has me at my current age in present day, and is largely set on and near an “intentional community” in the Virginia Piedmont.

It would be natural to propose a two-part film based on this material, with each story taking 50-60 minutes.  I might have called this film “On the Road”, except for the fact that such a title has been used for a film about Jack Kerouac.  So I could call it “Two Road Trips“.   Or maybe I could title the entire work “The Home Team Bats Last“.

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The two stories in the book are preceded by a long chapter from my previously unpublished novel “The Proles” (March 25, 2014), depicting my 14-week experience in Army Basic training in 1968 after “volunteering” for the draft.  That section does not lend itself to film by itself, because there is no rooting interest involving other characters actually on site besides me (the novel has external characters who matter outside this chapter). But the period of my military service is important to connecting the two “road trips”.  So I pondered how I would present the relevant material in such a film.  I first thought the entire feature should have a 30-minute middle section, between the two road trips, with my narration, and showing the experience of Army Basic in fast images with relatively little dialogue.  But that setup would involve “author intrusion“. So I need a way to work the material back into the two real stories as flashback material.  And in film, the flashback may show “reality” as the narrator really experienced it in the past, but it must be clear how the other characters “on stage” understand the flashback material, and it must be material in some way to the overall plot.

The first of the two stories  is “Expedition“.  In 1972, “Bill” (Me at 28) attends a going-away-roast for a coworker Mark, whom Bill has admired with “upward affiliation” (today’s post on DADTNotes).  Then, to celebrate his own freedom from Mark’s influence, Bill heads (from a government Naval office in Washington DC) heads for Appalachia, where he will meet up with a former roommate from graduate school, Randy.   The two will tour the strip-mine country together, scarred by mountaintop removal. But Randy will have a surprise for Bill, a fiancee.

The second story is “The Ocelot the Way He Is” is in the book (Amazon).  starting on p. 281).  It is slightly longer but more complex.  In present day, Bill has put his dying mother (almost 100 years old)  into hospice. (In actual fact, she passed away at the end of 2010.)  That night, he goes to a piano concert given by a friend, whom he met at a local church, who is also a freshman in college somewhere in Virginia.  (I guess he will major in music, and he may resemble “Shane Lyons” [played by Timo Descamps]  from “Judas Kiss” a bit; he is charismatic and manipulative, but I wouldn’t say the negative things about the popular film character.) I called him Nolan, after the likable computer magnate [played by Gabriel Mann] in ABC’s “Revenge” — who is also charismatic, but quirky and manipulative.  You get the picture.)

Nolan’s grandfather keeps a hideway cabin for him in the Blue Ridge foothills, not so far from college, where Nolan works in his music and technology.   The cabin is near an intentional community, with its own cast of characters, just a short bike ride or hike from the cabin.  There’s some interesting stuff there, and a gym on the border of the property.

Nolan invites Bill on the road trip out to the cabin for the afternoon Saturday.  In the meantime, there is a threat of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes, severe space storms (like maybe a Carrington Event, with a coronal mass ejection expected to trigger northern lights all the way down to Florida Saturday night).   Bill gets specific directions by email Saturday morning, and then a mysterious visitor knocks on the door (David Lynch style) and makes a threat, and a strange phone call comes.  Bill finds that an computer flash drive has been left by the visitor at his porch, and wonders what is up.

Bill makes the visit, which involves some time recording his own music and making a visit to the intentional community, and, yes, the gym.  In time, it gets more intimate (maybe with a bit of the movie “Old Joy” as a clue.)  Nolan drives him home, where he finds his world in disaster, while he gets a call to the effect that mother has recovered.  The national disaster and Bill’s own situation now get into stuff that would amount to spoilers.

The question, however, is how to weave all the other background material into the two film parts.   And the best way is to work inside out.

In the first story, neither Mark nor Randy have themselves served in the military.  And neither know that Bill had been thrown out of William and Mary in 1961 as a freshman for saying he was gay.

But there is a small backstory where Bill had visited Mark’s apartment a few months before  (we’re back in 1972),  and Mark had demonstrated his own workout routines with free weights in the apartment. (That’s in the DADT III book on p. 54.) There had been a hint of intimacy, but nothing like what will happen in the second story.  At the going-away-bash, Mark remembers this, and recalls the section in Bill’s “Proles” manuscript where Bill had to work with very primitive workout equipment in Special Training Company while in Army Basic in 1968.  That in turn justifies a flashback, 2-3 minutes, of Bill’s whole experience with STC, including passing the PCPT, his direct commission application, and eventual interview.  Then later, after Randy surprises Bill with his fiancee and baby, Bill realizes he will have the motel room (in a small eastern Kentucky town) to himself.  There are other flashbacks (like the one time Bill was almost arrested in 1971 for trespassing on a stripmine) but then there is a dichotomy that, while Bill hasn’t grown up in a way to get married while Randy has, Bill at least did serve in the military.  Well, he “served without serving” and was sheltered away from combat.  (That stimulates another little flashback about the period in the Pentagon.)  Randy recalls how Bill dreaded the idea of being maimed in war, and how he had said he would never come back if that happened.  Randy, on the other hand, has to admit that he himself sidestepped the entire experience by staying in grad school and being “lucky” enough to get a job in college teaching.  Some more Army flashbacks occur, such as one where Bill learns that most of his Army buddies in Basic got infrantry — he’s practically the only one who escaped.  And he also recalls he left Basic in reasonably good shape for the one time in his life (flashback to a church softball game right after where Bill hits a homer).

In the “Ocelot” story, Nolan knows Bill’s history, having read Bill’s blogs and books.  The military issue has been fading somewhat from public scenery after the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.  But when they get to the intentional community, where Nolan has an invitation to bring Bill to dinner, the subject of the military comes up, because an older man (also gay but somewhat “retired” even from gay life) challenges Bill as to whether he was a coward in the way he handled his military service.  The flashbacks here emphasize Bill’s transition from graduate school to the Army (the steps of losing your freedom), and then the periods after Basic.  The period of Bill’s induction had a curious incident, which fits into the theme about gymnasiums and weight lifting (which Nolan also does) — he had spent a night in a hotel in Richmond (put up by the Army) before being sworn in, and had another “roommate” who turned out to have been horribly scarred in the chest area by a chemistry lab accident in high school.

There are other flashbacks, such as Bill’s own period of heterosexual dating, which is compared to Randy’s in the first story.  Nolan has a relationship of sorts with a medical student named Brian, which is also (through videos at the cabin) worked into the story to make a point, particularly at the very end.

The film would require accurate makeup, to show Bill at different ages, not only in the obvious change over several decades between the two parts, but also the subtle changes in his appearance associated with his military service.   In this film, characters are not easily interchangeable as to qualities like race, age, and sexual orientation, since some specific sexual tensions are present in the second story.

At the very end, when the national catastrophe is now clear, there is also another “trick” where Bill can look back into Nolan’s life and solve one more erotic puzzle.

Oh, yes, this could become a “franchise” of two separate indie films.  At the “West End Cinema” the tagline is “All stories told here.”

(Published Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 11:45 PM, EDT)

“Titanium”: overview and treatment of my screenplay (2006); How an “alien landing” really would play out in the media

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Titanium” is one of my more important screenplay scripts.  I wrote it in early 2006, shortly after my debacle as a substitute teacher.  The screenplay is intended to be more marketable and provide fewer problems as to content evaluation or appropriateness (possibly even to get a PG-13 rating) than some of my other scripts, so it might be easier to fund., or to place in customary commercial markets if made.

This is also the first major screenplay where the story evolves through the eyes of a character other than myself.

The tagline is “She really went up.”

The logline is “A technology reporter’s pregnant fiancee disappears in a storm where UFOs are seen, and the reporter’s motives are questioned as he investigates; eventually he undergoes the initiation he is looking for.”

The setting is:  Texas (Dallas, and areas of West Texas or the Hill Country).

Justin is a 28-something handsome and popular technology reporter in Dallas.  He has dated Doreen, who is pregnant by him and the wedding is to happen soon.  He has met Doreen at the newspaper, where she works as a religion reporter, and has, at the consternation of the paper, moved away from traditional Bible belt churches to covering rurals cults, particularly near a West Texas town called Teglia (fictitious).   They’ve held off on marriage until Justin looks into one of their initiation rites himself, but she is perplexed.

The movie starts with a report of Doreen’s disappearance near the town.  The tracks simply stop.  There was a big storm nearby and a tornado, but the twister didn’t cross the path where she was jogging.  The town had some damage.

Justin gets stopped by police over the disappearance.  The cops seem to know he has dated another woman, Carla, who is black, and already has a mixed raced child, Pip, to whom Justin acts like a part-time dad.  Doreen knows about Pip, but not that Justin has actually slept with Carla.   Later, we’ll learn than Pip is the son of Frankie, who runs “The Academy”, a career re-education center in West Texas, near Teglia, that FEMA uses as a contractor for disaster preparedness training.   Carla is also into the occult (in a way that Doreen is not) and remote viewing,  She also works part time as a security guard at a big gay disco in Dallas,

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Justin wonders why the cops know so much about his life.  He wonders about NSA spying, for example..  He disobeys orders to stay around and goes out to Teglia to look for her, and finds a strange cast of characters, mostly likeable (these include a young couple, Toby and Shelia, Matt, and a nerdy teen Eric),  disfigured ex-soldier Ali with effeminate and questionable grown son Amos, and finally Frankie, who was Carla’s “boyfriend” earlier.  They find that some of the goings on match the contents of “Bill’s” manuscripts.  Justin learns that Bill has attended “The Academy” while Eric uncover’s Bill’s own family history, having started at the Academy after being “kicked out” after returning home to look after his mother because Bill’s writings had brought adverse attention to the home.  A lot of detail has gone on behind the scenes.

Justin learns about earlier disappearances, and finds evidence of the bizarre history of the Academy partly from an old Beta tape recovered from Bill’s old condo in Dallas.  The technology identifies the age, and gives a lot more material about Frankie, whom Bill learns he had once dated when living in NYC.

Justin then travels to the Academy, and prepares to go to the “Initiation” which will occur on a “Nighthike”.   Justin learns that some of the people will be chosen as “angels” (last post), and that Doreen was one of the candidates (an exception to my “rule” that in my scripts the angels are male — not here; there seems to be no discrimination!)   That’s why Doreen hasn’t cared too much that Justin had been seeing Carla, and proving himself more “capable” of sustaining an unusual heterosexual relationship indeed.

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The thunderstorms come back (“a few storms may be severe”), and after a complex sequence (including a drowning rescue), several of the characters, including Justin, are tested, and some bodies undergo changes.

They wind up on Titan, where the plans for an “invasion” of Earth by angels is revealed.  Toby,  Shelia, Justin, and Doreen all return to Earth.  There is a lot of publicity, with Doreen’s return, and a double wedding.  Just before the wedding, Justin and Doreen present proof that they have been “abducted” and returned.  As the film ends, the Earth waits for the massive UFO landings, which start to happen.  (That would lead to a sequel).

The entire story could be viewed as “here is how it could happen” if direct alien visitation ever occurred, and how the media would deal with it (since the story happens partly inside the news business).  My own premise is that the aliens are “angels”.  They don’t have to be, but that makes things interesting.

(Published Thursday June 12, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT)

Note also: I did present a condensed version of a pitch for this film at a screenwriting seminar in Washington DC in August 2006 at a hotel near Scott Circle.  I recall that someone from Fortissimo Films was there.  I remember there was a reaction from the class that there needed to be more of a sense of “crisis” at the opening.  A young woman’s mysterious disappearance, with tracks that end, would seem to be critical, as would the police suspecting Justin.

There was a case of a female jogger who “went up” in Wyoming in the summer of 1997.

I also presented some of the screenplay in another class in Arlington in 2007.

Classifying my angels

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One Sunday night in October 1983, I was returning to Dallas in my 8-speed Dodge Colt  from a weekend trip in Oklahoma (and as far as Springfield, MO), and had actually hit a dog who had run out in front of the car on an isolated road.  After crossing back into Texas, and driving somewhere around Commerce, I heard a sermon from a fundamentalist preacher, talking about what happens when you “die”.  An “angel” comes and accompanies you as you are processed for your judgment, he said.  He spoke about an angel as a real person, an idea which I found interesting.  Now, living in Texas then, I had gotten used to hearing a lot of car radio sermons arguing for post-tribulationism v. “Pre”, which is beyond me now.  “Pre” makes more sense.

There’s something intriguing to me about the number 144,000.  In Rev.  14:3-5.  One of the interpretations of this number is that it is a count of redeemed make “virgins”.  I’m not quite sure why they would need redemption (except that all of us do, in Christianity), but it sounds like there is something special, or permanent about these men.

In at least two of my screenplays, and in the main novel “Angel’s Brothers” that I will describe soon, the concept of an “angel” comes up , in a few different contexts.  I’ll lay out the “rules of the road” for them in this post.

There really haven’t been a lot of movies about the topic (outside specifically “Christian’ films like the Left Behind series).  One of the best is “Astral City: A Spiritual Journey”, by Wagner de Assis, from Brazil, a 2011 release from Strand.  Of course, we remember “What Dreams May Come” and “Reviewing Your Life” and even “Ghost”.  Some of the leading males in television series and comic book movies (ranging from “Smallville” to “Spiderman”) may be seen as having angelic characteristics.  There is a female angel who travels between Purgatory and Earth in the play “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot.”

In the vision, I’m laying out, the characters comprise several kinds of entities:

(1) Biblical angel.  Such a person could be one of the original 144,000, if still alive (essentially immortal).

(2) Original angel,  Such a person would be born with the reincarnated memories of one of the 144,000.   Such a person would not have children.

(3) Ordinary angel.  Such a person has been elevated in such a way that he has some of the memories of one of the 144,000 but only through those of other people, transmitted to him through infection with a bizarre virus (dealt with in the later novel manuscripts). Such a person does not have children after “conversion”.

(4) New angel.  Such a person has memories of other individuals with whom he has had close contact.  He has also been infected by the virus in a superficial, non-symptomatic way.  The number of “new angels” varies with the number of those of the first three types lost in various ways.  The number tends to converge so that the total will be close to 144000. Susceptibility to the right kind of “infection” may result from some kind of supernatural contact early in life. Such a person may or may not have children at any time.

There are ways that angels can “fail”.  These would include

(1) Moral corruption, similar to ordinary human failing (call it “Satanic” if you like).

(2) Being challenged and failing the challenge. Failure can come from (a) not recovering lost appearance or function or (b) enjoying defeat in a morally inappropriate way.  But some angels are not challenged.

My manuscripts present only males as being angels (partly as a result of the “144000” idea).  In fact, the characters are depicted as white males., from Bill’s “world”  There is nothing wrong with the idea of female angels (as in the play by Andy Guirgis) or those of other races.  But in one of the screenplays, “Bill” will become involved in the process of “choosing” who can become a new angel, and perhaps who (among those already established) can be challenged and survive.  Bill, in a different sense, makes a similar choice in the novel (among a smaller set of people).

In “my world” (especially “Angel’s Brothers”), the rest of the population comprises

.(5) Old souls (“Bill” — although Ephram was called an “old soul” in “Everwood”).  Such a person can survive indefinitely but “intermittently” through a new angel, but usually must have children first. The old soul is not an angel himself.

(6) “Ordinary People” — and that was the name of a hit 1980 movie.

Infection is supposed to happen through a micro black hole or quantum mechanical black hole embedded in a retrovirus, with generally low but somewhat unpredictable transmission. The surface of the micro black hole would hold the information or track records of other people’s lives., sometimes even living people.

In general, the screenplays depend on various characters knowing the content of Bill’s later novels, particularly on the idea that “Angel’s Brothers” has been published and established.

Does the concept of an immortal or nearly immortal human make sense?  (In NBC’s “The Event”, the aiien humans could live ten times as long as us.)  It could make space travel a lot easier.  (In a couple of the screenplays, I’ve posed the idea that the angels use Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, as a base.)  On the other hand, entropy is part of physics, and a cycle of reproduction, procreating new beings with new instances of free will, seems to be a way for nature (or “God”) to counter entropy.

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There is something disturbing, however, about the idea that the character “Bill” has invested so much in identifying and nurturing angels or “superheroes”.  What about those who are not so gifted?  (Conservative columnist George Will has written about this issue in his own family, as he recognizes a divide between those who are gifted [like in sports, intellect, arts] and those who are no,; a discussion for another time.)  If it is acceptable to ignore them when they come knocking, then that can have very dangerous consequences for society (as history proves).  Perhaps for someone like Bill, a requirement to “pay your dues” is the only answer.   On the other hand, when Bill accomplishes and finds “what he wants” be becomes more generous with his time and attention.

 

(Published: Monday June 9, 2014 1t 3 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.

 

With “Tribunal and Rapture II” (2003) I start storytelling from “another character’s perspective”

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While I lived in Minneapolis (1997-2003), and after I had finished the first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book (1997) and then “Our Fundamental Rights” (1998), I began to look again at fiction, toward the end of the year 2000, as I best recall. I recall that period in my life well. In October 2000, I had spent Columbus Day weekend in San Francisco for a special SLDN benefit. In late April of 2001, I went to Europe for a second time (and this time had no mess-ups). Among other places, I visited the Guggenheim in Bilbao. The summer of 2001 was a strange time for me, with a certain sense of foreboding, well justified as history would show. But during that time, I turned a lot of attention to another novel to be called “Tribunal and Rapture” which I have to refer to here as “TR II”. It really is not a sequel of the other 1988 draft. Since it was never commercially published, I can make no claims to a trademarked franchise or series.

However, I tried a new tack. The novel would be told through the eyes of another character. I invited a protagonist, Ali Mogul, a mixed race (black and white) man in his sixties with a background in moderate Islam and conversion to Christianity of sorts. But Mogul is somewhat of an intellectual for its own sake, who views religion as to be balanced with science (as had Islam a millennium ago). His Caucasian ex-wife is a surgeon and expert in tropical medicine, and they have been separated as the novel starts. Mogul has a long history in the military, as an FBI and then homeland security agent, and has been tasked to investigate what seem like paranormal threats, mainly on his own insistence, because of his long history of delving into deep secrets.

I introduce myself (Bill) as a kind of mystery character, who seems to link everyone else. Bill has escaped from prison by changing his body (David Lynch style), but has a history of connections with other important characters, such as “Frankie”, who ran a “re-education” Academy in Texas, and even Ali’s own son, Amos, who got in trouble over a bizarre mainframe computer hack (long before hacking was a common plague), and a recent college grad, Toby, who seems to have his own supernatural connections to the “angels” who are about to invade.

An important element of the book is a new retrovirus, which seems to like to live in cooler areas of the body (like the legs of older men), and is transmitted by close contact. It seems to have the ability to transmit the conscious memories from one person to another. A person make wither and die, or he may survive by taking on the memory of one of the “angels” (one of the 144000 in Revelations). Gradually, his life would become that of another (as if by lapsing into the same dream, like in “Inception”). There may be other ways to survive, with less desirable results, serving the interests of others, like by causing their children to be born. As people are infected, their grip on reality changes, and so could the entire country’s.

The early chapters present some other medical concepts, such as the possibility of other novel viruses, and the extremes to which physicians might have to go in the future for absolute infection control, including maybe male body-shaving.

The detailed history of Bill, and especially his “re-education” at the academy, his encounter with the super-teen “Matthias” and his history with Matt’s mother, Kelly (as a result of his personal history in Dallas in the past when he sold a condo) becomes part of another document, which I’ll discuss in detail here soon.

Here is the synopsis, presented in levels of increasing detail. The first summary is what I sent to “Mark Sullivan Associates” in New York for review in the spring of 2003.  The plot is basically a road trip that circles much of the nation.

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Book Title: “Tribunal and Rapture(II)
Author: Bill Boushka
Genre: Thriller (suspense and sci-fi)

Time and setting: Late 2004, United States (various locations) and Titan (moon of Saturn)

Premise: American society is quickly and progressively threatened by a new virus that reincarnates the “souls” of those religiously “chosen” in Biblical times and overlays these “souls” onto current victims, while at the same time these same entities provide at last a way for today’s “chosen people” to escape to other worlds. In particular, a retiring African American FBI agent seeks to rebuild his own family so that he can escape, while (in a layered plot) an aging homosexual man, recruited into training for homeland defense in the trying days to come, stumbles onto tasting again his biological youth. While both social collectivism (particularly communism) and excess individualism have reduced “traditional family values,” escape from societal collapse might depend upon rebuilding the idea of family and lineage within a closed escape environment.

Conceptual Plot Synopsis

The protagonist is a religious 60-year-old African-American, Ali Mogul, who approaches the end of a long career as a decorated (and twice badly wounded) Army officer, defense contractor, and FBI sleuth. He has become separated from his wife and estranged from his rather sissy-boy son because the “real life” associated with family performance seems mundane compared to the disconnected creativity that he discovers in those he investigates and that he would like to develop within himself.

After an older alleged sex criminal whom Ali had helped apprehend escapes from an Arizona prison by inciting violence at a work detail, another informant (Frank L’Istesso) from a civilian defense training academy invites Ali to join a clandestine intelligence school where law enforcement, intelligence and military officers learn to use extrasensory perception and remote viewing to investigate possible terrorist threats.

During his first viewing he learns that the real threat really derives from the tribulation processes roughly like those in the Bible. Startled that his own “faith” and personhood will be challenged, he first throws up and then capitulates with a major heart attack. He had gotten himself into psychic intelligence as a kind of self-indulgence. Now, facing mandatory coronary bypass surgery and recuperation, he realizes that he must rebuild his small family, not just to survive, but to understand his first viewing.

His Caucasian ex-wife, an accomplished orthopedic surgeon, has learned of a major public health threat, a new virus that gives its victims very bizarre psychic properties before they die and selects its victims in a way that it threatens the demographic stability of American society. (It prefers victims with poor peripheral circulation, like diabetics, and is much more prevalent in high-altitude areas.) She takes a break from hospital duty and decides to invite Ali back into her home and help him recuperate. (He has to persuade her to take his new career interest seriously, and as deserving of personal respect more than love.) Ali revs up and starts recovering (like David Letterman), desiring again to “escape” from the taming influence of “family” and go back into the world and investigate the threat on his own. He sneaks out from his ex-wife’s house in Alexandria, Va. and travels on the Acela to New York to meet his son, who has reformed and transformed himself from childishness and aimless compulsive criminality to being able to help others now through newfound mechanical cleverness—hacking “legally: and secretly into the PC’s of other private citizens as well as large institutions. Rebuilding communication with his son (who had almost been killed in the 9-11 attacks) is a first step in realizing his own epiphany.

His encounter with his changing son highlights his focus on how he would spend the rest of his life if his world of relative freedom really does go to “hell and a handbasket” because of unstoppable terrorist attacks or this new biological epidemic threat. He would face some choices: re-connect with his family and live through that, return to his religious (Assemblies of God) faith as rather literally interpreted, or participate in the power struggle of those officials who would hunker down and plan surreptitiously to seize power in a society, paralyzed by martial law, that is “easier” to rule. Now he is suspicious that there are people like that; over the years he has sometimes been like that himself, just as more recently has come to discover “pleasures” of living outside of himself. He will sink into a quicksand created by those others whom he has come to emulate because of his own ennui over conventional life. And, going through his own investigative files (which he rescues after his own condo is burglarized) he finds plenty of evidence that the “old men” running the remote viewing school are on to real threats, however self-serving their personal motives. So Ali’s “problem” (in novel plot skeleton terms) comes in to focus: to given himself a valid “purpose” (participation in either “saving the world” for escaping from it), he needs to rebuild his family; the converse is also true. And he needs a purpose to survive (even “religiously”) at all.

His son’s efforts point him back to his own files as a former investigator, particularly the stories of the disappearance of the toddler son (Matthias) of a (female) health club fitness instructor (Kelly Skiis) and of the apparent criminal sexual encounter, some years later, between a middle aged colleague (Bill Berkowitz) and a vivacious Smallville-like “superman” pubescent teen who may after all be Kelly’s son, returned after a mysterious “abduction” and two-year disappearance. Bill’s “personnel” records had built up during his stay at “The Academy,” a network of largely privately funded training and living centers to house “asset persons” (or “civilian reservists”) who will keep the country going after expected and unpreventable terrorist attacks. Berkowitz’s own encapsulated “Ghost” story is that of an anti-hero escaping from his own character weakness (lack of empathy for others and a predilection for living “third person” in his own fantasy world), threatened with firing and unemployment, getting a “job” as an Academy trainee through reviving a personal connection with Frank L’Istesso, a former boy friend who had become ex-gay in the military himself and then helped start the “Academy” as a private businessman after leaving the military (when the “gay” problem catches up with him under “don’t ask, don’t tell”). Berkowitz has encountered and become involved with the teen friend (that is, probably Kelly’s son) through his misadventures at the Academy, been arrested and prosecuted, sent to prison in the high country in northern Arizona, and through his own ability to tease the homosexual fantasies of other prisoners, overcome “all odds” and escaped. But during the escape Bill has transformed or disguised himself as a younger person and taken on a girl friend, Tovina who, with her motorcycle, had helped with his escape. Before his “employment,” sex crime and imprisonment, Bill had built up some amateurish notoriety as a writer pushing for a constitutional convention or town-hall to discuss a new Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights convention, having percolated for two years among interested third parties, is actually coming off, and provides Ali Mogul with the opportunity to network with old friends (especially Frank L’Istesso and a graduate student, Tobey Strickland, who had befriend Bill and helped promote some of Bill’s ideas) and solve the “mystery” as to whether the remote viewings really mean the coming tribulations and as to how to escape. Mogul goes through some “terror-related” misadventures on his odyssey to Minnestoa: a train wreck (when Tobey finds him), a construction accident in Pittsburgh (where Frankie is now working), a major security mishap on his flight to Mineapolis-St. Paul (when he isn’t supposed to fly so soon after coronary surgery). His wife, Ellie joins him in the Twin Cities and they all adjourn to a college “fraternity house” belonging to Tobey. Ali and Ellie reconsumate their relationship for the first time in ten years, while Bill, apparently in disguise, and Frankie appear.

Ali will have the legal duty to get Bill arrested and returned to prison if Bill “tells” who he really is. As the congregated acquaintances bridge the tensions among themselves and put their heads together and hack further into Academy records, they decide to visit a series of sites to look for “clues” that confirm their worst fears: that “angels” from Revelations will capture the personalities of many male persons, leading to the tribulations and the end of modern civilization, but that an escape to a new civilization (facilitated by “miracle” technology available through the angels to those who meet religious requirements) on another planet will be possible. For Ali, the clues and capabilities are in his own life to understand something like this. For example, Ali recalls the modern physics and engineering courses way back at West Point and then at war colleges, and reconciles this Wissenschaft with the Assemblies of God religious training (including speaking in tongues) that forces appreciation of a kind of aesthetic realism as well as the selective theology surrounding the “rapture” and the remote viewing. But the most important evidence comes from the story of superboy Matthias Skiis (who had died after the sexual encounter with Bill), as he has actually been to Purgatory and seen what tribulations are coming, as well as confirming that our recent technology came, not from extraterrestrials in the usual sense (“Roswell”) but from the “144000” angels who commute between our world and “Urantia.” There is also “Second Kind” evidence of “angel visits” related now to what he saw in the initial remote viewings: that very ancient societies (back to Atlantis) had information technology superior to ours but kept it within their priesthoods and conveyed it to the “masses” through ingenious mechanical technology with devices such as astrolabes (and monuments constructed as “computers”). Ali comes to understand that his eligibility to “escape” will depend on his ability to participate again in a closed society that will for some generations depend on blood family dynamics and propagation, and that this ukase will be even more critical for Bill. He makes a deal with Bill that Bill can go on the ship (and escape arrest as a fugitive from prison) if he proves that he can “perform” with Tovina and potentially father a child.

By now the nation is disintegrating as the news of the epidemic spreads and mass evacuations of higher-altitude areas where infections are common proceed. The “tag team” meets victims (and spouses) of the disease victims, and recognizes now how the disease has personally affected them, all of this providing and ante-climax. Frankie helps Bill, Ali, and others “escape” to the spaceship site at a major strip mine in West Virginia, but, having hijacked a train during the final race for the launch site, is arrested and kept behind to live in an unpromising world—a disappointing but deserved end for a character who as a young man had been almost as gifted as Matthias, without having (like the Clark Kent character) the advantage of indirect extraterrestrial lineage. Ali will take his reconstituted family into space because there is no other future, and Bill will get to go now once (on the last night of their “road trip” when a “first experience” provides a personal point of recognition) he has proven that he can procreate and start a family, however late in life. The ship takes off and makes a 24-hour journey to Saturn’s moon, Titan, which, at the end of the novel, the characters learn has always been synonymous with Purgatory. During the “transoceanic length flight” angelic medical technicians determine that Tovina is indeed pregnant with Bill’s child. The journey to one other reachable civilization some dozens of light-years awayangels can get them close to Einstein’s limit of light speed but they don’t violate the laws of physics and “uncertain” causality will require families to be able to carry on lineage for a generation while living in a closed space environment, yet ironically none of the major characters escaping had established lineage until near the time of their group departure.

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Major Characters:

Ali Mogul: An African-American, born 1940, has had a career in the Army, severely burned in Vietnam in 1969, loses both legs in an auto accident in 1977 in what he believes to be a collision with a UFO; has had a career with FBI in covert operations and domestic homefront preparedness; in 2000 has joined a highly classified government program preparing for an alien threat. Converted to Christianity from Islam during early boyhood.

Ellen Cantor, white, born in 1941, married to Ali Mogul, married Ali Mogul at a West Point ceremony when Ali graduated in 1962, went to medical school and became a surgeon in an era before many women could do this (and tried to raise Amos at the same time). Separated often by Ali’s military and government duties, Ali and Ellen have become estranged after Ali’s second accident, and have been separated but “friends” since the 1980s. But Ellen has very recently become more curious about Ali’s work after learning through her contacts of a surgeon of “rumors” in the medical community about a second “AIDS-like” virus.

Amos Mogul: Only son of Ali and Ellen, born 1962, grows up and (perhaps because of less parental attention as he has been raised by a nanny) becomes a somewhat effeminate homosexual, has a relationship in the 1990s with an Air Force pilot, Gary. He had stood by Gary as Gary mysteriously developed diabetes, in a manner unrelated to AIDS. But then he falls into committing computer crime, and is fired and jailed for supposedly trying to pilfer money from insurance agent commission checks. Reformed, he has become a much more practical and trust-gaining persons, and now works as a process server and, secretly, as an Internet security consultant.

Bill Berkowitz: White and single, born in 1943, has lived a life of a “professional” homosexual dilettante. He has attracted the attention of the government by gradually stumbling onto pieces of the UFO research program.

Frank L’Istesso: Born 1960 to a West Virginia coal miner, he is apparently gifted and his his parents send him to school with relatives in New York City. He decides that he is gay and “comes out” at 18. Then his family has a crisis, and (keeping his sexuality to himself) he joins the Marine Corps to help his family with income. He does extremely well in the military, joining Naval Intelligence. He has also developed more interest in the opposite sex. He eventually marries a female Marine who has been thrown out after being falsely accused of lesbianism. After he leaves the military, he helps establish a company, Handyman Systems, that will secretly help the government set up homeland security while publicly acting as an I.T. consulting firm. .

Kelly Skiis: Born 1958. A woman with Ukranian and Turkish roots, has worked as a fitness instructor since the early 1980s. She marries a financial planner in 1980 and with her husband has bought a condo from Bill. She has a son, Dan, who dies in 1986 in a freak accident, being struck by lightning. She has a second son, Matt, in 1986. She has trouble raising him as a single parent, gets fired, and then goes to work at one of Handyman’s rural training facilities in Texas. Her son disappears, only to reappear in Utah as a very precocious teenager who has enjoyed an epiphany on another world.

Tobey Strickland: Has graduated from a Twin Cities area college in the late 1990s, and though starting a career acting and modeling for high-end commercials, has secretly entered the world of covert planning for a national emergency after meeting Bill.

Robert Stiles: A young resident surgeon whom Bill had befriended in the 90s.

Arthur Femeri: Born around 1930, informal head of a shadow government (informally called “The Brotherhood”) behind the FBI and part of corporate America who has gradually set up preparations for an eventual “rapture”—literally, escape to the outer reaches of the solar system where those favored by Revelation have set up a space station on Titan Femeri has at times functioned as Ali’s “matrix” boss both the military and the FBI. (This is a loose reqorking of the idea of an “Opus Dei.”)

THE SET-UP

An aging African-American FBI agent tries to re-establish his ties with and then “escape” with his estranged wife and adult homosexual son after he learns of a grave and probably unpreventable national security threat and, at the outset of his effort, has a heart attack himself.

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LONGER SYNOPSIS:

Prologue:

Ali is attending his first remote viewing session in a secret facility in the Virginia Blue Ridge. He experiences “becoming” two characters from pre-Incan South America and then views a social encounter between an aging homosexual, Bill Berkowitz, and a graduating college student, Tobey, whom Bill is courting.

Part 1:

After the viewing session, Tobey gets a bizarre email from his estranged wife. Disoriented from the remote viewing, he falls ill with a frank myocardial infarction and is rushed by helicopter to University of Virginia hospital. He is told that he is acutely ill and must have immediate bypass surgery, and join “the zipper club.” He recognizes one of the surgical residents, Robert Stiles, as a friend of surveillance subject Bill Berkowitz, and also notes bizarre new infection control procedures at the hospital. Stiles helps Mogul reach his wife, who drives down to visit as he recovers. From the hospital, he reaches (by cell phone) younger business associate Frankie L’Istesso, who confirms his suspicion that an upcoming shadow convention on rewriting the Bill of Rights was actually set up by Bill Berkowitz, who has escaped (with some underground cooperation) from jail in Arizona where he had been convicted of sexual activity with someone under 18 (Matthias Skiis) in an encounter two years ago where Matt was found dead.
Ali and Ellen drive back to Ellen’s home in Alexandria and note a large number of mishaps along the Interstate highway. Once home, Ali begins to recover very quickly and is well enough to visit his own condo near Frederick Maryland when he learns that it has been burglarized and the nearby gated residential area disabled with an e-bomb. Ali had kept his dossiers on several “subjects” in his home, perhaps foolishly, but he had converted them to optical format and some of them were scanned personal papers, so they are intact. He picks them up.
He “escapes” the “prison” of his wife’s house and rides an Acela train to New York to visit his son, Amos. Amos takes him to his secret, post-terrorist-attack sniffing facility in New Jersey and hacks into various databases for information about this “new disease,” a retroviral disease of skin and central nervous system attacking mostly middle aged men, causing them to hallucinate that they have become other people connected to the “angels” who will live on earth after the Rapture, and then to die—although some disappear and some are found in various landfills and campsites with body parts missing.

Part 2

Ali continues his journey by train the shadow convention in Minneapolis. (He is careful not to fly because of his invasive heart surgery.) But his train wrecks on the Eastern Continental Divide, near the Horseshoe Bend curve. He hitchhikes to a truck stop on the Pa. Turnpike west of the Allegheny Mountain tunnel. He encounters Bill’s important college-age friend, Tobey Strickland, who made it through the tunnel ten minutes before a bomb closed it. Tobey says that Ellen called him, but he wonders how Tobey knew his movements.
Tobey drives him to Pittsburgh to meet former business partner Frankie L’Istesso, who has had to find freelance work as a high-rise building security consultant. Along the way, Tobey talks about having to cancel plans for competing in the Rockies next year in the annual cycling race. Ali didn’t even know that Tobey had become a competitive athlete, and Tobey indicates that Bill’s knowledge of Tobey’s previously colorful life as a college student was limited to Tobey’s modeling and movie-extra cameos.
Frankie provides Ali his own biographical notes and burns some of Bill’s paperwork onto DVD;s; given the distraction of Ali’s surprise visit, makes a mistake an allows a tragic accident in a high rise drill using a net-funnel. Frankie will lose his job for real, and find himself on the run.
Ali now must fly to Minneapolis to get there before the convention. A fellow passenger—an elderly man—becomes sick on the plane and goes into hallucinations, and then Ali becomes sick in sympathy. He is grilled by airport security but allowed to pass.
When he reaches the safety of his hotel in suburban Minneapolis, he reviews all of his files. Bill’s notes tell the story (in “flashback” fashion, relative to the observation point of the novel) of how he was “recruited” by Handyman to attend a homeland defense “Academy” in rural Texas just before being fired from his conventional I.T. for uneven performance and perhaps for conflict of interest over “the power of his pen.” During the travels associated with his apprenticeship, he encounters precocious teenager Matthias Skiis, who eventually tricks Bill into a fulfilling homosexual encounter, after which Matthias mysteriously dies.

Part 3

By now Ali is convinced that some younger men, affiliated with Bill (including Tobey), have become upwardly affiliated with angels by their “infections” with the new virus and the ability of the virus to transmit identity cells holographically.
Ali, Frankie, Kelly, Tobey, and other associates attend the Shadow Convention, just before Thanksgiving. Bill—looking younger after an apparent makeover—helps to lead it in conjunction with several conservative groups. Is it really Bill, or mistaken identity? As long as he is not sure, Ali does not have to make an arrest of Bill as an escapee. Bill has a new girl friend, who picked him up recently in Wisconsin and brought him to the campus.
The convention takes a shockingly left wing turn, as participants view collective good as more important than individual rights.

Part 4

The participants adjourn to Bill’s adopted “group home” with other “younger” college students in St Paul. Kelly tells her story, including the two-year-long disappearance of her gifted son, Matthias and his reappearance as a “young man.” She apologizes for the trouble her foreclosure caused Bill, whose note she had assumed twenty years before. Bill brags that he has a capsule DNA sample to prove he is no longer the same person; Tobey had arranged his status as a graduate student in philosophy.
That night, Ali and Ellen have their first satisfying sexual encounter in 20 years in the master bedroom of the house. But Bill, now bringing along a “diesel dyke,” Tovina, who had mysteriously assisted with his escape from jail, has lost sexual interest in Tobey.

Part 5

Picking up on the gumshoe work of Amos but without any more illegal Internet hacking, Tobey presents proof (in the form of an Internet worm) that “the Club” (the underground network of government officials and defense contractors who have been preparing the comprehensive civilian emergency readiness program) expects societal capitulation and preparing an escape for the chosen few. News reports report the disease spreading rapidly, by the day, in all locations in the United States at higher elevations. Tobey takes off, and lets Frank, Bill, Kelly, Ellen, Ali and Tovina take off on a cross country road trip, visiting several locations with important progressive clues about the escape. At one point, they visit the astronaut training center in the high country of Arizona, which is now being closed while nearby high-country civilians are evacuated. Near the Academy, north of Abilene , Texas, national guard units are managing mass evacuations and local authorities are setting up legal infrastructures. The “disease” epidemic has started mainly in areas of high altitude (where presumably blood carries less oxygen) and high air pollution, and moved out. Congress has quickly passed a law bringing back the draft.
The travelers wind up on the Texas Gulf Coast, where Frankie hijacks a train to wheel them to the space ship, which will be launched from a large strip mine in West Virginia. Bill consummates his “relationship” with Tovina and must prove that he can sire a child if he is to join the escape—indeed partake of “real life.”. But in just two more days political disintegration of the country is quickening, after e-bomb attacks on several smaller communities in the Eastern states. Several states plan to secede and announce their own sovereignty as mass casualties among the middle-aged and older male population mount, and evidence of mass infertility among younger men is reported.

Part 6

The tag team assembles at the space ship in the middle of an artificial “moonscape”—a deep strip mine in the West Virginia Alleghenies. Mystery “bad guy” from the Club, who has apparently been courted by these omniscient “angelic” beings from Revelations, Femeri shows up (the first time he appears “on camera”) to arrest Frankie but falls ill. Amos must stay behind to help them both. Bill is allowed to go if he will marry Tovina on ship.
The “flight” to Titan takes about as long as a flight from New York to Australia. On board, they have a consciousness-raising group, watch some unusual time-lapse videos of human growth and aging, sleep, are served breakfast, and get views of what the mysterious Titan really looks like. It has been settled in only one area with a small, “Disneyland” type model city and artificial gravity wheel. Kelly relates that this is where Matthias was educated. The “Angels”— now clearly shown as monosolar beings intermediate between God and humans, run the place and use Atlantean-like technology that seems like magic and can never be widely shared (as on the Internet). The tag team will go to another world 60 light years away (requiring two generations of extended family life on the space ship) and start over a new experiment in freedom.

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Breakdown by Chapter Follows:
Part 1 Family First

Chapter 1 “Chest Work”

Ali Mogul has heart attack after first remote viewing exercise and is evacuated to hospital.

Chapter 2 “Sick Leave”

Ali is prepared for surgery and learns about a bizarre new disease.

Chapter 3 “Pivot Point”

After surgery, Ali recalls a turning point in his life, an auto wreck in which he lost his legs and which he thinks a crashed UFO was involved. Then he learns that one of his attending physicians, Rob Stiles, is gay, and this brings up a former long-term contemporary, Bill Berkowitz, who has reportedly escaped from jail after sexual involvement with a precocious teenager, Matt Skiis, who died in the encounter.

Chapter 4 “Family Life”

Ali’s estranged wife, Ellie, visits him as he learns more reports about the disease.

Chapter 5 “Your Duty to Escape”

Frankie calls Ali, still confined to the hospital bed but adept with palm pilots, to tell him more about Bill’s escape and his disguise as a younger man, to escape not only arrest but this bizarre new disease. The “new Bill” still plans to direct a liberty conference.

Chapter 6 “Do Men Still Change Tires for Women?”

Ellie drives Ali to her Alexandria, Va, home and along the way they witness many accidents before they have a breakdown themselves.

Chapter 7 “The House”

Ellie teases Ali about their being an interracial copy before Ali’s former boss, Art Femeri, calls him and tells him that his own condo in exurban Maryland has been burglarized. When Ali gets there he finds the complex was targeted by an e-bomb but he is little affected since he had stored his own data on optical CD’s.

Chapter 8 “Remembrances With and Without War”

Back at the House, Ali plays the CD that shows Bill’s “going down” and conversion to a younger man.

Chapter 9 “More Streets and Roads”

Ali reviews his entire history with Bill in flashbacks, back to the 50s days that Bill introduced him to backyard baseball.

Chapter 10 “Full Tray”

Stiles advises Ali to have a pacemaker implant. Ali agrees, and decides to go on a voyage to look for Bill.

Chapter 11 “Coming Alive Through the Lord”

Ali attends an Assembly of God revival in northern Virginia and spots on of Bill’s idols, Williams, still unphased.

Chapter 12 “Sometimes a Great Notion”

Without his wife’s permission, Ali escapes the House and takes an Acela train to New York to visit his estranged son, Amos, who is putting his life back together as a process server after a conviction for computer hacking..

Part 2 “Frankie and the Path”

Chapter 13 “The Path Pit”

Amos takes him out to New Jersey where he still has access to a computer that he can hack, into Frankie’s “Academy” computers where there is a lot of information about the new disease and rumors of extraterrestrial origin.

Chapter 14 “Train Wreck, and the Cab Stays On”

Ali takes another train, intending to go to Pittsburgh and catch up with Frankie, and then proceed to the Liberty Forum. On the way the train is wrecked.

Chapter 15 “Tobey”

Bill’s younger friend Tobey (from the Introduction) appears near the wreck site to escort him to Pittsburgh. Tobey was also present when Bill was “changed.”

Chapter 16 “Consultant Kelly-Boy”

Ali catches up with Frankie in Pittsburgh, where Frankie is testing a new escape chute for high rise buildings. There is another accident as the chute falls.

Chapter 17 “Frankie’s Pre-History and How He Changed”

Femeri comes to give Frankie a chance to tell his side of the training accident. This is the first time he has been in real trouble in his life, despite a long military and the industrial history with the corporate right wing (and a forced “reparation” from homosexuality while in the Marine Corps).

Chapter 18 “Airline Security”

Ali, against doctor’s orders, tries to fly to Minneapolis, but an adjacent elderly male passenger (with the disease) goes crazy and vomits all over him. The Ali gets sick himself. The plane lands in Cleveland and Ali will make the rest of the journey by bus.

Chapter 19 “Bill’s Current History and Proof of Illness”

Ali settles into the hotel, and reviews his history of Bill, how he attended Frankie’s (civilian reservist) Academy, met teenager Matt Skiis, and gradually moved into a fatal sexual encounter, followed by arrest and prison.

Chapter 20 “Getting Arrested”

Ali and Josh Williams go on a walk in the area where Frankie claims he “initiated
Bill so he could disguise himself as a young man. Now Ali realizes that Robert Stiles, Tobey, and Williams himself are undergoing transformations that will change their identities to live through a coming catastrophe.

Part 3 “Bill and the Path Pit”

Chapter 21 “The Instantiation of Bill”

Ellie appears, and then Bill, looking a bit oriental, at the hotel, and Frankie convinces Ali that Bill has legal cover.

Chapter 22 “Shadow Convention”

They hold Bill’s shadow convention, which deteriorates into angry exchanges over meritocracy.

Part 4 “Virile Grad Student”

Chapter 23 “Meanwhile”

Bill, Ali, Ellie, Tobey, and Amos congregate at the old 1521 club and Bill will enjoy his new youth. He confers the supernatural nature of his experiences, even with respect to helping convict Amos after his own trial. Frankie assures Ali that Femeri (as of the time of the accident) expects martial law soon.

Chapter 24 “Virility”

Ali and Eli consummate their marriage again.

Chapter 25 “The tribunal of Frankie:

Over breakfast, Frankie gives his own account of his viewing Stonewall as a boy, his encounter with Bill 25 years before, and his straightening in the military.

Chapter 26 “Tough Love”

Kelly tells the story of her purchase of a condo from Bill, her default, and the virgin birth of Matt Skiis after her divorce, followed by Skiis disappearance and reappearance as a young man.

Chapter 27 “U.S.A. bis Australia”

They discuss the evidence of the new disease hitting eldery men, first at high elevations, and decide to go west, to see a country that will lose its mountain playground as a habitable area.

Part 5 “Tag Teams and Ascensions”

Chapter 28 “Road Movie Personnel”

The seven friends now head first to southern Minnesota for their first clue, in a gun shop, and Frankie finds out that he is fired.

Chapter 29 “Back to Sparta”

Their next clue is near the site of Bill’s initiation, near the bike paths in Sparta WI, in a house that used to be a smaller remote viewing center. The woman living there and her aging gay son claim that Femeri used to be their father and a good family man until he “changed” and seemed hell bent on bringing on the purification.

Chapter 30 “Waters of Jordan”

They visit the Jordan commune in Montana, near the site of the 1977 accident, and find more clues of a previous crash, including clues that the craft might have been the relic of an earlier earth civilization rather than extraterrestrial. Amos is given a competence test with an arranged girl friend and fails. Bill, of course, already has Tovina (from the ceremony).

Chapter 31 “Black Mesa”

They visit northern Arizona, including the Academy training site for the astronauts, and Tobey is “processed.” Tobey has become an angel and will have immortality but not procreate. Williams tries but doesn’t make it.

Chapter 32 “Academy”

They visit a refugee camp as most of the higher altitude areas are being evacuated. Then they stop by the Academy, where Amos find the remaining information and evidence that the spaceships that they will escape on were brought here in the 1970s by selected survivors from an ancient civilization.

Chapter 33 “Hijacked Trains”

Bill impregnates Tovina, to prove that he can father a child to take off the planet, and Frankie steals a freight train to take them to the space ship.
Part 6 “New World”

Chapter 34 “Escape for the Raptured: Few are Chosen; Many are Taken”

They arrive at a West Va. Stripmine where the ship is stored. Frankie is arrested and taken away by federal troops as they learn that martial law is nationwide now. The rest board the ship.

Chapter 35 “Titan”

The remaining travelers make the quick voyage to Titan. Bill and Tovina are married on ship, but Bill shows his hots for Tobey as they descend to the surface. Femeri disintegrates and Amos dies. The last triumph belongs with Tobey.

(Published Tuesday April 29, 2014, 2 PM EDT)

 

 

My 1994 manuscript “Handymen” shows some shifts of emphasis in my novel plots

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I developed my next two manuscripts after returning to Arlington VA from Dallas in 1988.

The second of these two, called “Manuscripts” survives in print, apparently from an early ink jet printer, and provides some new ideas.  I wrote it in the period from 1991 to August 1994. I remember “finishing” it after returning from a vacation trip in Colorado where I had my “epiphany”, deciding to write the first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book.  Following the custom of “My Weekly Reader” grade school quizzes, I’d have to give it a best name, which would be “Handymen”.

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There are some new ideas and changes in focus.  For one thing, there is more attention to the sexual destinies of other characters again, but some of this may be accomplished in rituals.  I am no longer the only character to pass through a “tribunal”.  Another idea is that, while the idea of going to an “academy” is strong, there usually is not a separate “commune” later.  While many characters are at the “academy”, the outside world has some kind of calamity.  In this novel, the idea of a novel retroviral disease is developed further, and eventually will spread to much of the population.  The novel pays much more attention to the spread of the disease than had “Tribunal and Rapture”.

The other big idea is that the impetus of the novel comes from the mysterious disappearance of a coworker (Dan) whom Bill admires. The novel is set in Texas, and Bill is working for a company that services the training academies (again related to civilian defense reservists, and other things).  One day, Dan doesn’t show up in his usual bombastic fashion at work, and Bill calls Dan’s wife, a surgeon.

Bill meets a lead investigator, Rudy, who happens to be gay, and whom he had once observed on the paddleball courts in Coney Island.  Bill eventually gets infected, and the novel breaks toward a connection between those who are “infected” and “born again”.

The novel also explores computer security issues in a way that foreshadows modern concerns about viruses and Trojans, but just in a mainframe environment.

There was an earlier version of this book which was lost, but which was different in that the story starts in Dallas but the openings section includes Bill’s relocation to Virginia.  During the trip back (while stopping in Arkansas), he meets a young man who will become the “Rudy” character.  The military remains secret control of the “academies” in this version.

Both versions appear to have been created in Word Perfect on an AST Research computer that I bought at the end of 1988.  Both documents were created while I lived in the Country Club Towers in South Arlington, the second after I had moved into a larger apartment.  During the work on the first document, I worked for a small consulting company (the forerunner of today’s Lewin) and then for USLICO (to become ReliaStar and ING later) during the later.

(Published Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 11:15 PM EDT)

 

My 1988 Manuscript, “Tribunal and Rapture”, submitted to Scott Meredith then

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The novel “Tribunal and Rapture”, completed in March 1988 as a printed manuscript on an ATT 6300 computer with “QA” is the word processer and printed with a 1985 HP laser printer (one of the earliest possible at home), at 546 double spaced pages, is at this time the most complete fiction manuscript that I have.  The diskettes are lost, but I do have one printed, very legible copy (a few pages tore out and are missing).

The first cut of the book was written throughout 1986, in the second of the two condos I owned in Dallas, a two-story unit in the “Canterbury Crossing” development on Lake June Road in the Pleasant Grove Section of Dallas.  I have a vivid memory of the day I finished the first draft, and then couldn’t sleep that night as a stray dog barked all night long.

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The novel has some threads similar to the “Rapture” document of the previous post, but the story is more compact and takes place over much less time.  In particular, it starts as “Al Bruckner” (that’s the pseudonym for me, “Bill”, this time) struggles at his mainframe IT job in Dallas and meets a charismatic young man, Craig Nickershtann, at a pseudo-evangelical church service.  A couple meetings happen, and Craig tells Bill about a strange research facility and “academy” in West Virginia.  In time, Al loses his job in Dallas and travels to West Virginia to attend the “academy”, where be slowly builds up a relationship with Craig.  The relationship comes to a climax about the time that Al tells of his background and a previous experience with “tribunals” at William and Mary.  Bill undergoes the “tribunal” at the end of his training in West Virginia.

In the meantime, the external world is falling apart.  As in the previous novel, but offstage this time, Communists attack the East Coast with dirty bombs, and part of the country comes under commie control.  But Craig has arranged for Al to be “raptured” along with other people chosen to be “angels”.  But then the geopolitical climate settles down, and the US is partitioned, with a communist East and a privatized but “fascist” (and heavily Mormonized) West.  Al finally returns to Earth (from what looks like an angelic output on Titan, the moon of Saturn) to see Craig get married, and he gets to be best man.

The novel is in 32 chapters, divided into four parts.  Part I is “Peripetia”; II is “Communion”; III is “Tribunal” and IV is “Rapture”.  Each part is prefaced by a title page with a few applicable literary and biblical quotes.

The relationship between Al and Craig is built up slowly with repeated scenes and a lot of tension. Craig is represented as a musician, able to play some of Al’s old piano compositions at the academy in an event just before the “tribunal”.  He shares his own past, and eventually, for the “tribunal”, Craig satisfies Al’s every fantasy.  Later, during the “Rapture”, the significance of Al’s lifelong fantasies is discovered with great detail.  In particular, Bill can watch the changes of his own body (and those of others) in time-lapse.

The novel, like the two previous ones, is “concentric”.  It assumes that the protagonist (here Al) resides at the center of his own universal, like anyone does in the sense of cosmology and physics, due to the nature of space-time.  His world seems normal and “universal” to him, even if it seems weakless (by cutting out normal heterosexual passions, which still can be manufactured) when compared to the worlds of most men. He feels anyone could become tantalized by his own universe.

There is a passage in Part 3 that speculates on a new kind of retrovirus, one someone what like AIDS, but which prefers to live in cooler areas of the body, as on the legs, perhaps of diabetics.  The books speculates that a retrovirus with very limited transmission might have longer incubation periods when smaller amounts are transmitted or the transmission is cutaneous.  I am not aware that any disease has ever clearly fit this pattern, but if one ever did, it could have enormous implications for public health and for calls to regulate sexual freedom. (See “Do Ask Do Tell Notes” blog Feb. 11, 2014, here ).

The manuscript was mailed to a literary agent, Scott Meredith (author of ‘Writing to Sell”) in March 1988.  In about four weeks, he wrote back quite a long commentary, while rejecting the manuscript.  He did say that the speculations on public health were quite frightening and seemed credible, and that the relationship between Al and Craig did show a lot of tension and suspense as it built up.  He said that the relationship had been the subject of some “meetings and conferences”.  But he thought that the plot itself was weak; outside of Al and Craig, the other characters seemed stock and their interconnections not well developed or particularly interesting.  A successful novel of this size (or film or television project) would need a number of diverse interesting and original characters, not just two.

There was a much earlier attempt to write this novel, which I sketched in 1985, my first year at the Lake June Condo, but with the “academy” still in Texas, and with the superman character named “Charley”, introduced early in the book, and with a second “commune” scene on a space colony (much as in the 1982 novel).  This document is lost.

(Published Sunday, April 6, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT)

My 1982 manuscript, “The Rapture of the Believers”, as written on a TRS80 in Dallas

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On December 1, 1981 or thereabouts, I bought my first PC.  It was a Radio Shack TRS-80.  I also bought an Okidata dot matrix printer and Scripsit software.  There was no hard drive; everything had to be saved on floppy disks.

At the end of 1981 and through much of 1982, I worked on a novel manuscript that I called “Rapture” (the same as the 1992 film with David Duchovny) or “The Rapture of the Believers”.  At the time, I lived in a modest but ample one bedroom apartment in Harvey’s Racquet back in the Oak Lawn Section of Dallas (about two blocks north of Cedar Springs, a mile from the bars, a mile from Love Field).  The computer was in a little alcove near the front door.  It broke down a couple times and had to be repaired, so I just kept working on a typewriter.

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The novel was autobiographical, providing episodes of life through “my second coming” in New York City, through 1978, and my move to Dallas.  It then envisions a series of events that lead to a Communist attack on the homeland, a “rapture”, and then rescue of the “believers” taking them to another planet.

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The novel presents several other men who would become significant in my life.  In the first version, their backstories were presented more or less chronologically.  Some of the characters would gradually come into Bill’s life (I’m “Bill” again) as the years progress.

After a trip to Britain in November 1982, I decided to restructure the book and cast it as a collection of more or less standalone “stories” that could be published separately.  Backstories were taken out of chronology and put into the story corresponding to a particular character or issue.  It’s more useful to discuss the plot in terms of this structure.

The first “story” was based on my “first coming” in the high school years, my friends in the Science Honor Society, my exposure to the outdoors (“A hike in the mountains is worth any grade”).

The second “story” more or less matches “Expedition” in “Do Ask, Do Tell III” (“Speech is a Fundamental Right, Being Listened to Is a Privilege”).  I present the idea of upward affiliation with another young man in the workplace, and where that can lead.  There is more material about that person and the workplace here than in the final published story, but it had come from the original draft of “Expedition” written on a typewriter in 1981 when I lived in my first condo, the Park Lane Townhomes in North Dallas.

The third “story” is probably the central episode.  It covers the attachment I had to a particular “boyfriend” in my last year living in New York City, between the Villages, in 1978.  There is a particular evening and sequence that leads me to be concerned that he has a medical problem that will probably lead me to feel less attracted to him in the future.  (This did not turn out to be factually true, but I present the possibilities had it been true.)   That eventually leads to my own moving away and starting a “new life” in Dallas.  It is ironic that this whole sequence occurred several years before AIDS was known, although the very first cases had already been percolating.  If you read the stuff now, it gives an idea what gay life was like in the City in the years before AIDS, but well after Stonewall.  Everybody was quite jealous of his own life.  People didn’t care about “equality” the way we do today; separation was OK if they could make a living and were left alone.  At the time, it was more about “privacy”.  This was the time shortly after New York City’s financial crisis, and the Yankees’s tremendous 1978 season (and Bucky Dent’s notorious home run in Fenway Park in Boston).  The economy was difficult, struggling with inflation, overregulation, and the aftermath of the Arab oil embargo a few years before.  My belief that I could not remain “interested” if the other person underwent chemotherapy (a subject just starting to get a lot of attention in the media) generates a lot of “moral energy”.

The fourth “story” presents a couple new friends in Dallas, and finally winds up centered around a particular chess tournament (and my accidental self-outing with the local chess club).  There’s also a preview of communal living with visits to the Lama Foundation in New Mexico, where I write an introspective essay and share it in a camp-like dormitory. At church (Metropolitan Community Church, in the days it was on Reagan in Oak Lawn) Bill learns a lot about the “Rapture”.  One evening, a new friend helps start a healing merely by playing guitar and singing “He’s alive.” In Dallas, on the Bible Belt, there was something to being a Believer and not a Doubter.  People would recruit to save others’ souls.

The fifth story presumes economic challenges occur, threatening my job.  The employer becomes involved in supporting the earlier versions of FEMA, and the “civilian defense reservist” program that got some attention in the 1980s.  I wind up getting sent to an “academy” in West Texas.   The idea of being “re-educated” and re-socialized in a “boot camp” out on the boonies became a theme in several of my manuscripts.  There was not, at the time, the appreciation of diversity and immutability that we have today.  The mentality was more that everyone should “pay his dues”.  But there was an idea that people needed to learn more self-sufficiency, and not depend on “buying their way” out of trouble.

The sixth story presents the coming of the Rapture.  (Maybe this is like a Sixth Symphony, maybe Mahler’s, or maybe Vaughn Williams.)  First, “Bill” meets a particularly charismatic young man at the academy, named Charley, who has what I call “The Theta Property” (which confers certain powers). Charley is by far the most exciting person Bill has ever met, and there is the start of some intimacy, remaining clothed (mostly).  Then Bill is sent on a maintenance trip to Alaska.  He gets a call to come back home, and then is sent to New York for one more assignment.  While he is there, he goes to the baths, and while in there the facility is evacuated when there is a radioactivity dispersion device let loose in the city by “indignant communists”.  Yes, I had envisioned the idea of a dirty bomb back in 1982.

The practices developed at the Academy are put into place, and people are herded into communal living, which turns out to be dystopian.

The seventh episode does as much as possible with this environment, which is far short of what JJ Abrams does with “Revolution” although again, that is what has happened (another theme in all my books).  Bill does encounter his parents, and learns a particularly old-fashioned idea of the derogatory word “faggot”, which is taken to refer to someone whose limelight-seeking demoralizes others upon whom he is dependent but doesn’t know it. (This is 1982, the days of the Moral Majority, remember.)  But Bill gets with Charley, has a final intimacy which prepares him to be “raptured” and then board the space ship to leave the solar system forever. Note that the “communal living” in this chapter is different from the “academy” earlier;  it’s an end-in-itself.  It may sound a bit like an “intentional community” today, but in this novel circumstances have forced this “sustainable living” concept on the people.  But at the very end, Bill really does go to outer space, however changed.

One problem with this whole concept, of course, is historical obsolescence.  It pre-dates AIDS, but is curiously prescient of it.  It is predicated on the Cold War, but it recognizes the indignation of individual “revolutionaries” and the harm that they might do asymmetrically, an idea we didn’t really grasp until after 9/11 with radical Islam.  And it’s not too kind to those who are different in such a way they can’t port their own water jugs.

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Around 1983, a computer operator at Chilton Corporation in Dallas showed me a short story he had written, called something like “The Mutants of Lake Murray“, about an alien attack on a popular resort lake in southern Oklahoma, followed by a nuclear war.

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Published: Friday, April 4, 2014 at 12 Noon EDT

 

“The Proles”: My fantasy of Armageddon, Cold-War (1970) style

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The Proles” is my 400-page typewritten “unpublished novel” manuscript, my first.

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Creation of manuscript:

I wrote most of the novel by hand in spiral notebooks while living in the barracks at Fort Eustis, VA while in the Army, throughout much of 1969.  It appears that I finished the handwritten draft in early 1970 after starting to work for RCA in Princeton NJ, and had typewritten most of the manuscript by early September 1970.  It appears that I did some work and revision while on a job assignment in Indianapolis in the early summer of 1970.

In the early fall of 1970, as I went back home to Arlington for a weekend on the train, I accidentally left my only copy at the Trenton NJ Amtrak station.  I got off in Philadelphia and took a commuter train back to Trenton to recover it.  The ticket agent still had it.

I wrote an epilogue and a summary and typed it in 1972.  After starting a new job with Univac and while living in Caldwell, NJ, I contacted someone through old contacts at RCA and sent it to Knopf in the late fall of 1972.  This didn’t get very far.

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Plot and concept:

The novel is in two parts, “The Covenant” and “The Great Summons”.

The first five chapters of the novel are strictly autobiographical.  They closely track my own life as follows:

Chapter 1:  the end of the spring semester at the University of Kansas, 1967

Chapter 2:  a summer job with the Navy Department in the summer of 1967

Chapter 3:  a fall semester at the University of Kansas and completion of my degree, 1967-1968.

Chapter 4: My fourteen weeks of Basic Combat Training in the Army, early 1968.

Chapter 5: My tours at the Pentagon (summer of 1968) and mysterious transfer to Fort Eustis in September 1968, and my remaining time there in 1969.

For these chapters I made some changes.  I call myself “John Maurcek”.  The University of Kansas becomes Kansas Weslyan (even though nothing is sectarian) and Lawrence KS becomes Atkins.  Fort Jackson SC becomes Fort Wilson (half way to Fort Gordon).

The general idea is that John meets a number of students and various people in the Army and pieces together a “conspiracy theory”.  One of the most charismatic, Hans Zugfel, appears at his summer job in Chapter 2, and seems to have a mysterious history of trips to the Soviet Union.  It seems that the Reds have developed a doomsday weapon that can vaporize matter but encode the information that created it digitally.

In Chapter 6, one of John’s other cohorts, named “Rado Suhl”, fights in Vietnam and witnesses the effect of the weapon.

In Chapter 7, John has not actually found his first job yet (in actual fact I had), and Zugfel summons him on a treasure hunt.  He winds up meeting “Oscar” (another friend from Fort Eustis) near a military base in North Dakota.  He enters the facility and loses sense of time.  He and Oscar are let go after a little while, and given a ride.  At the first gas station, they learn that nuclear war has broken out and destroyed most of the country.

Part II has six chapters named after sections of the Requiem Mass.  (Maybe the structure is a bit like Havergal Brian’s “Gothic Symphony”).  John meets a woman, Tovina, and with her travels a wasteland, eventually making it back to the East Coast.  Eventually, after some misadventures (including a place called an “Amusement Tent” in Nebraska and the delivery of some more characters)  he and Tovina (now possibly pregnant) arrive on the East Coast near the remains of Princeton .  Zugfel judges Bill regarding Bill’s hero-worship of him, and then Bill has to decide if he and Tovina are game for a long space voyage to a new planet.  The Earth, however, is finally destroyed.

Relation to my other Books:

Chapter 4, called “Interlude”, giving the details of my Basic Training in 1968, is reproduced in the “Fiction” section of the new book “Do Ask, Do Tell III: Speech Is a Fundamental Right, Being Listened to Is a Privilege”.  A more compact account had been provided as Chapter 2 of “Do Ask, Do Tell I: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back” in 1997 (totally as a non-fiction narrative using Fort Jackson as the place).

The more detailed account in the new book is disturbing.  It tends to portray me as a mooch or coward, concerned about his own comfort when thrown into a situation where others make gender-related demands for the supposed common good.  But of course these demands are only valid if the “domino theory” of communism as understood in the 1960s holds and if the government indeed has the legal warrant to conscript for this common good.

The previous chapter 3 (“Development”, following the earlier “Exposition”))  gives some of the details of “John’s” experience as an assistant instructor at graduate school in Kansas, teaching a section of algebra designed for slower students.  John exudes “power” of the students in a manner similar to how he thought teachers and authorities in general had wielded power over him in his own teen and early college years.  Many students flunk, including one given an automatic F for cheating.  John knows that some of these students could lose their draft deferments if he fails them, and wind up more likely to serve as cannon fodder (especially in infrantry) in Vietnam.  The chapter also describes some travels with a roommate (one dedicated to Ayn Rand’s individualism, and with whom he has good rapport, compared to what had happened at William and Mary), as well as the last two weeks of transition from graduate student (with some powers in teaching himself), going through Master’s orals, to Army life as a “prole”.  There is a posting on my companion site with some passages from early pages of the book that develop this point, here.

Another story in the DADT III book, “The Ocelot the Way He Is”, brings up the issue of sending other college students to the draft by flunking them, as if John had played both sides of the issue.

The Chapter that follows Basic, 5 (“The Investigations”) chronicles his life in permanent party.  He spends three months in the Pentagon and living on post at Fort Myer.  He makes some jokes in the office about having been a “bad detail man”.  Mysteriously, he is transferred to Ft. Eustis.  This seems to have to do with his previous psychiatric history, and this may be the only portion of the novel where his expulsion for “latent homosexuality” is discussed.  Once at Fort Eustis, he makes friends in the barracks in his own way, as most of the other men are similarly relatively well educated.  One campadre, “Oscar”, had enlisted for three years to ensure staying out of combat.  Oscar, while studying genealogy in conjunction with joining the LDS church, is quite taken in by John’s hangups about latent homosexuality, joins in the jokes, with repeated caricatures of Tiny Tim. (and “The Gesture”, where moonfaced Oscar bends his wrist and says “O Go Way Butterfly” — we called that “OGAB”).   But other characters, for whom John assigns “animal names” like Lizard, Ostrich, and particularly The Ocelot,  impress John, who starts to imagine how they could fit into (or have wind of)  a particular “conspiracy”, to rid the world of the parasites and underserving.  (John is called “Chickenman” — because he’s everywhere.)   By the time I was at Ft. Eustis, we all knew about the proletariat “cultural revolution” in China, where everyone took turns being a peasant, and thought that the Soviets would ensure that the same thing could be imposed on us, one by one, even if took nukes to do it. Even, I thought that the USSR’s National Anthem (performed in the 1981 movie “Reds”) was much more stirring than our own.

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Relation to historical truth:

I’ve noted the fictional locations already,  The main deviation from reality starts in Chapter 5.  I propose that the Army canceled the program of specialized MOS’s (like my “01E20” Mathematician) for enlisted men with advanced degrees.  I don’t recall for sure whether the Army really did this, but I believe that it did eventually.   At Fort Eustis, the Berkeley doctoral graduate “Rado Suhl” asks to be transferred and goes to Vietnam, in time to witness the doomsday weapon.  I think he did get transferred shortly after I left (on Feb. 7, 1970).

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In the book, I don’t get a civilian professional job before getting out of the Army, and go right on the treasure hunt.  In reality, I had two major offers (RCA and Bell Labs) by mid December 1969.  I started work at RCA on February 16, 1970, reporting at the Cherry Hill NJ location.

In the book, John is accused of homosexuality in the last few months and placed  on general duty, where he has to live in the bay with Special Troops and share KP.  This did not happen.  But we constantly “feared” being sent “back to the bay”, which we called “BTTB”.

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Psychological Aspects

This whole time, John sees his own life as from outside like an observer.  Everything in his life is about meaning and symbolism rather than direct experience.  He has emotion generated by music and by his ideals, and fantasies about ideal men (as explained in the DADT III book, around p. 44-45. He has no concept of a relationship with someone based on genuine complementarity, even less with the idea that he could biologically father life and that if he did so, that could “mean” anything.  In fact, he might relish communicating the idea that less competitive men should not father children and have a lineage — but that would feed the idea of eugenics.   He seems to lack some basic instincts.  Yet, within his own frame of reference, his own universe with its own rules, everything is fascinating.  Autism (at least in this form mild enough to invite moral disapproval) really works, even rocks.  So it’s possible to view a conspiracy theory through this lens and make it work, even make it funny.  Perhaps it sounds like satire.  You can pick up this 1969-1970 typed manuscript at random passages, and it seems quite seductive and captivating to share John’s beliefs, worldviews, and fears, even about his own vulnerable body image.

There is something very dark about how John sees other people.  You could say, as objects, as pawns or chess pieces, to be scored (that is, a Bishop is “worth” three and a half pawns).  Physical attributes become part-objects, and affect whether John can feel any emotional stake in the person.  It’s possible for someone to “lose it”, either because of his own bad living habits, or because of the actions of others (as in combat).  Then he is forever worthless, whatever the cause.  On a private level that is meaningless, but as people get taken in by it (as they do in the military barracks, especially in Chapter 5), it has its effect.  Politically, it can become dangerous, feeding racism or an attitude that people can become expendable.  Organized crime and fascism both feed on that process;  communism at least pretends that it addresses it.  People need to be able to enter relationships (marriages) and keep them when something unfortunate happens to one partner, all the more if in war.  

Of course, this style of thinking, even if we had just fought WWII to defeat it, had been reinforced by the draft and deferment system, which led that some people’s lives were more expendable than others.

There is a lot of talk of male beauty, and of resentment of the old cultural norm that only women should be valued for passive beauty.  There is some focus on various secondary attributes of men in spots (with phrases like “mannish flesh”).  Nevertheless, all the sex scenes are heterosexual.  Near the end of Part I, Hans Zugfel finally has intercourse with his mystery girl friend “Holdine” (whom John has met clandestinely); the scene builds up very slowly, as John imagines it during masturbatory fantasy.  But John never imagines being with Zugfel or any other male directly in the book.  John’s “second coming” would not occur until 1973.   In the second half, near the end, as written, he attempts intimacy with Tovina, and is disturbed at what he sees when she undresses.  Would it make sense to have children in such a world anyway?

Various men looked at my handwritten manuscript in the barracks, and chuckled at how they were presented.  The standing joke was “The Proles,, rated X”.  Now, that’s NC-17.  But it probably would be rated R if made today.

Will “The Proles” ever sweep across the screen?  That I’ll take up in a subsequent posting.

(Published Tuesday March 25, 2014 about 5 PM EDT.)

My speech at Hamline University in 1998 (with cable rebroadcast, and videos)

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I’m going to start introducing my own work in this “Media Reviews” blog, in order to build up to my future plans, and to supplement the “footnotes blog” for my new “Do Ask Do Tell III” book.

On February 25, 1998, I gave a lecture on my first book to undergraduate students at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN.  Students took notes, like they were going to turn in themes to professors.  The lecture was arranged by a graduating senior from Hamline whom I had met through the Libertarian Party of Minnesota after moving to Minneapolis on September 1, 1997 – actually at a reception (and informal booksigning party) somewhere around one of the lakes in town in late October (it was still mild that Sunday night, which I remember well).

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The 56-minute talk was carried on Channel 6 on Minneapolis Cable in March, 1998.  I have made a DVD of it.  Using older technology of over a decade ago. I extracted some videos from it.  I’m not sure yet how easy it would be to get this onto YouTube or copied onto this site, so I will give the link to the first file on the “doaskdotell” site.  There are 34 such files, each well less than a minute.  I do think I talk constructively about the “Relationship Paradox” (file 30) and that there is tension between independence as a virtue for the individual and interdependence as necessary for society,

The MPG link to the first file is this:

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I would be accompanied at some libertarian book fairs by Edmund Contoski, who published under the imprint “American Liberty Publishers”, link here.

One of these is “Makers and Takers”, the title of which is self-explanatory.  Yes, it does remind us of Ayn Rand.  The other is a novel “The Trojan Project”, where the author imagines a telephone virus.  I thought it was fanciful at the time, but then Stephen King came up with “Cell” in 2006.  And now, smart phone malware is a big security issue, and certainly fits well into the NSA spying scandal revealed by Edward Snowden.

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I would later give a similar speech at the University of Minnesota March 31, 1999, and a related talk to the Dakota Unitarian Fellowship in Rosemount, MN in February 2002.

(Published at 11 PM EST Sunday, Februrary 16, 2014).

Update: Oct. 20, 2014

Thumbnails for DVD of the Hamline lecture. I’ll start working on YouTube transcription soon.  See Nov. 30, 2015 post.

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