Monday, December 30, 2019

Happy New Year 2020!

Welcome to 2020! 

I'm mostly now adjusted to being out of the 1900s and now I have to acclimate to entering the third decade of the new Millennium....
Just please 2020... be better than 2019?!
But really, so glad you all could make it to here!



OK. To start off with I'd like to offer you a new book to start your year with. Written by the author/cartoonist of Dilbert, Scott Adams. His book is, Loserthink: How Untrained Minds Are Ruining America". It's funny, irreverent and America needs this bit of rational consideration. For both sides of the country and all sides of the political spectrum. Here is a segment of him on C-SPAN2's BookTV

2019 treated far too many of us with utter contempt and disrespect. I look forward to 2018 being much more congenial and powerfully friendly. And if it's not...then I look forward to wrestling it to the ground, crushing its face into the mud and beating the holy tar out of it because This year...I'm not putting up with that crap any longer.

As we enter this, the third decade of the new Millenium... so say us all!

Let's celebrate. Or would you rather skip all the trouble? I know, I know. Many of us have felt through this year that it would be better not to bridge that gap and just relax and fall to end it all. But a new year brings hope. And more strenuous efforts to deny the stupid, remove the ill-mannered, and better everyone's lives, not just the few.

I mean, what are holidays for anyway?

Who cares about them? Why should we care about them? Especially if we find in them, celebrating things we are not that partial to, or in support of, or see only the negative in them. Like an "Uncle Mike's" annoying habits, or a "grandpa's" drunken grouchiness. Aren't they just another waste of human resources? Emotional exhibitions with too frequently no need or basis in logic? Or reality.

Obviously, holidays are for the celebrations for which they were originally intended.

Though some do supersede those original reasons. Such as Christmas. A birthday. New Year's, Halloween, etc. They are a reason for celebrating their original intent, to be sure, but also for sharing communal experiences, renewing old alliances, expanding one's relationships.

They are for exceeding one's normal experience of any normal day. A reason to do the exceptional, a thing to plan for and enjoy the planning of, not to ruin it by stressing over that planning, not for exceeding oneself to the point of misery or destitution.

But to be the abnormal, in a positive sense. To pamper oneself, or others. To use that which we save up for over time (to use, not abuse), to remember our reasons for existing in the first place. Whatever that may be. To show others that you care when normally it isn't considered, executed, or appreciated.

We have to face the fact that holidays are not only for what they are claimed to be, or originally were all about.

They offer one an opportunity to shine, in various ways. To know one is appreciated, to show that the appreciation of others. To build memories that will last a lifetime. To, in even the smallest of ways, give others acknowledgment of your appreciation of their existence, of their help, or their care for you. And to assure that this relationship continues or even expands in ways that are a benefit to yourself, to themselves and to your associated communities, both local and extended.

They are there to enjoy ourselves in our own experience of them and through the experience of others sharing in those experiences with us. It can be a bonding experience far outweighing the effort of experiencing them, as well as in the shared memories of those events many years into the future.

Or even beyond life itself if recorded and later shared by friends, family or even unknown descendants or merely other citizens.

So don't blow off these holidays.

Do not fear them. Or the potential the future holds for the next one.

Embrace them. They will embrace you back.

In the end, we may all very well benefit from them.

All the best to you and yours in this new year of 2020!

Monday, December 23, 2019

What "Merry Christmas" Really Is To All Of America

Merry Christmas! It seems like a fairly innocuous greeting. Right? I'm sharing now last year's Christmas blog, for a reason, in these our such divisive times.

Do you find this offensive? Some do.
It has inherent goodwill intended. Which confuses some.

Because we live in a diverse world, a diverse multicultural, multitheistic country and environment, we merely need to be aware of that in our thoughts, speech, and actions.

No, it's not asking that much of us. For myself, I was raised Catholic, old Slovak Catholic. I went through stages of seeking God and found how humankind invented all this thousands upon thousands of years ago.

I have in my search for what is truth in religion, or "God" in a supreme intelligence, or whatever you wish to refer to it as been through many stages. I see using the gender of "Him" (or "Her") as questionable in ascribing a kind of anthropomorphism to an entity far beyond our understanding and why ethereal beings need gender is quite beyond us, though not really).

From my childhood and deep into my 20s, I have experienced being a "born again Christian" in my late teens. Then in my research and studies to "find God", an agnostic, an atheist, an agnostic again and finally a follower of reality as best it can be defined, through science, through the Buddha Dharma when lent itself to the Christian form of restructuring Judaism, and also Aikido, "the Art of Peace".

I was surprised to find how much "Buddhist" beliefs fit into Christianity and general psychology orientations during my university years of study toward my degree in psychology, and in Phenomenology, and physics.

That being said, I don't just have a problem with Christmas and below I'll explain why.

IF one cannot function appropriately and positively in that kind of life, one in America's "tossed salad" citizenry and community, one of diversity, of inclusion, of acceptance and fellowship, then one is of limited mental, emotional and cultural capacities.

Do you find this offensive? Some do.
So before you start ranting about the ludicrous immature belief in a "war on Christmas", of which there is none, but is rather an opening of awareness of others besides one's self or one's culture or religion, or in some cases, one's "bubble", do consider you are merely extending that well-intentioned greeting to other to whom it may have no meaning to them.
Not everything is as we believe. 
  • December 25th is understood to not be the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth. 
  • The song Jingle Bells was originally intended for Thanksgiving, and was titled, "One Horse Open Sleigh" 
  • December 25th was originally a pagan festival day but the Catholic church absorbed it in order to compromise and assimilate pagan cultures when they were moving into.their region. 
  • Christmas now has transcended the Christian faith and spread out in a secular fashion to those of other cultures and religions. How is that a bad thing? The underlying principles are still there and if Jesus were alive to see this, he just might be okay with it. Because what he preached was the reality and not the dogma, not the diction, not the rules. But the people. And compassion for one another. 
  • The Golden Rule is based on the principle Jesus Christ taught in Matthew 7:12: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them,” adding, “for this is the Law and the Prophets.” The significance of Jesus "Christ’s" statement here is huge. What we call the Golden Rule is the summation of God’s entire view on the way of life.
So much of Christmas is about peace and love, make it so!

What we believe to be is different originally than we thought to begin with. So there is really no need to be zero tolerant, or uncompromising, or to believe in a war on something merely because of a call for greater awareness and understanding of other's different cultures or religions. Essentially...

It's Okay! We need either greater awareness and compassion for one another or have more wars and cultural friction and misunderstanding of one another. Especially during a season that calls out for greater compassion and caring, help and sacrifice for others, it truly is, okay.

So why would you offer it to them? It is obviously out of ignorance either in an understanding of our country or specifically in another person, you do not know very well and perhaps should take the time to consider and address them appropriately in a way they can understand what you mean and intend.

To wish them goodwill and happiness this season. Christians, many of them, like to point out the original intent and meaning of "Christmas" is all about Jesus. But as was pointed out above, that is at very least disingenuous and even, ignorant.

It really just means we have to give some thought to something we may never have given much thought TO. Which is actually the original intent of that greeting. to wit, if you are NOT giving it enough though, in the first place. You are actually, in the bigger picture of things, going counter to what you are trying to do and say. In trying to point out to others that there is or was a war on Christmas, you are the one missing the point in coming from Christians who cannot actually give the greeting enough thought and feeling, in order to share it in the most appropriate and productive ways.

Even if that means using another greeting.

This really isn't all about you after all.

What we all really need more than anything else in this world, is simply to all get along.

Because that is in the end, the Thought...that is in the end, what counts. Isn't it?

So with all that being said, I really have to end here with this...

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays, whatever you believe and practice!

Reality of America

I have been railing against "corporate thought", or "corporate thinking", for decades.

We are now at that crossraod. Corporating thought has invaded the US Government through Donald Trump.

So what IS "corporate thinking"? OK. Here we go...


Monday, December 16, 2019

Slash Night shorts, December 2019

As I write this on Sunday, December 15th, 2019, last night was our third ever, monthly Bremerton, Washington "Slash Night" shorts at the Historic Roxy Theater. With the exception of this month, it is being held on the first Saturday night of each month.

FYI, for January 2020 Slash Night it will be held on January 11th due to conflicting events at the theater.

We really have to thank the crew at the Roxy for being so supportive and awesome. This is an event for local indie filmmakers and fans of horror and well, local and indie filmmakers. We had some interesting attendees in the audience.

Kelly Hughes at the front door lobby and vendor table area.
Slash Nights is an inclusive and pleasantly positive arts event conceived of and executed monthly by local indie horror director and event imagineer, Kelly Hughes. This is in support of our annual Gorst Underground Film Festival coming up next year in September for our third annual festival. It is also very much in support of our local and indie filmmakers and all fans of indie horror.

Here are some video links from the LgN Production Youtube channel for the Q&A's Kelly did.

First up is the introduction and welcome Kelly gave at the beginning of the night's events. This was just after the Bobby4Bobby performance that opened the event. Then came the first block of three of the films we showed (see the list below).

Q&As

Of the Q&As, first up was mine, JZ Murdock, regarding the five minute recut Kelly did of my film, "Gumdrop, a short horror", which is about fifty minutes at this point in post-production.

Next up after the second block was William Stancik and his Laslo Films crew.

Finally, it was Travis Darkow and his crew.

As usual, we have a vendor table in the lobby. The event begins at 9PM giving people time to mill about, meet one another and meet the filmmakers, and for them to network with other filmmakers.

Roxy screen, from filmmaker Travis Darkow
The MCs

Kelly has had an MC at each event. First up was drag MC Helen Bedd. Last month was drag MC Poppie (seeing a theme here?). This month he is taking over as host and allowing performers to focus on performing. We had the exquisitely entertaining, Bobby 4 Bobby, composed of Bobby Lee, and Bobby Rae, local Kitsap County drag performers. They pulled out all the stops last night with a Christmas werewolf themed performance that came off in a rather amazing fashion to the celebratory screams and applause of the audience.

Bobby Rae and Bobby Lee on left
Filmmakers

Among filmmaker attendees and their films were long-time favorites of mine (well, three-month-long anyway... which is how long we've been doing this event), the Laslo Films crew (whom I've mentioned in a previous blog on this event). They are always a real crowd-pleaser with their quirky, bizarre films. More on them in a moment. 

Darkow crew on stage with Kelly Hughes
The Darkow crew with their film "Deadcember" was also a real crowd-pleaser. As was Jackson Cooperman's "Happy Birthday", a grindhouse kind of faux trailer that was pretty funny. But the Darkow film I was warned, that you'll never look at another Christmas elf the same again. That was so right. I won't go into detail as one really needs to see it, to understand.

The audience lost it laughing and at times a bit reticently out of anticipation and perhaps, a pleasant form of anxiety. This was a great way to end an evening of unusual and entertaining films.

Travis Darkow with..."The Elf"! You'll never see the Elf the same again.
The Laslo Films crew with filmmaker William Stancik with their surreal and hilarious film, "Dead Hooker Hotel". Both films brought waves of joy and laughter (and at times, appropriate groans) from our audience in the same vein as their last two submissions. Like last month's, "Snow and Oranges" and our first month's event with their "Amphetamine Trucker's Lament 2". I do love their films!

The MC for the show was Kelly Hughes, but the live entertainment and raffle callers (yes, with your $9 ticket you get a free raffle ticket for our several raffles over the evening, with extra raffle tickets a buck)... was Bobby4Bobby's, Bobby Lee and Bobby Rae. Full disclosure, I'm "Bobby Lee's" dad. I may, therefore, be a bit compromised in my judgment, but on the other hand, I'm a pretty critical judge and I wouldn't lie. 

Fab.Dragestry "Ray Gun" on their vendor table
Bobby4Bobby also had available some very interesting sellables.

Bobby4Bobby's FabDragestry theater lobby vendor table
Bobby4Bobby rehearsal while crew (friends Andy and Z) work on stage
Anyway, it wasn't just me, but the entire audience loved their performance. Especially when it kicked out of the cute segment and into the dark in an extremely tasteful and rather beautiful exhibition of the horror genre and the wolf-in-the-woods story.

The Films

We had three blocks of short films and between each block was a Q&A with one of the filmmakers in that previous block. I was up for the first block. Then the Lazlo Films guys and finally the Darkows.

BLOCK 1
Happy Birthday - Jackson Cooperman
Perturbado - Fernando A. Fisher
Gumdrop (plus Q&A w/director JZ Murdock)

BLOCK 2
Good/Evil - Kelly Hughes
The Springs County Psycho - Christopher Stem
Dead Hooker Hotel (plus Q&A w/director William Stancik)

BLOCK 3
That Very Special Night - Mark Pollock
Green State - Kelly Hughes
Pencil Me In - Scott Ennis
Deadcember (plus Q&A w/director Travis Darkow)

If you noticed Kelly had a couple of films in this, no, he's not abusing his power. There were some technical issues including one of the films dropping out last minute so he simply made up for it with some pretty entertaining replacements.

My film as I said, was "Gumdrop". I'm currently in post-production on "Gumdrop, a short horror". A fifty-minute short horror film based on a true truly horrible serial murderer. Last month the trailer for my film was shown. What happened was, and in the consideration of filmmaker collaboration, Kelly offered and I jumped at the chance, for him to recut my film into a very short film. He got it down to five minutes with music by Postvorta, an Italian band. 

Part of the reason for this event is to lend a place for local filmmakers a place to network and meet and share and view on another's works. And for fans to also have access to this as some very interesting things tend to happen at these events. 

In that vein I allowed and Kelly took on the task of cutting my film through his experience and sensibilities. And it was interesting to see on the big screen. For any filmmaker to allow that can be terrifying. But if one takes the risk you get a chance pre-release to see a different version of your film. Considering I'm still in post-production, I still have the opportunity to tweak my film and hopefully add something to it I may have missed. Or to utilize a form I hadn't considered, known about, or realized I could do. 

Filmmaking, is collaboration. It benefits us as filmmakers to utilize that in every way possible, whenever the opportunity arises. In that same vein, Kelly has taken the chance and opportunity for a filmmaker in South Carolina to show a screenplay of his, which was to wrap this past weekend. 

Slash Night 1, was admittedly a kind of disaster. But we pulled it off and everyone had a great time. Slash Night 2 was last month and was also fun, and everyone enjoyed themselves and was much better. Slash Night 3 this past weekend was bordering on amazing and people are definitely looking forward with great interest to next month's event.

IF you have a local event like this and are into film...go. Support your local filmmakers, and yourself. 

We don't know where this is going. But we do know, we can all now see...this is definitely going SOMEWHERE!

Monday, December 9, 2019

Abusive Thinking Be It Conservatism or Vaping

This isn't just about conservatism but also "corporate thinking", ignorance, discare.

Conservatism has lost its way. Little doubt about that. And for those misogynists who are homomisanthropes who question my orientation as not separate from my art, political, and psychosocial leanings... I am a white male getting on in my years, heterosexual which I know because homosexuals do not concern or disturb me as I am secure in my orientation and happy for diversities, while other's concerns of purity is a rather childish view of existence in their confused eschatological sense of reality.

Diversity has proven itself time and time again to be a stronger and best effort example in evolution.

"Purity" is a short term paradigm for the most part, especially in social concerns. Hitler rose to power and was brought down as a prime and perfect example of the pollution and dysfunction of, for instance, the white supremacist's functionality, and self-inflicted inferiority. And, proof positive of the ignorance, immaturity, and self-destruction through the ridicule and destruction of others that has affected America, especially since the infection and abuse of Donald Trump as POTUS.

Abuse of women's rights merely as self-deficient bullying behaviors of one human being over another is the same as with those who choose to abuse one religion over another. When, in reality, it is the theists in general who are lacking. Certainly, too many times as regards humanity at large, as well as too often, reality, and even history.

It really takes standing apart from one's environment, one's tribe, one's xenophobia through one's ignorant geo-ethnocentricism.

To wit, it is self-abasement by one who is lacking self-esteem, who has not yet enough proven themselves to themselves, as well as to others.

And in the end, it's anti-American, in a country based on freedom, education, and self-actualization.

Open up. Brave up. Face reality. Deal with what is here and not just in your own back yard of how you understand reality and your country. There are others here, than merely you.

And they do count, too.

What is conservatism? It's a governor on reality. It's what you use when you need to but not as a life orientation, which is ridiculous.

An example. Climbing a mountain. You go at a pace and maintain it. You want to go as fast as you can as you have a vast distance to cover, as we do in life. But you slow down, become conservative when you hit a rough patch, a dangerous patch. And then when you get to the main patch you pick up speed to what is nominal and gets you the furthest the fastest and the most economical, speaking of energy and overall expenditures of resources.

But you do not go forward as fast as the slowest point, you progress, are as progressive as you can be. And if you've ever traveled with someone vastly slower than you? You choose a partner more compatible with you, who moves more surely and more quickly.

Otherwise, you are forever slow. Restrained. Retarded from your potential. Held back from a more progressive reality, a more reasonable reality.

One might argue that some systems simply work better at a certain speed. That is true. But one should also be working, striving, progressing to find better systems, to find a way for that current system to function better, faster or more efficiently. And that is simply not the orientation of America's defective form of conservatism today.

Life, is a lot to deal with. Restraining oneself is to cripple oneself. To conserve one's abilities is to never see the mountaintops you can achieve, either in sports or in life. In personal issues or in cultural issues. In spiritual issues or in religious issues. The latter of which by its nature is designed to constrain, restrain, conserve human potential out of fear.

And fear is the real issue in conservatism. Fear leads to abuse. Retarding human potential.

We need to think, to consider our path forward, but we also need to move, to achieve, to see what we can do unrestrained.

Otherwise, what's the point?

In another vein along similar disingenuous lines...

There's a lot of unanswered questions in an article on vaping ("Marijuana vape users are getting incurable "cobalt lung").. I wondered if it wasn't about the more powerful vapes, unlike the one I use. This one from Forbes makes more sense and answers some of my questions.

As always, one needs to eat, drink, smoke, vape or heat as little as possible for the desired effect.
Abuse, is abuse. Live smart. As Buddha wisely taught, "Moderation in all things". 

Use, isn't abuse, as many like to claim.

Life, is not just about fear. It's about being intelligent and always moving forward when possible. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Beware, Be Aware of Perception, or Lack Thereof

I was just trying to explain something to a professional associate regarding who I am, how I am, and how I think. As an individual, I am really very easy going. That's a story unto itself. But I love humor, and I can come off as a bit goofy, or a screw up even. But I am not.

That demeanor of mine has confused people... all throughout my life. I've been taken as a fool, or ignorant, or a slacker even, until one starts talking to me in detail and finds I shoot past them into issues unseen, unknown, or unacknowledged by my interrogator, or at times, my tormentor. It is interesting that when I used to fight in martial arts tournaments, I won fights with that same..."talent"? Don't judge the book by its cover? After years in IT work, at some fairly high levels, some of that has been sloughed off.

I spent the first part of my life, fully intending to go into espionage. I heard early on that those who stand out, tall, big, loud, do not make for good spies. They stand out. And a spy doesn't want, especially literally, to stand above a crowd. It's too easy to get shot that way. Or uncovered when... undercover. I learned to blend in, I could disappear into a crowd. And I was 6'2". I learned how to be seen as someone not to be concerned about.

But that began in grade school to avoid bullies, and groups of guys wanted to pound me into the ground. Because I was loud. Because I did stand up for myself. And because I was a big toddler, who got used to terrorizing bigger, older kids. Until one day I was smaller than the other kids and they realized they could fight back en masse. I didn't get bigger again until 10th grade when I lost a few pounds, shot up a few inches and then had to regain my footing.

It didn't help that in grade school I had been in five different schools, in two different states before sixth grade.

I started learning about killing people in fifth grade. I spent junior high school years learning military thinking and skills. I learned weapons, firearms. Hand to hand combat. I practiced sharpening my mind (for what it's worth). Sadly, I also found emotional issues difficult in my life and sought out because of my family life, my personal self, and the counter culture (which wasn't counter to me, it was my culture) in the 60s and 70s and even 80s. 

I entered the Air Force and worked around very serious equipment and people. The most serious in the world in working around nuclear weapons. Though we also had a good time. Work hard, play hard. 

After I got out of the service I went through various life events, got a couple of college degrees, one a university degree in psychology majoring in perception and phenomenology in the Awareness and Reasoning division from Western Washington University. I worked over seven years at the University of Washington, and at two major Medical Centers associated with the UW, one the regional trauma center 

My point being, I've had a serious high-level attention to detail lifestyle for much of the first part of my life. I've built a mindset that is based on life or death, unlike (and thank "God" for that) most Americans. I don't view things as armchair quarterbacking, but will if I will die if I get it wrong. That being said, sure, everyone is wrong sooner or later. But not usually on major issues. 

That is my basis for how I think today.

Yes, I've gotten lazier, older, somewhat sloppy in my old age. But that level of accuracy is still, as I've discovered repeatedly of late, above and beyond that of most Americans... on their best days. Yes, that is sad. No, that is not bragging. That is stating something I originally found surprising, and find on an ongoing basis, very sad, and at times, pathetic.

We don't take the time today, we don't delve deep enough into things today. We don't have the time, the attention span, the desire, the dedication, the awareness even. We are seriously lacking in many important considerations and our decisions are suffering for it. Our country is suffering for it. Humanity is suffering for it.

We need to seek the facts, not our desires. We need to seek reality, not our personal or tribal fantasies. We have to see into and beyond the issues into the bigger, and sometimes, the smaller picture. We need to see the forest for the tress and the trees for the forest.

We in a word, need to be, or become, "Enlightened" in the Buddha Dharma sense. In the Buddhist sense of reality.

When you bite into an apple, you need to feel, to "see" where it came from, who picked it, what their life is about, how they suffer in seeing that deliciousness into your mouth. How those trees exist. How they thrive or do not. How these trees support our air, our world, our physical and our aesthetic.

How those apples are picked, cleaned or not, sorted, bought, sold, transported and sold to us.

How we metabolize those apples and secrete them back into the world.

Doing that with all things, whenever and wherever possible, will bring us, some of us kicking and screaming, back into reality.

If ever we were there in the first place.

And the world and all of us, will suffer far less for it. 

Just, don't be this guy:

Monday, November 25, 2019

Wilhelmina and the Wall

The other day I was riding my bicycle around Bremerton and listening to Willie Nelson. He had a song about a guy who was saying, "Hello wall,", etc. It gave me a thought about a person from ancient times saying that to a wall and the wall speaking back to them. And they got nailed as a witch. As I rode my bike I further thought out how that might work itself out and came up with a story.

I decided I needed to give Willie credit in some way, to give him an homage to his having led me to the idea for a new story. So I'm calling her Wilhelmina Nelson (Willie Nelson, okay?) and call it, "Wilhelmina and the Wall". Which, sounds stupid, considering the ensuing storyline. However, I figured if she's talking to a wall, how is that?

So I came up with a storyline making it science fiction. So the wall is real, and is a kind of AI talking back. But just to her. But how? Well, I have used this a few times. A scientist in the future has contacted someone in the past and the connection, in this story, is the wall.

The wall. An AI. And from there I built on that.

It's an exercise in creativity. How do we come up with these things? What is the source? How does it develop?

I was very absorbed by that at university and so I took a self-designed class to study creativity. I shot a video for my professor and kept a journal. it was my first produced video really. I spent three months shooting it, thinking about it and then turned in my journal and tape to my professor. I called the short film, "Tensions".

I felt it was a private thing. Something for myself and between him and me. And then I found out he was showing it to all his classes. It was a film built phenomenologically as that was my area of study with him, my department advisor in the psychology department.

I had perhaps made the mistake of putting myself in the video for a few seconds as I'd needed an actor and no one was around. I just wanted to get the scene done. So I did it myself. And then people on campus started coming up to me to discuss it. To offer their opinion.

It felt like standing in the middle of Red Square in the center of the campus by the fountain at WWU, I was stripped naked, exposed and vulnerable.

I did not like the "fame". That was my origin of preferring fortune over fame. If ever I were to have the choice.

But that's not what Wilhelmina is about. Or that film as that was about, "what is creativity?"

What I came away with was creativity is creation. The more you apply thought, history, technique, allegory, the more personal, the more universal it becomes.

Create? Start something. Build upon it. Logically, or perhaps illogically. But some common thread should exist, for most projects. Put effort into it. The more the better usually.

But getting back to "Wilhelmina and the Wall"? Time will tell...

Atheists

I was just watching a film and Anthony Hopkins' character says that the thing about atheists is that they are always looking for proof. He goes on to ask, and what would we do if we found it. I found that interesting.

Because to me, that's an agnostic. An atheist doesn't start that way. They are usually a theists. Or perhaps an agnostic. Either way they usually come from a position of being a non-atheist. They go through life as an agnostic, searching for that proof or non-proof, proof, which theists consider faith.

The point here is, once you have enough proof, you hit a tipping point from which you start to believe there is no God. Time passes and you have other proofs you accept as acceptable. Finally one day you simply realize, you are now an atheist.

From then on, there is no need to search for proof. You now know. You don't believe, you don't have faith in atheism, you simply know that what cannot be proved, isn't proof and there is no God.

All the rest is theistic banter and a desire to see in atheists who they would be themselves if they were searching. They constantly push that onto atheists. But it's not who an atheist is.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Murdock Chronicles?

"The Murdock Chronicles"? Yes. To be sure. So what exactly is that? Well? I'll tell you. It has a history, as most things do. I've covered some of this before in previous blogs and publications. But I'll wrap it up here in a new wrapper. I have created this blog, Murdockinations. I have well over 1,000 blog articles on it since 2010. When I began it, I did two blogs a day, seven days a week, one serious one more humor based. In order to learn and build up my writing catalog and ability to produce to the public to such a degree. It wasn't easy, but it paid off.

I have created on Facebook, "The Murdock Society", for the writings of JZ Murdock and for those of a like mind. I've also created, the faux religion, Purpleism or "The Church of the Pure Purple" as a slam back at all things annoying in the Human Experience. Like, religion in general.

Over the years it had occurred to me more and more that I should take my writings and turn them into films. How does one do that? One learns to write screenplays. One sends screenplays off to be further developed and purchased.

Or, one gets into film production and films those screenplays themself. My orientation since childhood was in film production. I just didn't know it. I thought it was as a writer, which I also believed was unattainable. Authors and filmmakers were "Gods' to me, so lofty were they above me.
I got my first short sci-fi horror story published in 1990. "In Memory, Yet Crystal Clear". It was an homage to PK Dick, to Isaac Asimov. So much so to Mr. Asimov that the title was taken from his first autobiography, "In Memory Yet Green".

When I decided to retire in 2016, I also decided I would switch careers and finally go full time into what I wanted to do. Write and produce films. By "produce" I mean not be a producer per se, but see that films I've written are made in whatever way I could possibly get them made. And the most obvious and in some ways, the easiest way to get a film made, is to simply do it yourself.

I have always been a firm believer in how to go about things in life. I grew up into having a professional attitude and orientation about my actions in life. When I went about learning something I tried to learn that thing and all things associated with it so I would be the most knowledgeable person in the room about it. Whatever it was.

Some years ago I was befriended by local indie horror/comedy director Kelly Wayne Hughes. But let's back up to the 1980s for a second. I was on the set of "Starman" the TV show when they were filming the pilot in Seattle. I got to be on two of their sets, one on Capitol Hill and one later that night in the Seattle Center at the Monorail terminal. I even found my way right next to the camera and director until they were done shooting for the night late into the AM, early morning hours.

The location manager noticed me following them around and took pity on me when I had told him I studied screenwriting a few years before in college but had never been on a set. So he placed me right at the tip of all the action and just left me there. I was pretty overwhelmed at the time. But I learned a lot.

Skip forward years later and I was on the set of a Kelly Hughes film. I got to act as various crew, running sound, doing SFX, pyrotechnics, actor wrangling, even some makeup effects. I got to act in some of Kelly's films, even headlining one.

Why? Because I wanted to see how the practical application of a screenplay went.

In that same vein, I had wanted to be, and studied being, a writer. I was a trained researcher in getting my BA in Psychology. My minor in creative writing in fiction, play, screen, and TV team script writing. Later I worked for five years with a production company as an unpaid in-house screenwriter.

I have tried to write everything I could. I've written nonfiction and been published in computer newspaper-style mags in the 80s. I wrote fiction. Plays, SciFi. Horror. Poetry. I wrote White Papers as a Senior Technical Writer in IT. Isaac had said in his autobiography to become a tech writer if you want to be a sci-fi writer and all the great golden age sci-fi writers had been one. Why? Because it teaches you to write, to disbelieve in "writer's block", to produce on-demand, to turn out quality work on demand, to be succinct, and by definition, functional.

As I said, when I try to learn something, I try to learn things associated with it. And so I have. I also put out audiobooks of some of my writings. I'll be producing more.

Which brings me up to retiring again in 2016. I purchased the film equipment I would need, a video editing workstation and proceeded to consider my future actions. It took a while but between continuing to work with Kelly, to network with other creatives, artists, musicians, filmmakers, actors, and so on, I was building a catalog of skills and the skilled.


Until finally, I shot a small eight-minute long film with Nikolas Hayes as the one and only actor. That became, "The Rapping". Once I got that under my belt, I was emboldened to a bigger project and thus, "Gumdrop, a short horror" was born where I used more actors and some SFX.

That is a prequel I wrote to a short horror story and true crime tale I had published some years go, "Gumdrop City". There is now a trailer to that film  It showed at the Historic Roxy Theater in Bremerton, WA at our Slash Night shorts event we put on with Kelly as founder and showrunner. We are attaching it to our annual Gorst Underground Film Festival. 2020 will be its third annual event.

I am now in post-production with, "Gumdrop, a short horror". A first assembly of the film is completed and I'm working now toward the first draft of it, a first cut.

It was at this point that the concept of, 'The Murdock Chronicles" appeared.

When I made "The Rapping" I created the "Garage Tales" series. I was going to shoot a series of short horror films in my sizeable garage. But that project kept growing bigger and bigger and a fifteen-minute film was turning into a thirty-minute film and longer. it was good, I had some great ideas for SFX. But I canned that and decided to go smaller.

So I came up with the "Attic Tales" series that I would shoot around the attic that house had. And so "The Rapping" was produced. And so that film is the one and only, "Attic Tale" that I produced. Then, I moved to this new location. Here I have a vastly smaller house and yard. But I have a creepy basement. And so, yes, you guessed it, "Basement Tales" was born. So far I have now produced, as I've mentioned, "Gumdrop, a short horror".

But as you may guess, all this got me to thinking about the changes, and in going back to my original considerations, of turning my writings into films, how does this all work together? After all, "The Rapping" was not from my old writings. It was an original I crafted to fit the location. A new work.

What about my old works? My old writings I was going to turn into films? Well, some of those are massive stories. My book, "Death of heaven" is a massive special effects story. There is simply no way I could produce that without millions of dollars.

I also knew I was going to produce more films of new writings. As my skills get better in SFX and VSFX, I would better be able and more cheaply, to produce some of my old writings. "Sarah" perhaps for one, could be doable. Almost doable now. Sarah, is a Twilight Zone-ish story of an old woman with Alzheimer's. But it only begins there.

And so I felt I needed a way to differentiate between my original older stories and my newer stories and films...like, The Rapping.

Thus was born, "The Murdock Chronicles".

"The Rapping", is one of the "Attic Tales" stories/films.

"Gumdrop, a short horror", is one of "The Murdock Chronicles".

And now when you see, if you ever see, one of my films, you will know what exactly is going on and if you are seeing one of my newer, or one of my old stories.

Next up I think we will film that fits into my "Murdock Chronicles". A curious version of my story, "The Mea Culpa Document of London", contained in two versions in my first book, "Anthology of Evil, a collection of my older short stories, and in "Death of heaven".. It is a simple tale about a 12th-century witch hunter. Perhaps the film will be only one actor, talking, telling his disturbing story.

A challenge to make interesting, to be sure. Also, we are looking now at doing the audiobook of my story, "Gumdrop City". Once the film is available, if you want to know what originated the true crime story, you'll be able to read and listen to it, both.

It has been an eventful time. I have learned a lot. For those who wish to get into writing or filmmaking, I can only say, do it! But know that if you really want to do it, separate out the difference between the romantic notion and the solid and more serious desire to accomplish something.

Because anything of worth takes effort. IF he comes easy, you're probably doing it wrong and the result will show in the final product. And others eventually, will indeed tell you. And it will hurt.

So save yourself time and effort and the pain. Don't fall in love with the romance of writing or filmmaking because that will not work well for you. Do, however, allow it to fire your passion, to carry you over to the threshold of accomplishment. Just be aware that writing and filmmaker are hard work. There is much to learn. Learn by doing.

Learn by surrounding yourself with others of a like mind. Others who are better than you. But show them you're willing to do the work and not simply burden them for you being in their presence. Show them what you can give to them and to the community at large if you truly wish to take on the effort, to produce things that readers and viewers, other than only family and friends, will want to experience.

Then, go out and do it. But have a plan. Understand how hard it will be and never stop. When you fail, get back up and dust yourself off and continue to completion. Even if you produce crap, finish it. Then produce better next time. And next time. Know what your commitment is. And stuck with it.

I did. I have. I am. And you can too...

Monday, November 11, 2019

Who is Dragon Boxer?

First up, Have a great Veteran's Day! To all us vets, Thanks! Go out and find one vet during your day today and simply say, "Thanks!" 

Then find one politician who didn't use enough politics, what they are elected FOR, and who found us into yet another war, for corporations and profit and say,

"Hey pal, do your damn job! War is failed politics! And we've failed too many times on that too many times on purpose."

Then thank another Republican for all these wars of profit.

And remember Republican Pres. George W. Bush took us to war, forced the intelligence into existence that would support yet another war we didn't need and took us into Iraq murdering thousands upon thousands and thousands of Iraqis for no God damned good reason whatsoever! 

That's not partisan crap, it's fact. Read a book! The information is out there, vetted, and reality.

Now...

Dragon Boxer. The international star from 2011, is back! Sort of.

Dragon Boxer, 2011
Who is Dragon Boxer?

Well, that's the question, isn't it? The first appearance of Dragon Boxer was in 2011 in Europe when I made a short happy birthday video for my daughter who was traveling Europe alone, with her backpack, and her accordion. Paying her way singing around Europe, even touching briefly in Eastern Europe. She lived in caves on the southern Spanish coast.

She lived in empty buildings with artists. She was in Greece during the labor riots when she detailed to me heading "home" for the night through streets with cars on fire and rioting. She called me one night from a truck stop on the French border at 2AM when it was freezing cold and she had no idea how she was going to get ... somewhere.

A truck driver gave her a ride and eventually, she ended up in that cave on the Spanish coast. For a while, she lived in an apartment with other musicians. they would play music in the kitchen and at least once, had the police arrive to ask them to tone it down as other tenants were complaining.

I tell you all this because it becomes apparent how reasonable it might have been for at some point, her spirits to have lowered to the lowest. It was her birthday. I was frustrated in being so unable to control her spirits, her happiness, she safety.

Head Employment Representative Ramon Soliz, left, my self with my first meeting
with Dragon Boxer and, my wife at the time at my exit party from UW Personnel Department
I was in my bedroom at one point and I came up with the only thing I could think of. To take the hand puppet I had been given as a joke when I left my employment in 1994 of over seven years at the University of Washington, in various departments, and make a short video in order to try to cheer up my daughter, off somewhere, in Europe.


This short stupid little video had the desired effect and did indeed cheer up my depressed daughter. I put the video away and didn't think about it until some years later. I brought it out again for a Happy New Years' video.

Over the years I had shown both the puppet and the Happy Birthday video to kids and even some adults and they all laughed. The kids especially loved it. And when they met Dragon Boxer, they seemed to be very attracted to it. I don't think I've ever gotten so much out of a joke gift before over so many years.


It occurred to me that there was something there. And so Dragon Boxer, International Star was born!

I have been in pre-production on my short horror film, "Gumdrop, a short horror" which I shot during the summer of 2019. During that, I asked Dragon Boxer if he'd like to make a short film for fun and he said yes. Thus, "Below in the Dark, A Short Halloween Enigma" was created in 2018.

I mention all this because we have been putting Dragon Boxer to work. He's open for management by the way. He's a real pain in the ass to manage and I don't want to do it. But someone might and that would take him off my hands. And he eats...good grief. Well, that's another topic.

Anyway, he interviewed actor Jason Lockhard who has worked with director Kelly Hughes and is now in my film, "Gumdrop, a short horror."

Actor Jason Lockhart (left), Tom Remick (right) in
Gumdrop, a short horror (2019)
Here's the Dragon Boxer interview:

Dragon Boxer: Hey, so, Jason Lockhart, actor, father, raconteur, whatever, how are you and thanks for visiting and being my first interview.

JasonL: Sure.

DB: We've grown a man.

JasonL: Sorry. You've what? What is that, thing? Over there?

DB: We found human DNA from 10,000 years ago, recovered, reconstituted it, grew it, and produced, a man. Oh, that. Jay's handy work. It was a... ? We'll have to get another one, that one's trashed beyond repair. Only took him a second. Said, he didn't like it. It made him uncomfortable.  New people seem to make him a bit uncomfortable, too. Anyway, now that just makes him laugh. Interesting talent, that.

JasonL: A man? A man from 10,000 years. Ago? Why not a dragon? You're a boxing dragon, why genetics?

DB: Yes. Well, resurrecting a dragon would be stupid. They're mythical creatures and...I'm the only one so far, so... anyway. We named him. Jay. But that's not...it's not what's so, amazing, about, all this. Did you know that synesthesia is like other things, a part of all of us, as children? As we were all once female, we all once had to learn to differentiate, to compartmentalize our senses. We had to be trained out of seeing sounds or smells, or hearing colors, and so on. There may be other sense mixes going on but typically a child saying, Mommy, I can see the music playing," leads to Mommy saying, "No, honey, you can HEAR the music," when in all reality, the child may ver welly be hearing AND seeing the music.

JasonL: I really don't see what this has to do with any...I thought this was an actor interview?

DB: Yeah, you've thought a lot of things. Like what the hell is this about?

[Shown  Kelly Hughes/Jason Lockhart clip. Jason is flummoxed.]
JasonL: That was from Kelly's film I was in, Green State.

DB: Okayyy... You have heard stories from the past of miracles, magic, and so on, all of which you don't hear about anymore, right?

JasonL: Surely. I've always figured that was just ancient people's misunderstanding of things they can't explain.

DB: Right, and so have most people, a reasonable assumption. But what if...what if we were a more simple people? We certainly seemed to have been more passionate about our beliefs. What if...what if witches did have powers... sometimes. Not always, as certainly many innocents were killed in so-called, "witch hunts".

JasonL: Again, what's your point?

DB: What if the brain chemistry, who knows, maybe the entire human anatomy, was conditioned so that these magical acts actually could happen?

JasonL: Okay, but I don't think I'm following you, yet.

DB: Modern physics has learned a great deal recently. And much of that indicates some very bizarre things. What if this universe is a holographic projection? What if we are existing in the event horizon of a black hole or are projected from one? What if we create the universe every time we look at it, but when we don't look at it, it simply doesn't exist?

JasonL: Yes, yes, I've heard all of that.

DB: Okay then, what if we have, as we have taught children that they cannot see sounds, hear colors and so on, taught ourselves that we cannot see magic? Not so much, "magic", but what appears to be magic. Now, what if we found someone who was alive back when we believed it, what if we could access the capabilities of someone like that? What might happen?

JasonL: Wait, so you're saying, someone from the past could produce magic, and you've now produced someone like that? Surely not all of them could be magical and you may have produced only one who cannot do this? How...odd.

DB: That's what you find odd about this conversation? Okay, well, yes, there's that possibility. But I conjecture we all had that capability, thousands of years ago. But we merely convinced ourselves, mentally, socially, biologically, that we couldn't do it. No doubt many of the strictures of churches, various religions, came about to be precisely because of those capabilities and that added, with extreme prejudice, to our ending such marvelous gifts and practices.

JasonL: I see what you're saying. That sounds ridiculous. Both, our rebuke and the situation. As does so much of quantum physics I suppose. But if what you're saying is true, my God...then what?

DB: Exactly. So. Would you like to meet our new friend...Jay?

Monday, November 4, 2019

Dishonoring the Honorable to Regain Our Sanity and Decency

I just heard something I found fascinating. I'm still not sure how I feel ABOUT IT, but I think it bears rumination.

Apologies... but there is so much disturbing news anymore, these times are so unsettling, I need some positive news once in a while. Today for me it's that last night at a local horror film night event at the Historic Roxy Theater in downtown Bremerton, the trailer for my film, "Gumdrop, a short horror" (now in post production), premiered first time anywhere, as well as any of my work anywhere ever before.


And, I got to be on stage for the first time with other filmmakers as...a filmmaker.

MC Poppie on left, I was next to him right after I
took this photo and ran up on stage with other filmmakers.
We also got to see some some great works by others. I liked them all as director Kelly Hughes did a great job curating our viewing. Really like the Laslo Films short and of course, Pat Moriarity's animation of, "The Realm Beyond All Reason". I even won one of Pat's t-shirts, the grand raffle prize of the night! Great evening!
From Pat Moriarity
Now, back to our regularly and more serious, scheduled programming...

Author Allison Stanger and political scientist and the Russell J. Leng '60 Professor of International Politics and Economics at Middlebury College and the founding director of Middlebury's Rohatyn Center for International Affairs. said that after WWII Winston Churchill dishonored Air Marshal Harris and the bomber pilots of Dresden since they were responsible for doing it. For following orders. Perhaps even as they should have. It was something they felt they needed to do because the system was broken during the war.

Bombing a civilian only target is disgusting. But Germany was doing it and they needed retaliation.

But after the war recognized that it was dishonorable. So rather than celebrate it and those who did it, he instead dishonored them in order to reak with the poor behavior of the past and rebuild democracy. Which was done. So if you go to Westminster Abby today you will see those fighter pilots, but not those bombers in those four sortes of 13 and 15 February 1945.

It's an interesting consideration. I've always felt we should leave up confederate and racist statutes for instance, and put up information explaining it and that we have grown beyond that kind of backward and destructive thinking. We shouldn't hide our bad past, we shouldn't wipe away the ill deeds of our country.

But this addresses another issue altogether. Should we dishonor our operatives during the post 9/11 wars who tortured people. Should we consider to not honor them for their actions even though we may have needed them to do them? Though one can argue the validity of torture, to be sure.

I raised my own children with a hard lesson I learned myself growing up. That in life one does things because they are right. And sometimes you will break the law to do it. And you will be punished if caught. It is up to you at the time to make up your mind, in full knowledge that you may suffer for doing right.

There are, let's face it, times we must stand and do what is right! Even though it is considered by many, or by the Law, to be wrong. And we will pay the price for it. Or we can hide from it and deal with our own inner voice for the rest of our life. If you have one.

And today, too many seem not to have one.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Gumdrop, a short horror -.The Editing Continues

I've been editing the video I've shot on my short horror film, "Gumdrop, a short horror". This blog is for those new to filmmaking really, as more experienced filmmakers already know much of what I'll say and may even roll their eyes from time to time or simply shake their head wondering how I even turn out a product. Well, it's working for me. For now. And I'm learning as I go. And as we all do.


I passed twenty minutes in length yesterday and I'm hoping to keep it under 30 minutes total.

First, I would like to congratulate my friend and cartoonist, Pat Moriarity! He is doing very well with his first animative project, "The Realm Beyond Reason"(using Adobe Animator with Adobe's aide in software development) which he world premiered at our Gorst Underground Film Festival recently. He just won a "bloody" award at the Bellingham, Washington, Bleedingham A Northwestern Horror Short and Film Festival! Congratulations, Pat!

Moving on...

If things go well this coming Saturday, November 2, 2019, at the Bremerton Historic Roxy Theater "Slash Night" event I will be screening it for attendees along with other horror films, live entertainment, and filmmakers with their films. If I don't get it ready in time with a rough cut, I'll premiere it again the following month on December 14, 2019. Slash Night is first Saturday night at 10PM (December saw a previously scheduled event on the first Saturday so we're using the second Saturday).


Gumdrop", is my short horror film, a prequel based on my original short horror true crime story, "Gumdrop City" which was published in 2012 and I first heard about in an abnormal psychology class at Western Washington University toward my degree in the major of psychology and a minor in creative writing and team TV script and screenwriting.

It was a horror show of a class the day we were told about this crime. And so I wrote it as a fiction story and worked it up as an unfinished screenplay with a producer in Hollywood a while back. I may still finish that feature film as I'm not signed and have a producer attached to my other true crime and biopic, The Teenage Bodyguard with producer Robert Mitas.

My blog for last week was also on "Gumdrop" but I've made progress and because I may (hopefully) be showing it this next weekend, I'm updating my progress leading up to it.

I'm new to this editing software and I started editing film as a kid. Then did a phenomenology film in 1983 on black and white reel to reel videotape, a documentary in 1993 using VHS videotape and a short last year using this Sony Vegas Suite software on "The Rapping", which won one small award and showed at the NY Midnight Horror Festival.

One of the things that bugged me in this new effort with many hours of video shot and about thirteen actors involved was the paring of my separately digitally recorded audio with the visually recorded shots. What is the fastest way? I tried several things and it was painfully slow.

So I just moved forward, finding the best shots, following my screenplay roadmap, cutting them in, sometimes finding better shots or "lost" shots and replacing what I'd edited. Sometimes finding that a different order of shots or scenes comes out better than the planned route and readjusting to fit that new slightly different story and editing it as what turns out the best film. Or perhaps I should say, movie, as it moves along and isn't on film but video.

This was/is all rather frustrating at times, but the end product, not my feelings, or energy levels, or emotional state, or level of perseverance, really matters. On that plane, the thing that matters really, is your audience and your intentt in your project. First off? FINISH IT!

What I've settled on is to just cut and edit. Finish it.

Then I will go back, list all the audio clips/filenames and video clips/filenames and process the audio in my audio software (I'm using Reaper), then marry the audio to the video and replace the video in the editor. That will replace all the clips all through the project. Not for the faint of heart, but in the end, it will certainly produce a much better product and... audience experience.

I do have a backup mic ON my camera but if I'm using autofocus (which I seldom do but has almost accidentally given me some incredible shots...when it works right), you can hear the motor on the autio focusing. Besides, the digital recorder (Roland R-26) using a boom and separate and better mic (Rode) allows me to better position the mic where it needs to be recording from.

The amazing & talented "Bobby and Bobby" as "Gays for Jesus" with lead actor Tom Remick
So far? It's been an interesting experience editing.

I've learned how to push through the frustration things I missed on set, like an actor "spiking" the camera (looking into the lens, breaking the "fourth wall" and ruining a shot. Or my saying "cut", too soon in a shot (do NOT do that!). Always record a bit before acting begins after saying "action" (or whatever you say, as the Clint Eastwood story goes that he doesn't because he was used to not hearing "action" on a set with horses so as not to spook them and the same goes with some actors).

And let the camera record too much even in silence, at the end of a shot. You never know the gold you mine in that sometimes. Everyone rushes on camera for some reason. Well, inexperienced actors whom I'm mostly using. Oddly enough, the most experienced actor n my production is Jennifer True and I only used her for some voiceovers, sadly. But she came late to the production and... maybe in the next production. Hopefully.

Whenever an actor during a shoot has an alternative to how I want something shot, I listen to them. I don't always take the shot, unless they insist and then sometimes it's just easier and faster to shoot it and move on than to argue over it.

Sometimes, they don't want to do what I want but another way. So I listen, and if I can't get them to drop it, I just sa:

"OK, let's shoot it your way. But, and especially because I wrote [when I have written] the screenplay, let's also get my shot down also because it's stuck in my mind. Since I wrote it and I may indeed while editing, use your idea/shot and I will honestly look at using it. But I can't move on with a clear mind unless I get MY shot. It will continue to bug me going forward, just as not getting YOUR shot as you want, now. So please...and, action!"

Filmmaking is indeed a collaborative endeavor. Even though I AM my entire crew now. I do hope to get a crew eventually. It would be so much easier, though scheduling then becomes the nightmare it usually is.

Still, I do believe that you need to choose the right actors for the parts because that's half the work. The actor learns the role (hopefully) and knows the character (again, hopefully). So when they say, "I think they might do this, or say that...", listen. Give it a moment's thought. Even if it's "ridiculous".

Because sometimes you don't et it at first and they are right. it can take time to absorb it. Understand it. But the4y are living the character more than you and that is collaborative,, and highly useful. Use ALL your resources. Not just your desires, your roadmap, your style. Be open. And you will find a wealth of two things. At times, utter annoyance and frustration. And at others, sheer bliss and perfections as if touched by the Gods.

More to come...




Monday, October 21, 2019

Editing and History of "Gumdrop, a short horror"

First, some housekeeping and promotions...Last year I shot my first short-short eight-minute narrative film, The Rapping. It was a festival selection at the New York Midnight Film Festival, actually, showing in New York and won the Weekly Online Once A Week Film Festival for January 2, 2019. I shot this with a single actor, Nikolas Hayes. We had worked together previously on Kelly Hughes' horror films.

I have worked on several projects with Kelly and lately, we've been working on the ongoing annual GUFF, the Gorst Underground Film Festival. We began it and held it for two years at Blue Collar Art but are moving it to The Historic Charleston Theater in Bremerton. Both venues are perfect for it.

Our most recent event series is "Slash Night" at the Historic Roxy Theater here in Bremerton which I recently wrote about here. Gorst is a small community right next to Bremerton, Washington. Kelly started both events and both are now becoming standard annual and monthly events, respectively.


This past summer I shot my short horror film, "Gumdrop, a short horror" with multiple actors. I wrote the screenplay and directed and shot it myself. It is a prequel to my short horror story based on a true crime, "Gumdrop City" (2012) on Amazon as an ebook and included in the collection of my first short horror tales in "Anthology of Evil" (2012). I have a manuscript ready for a sequel as, "Anthology of Evil II", but haven't had the time to deal with it.

On Gumdrop, a short horror and Gumdrop City, the new piece is a prequel. The story is about Sampson, an odd character who in the short story is older and more decrepit but just as dastardly and deadly, but even more despicable a personality. In the current film, In using the short story as a roadmap, I drew a character who had been abused as a child and had grown up traveling to escape his birth country of Czechoslovakia and his horror of a childhood.

In those restrictions of his accent and so on, I gave him a background of having traveled to South Africa and to various locations that affected his accent. His father was Irish, his mother Czech. So he has an accent that is an odd juxtaposition of a Slovak accent with a South African slant to it and words of an Irish orientation. He knew his father but didn't know him long enough for it to affect his accent that much, but enough and in odd ways. This makes him confusing for those he interfaces with. His mental status and his orientation led him into criminal enterprises and to avoid traditional forms of employment and sustenance.

Actor Stan W with lead actor Tom Remick as "Sampson"
Sampson is one odd character and not to be trifled with. As the character, Manz (played by actor Stan Wankowsky) discovers int he film.

Okay now...editing.

First, apologies. I'm more concerned with working on this project than blogging. And I'm adding to this as I'm editing, and think of things to mention.

Like treats. I get up in the mornings around 6-7AM and have breakfast, sometimes just toast and peanut butter, or oatmeal, and two cups of coffee. Years ago I limited myself to two cups a day, maybe tea mid-morning if needed. I watch something on TV, usually news of some sort, or a late-night talk show. Then I get to work. If things go on too long, watching a show, and it's really interesting, I'll stop, and save it to watch at lunch as a kind of reward. Understand I'm retired from IT and work on film production and writing from a home office which at this point happens to be half my living room.

I've found tricking and treating myself works wonders for my motivation and stress levels. Have something to look forward to. And use any way you can think of to make yourself do what you woin't or don't want to do. Whatever works. Just find a way to be productive, and try not to (have to) kills yourself over it. IF there is any way possible to make it entertaining/ Do that. But save the wasteful time spending for after you have worked for a day's amount of work, or more.

I have no formal training in film production. Just theory and doing. Self-taught you might say. I've read a lot of books on film production but should have spent more time ready about editing. Well, I've spent some time learning about it, but this project is in part that education. My next project will look a lot better edited, I'm sure. I'll also be reviewing some videos on editing now. I'd meant to do that already before starting this but the flu had messed up my timing. And other things...

 Sony Movie Studio Suite 16 - Gumdrop
Shown, actors: Luke Remick (Jinks), Tom Remick (Sampson)
I am using Sony Movie Studio Suite 16. For that matter, I write screenplays using Final Draft 11. One of these days when I can afford it I may switch to Final Cut. My first edit of a film was at Western Washington University. I used a half-inch black and white reel to reel rig and had to edit in the camera. At some point, I was soldering wires to add music. And it was a nightmare. But I produced a phenomenology film for my department advisor, Dr. Rod Rees in part toward my degree in psychology. I also got a minor in creative writing and team script and screenwriting.

My next production came years later as a Viacom public access cable TV producer where I shot and directed and edited with a few friends a documentary for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the old Lost in Space TV show. I shot on VHS using my own camera as I'd had a bad experience in college where the battery in every camera rig was dead or almost dead in my case, which was the problem.

I didn't know it was "dead" as it worked some and so I shot a bunch of film to near-disastrous results. Still, some of those shots made it into the film. I used a Panasonic VHS editor deck at the studio and it did cablecast twice in the associated region.

For both The Rapping and now with Gumdrop, I'm using my own equipment and software entirely under the auspices of the production company started in 1993 for the LIS doc, LgN Productions (Last good Nerve Productions). I'm using a Canon DSLR 80D, a Roland R-26 digital recording, an HP video editor system from 2016 and the aforementioned software.

Shooting the film I am using the 80D and a Rode mic on top of the camera as a backup, with the Roland R-26 and a boom mic and tripod for main audio. I highly recommend a backup mic, it can be a lifesaver. But that means you have to marry the proper audio with the proper video and that can be a real job. Especially if you are not documenting your shots as you go. Which, I haven't, sadly. But which I hope to in the future.

Beginning the editing I pull out the screenplay and follow that roadmap. I start to insert the video media and begin to edit. Once I have a sequence of shots or a scene edited, I start to locate and insert the digital audio media. Then I begin matching it up. Part of my problem in not matching up the video and audio first and then ordering up and cutting is I could end up doing a lot of work for naught.

IF I had annotations taken during the shooting, this would go much smoother. But in having actors, especially amateur or nonactors in a production, considering timing as they are working people, not working actors paid to have their time on a schedule to act in my production, it makes life and shooting problematic.

I don't have the time to take the time myself to document and clapper my shots. I have to shoot quickly as on any production, without the safety net of documentation and in shot annotations (clapper and onboard notes).

Another issue was the processing of the audio clips. I really didn't know if I could edit this film, then go back and select only the audio I need, process it (I'm using Reaper for that) and then replace the clips I've used. That is, replace the base media in the editor and have it replace all those snippets all throughout the project. Finally, I took the time yesterday to first do a test and it worked out great.

Another issue I had was I built the opening titles sequence first. In this project the opening titles are the end credits to an extent, only reversed. So in building the opening, I figured as it was fresh in my mind, I might as well build the end. And so I did.

However, that put the end at the actual end of the screen, the project, the file. While editing the other day, and this can happen, I deleted a file and didn't realize I had deleted the end sequence. I realized what I did and could feel a nervous breakdown coming on. So I just sat there absorbing it, thinking if there were ways out of that. Putting off the breakdown until necessary. As it turned out, I found it and from then on every day I save a new version of my work that day and begin a newly named file for the next day. I also saved the end titles in a separate file. THAT won't be happening again. I had also created a couple more unneeded tracks and put it alone at the top out of the way. Which was where it was. Not lost. So my habits aren't too bad after all.

Aside: This happened once after college when I had a dul 5.25" floppy disk PC. One disk had the OS on it, the other was data. I had just written a short story. Sometimes I get in the zone and a story just dumped out onto paper. And it's usually pretty good. I did that once while working on a paper on synesthesia in college. I was exhausted, it was midnight and a short story, one page, single typed, come out. I dumped it onto paper (typed it out) and handed it in to my psych prof, my department advisor in class that next day. The following day we all got a handout. I loved his handouts. I was stunned to realize it was my short story (Perception, which grew along with my short story, later novella, Andrew, into my first full book, Death of heaven). Anyway, I was writing this short story on the dual floppy system and suddenly (and it had done this before), it locked up. Because the data disk got full. At that point, there is nothing to do but reboot. But I hesitated an hour before buying into that need. Finally, I rebooted and immediately rewrote the story. Now when I was almost done with the story I was thinking at the time that it was the most perfect short story I'd ever written. Obviously, I didn't rewrite it word for word but close, but it was not the same as I had written. That was lost.

My point? When you think all is lost, don't accept the breakdown. Breathe. Then think. And do what is productive. And move on.

So I have what I have.

This has been so much easier than editing physically with film or VHS as I had in the past. I was the film editor in my family when I was a kid. I had my grandfather's physical film editor (I still have it) and I did cut and tape film. VHS editing was easier. Digital editing is a dream. As in writing is in using a computer over longhand, or that's how I find it anyway. So much faster to cut and paste than as I did in college, literally cutting and pasting and then typing it all up (back then after being in a queue at the library to use a typewriter).

Yes, I did edit The Rapping last year. But that was a shorter film, a much less complicated film. A film I shot and edited just to prove I could do it. And since it got shown in New York and won one festival, even a micro-festival online, I did prove I could do it.

After a week of editing, the nightmare effort began to get easier as I got into the swing of things. Yesterda I was about six minutes into the diting (six-minute of edited video under my belt) and I hit potentially the toughest scene in the film.

It is the scene with hitwoman Wanda (actress Amy M) and Sampson (Tom Remick). The difficulty came in an interaction that required a lot of insert shots and bouncing back and forth from mid shots to close-ups and some ECUs (extreme close-ups) of a tool. That scene, that sequence of shots took me a couple of days. When I started again yesterday, I felt pretty hopeless, like I'll never work it out.

I thought I was done with that scene but today found I had a mirror sequence (gotta have a cool/bizarre mirror sequence in a film like this). I just finished it and I'm now done with that scene and moving on to the Rowan scene with Tacoma actor Jason Lockhart.

But I'm dumping my media I'd inserted into the project at the end where I clean it up and inject it into the timeline with the other assembled pieces of shots. It's important to remember to clean up. I overuse files/copies in my pre-editing end area of the file to avoid having to reapply a clip. Though I end up with a lot of extra pieces  (also in clipping, and expanding), and just need clean up between sequences, which isn't much of a problem.

I'm also thinking now it might be easier and faster to just video edit and then focus on the audio. As you get used to one thing, video or audio, you get in the swing of it. But when I'm jumping between, I seem to cause myself too much confusion. A few days of this will prove the point one way or another.

But, you take a deep breath and begin again, or continue on as it were. by midday, I was feeling much better. Do not accept the breakdown. Or, accept it, but don't have it. Be productive. Always moving forward.

Professionals produce. Be a professional.

As it is this project needs to be done by the second of November so it can premier at the Slash Night event here in Bremerton, at the Historic Roxy Theater. If I'm not ready, then I can show it in December, and then I'll have more flyers sharing its premiere. And so I may show it twice in a row. We shall see.

At the end of each day's edit, I am rendering a movie of what I have done. Essentially finished rushes. Sort of "finished". As this is all going to take a rough cut, and then a run-through for other issues and another rough cut, over and over as any editor knows.

I have also created a Facebook group, a private group just for the crew and actors on Gumdrop under the LGN banner. There I/we can share issues about the production.. Actors can speak up and hopefully, everyone can learn something, or at least, be made away of progress. I found as an actor you know so little about progression on a production and it can be frustrating.

In making this private group I was hoping to have the actors be more involved, aware of progress (and delays) and hopefully as I said, learn something.

Yesterday I found a few useful links about film production/editing I'd like to share and I shared in our private group.

IFH 113: Post Production Process – Understand It or Suffer the Consequences

Understanding the 5 Stages of Indie Film Production

The 6 Stages Of Editing As A Film Director

I'm into filmmaking, I retired from a very well paying job and a career in IT of 20 years, to make films. To write. To turn my past writings into screenplays and sell or shoot them myself. I couldn't get a film made if I were dying. Like so many others. So I finally just thought, "To hell with it, I'll make my own damn films!"

And so I am.

I made The Rapping up and shot it. I am now finally, for the first time shooting a film based on my own past writings. I first heard about the story behind Gumdrop City in 1983 in an abnormal psychology class. A story so affecting of the entire class, I felt I needed to share it with the world. So I made it entertaining and slipped it into a story about a damaged guy and a serial murderer across the street from him.

I worked for a while with a Hollywood producer on a feature film-length version screenplay of Gumdrop City (I just finished working on a screenplay rewrite of my true crime biopic The Teenage Bodyguard with producer Robert Mitas who has worked with Michael Douglas a lot). I thought that story would be the easiest thing to shoot on my own as my first film of a story I wrote years ago. But to shoot the original itself would be problematic in many ways. So I wrote a prequel and added in some interesting characters and elements. Still, it is a difficult story. But doable. And that's all I needed.

What are those interesting characters and elements? In time you will see.
Hopefully, in very little time.