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.