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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, "Ernest," and Twenty-Five Years

October 24 marks the passing of Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek.  As of yesterday, it has been 25 years since he died.  What follows isn't my remembrance of that day, but of the day after, and how it crystallized for me the weight of Star Trek in my life.

On October 25, 1991, I was a junior in high school.  My locker was in a building nowhere near where my classes were, so I had to run there first to get my books before first period.  Apparently, my bus was late getting there, because I only recall seeing one other student at a locker nearby.

"I guess you're in mourning," Jamie said.

Obviously, I was known for being a fan of Star Trek.  My father showed episodes of TOS and TAS to me once I was old enough to sit upright.  We went to the movies and we watched TNG, too.

My answer to Jamie was, "Huh?  What for?"

"Gene Roddenberry died."  The look on my face must have stunned him because he immediately said, "Oh, I'm sorry.  I thought you knew."

"No."  I knelt by my bookbag and stared blankly at what was inside.  "I didn't."

I don't remember too much else about that day.  I was wearing gray pants with a distressing excess of pockets, as was the style at the time.  I was also wearing a gray Star Trek shirt.  It had partial wireframe schematic-type images of the Enterprises 1701, 1701-A, and 1701-D.  Pretty cool, but I can't find an image online.

At any rate, I went to my German class that afternoon.  The teacher, Herr Lane, turned to me before the bell rang and said, "I figured you'd be wearing black today."

"Yeah," I said.  "I would have if I'd known."

Since then, I have worn only black, with few exceptions.  I tell people it's because it's easy to coordinate, etc., but the germ of the idea began on October 25, 1991, and is about not being properly attired after the death of Gene Roddenberry.

That day was a Friday and, apparently, my mom promised my brother that we'd go to the movies that evening.  I don't remember how much say -- if any -- I had in choosing the film.  It's possible that I had wanted to see the movie in question at some point in time, but it's safe to say "I wasn't feeling it" that night.

Ernest Scared Stupid.

I recall sitting in a different row from my mom and brother at the Ballou Park theater.  I remember propping my elbow on the armrest and holding my jaw with my hand.  I was a proper morose teenager, but with a fairly decent reason that evening.

The trailers began.  Then ... one trailer in particular played.

I was utterly destroyed.  Watching it again, just now, for the first time in years, I was destroyed anew.  I remember sitting in that theater seat, crying, and trying to stifle myself while other previews were screened.

Ernest played on and he was, presumably, frightened into idiocy.  The whole time, however, I thought about the trailer and Star Trek in general.

That day, I realized that it was no longer just the shows and movies I shared with my father.  No, these were now mine.  These were my friends and adventures.  They meant the world to me.  The stories and the people involved were deeply connected to my very core.  And the man who made it all possible was gone.

Others in the franchise have departed since then.  DeForest, James, Majel, Leonard, Anton, and others, sung and unsung, in front of and behind the camera.  But this is a special goodbye for Gene.  His death laid me emotionally bare, if only because it was then that I realized how important to me it all was.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

My pitch for a trilogy of Galactica films

Fans of Battlestar Galactica likely heard the recent news that Universal has hired a new scribe and director to work on a feature film reboot of the show.  (Lisa Joy, writer-producer of the new Westworld show, and Francis Lawrence, director of a Hunger Games film, are attached.)  All indications are that it will be a variation on the original series and not a reboot of the recent series.

At this stage, I'm somewhat ambivalent because we know next to nothing about the film and how it will be handled.  But I've played in that universe before to some minor acclaim.  My wheels began to spin, and I crafted an outline for a trilogy of films that blend elements of both the original and reimagined series.

Now, I know.  Putting both the '70s and the '00s shows into a plot blender?  I bet it'll end up like this:

I would have said the same.

However, after having written this out, I could enjoy it.  Is it derivative?  Sure, but I think it has the potential to be an action-packed crowd pleaser.

Since there are SPOILERS for a movie that'll never get made, I'll post my pitch after the JUMP.

Friday, May 20, 2016

My son & I review Ray Harryhausen films

Followers of mine know that my son and I like to watch a bunch of movies together.  We review a great many of them over at my Tumblr page.

We started a couple of years ago, watching and reviewing about ninety kaiju-type films in the lead-up to the release of Godzilla (2014).  

Last year, we watched and reviewed about seventy-five Universal & Hammer-style classic monster movies.

Now, at my son’s request, we've watched and reviewed the filmography of the great Ray Harryhausen.


I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Harryhausen about a decade ago at an event wherein he discussed his career.  It was a cool event, largely because he screened the then-unreleased completed version of his “Tortoise & Hare” short.  (The only black mark, in my opinion, came when he criticized the recent movie King Kong [2005] for being soulless.  I thoroughly disagree with him on that point.)

Click the links to read our reviews:

Monday, May 2, 2016

"The Art of Death": Real Museum Pieces in the Book

I've made no secret that the real Virginia Museum of Fine Arts heavily influenced the fictitious Richmond Museum of Fine Arts.


After the JUMP, you'll see pics of many things at the VMFA (and elsewhere) that inspired various scenes and such in The Art of Death.

Even if you can't make it to the VMFA, maybe it'll make you want to visit your own nearby art museum.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"The Art of Death": Monsters

The Art of Death is available now and its big attraction, I think, is the preponderance of monsters.  Lots of monsters.  Maybe too many.

This is going to get spoilery, but I'm going to list all of the monsters and give (in brief) some of their powers and attributes.

Personally, I'd rather you just read the book yourself and discover them all in turn.  But we're an impatient society, I guess.

Find the monsters after the JUMP.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"The Art of Death": Characters

There are six primary human characters in The Art of Death (download links are HERE).

What follows the JUMP is a semi-spoilery examination of them and their inspirations.  If you want to go into the book virginal, I'd suggest not reading.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"The Art of Death": DOWNLOAD NOW!

Dr. Mason Karlow is a distinguished art museum director and curator with decades of experience around the globe. He's entering his twilight years as he prepares to open his latest and greatest facility. He's also quite evil. 

In a bid for eternal life, Karlow has found a Babylonian artifact and must perform an ancient ceremony in the light of a Blood Moon. He needs sacrifices, lots of sacrifices, and he gathers monsters from the world's folklore to do his bidding. 

Follow Karlow's victims as they fight for their lives in one hellish night at the museum. Vampires, werewolves, mummies, and more await you in The Art of Death!

Available at Smashwords HERE ... use code FR93K to get it for just 99¢
Available at Amazon HERE for $2.99
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Available at Barnes & Noble HERE for $2.99
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Available at Blio HERE for $2.99