Seemingly random images from the last few months; Arlington, Washington DC, Virginia
Canon T5i — 10-24mm wide angle — 18-200mm zoom tripod by Manfrotto
Everything changes but awareness of a change is, in effect, after the ‘fact’…change is opinion, has to be (fairly) widely recognized before it is official and to quote William Gibson, “While science fiction is sometimes good at predicting things, its seldom good at predicting wha these things might actually do to us.”
I might be author of more doom-and-gloom-from-beneath-the-weight-of-the-oppressiony than anything else; drama over comedy. My classic toppings are science fiction (which I thoroughly research before really writing the script. It took me two years to write the original draft of Blackline, almost eleven months to do the research and reading alone. Which is how I began getting invited to attend Nanotechnology conferences. It was my relentless curiosity and extreme adoration for social trends (and innovations) as well as ethics that found me speaking to a room full of professors at George Mason University in 2011.
Back to my original idea, so yeah, my stuff you can expect the setting to be a near-future where control of the world is in the hands of people with highly questionable ethics. Beneath, the same old issues are right there. Conflicting, arising from different world views and biologies – and war is always ‘on the verge’ of happening (unless it’s on) but the story always with the ‘better’ people fighting to take the world back.
My scripts and films might kick, blast and crush hope but I don’t take it away; I have a soft spot for it in my grey old heart. “Apocrypha” is my latest film trilogy and its the closest to fantasy I’ve ever written but it also involves time travelers, dragons, vampires, ninjas and elements of our present-day world like narcotics, skyscrapers and even a form of MP3 players – music is always a key factor in the stuff I write.
The world today is as dangerous as it is inspiring…the examination of how far we’ve come; Atari to X-Box 360, landlines to blue-tooth ear-pieces so that we can have both hands free while talking with others on cell phones (see: Moore’s Law) … and the reconstructed documentary, formerly about the ethical implications of nanotechnology is more counterpart to Apocrypha than “The Posthuman Condition” was to “Blackline.”
Technology is arguably the primary ingredients to society’s progress but it’s what we do with it that initiates the next Change. For better worse, the world is approaching another change. We can’t prepare for it in any traditional sense but we can keep an eye out: the first signs will be in the media that has become such a part of everyday life: I consider “Game of Thrones” to be one of the most promising as far as morals, ethics, etc go…it’s about struggle, it’s about sacrifice, it’s about love and hate and all that plus it has dragons but it’s underlying themes about the choices we make are one of my favorite things to sniff out.
It’s four days to the 3rd to final episode of Season Four and anyone who’s read the books has a pretty good idea of what’s gonna happen but we don’t know precisely how it will happen – the show has cut the right parts and characters to leave out, in my opinion. Life is like that show; like any show – we’re always waiting to see what happens next.
And now I’m tired so I would just like to say, I’ve been so very wrong about so many things – some weird bits of architecture in Arlington, Virginia are a good example but that’s another story – but right now, today, at this point, two women that I have never met face to face or spoken with over the phone have given me a kind of hope that could not have existed before the internet as we know it today. Jimena Paris, from Santiago and Ella Valentine, from London.
Some things you never can predict. And it’s always amazing to see how these surprises alter our lives…changing them.
Here comes the Future
 Canon T3i DSLR
 10-24mm wide angle lens
 Dondoric Farm
In a world at war between those who rule with technology and those who brutal policies in the name of their queen nobody has seen for fifty years, everything is changed by the discovery of a structure beneath the ocean and the return of the queen seeking her son.
 August 2013
 Canon T3i
 Tamron 10-24mm wide angle lens
 Manfrotto tripod
I did not expect my idea for a book of interviews with DJs and producers to get any kind of serious attention; this was October of 2000. But it did. I did not expect to land any seriously successful interviews: my 1st interview was with Paul van Dyk. I now believe I should have started with some local DJs…PvD was like a god to me. I was terrified. But it went very well.
I did not expect that the string of interviews that followed were as good as I thought they were but apparently, they were. And then the whole thing changed when I got an interview I was certain I would not.
Mr. George O’Dowd is often known as the singer for a group but he was a DJ before and a DJ after. The interview went well – enough so that all of a sudden, I began getting calls from record labels and PR firms who sent me bags of promos. This was April/May of 2001.
Fast forward. November 2000 – my attorney and I sent out fifteen proposals…there were at least six rejection letters and then one of the unanswered called me at home to let me know his company was going to pass on the project but he had a friend who might be interested. I was doubtful.
I watched all of season one of Game of Throne in two nights, a week before season two started. By the time season three started I had bought all five books. Then I met a girl and things were off for a bit. I thought she was unexpected – what eventually happened was enough to make the relationship emulate any number of (relation)ships that have ever been utterly destroyed. And Truly Unexpected.
And so, now I find one of my favorite books has some unsettling parallels to a short story from 1979. George RR Martin.
Last thought for tonight:
“Increasingly, modern science pursues powers traditionally reserved for the Almighty. But those who encroach upon the province of the gods realize too late that the price for entrance…is destruction.”
“…of course there are people who say that progress is dangerous…” – IRON MAN 3
I put a truncated version of this on Forbes.com…I don’t like that I had to leave out things like Kata Mara’s awesome role as head of RIFT (her story about the monkey was quite compelling) …there’s some spoilers in here but I tried to keep it subtle…
SIDE A: AGREE “TRANSCENDENCE” COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
 The “be scared of technology” theme is a personal favorite of mine and The Lawnmower Man was one of the most exciting movies I snuck into back when I was however old I was when it was in the theatre. All that I have to say about the connection to the Stephen King short story is that there is none except for the “Birdbath.” SO. “Transcendence” picks up where Lawnmower Man – should have mentioned that was also an underrated movie – left off but it didn’t stick with how society would react to such an advance in technology except for the heavy handed dialogue, “people won’t understand at first; they’ll be afraid”…which wasn’t bad, just executed with some “mmmm” obviousness. I don’t think it was Depp’s performance that hurt this movie.
 I didn’t like that it took so long to get Johnny Depp ‘digitalized’…the love story and friendships (ties to ‘being human’) could have been laid out faster
 I feel like Rebecca Hall was the real star of this movie and didn’t get enough credit, enough praise and the cut that showed in the theatre – hoping for an extended unrated cut on blu-ray – definitely didn’t have room for her to really flex her ability as an actor, even though she was onscreen a lot. I’ve seen her in a few films and I know she has an edge; one that is a perfect blade for this film but she was kinda reduced to an obvious ‘anchor’ for Depp (an overly-over-the-top half of the love story) but I must say that the scene where Paul Bettany finds their bodies was a bad ass poignant moment…definitely felt the throat tighten up a bit. Probably the most “Pfister-via-Nolan” image from the whole movie
 Pfister was Director of Photography for Christopher Nolan’s films, making them visual feasts (that tilting hallway fight with Joseph Gordon-Levitt from Inception; Heath Ledger taking of his mask in the opening sequence of The Dark Knight…) that left me wanting more. If what I’ve read is accurate, a big part of Nolan’s style is that he supervises all the footage that gets used – Pfister may have shot the stuff but Nolan was supervising. And that worked out Awesome. But here, I was disappointed with the lack of ‘whoa…!’ visuals…however, Pfister was no doubt occupied with handling all other duties that come with being a director – yet, this point does bother me
 Whoever said that “there are no original stories left” – well, that may or may not be true but a lot of my favorite movies found a cool way of mixing and matching story threads and characters I was familiar with in a way that was Cool. All the familiar elements were exactly that in this film.
 I would have absolutely injected more large-scale military action: if Depp has access/control over anything connected to a network? I would have used drones, tanks, satellites…RIFT would have been tracked and destroyed, behavior patterns would have been predicted and countered…
That being said…
SIDE B: “TRANSCENDENCE” WAS REALLY GOOD
 RIFT – anti-science-flat-earthers (perhaps modeled after the Right-To-Lifers who murdered Dr. Gunn)
 Showing the promise of advances in technology – especially Nanotechnology – and then flipping it with the ‘network’ aspect
 That moment where the repaired Martin first speaks as Depp…goosebumps and tightening of the jaw
 Cillian Murphy has been integral to several of my favorite films – “Sunshine” “Tron: Legacy” “The Dark Knight trilogy”…same goes here, he was great
 Morgan Freeman has a dignified air of his own and it was well placed and of the quality I have come to expect from him in this film
 Paul Bettany was great
 Rebecca Hall…she was razor sharp – one moment I will always remember is when she reads the note from Morgan Freeman’s character
 Kata Mara KATE MARA!!! Forget the question of “is she an antagonist or protagonist?”…she has a cause that she has total faith in and she is set in it. She and Depp are the same thing, just the opposite sides of each other. Her scene with Paul Bettany, about the monkey’s brain (nod to the Monkey’s Paw…?) was awesome. I hope to see more of her around. Also, I like her with blonde hair. (I don’t count American Horror Story; she’s better than that)
 Paul Bettany’s character arc
 The initial attacks against Castor’s ‘hive-nest’ even though they were predictably futile – they served their purpose well, delivering the promise of some large scale action sequences
 So much detail: Depp’s simulation of the sounds of knife and fork on plate, that Turing nod at the hotel, the love-is-blinding aspect of Hall’s character, “PINN”…that was almost as funny as the character named RAM in the original Tron
 Great attention to the differences and similarities of human and machine…a nearly invisible reminder of so many tech-quotes: () “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” () “The best way to predict the future is to create it”
 Wraparound to Hall’s idealized concept of technology being used to improve life as we know it; in Iron Man 3, she had a great moment when she talked with Gweneth Paltrow about Wernher von Braun’s rocket (“the rocket performed perfectly – it just landed on the wrong planet.”…would probably be appropriate to mention Einstein and Oppenheimer here as well
Three last thoughts:
-1- Endlessly amusing that Bettany voices Tony Stark’s AI, JARVIS…and if Age of Ultron plays out the way I think it will – well, it’s official that Bettany is not just doing voice work for Avengers 2, right?
-2- I have spoken with at least eight or nine people today who said they would wait until Transcendence is on blu-ray to check it out. I am not a film reviewer/critic but it’s difficult to put into words how much I wish this movie got more attention – and more Positive Attention
-3- Whether the opening weekend box office numbers are a reflection of poor marketing or the public’s fear of Artificial Intelligence and/or Nanotechnology, I believe this is a damn important film for people to see. I once said that when it comes time to educate kids about doing drugs, make them watch “Requiem for a Dream” … this is like that, only not nearly as grim and the point is awareness of tech
I don‟t really want the world to burn or for a pandemic to decimate the population. One may not come to this conclusion if they‟d read most of my screenplays, short stories, poetry and all that but I assure you, the fact that some kind of apocalypse dropkicks the world after setting it on fire is a complete coincidence. I like the end of the world as a primary ingredient to building the worlds in which I set many of my stories because everything Matters More.
With so many people gone and – presumably – everyone having lost people they love, all actions would, in theory, be more carefully considered. This doesn‟t mean I think people will just start getting along after the apocalypse (if you‟ve read my work, you probably picked up on that) but what I love most about these shadowy levels of skyscrapers with no windows – places where no elevator can go and no doors get you to the stairs – is that when something good happens (and it always does eventually, if only in effect of the factoid that nothing lasts forever) it affects a change. The flickers of happiness may amount to little more than precisely that by the time our hapless antagonists and protagonists reach the end of the 3rd act but all of them, even the faintest and briefest of them have Changed Things.
In my feature screenplay for “Romeo & Juliet‟ the Capulets are vampires because I wanted to amplify Juliet‟s longing and her rage at being told to marry the cousin of Escalus. The rest of the backstory that I wrote also served to amplify the events of the story but it was All written so that the events of the tale we all know would not have to be changed drastically. Yeah, time of day is different and I won‟t get into how I transplanted Shakespeare‟s dialogue into a near-future (all of Juliet‟s „where art thou Romeo‟ remains intact word for word) but it‟s as much out of respect as it is bittersweet memories of teen-angst-infatuation-primal-blinding-lust that I keep the story so tight to the original, I‟ve just added vampires, machine guns, explosions, lots of knives…and beneath all that lies the firm belief that the right one IS out there for everyone. (except me, of course)
In my screenplay “Lit” the main character‟s depression nearly keeps him in on Friday night but a coincidence lands him a party where he meets a girl; a girl who has a lighter which was stolen from him a week ago. This leads to the discovery he‟s at the wrong party and then things get rolling, but the point is, Gavin has no doubt whatsoever that nothing outside is going to alleviate the pain he feels. And it really doesn‟t seem like it will, as details are revealed throughout Act I but when his stolen lighter shows up… To close, here are some not-so-happy-quotes which – for me – start narratives on a path where something akin to happiness is inevitable…if only for a few moments. It may just be all the “preservatives‟ I’ve invested in but the truth of all things horrible: ALL of it has a flip side. A few quotes of shadow that lead to some form of salvation (in my opinion are:
 “I’m nobody! Who are you?” – Emily Dickinson
 “Love is poison. A sweet poison, yes, but it will kill you all the same.” – Cersei Lannister (George R. R. Martin)
 “All we ever see of stars are their old photographs.” – Dr. Manhattan (Alan Moore)
 “Everyone in life is going to hurt you; you just have to figure out which people are worth the pain.” – Erica Baican
 1“True love is like ghosts, which everybody talks about and few have seen.” – La Rochefoucauld
 “Gravity cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.” – Einstein
 “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” – William Gibson
 “You used to be the victim, now you’re not the only one.” – Elvis Costello
The end of the world is the beginning of the next. Nothing lasts forever but the misery which comprises so much of everyday life is included. Happiness comes and goes but so does despair. The feeling that the integrity of one’s soul is cracked so that all happiness just seeps out … it isn’t permanent. Nothing is.
It’s just a matter of holding on long enough to see it – to experience it – for yourself.
Life is full of pain but as Faith No More said, “droplets of ‘yes and no; in an ocean of maybe,,,”
It’s been long enough that I know it would be unacceptable (unproductive, as well) if I were – so maybe it isn’t unpredictable that I’m not pissed about what happened. But I was surprised when I laughed about it.
Short version: she was here, I played guitar, she sang – the song was “High and Dry” by Radiohead – the chorus goes, “Don’t leave me high – don’t leave me dry” but that’s what happened. And I don’t listen to that song anymore. That memory does not hurt – generally, the fact she said goodbye (many many weekends later) doesn’t either – but what does hurt (very much a lot) is remembering not the way she phrased what she said but where she was when she said it. Maybe seven feet away from me but when you’ve been that close, seven feet is pretty much seven million miles.