Tag Archives: lust

The End of the World

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,,,”



The Beginning of the End of the 2nd Beginning

Tessa was the younger sister of Jamie; a girl who a mutual friend had tried to hook me up with. A couple times. It didn’t happen. Tessa was a few months younger than me but she was wiser than her years (and me) and it was both awkward and exhilarating that she and I thought so much alike…that we had both had a startlingly high number of similar experiences. Our connection was somewhat tense because her sister Jamie was my supervisor…but she met somebody else (who she married a few years years later). And so Tessa and I were suddenly spending more and more time together – but the moment I knew it was getting to be “something” was when she played a song in her car one day – a song that I could not stand. I hated that group and their radio single were the worst. But she talked about why they were her favorite band and I told her I thought they sucked but I would give their new album another chance. The next day, she showed up at my apartment with a copy, still wrapped, receipt in the bag. 

Long story short, within weeks, we were inseparable. It was late January of 1999; the place I lived was the common ground of several social circles – always crowded, always smoky, always a constant hum of conversations. The bedroom was sort of the VIP area; many brain cells were deep fried in that room. It’s horrifying to recall the happiness I felt the first time she came in and took off her shoes and jacket there in my room; everybody else put their shoes and jackets in the front closet. When she put her shoes in my closet and hung her jacket over the back of my desk, it seemed that something became Official. And within a day or so, people were talking about how much we laughed together and we always went on ice-cream-and-other-junk-food runs together (previous to Tessa, these runs were typically made by four or five people) and of course, how I now listened to that damned CD…the same one which many of my frequenters adored and I bitterly complained about….as recently as a month before.

In Ella Valentine’s piece, “Ugly, Beauty, Dountful Reality” she writes, ”another day was forgotten without a story to tell, without anyone to tell it to”….I didn’t realize my life was like that (in those days, my partying was sufficient to keep thoughts and memories of that nature at bay) but one night, Tessa and I were separated in a crowd….and I just intuitively knew where she’d be. Without being able to fully see her, I reached out, found her hand and our fingers intertwined – I pulled her to me and we left the building like that, holding hands. When we got back to my place, we kept the lights off and didn’t answer our cell phones (they were as big as cans of soda back then). It was a special night – not in a sexual way, it was just two people who Connected. Two people who Understood and Listened To and Shared With Each Other.

The day of reckoning was very soon after. I won’t go into any detail except to say that Tessa was extraordinarily pretty and she did not flaunt it but she did not exactly conceal it either. That night, we were alone, there were candles and we had a normal conversation that did not end well. By the time she left the bedroom, everybody else had already cleared out. I so vividly remember standing there, Nine Inch Nails “Pinion” playing in the background, reliving all the whole of our good times…all of which were abruptly shattered by less than a dozen words. Not “I think of you as a friend” nor “I met someone else” or even, “you’re like a brother to me”….no, the truth was that she and my best friend were ‘together’ and had been for a few weeks. She didn’t say good-bye. I didn’t either. And I removed that CD from the player and flung it as far as I could; it ended up behind my desk where it would remain for many months. 

The following day was one of such cold and wet and emptiness that all the usual party favors weren’t enough. Not nearly. The few people who did show up at my place the next night were solemn and each apologized for not telling me but I wasn’t pissed at them. Irritated but not pissed. They all left unusually early…and I realized I was out of cigarettes. The store was only a ten minute walk but it was cold and raining. I put on my headphones and listened to “Disintegration” by The Cure quite loudly…but it was different that night. Ten minutes was approximately enough time to listen to “Plainsong” and most of “Pictures of You”…and that matched with my arrival at the store but that walk was also a fucking eternity. The raindrops were the small, hard ones, cold and the wind kept blowing it in my face. I had shoulder length hair back then…and by the time I got to the store, I was totally soaked and shivering but I didn’t feel it.

I felt nothing. I remember the money I gave to the cashier was wet and he asked me why I wasn’t wearing a jacket and I told him I didn’t need one. I think that I believed part of me died when I learned the terrible truth…maybe it did. Maybe I killed it with my selfishness. Maybe she was just attention-starved. When I got home, my phone was ringing….it was Tessa’s sister. I answer and she only asked one question: “Are you ok?” I lit another cigarette and I think I laughed but I know I couldn’t get any real words out. She said, “I’m so sorry, I just found out and I would have told you.” I was silent. She said, “I’ll see you tomorrow. Take care.” and hung up. I called a certain friend and spent a lot of money on powerful party favors that night; when I told him what the occasion was, he gave me more for free. I was a friend as well as a good customer. By sunrise, I was quite sick. When I woke up, my friend Eric was in my room, shaking me awake; there was dried blood all over my nose and pillow and apparently the front door had been wide open. 

I don’t remember how I got to the bathroom but I remember I told Eric to play “The Speed of Pain” by Marilyn Manson (a new song back then) and I washed my face then went straight back to it. Then I decided I couldn’t stand to be in the apartment for another minute and Eric and I decided we’d go see a movie but when we stepped out of the bedroom, my former co-worker, Maria was there…she’d quit several months earlier to begin attending JMU. And she had a friend…a girl of extraordinary beauty, named Kate. They were on the way to a rave and thought I might want to go. It was Friday evening.

Saturday afternoon, I was awoken by my friend, also known as Tessa’s significant other – I didn’t think to think I was only wearing boxer shorts when I opened the door. And I wasn’t particularly angry either. The first thing I saw was the horror on his face. Then I saw the others: most of them asleep. “Friends” from the party. He asked me about the naked girl in my bed and all of a sudden, I realized it had been less than forty eight hours since the truth had come out and Kate was pulling on one of my t-shirts and she was Beautiful…and I started laughing – but I was not laughing inside. I don’t know that I ever really laughed again the way I did with Tessa before the truth came out. 

A few hours later was the 1st time I’d seen Tessa since that night…when she saw me, she immediately began walking towards me to apologize when she saw Kate…and Kate saw her and in my mind, it wasn’t just the three of us but the WORLD that froze for a moment. Phones stopped ringing, babies stopped crying, etc. I hadn’t said anything to Kate about what had happened with Tessa…and now I knew I would not have to. Nonetheless, Tessa was on the guest list for our wedding.

Which never took place.

The ‘engagement’ such as it was, lasted about three or four weeks total but the last week didn’t count. That’s quite another story. The day I found out the truth about Kate, I also had to walk to the store to get cigarettes…and I listened to “Plainsong” twice as I walked. It wasn’t raining. The wind wasn’t blowing. I only wore a jacket so I could have my collar up. Hell, I might have been wearing sunglasses even though it was well past sundown. I’m pretty sure I left a trail of charred brain cells. The lyrics to that 1st song of The Cure’s much-loved album are still among my favorite of ALL songs by The Cure and damn, they have a LOT of songs.

“I think it’s dark and it looks like rain, you said and the wind is blowing like its the end of the world you said and it’s so cold like cold if you were dead – then you smiled for a second. Sometimes you make me feel like I’m living at the end of the world – it’s just the way I smile, you said.”

‘PLAINSONG’ from the album, “DISINTEGRATION” (1989, Fiction Records)

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From the Outside


Have you ever watched a dark fluid soak upward? It appears to crawl, to pour in the wrong direction. The horror of being close to someone is that its eventuality is exactly that. Doesn’t matter if it’s a secret, a facet of their personality they normally keep hidden away or someone they know who is a disaster waiting to happen or a simple bad decision.

From outside the glass outside the air bubbles, everything is More. I manipulate light with different flashlights, LED ropes and even a candle and watch the shadows and colors slide up the inside face of the air bubbles in the glass and keep remembering what happened when the dark got inside of me. I can – and usually do – chase it around but it never goes away and then I remember that I realized a long time ago that pain is pretty much elemental to moving forward as a person.

But sometimes you get far enough that anybody around is not to be trusted – and the ones you relied on haven’t betrayed you, they’ve simply become other people. And it’s time to start screwing with the light – that’s partly why I’m so obsessed with contrast in my photography. Why sunrise is bedtime and sunset is when my brain and mind sync.

I live in the dark and watch what happens out there in the light. For best results expect the worst. My 1st freshman year of high school there was a girl – long story short, I wrote something about her and for her. Every so often, in films or songs, I hear echoes of it (“there’s two tragedies in life: never getting what we want – and getting it”) and take a morbid comfort in knowing someone else has felt it and realized it / recognized it for what it is: something that you simply won’t ever have. The thing I wrote for Vicki was this:

“The things that I want and the things that I get are the only two things that never connect.”

I was right about that but I’ve been wrong about so many other things – it’s crazy how good it can be to be wrong. That’s probably why I bother acknowledging the light and what happens out there in it. And probably has some intrinsic connection to why I can’t sleep – why I don’t want to sleep. But that’s for another time.

Building “Blackline” (2 of 2)

The other element to the foundation of “Blackline” was Research. A mind melting quantity of it. All the tech was mind boggling for a guy who never finished high school, even though I was reading Stephen King in 2nd grade. School was just wasn’t my thing….but that’s for another time.

I owe many thanks to many many individuals and institutions…universities as far away as Oxford and as close as George Mason, private research divisions for which I had to sign papers to even get a potential return phone call let alone a meeting which may or may not have led to participation…

But I wanted to drop a few proverbial crumbs…
[] 1881 August Weismann proposes that worn out tissues (basically, aging) occur because cell division is finite and that is the primary cause of the decline in organ performance
[] 1921 Alexis Carrel – a Nobel Prize winning surgeon – argued that Weismann was wrong
[] 1965 Leonard Hayflick explains the ‘memory’ of frozen cells; one extrapolation from this argument became (in my opinion) the basis for what we now know as Cryonics…which plays a crucial role in “Blackline”
[] 1974 Macfarlane Burnett coins the term, “Hayflick Limit”….that each mitosis – division of cells – reduces the telomeres on the DNA of cells

So, that leads into the argument that the cells Carrel used were ‘young enough’ to contain pluripotent stem cells which, if supplied with a supporting Telomerase-activation nutrient, would have been capable of staving off replicative senescence – aging – or possibly, reversing it.

Those were a few of the key ingredients to the theory I used in “Blackline” so my characters – the privileged elite anyway – could achieve Biological Immortality. Bullets, disease and knives and getting blown up would still kill you but a Nanotech based formula could – COULD – slow the aging process. I called it “PDL7” … Ponce De Leon was the French dude looking for the fountain of youth. One of them anyway.

“Blackline” is absolutely an action-heavy series – and I wanted, above all, to put my characters through some rather horrific experiences which would – ideally – get the audience to ask themselves about the ethics of biotechnology we are starting to see emerge today. Forget drones and satellites. This is a LOT smaller and more insidious…and in my story, it forces my characters to evolve both emotionally and physically into entities that…well, it’ll be up to the audience to decide if they’re more or less human. Humanity as we know it today is obviously the ‘soapbox’ these questions are being hurled from but it isn’t who listens that matters…it’s what they do with it.

GAME OF THRONES; LORD VARYS: “the contents of a man’s letters are of far more value than the contents of his wallet.”

Is respect borne of fear ‘set’ to become resentment? Must such a conflict result in revolution?

Has our expanded awareness of ourselves as a species amounted to anything if we do nothing with it?

Last note: the ‘elevator pitch’ for “Blackline” is something like, “The Godfather II” meets “Ronin” in the world of “Blade Runner”…but there’s several love stories that are absolutely crucial to events moving forward and coalescing into the story’s progress.