Posts Tagged ‘jurassic park’

Death in the Making, Chapter 1: The Meeting

November 23, 2009

Note: All spelling and grammatical errors are there for a reason. And now…

Chapter 1: The Meeting

Chapter 1

“What are talking about Silas disapeering! That lazy bum is probaly just lying around at his house!” Max Wicks yelled. He was the leader of the company “Max Parks” “Max Amusement Parks.” He was at a meeting with his associates. He was a greedy man who looked just like a used car salesman. The assistint manager Raymond Perry who was quite weak and skinny was across the table yelling back. “We found his body! How could you think he was lounging around at home?! And anyway from the looks of it he died about a week ago.” Now he was scared because he needs to pay his rent and if he gets fired he can’t pay.

“Guys, we still have to decide who’s going to test it out.” Kasey the sound engineer said. He was the strongest of the group. He had scraggaly black hair and and always wore tank tops and jeans.

“Any Ideas?” Jack Russell the youngest of the group said.

“Hey I have a brother who owns a chain of amusement parks. He could bring his kids and anyone else.” Michael Drake said. He had white hair and he was the cutest one.

“We’ll call ’em and they’ll we’ll see what happens.” Raymond said quietly.

“Waitm what’t this about kids! Kids are a pain in the butt. Those whining little brats annoy me!” Max yelled.

“They’ll pay.” Mac, the nervous one, said.

“Okay, they can come.” Max said.

“Um, Mr. Wicks you have the park documents to fill out.” Cooper, the security guard said as he opened the door. He was a fat slob who hardley ever talked. He had a crew cut and wore a police uniform.

“Meeting ijurned. Go back to work.” Max said going back to his office. “Oh yeah Jackson. You finished the track right.”

“Right.” Jackson said. He was a resourceful person. Wearing a white shirt and a yellow sleeveless jacket. And a light brown shorts.

Everyone walked away. Drake stopped Mac in his tracks.

“Yeah. Um yes Drake.” Mac said nerveously.

“How do you think Silas died? Cause he had those scratches on him and he had that weird mark on his head. Drake said scratching his head.

“Um. I don’t really know. I mean I didn’t do it. I mean…I don’t know okay!” Mac yelled and he ran on the elevator and was gone.

“Kasey, hey Kasey c’mere. I need to ask you something.” Drake yelled. Kasey came up to him. “Do you know what happened to Silas?”

“Don’t ask me. Me and my family were at home eating dinner when that happened. I mean it happened at 8:00 and we had a late dinner.” He looks at his watch. “Look man I gotta go. Bug in the sound machine.” He threw some cable on his shoulder. “See Ya.”

“Yeah bye.” He watched Kasey walk in the elevator and go down.

In a minute the room was empty and he was alone in the room. He stared at the window fogdusted window. He wiped off the fog off the window and stared. Then he thought he saw something burst through the trees. “Just my imagination.” Drake said to himself. “Just my imagination.”

What I remember: Where these characters came from. If you read the previous post, you’ll know that each of these characters was based on an action figure from my collection.

Max Wicks, the owner of Max Parks Max Amusement Parks:

Pacino!

Big Boy from Dick Tracy! (Could not find the action figure pic.)

Raymond Perry, the weak and skinny one:

Not making this up.

Worf from Star Trek! (NOT weak and skinny. An odd choice.)

Kasey the Strong Sound Engineer:

Like a nice Jason Voorhees.

Kasey Jones from the Ninja Turtles cartoon and films (played by Elias Koteas!)

Mac, the nervous one:

As played by Dustin Hoffman in the film!

Jack Russell, the young one:

This one makes the least sense.

Corporal Dwayne Hicks from Aliens.

Michael Drake, the cutest one:

I had such a crush on this dude.

 Corporal (something) Drake from Aliens.

Jackson, quite possibly be my favorite character of the novel:

This looks nothing like the actor in the film.

Robert Muldoon, a small character from Jurassic Park.

Cooper Michaels, the security guard who wears a police uniform:

I had an earlier, less stupid version of this action figure where his arm wasn't grafted into an eternal clothesline.

The Big Boss Man!

As you can see, my tastes were all over the place. My love of Dick Tracy facilitated an early interest in the mystery and variety of genre fare. Jurassic Park and Star Trek bred within me a love for adventure (not to mention my early leanings towards heavy themes). Aliens satisfied my bloodlust. TMNT offered the goofiness and humor (not to mention backflips). And WWF taught me there’s nothing wrong with a good ol-fashioned ass-whoopin.

What these disparate entertainments have in common is ensemble. They created worlds that focused on many journeys, not just one, offering a slew of interesting and diverse characters, all coalescing in the wake of one (or several) catastrophic event(s). 

This is what I wanted with Death in the Making, to bring these action figures, from such vastly different universes, together into one. To break down walls. To create dialogue. What would happen if they were all brought together? What would they become? Who would be good? Who would be bad? Who are these people in relation to one another? These are the silly questions I still ask myself because I love character. More than plot, more than theme, I love characters and I love ensembles. And Death in the Making is where that all began.

Of course, there is always one central figure at the center of these stories, whether it be Dick Tracy, Jean-Luc Picard,  or Sam Neill. You guys have yet to meet that central figure. That’s what Chapter 3 is for, and it’s something I’m excited to explore.

The idea of the “main character” is something that has oft-frustrated me as a writer. When Arthur Kopit saw my play, Lamp & Moth, in Kansas City, his complaint was that it had no central character. Further revisions have remedied that to a degree, but not without some grumbling. I often find myself disassociated from “main” characters in most art. They’re often bland everymen, heroic in all the wrong places. Or raisonneurs from the author who can’t help but smash his grubby fingers all over a perfectly good story. Or genre robots so patched together from the canon that they trade blood and guts for empty cardboard witticisms.  They’re written with such blandness because we perpetuate the idea that audiences need to identify with someone  to enjoy something, which is, of course, bullshit. It is in this identification that we remove all the shit that makes us human, all the things that anyone could actually identify with on a more profound level.

Having said that (who caught Curb last night?), Sam Drake, my ostensible “main” character, is guilty of at least a few of those crimes. And Jimmy Drake, my childhood surrogate and likely main “main” character, is a lot worse. But these guys, this group, delineated (like the TMNT) by only the most base character traits, are at the heart of this story…at least as I remember it.

There will probably be a lot more talk about ensemble as we continue this journey. There’s certainly many more characters to meet in our immediate future since my 11-year old self was a kindred spirit to one David Milch, who never met a character on Deadwood he didn’t want to spin a yarn about.

And so it goes…   

 Beautiful: In a minute the room was empty and he was alone in the room. He stared at the window fogdusted window. He wiped off the fog off the window and stared.

“We found his body! How could you think he was lounging around at home?!

Embarrassing: Now he was scared because he needs to pay his rent and if he gets fired he can’t pay.

He had white hair and he was the cutest one.

“Um, Mr. Wicks you have the park documents to fill out.”

“Don’t ask me. Me and my family were at home eating dinner when that happened. I mean it happened at 8:00 and we had a late dinner.”

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Death in the Making: Prologue

November 18, 2009

A prologue to the Prologue (wherein the author laments the loss of his previous concept and explains the new one):

This blog began as a way for me to chronicle my interest and analysis of shitty entertainment. I love shitty entertainment. It makes me smile. But alas, it proved too hearty an endeavor in a stretch I best describe as “doldrumtastic”, a stretch where getting laid just wasn’t enough, a stretch when I didn’t much feel like analysis of any medium. It was a dark time for your humble narrator, but I’ve bounced back and retooled. I miss having a place to upchuck and since I find blogging for the sake of blogging boring (and since I’ve been revisiting Sufjan), I’d prefer to couch my thought-vomit in a concept of sorts.

001

The cover.

My decision to post my childhood works, chapter by ridiculous chapter (with commentary), is two-fold:

1) I’d like to chronicle this shit. My hard copies are fading a slow fade.

2) I’m in the mood for self-analysis. And where better to begin than my first major work?

006

"The text on some pages are bad. So please don't kill me. He-he. Now this copy won't be perfect but when I review it top to bottom it will be better."

The first major work in question is DEATH IN THE MAKING.

003

Title page.

004

Lightning!

The following is a piece I wrote two years ago about it. Seems like a good place to begin:

I was 10 or 11,

whatever sixth grade is,

and this was my life.

My novel

I wrote this novel then, in sloppy pencil.

My first real major work: Death in the Making.

I know, horrible title.

My process began with my action figures.

I rounded up every one I had:

a plastic party of WWF wrestlers,

movie figures from Aliens, Jurassic Park, and Star Trek,

humans from the Ninja Turtles cartoons.

My characters came from grabbing one I liked and building a personality out of it.

Kasey Jones, the hockey mask wearing martial artist from the Ninja Turtles became Kasey the sound engineer with his scraggly black hair, jeans, and tank tops.

WWF’s Big Boss Man became my secret villain, Cooper Michaels,

a security officer with a crew cut and police uniform.

The big, blue, slimy alien from the Alien movies even took the role of the main monster.

I spent hours after school, creating scenes,

developing relationships,

and staging deaths over and over and over.

It brought me such joy then,

and I’d sometimes ask my weary mother to watch while I acted out scene after scene,

taking on 10 different voices, 10 different characters with personalities I’d so painstakingly developed. 

Once I could no longer play, I wrote.

And for three solid months, I wrote every day after school,

kneeling on the blue carpet,

writing on the coffee table in front of the TV.

Every time I grabbed a new sheet of notebook paper

and wrote a new, higher, page number in the top right corner,

I felt like I had climbed another mountain.

I even drew little flashy lines around page 100,

which was, at that time, the greatest accomplishment of my life.

There was no revision.

I found a way to make everything I’d written work in the grand narrative.

And a grand endeavor it certainly was.

The book boasts about 20 main characters, and probably 20 more minor ones.

There’s backstabbing, murder, love, longing, memory, loss, grief, treachery, you name it.

And I was 11.

In complete and total love.

 Now I remember, so many years later,

coming home drunk and high,

alone

blurry-eyed.

And I grabbed this book.

I began to read.

And I cried.

Because at that moment I realized it was the greatest thing I’d ever written.

A boy who knew nothing about craft,

who knew nothing about pain,

about disappointment, or depression.

A work not written to be published, or produced,

but it was fun.

I was playing. 

And I was in love.

“Jackson dove off the ledge of the huge mountain into the crashing waterfall feeling pretty nauseous. He has never been that nervous in his entire life. Will I live or die? Will I live or die? The question kept going through his mind. Suddenly he felt a burst of cold cover his body. I’m in the waterfall. Falling. Cutting through water like a bullet. As he damped in water he opened his eyes. It was a blur of wondrous colors. From light blue to fluorescent green. It was beautiful! Suddenly Jackson started to feel loose and happy. He spread his arms out far and put his legs together. Then he twirled and twirled in a circle while falling. He didn’t know why he was doing that. He just felt it.” 

In retrospect, I realize this 11-year old was describing his craft. 

Now I’ve always believed that change is a cosmetic illusion.

At our cores, we never change.

We are who we are who we are who we are. 

And so the same desire exists between this boy and myself.

But what he seemed to grasp is what I now strive for. 

“Suddenly Jackson started to feel loose and happy. He spread his arms out far and put his legs together. Then he twirled and twirled in a circle while falling. He didn’t know why he was doing that. He just felt it.”

 Abandon.

Writing was abandon.

And the elation I find now as I create,

An elation which shoots sparks, saves my soul,

It seems to pale in comparison to that 11-year old boy

and his piddly handwritten novel.

 

007

Prologue. Probably too faded to make out.

 

So we begin:

Silas Burton wandered helplessly through the huge forest of the unfinished amusement park. It was nighttime and everyone was gone. Something scurried across his feet. He screamed and fell. He wiped off the dirt on his khaki shirt he noticed a footprint. “Oh great! Someone’s around. I gotta follow the…Oh my god. Oh man.” He stared at the footprint. Only it wasn’t a footprint. It had three toes and a strange marking by the hoof. Then he realized the marking was the marking of the company he’s in. And the markings are on the bottom hoof  of each main attraction monster. But those were locked in the storage area. And no one was in the control room. “Oh my god I gotta get outta here!” He started running until he came to the mountain. He stared at the beatiful scenery. A 500 km drop. Deadly. Well there’s the ladder better go down it,” he said. He heard a rustling sound in the bushes. “Aaah!” he screamed. He felt something stab him in the shoulder. He grabbed his shoulder and pulled out a claw. He pulled out a packet of band-aids. He took one out and put it over the bloody wound. He put the band-aids back in his pocket and headed for the ladder. Suddenly something wacked him in the back and he fell and grabbed the side of the mountain and hung. He saw a figure of some sort but was too dark to see. He felt a sharp pain in his hand he went to grab for it and suddenly remembered he was hanging. He let out a bloodcurdling scene and toppled into darkness.

What I remember: Jurassic Park. I saw the movie some rainy afternoon. I bought the book at a SEARS. I read the book in Science class. I didn’t get half of it. I liked the bloody parts. I don’t remember beginning, although I vaguely recall writing this section long before I wrote the rest. The off-color appearance of the pages, coupled with the especially faded script, contribute to this theory.

I recall reading it to Mike Ethier’s mother. I recall her being struck by my use of “khaki”. Rightly so. I barely knew what khaki was. All I knew was that Michael Critchton’s characters wore it. Which is really where much of this began. When I met Vernell Lillie she told me how August Wilson’s earliest writings were simply imitations of writers he admired. John Guare wrote about how he’d type out the first three acts of Chekhov plays and then write the fourth act himself.

Art often begins with mimicry. Many writers never grow past that stage. 

Critchton was my Chekhov. Death in the Making is Jurassic Park. There’s even a Velociraptor.  Anne Rice took over eventually. But we’ll get there later.

Beautiful:  Silas Burton wandered helplessly through the huge forest of the unfinished amusement park.

Embarrassing: Then he realized the marking was the marking of the company he’s in.

And so, some brief thoughts on a brief intro. Chapter 2: The Meeting coming soon. Prepare for shit to get intense.