Four Geeky Videos and a Short Story About a Life-Long Dreamer (1970–2004)
I have been a dreamer my whole life. My earliest memories are in a sandbox at the age of 4 telling my grandfather elaborate stories with my toys. It was the early 1970s, so even the occasional cigarette butts were just more fodder for the story. I was told by my grandmother that I wrote my first story at the age of 3. I took a small piece of paper, and a number of Crayola Crayons and drew lines of colored blocks all the way across the page in several columns. I then carefully explained what each block meant and how the story began, complicated, and ended. I guess the contents of that story was buried with her in 1989.
In 1982 I sat down at an old typewriter as I watched “Battle Beyond the Stars” on TV with my family and pounded out a short story (now it would be called “fan fiction.”) It featured the ship in the movie on a moral crusade to solve the world’s problems with a brave crew featuring a Captain named “Shannon.” My 6th grade teacher loved it, gushed at it’s advanced structure for my age, and praised my touch that the ship could never be used for anything but the good of others.
In 1988 I was a teenager writing dark, needlessly complex poetry about dark subjects. I don’t know if I was lazy or imaginative, but I wrote a short story about an explosion at a nuclear research facility that warped reality into a cartoonish, hallucinatory mess. It featured a blue cat riding a hovering toothbrush and almost a “Porky in Wackyland” tour of surreal imagery designed to illustrate a different perceived slight against me by the “normal world” that I felt ostracized me. Oh, the teenage angst of it all! I sold this story to a California publication for $12, but they never paid me and folded soon after. I later would read a VERY similar story in a psychedelic collection and I’ve always wondered if it found it’s way into another writer’s mind via the publisher that promised and never delivered.
When I was in college, I found that I loved to make short films. I went into broadcasting with a minor in English. I loved writing scripts and realizing them on video. (A camera weighed 15–20 pounds and we had to carry a deck that weighed 30–50 more!) It was always a struggle to gather equipment, crew, actors, and effects in the same place at the same time, but it made me very happy to write odd, funny shorts and share them with collaborators.
In 2004, we produced 4 shorts for DragonCon TV. 1 was written by DCTV staff and 3 were originals by me and my buddies. I’m still proud of all four. One, “The Alien Hunter/The Animal Trapper” can still be seen on their convention channel every Labor Day weekend! For posterity, I’ll share a couple here. One has no audio, but imagine a pretentious french accordion.
Intergalactic Pizza was the first original concept we came up with. Always have 2 gags!
The Aurora Chair was from the TV show Farscape. Chad had created an amazing Scorpius cosplay and could nail the voice. Add in my computer chair and Andrew’s “Ted” character, and I’m very proud of this piece. All effects and graphics are by my production partner James Livingston!
We call it “The Alien Hunter” even though the script was “The Animal Trapper.” This was a script that I initially found really unfunny, but with a great concept. Me and the lads put our heads and talents together and we came out with something I’m really proud of. James and I wrote and timed out the subtitles for the “alien” as the final element after a long night of editing. It was written in a delirious creative frenzy in the middle of the night as we tried to make the submission deadline. I ended up pretty proud of the name “Hal Upinyas,” pronounced “Hall Up-in-ya-ass!”
This last video is my favorite. A tribute to pretentious art and They Live. The dialog is utter nonsense that I thought sounded poetic and profound.
The production time, expense, and juggling people who could be there or not made it a slow process. Releasing it online was not as satisfying as the reaction of the DragonCon live audience. I would make a few more videos, but would eventually give it up for a new passion: roller derby announcing.
That, however, is a different story.