“Have You Seen That Girl?”

Found this frame from a storyboard I did for a music video I directed in the 1980s, in the early-ish days of MTV. The group, as I recall was called “Fishbone” – not to be mistaken with the more famous group, “Jawbone” – or perhaps the other way around. The song was “Have You Seen That Girl?”

The manager for the group saw my resume and hired me to direct and edit the video. I hadn’t made a music video before, though I had often edited to music, such as when I edited the official Tournament of Roses Parade film for a couple of years. So, I found this project both a bit familiar, but definitely moving into a new realm.

I hired a cameraman for the job, but he was totally insubordinate, and on the day of the shoot, kept ignoring my direction and doing what he wanted to do. Fortunately, as recall, I had two camera crews on this shoot, so I used one to get the shots I had storyboarded and I cut loose the rogue cameraman to show whatever the heck he wanted.

I recognized his talent and inspiration, but I was also responsible for the finished product and couldn’t afford to have him grab nothing but fantastic shots that wouldn’t cut together or to have missing pieces in the narrative. So, getting coverage with one camera and turning him free gave me the best of both. Still, he pissed me off….

Then, like most of my clients at the time, the group’s manager took total advantage of me in the editing room. I just wanted to get the job done, make a fair profit, and get back to my family, as my kids were always on my mind.

He wanted to do a stutter edit between back and forth between two shots with acceleration of the pace until it was one frame back and forth like a machine gun. Good idea, but I only had an offline non-time code editing machine that was only accurate to 2 to 3 frames per cut.

So – we spent DAYS at this job, working late into the night until I think I made about 30 cents an hour for my time on the project. But, son-of-a-bitch, I did manage to accomplish the freaking impossible.

In the end, the manager got what he wanted, shortly thereafter the group disbanded so it didn’t matter anyway, I got a nice sample reel and resume listing that never did me any good, wasted my time, missed my family, and have a really frustrating memory that I wouldn’t trade for anything because for one glorious night, I got to be the director of a rock and roll music video with cameras, lights, a whole mob of screaming guys and gals – all under my command. For one shining moment, I was cool.

Story of a Screenplay

These are the notes I took back around 1981 for improving a script I was hired to analyze called Static One. It was a movie script about people being turned into assassins against their will, written by George Bamber – a successful convention display company owner.

He made those big wooden and cardboard custom booths with all the color and fonts and graphics your see at trade shows.His company was Blue Thumb. He had a dream of being a writer and producing a script of his own, saw my resume, which included a feature length film I had directed in 1979, and hired me to help polish up his script.

Alas, the story, though representing a lot of work and a great deal of passion, had so many holes I had to report to him that I didn’t think it could be made. And this, even in the face of him being inclined to have me direct. Had to be honest.

But, as luck would have it, at that time I knew a fellow who had a much better written family script called “Brothers of the Wilderness.” I brought it to George and he said he would be willing to produce that one instead.

And so, we began pre-production on a movie that would end up being filmed over a 24 day schedule in the hills around Big Bear, California.We all lived in the same rented cabin for that month, cast and crew.

During that time, it snowed partway through so we had to re-write to accommodate. The writer got pissed at me for wanted to rewrite another scene, jumped over the couch and grabbed me by the throat trying to choke me. I didn’t respond and he eventually realized how idiotic he looked, let go, and the next morning we were all back in production.

Many more stories to tell about that, but for now I want to get back to George Bamber. We got the film completed, but it was only released to video. Not sure I even have a copy any longer. The budget was $50,000 – twice what my first movie cost.

But, at the same time George was paying those bills, his company hit some hard times, and eventually it folded, even though he had dozens of employees and a big building. I really hope t wasn’t the costs of our production that scuttled it.

Last I heard, back in the 1990s, he had become a motivational speaker and was supporting himself with gigs doing that. And as for the writer, well I gave him a wide berth and lost track of him shortly after completing the editing.

Wow – so much spews forth from just a few papers on top of a stack in a box in a stack of many stacks of boxes. So many stories – so little time.

Hope I someday get the chance to tell you about the wild ride into town crammed in a Volkswagen with no chains in order to get snow equipped, or my friend Tom (our soundman on this production) tuning out with his headphones each night to listen to the score from Das Boot, or the white knuckle ride I had one weekend driving up through dense fog on the winding mountain roads from having spend Saturday and Sunday with my family in Burbank.

No time for details now, however. Back to the boxes…

A Curse

When the empty food storage container fell on the dirty floor I spoke to it in a measured tone above the seething sea of my rising anger: ” I hate you. I loathe you. (pause) You are an abscess on a pimple on the ass of a maggot.”

A good curse is worth documenting for reuse later.

My Grandfather Said “Arf!”

My grandfather said, “Arf!” He’d come around a corner, see you coming the other way and “Arf!” After while, this pre-kindergartener started saying it back – “Arf!” “Arf!” as a mutual greeting.

For decades I thought he was just mimicking a dog, and in fact, that interpretation of what he was doing led to a whole life of making animal sounds, weird sounds, character voices and impressions of celebrities.

But decades after he died I came across an old Popeye comic from theĀ 1930s in which Popeye exclaimed “Arf!” when he was surprised by something. In fact, Popeye said this all the time! I suddenly realized my grandfather had been quoting Popeye from his youth and not greeting me but exclaiming surprise at encountering someone charging around the corner at him.

Imagine, a whole life of making sounds based on a fortuitous but erroneous interpretation! I wonder how many of the foundational ways we feel about life and about people, upon which we build entire life-guiding narratives are actually based on misconceptions and/or misinterpretations, for better or worse?

A Look Back

Here’s the prologue to my Facebook page where I share my diary:

I transitioned in 1989 and had surgery in 1991. Folks call me a transgender pioneer because I created the first online trangender chat room, the first online transgender magazine, the first transgender support web site on the planet, as well as the first “how to” video for developing a truly female speaking voice. I also was the first to publish an online daily diary of my transition, surgery, and post-op life, ending up at more than 1200 pages.

Me – I just fell into a vacuum and filled it. The time was right and I was focused, so as a creative thinker, I pushed full speed ahead. But now, all these years later, I’ve moved on, as one might expect. In the intervening decades I’ve created (with my partner) a whole new theory of mind, a new model of narrative psychology, software that implements the model for the structuring of best-selling book and award-winning movies, and I’ve even worked for several years for government intelligence agencies, using our model to analyze the complex motivations of terrorists and to project their likely future behavior in alternative future scenarios.

And so, TG issues have faded out of my life, much less being a focus. In fact, it is usually weeks or months between moments in which they even come to mind, as if it never happened.

But every once in a while, something that happens pops up and for an instant, I recall how it was. And then, just as quickly, the notion fades away again of its own volition.

Of late, however, I’ve started organizing my archives of all my scientific and creative writings, my musical compositions, my artistic photographs, and more. And when I come across some of the materials I put forth on transgender topics, I post them here – partly to document my contributions as an artist, scientist, and philosopher, partly to share with others any value they may have, and partly to finally put them behind me for good, knowing that I no longer have to curate them, as they have a safe and useful home here.

So, browse through, copy or repost anything you like, as long as you give appropriate credit, and may your life course take you to wonderful places beyond your imagination.

Most important, no matter what you seek or what you suffer, never forget that “Dreams are the stuff reality is made of,” as I concluded most of my transgender writings, so long ago.

The Beneath Attitudes

I visited the Attitude Pages today: the CNN attitude page, the Fox attitude page, as well as NPR and the BBC. Couldn’t find the news beneath the attitudes. So, after a few minutes, I gave up and remain spectacularly uniformed, though my ignorance is completely unbiased. I’ll try again next week.