It’s Only Fiction ‘Til It Happens: Where it all started.

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Years back I wrote a screenplay called, Looking Glass. It was my first ever effort at writing something longer than a school composition. Which I sucked at, ergo, writing wasn’t something I embraced until I was 28. Back then I had an idea based on the fact that a friend of mine’s father was the twin of a venerated academy award-winning actor – which no one was aware of at the time. The time being the pre-Internet, pre-social media days of the eighties. Anyway, armed with this secret, I imagined an epiphanous scene in a movie that as yet had no story or plot. The scene was the here-to-fore impossible shot of an actor and his doppelgänger coming face to face as the camera does a 360 all around them. Everyone in 1982 would have scratched their heads as to how we managed to do that shot. Today you can do it on a laptop!

But I “progress,” – So then the question was “what’s the plot” to put around this “socko” scene. Here’s what I came up with: what if my “twinned” star is a top Air Force pilot. So good he is the chief pilot of Air Force One. Then he gets a promotion! To a secret plane, more important than AF1. More dangerous, more expensive, more movie box office value. I called it, Looking Glass. I made it a converted 747 with the interior that rivaled a large nuclear submarine. Packed with electronics, defensive measures and the power to launch, run and win a nuclear war. I gave it technical “gee whiz” powers that were beyond that of any plane. Or so I thought. Turns out, I nailed one of the biggest secret programs ever. It was not even known to certain defense contractors, who at first commented on how my script was pure fiction, but then recanted with their tail between their legs as they dug deeper into a black program that turned out was my Looking Glass movie plane.

Why bring this up now? Forbes Magazine just ran a story;

“A Doomsday Plane Reminder: Nuclear Weapons Haven’t Gone Away” – Loren Thompson Contributor

It’s an article about how the Air Force is now seeking funding for upgrading the E4B NEACP. My baby, the one I designed in my screenplay. You see, as I pointed out in The Eighth Day;

At first blush, nuclear weapons research seemed a relic of America’s
paranoid, mutually assured destructive past…even though the Cold War
ended nearly two decades before, one tiny troublesome fact remained.
It seemed someone forgot to tell the Russian Strategic Rocket Force,
its commanders, and their nineteen missile divisions to go home,
it was all over. Instead, the Soviet’s mega death-tipped SS-20s and the
like were still targeted at Main Street, U.S.A., just like in the bad old days.
Our politicians had moved this undiminished nuclear threat to the back
burners of America’s collective consciousness, primarily by negotiating
away atmospheric and below-ground testing. It was good public relations
but it did nothing to reduce the stockpile of overkill both nations stored away
like dangerous nuts for a nuclear winter.

So, “news flash,” in terms of nuclear war, it’s still 1962. Nothing has changed. The nuclear sword of Damocles is still poised over our heads. The “nuclear clock” is still a few ticks from midnight. All that has changed in over 50 years is, no bomb shelters, no kids practicing going under their desks and putting there hands over their heads and no Conelrad Alerts. (look it up if you are under 40)
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In my movie, there was always one Looking Glass plane in the air at all times… after all it was right in the middle of the cold war… Now a quote from today’s article (or my screenplay; take your pick);

…the media have ceased paying attention to the most likely way in which America might one day disappear forever.
America’s military hasn’t.  One of the four doomsday planes is kept on continuous alert and manned at all times.  

Later in the article:

U.S. military planners take this threat so seriously that when the president [Mr. Obama] goes overseas, one of the doomsday planes always follows.  It needs to be nearby at all times, as does the military aide within a few yards of the president carrying nuclear launch codes and communications gear. 

So there you have it, the moment when, “It’s Only Fiction ‘til It Happens,” was born. I will leave you with this new appreciation of an old recurring nightmare. Sleep tight.

Extra Credit worries: In that same screenplay back in 1982, religious fundamentalists conspired to hijack Looking Glass and start a nuclear war killing all the infidels by replacing my acting twin with his brother in that great scene!

Read the full article that nuclear weapons haven’t gone away here

Argo, the True COVER Story…

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I am constantly amazed at how people connect things. In this case, my fans and specifically the realization for many of them of the resonance between Argo, the movie and The Hammer of God, my novel.  In response to the many e-mails and comments linking the two, I decided to see Argo. (I had already read my book)

Good movie, solidly crafted, good story, well told. Affleck did a great job, which he now knows having won a Golden Globe, but I am sure he appreciates my opinion anyway.  So, yeah… I guess there is some relationship but it’s as thin as Lindsey Lohan’s future prospects as a Nuclear Scientist at Brookhaven Laboratory. (Radio-isotropic co-generation of mononuclidic elements? WHAT-Ever!)

The commonality lies in that both stories highlight the universal power of movies. In fact, here’s an early set of cover designs for Hammer (by Lorenzo Concepcion), which were being considered right up to publication. The log line on this set of covers is a quote from one of the characters in the book,

“Movies… They’ll be the death of western culture!”

Two books

As you can see the movie industry played big in the cover sell. That’s because unlike Argo, where the U.S. used a fictitious movie production as a cover story to free Iranian hostages, in Hammer an Iranian movie company is using the power of Filmmaking permits and the general awe most municipalities treat movie companies with, to actually execute a devastating attack on New York.

Despite the few similarities, the stories are divergently different. However, I certainly wouldn’t mind if Ben Affleck were so moved to make a film of The Hammer of God

My Internal War on Woman… Defending my inner female

In a discussion with a friend, I was relating an aversion I was having about pushing for an answer from a Hollywood Studio that is currently considering my third book, The God Particle, as a potential big budget blockbuster.

Now, truth be told, this whole adventure started much like the nine other phone calls that were going to change my life. In every prior case, I was fearless, I aggressively followed up, I dared to ask uncomfortable questions, to probe the true dynamic in play. With this drummed up courage and “damn the torpedoes” attitude I went full speed ahead, braced and buttressed against the disappointing news that eventually came. But the stinging barbs of “oooo so close” and “We love it but…” bounced off me like bullets off Superman.

But not this time! This time I am filled with apprehension. Dreading the phone, not wanting to tempt fate, or anger the Gods. It is a very uncomfortable place for me to be. But the question is why? Why this time, why this manuscript? (the others were mostly screenplays). At first I thought the answer to be self-evident… Age! As you get older you get… well, soft. You become tired of the bumps and bruises you never noticed before. But that didn’t quite fit. During this same time I have put my butt on the line for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of production and media time, by taking on projects with impossible goals and deadlines. I have relished the challenge. Never shrinking away but embracing the opportunity to perform beyond 100% and prove to myself that I can adapt, innovate and overcome any situation, in life and in business.

So why the timid, little boy, “scaredy-pants” act over this book? Over this tenth “life changing” opportunity? What is different?

Then it hit me. Everything I have done before was in my wheelhouse. Part of my success was always assured by the fact I was only playing on home-fields, at games I had a chance at winning. These were situations where I was in control of all the elements, and confident in the product.

Ahhh but this story is my first, full-fledged jump into the life, psyche and thought patterns of a female! Specifically my FBI agent turned Quarterback Group Operative, Brooke Burrell. At first I thought this was a kind of starter kit into the female mystique, in that I already had a good character base for her developed over two books, where she not only grew into her character, but into her life. And the safety rail for me was, she was in a traditionally male line of work, she had to interface and meld into the workplace mindset. Therefore, if I went too heavy male in her actions or motivations, I felt and hoped the reader would allow it, as her reacting to a male dominated environment. Easy to write a woman in that context! Piece of Cheesecake.

However, then she was always a supporting character. Therefore, I could, by reflection in the other characters, define her. It was my choice to go as deep as I wanted or leave it to the observation of the other characters to fill in the blanks.

Now, Brooke is the main character of my third book with my usual main characters taking a more supportive role. Many times in the story there isn’t anyone around to reflect off of, so I have to go inside her. It’s scary in there! I adhere to the adage, “You are a piece of all the characters you write.” So hello Brooke, welcome to my inner female. Not much organic female development in here within me, so my external observations of females have to be reversed tracked into the woman I am defining, creating motives and histories; impulses and predilections that become the cause that affects her behavior.

When writing about her, I can throw the world at her, and make her deftly respond, win, lose or draw. But going into her being, writing “her,” needs a feminine map with symbols and marks on it that most males are genetically incapable of reading.

So that’s it. That’s the fear. If they decide to make the movie, that would be nice, but if not, nothing changes, no big deal. But the reason for my nail biting apprehension, however, is the fear of them saying, “SHE doesn’t work for us.” Or worse, “you wrote a guy with breasts!”

Well, Brooke is all written now, she’s out there in the big world, I hope I have given her all the attributes of character and flaws of humanity that make her a compelling figure, but like most fathers, I pray that I just made her a good woman.