3 August 2015 – THE HAPPY JACK PLATTER SHOP
In 1965, I found myself in the uniform of an E-5 soft striper (curved bar over eagle) with a Top Secret clearance working as a code-breaker and linguist in the U.S. Army. How did I get there? Well, Hemingway and Mailer had their wars and I wanted to see mine, so I left a full ride UCLA scholarship in Graduate English and drove my Ford convertible over to Santa Monica where the army was happy to accommodate. Two years later I was in Saigon with a Top Secret clearance, decoding and translating covert Viet Cong messages. Since I was young and open to adventure (foolish), and since I worked swing shift, I accepted a moonlight job as a radio personality. No, not on Air Force Radio. I had my own show on VTVN Radio Saigon. Yes, I know, it sounds far fetched, outrageous and even illegal, but that’s how it was. If you’ve got a little time and would like to hear how that went down, click in the far left corner of the black bar below.
7 July 2015 – NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN: Sometime about ten years ago I got a call from my son Matt, who was co-producing a short dramatic film called Assumption with writer/producer/director Chris Keller. Seems Chris needed a guy about my age to play the part of a psychiatrist. Tomorrow. I foolishly said okay and Matt send over some lines. Now those of you who know anything about me realize that I come from the ‘writing side of the business.’ In the world in which I came of age, scripts were created, approved, handed over to the director and the actors, and performed. Well, I wasn’t impressed with my lines, but I showed up the next morning and flubbed around badly. The director, who was a 1st time guy himself, kept saying, “Come on now, give me something I can use.” And I didn’t have the foggiest notion. They didn’t have the money or time to fool around with me, so they got some professional actor to come in the next day to do the part and when I saw the finished product I was astounded. My replacement had the general idea, but the lines were all his own! And they worked! I know it may sound old hat to you, but it hit me like a bolt of lightning… When you’re burning money on the set and the lines aren’t working, there’s nothing wrong with improvising. Assumption (without me in it) comes off as a very professional dramatic short and it is the sort of story that belongs on an episode of Twilight Zone. I worked with Rod Serling in the old days, directing him to do radios spots for Ford, back before I knew hardly anything about directing. So you see, I know these things. I’m currently pitching an updated version of TZ around town. We promote it as Twilight Zone on steroids. Twisted Tails, based on J.Richard Jacobs acclaimed series of anthologies of horror, suspense and sci-fi. And if we make a sale, Assumption will be featured in the first season..
5 July 2015 – UPDATE: I am currently struggling through the 1st draft of my new novel. It is always a struggle. Why should it be easy? The rest of life isn’t. My most recent novel, Orange Glory, was released in January by Double Dragon, and is available as an e-book and a trade paperback. It’s about a maybe teenager, no longer quite human due to black ops radiation experiments. She hopes to try to live a normal life, but to do that she has to evade the CIA killers sent to take her out, as well as survive the deadly intentions of some ordinary human killers. NEWS: I attended The Great American Pitchfest in Burbank one weekend in May with my son Matthew who works at Fox. Pitched screenplay projects to Hollywood producers with varying degrees of success, including one option and many of the traditional ‘Great! See ya later! Pitchfests are like speed dating with producers. They don’t give you a lot of time so I created pitch ‘flash cards’. Here’s one for the screenplay adaptation of my cult classic on the Nam war: NEWS FROM CANNES FILM FESTIVAL: Documentary footage from the original documentary featurette I wrote and produced (and Nikita Knatz directed) for Steve McQueen’s racing movie Le Mans was featured in a new documentary McQueen: The Man & Le Mans honored this May at the Cannes Film Festival.
UPCOMING: The screenplay adaptation of my action/thriller novel The Heart of Desire has been optioned and is slated to go into production this Fall.
TWISTED TAILS VIII: Two of my novellas are featured in the latest volume of J.Richard Jacobs’ classic anthology series. They are “The Loose Muse Swap Meet”, and “Witches of Sunset”. THE OLD SPOOKS & SPIES: Reunion was held in mid-June in D.C. TANS III, the new book of true stories by old spies was ably published this year by Wayne Munkel. In it you’ll find worthwhile reading about the way it was to be in ASA, the covert military intelligence branch of the National Security Agency. One of my stories is in there: “Tet Message”, a recollection of mine from Saigon in 1965. SPIRITUALITY, EVEN… If you’ve not seen the short video I produced for my friend Mark Henderson for his song called Come To The Water, you might want to take a look at it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUQ0lXi4Qkw Mark didn’t ask me. I did it for free because I liked it. That man is a musical genius, but aren’t we all. No we all are not.