Do Time Travelers Keep Journals?

I haven’t written in quite a while, so here’s something I wrote a few weeks ago. I think I’ll try to create and post at least one short story a week. Try being the key word. Enjoy!

On a slightly rainy day in DC, Rocha Urea sat on a bench feverishly paging through the new gossip of the baseball world on his clear tablet. The column contained all the salty and delicious ingredients his genetically engineered egg sandwich did not.

It was a nice reprieve from his soul-burning job as a security image projection developer. A system capable of projecting memories that linked to images from a nano temple implant, which he had. Primarily used in criminal cases, Rocha used it to catch his cheating ex-wife.

As he read on, a biker splashed a muddy puddle all over his lunch. He stood, red in the face to attack the boy as he sped off but the sound of someone rampaging in the trash took his attention away.

It was a girl. And the site of a girl with matte skin glued him. She looked up to him with eyes the color of a lake in a desert mirage, and then she scurried away.

“Hey!” He shouted finally. But she was already gone.

Tossing his soggy egg salad into the trash, he kicked a moleskin notebook. He picked it up and opened it to the first page that had a heart drawn with no line over lapping the other. Perfect. His curiosity took him to the first entry.

“I am not sure where or when I am. 2025? I need to go home to my time to 2345. Before he finds me. But the time machine I created is damaged.”

“What the hell is this…?” Rocha closed it.

“Maybe it’s someone’s draft.” Rocha put the book in his backpack. The trash girl from before peeked around a tree and examined the man that had her book.

Thumbing his see-through cellphone, Rocha paid no attention to her as she peered at his phone as if scanning the internal motherboard.

After closing an app with Excel tables and stats, he zipped to a special app, named Nano, and selected start.

“Just a few more bugs. They’ll call me the next Steve Jobs.” He said.

She gasped and smiled. “The illegal gambler mines the Nanocoins. Far more valuable than the bitcoins. Maybe I can get back. But how will he help me?” She said and watched him as he entered the building to his soul-killing job.

***

In his stuffy apartment, Rocha turned on his projector and several men’s faces appeared in a hologram skype session. Some of the men looked hungover, tired from work, or restless from not having to work.

“Are you ladies ready?” Rocha asked grinning.

He sat his phone down, which linked to the projector and a smaller window showed stats for the next five baseball games.

“Gentleman, this week –.” A loud knock at the door sent Rocha out of his seat.

“A nice girl? Or a dude.” A man said.

“I say driod.” A larger man said and laughed sending his head back.

“Shush.” Rocha said and ended the skype session. He went torpor to the door. Pressing a button, he made the door become invisible, and on the other side, his trash girl stood pleading at her rages and looking up with those eyes.

“How…” He said and the door went back opaque.

As he eased it open, the girl walked in uninvited.

“Come right in,” he said.

“We have to go.” She trashed his electronics and destroyed his holographic projector.

“What are you doing?” He asked with his arms raised.

“I need your help. You have an algorithm for the Nano bites. I can use this to make enough money for parts for my machine.”

“Sure…right…” Rocha said and took quick glances at the emergency button on his security system in the corner.

“I’m sorry but I don’t think I can help you.”

Another loud knock on the door.

“It’s the cops,” she said. Rocha made his door invisible, and as she mentioned, a man in a nice suit surrounded by police officers projected a warrant.

“Why would they be here?” Rocha whispered.

“I told them about your illegal insider gambling stats for baseball.”

“You what?” He asked.

“I calculated and it was the only way to get you to help.” She said and ripped out a small golden device on the side of his head, sending him over in pain. She pulled him to the window and pushed him along.

As they escaped out of the window, the police entered his home.

***

Running down a damp alley, Rocha took a break to catch what little breath he had left in him.

“We cannot stop here.” She said and dragged him farther into the alley. Police sirens ringed in the streets and the sound of tires sloshing water from the curb splashed on the pavement.

“I’m a wanted man.” He said holding his head. She snatched his phone and used the projection feature to open his Nano app. Her fingers worked fishing the code as if guided by some magical force of mathematics and computer engineering.

“That’s not ready…” He trailed off staring at what she had done. Within minutes, she’d fixed all the bugs, uploaded the program to an untraceable network, created a special digital bank to hold it, and made it available on the net.

“Now I buy them. I have enough to go home.”

“Where’s your machine?”

“I’ll show you.”

They stumbled down several dark alleys where the homeless slept out of the rain. Periodically, she pushed him against a building to hide from the police. He was close enough in those moments to notice she was not only stronger than he was, but that she was over twenty. The fine lines on her forehead were clearer. But her eyes took away his ability to tell her he wanted to go home.

“How old are you?” He trailed her as they approached a large warehouse deep in the city and outside of DC.

“Twenty-six. No…I had a birthday. It is hard to tell. Come on we are here.” She said to him and stopped at the door of a massive warehouse fitting for Tesla.

“You do not have to stay.” She said and looked up at him with those eyes.

“Never seen a time machine.” He smiled to her. She returned it and opened the door to a bright yellow light that flashed on and off in the building.

Inside, many trinkets and gadgets buzzed and spun, sputtered and cringed, but nothing that appeared to be a time machine sat in the space. But how would a time machine look like?

As Rocha took in the strange looking machines around him, a small man bending over an older computer peered up at them.

“Gena. Oh, Gena.” The man said and stammered to her with his arms raised.

“This is the man that ruined my machine.” She said and pushed Rocha behind her. The old man sighed, removed his spectacles, and went to his table to grab a dime-sized object. With shaky hands, he pressed the clear device.

“I am so sorry.” He said and Gena fell into Rocha’s arms. She slide and the brightness in her eyes deemed as she stiffened.

“What did you do to her?” Rocha asked and checked for a pulse. There was none, and he performed CPR on her stiff body, which bounced up with each bump from his hands.

“I turned her off.” The man said and he finished cleaning his glasses.

Rocha furrowed his forehead. Turned her off? He had no idea how to continue the conversation. The old man was even crazier than the beautiful girl was lying dead in his arms.

“You’re crazy!” Rocha stood and backed up to towards the exit.

“Come.” The man said. Using a pulley, the old man lifted her, and placed her in a compartment labeled “2345.”

“That’s the time I made her.”

“She’s…an — ” Rocha said with a dry mouth.

“ — Yes. Androids do not have an imagination. And I wanted to give that to her, but she couldn’t tell what was real. I erased her mind repeatedly and still.” The man said and flopped down starring into her porcelain face as if losing his mind would be a better fate.

“I’m sorry for the trouble she caused. I sent her a panic signal to come home and –“

“ — She told the cops I was part of illegal gambling. I can’t go back.”

The old man looked at him, curious.

“Maybe…I could erase that part; fill it with junk.” The man touched Rocha’s head and guided him to a table.

“What’ll happen?”

“You’ll be cleared. Cops have no evidence do they?”

“No…I don’t keep that information in my house.”

“Very well. Watch the yellow light.”

The man hooked up the machine, and Rocha gazed rapidly at the yellow light. In each passing, he watched the memories of the entire day stream from him. The last image was of her eyes. Eyes he would never remember again.

9 Powerful Lessons (and Confessions) of a Science Blogger

Ms Laurie Writes

9 Lessons & Confessions of a Science Blogger2015 was my first year as a professional science blogger. I’ve been writing for years in a slew of other fields, but this was the first year where I focused on building my brand as a niche blogger. I invested in my website. I revamped my corporate name. I had a new logo designed. I created business-only social media channels and promoted my work. In short, I treated myself like a professional business — and I learned a TON. Here are my 9 biggest lessons (and confessions) of the year:

1. Data Matters

Sound obvious? It wasn’t to me, not when I was starting out. I mean, I knew I was writing about quantifiable facts and I would need to source those facts. But what I didn’t know was how the process of finding those sources would change my approach to research. Before, I would cite a news report of…

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WOMEN IN FILM; An INTERVIEW with Farnaz Samiinia | Screenwriting Staffing

The Backstory

(Note from Screenwriting Staffing‘s Founder Jacob N. Stuart)

Women, arguably, have been overlooked in film since the dawn of cinema – especially screenwriting. But this is all starting to change. Just recently, Meryl Streep revealed The Writer’s Lab at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. It’s core initiative: to fund and promote female writing talent. Out of 3,500 submissions, which is an astonishing number, only 12 female screenwriters were chosen. Streep is notorious for attaching herself to films written and/or directed by women. Note: this program is specifically designed for women OVER 40.

Women are making some great strides in cinema – especially in the screenwriting arena. And industry pro’s are now starting to reach out to female creative talent. Just in the past few weeks, we’ve had 3 SCREENWRITING LEADS that were ONLY looking for female writers (all were PAID):

  1. NYC-based Production Company (established in the 80’s)…

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SCREENPLAY OPTIONS: THE DO’S & DON’TS | Screenwriting Staffing | Kathy Muraviov

The Backstory

(Intro by Screenwriting Staffing’s Founder, Jacob N. Stuart.) I have been approached by many screenwriters as of late seeking advice/guidance on their screenplays being “optioned”. Hopefully this is a result of our Script Search Board!

‘Options’ can be a very exciting process (and milestone) for writers, especially newer ones. But they can also be very disappointing, and even more so, destructive, if not approached correctly.

In terms of feature-length screenplays, I’ve had MORE scripts optioned than produced. This is quite common for most writers.

One script, specifically, has been optioned twice (by two different producers), and now I have a third producer wanting to option it right as I speak.

But here’s the rub…. by sitting on two different option agreements (the same script) that failed both times, I have now wasted a year and a half on my script (and career). For privacy reasons I’m not going to…

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On “Geek” Versus “Nerd”

Ever wanted to know the difference between “Geeks” and “Nerds”? Check this blog out to find a scientific explanation.

Slackpropagation

To many people, “geek” and “nerd” are synonyms, but in fact they are a little different. Consider the phrase “sports geek” — an occasional substitute for “jock” and perhaps the arch-rival of a “nerd” in high-school folklore. If “geek” and “nerd” are synonyms, then “sports geek” might be an oxymoron. (Furthermore, “sports nerd” either doesn’t compute or means something else.)

In my mind, “geek” and “nerd” are related, but capture different dimensions of an intense dedication to a subject:

  • geek – An enthusiast of a particular topic or field. Geeks are “collection” oriented, gathering facts and mementos related to their subject of interest. They are obsessed with the newest, coolest, trendiest things that their subject has to offer.
  • nerdA studious intellectual, although again of a particular topic or field. Nerds are “achievement” oriented, and focus their efforts on acquiring knowledge and skill over trivia and memorabilia.

Or, to…

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Top 10 Favorite Books

uni_dublin

A great book can be many things. It can be inspiring, funny, fulfilling, and filled with vivid imagery. But for me one thing that makes a story so great, and so powerful it has the ability to make me want to read it over watching my favorite TV show, is its ability to create a world that I feel a part of. As Mya Angelou once said, “Once you read a book, your world is changed forever.”

And here’s a list of the ten books that have changed mine:

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10 questions with Directors of The Badger Game, Tom and Josh

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Howdy Horror fans. Being the generous and awesome person that I am, I wanted fellow fans of horror to check out a movie that I feel has a lot of potential. The Badger Game. And directors, Tom and Josh, were gracious enough to answer a few questions about the movie, equipment used for filming and future projects they have in store. Oh, and don’t forget  to check out The Badger Game teaser trailer and photos taken on-set. You can support the makers of the film on Kickstarter and stalk them on Twitter.

 

NP –  What was the inspiration behind the creation of this film?

 

TOM – Truthfully, it was born mainly from logistics. We were able to raise a small sum of capital to make a feature film, but the budget was tight and we began writing a project to fit those constraints. The first draft of the script was pretty much set in one location, and from there, the film expanded to a place we were both comfortable.

 

Given that funds were scarce, we tried to focus on two things that, we felt, would belie the lack of resources: character and genre-specific-elements. The movie revolves around a kidnapping, but it’s really about the people within that framework battling their own personal demons. Additionally, I used to work in marketing for Anchor Bay Entertainment, touring the country to various comic-cons and horror conventions. I used that experience to really engage with fans and see what they responded to in a film – practical effects, a sexy cast, a memorable score – anything that stood out. We basically took a lot of these horror/thriller/cult-film trademarks and rolled them into a “caper-gone-wrong” movie.

 

JOSH – For years we’ve been trying to collaborate on a project we could affordably pull off and hone our craft as writer/directors. Unfortunately, said projects would outgrow their limitations, as The Badger Game almost did. Suffice it to say, we have plenty of material to choose from for our next outing. It turns out that a more simplistic story was just the body we needed to avoid going “plot crazy” and watching the budget soar. From there, we built the characters and both agreed that the plot was always going to be secondary, next to story.

 

NP –  What were the hardest scenes to shoot? And which was/were your favorites?

 

TOM – Liam (Sam Boxleitner), the cheating husband and kidnap victim, is tied up in a garage for most of the film. We thought containing many scenes to one location would be easy, but for me, shooting in the garage was the most difficult. Blocking in a small space – with as many as six actors at a time – can be a challenge for lighting, and you’re always trying to come up with new ways to keep the audience engaged. We also had an intense sex scene to shoot that required some delicate handling (and a little bit of Jack Daniels, just to take the edge off). My favorite scene to shoot might was actually a simple, two-person conversation between Alex (Augie Duke) and Jane (Sasha Higgins). They were both sleeping with the same man and bonded together in their quest revenge, but their true feelings and resentments towards one another finally come out. It’s one of those scenes that doesn’t feel powerful on the page, but when you see two incredible actresses bring it to life, you realize it shapes the entire story.

 

JOSH – It’s funny because we shot a bulk of the film in the first week in the garage, and felt like we had gotten the tough stuff out of the way by week two. Such wasn’t the case, and we had to add another day to get through it. Then we got to week three; cake, right? No, it was all exteriors, and our highest number of locations, even though it was only fifteen total script pages.

 

I do know there were three different occasions where we were behind and it became apparent that scenes were going to have to be altered. We had to cut some of my favorite material to stay on track. The movie works without it, but I still regret not getting some of those things.

 

My favorite stuff to shoot was anything that seemed to challenge the actors; the sexy striptease, an intense oral sex scene, Augie and Liam’s heated exchange, etc. I could go on, but don’t want to give too much away. I will say that Tom and I were extremely satisfied at the end of each shoot day.

 

 

NP – What other works do you have coming up this year?

 

TOM – We have two other projects we’re shopping around. They’re still in development, so we can’t speak too much on either, but we’re hoping for good things.

 

JOSH – Keep your eyes peeled for “Gong, But Not Forgotten: The Original Johnny Blaze Story,” a documentary about an aging Elvis impersonator who was a Gong Show winner in the seventies and now wants his own late night talk show. I’ve been working on it for the past three plus years, but it got put on the back burner for the better part of a year while we were involved in The Badger Game.

 

We’re also working with a well-known director, who has signed a letter of intent to direct a screenplay.

 

NP –  Will the film be entered in a festival or film contest?

 

TOM – To be blunt, we entered into a few of the more mainstream-festivals and didn’t get accepted. I’m really proud of the film, and don’t think it has anything to do with the quality of it. I think it’s more a byproduct of a narrow, homogenized view of what it means to be an indie film. When we see a lineup at these festivals, there tends to be two common threads: the films have star power (which ours does not), or they tend to be dramas. I say this not to sound bitter, or to take away from any film that’s had festival success, but just to point out that it’s sometimes hard for genre films to gain recognition and find their audience. That said, there are several genre-specific festivals on the horizon that we’ve applied to. We’ll see how it turns out.

 

JOSH – We made a careful decision to apply mainly to the top-tier festivals, and unfortunately we’ve been rejected from all of them at this point. I go through a moment of doubt and discouragement every time we get that rejection letter, then I get pissed, which eventually turns into an awakening experience that makes me stronger and work harder. Tom and I usually have a pow-wow afterwards and try to keep each other positive, and remind ourselves that the rejections should not reflect our feelings about our movie.

 

NP – When will the film be available and where can horror fans check out the movie?

 

TOM – No release date is set, but we already have multiple distribution offers for the film and will (hopefully) be able to announce something shortly.

 

JOSH – Hopefully soon. Every filmmaker dreams of seeing their movie play in a theater on the big screen, but with today’s digital options and advanced home theaters, we’re excited to be talking to the people we’re talking to currently. In the meantime The Badger Game trailer can be seen on youtube, and thebadgergame.com.

 

NP – What types of cameras and audio did you use to capture the film and what types of software did you use to edit it?

 

TOM – We used the RedMX and shot entirely in 4K, and edited primarily on Final Cut 7, then transferred to Final Cut X to master it and color-correct in a 4K timeline. This is also a great opportunity to point out two of the fantastic people we had working behind the scenes – our editor, Ethan Maniquis (who co-directed Machete and cut several films for Robert Rodriguez, including Planet Terror) and our sound team at Post Haste.

 

JOSH – Tom pretty much covered that one.

 

NP – What directors/writers have influenced your work?

 

TOM – Too many to name. Hitchcock, Carpenter, Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, to highlight some of the heavyweights. I’ll throw in the Pate Brothers and Jonathan Levine to give some props to guys that don’t get enough credit.

 

JOSH – I think we are both heavily influenced by the Coen brothers, as every modern filmmaker should be. The works of P.T. Anderson, Wes Anderson, Sergio Leone (I love westerns), Kubrick, David Lynch, and the list goes on and on. I’m going through a Jodorowsky faze right now.

 

NP – Top 3 favorite horror films and/or books?

 

TOM – In no particular order…SHADOW OF A DOUBT, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, EVENT HORIZON.

 

JOSH – God, only three? The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (74), John Carpenter’s The Thing, The Funhouse. And yes, two of those are Tobe Hooper movies.

 

NP –  What advice would you give to aspiring directors and film writers?

 

TOM – Movies take time and work. It’s easy to pick up a camera and start shooting these days, but make sure you treat every line and every frame like gold. And don’t let other people define your success.

 

JOSH – People who aspire to do this for a living are, no doubt, ambitious people, and probably a little Type A. My advice to them (as I keep reminding myself) is don’t let all that energy and passion make you overzealous because it is a carefully constructed craft.  If you want to end up in a list of those mentioned in answers six then you will respect yourself and your approach to this beautiful medium. Also, read and write like a madman. Be obsessed, but have fun.

 

NP – Last question, will there be a sequel?

 

TOM – Ha, doubtful. We often joked about it on-set, though. Probably best to see if audiences respond to this one before we get ahead of ourselves.

 

JOSH – We always joke about that sort of thing because sequels are mostly jokes.  I bet some sequels actually DID start off as a joke.

[NP]