Sunday, February 6, 2011


  • I delve into film craft.  Stand By Me becomes a high bar in film narrative among my crowd.
  • In college film studies class, I'm steeped in classic cinema.  My eyes are opened even wider to the iconic imagery of the great silent films and European visual storytelling.  Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bette becomes an all-time favorite of mine.  I see Marillion for a second time in concert, the Clutching at Straws tour.  The Name of the Rose impresses the hell out of me.  The Princess Bride does the same, for enitely different reasons.  And then there's RoboCop, Paul Verhoeven's ultraviolent dystopian "future of law enforcement" that foreshadows the crumbling of Detroit.  Verhoeven is not subtle with his social commentary, but I find it a refreshing mockery of Reagan-era indulgence.
  • Samantha and I are clubbing.  A lot.  I get into Killing Joke and The Damned.
  • From this point on, I will rarely be involved in an RPG group that doesn't have one or more females in it.  Usually that female is Samantha, but later we'd have a group with a 50/50 gender balance.  The experience of roleplaying games with well-adjusted, emotionally mature people with social skills and other interests would spoil me, as it does not fit the stereotype.  Females entering the RPG hobby en masse will eventually happen with the release of Vampire: The Masquerade in 1991.
  • David Beach and I continue recording under the Pig SynoNym name.  We also begin preproduction on the Kings film, the script of which I've now completed. We cast my brother Gavin as the young lead and, in early 1987, shoot some scenes in the foothills of Los Altos with costumes and actors from the SCA.  David directs.  We shoot for a month.  The project is killed.
  • I begin doing shows at Los Altos Conservatory Theatre in the summer of '87.  A kid in the cast of South Pacific gives me chicken pox at age 19.  After the show, Samantha and I move in together in a Mountain View apartment.  Star Trek: The Next Generation debuts, and I dig it (and hey, that Wil Wheaton guy from Stand By Me is in it, but they really don't write his character very well).  
  • David and I see Love and Rockets headline at the San Jose State student center, with this mostly unknown band called Jane's Addiction opening. I hold a variety of college jobs, from print bindery to working in the cassette department of Tower Records in Mountain View.
  • After only 4 months in the apartment, Sam gets into the film program at San Francisco State.  She goes to room at her grandmother's home in South San Francisco, while I move into a bachelor pad in San Jose with fellow LACT actors.  We see each other on the weekends.  Sam approaches me about rewriting the Kings script to run as an hour-long film, which she will direct for her film final.  David shows me the Star Wars roleplaying game.  It ends up living with me, and will become one of my two standards in game design (the other being Cyberpunk 2020).  My housemate Len plays Sid Meier's Pirates! on his Apple IIe.
  • 1988: Randy returns from Mexico.  I begin an intensive animation program at Mission College in Santa Clara, while maintaining a half-schedule at Foothill.  A financial backer sponsors a graphic novel based on one of my superhero properties.  I nearly go blind finishing the project on schedule and wither away to 160 pounds, and the backer bails.  I learn a valuable lesson about contracts, most notably the need for them.  I continue to do shows at LACT, performing, assistant directing and doing prop & scenery design (for which I am paid).  We begin to cast the new, improved Kings film.  
  • I make a friend in my animation class, Chris Crowell, who re-introduces me to the SCA and a whole extended group of friends that becomes my family.  Four of the group live in a communal house in Milpitas.  They are young professionals, and perhaps most importantly, geeks.  Through them I get a new RPG group, running a bunch of games from Palladium Books, including a two-year Beyond the Supernatural campaign.  I discover Blackadder.
  • David and I record the Pig SynoNym album Fish Whispers.
  • My animation final, The Big Surprise, is the only project to include sync'd audio.  It receives an A+, and a woman in the festival audience calls me sexist because I show a brief flash of a nude centerfold and equate it with "heaven".
  • In June, I move back into my dad's house to work (back at Kinko's), save money and continue college.  We shoot Samantha's film over the summer on a shoestring with volunteer talent and no permits.
  • When school starts in September, I join forces with former high school buddy Gordon to create the Mozart Air Raid experimental music project.  We release a cassette album, Spork of the Gods. One of the cast members of Kings, Paul Howard, is also a musician, and he sits in on some of the Spork sessions.  He also plays on the Pig SynoNym EP Salacious.  We end up writing together and spin off a project called Doktor Caligari, named after my favorite German expressionist film.  Meanwhile Samantha and I record ambient dream pop music under the name And Tears Fell (taken from Robert Graves' poem The Foreboding), and submit a demo to local record label, Epithet.  
  • Enya's Watermark album proves to be exactly that.  I "paraphrase" the signature track, "Orinoco Flow" when composing "Forest of Dreams" for And Tears Fell.
  • Randy, Samantha and I host the first Black Pelican Dead Man's Party & Hallowe'en Ball.  The theme is 1930s murder mystery and I write a very detailed scenario based on everyone's chosen persona.
  • 1988 music: I see a variety of indie Bay Area bands, as well as Moev, who have completely changed their sound from the female-vocal-driven first two albums.  I will see Moev again when they open for (Clan of) Xymox in 1989.  Thanks to buddy Marc Hochman, I get into That Petrol Emotion and New Model Army.  Samantha and I see Voice of the Beehive (with That Petrol Emotion opening).  I get Randy into Transvision Vamp.  He outlasts me on that journey.
  • 1989: Randy and I drive down to Mexico to visit his friends at the orphanage.  On the way back, just north of San Diego, we are rear-ended on the freeway by a guy doing over 90mph.  A former stock car driver, Randy recovers without rolling his Honda Accord, and we chase down the perpetrator, cornering him in a Denny's parking lot.  Turns out, he's driving a borrowed car, has no insurance, and is on parole.  Randy makes the citizen's arrest while I call the cops.  
  • David and I record an entire concept album of synth pop under the name Bandersnatch.  The album is entitled Gosh, and features a lot of Lewis Carroll influence. We also record a couple new songs under PigSynoNym that will be rerecorded with the full band Doktor Caligari.  Doktor Caligari records an EP, Two Days in Hell.  It gets college airplay and we are interviewed on KZSU.  Despite our effort promoting the band, it is And Tears Fell which receives the attention of Epithet, and we join the label alongside Autumn Cathedral, Crimson Ivy, Moonpools & Caterpillars, Merv Spiegel & the Penguins, Mute Angst Envy and The Electra
  • The Summer of '89, Randy, Samantha, David, my whole family and Chris' crowd charter two sailboats out of St. Thomas, and bareboat in the US and British Virgin Islands for two weeks.  Sixteen Bay Area pirates descend on the Caribbean.  It is an unforgettable experience.  One night, we even run a GURPS Swashbuckling session on board the smaller boat, fueled by inexpensive rum and Coca-Cola.
  • Toward the end of the summer, my junior high school friend Ginger (with whom I've kept up a correspondence) comes up from San Diego to visit.  She meets Paul at a club show and they are engaged soon after.  Ginger moves up from San Diego and the two couples (Sam & Todd, Paul & Ginger) move into a house in Fremont together.  The household lasts for six tumultuous months.  I learn a valuable lesson about living with bandmates.
  • Although the B52s have been on my radar since "Rock Lobster", I am really impressed by their reformation after Ricky's death and the resulting Cosmic Thing
  • Randy, Samantha and I host the second Black Pelican Dead Man's Party & Hallowe'en Ball.  The theme this year is 1960s espionage.  Again I write an intricate mystery surrounding stolen secret plans.  Chris and his roommate Pete come as the men from U.N.C.L.E., making a grand entrance that I will never see matched.
  • And Tears Fell releases an EP entitled sidhe in November '89.  One track, "Forest of Dreams" has lyrics from a poem by Ginger.  We rerecord an upbeat version of it while filling out a complete sidhe album.  It is selected by Epithet to be featured on a label compilation being marketed overseas.  We are written up with favorable reviews in French and Polish music magazines.
  • 1989-1990 music: We see the David Bowie Sound + Vision tour, The Cure Prayer tour (supporting Disintegration), and David takes me to see The Residents Cube E show at The Presidio in San Francisco.  I become acquainted with Dead Can Dance.  A young Canadian siren, Sarah McLachlan, releases her first album, Touch.  The Sundays release Reading, Writing & Arithmetic.  It inspires me to come out from behind the keyboard and play some guitar, which has never been a strong suit.  Samantha gives me a beautiful Ovation Balladeer 6-string for my 22nd birthday.  David gives me a cassette containing Ministry's The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste.  It's not my first taste of "industrial", as I'm already well acquainted with found-sound pioneers like Fad Gadget, Einstürzende Neubauten and Art of Noise, but this Ministry is very different than its earlier incarnation.  It leads me to listen to Pigface and Alien Sex Farm and 1000 Homo DJs.  Also, Nine Inch Nails breaks out with Pretty Little Hate Machine.  I embrace my inner Trent.
  • 1990: David & I enroll in the Film/TV program at DeAnza College in Cupertino.  Aptos art buddy and fellow comic book geek Mark Holmes is also there, and we reconnect.  We break up the communal Fremont household.  Samantha and I move into a 500 square foot apartment on the Mountain View/Sunnyvale border.  We gain a new And Tears Fell collaborator, Christopher Palmer, who gets me hooked on The Chameleons.  We record our sophomore album, Circe.  
  • I see my first episodes of Red Dwarf on PBS during a pledge drive.
  • Mark introduces me to such diverse cinematic influences as Jackie Chan and Sam Raimi.  I'd seen the original Evil Dead back in the '80s, but the rediscovery takes hold this time. I'm transfixed by Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa.  That becomes a gateway to Akira, Dominion Tank Police, Appleseedand Black Magic M-66.  I become a fan of Masamune Shirow.  As a group, we discover John Woo, Stanley Tong and the wonders of Hong Kong action cinema
  • Samantha and I are married on September 29th, 1990.
  • We return from three weeks in the UK and Ireland just in time to host the Third Annual Black Pelican Dead Man's Party & Hallowe'en Ball.  This time the theme is 1950s & '60s B-movies.  Randy portrays the scientist whose brain has been stolen.  Mark Holmes is Octo-Boy.  Again, Chris and company outdo themselves, with sisters Jess and Barbara as alien clones.
  • Mark and I continue to collaborate on the graphic novel we've been working on, and we make a video for And Tears Fell - Ghosts.  My sister Sara shoots the footage.  Mark, Rob and I collaborate on several short films while at DeAnza. 

1 comment:

stacy said...

i saw you when you were working at kinkos. or was it zebra copy? either way, it was quite a surprise.