Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day Two-Hundred Twenty-Eight: Captain Jerk

I guess, if I'm looking back on the events which formed me into the theater artist I am today, I have to make some mention of my earliest forays into script writing.

File this away under the previously-alluded-to "Don't Feel Embarrassed About the Dumb Stuff You Did In Middle School" file.

I was pretty good in my 8th grade typing class. That's not too much of an accomplishment, since 8th grade typing class was pretty easy. Regardless, I often finished the quarter's worth of lessons far before the quarter was over. Thus, I was generally bored, yet all I could do was type. One day, I decided to write a short science fiction script. It was sort of a spoof and sort of a parody, though it wasn't very good at either because I hadn't actually been exposed to much in the way of sci fi at that point in my life. (Writing a Star Trek ripoff when you don't know anything about Star Trek = awesome!) The three-page script was actually inspired more by a music video from Dakoda Motor Co. than it was any of the Sci-Fi standards of that age. (Remember DMC? They would have been huge if they'd come out a couple years later, when any Christian rock band with a female lead singer was an instant success) The song, I believe, was called "Railroad." At least I know the album was. It was DMC's last album, and their only recording with a lead singer who wasn't Davia. The new girl (Mel, I believe) was kinda scary. Regardless, the almighty Internet seems to have no proof of this video, so I can't post it for you. Synopsis: the band lands on an alien planet. Two of the guys are captured by gorillas in suits, and the other two are captured by girls wearing cardboard boxes covered in foil with long, tube-like arms. Mel rescues the entire crew, and they escape.

Yup. That's a great place for inspiration.

My characters, many once again poor ripoffs of the few sci fi guys and gals I knew at the time, were the courageous and brainless Captain Jerk, his first commander James "Ketchup" Waves (I have no idea why I thought that was funny), Dr. Frances Nathaniel Stein (that one actually is pretty funny), Mr. Speck, and Chewingumca. I remember a couple of crew members were originally attacked by a gorilla arm that lived in a bucket of water while Captain Jerk walked around the alien planet of Po and met a beautiful girl named Zael. That's all I remember at this time; I have that old script somewhere. Maybe I'll post it if anybody cares. My team was named the California Deepspace Exploration Team, or the CaDETs for short. They cruised around the galaxy on their ship the Newport, named after my favorite beach in southern Cal.

I shared the silly little thing with a couple of friends, who loved it, and more boredom prompted a sequel, which may have actually been called "Clone Wars." (At the time, I'd never heard of the Star Wars-related conflict known as the Great Clone War. How awesome is that?) This installment was twice as long--nearly six pages!!--and introduced the villainous Dr. Baddguy. I think he mutated into a squid monster at some point. No explanation was ever given.

At this point I decided I'd go ahead and make a trilogy in true Star Wars style and wrote Return of the Jerk, a massive, epic, 13-page script that chronicled the honeymoon of Captian and Zael Jerk as they battled Jibba the Hat and the Space Pirate Primates, the blandly devious La Erog back on the planet of Po, and finally the evil Dark Nozzle on his destructive Death Egg.

Words cannot express how big of a hit this script was. My gifted class in middle school actually ended up making a radio play out of it and recording it at Wellington's little radio station. I wonder if I still have that around here somewhere....

Anyway, the CaDETs became my new hobby. I continued the saga with The Umpire Strikes Out, Car Wars, The Journey to Rome, and The Final Root Beer before destroying the Newport and scattering her crew to their various walks of life.

That is, until I reunited the crew a couple of years later with CaDETs 2, the eighth installment in the series. At this point, however, I started actually trying to write stories and not just inside jokes and bad puns. They weren't very good stories, and they weren't terribly consistent characters, but they were a step up. Eventually we had the next generation of CaDETs. Then we had a reunion epic where a character named Sorac traveled through time and brought every single CaDET villain together, and new CaDETs and old CaDETs had to fight them together. I also wrote a musical CaDETs at one point. Then I wrote what may have been considered a legitimate screenplay. (Well, as written by an ADD 10th grade student, anyway) that ended with two characters getting married and crashing into the ocean on the way to their honeymoon. Which pretty much ended things. Until...

CaDETs 3099!!!

No, I'm not kidding.

Obviously, I did eventually walk away from the CaDETs mythology. I went back and started to re-write the first seven episodes as one while I was in college, and it ended up becoming a totally new story. That one I have to find somewhere. I'm going to say it was my first successful attempt at creating distinct characters and, at times, even developing them over the course of one story. Oh, and I managed to tell one story over seventy or so pages rather than seven little stories in the same amount of space.

And then I didn't write anything for about four years. The CaDETs were all I had written, and they were primarily intended to be random, silly distractions for my friends. Never anticipated writing anything for the stage, nor anything that anybody would really want to do. Sure, I kicked the idea around when I was a kid, but I never got past the halfway point of the first page, because it turned out writing took longer than four minutes and I quickly lost interest.

So there's that. A ridiculously fun hobby primarily to amuse myself. But I did grow through the practice of it, and even if it would be years before I started putting to practice the lessons I'd learned through the CaDET writing experience, they were there.

Man. Now I want to go write a CaDET adventure...