“Dolphin Lover” well-received!

January 26th, 2015

I just got off the phone with Kareem Tabsch, director of the documentary short “Dolphin Lover” about my experience with Dolly the dolphin, and I feel a sense of relief.  Before the premiere Kareem said he was very nervous,  but on the whole he was very pleased with the response, and so am I.  The audience at the Slamdance Film Festival took the film really well.  “There were no walkouts,” he told me.  People laughed at the funny parts and were quiet in the serious ones.  There was a 10-minute question and answer period after the film (technically a video) where people asked a lot of questions; it ended with many hands still raised and questions unanswered, he said.  After the showing a couple of people buttonholed him to talk about it.

I look forward to being able to see “Dolphin Lover” with an audience some time, maybe at a Florida film festival somewhere.

Film review: “Dolphin Lover”

January 25th, 2015

I finally got a look at “Dolphin Lover,” the short video about my experience with Dolly the dolphin that videomakers Kareem Tabsch and Joey Daoud have been working on since mid-September. Was it worth the wait? Is it a good video? Yes to both questions, in my opinion! How will it be received by audiences? I guess we’ll find out Sunday, when the video premieres at SlamDance in Park City, Utah. I’m sure it will be controversial for a number of reasons, the prime one being that I’m talking about having sex with an “animal,” after all. For some reason, a lot of people get upset about that.

The video, which is about 15 minutes long, opens with archival footage of Floridaland, the amusement park where our relationship took place. These were home movies from my old friends at Swain Productions in Sarasota. What follows is me, talking head, talking about the circumstances that caused me to be at the park, how I met Dolly, and what happened from there. The video (I keep wanting to call it a film, but it’s not) uses my photography of the dolphins in the park to show what happened, and here I had one minor complaint. Because, to untrained eyes, “all dolphins look alike,” they used some photos of dolphins that were not Dolly to illustrate what was going on. Like showing dolphin teeth. Some of the photos are beautifully animated in that modern way that makes elements of the images slide across each other like cut-outs.

When I get to describing how we actually made love, the videographers used some original animation to interpret my description and feelings. The results were surprising to me, beautiful and oddly accurate without being graphic or vulgar. Tabsch told me his production was so “hot” it was difficult for him to find an animation house that would do the work! In fact, Tabsch wanted to interview scientists who would talk about dolphin intelligence and sexuality for the film, but when he told them what it was about, he couldn’t find any who would speak on-screen. That’s very disappointing, and also speaks, I think, to the limitations of doing science with public funding. Scientists have to be very wary of looking like kooks, especially when it comes to dolphins where the mud John C. Lilly stirred up more than 50 years ago still clings to everything.

For me the most disturbing part of the video comes when I compare the criminalization of zoophilia to the old Southern laws against miscegenation, which was once condemned as a form of bestiality. Tabsch told me he considered not using that segment, but finally decided to leave it in because he felt it made a powerful statement. Here I am CERTAIN I am likely to be misunderstood, especially in the current elevated state of racial tension in this country. But I said it and I’m standing by it. Just to be clear to anyone reading this, I hate racism and consider all human beings to be fundamentally equal and deserving of equal rights.

Talking about how I lost Dolly, I get quite sad on camera. In fact, my first comment to Tabsch after viewing the film is that I look sad. Even my eyes look sad. I didn’t realize I look that way. Tabsch responded that the film is somber because he didn’t want to be accused of making fun of me, and I respect him very much for it. The only directions I gave him were “Don’t use the Flipper theme song,” and to his credit he resisted the impulse to do so.

All in all I was impressed and relieved with that Tabsch and Daoud have accomplished, and I hope it will get a wide viewing. Will it make things better for the dolphins? Will it expand awareness about their uniqueness and help protect them and their environment? I don’t know. I know I had to try. All in all, Tabsch and Daoud have done a great job of interpreting my experience, and I am grateful to them for it.

New “Dolphin Lover” poster

January 24th, 2015

Dolphin-Lover-This-Man-Poster

This is the new poster for Dolphin Lover that Kareem Tabsch was telling me about last night.  I find it provocative and challenging; it pushes even my envelope.  I suppose that’s a good thing, but I am really putting myself on the line here, and I can’t see where this is going.  Wish me luck, everybody!

Another reader, another letter

January 20th, 2015

Another insightful letter from a reader who really does his homework!

Finally, I wrote this thing. It’s like any significant human interaction is enough effort for me to keep delaying unconsciously.

So, about the Wet Goddess.
First of all, I’m sure other readers could find it more novel, more revealing, more shocking, more incredible than I did. And that’s because your book fascinated me long before I read it. In effect, I ended up learning a lot about subjects such as dolphin intelligence, John C. Lilly, interspecies communication and sex, from various places, before purchasing the book. Those who didn’t can just read Wet Goddess and learn it all at once. I’ve also read your whole blog, interviews, the Smashwords demo. So the novelty factor was much lower than it could, but buying the book was still worth it. If just to have the Wet Goddess on my shelf, but not only because of that. The one significant aspect that was novel to me were the details of your telepathic contact with Dolly. It was very insightful to see the thoughts of another species and it’s a shame that you could only be together for so long and couldn’t learn more about each other. But even if we discard all that as very convincing hallucination, the high intelligence of dolphins remains highly evident all the times,  and they could easily be no less intelligent than humans. What amazes me in a bad way is how reluctant we are to try interspecies communications. There are always problems, controversies and nobody wants to fund it ever. Almost like a conspiracy. Well, the world would become much more complicated if we suddenly had a lot more sentient beings to respect. First we start caring about other races, then cetaceans, then apes until slaughtering millions of pigs and cows would become ethically challenging too. How terrible.

Overall, despite all the problems, thescope of your interspecies communication was a big success for both of you, and you documented it well. This book deserves to be known and remembered.

I also read the unpublished chapters. The wall of plain text was a bit awkward to work with, but turned out to be perfect to read on my not-so-smartphone while commuting. You said the part about plotting orcas was mostly fictional, I wonder to what extent and what inspired it.

The “Growing up in the Orgone Box” was the second book I read. The theme of orgonotherapy began sooner than I expected and ended even more unexpectably (but I guess these two therapy sessions already covered all that needed to be described). In the later parts of the book, the whole orgonomy remained mostly as a background, but the autobiography had many more significant themes. Such as the character of a mother, briefly touched upon in Wet Goddess and described in full color here. Thanks to your witty writing style, some of the chapters bizarrely reminded me of Goscinny’s Little Nicolas books: Short stories of a family with problems, with punchlines. (With the difference that not everyone in Orgone Box has anger issues.) The two “How … made me a …” chapters didn’t fail to bring a smile to my face, as I related to my similiar experiences (I still have a few weird sketches tucked away somewhere. I bet this kind of thing already existed on the internet at that time, but I didn’t even consider this possibility back then). It seems that the biggest problem of your childhood, apart from the theRapist (this term, coined by Adam Lanza as far as I know, is by no means supposed to be a joke, but rather a neologism for certain therapists whose methods could be figuratively described as a kind of rape), were people not willing enough to reason, discuss, dialogue, listen to arguments. People who felt the need to protect their authority, who felt that something going not how they planned meant them losing control. “No buts”. Rejecting all the buts along with worries and reality. Overall, the book had many depressing bits, fun bits, sad bits and bittersweet bits. Once again, a good combination of an interesting topic and your writing skills.

And finally, I also want to praise Thea’s cover designs, really neat and artistic in their simplicity. The Wet Goddess has the photography-related items, with the signed film and the lens that brings focus to Dolly’s face. The Orgone Box has the child framed in a thick black box. Both very creative and fitting.

In general, I find your writing very good and wish you the best of luck with further sales. And with anything else you do, for that matter :) You’re a fascinating person and I’m very happy to contact you.

With best regards,

Charlie

(or so I call myself)

Thanks, Charlie, for all the kind words!  It is interesting to me that you comment on my telepathic contact with the dolphin, as that’s one area most people (especially scientists) don’t want to touch.

“Penny, the F*ckable Dolphin”

January 10th, 2015

This week was marked by me getting rather bent-out-of shape by a play its author said was “based on” my novel Wet Goddess. Why the playwright, Kristina Felske, decided to make that claim I do not know, but it inspired considerable anger in me, since I was never contacted about the production of Penny the F*ckable Dolphin: A Love Story at The Annoyance Theater & Bar in Chicago.

When my Google Alert news sweep turned up a review of the production, claiming to be based on my book, I went ballistic and fired off a letter to the theater insisting they were in violation of copyright.  I asked for damages to my literary reputation, violation of copyright and, of course, that they stop performing my work without my permission.

This lead to some extended correspondence with Jennifer Estlin, the theater’s executive director, who provided me with a script for Penny.  I read it, and as I told me daughter Thea afterward “I don’t know whether I’ve been plagiarized or satirized.”

“You’ve just had a run-in with a hipster,” she wrote back, “LOL!”

Felske has taken – dare I say ripped off? – my story and run it through her own blender.  Most objectionable to me was the fact that she used the same name for her protagonist (Zack) that I did.  Estlin said it was homage to my book, but I wonder.  I’d like Felske to change it.

Aside from that and the boy-meets-dolphin theme of the story, there is absolutely nothing about Penny that suggests it was in any way “based on” Wet Goddess, so either Felske is a naif who has no idea what “based on” really means (which from her extensive credits I doubt) or she was trying to hitch a ride on my novel’s reputation.  That is a big no-no in my eyes.  I built that reputation myself, one word at a time, and nobody has the right to hijack it.  “Based on” means you pay me royalties!

Estlin offered to pay me 10% of the show’s ticket proceeds,  to change the theater’s press release to say the show was inspired by (not based on) the book and offered to carry some copies of my book at the box office for sale.

Since I don’t have an attorney in Chicago and don’t have the money for an extensive legal fight against a theater with deeper pockets than I have, I decided to take Estlin up on her offer.  So we settled the deal like that, and I hope Felske will change the name of her protagonist to something less like Zack.

UPDATE: Felske has agreed to my terms, so as far as I’m concerned the situation is resolved.  Meanwhile, the short film Dolphin Lover has already been rejected by one (unnamed) film festival based exclusively on the subject matter, director Kareem Tabsch tells me. Stay tuned for more thrills, chills and cocoanut pills.

 

 

New web site

January 9th, 2015

My daughter Thea decided that with two books out it was high time I had a web site under my own name, so she whipped one up. I’ll be trying to keep this one to marine mammal themed issues and I’ll use the other one to discuss stuff relating to Growing Up In The Orgone Box and the forthcoming The Jor-Dan Chronicle.  She says I should also have a Twitter account, but I spend so much time on this computer as it is I don’t need another consarned, ding-dang new-fangled application sucking the hours out of my life!

Second film inquiry

December 29th, 2014

In addition to Kareem Tabsch and Joey Fouad’s short film Dolphin Lover, scheduled to premiere at Slamdance Film Festival early next year, a second company has contacted me about doing a documentary about my experience with the dolphin that inspired Wet Goddess.

I don’t want to name names because I put them off.  I told them I want to see how things work out with Dolphin Lover.  They were talking about making a feature length documentary, and they haven’t even read my book yet!

Kareem says their interest just confirms his conviction that my story is original enough to demand a visual interpretation.  I am eagerly awaiting to see what he’s come up with!

Updated web site

December 27th, 2014

Well, for the first time in almost 4 years I have updated my web site.  Additions include new links and several unpublished chapters from the book.  I meant to put them in long ago, then never updated the Index page to show they were there!  I also got rid of the counter, which my ultra-hip daughter said was out of date.  Of course the whole website is out of date, because my web design skills are out of date, being derived from a book published in 1995!  If anybody would like to try their hand at redesigning the web site, they are welcome to.  Meanwhile, I continue to slog along the best I can.

Thankful

December 25th, 2014

It’s Christmas day.  I’ve opened the presents from my brother and my sister.  The weather is beautiful, as it often is in southwest Florida at this time of year.  I think I’ll go to a movie later, “The Imitation Game.”  It all seems very normal.

I’m thankful because this time last year I was filled with rage about what was going on in Taiji, particularly the capture of the little white dolphin “Angel,” and I was planning to do something about it – something that would have been horribly, horribly wrong.  Thankfully, I was able to control myself, but only just barely, until I was able to get some counseling.

I attribute the fact that I’m not enraged to a change in my medication regimen.  I am still incredibly saddened and outraged by the plight of the Taiji dolphins and of cetaceans in general, but I am able to control my thoughts to the point where I remain functional.  I am also thankful to Big Pharma for making the stuff which helps me control my runaway mind.

To my mind, I have published my story, and apparently done so successfully, as it has sold more than 1,000 copies worldwide.  That’s quite an achievement for any self-published book with zero advertising budget.  I feel I made myself emotionally and physically vulnerable by publishing that book, and I’m glad that so far the results have been mostly rewarding.  Actually, they’ve been mostly nothing since I seldom get any feedback on it, but out of the small number of results I’ve gotten the overwhelming majority have been positive.

If you’re reading this, I hope you’re having a happy holiday celebration, whatever it is.  If it’s Christmas, then a merry one to you!

“Dolphin Lover” to premiere at Slamdance

December 9th, 2014

Dolphin Lover temp poster

Well it looks like Kareem Tabsch and Joey Daoud have almost finished Dolphin Lover, their documentary about my love affair with Dolly the dolphin in the early 1970’s. The short film, which Kareem assures me will be less than 15 minutes in length, will premiere at the Slamdance Film festival in 2015.  Slamdance is considered the “alternative to the alternative,” that being of course Sundance, which was started by Robert Redford as an alternative to Cannes.  It is held in Utah, and I wonder what the audience is like… but I digress.

Aside from the fact that I look terribly nerdy in the poster (I’m 21 in the picture), I’m eagerly awaiting the film because I have no fucking idea what, exactly, Kareem has done with the almost four hours of footage they filmed in our interview back in September.  I do know that their video will contain some archival footage I shot of Floridaland, the amusement park where our tryst took place, and from Huck Finn’s Adventure, a promotional film for the park that was shot back in the 1960’s.  Given what the pair did with Cherry Pop, a film about a very fancy cat, I would assume, however, that it will be witty, wry, funny and touching.

Will it help dolphins?  I wish I knew.  If it makes people more aware of their vulnerability, their sapience and their plight in our current situation, then it will.  Please let it be so.

Kareem, who runs a couple of art house theaters in Miami, says he will bring the completed video over here for me to see when it’s ready.  It seems like a long haul for such a short film, but he says he wants to see my reaction to it the first time I see it.  I wish my old truck “Bumpy” could be relied upon to make it to Miami, but it needs too much work to be considered for such a drive.

Meanwhile, I am working on Christmas presents for my family.  Wet Goddess is still selling well, but sales of Orgone Box remain very slow, and my efforts to get it acknowledged by “paranormal” radio shows and podcasts haven’t amounted to a hill of beans.  I am at a loss as to what to do.  Suggestions, anyone?