You know, I sometimes wonder why I’ve stayed in the film business. Sure, the money’s good and the glamour of saying that you work “in the movies” is an ego-trip, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve started looking for something more; some affirmation that this hasn’t just been a big thirteen year lark. Finishing my first screenplay last year seemed like a move in the right direction, but it still didn’t seem like that SIGN that I’d been looking for; it wasn’t that great big blinking billboard that said “You’re Doing The Right Thing Kid, Keep Up The Good Work”. I finally came to grips with the fact that I might never receive a heavenly sign. But that was before last week; before the little wooden radio.
It was a fairly unremarkable incident; my Dad walked up to me with a block of wood in one hand and the trace of a smile on his face. He handed the block of wood to me and asked “Did you lose this?”. The answer of course was “no” — I didn’t recall having lost a block of wood anytime recently and am, as a whole, not generally predisposed toward misplacing lumber. I had no idea what it was that he had handed to me.
As I turned it over in my hands, a feeling of amazement began to slowly wash over me. He explained to me that this was something that I had made when I was about six or seven years old, but that was impossible… this wasn’t just any block of wood; this was a bloody exact model of a Motorola P1225 commercial-grade walkie talkie… the exact same kind that we use on-set.
I was dumbstruck.
What had I used as a model for this thing? At age six I had no exposure to walkie-talkies and yet the artifact in front of me had an incredible amount of detail: a large gutter nail poked out of the top, representing the antenna. There was a small nail beside it that was the on/off-volume knob, a solitary nail on one side was obviously the transmit key, two nails on the back were bent over to form a belt clip, three nails on the bottom were unmistakably meant to represent charge plates for the radio battery and a rectilinear ring of tacks on the front of the model marked where the radio’s speaker is located… this level of detail was phenomenal, and more than a little spooky.
Did you ever read the book “Chariots of the Gods” that was so popular in the seventies?
I did, back when I was around ten years old. It was amazing! Back in the late 60s this Swiss guy, Erich Von Daniken, single-handedly amassed a treasure trove of “scientific research” that pointed to archeological “proof” that extraterrestrial beings had visited our ancestors thousands of years ago. Images of suited astronauts were unmistakably carved into ancient Mayan temples (at least according to Mr. Daniken). He told stories of Chinese caves filled with hundreds of round discs filled with strangely alien spiral writing and I SWEAR that somewhere, in one of his books there was a model of a space shuttle made out of reeds lashed together. Now, I have a hard time believing anything Mr. Daniken put in those books, but this wooden radio really got me to wondering if perhaps I’d been visited by extraterrestrial assistant directors at a very young age. I always did think that you guys didn’t quite seem to be from the planet Earth, especially Viggs.
Whatever the explanation, this strangely prophetic relic has satisfied me that I was always meant to work on movies. Of course, this revelation has me really worried about the giant wooden rabbit I made when I was 14.
Until next time,