MR. BRAY

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A boutique design & animation shop that dissolves the line between studio and agency.

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πŸ€“ Ep. 62 - The Director of Nerd

πŸ€“ Ep. 41 - Rock'Em Sock'Em Fan Script

Transcribed podcast:

 

Rock'em Sock'em Fan Script

 

Welcome back to Go Forth & Nerd! My name is Jesse Bray also known as Mr. Bray and I am your resident nerd!

So today in the spirit of all things geek I wanna talk about a secret to the nerd life that's got me amped and could do the same for you! It's called a Fan Script.

My good buddy Cody and I have been friends for several years and we've had lots of fun working on each others creative projects from animation to film and tv Scripts. However recently we both tapped into another level of our nerdy bromance by developing an X-men Fan Script. And I have to say it's been awesome! I easily feel like this is some of the funnest stuff I've worked on.

 

Here's some of the things I wasn't expecting:

  1. When your righting a script off an established universe and characters it's really liberating! It's NOW this already established world and you can just imagine the adventure while the conflicts write themselves!

  2. Writing a fan script especially with my friend has been the closet thing to that child like high I had as a kids when you were playing with your buddies with your action figures in your room! It totally teleports me back in time.

  3. The last unexpected thing I've experienced has been a flood of ideas! It's been like a creative enema! If you've ever had writers/idea block you know how frustrating that can feel. And I really think all people whether professionals or hobbyists crave a good creative outlet.

Now not all of you might have the sudden urge to work on a fan script but it doesn't have end at that! There's fan art, fan film, fan lit! If you can dream it you can fan it! Fan projects are such an amazing way to zero in on that thing that charges your inner nerd batteries!

To illustrate the power of fan art, and for me particularly comics I'd like to share a personal story about my briefcase.

 

My Briefcase 

Between the ages of 9yrs-13yrs I obsessively carried around a small leather briefcase. Inside it housed all my prize possessions. Comics, drawing papers, pencils, art pens, and my original and fan art comics. My briefcase saw a lot of adventures and my briefcase was in many was a companion for me. From the time my grandfather gave me this briefcase when I was 9yrs old so we would match when he took me on business trips with him. To the times I would daydream about a superhero girl friend living in an attic. To the time being woken up at 3am because our apartment was on fire, leaping down the staircase clutching my briefcase to my chest all while the ground was covered in a sea of fleeing cock roaches like a scene from Indiana Jones. To the time I was staying in another attic at the Salvation Army shelter and I hide in the bathroom for a moment of privacy to cry. To the endless hours I'd pour into recreating my Wolverine comics frame by frame. To the time after time I would walk to the Sanford Maine library and I'd fill it with as many books as I could handle struggling to latch it shut. To the time that same library had to change their policy on free copies when I printed out on their dot matrix an entire biography on Walt Disney. To the times I would meticulously arrange my art supplies within the inner pockets of the briefcase. To the time I'm embarrassed to admit that I wrote the Pink Power Ranger, to devotees Amy Jo Johnson, a love letter! I was convinced that my words and included fan illustrations would win her heart and it would some day be might morph'n wedding bells! To the time I eventually ran away from home at 13yrs old on the Amtrak train to never return. My briefcase was with me through it all. And looking back my briefcase was kinda like the volley ball Wilson in the movie Castaway. We eventually but not purposefully parted ways. When I turned 14yrs old I had a massively different life and my need for my briefcase companion had changed. However it's these sometimes peculiar things that we do that help us endure the ups and downs of life. For those few years from when I was 9-13yrs old my true life was inside that briefcase while the outside was just a distraction. And while I my true life is no longer contained inside an inanimate object but in my love for my wife, family and circles of friendships. My briefcase is like a metaphor of strength to me. It gave me the power to dream and that's what I'd love to hear and have you guys do! Fan script fan art fan fill in the blank can empower you to dream out loud! To laugh at things only you're clever eyes have noticed. To imagine things that are horribly unmarketable. To explore yourself in the skin of your heroes and to deeply and profoundly live out a slice of what truly makes you and others happy!

So today I want to challenge you to spend sometime being a hardcore fan! Start of fan club, do a fan craft project, comic, script, cosplay, interpretive dance whatever makes you feel alive and proudly wear your nerdy head high please do it this week! I want to thank you all so much for listening. I truly hope you've been encouraged today by listening to this podcast. I'm always interested and inspired listening to your personal stories so please feel free to send me an email. Have a wonderful day and remember to Go Forth & Nerd!

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πŸ€“ Ep. 38 - King Kong

transcribed podcast:

King Kong

Welcome back to Go Forth & Nerd! This is Jesse Bray, also known as Mr. Bray and I am your resident nerd. Today I want to talk about King Kong.

 

Disclaimer I'm gonna be sharing a poem today - so you're about to hear another level of nerd you might not be aware of.  Nonetheless I hope you enjoy!

 

King Kong

What drives us to keep telling and retelling this tragic monster myth? I want to breakdown the elements within the story of King Kong that constantly grip my thoughts when thinking about this tale.

 

But first story time:

It was the 1980s and it seemed like Rod Stewart and Lionel Richie were on every radio station. Saturday morning was the supreme seat for cartoon viewing. However while I loved getting up at the crack of dawn to watch cartoons it was actually Saturday evenings that I loved best. Why because my absolute favorite show, hosted by none other than Grampa Munster - Movie Monsters! This was my first church, before I ever read a comic, even watched a Star Wars movie or even learned to read. Grampa Munster's classic horror movies were my addiction. At 5yrs old this is where I saw Dracula, the creature from the black lagoon, wolf man, Godzilla and my personal favorite King Kong! There was this magic to these films that raptured me! Even better than the bright lights of Duck Tales or Gummy Bears or even ThunderCats. These monster movies were exciting, and technically from my adolescent mind films that were too old for me to watch. However, being a cliche child of divorced in the 80s I had close to no adult supervision. Because of it I watched way way to many quote un quote scary movies. Nonetheless this exposure to King Kong permeated my young mind. Here he was the king of beasts of on a mysterious and hostile island - battling dinosaurs to eventually being kidnapped and brought to New York. We all know the story King Kong grabs his Barbie dolls so to speak and climbs the Chrysler building to only be shot down by cruel bi planes. This always upset me as a kid. For two reasons :

1. I loved King Kong kicking ass on his Dino island - that's where the action was!

2. King Kong falling for the girl seemed forced to me, even as a kid! It felt like someone was trying to make me watch one of those girlies shows my sisters liked so much! Yuk! 

Obviously as an adult I've evolved a greater taste for romance, being a hopeless romantic myself, don't believe me ask my wife! Oh and remember there's poetry coming up ahead in this episode.

To me King Kong was this gentle misunderstood beast that though he was the King he really just wanted to be left alone. I could relate this to since I was a bit of a loner as a kid myself. I was always being pranked by my sisters, waking up to them having given me a makeover and dolled me up to them stealing my G.I. Joes and forcing him to marry one of their barbies! It was awful, I had to ceremonially give my action figures a mud bath to wash away all the cudies. Clearly all my 5yr old sensibility of what I thought was manliness was just an amalgamation from tv and films. King Kong to me was the ultimate loner macho man I had envisioned myself being. This was my first impression with the iconic creature and one I'll never forget it.

 

As I've grow older I started to dissect more about the elements within the King Kong myth that capture my attention. You see it's intriguing its that he's a giant. Giants are amazing! Almost every culture has stories of giants, Goliath from the Bible, to the Titans in the Greek mythology, to my personal favorite giant story from Norse mythology Ymir. 

 

Ymir was a a great frost giant that when he was defeated the Norse gods built the world from his remains. Ymir's blood spewed out and caused a world wide flood, which rabbit trails here there'shundreds of ancient flood stories each having their ownsorta Noah type character. Back to Ymir's death - after the Norse God finished building the earth, hills, and valleys from the remains of Ymir's bones, and flesh there festered in the midst of Ymir's remains formless creatures - some vile and wicked and some gentle and magical. Odin at this point decided to give the beings of goodness fair complexions and bodies such as fairies and nymphs and to those of lesser goodness forms such as gnomes and dwarves to those of ill forms as goblins and trolls. In this myth not only does it encompass the origin of the earth, and its events it also covers the creation of many creatures. I shared this all to illustrate that giant myths are always awe inspiring for two things: Creative or Destructive forces!

King Kong is clearly a destructive force while set loose in New York.

While Ymir's corpse is a creative force used to make the world.

If you're lucky to remember the old Paul Bunyan children's books by Stephen Kellogg they were tall tales with an American backdrop that tell of a lovable giant lumberjack that partnered with his trustee blue ox to create things like the Grand Canyon by accidentally dragging his axe across the ground. Giants are a creative or destructive force! And it's for this reason I believe even when holly wood seems to be shelling out another, popcorn flick we're so fascinated by this power! And power is entertaining to watch!

 

Another story:

Before I had ever heard tales about Ymir, or the Titans I used to spend countless hours daydreaming looking out the window while in the car on long road trips. I used to imagine that all the rocks, hills, and mountains where giants nestles under sheets of dirt. It's wasn't hard to construct what looks like figures wrapped in blanket folds laying fast asleep. This was the inspiration of the poem I'm about to share. Truth be told I discovered this poem I wrote almost a decade ago. Rabbit trail - I used to be a crazy beatnik. Seriously I had a pony tail and wore a beret and went to poetry readings. I loved that whole " tip top tatter to the top of the ladder" lyrical stuff. All that said I wrote this poem a long time ago and I dig poetry so without further delay here's most likely the nerdiest mythology poem you've ever heard:

 

 

The Giants of Torpidity 

 

Lavishly lazy, drudgingly crazy are the Giants of torpidity

 

We are the Movers

 

the out an out doers 

 

with the phlegm-like hurricane of wordsmith passion

 

God's wonder wall wrecking ball of creation 

 

Next to Him we're the next best thing

 

to a de-construct construction team

 

Our lives our hearts our hands

 

to mold to shape the lands 

 

we live for one and one only purpose

 

to birth the valleys the hills the moutains

 

and on this one occasion Our employer He did employ

 

to re-create from this formless void

 

to sculpt the dirt gritty and uncoiled

 

we called it earth, beneath us shake’d and boiled

 

for six days and six whole nights we did toil

 

til avarice needs brought us to our knees and lowered us to the soil 

 

while the Master, maker world re-creator was no where to be seen

 

we snuggled softly ,slowly, gently to sleep

 

upon His return no subtle, no sly, no thought to condone

 

the architect remade us, more useful, something made of stone. 

 

so when you look and see a Mount, a rock, a hill, a valley

 

please stop and think, of the Giants of Torpidity

 

So this week I want to ask you a question? What's your favorite giant myth? And is it a destructive myth or creative myth? Or do you have a favorite nerdy poem you'd like share? Please feel free to send me an email or message me on Instagram. Thank you all so much for listening! I hope you all the best and remember to take care and go forth and nerd!


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πŸ€“ Ep. 37 - Gollum

Podcast transcript:

Gollum

Welcome back to Go Forth & Nerd! This is Jesse Bray, also known as Mr. Bray and I am your resident nerd. Today I want to talk about the creature Gollum. 

Disclaimer: we're going talk about some potentially graphic and scary stuff in this podcast so if you're listening with your kiddos perhaps preview this one beforehand. 

Back to Gollum. Most of us are aware of the character Gollum: from the technical CG marvel, performed by Andy Serkis in the films to the Hobbit and the Lord of The Rings to the books. However I want to talk about the potential influences and origin of this creature. I'm a huge lover of origin stories. It's often why I think many first superhero films are the best tellings. Some heroe’s beginnings are just so much more intriguing than their adventures. Except Wolverine, I love anything Wolverine. Nonetheless the β€œhow” and the β€œwhy” is an art form. 

Continuing on with Gollum, I'll be making several references to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, however I'll do my best to not assume you're aware of all the nuances beyond the movies. The Hobbit encompasses the story of Bilbo Baggins whose on a journey with a band of dwarves to reclaim a mountain of lost treasure guarded by a dragon and he discovers a magical ring which he won from a creature named Gollum.

Now, the author of the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien, I believe was inspired by the tale from the classic story, Beowulf.

Beowulf is a marvelous and heroic work! It could be argued as a Scandinavian equivalent to Homer's Odyssey. Many characters, events and locations were inspired from truth. 

Now the Beowulf myth begins like this: there once was a king and his kinsmen that were being tormented by a creature named Grendel. This creature was a grotesque and animalistic beast, attacking at night in the great halls by violently consuming and dismembering sleeping patrons. However one night after the arrival of Beowulf the creature Grendel attacked the great hall again. Beowulf, awaiting the monster, confronts Grendel in battle. Beowulf mortally harms the creature by severing its arm. Grendel soon flees away and eventually dies of its wounds. Not long after, Grendel's mother seeking revenge for the loss of her child, retaliates on the townsfolk. Beowulf, asleep in another castle, awakes to the carnage and mayhem left by Grendel's vengeful witch-monster mother. Beowulf immediately takes off to track down Grendel's mother. In an epic duel, Beowulf - almost killed - eventually defeats Grendel's mother. Fast forward 50yrs later and Beowulf is now a king of a kingdom. Suddenly a dragon begins to terrorize the city. The dragon, aroused from its lair by a thief that stole a cup from the dragon's treasure horde. Beowulf of course defeats the dragon in a super hero-like fashion, cutting the dragon in two. The tale of Beowulf is an intensely brutal and epically exciting story!

You might have already seen some of these images that Tolkien borrowed from Beowulf just in my simple retelling. But to break this down a bit more: In the Hobbit, the book that is, Bilbo being the company’s burglar, accidentally awakes Smaug the dragon by stealing a cup from his treasure trove.  Paralleling Gollum - the creature Grendel and his mother in the text were called descendants of Cain. This image here takes a few more rabbit trails to illustrate but before I get too side tracked, remember this, Tolkien was a master of linguistics: he invented whole languages for his characters. The original text of Beowulf calls Grendel's mother β€œmodor,” meaning mother. It’s likely Tolkien just simply added an another letter "R" changing modor to mordor. Now back to the Beowulf text that says Grendel and his modor were decadents of Cain. If you're unfamiliar with this story, according to the biblical story, Cain is the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, the first humans. However Cain, in a jealous rage, killed his brother Abel. Cain is considered history’s first murderer.

Jumping to the Lord of the Rings, the Fellowship of the Rings (the book), we read the origin of Gollum. Gollum, long ago before he was corrupted by the Ring, was named Smeagol and he spent most of his time with his dear friend Deagol. However, like in both the books and the movies, Smeagol, upon his immediate lust for the Ring, kills his dear friend Deagol. This parallels Cain as the first murderer. The Ring driving Smeagol to slay his β€œbrother” out of jealousy, so to speak.

Now you might think this is a bit of a stretch for Tolkien, but it's an important thing to note that Tolkien was a devoted Catholic and much of his writings reflect Catholic imagery and ideas in some cases even purgatory, but that's for another podcast. Tolkien was also very dear friends with the theologian and writer C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia and the Screwtape Letters (a personal favorite of mine). So it's not a far-reaching thought to assume his religious thinking played part in the inspiration.

However I also have a further theory - Tolkien being a fan of literation and the idea that if Grendel and his mother were descendants of Cain, it seems logical to follow the Cain story, Cain's father was Adam. Now according to Jewish folklore Adam was considered a golem being made from the dust of the field before God breathed life into him. The name Gollum and Golem is similar in spelling and sound. And Tolkien was the king nerd for words. 

But what is a golem? A golem is different than say a homunculus or zombie. A homunculus was a primitive human that was grown in an alchemist laboratory, a precursor to say, Frankenstein's monster. And well a zombie is usually a necrotic corpse brought back from death via some virus or black magic. However a golem is a creature made from clay like Adam in the biblical story that is brought to life by holy powers. Typically a golem is told to come to life when a rabbi has either etched a mystical letter or phrase in Hebrew on the Golem's head or inserted a piece ofparchment with mystical texts into the statue’s mouth. At this point the golem comes to live in sole obedience to the sacred writing, often times to a literal fault like in the tale the Golem of Prague, where a rabbi created a golem to protect a village but it goes awry. Tolkien would have been aware of this myth, and perhaps a possible cross pollination of ideas happening here with a mix of Adam the first golem, Cain the first murder and Grendel from Beowulf birthed the creature Gollum/Smeagol.

Just because I want to geek out on the details, Tolkien also loves the number 50. In the books both Frodo and Bilbo are 50yrs old when they start their adventures. Side note: Why are we so afraid to cast older people as heroes in film? Societal commentary aside, Gollum is a fascinating creature. He's both a villain and his own worse enemy.

One of my most favorite scenes in the Lord of the Rings movies is when Gollum/Smeagol is arguing with himself. You see this imaginary, yet real conflict. A true identity crisis. However as I got to thinking deeper about my affinity for Gollum and his imaginary arguments with himself it reminded me about my own imaginary friend I had as a child. 

Between the age of 6-8yrs old I used to have an imaginary friend. Now by imaginary friend I don't mean like having tea parties with someone who isn't in the room or going on physical adventures on playgrounds wearing capes and fighting crime in your bedroom. Nothing like Hulu's brilliant comedy Moone Boy by Chris O'Dowd. No, my imaginary friend only appeared to me in my dreams. He never spoke and he always wore the same outfit. A black hat, a mask covering his eyes and a long trench coat that touched the ground. He would show up in my dreams but mostly in my nightmares to rescue me. I know this is probably strange or peculiar but so is the imagination of children. I came to refer to my imaginary friend as just The Man. And all I had to do in my dreams was to think of him and he would appear then opening his trench coat, inside was made of stars and he would wrap me in it and then we would be magically teleport from whatever nightmare I was having. Now I'm not sure how well other people remember their dreams let alone nightmares from when they were children but I remember many of them quite vividly. You see I had three reoccurring nightmares when I was a kid. Well to put it better I had three reoccurring monsters that haunted me in my dreams. This is a common thing for kids to be afraid of the dark or to think there's a monster under the bed. I remember an episode of Sesame Street where I think Ernie or Cookie Monster keeps seeing strange shapes in the dark that turned out to just be shadows. Nonetheless back to these reoccurring monsters. Their were three of them. The Ostrich, The Face and the most terrible of them all The Kitchen Man.

The Ostrich would try to reach down your throat and steal your voice.

The Face was a disembodied head that would place you inside an inky black windowless and doorless room. The only thing you could see was an eyeless and scarred face leaping forward at you.

Then lastly there was the Kitchen Man. The Kitchen Man was made of refrigerator parts and would steal children inside his chest cavity. When he walked you could see the faint silhouette and light of children screaming from inside him.

These three monsters haunted my dreams as a child, however my imaginary friend would rescue me from them time and time again. Eventually he defeated these creatures, perhaps I'll share how in another podcast, but it was my imaginary friend that was one of my earliest heroes. Then when I was 8yrs old I got a concussion and I remember seeing my imaginary friend one last time as if to say goodbye. I was never haunted by those three monsters again. Obviously this is a sorta strange correlation to Gollum arguing with himself in the dark or the moonlight. But it got me thinking, be it heroic or villainous, it all seems to start in the mind. Our thoughts can twist us or straighten us and while Gollum is a invention of fiction just like my imaginary friend, there's a temptation and perhaps I'm not alone in this, but a temptation to be reclusive and let your mind run wild. And maybe even be your own worst enemy.

One of my favorite jokes from Futurama, episode titled Jurassic Bark, Fry is talking to his dog Seymour and says, β€œWhat I like about you best is you're not constantly judging me.” Like a dog is people watching condescendingly. Maybe there's a little self-hate in all of us like the poor miserable Gollum or perhaps there's an inner hero like my imaginary friend The Man.

So today I want to ask you what's your Gollum or your Smeagol? I know it's silly to personify this stuff but today I want to challenge you to give your Gollum a name if it doesn't already have one. And let's chat about it. Feel free to send me an email or message me on Instagram if you'd like to chat. Also am I alone on my imaginary friend story? Is there any personal stories you would like to share about your own imaginary friend? Let me know I'm not alone in my experiences.

Thank you all so much for listening and remember to take care and Go Forth and Nerd!


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