Little Manhattan (2005)

What a wonderful movie! I discovered this via a forum where Melody was being discussed and other movies came up. It looked like it would be so good that I took a chance and bought it. It doesn’t hurt that Bradley Whitford features as the father of 10 almost 11 year old Gabe, as I am a big fan. Though I’m not sure I’ve ever actually seen Whitford play anything other than Josh Lyman, just with different character names and scenarios. Perhaps a bit like William Shatner is always William Shatner, whatever the role.

If you like Melody or Moonrise Kingdom, you will like this. It has kind of a mixed happy ending, pretty much as you expect to get right from the start. If I’d had a Rosemary, I’d have not been 42 when I got married.

The kids were absolutely delightful and well cast. Josh Hutcherson went on to become big. Charlotte Ray Rosenberg, introduced in her first role shades of Tracy Hyde in Melody, was perfect, stunning, and has spent a lot of time doing other things before really continuing an acting career. They were 11 when filming Little Manhattan, and she was his first kiss courtesy of the movie kiss.

The dynamic is different from that of Melody, but wandering free around London and Manhattan aren’t so different. It’s summer, so no classmates for most of the film, unless you count karate class, which is the catalyst. Instead of the ballet class, he falls in love with her when he tags along while she goes dress shopping to be a flower girl at her aunt’s upcoming wedding. In some ways they seem older than the kids in Melody, by being modern. In others, they seem younger, which they are, in screen age. I haven’t tried to figure out when the movie filmed, but these things are typically the preceding year or so before the release year. They were both born in 1992, so turned 13 in the year it released. The fun fact about the first kiss said they were 11 when that happened. By comparison, Tracy and Mark were just 11 and almost 12 during the filming of Melody. The kids in Melody were verging on turning 12. The kids in this one were just 11 and verging on turning 11. Essentially a school year younger than the kids in Melody. Just out of 5th grade for the summer as opposed to being close to getting out of 6th grade for the summer.

There are a lot of differences between this and the other movies. It’s about first love, sort of a coming of age and the realization girls don’t have cooties, whatever those are. It’s also a look at the relationships or would-be relationships of others around them, and at how kids see things, how adults see things, and how adults might just be kids who got older without actually “knowing it all.”

I feel like I shouldn’t say too much because spoilers, and yet it’s been out for 14 years. Just because I never heard of it doesn’t mean it’s new enough for the need of spoiler warnings to apply.

The fantasy elements are funny and sometimes touching.

The film uses the same flash forward thing Moonrise Kingdom does to suck you in with the goldfish right up front. When it gets there in practice and there’s like 20% of the film left, it’s clear that was just a flash forward to a critical point.

It’s nice to see adults take the “love life” of kids that young seriously, and not in an alarmed sort of way. Granted, they neither tried to get married nor ran away together. Her parents effectively taking them on a cool date was awesome. Even more so when, on top of the hand holding opportunity, they actively provided the chance at the first kiss.

I’ve been to New York City – Manhattan – exactly once in my life, for an afternoon. I’ve never been a city person, and in a way I don’t relate to it at all. On the other hand, it’s America’s city, maybe the world’s city, and it was a cool place to visit. This almost makes me want to watch one of my favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail, again. It’s been… at least several years. I’m not even sure I ever got that on DVD. It may have been VHS.

Oh! One cool thing I wanted to mention is the song. They used a cover of Love Grows, which is a natural with a romance featuring a girl named Rosemary. Looks like it’s by someone I’ve never heard of named Freedy Johnston. No offense, and it’s actually pretty good, but the original is one of my all time favorite songs and I still prefer Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse. It almost made me wish I’d loved a girl named Rosemary so the song would fit. There was a Rosemary on elementary school. Nice girl and all, but not someone I’d ever picture as more than my buddy. No idea what ever happened to her. I’ve actually asked people who shared her surname if they were related over the years. There’s also a Rosemary I am acquainted with online, dating back to 2003 through blogging.

One more thing. Watching the trailer after seeing the movie… The trailer is the movie, basically. Extreme Reader’s Digest version, but it’s basically there. You won’t see them go all the way across NYC to look at an apartment his father could potentially move to, or come all the way back, 67 blocks, on a scooter, to find the cops had been engaged because his mother realized he was missing. But it’s the high points, near enough. Really you should watch it all if you can and if you like this sort of thing.

 

 

Harmony

Another entry in my sporadic series of favorite song by an artist. This time Elton John came to mind. Not surprising, considering it’s impossible to escape promotion of his fantasy biopic, Rocketman, opening this weekend. I have mixed but mostly positive feelings toward Elton John. He was big in my formative years, and I like many of his songs. I was surprised when my kids got excited when Crocodile Rock played. I always loved that one, naturally. It may have been his first that I was aware of, but I don’t recall.

I can say one thing, though: I utterly loathe Bennie and the Jets. I never liked it. During a certain age range, though, for maybe 3-4 years, I would listen to the the top whatever number of song countdown for the year, done as a New Year’s thing on one of the Boston stations. The year that I waited and waited to see what was number one, only to have it be Bennie and the Jets, I was infuriated. Subsequently hearing him talk about his vision for the song gave me more sympathy, and I find I’ve mellowed toward it when I see it referenced in the Rocketman trailers or clips, but I will never choose to play the song and sit still for it if I don’t have to. In the context of seeing that movie, sure. It’s part of the story. And I’d like to see the movie, though I am lousy at dragging myself to the theater, even if I have the money and time. I never saw Shazam! Wanted to very much, as did my son. It might still be in a theater close enough, but at this point we may as well wait for video. Ditto for Aquaman, except affording it just then was a stretch. Heck, I never actually saw Bohemian Rhapsody in the theater. My brother gifted me the DVD.

Otherwise, I like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and always liked the reference to Wizard of Oz. The wife loathes The Wizard of Oz, so she might not appreciate that the same way. I always loved Your Song. Tiny Dancer, even before it was associated with Kate Hudson. Looking at a list of Elton songs, I realized I had forgotten one that is arguably tied for favorite with Harmony. Oops! This is why I can’t ever do a “my one most favorite song by…” for, say, The Beatles. Philadelphia Freedom. Love it! I will always associate it with the part of my life circa the American bicentennial year of 1976. I may have to embed that, as something of a tie. Levon was good, long before I ever knew who Levon Helm was.  Fascinating lyrics. Levon wears his war wound like a crown… It’s just brilliant. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues evokes a time during my college years, circa 1983 or 1984, and someone I worked with at a convenience store chain who was notable for turning out to be an unlikely thief. She skimmed enough money to buy herself a car. I, on the other hand, was notable for never having a drawer off by a penny in three and a half years there, and being hopelessly shocked that someone would use any of the possible methods to steal from the company or customers there. Rocketman is a great song because it’s a science fiction song, and I always have a soft spot for those.

Melody Timeline Revisited

It’s a stupid time to have started this because I am late getting to bed for a 1:30 AM alarm, but I ended up working it out, subject to uncertainty. I set out to create actual dates in 1970 that would likely correspond to the events in Melody.

And most of the way through the post I realized a critical mistake that changed things either by an entire week, by accepting that “a week” in the dialogue could be approximate (the way “that’s twice as old as I am now” is approximate when related to “in their twenties,” given that it can mean any age from ten to fourteen is being doubled), and/or eliminates the spring bank holiday I had included as a factor. It also returns to ambiguity as to whether the assembly and music room are on the same day. The critical mistake is that the day on which the music room happens is a Wednesday. It just is. We know that because it is the day of the dinner party with Betty and George at the Latimer’s, planned for the Wednesday following the initial day of the film, which I still take to be a Saturday.

So I saved the post as draft and went back to the drawing board.

Originally I noted there are two anchors. One is the requirement that it be exactly a week from the day he falls in love with her to the day of the cemetery scene. That’s in the dialogue, for better or worse. In real life, what we’d have seen would have been highlights over a longer period and he’d have already loved her for, say, a month or two. At least they didn’t mismatch the events in the movie to that detail of the script! It’d be weird if they’d gone through an obvious month of time and the dialogue said a week. As noted above, it may be necessary to take the week as an “about a week” approximation for this to make any sense. On the other hand, that does give the core of the movie a fairly definitive timespan. Ambiguity happens before and after the stretch of time from love at first sight to them being together. The single least ambiguous other timing is the day of reckoning after the seaside taking place the next school day.

From the day of the cemetery scene to the seaside, any number of days might have passed. There is support for this implied by Mr. Perkins speaking as if Daniel has visited them multiple times, not just the one time for tea. That could be sloppy wording, as people do, but it does seem rather sudden, making the relationship official one day and blowing off school for an all day date to the seaside the next day. On the other other hand, having spent a lot of intervening time together might have made their conversation less awkward at the seaside. But that could be a script writing foible.

From the day of reckoning to the wedding day could have been multiple days, though it seems likely it wasn’t. I read between the lines that Ornshaw and Daniel came up with it during school, after the morning fight, and it was what Daniel was talking so vehemently about while comforting her in the rain after school.

The other anchor, which is only approximate, is my tying of the hymn sung at the school assembly to Trinity Sunday. I did this in my old religion post. For other aspects of the timeline, of course, I referred back to my timeline post.

Trinity Sunday was May 24, 1970. Filming was in 1970, so we can take that to be the year it’s set, with us viewing the events almost a year later.

I took as a given that the first day of the film was a Saturday. No school. I take as a given that we see no events on Sundays. I took as a given that the school dance was a Saturday.

I added into the mix the fact that the 1970 spring bank holiday was May 25. However, as noted above, if that was a day off school and was taken into account in the script’s dealing with timing – if it did deal with timing particularly – then the dinner party can’t be on a Wednesday. While there’s no guarantee the choice of hymn or the assembly itself had any connection to Trinity Sunday, I love that theory and I think the story is set that late in the spring. I take “first of May” to be a red herring, something that just happens to be in the song lyrics. For what it’s worth, May 1, was a Friday. If they tied it to that date, it would either have been the day he fell in love, or the cemetery scene day. We never are told that he’s new to the school, and he acts like he’s new but it’s not the first day he’s been there. However, the Saturday in the BB seems to be his first, or one of his first, in that organization. He’s a new recruit. It’s something new his mother “thrust on him.” He’s completely new to the hijinks the boys get up to after school.

I forgot where I left off revising this last night, but I am going to start here with going through the rest and adding or modifying. I’m going to take the approach, to get the Wednesday matched, of ignoring the bank holiday.

For simplicity, I am going to place all the events end to end over 14 days. However, there are spots before and after the mandatory week when there could have been breaks, except that the day after the seaside trip had to be one day later or, if a weekend fell between, three days later. Here’s the most straightforward calendar, start to finish:

Saturday, May 23:
Characters introduced. Family and class elements set up. Kids shown as kids but heading out of childhood.

Sunday, May 24: Nothing shown. Trinity Sunday

Monday, May 25:
Introduction to the school and broader cast of kids. Makes clear Daniel is new kid there. Daniel and Ornshaw have adventure to Trafalgar Square, become close.

Tuesday, May 26:
Due to Ornshaw’s mischief, Daniel sees Melody in dance class and falls in love at first sight. After school follows her and friends, gets caught. From there it’s “a week” to the cemetery scene.

Wednesday, May 27:
School assembly where Ornshaw makes sure Melody knows Daniel is looking at her. Singing Holy, Holy, Holy hymn gives the tie to week of Trinity Sunday. Could have been any time near it. Went with this because it fit. Later that day is the music room scene. Timing of that is implicit. That was the last sentence I wrote before I realized the dinner party was a Wednesday and I didn’t have this on a Wednesday. It was on Thursday the 28th before I changed things. I was also having second thoughts about the music room and assembly being the same day. They appear to be, but there’s also no reason to believe they aren’t different days. This is the day she has clearly decided she likes him, too.

Thursday, May 28:
Lunch scene.

Friday, May 29:
Apparently nothing this day.

Saturday, May 30:
Monthly school dance. I’ve ruled out it being on a school day. They are dressed for the dance, not for school. School gets out at or just before 3:30. Tea is around 5:00. Melody is home from the dance, messing with makeup for a while, then it’s time for tea.

Sunday, May 31:
Nothing shown.

Monday, June 1:
Athletics Day (Field Day where I’m from). I always take this to be the whole day, close enough, and the segue to kids flooding into school being the next morning.

Tuesday, June 2:
Well, this is actually a week exactly if we eliminate the bank holiday as a factor. I’d like to think the assembly was closer to Trinity Sunday than I have it, but oh well. Maybe assembly is a regular thing. Maybe the choice of hymn is a red herring.

June 2 is the big day, the famous cemetery scene. Daniel and Ornshaw didn’t do the homework and face punishment. Odd, if you consider that they had the weekend and the extra day of no academics represented by field day. Maybe it’s a script foible. Maybe it’s something else to take into account when deciding what happens when.

Wednesday, June 3:
Seaside, if they planned it right away rather than after they had been an item for a while. We have minor evidence they were an item for a while before this, in the form of Mr. Perkins sounding as if her bringing Daniel home was a regular thing, not a one time thing.

Thursday, June 4:
Day of being in trouble for skipping school. This is the day after the seaside, no matter how long after June 2 it actually happened.

Friday, June 5:
Day of revolt and wedding. Assuming they planned this on the day of reckoning and executed it the next day, which isn’t mandatory but is also quite possible.

This could be inaccurate in terms of when it falls on the calendar, apart from it being mid to late spring for sure. How long is “a trifle”? By ditching school to go to the seaside, Daniel and Melody “moved the summer holidays up a trifle” per the headmaster. That suggests summer isn’t too far away. In England, that’s apparently not until July, so that makes me think it’s more like June than May when they skip school. Further, the weather is fine for being at the beach. It can’t be too early in the season. It’s possible I have set it early compared to when it really was meant to be. This is like doing math with multiple variables and never being able to get a definite answer. The whole thing could move in either direction a week or two. And again with it not necessarily being consecutive days, except that about if not exactly a week pass from Daniel falling in love to the day he chooses her over Ornshaw. The dinner party has to fall on a Wednesday and with it the music room scene. It’s possible the music room and assembly are on different days. The intro has to be on a weekend day. Saturday is the overwhelming favorite for that. The first day we see the school is probably the next school day following the intro, so likely a Monday, or Tuesday if there were a Monday holiday. Trinity Sunday may be my most tenuous inclusion. Monthly dance seems like it should be the weekend, probably Saturday. Without Peggy and Ornshaw fighting, that might have been the day Daniel and Melody walked and talked and went home for tea. There could be gaps after the cemetery scene day, but the seaside day and reckoning day would be back to back school days. And I’d still love to know what their parents knew of that and when, and how they reacted.

I just wanted to finish this off, finally, before going to bed. I’ll review it and hope it doesn’t fall apart before my eyes.

Update on May 31, 2019:
I’m looking at stuff about school scheduling, holidays/vacations, and such in England in 1970 or thereabouts and it could change everything. For instance, the log from a specific school for the year 1970 puts Easter holiday 3/26/70 – 4/12/70, and then puts half-term holiday from 5/22/70 to blank, but the next date for which anything is listed as happening for school is 6/4/70. I’m finding the entries hard to read because the month and day are reversed from the order most people place them in in the US. Another thing I read says some of the holidays like that are only 4 day weekends, while others are two weeks. Summer holiday was then 7/24 – 9/7. That half term holiday would incorporate the date of the bank holiday that I found vexing. It would be unsurprising if the events of Melody all took place after the final half term holiday of the school year, putting it entirely in June. I need to read about it more and work that into perhaps an updated update.

Update 2:
The holiday would have taken place the last week of May, and June 1 would have been the first day back at school. If what we see on the first day of the film is still Saturday, it falls near the end of a week off and of course the kids would be bored by then. The kids would have been especially wild on arrival back at school. I’ll redo the whole thing with an eye to this, but basically the first date above would become May 30, and the last date above would become June 12. Whether Trinity Sunday was a factor would be mooted by distance, but the school wouldn’t have had a chance to observe it during the week off. It might have been interesting for the story to incorporate the week off, but that would have embellished too much and kept it from getting to the point efficiently. I might have liked more fleshing out, but it didn’t need much more.

Alone Season 6

I just watched the handful of contestant profile videos History Channel has up for Alone season 6, which starts June 6. The big thing that struck me was axes. So far, every one of them chose to bring an axe as well as a saw. This is smart because of the prospective need to chop through ice, apart from their other uses. They also brought super cold weather sleeping bags, mostly rated for -40 F.

Two of them brought multitools, which we have seen in other seasons to be a more useful option than they might initially have sounded. At least one of those is customized. It seems like everyone has a bow and arrows of some kind, as this is apparently the friendliest environment the show has been in for hunting. Wire for trapping, too. With the cold environment, food will be more of an issue. The rations a couple of them selected appeared to be something like jerky, as opposed to trail mix, beans or such.

One of the good things the show did along the way was eliminate the de facto need for a tarp to be one of the options, so really each person got nine items. They simply provide a tarp, which you have to stop and think about because that’s not part of these profile videos and would be vital. The more natural debris (or snow) is also part of shelter here, the better, for insulation, but a tarp speeds things up and guarantees a more waterproof and wind resistant shelter up front.

They all seem to be bringing wire for snares/traps, again with the bigger emphasis on hunting. One of them either had no fishing gear or I spaced out when she covered that.

One had a frying pan. Not sure that’s the best idea, even if it holds more. The lid on the standard 2 quart pots the others showed off can be useful. One of them had a lid you could also use as a small frying pan, as well as a dish.

One of them is hardcore enough that she considered not bringing a ferro rod, just using her fire drill instead, but she went with the surer thing. Good choice. It astounds me how easy it is to light a fire with a ferro rod. I’ve had one going at least as quickly as I could have with a match. Even without using magnesium scrapings.

I’m no expert, so it’s a bit funny for me to watch and critique. Take it with some grains of salt. It’s very much armchair, and it’s all too easy to say what you’d do when you’re not in the situation. I have never hunted. I haven’t fished since I was a kid and found it frustrating even though I did catch little sunfish two or three times. Actually, I fished by the Powderpoint Bridge when I was a teenager, with one of my high school classes. No license required for fishing in the ocean. Nobody caught anything.

Every year I wonder how they can possibly get me excited about the show again. Over the years it has seemed more and more a hunger contest. I hope this year is different.

Jeremy (1973)

I mentioned I had stumbled across Jeremy and poked at it a little. Now I’ve actually watched it. Not the best quality, on YouTube, but it was still enough to see how breathtakingly beautiful Glynnis O’Connor was back in the day. No wonder I remember her and Robby Benson’s later film, Ode to Billy Joe, so fondly. It was tragic and gave a good answer to why the dude would have killed himself while there was a blooming romance with the girl, but she just blew me away. I saw that on TV, so if it was a theatrical release, I didn’t see it at the time it came out. I always liked the song, so it was a no brainer.

I might have seen Jeremy, or part of it, somewhere along the line, but been too young relative to the characters for it to leave an impression. It seems familiar. That could be as simple as having caught part of it on TV.

Like Billy Joe, Jeremy is tragic. Before it’s tragic, though, it’s incredibly sweet. I’d say he comes across as way too special needs in some spots, but I’ve been the shy, awkward guy in love and not realizing I could be straightforward, or knowing what to say and how to act. He pushed through it in a way I never managed, so I can’t criticize. He certainly does a good job with kind of the idiot savant role.

Robby Benson is, of course, associated with one of my favorite films of all time, one of the first I bought, even before I owned a VCR myself: Beauty and the Beast. Naturally, right? Me, the hopeless romantic. I just am not on board with sad endings the way I am with happy endings. It is well known that I had a thing for Meg Ryan in her romantic comedy heyday. Just don’t ask me how I felt when I watched City of Angels and found it was a tearjerker. I cry at movies that aren’t meant to be tearjerkers! Melody overlaps the category of romance and of comedy, while being something different. It doesn’t have an overtly unhappy ending, but if you look past “ha ha we had a wedding ceremony” snubbing of the adults, the ending is ambiguous and potentially quite unhappy. Not like the two are running away to a honeymoon suite and then a life on their own.

Anyway, I love the musical aspects. Was anything an homage to Melody? Probably not. There was the school setting and a flurry of madness as kids went to class, but these were older kids. There was the Ornshaw-like best friend of Jeremy’s advising or being a sounding board. Where Daniel was the loner, Susan was the loner here, so Jeremy was everything. Though she did date another boy briefly and that’s apparently where the name Danny came in from her father. Was Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom an homage to Susan? Probably not, but you never know with these things. The seeing her dancing and falling in love was right out of Melody, though she was alone working on her routines.

Overall? I liked it. I found it hard to take the ending and some of the awkwardness. It was too painfully me, except I was worse and never made it to the payoff. There weren’t dates. Any calls were disasters. After I stalked her long enough, Ella, closer to the Melody scenario, did fall for me but then I ran away because that scared me and I didn’t know what to do next. Handling that better, even if it wouldn’t have lasted, would have made it easier, but lack of success, however self-induced, bred lack of success.

I often think it’s good that I lacked success through my teens, given my hyperactive fertility. Not that family history made that a surprise.

Anyway, gotta go to bed. It’s normal bedtime but I have to be up two hours earlier than normal. Meant to get to bed an hour ago.

Google Is a Funny Thing

All the more so paired with AWSTATS, which purports to give results on search strings but really doesn’t. On the HTTPS version of the page, the only search string listed for this month is:
“melody s.w.a.l.k. release”

This blog is on the 4th page of Google results, but the result points to the category for Mark Lester. Not for Melody the movie, or just the site overall, or the post that uses enough of the above terms together to make the search work. Weird.

The top hits for melody s.w.a.l.k. release are things like March 28, 1971, parsed and displayed prominently by Google with a graphic linking a search for Melody. Next, per most searches, is the title for the link to “Melody (1971 film) – Wikipedia” linking to the Wikipedia entry.

Then it’s an offering of associated videos, IMDB, a Facebook post on the making of Melody, Rotten Tomatoes, and then it goes from there.

On my non-SSL stats, I show that there have been 1228 hits from Google proper (another 303 from Google Hong Kong) through May 26 for the month, but there’s nothing but nonsense words searched by bots, spammers, hackers or such in the list of search phrases or words. The most popular pages besides the main page are the post on Melodye and a Dog Named Boo, the category of Melody the movie, and a couple Game of Thrones posts. That doesn’t count all the traffic that pounds the pages that are hacker and spammer targets. This is how you can have a blog with comments turned off and still get comments. Mine are on, at least for an initial period of time after I write a post, but nobody ever comments. Just spammers.

I’d love to know what all the searches are that get here via Google.

Update:
Mission accomplished. This post moved me to the first page of results for that string, no quotes, and pointing at the Melody category. Using quotes makes me the only hit other than Google’s information thing that answers the question through AI or whatever.

As for the Melodye post, however else people get there, I’m high up in the hits for the woman’s birth name, and near the top if you add her married surname. Which begs the question of whether that’s how people end up there, searching that name, or if it’s some other way.

The Iron Throne

I don’t really have much new to say about the Game of Thrones finale, but I at least wanted to post using the correct episode name. Since it doesn’t show the name initially, I guessed that the episode was A Dream of Spring, as many had assumed.

When I went to watch the bonus “making of” episode well after 9:00 last night, it was not yet available, so I did my neglected rewatch of the finale. I didn’t hate it in the first place, though I understand the complaints. I neither like nor dislike it more after a rewatch. Well, maybe I dislike it more. I particularly liked one YouTuber’s alternate ending to the series. Any such thing pretty much requires going back multiple episodes. The bottom line in that was that to kill the Night King you had to go burn the weirwood on the Isle of Faces, but doing so removed magic from the world, and with it Jon’s resurrection. The show really did nothing to address the magic system and whether it would wane, go away, or grow further. Some have considered the birth of the dragons to have increased the level of magic. The weirwoods obviously are magic, and with them the fact of the Three Eyed Raven.

I loved Sansa telling her uncle to sit down when he was giving a long campaign speech.

I would be surprised if Bran is not who GRRM intends to “win” the game. Really, the Starks won. I would be surprised if the details of how the outcome happens are anywhere close to the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the books we get some of the more virtual and magical elements I was waiting for, even if he ultimately meant for the battle for the throne to be primary and meant for it to be a battle with dual threats: ice and fire. I buy Arya as the killer of the Night King. It does explain her arc. Maybe that’s not straight from Martin. He did sit down with the producers and give them the rundown on where the characters were intended to end up, so if he died and given the lack of books in the latter part of the story, they could finish it with the broader strokes of “as intended.”

I do believe Dan and Dave wanted to move on and rushed the final season. The final season could easily have been longer or have gone through a season 9. But this is why, as I read somewhere after posting about the Wheel of Time show, they intend to cover more than one book of WoT per season. Even at 2 books per season that’s seven seasons. Some of the books don’t really give you half a season of material, if you really trim things down. They might be able to do it in five. As I surmised in my look at the episode titles, the first five episodes take us into the second book and thus we ought to be at least through the first two books by the end of season one. Books four and five are thicker and meatier, so it might get harder in places. You can’t really shortchange the Dothraki (borrowings again?) Aiel too much, take out Asmodean and the need for training, that sort of thing. The walk through Rhuidean is vital. At least the show will have books to work from the whole way.

Leaving Drogon alive with Dany’s body is a huge fan fic opening, if nothing else. So is Bran’s effort to locate Drogon. So is John in the far north. So is Arya’s voyage of exploration.

We never learned what the voice from the flames said to Varys. I always expected we would. Did that simply have no significance beyond helping set his direction in life? Was Varys in some way vital to saving the world indirectly? GoT did something similar to WoT in that characters who might not have been the most major were vital by doing things like saving characters who then did something vital. In WoT, Rand couldn’t have saved the world without, in particular, Perrin, Mat, Nynaeve, and Moiraine. Min helps him know what needs to be done and with his sanity. Egwene brings the Aes Sedai and is a Big Damn Hero. Elayne teaches him politics and how to be a king, and is a good war leader. Thom keeps him alive along the way. It goes on. Lan teaches him how to fight and some of the politics as well, and is a Big Damn Hero. Perrin wouldn’t be Perrin without Faile, much as most of us hate her. There’s a fundamental interconnectedness. Theon turned out to be vital. Baeric had a vital role.

The thing is, if R’hllor is the god of fire and light, and helped oppose the Night King because that’s ice, the opposing force, then what of fire getting all out of control in King’s Landing. It strikes me that a form of potential evil helped against a different evil, then flared itself. The R’hllor people always preached for Daenerys and that makes sense, but that makes them evil on the fire side, along with her.

I loved the back and forth between the different wolf items. Ironically, Bran doesn’t use a wolf, but a raven. Jon represents as Stark, perhaps the most so. Bran represents as Other. Sansa struck me as hollow. I mean, perfect and appropriate ending for her. What she always wanted. But it rings hollow and forlorn through all the pomp and acclaim. Arya goes off to her doom or perhaps amazing things. Jon seems forlorn but is in an appropriate place doing the appropriate thing, protecting the free folk.

It occurs to me that the most Thom Merrilin figure from GoT is Davos. Thom has a bit of Arya, skilled assassin. He is also a gleeman (or more of a court bard), which is not something they have, not in an overt way, in GoT.

I love that the iron throne was melted down. It needed to go.

I did start to watch the special episode, but it was late and I was bored. At the point when I stopped, the episode wasn’t what I’d expected. I was thinking there’d be a lot of talk about what they were thinking when they created this season, maybe a look back at the series and memories of making it. I wasn’t expecting costumers and stuff. Maybe I’ll watch the rest some time.

To Love Somebody Poster

This is an interesting find. It’s a poster for Melody where it was marketed under its alternate alternate name of To Love Somebody, as opposed to the alternate name of SWALK (Sealed With a Loving Kiss), and the primary, intended name of Melody. The pictures are a little glossy looking, if that’s the right word. They look like they’re allw wearing super shiny lipstick. Tracy and Jack look older and perhaps as if they are the couple, while Mark looks much younger and oddly feminine.

What is has going for it is the question it poses. This sums up the movie in the shortest possible way, and works with that version of the title. How old is old enough? For what? To love somebody. Can you fall in love at 11 or 12 and have it be “real”? Not that they look 11 or 12 in the poster. Jack looks his age. Tracy looks Jack’s age, which is quite a trick, adding six years. Mark looks about 8. Quibbles aside, let’s see it…

 
Melody poster showing Mark Lester, Tracy Hyde and Jack Wild, presenting the film as the alternative title To Love Somebody for some markets, asking how old is old enough.

 

 

Moonrise Kingdom Rewatch (Sorry, Melody Kind of Took Over the Post)

I decided to rewatch Moonrise Kingdom last night and, while I liked it the first time, this time found myself feeling delighted when it ended. And I don’t mean in a thank goodness that’s over sort of way.

I don’t have a lot of new observations. I did notice more details, like Edward Norton’s relationship, potential or actual, with the operator being evident throughout. It was more professionally produced than Melody. That was, after all, a first film. Even the director was more of a TV person when he did Melody. MK is meant to be more surreal than Melody.

MK is about broken people and a broken community. What heals Sam and Suzy is each other. The very worst outcome would have been for them to be barred from ever seeing each other again. Melody and Daniel may have clicked and felt more complete together, but so did Ornshaw and Daniel as friends. They would have survived being apart. What heals the community is Sam and Suzy. It was this viewing of Moonrise Kingdom in which I picked up on the meaning of the orchestra record. It talks about the instruments and sections of the orchestra, then how they are amazing when all put together.

Sam and especially Suzy look and seem more mature than Daniel and Melody, though Melody’s apparent age and maturity varies wildly through the film and even within proximate scenes. I have chalked that up in part to filming taking place over four months combined with a high growth age. Melody and Daniel are implicitly on the cusp between 11 and 12. It’s late in what would be 6th grade in the US. A kid at that point in school would turn 12 between September 1 and August 31. Their story centers around the month of May.

Speaking of the timing of Melody, I’ve seen a photo or screen capture of something that was not in the film that has a date on it. The picture is in the music room. Daniel is holding up his cello and using the bow. Melody is standing to the other side of the cello. Her recorder is in her left hand. Her right hand wraps around the neck of the cello from the back to press the strings. Behind and above them and the cello is a plain black and white poster for Iowa String Quartet, from USA, and at the top it says something about April 1 and at the bottom has lists of performances or whatever. The poster is never apparent in the actual scene. Even the thing you can see the bottom of that could be it doesn’t really look like it’s the same.

So was this the kids playing around and someone captured a photo? Was this an alternate idea for a shoot of the scene? I’d actually bet it’s the latter. It strikes me that they had a script, kind of, but they tried this and that, did many takes, then pieced things together. My favorite part where the narrative fails is in the headmaster’s office. Now, that scene famously took all day anyhow. Mark Lester was so unflappable that he was unable to muster the anger required to yell at the headmaster. Even when he did, he sounded more petulant child than properly angry. Or scornful might be the word, not petulant. They may have used what they had to use. However, when Daniel says “we want to get married,” Melody’s head whips sideways to give him a shocked, startled WTF look that has possible interpretations ranging from “why are you telling him that” to “we want to do what” and it’s not clear. It doesn’t fit with her subsequent vehemence about getting married, though.

The music room scene is almost perfect as it is. I am especially taken by 11 year old Tracy capturing the exact same look of confused consternation I can recall seeing on 14 year old Ella along the way. Having a scene where Rhoda goes in to try out and Melody expresses curiosity about the cello would change the dynamic between the two kids. They would have interacted more. She would have had more of an impression of him, perhaps one that led to her declaring him “quite a nice boy, really.” It would have made his playing the cello a more important plot point. Neither that nor painting make an appearance again. Of course, there’s also a picture out there of Jack Wild in Daniel’s room playing with a paintbrush in a scene that wasn’t used. We are just to take it on faith that there was a lot more interaction between the boys. In reality, the time that passed between the day he fell in love with Melody and the day he said it had been a week ought have been longer. Even if not, there ought have been more time from the boys meeting to Melody becoming a factor, but it implies it was almost immediate.

I digress. Funny how Melody takes over.

My point is that I think Wes Anderson knew exactly what he was going to shoot and how he was going to shoot it. There’s always multiple takes to get things just so, but there was probably less shooting of alternative versions than I perceive there to have been for Melody.

Moonrise Kingdom is explicit in describing the kids as 12. It’s the beginning of September, so for the main events of the film, they would be about to start 7th grade, rather than coming up on the end of 6th grade/first form. I think I originally thought they were more dramatically older than the Melody kids, but that may have been when I was confused by a year, after I had worked it out and then forgotten. There is still innocence, but less so. They hang out in their underwear. It’s not just seen sometimes because of absurdly short dresses. They kiss and then French kiss. She remarks on his resulting erection. She invites him to touch her bra-covered breasts and notes that she expects them to grow. They sleep cuddled up together. We have no reason to believe there’s anything more to it.

All we see in Melody is holding hands, an arm around her, an accidental almost kiss, and a lot of smiles and eye talk. There are images out there in which a kiss on a cheek happens in the context of the film and appears to be something filmed and not used. Otherwise the kisses on cheeks are things like publicity and cover photos. They are still on the innocent side of the cusp of teen years. Daniel wants to paint a nude and has a girlie magazine he was given in support of that, but to him he’s doing it as a painting type he’d not tried before. Jack flashes girlie pictures in class, and the boys know that this is a cool and forbidden thing. The age isn’t completely innocent. The girls are boy crazy to varying degrees, even if they don’t all know much more than it takes more than kissing to bring babies. Melody knows darn well why her mother and granny are freaking out about the man in the raincoat story and is being a wise ass. Jack and Daniel jokingly try to sneak into a girlie show at Trafalgar Square. There’s awareness of forbidden fruits. At the same time, Daniel isn’t thinking “I’d like to get naked with her” when he sees and falls in love with Melody. I know exactly what he felt. Been there. Got the scars and memories. I knew hanky panky existed to some degree or another, but got crushes that were pure emotion. Moonrise Kingdom is just a tiny bit farther along the spectrum.

Daniel and Melody aren’t broken the way Sam and Suzy are, but something is missing from their lives. Daniel found that to some degree in Ornshaw, and arguably more vice-versa, which is why Ornshaw was so hurt by Melody coming along. Imagine Melody. Dad is always working or drinking. Mom makes fun of him. Mom and Granny can be overbearing stick in the muds and de facto absentee by turns. There aren’t siblings. The other kids in the building, to whom Melody seems to relate initially, are not her contemporaries. They are poor but do have a relatively happy and stable family life compared to some. Daniel comes from money but has a horrible helicopter mom who, again, can be absentee when she’s not smothering him. His father is indifferent but at least has the good grace to question his wife’s choices of what she puts Daniel through. They fight a lot and it’s a much less happy home, for all there’s enough money. Ornshaw is an orphan being raised by his grandfather, effectively meaning he cares for the grandfather and is raising himself. Sam is the orphan, in MK, while Suzy obviously is the moneyed side of things but with troubled parents. MK doesn’t set out to be  as much about class differences as Melody.

This time around, I made the connection between the reference to electric shock therapy and Sam getting hit by lightning.

The interlocutor was an interesting and potentially annoying addition to Moonrise Kingdom. It helped speed the narrative along and, breaking the forth wall, explained things efficiently at times so they wouldn’t have to be shown or explained any other way. It preserved and even added to the surreal nature of the film.

Melody could have done more with Daniel’s painting. Moonrise Kingdom ran with it. Can you imagine Mrs. Perkins finding a painting by Daniel of her daughter nude in a tub? But then, she might get less excited than Mrs. Latimer would about catching him creating such a painting.

I found the ending satisfying. Melody’s ending is so ambiguous. I love Melody, but it’s Moonrise Kingdom that leaves me believing the kids have a real future together forever. Why does he leave out the window? Is he in fact not supposed to be there? But then, it would be pretty obvious his new foster dad is there to pick him up. As I put it while I was watching MK this time, Melody ends with them running away and you never see the outcome. (Unless you count the day at the seaside as running away.) The meat of Moonrise Kingdom begins with them running away and hijinks ensue. Yeah, it starts well before, when they meet, then become pen pals. I have a soft spot for the pen pal angle. I had a story concept that would incorporate that, based on an actual pen pal. It was my “western hemisphere turns magic” scenario. The hero would go on a quest to meet up with the girl who was his pen pal. On foot, because things like cars wouldn’t work, or would have morphed into creatures. There’s also a lot after they run away. That’s the heart of it, though. Poor, misunderstood kids. Creepy mom, giving 12 year old baby a bath to wash the cooties away.

I forget whatever else I might have meant to say. Melody hijacked Moonrise Kingdom’s post, and time faded my thoughts. I’ve been at this off and on for hours. I did want to note that in my travels yesterday I discovered a move from I think 1974 1973 called Jeremy. It was in relation to Melody stuff, and is an older young romance. High school teens. I haven’t yet watched it, but I pecked at it particularly to see the ballet scene where he sees the girl for the first time and goes all special needs. I related rather painfully, but it’s funny how much like Melody that was. Then there’s the fact he plays cello. But it’s an arts high school, so it’s natural that they have those things. Having read Wikipedia about it, I know that she is new to the school, as Daniel is to the school in Melody. I know the whole thing starts and ends in about a month before she moves away again. I know the relationship gets intense and consummated. I might have seen it along the line when I was younger, and just not had it register the way it might now. I’d have related more to seeing Melody at or before that age.  Actually, that’s a difference between Melody and Moonrise kingdom. If I’d seen MK when I was 10-12, I’d have seen it as fantasy and taken away an entirely different impression. If I’d seen Melody when I was 10-12, I’d have realized I was normal and seen it as something of inspiration and instruction. Speaking of alt history or personal points of departure, if I left absolutely everything the same, but saw Melody in April 1971, my life would have been completely different.

Update:
Note that in Jeremy the girl’s name is Susan (Suzy). Her father can’t remember Jeremy’s name and refers to him as Danny. Amused.

The Wheel of Time (Spoilers)

The show. The idea of it is scary. On the plus side, we at least know how the books ended, and will know every detail of how it differs as it’s boiled down to essentials for television. There’s a lot that can be pared down harmlessly.

I say spoilers because this spoils the books and may, through free extrapolation, spoil episodes of the show. Run away if you want to remain free of any details before watching, if you’ve never read the series.

After Game of Thrones, one of the things there’s trepidation about is the elements of Wheel of Time that Game of Thrones borrowed that people will think were borrowed in the opposite direction. The game of houses. Breaking the wheel. The Dragon. The wolves. Some fantasy elements are of course fantasy elements. You find them in fantasy. Both are fantasy.

In WoT, the magic is more overt, the threat of supernatural evil is the main point, and fewer people die unexpectedly or gratuitously. There are politics, though. You end up appreciating in the end that some of the painstaking, overly detailed machinations are instrumental to preparing for the final battle to save humanity and, well, the wheel. In WoT, “breaking the wheel” is a bad thing that the evil purportedly wants to do.

Looking at IMDB, there are five episode titles known so far. They are Leavetaking, Shadow’s Waiting, A Place of Safety, The Dragon Reborn, and The Flame of Tar Valon. My extrapolation from this is that the first five episodes take us through the events of the first book of the 14 in the main series (an additional book is a prequel). The first episode will involve the events in and around The Shire that lead to the hobbits leaving with Gandalf, evading harm and pursuit. We’ll meet the people of Emonds Field, in The Two Rivers region, nominally a part of the large nation of Britain Andor, in the heart of Europe The Westlands. We’ll meet a number of main characters: Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Nynaeve, Moiraine, Lan, and Thom. Some of the secondary characters return later, but the most important of them is Tam, Rand’s father. Depending how closely it hews to the route of travel and events of the books, we could meet some of the whitecloaks, AKA Children of the Light, sort of a militaristic religious order so good that they are their own brand of evil. We could meet an additional major character, Arya Min. That’d be important enough to leave in in some form.

It’s hard to picture all this in an hour, unless the premiere is extra long.

It sounds like the second episode features fleeing evil minions and resorting to hiding in a place so bad that even they fear to enter it. Shadow’s Waiting is the plain English meaning of the old tongue name Shadar Logoth, which was originally a great city known as Aridhol. During one of the interim fights against the Shadow a thousand or two years ago, Wormtongue Mordeth advised the city that to fight evil they had to outdo that evil. They succeeded, becoming a pox of competing evil counter to the evil of the Dark One. Going here is incredibly dangerous, and the residual evil wants to hitch a ride out into the world with you.

Presumably the episode will include the flight from Shadar Logoth and the fellowship being separated. After that, we’re separately following Merlin Thom, Rand and Mat, Perrin and Egwene, and the adult threesome of Lan, Moiraine and Nynaeve.

The third episode could refer to much later, when the gang starts arriving in Camelot Caemlyn, the capital of Andor. It could also refer to what they wish for: A place of safety. The thing that popped into my mind was the time Egwene and Perrin spend with the gypsies Tinkers, a pacifist culture that travels around in garishly colored wagons, camping for a while then moving on. We meet an important secondary character then, and more of those in the further travels of Egwene and Perrin leading to their arrival in Caemlyn. That includes our introduction to wolves. Rand’s group wind up on a ship headed down one of the major rivers that tend to cut mostly north/south down the continent and are important to trade and communication. The captain do be another important minor character. He do be from Greece Illian, where people do be talking a bit oddly. But the ship isn’t that safe, and is no longer term than the Tinkers. We don’t see much of the other three again until Caemlyn. The two groups that include youngsters make endless journeys, walking, walking, hiding, fleeing evil, being lucky, and eventually reaching the city and the Inn where all were to go even if they got separated. The inn might be the place of safety in the title. It’s where Rand, and the readers, first meet Sam Loial, an Ogre Ogier, part of a race of usual peaceful, large alien elves. Just don’t wake the dragon and make him put a long handle on his axe. Another major character. The innkeeper is a minor character of some note. Rand seems to have this effect on people he encounters. Even when it’s not in… Taverns. (A pun for people who know the books.)

I have to assume that The Dragon Reborn for purposes of an episode title incorporates Rand’s first fight with what appears to be the Night King Dark One. This is the point in the series, at the climax of the first book, when readers know unambiguously that Rand Al’Thor is The Dragon Reborn. When Gandalf persuades them to leave the village and Merlin comes along to help watch out that they are not misused by Gandalf, it’s not clear to Gandalf which one of the three contemporaries it is. It’s arguably clear to the readers from the beginning who will be the Three Eyed Raven Dragon, since Bran Rand gets the first POV chapter. But then, he gets much of the POV and the structure isn’t the silly one Martin used. Still, we see the Nazgul first from Rand’s perspective.

There’s a lot to that, if the episode covers everything from leaving Caemlyn as the proverbial place of safety. Shoot! I forgot the events in Caemlyn that introduce us to Elayne, a very major character, the daughter-heir (princess and presumptive future queen) of Andor. Her mother, Morgase, her brothers, Gawyn and Galahad Galad are significant if not major. Her mother’s Aes Sedai advisor, Elaida, becomes a major, accidentally evil character. Aes Sedai are a society of female channelers (magic users) based in the White Tower in the city of Tar Valon. Moiraine is one of them. Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne are all particularly powerful in potential, to be trained. We also get our first look at Logain, who ought have been a more major character. He falsely claimed to be the Dragon Reborn and has been captured by Aes Sedai. Men who can channel become insane after a while and get dangerous because of something the Dark One did three thousand years ago. The show runners have said Logain will have an expanded role in the show. That sounds promising.

Where was I? Right. From Caemlyn they have to travel to the Lands of Always Winter Blight in the far north, and locate the last Ent Green Man in a cone of safety, where he guards a secret. They use The Ways to do part of this trek, but those are dangerous. Loial makes this possible, since he can read Elvish and that’s what the signs in the Ways are in, so he knows where to go to guide them through.

The last listed episode is The Flame of Tar Valon. That has a particularly special meaning to anyone who has read the last book, A Memory of Light. In the meantime, it is one of the titles that the leader of the Aes Sedai carries. She is the Pope Amyrlin Seat, or simply the Amyrlin. Her title is Mother, no hatching of dragon eggs or freeing of slaves required. Along with some other titles like Breaker of Chains and Keeper of the Seals, she is The Flame of Tar Valon. Thus the episode has to involve meeting the Amyrlin, who at the time is Siuan (swan) Sanche, in a city near the border of the Blight after the climactic events of the first book. This puts us in the beginning of the second book, The Great Hunt. Siuan is a major character and a long time associate of Moiraine’s, which they have made an effort to obfuscate. Moiraine is suited to being out in the world, while Siuan is suited to politics and ruling. Siuan was a commoner. Moiraine was royalty from France Cairhien. They have been on a mission since being the only people to know the Dragon had been reborn. We meet her and some of the other Aes Sedai, plus some of the Night’s Watch Northmen borderlanders. I would guess that by the end of this episode the girls have headed down the river to Tar Valon. It could also end after the Horn of Winter Horn of Valere has been stolen by Gollum and people, unexpectedly led by Rand, have been sent to track it down. It might not take more than two additional episodes to speed through the events of The Great Hunt, which includes our first encounter with invaders from across the Atlantic Aryth Ocean. (Joking aside, The Wheel of Time takes place on Earth, in a far future relative to us.) They tamed the Americas a thousand years ago, turned sort of Japanese, maybe Chinese, and are now returning to reclaim Europe for the empire that descended from King Arthur’s son. But that’s in future episodes, so stay tuned.

It’s interesting how little we’re actually hearing and seeing about this series. That’s potentially worrisome. Who knows what kind of budget Amazon has provided. When Game of Thrones started out, there was huge buzz. There were looks at sets and costumes and such. Even though I’d been unable to get into the book, it had me all excited. Things don’t always go perfectly. GoT had to toss out their first episode, rewrite, reshoot, even partially recast it, and make sure they’d gotten it right. We’ll see.

Casting alone will be a landmine. The characters have very specific looks. Ygritte Avienda needs to be cast as someone who’d look a lot like Ygritte, speaking of borrowings GoT made from WoT. Jon Snow Rand Al’Thor will seem like he has a very similar Wildling/Free Folk Aiel girlfriend/antagonist who thinks he knows nothing. Rand’s height, eyes and hair are a thing. He looks like he should be Aiel, not from Andor. Min and Elayne are pretty distinctive. Min might be a taller Arya, more or less. Gendry Perrin needs to look like a blacksmith, not as tall as the other boys but not short, but stockier, muscular, big armed, with bushy dark hair and eventual if not initial facial hair. Mat is taller, more wiry, capable of moving like Oberon if needed, as deadly in a fight as anyone.

But I digress. I’ve spent way too much time on this.

Bushcraft

I added bushcraft as a category because it’s one of my interests, but I haven’t posted about it any more than I’ve practiced it. I end up being more armchair and wishful thinking than practitioner. I watch videos of others. I wish I’d known to take advantage of the opportunity I had when I lived in the middle of the woods when I was a kid. It was some of my early YouTube viewing that led me to Alone when the show was new. I found Mitch Mitchell’s videos and was intrigued because he was obviously local. I could tell by the appearance of the woods where he shot videos, and then one day he had Market Basket matches.

This goes hand in hand with a prepper mindset. That’s something I grew up with. There were the grandparents who’d survived extreme poverty and acted accordingly the rest of their lives. Cue the importance of rotating your canned food and such. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve been through extreme poverty and, by some standards, still am. Then there’s the Cold War mentality that never went away and had terrorism thrown on top of it. It really marks your psyche to grow up with the threat and even the assumption of the nukes raining down any time. As far as we knew there were no prime targets right around us. My grandfather’s employer’s munitions business was a thing of the past. The local testing grounds, secret at the time, were WW2 vintage. Boston and the route 128 region would have been a big target, though, so close enough.

I’m decidedly haphazard about these things. At any given time, as long as water and natural gas or other means of cooking were not an issue, depending on how we rationed it, five of us could go weeks on the food in the house. Take away electricity and we’d end up gorging on what’s in the freezer before rationing through the cabinets, but hey. There are useful things in the vehicles, but perhaps not complete or ideal sets of useful things. I could set up a pretty good camp out of the trunk of the car, for as many people as the car holds, but we’d pretty much be in the clothes on our backs and lacking things like blankets. The truck has less room and I’m less free to stuff things in behind the seats. It’s her baby. Otherwise it might have been replaced by something more practical years ago. Still. I had a scheme to equip it with a survival pack of sorts and just haven’t completed the task yet. A lot of the stuff I have that should be available to do that, or to grab and go from the house, is in “where did I put that” limbo.

That overlaps the set of things I take camping because they’ll be needed or just in case. Some of it’s sitting here in an undersized backpack that’s perfectly nice, but is a lesson in looking at specs when contemplating an Amazon purchase, and figuring out just what those dimensions it list will mean in person. I took it last summer to a friend’s cabin in Maine. I camped in the yard. It’s back up in the woods and on enough land to have been perfect for messing around. Build this or that type of natural shelter. That sort of thing. It was like 100 degrees The Whole Week and nobody wanted to do anything. Except go out to eat and go in the local pond repeatedly, giving myself a great opportunity to get severe swimmer’s ear. The same pond was the location of the July 4 fireworks and a little carnival, which was cool. Kids went on a few rides. Ironic, since we never go to the little carnival that finances the fireworks in our own town. Too expensive. Probably not far removed in cost from the one in Maine. But vacation! In Maine! So that’s different?

I don’t intend to go to the cabin again, even in the unlikely event the chance arises.. I haven’t put in for the vacation time I often take the week of the 4th, and have made no specific plans. It’s been a few years since I took the kids camping at the state forest. Last time it was pretty awful due to an invasion of what you might call city folk. For the kids camping = swimming. I might try going myself for 1-2 night outings just for away time. I may have talked about this when I grumbled about my difficulty focusing. Try doing some writing. Use paper. Otherwise I’d say do a bunch of reading, but reading isn’t as much of a problem. Anyway, the kids are getting old enough to have stronger opinions about going or not, and to be able to stay home if they choose. The youngest doesn’t like camping the way the other two do, and of course the wife simply doesn’t camp. The kids wouldn’t eat the campfire food I made that one time. We end up eating a lot of junk/convenience food or going to the local fast food. Sad.

Rambling aside, I’ve had ideas for a while now about incorporating bushcraft, or simply camping, into fiction. For that matter, the beta of the portion of a book that I started did just that. Kids are about to go camping with their dad when they find themselves in an alternate past, so they have backpacks and a couple things they’re carrying. They find themselves in a swampy woods and make themselves a shelter to sleep in the first night, after some initial exploration and finding a good spot. Complete with a nearby outhouse that existed in real life in that time and place. In our timeline, anyway.

One of the things I think about sometimes is incorporating a “survival” scenario, inspired by my own half-assed prepping and randomness, where you’re stuck getting by with what’s on you, or what’s in your vehicle, rather than with the ideal supplies. Shades of one of the periodic YouTuber scenarios. Lost hunter, all you have is a pocket knife (if that), for instance. Overnight with $10 in supplies picked from a dollar store or Walmart is always fun, but contrived. If I found myself off the road in my car and through hand waving a scenario wasn’t disabled but also couldn’t leave the area by much or get help, I wouldn’t have food and water. I wouldn’t have a pot for boiling water. I’d have more than one tarp and, last I knew, a tent. I’d have a tiny first aid kit and there might be a lighter or matches somewhere. I’d have no spare clothing, blanket or sleeping bag. I’d have a bunch of tools and odd junk. I’d have a folding saw, the key knife in my pocket, a self-lighting Coleman 2 burner propane stove and probably a small thing of propane, and an old propane lantern. There’d be at least two flashlights, some rope and twine, some duct tape, and a bunch of empty soda bottles and cans.  There’d be a dull hatchet. Empty, never used 2.5 gallon gas jug. It’d be downright cushy, entirely aside from any scenario in which you have an intact vehicle meaning you have instant shelter, and an anchor for extending shelter around it given things like tarps.

Then there’s the scenario where I am on foot. I have my keys and the tiny but sharp key knife. I have a pen or two, some pieces of paper towel, the contents of my wallet, and whatever I am wearing. That gets much more rustic.

In the truck there’s a small bag packed with tools, a tiny first aid kit that has a crappy folding knife and some matches tucked in it, maybe a tarp, maybe a trash bag, some rope, some empty bottles and cans, a flashlight or two, and not much else. It’s less roomy to shelter in. Given enough of a tarp, the bed could be covered for an off the ground sleeping shelter. Stuff in some dead leaves?

I’m rambling. It’ll be interesting to see what Alone does with a more northerly location this year. Some of it depends just how late in the year they started filming. I amuse myself sometimes by chastising the contestants, who know and have practiced a lot more than me, for doing silly things, or failing to do things, when I probably wouldn’t make it as far as them. There’s another element of the not fully prepared scenario: Writing it as someone who only has academic knowledge of survival skills.

Well Darn

The best full copy of Melody on YouTube just got taken down. I figured it was being allowed to stay up because nobody really cared. The movie wasn’t exactly a blockbuster, it’s almost impossible to get a legitimate copy, and it’s almost 50 years old. The rights holders have abandoned the thing in all but name. Being available online lets new people discover what they missed because of lousy distributors and marketing.

I haven’t checked for other versions, but I’ve probably linked that one once or twice and now it’ll be broken. Since playing it from the DVD is tenuous, I’ll have to figure out how to port it to digital form for my own convenience. All I was going to do was play the music room scene because I was remembering how much the reactions Tracy portrayed from Melody regarding Daniel were like reactions I got from Ella when we were a couple years older than the kids in Melody. That’s part of why it’s one of my favorite scenes: the realism.

Update:

Technically this is a legitimate takedown, even though it is silly under the specific circumstances. However, it was done by a super sketchy outfit called LeakID, that has a history of false takedowns/copyright claims on material that is, for instance, homemade and copyright the person who posted it. They were so bad, they got fired years ago by a major software company that probably put them on the map by being their big client. That makes it more insulting than might otherwise be the case. If Puttnam, Parker and the production company suddenly decided Melody had more than sentimental value, that would be one thing. It’s entirely possible nobody actually hired LeakID to go after this movie, or after things by whatever entity owns the movie after all this time. Realistically, it’d be out of copyright and in the public domain after this long anyway. Or approaching it, even with a more liberal yet realistic term.

A Dream of Spring? (Spoilers!)

I can’t sleep, so I thought I’d post about the Game of Thrones finale while waiting for my alarms to go off to wake me for work. Normally I don’t work Mondays, but agreed to do an extra day. I am assuming the episode name. I didn’t notice whether it had a name assigned when I watched. They’ve been labeled with numbers recently when I’ve watched, and I’ve been surprised that all the YouTube people seem to know immediately the actual names that get slapped on later. Not only am I working tonight, but I’m working earlier than normal, which made it even worse trying to ensure I didn’t have to wait to watch after I came home later in the morning. I got 2 hours sleep, woke up because I couldn’t breathe anyway because of being sick, watched, then tried unsuccessfully to sleep another hour or so.

Well, I’d heard some details that were leaked and there was some accuracy to them. In that regard, some things were as expected. In “fan service” regard, some things were as expected.

I was expecting some cryptic, or maybe not so cryptic, indication of a new, or not convincingly killed, evil stirring even if it’d take thousands of years to come to fruition in a new cycle. The closest thing we might have gotten to that is Drogon.

By the same token, I was half expecting a “land ho!” moment.

Jon fulfilled his actual destiny, mirroring Arya’s. No way he could be king after that, even if they’d allow it to any Targaryan.

Punishment or not, he is de facto one of a threesome of powerful Starks. Or foursome, if Arya is going to pull a Luthair Paendrag Mondwin, but a single ship changes that dynamic and who knows if the Pacific holds an extra continent.

Best small council ever.

A Song of Ice and Fire scene was not as people imagined but was indeed there.

Tyrion’s fate was good.

I never expected to see some of those people again and it took me time to remember who Robin was.

The white book was as expected.

Ser Podrick.

Not surprised the deaths were concentrated in episode 5.

The show’s version of “break the wheel” succeeded pretty well. It still gets me that they took that expression from Wheel of Time and changed the meaning from something bad and mystical/philosophical to something good/political.

Fate of the iron throne marked an expected checkbox, but with a twist. Interesting that nobody did sit on it one last time.

At one point I was half expecting a showdown of badasses between Grey Worm and Jon.

In a way, the whole thing was epilogue. I didn’t find it boring. I already saw one person complain they did.

I loved Bronn’s outcome.

Ghost! Everyone happy now?

No Nymeria, though. No super pack coming to help Perrin in the Last Battle.

That’s about it for now. Maybe I’ll have more thoughts later. Alarm starts going off in 3 minutes, so it’s time to make some coffee and start pumping myself up.

Happy Birthday Tracy Hyde

Tracy Constance Margaret Hyde is sixty years old today. That means it was 49 years ago that she turned 11 and celebrated on the set of the movie that made her famous, early in the shooting. Obviously I am talking about Melody, filmed in 1970 and released in 1971.

She took her second husband’s name, so these days it’s actually Tracy Ayoul.

No matter how old she gets, and how old we get, for better or worse, Tracy will always be best remembered like she appeared here with Mark Lester:

 
Mark Lester and Tracy Hyde as Daniel Latimer and Melody Perkins in the cemetery scene in 1971 film Melody, originally released in some markets as SWALK.

Arya’s List Gets a New Name: Game of Thrones 72 (Spoilers)

I don’t think I can talk about this without spoilers. Assuming the fact that everyone knew going into the episode that there would be a massive death toll on major and relatively major characters and for goodness sake extras and scenery as well.

After the episode and “making of” were over, I walked into the other room and reeled off the list of seven names and then added “and King’s Landing.”

Even if Arya does put the obvious name on her list, if she still has a list, I think Sandor talked enough sense into her about revenge to make her reconsider her career. Especially given what she witnessed among the people. When she was getting trampled and having trouble getting where she’d planned, I was thinking the Faceless Men primed her for one thing and she did it, so maybe that affected her mojo.

I mean, really. Major and near major characters still alive are dwindling, and one of them needs to go. If we discount those we’ve seen say farewells or otherwise go offscreen, what do we have left? I count 8 if I am not spacing out and forgetting anyone. Not counting non-humans. 11. I remembered three more, but one of them may have effectively gone offscreen without leaving Winterfell. If you count anyone still in Winterfell as being offscreen and presumably safe, that leaves 6 at what remaining risk, mostly to or from each other, may exist. If they did all make it out of the city and there was nothing missed or not shown.

Wow. I watched the previous episode for the second time earlier today and for stretches of it didn’t watch, just listened. This one will bear an intensive rewatch ASAP.

Update:

Bronn! I forgot Bronn when I was thinking about how many major and semi-major characters remained alive.

In Dreams

Last night I woke from a dream that took place in the conference room of my old office. Variants of the old office have become one of my standard dream locations. The oddities of what becomes and does not become a dream setting, or influence on dream settings, is the topic of what might become a rambling post.

In the dream that inspired the discussion, I was back there, years after the fact, with some other people I didn’t recognize. There was some problem we were going to fix for the big client that was the reason for the office being where it was. I checked with them that I had the correct password. The rest centered on discussing terms, shades of Bronn, with two scruffy guys and a girl who seemed to speak for them; what they’d do, how they’d be compensated, and whether I’d actually be able to compensate them. Bottom line seemed to be that they’d risk a minor amount of work, but beyond the task at hand, forget it. Perhaps they wanted Highgarden.

The dream reminded me that it’s coming up on an amount of time since I was finished with the last of the last activity around closing that business that will equal the amount of time start to finish for the business. About three years total of the time for the business was before and after the office. I spent a lot of time there and it was pretty personal and distinctive.

It’s not normal for me to have dreams based at places where I worked. It has happened, but it’s been selective.

You would think that places where I spent a lot of time, especially formative time, would be prominent. Places I had no serious connection with or that were transient would not factor into dreams. That can be generally true. It’s just as true that some places appear out of proportion and others appear seldom or never despite being prominent. I have also dreamed completely fictional places that are as real in my memory, from dreams, as real ones.

The house where I grew up is naturally prominent. Often it’s the yard or other surroundings, including some of the outbuildings on the land around us. My father had his business just up the street. The original one was gone when I was 5, but is as likely to be what it is in a dream as any later location. The building that replaced it after a year or so doesn’t appear. That was gone relatively quickly. I sometimes dream about the temporary place where he did business in between. I don’t really dream about the final, longest lasting location that ought to be the most significant. That’s the location he sold when he moved on.

Second only to the house where I grew up is my maternal grandmother’s house. That most commonly appears melded into features of other houses. For instance, last week I faced out of my room in a dream. My room was a bedroom in that house, but the part I was facing was somewhere else. Perhaps the most identifiable other house that is part of dreams now and then is my old friend Zack’s childhood home, razed a number of years ago, but before that one of the oldest in the town. Places of influence include my great grandmother’s house, my aunt’s house that had been my great aunt’s before that, a rest home or something I visited once to see a great aunt, Daphne’s house, Kara’s house, and the home of a family we visited a couple times when I was little. That last is significant because my older brother would later have an enduring crush on one of the girls in that family.

The most unexpected is the shack my father’s mother’s parents lived in, barely in my early memories, visited once or twice when I was at most 4. Dreams set there owe more to the woodsy location by water than to the exact building. The way the building appears is almost like a hobbit hole. It’s cozy, safe, and mostly a single room. Completely rustic.

That one borders on a purely fictional location, however inspired. There’s an actual fictional location that to my memories may as well be real. It’s a yellow house, in the trees on a sort of ridge line between sections of swamp, down a stretch of grassy fire road if you know it’s there. I want to put it in a book if I can, someday. In dreams, I spent time growing up there with my brother and sister. It recurred when I was young, even more often than having a forest fire in the woods across the street from my actual house recurred in dreams. I’d be out there trying to battle flames blazing up to tree crowns with a garden hose.

I used to have school dreams. Not based on the elementary school or high school. Mainly based on the junior high and later the college. Sometimes I’d have dreams in schools with odd architecture, like walkways along the walls of the outsides of the buildings, at second floor level. You’d enter up there. They’d connect to other buildings or ramp to the ground. No rails. Similar to dreams I had when i was a kid in which we’d ride through Boston on roads that ran along the sides of buildings, connected precariously to crumbling brick. The roads through the city now look a lot more like what I was dreaming than they did then, but obviously you’re not driving up flimsy ramps hooked to sides of old buildings.

My big stock location that draws inspiration from others but is not the same as any of the exactly is the giant, creaky old wooden house with endless rooms. The floors are sometimes thin to the point where it seems I’ll fall through. The rooms can be empty, or full of junk. If there are people in the house, usually I am on my own, whether looking for something, exploring, or going to my assigned room. If this building has a street location, it is usually on a street not far from Zack’s house, where something like it doesn’t really exist, and there’s no building I’ve been in.

A variant on that is at a house that is now owned by my cousin. It was owned by her father and, when they were still married, her mother, my father’s sister. Except in the dream it’s bigger, and centers around the cellar, with a rickety floor perhaps 20 feet above the cellar floor. The floor has gaps, ends abruptly, and is very thin. The fall seems deadly. There’s not really a way into the lower part of the cellar from the elevated area above it, which is apparently accessible from the house. In real life, the house is on a hillside sufficient that you walk into the cellar through a regular door at the back. It’s normal, though, with a normal set of stairs up to the main floor of the house. That dream is always terrifying.

Speaking of terrifying, I can never remember what it’s about or why I scream, but the one I commonly have set in the yard where I grew up ends with me screaming “Mom!” Out loud, as I wake up. I don’t know if I am screaming for her, or because of something she’s doing to me. I did have a version once that was inside the house and was definitely her doing something to harm me. Smothering me in my bed, as I recall. Weird.

I once dreamed about an alien stepping up to my car while I was driving around, delivering papers. Vivid. I drove off in a hurry. It had a threatening feel. On the other hand, I once traveled in a beam of light that acted like an elevator. I was going out toward Jupiter and a family of aliens who looked completely human were on there way to Earth when we paused for a brief, friendly chat before continuing in our respective directions. Inspiration from surroundings only goes so far.

Which reminds me I forgot to mention the point of places that never seem to register in dreams. At least, I don’t think I mentioned it. The place where I lived the third longest, in two separate stretches, has been notably absent from dreams, The one time it appeared was such a surprise I made a big deal of it. Somewhere I lived for 11 years doesn’t rate, but a place I visited once becomes part of the architecture of dream houses? Has to be age and impressionability of the brain.

Speaking of youth, perhaps the most significant dream I ever had was of my kids before I’d met their mother. I may already have told this story here. Oh well. I was in an amorphous, gray place where people wait to be. An area cleared into a strip of lawn, gray still swirling behind it. Three kids were there. They were a girl, a girl, and a boy, in that order, but in the dream they were already perhaps 6-8 years in age range. The two younger ones, obviously close, chased each other around playfully while the older one stood and addressed me sternly, chastising me about taking my time and keeping them waiting. Then they stood side by side before me, in what would be birth order. I don’t have a clear memory of exactly what they looked like, but their appearance, relative ages, and personalities as much as you could discern in that short time were close enough to the kids that were waiting in the wings that it was uncanny. As it turned out, the first of the kids was “impossible.” She was conceived at the earliest possible point when she could have been, as if in a rush.

Two Night Stand

I just watched Two Night Stand and it’s one of my favorite romantic comedies ever. The kids who are the leads are adorable. Well, to me they seemed like kids. That’s starting to happen.

What are their names? John Cusack, right? No. Miles Teller. But hey, if you don’t look too close…

Analeigh Tipton is gorgeous and was perfect for the role. Great chemistry. It’s a bit less… innocent… than your classic Meg Ryan romantic comedy.

They’ve been in a lot of other stuff, with his roles being especially notable. Funny thing is I saw Jessica Szohr’s name and recognized it, but had to consult IMDB to realize it’s because she got the role of Talla on The Orville, replacing Halston Sage’s Alara as chief of security.

Anyway, the rough arc is predictable because of the type of movie. I suppose this is what’s what’s weird or different about a young romance. How do you have a similar happy ending? Assuming walking off down the snow covered street together, neither with a place to live, is entirely happy and can be presumed to be ever after. I guess a faux wedding might count if you’re 11 or 12. Getting to see each other regularly afterward at 12 might count, especially in light of improved family situations. A student rebellion and what will presumably be a short-lived running away from adult intervention in the faux wedding might not end up so happy.

Some of the details are predictable from the plot description and even more so if you watch the trailer. That doesn’t make it bad, though.

The experience of the people in the film is entirely outside of mine. I can’t actually say that nobody that attractive was ever interested in me, but what gets me is the ease of it all and the casual nature of the sex. I’ve talked about this before. Her roommate is all like “you’re horny and miserable, go get some.” I’m like “on what planet does it work that way?” And I was a teenager in the seventies. I wouldn’t be able to write something like that very easily. To me it might as well be dragons and unicorns.

But I love a romantic story and happy ending. I love obvious chemistry on screen. It’s what I grew up believing in, even without much more evidence of it being a real possibility than there was of sex being acceptable.

To be fair, so much of my understanding of things came from Daphne that earlier today I was telling myself that she might have prevented me from overly early fatherhood with the wrong person. Perhaps that should be viewed as a favorable role. I just could have done without waiting to have my first kid at 43. Then again, I would no more snap my kids away than Tony Stark would his. They’re amazing. Everything I did may have brought me to where I belong, but that doesn’t mean it was or is pleasant.

Maybe this is why I like this genre so much.

Still Confused, Apparently

I keep thinking of the kids in Melody as being in 5th grade, in US terms. In looking at stats, I ended up reading my own post on ages in Melody and found that I had concluded that they were equivalent to 6th grade. That because they are “First Form” and that is the year when you’d generally turn 12. In the US, sixth grade is the year when you’d generally turn 12. This does fit the story better, in that it was the earliest there were generally strong interests in the opposite sex and kids have girlfriends or boyfriends.

So I’ll have to remember that when I think about the story it’s sixth grade, it’s on the edge of 12, not fifth and 11. That means Tracy Hyde was a year young but looked older (well, her apparent age was highly variable in the film), and Mark Lester was exactly the age (looking on the young side of close enough to it). Jack Wild of course was playing much younger than his actual age, and always looked at least a year older than the age he was attempting to play. Perfectly plausible in the real world and Ornshaw’s apparent circumstances.

I could totally see this happening to me in late 6th grade. Heck, that was when I met my best friend, Zack, who would probably have been a crush had he been a girl. My daughter, a year older than that, has a huge girl crush on her best friend, even though she’s never shown any sign of being interested in anything but boys. Other than that, I still wondered about the 4th grade crush who disappeared, and had a crush on Paula, who was a year and a third younger than me. She’d be the obvious analogue for a scenario based on my life. If I merged her and Carol, I’d have dancing, but she’d have a brother who was a friend in my own grade. There’d be an alcoholic father, but a more stable, larger family otherwise, and more friends. Clearly the idea of writing something based loosely on me has not let go. Not a big market for youth romances, though, notwithstanding the success of Moonrise Kingdom.

But I digress. Writing this was intended to poke fun at my memory and to help reinforce what I had figured out previously so I might not forget it this time.

The Orville Renewed

Well, I haven’t watched it since I ran into the problem immediately after the Fox merger with Disney was finalized, even though the Comcast problem was fixed, but I am pleased to see that The Orville has been renewed for a third season. Probably at some point I’ll remember to watch the episodes I missed at the end of the second season, and then the new ones next year if available. I just lost all enthusiasm after that. It kind of pushed me into thinking Disney had gotten too big.

It probably didn’t help that I assumed I’d not be able to watch any more and let myself be spoiled for the first of the episodes I couldn’t watch. Knowing in detail what happened, it wasn’t compelling. Then I lost the habit of coming home from work on Friday mornings and watching it if it was a new episode.

Forming Ideas

After the previous post, I poked around and discovered the trick of creating a Google Form to enter writing ideas from anywhere that the URL will bring up the form. It can be set to go to a spreadsheet, rather than simply being shown in the results tab when you’re on the form as the user who created it. Making the type of input a paragraph provides freedom for it to be extensive and freeform as  needed.

I have a shortcut to it on my phone and have tested it, though not over phone data rather than WiFi. I had meant to do that in the parking lot at work this morning.

It does me no good if there’s no internet, but if I am in a store or in a parking lot or whatever and have my phone, I can record a thought. That’s a start. I need to get the link onto my Kindle as well.

Writing and Distractions

I’m flowing with writing ideas, and I see it as the only thing I want to do that I can see myself doing. I also see it as a way to make a living, maybe even a decent one, as I head into my old age and increasingly toward my actual underfunded retirement. As opposed to the state of semi-retirement I have occupied for eleven years for various reasons and circumstances. One of the reasons I’ve been blogging relatively heavily is to have that flow going, and to have at least some outlet for the urge to write. I’ve actually written for a living, in a sense, in the past. It’s just that was a role pioneering Microsoft’s web-based tech support in the nineties, rather than the traditional forms of writing you might picture.

The trouble is, I feel privileged if I am able to complete so much as a blog post without losing track of what I was saying due to interruption or distraction.

First, the wife – sometimes the kids, but 98% the wife – interrupts freely without regard to whether I may or may not be concentrating or in the middle of something. We are back to a closed door not mattering, let alone the “working” sign not working. The latter has been foiled by my forgetting ever to flip it from “Working” to “Miller Time” but then again I almost never like to be interrupted. It doesn’t matter if I am writing, working on a web site, doing the proverbial checkbook, reading, or watching something.

Second, myself. I’m on this computer, online, and even if internet is down, with solitaire playable on it. Worse, perhaps, last time I made a major attempt at book writing, I had to be online because I used Google Docs.

I don’t have the space to adopt Jerry Pournelle’s monk’s cell concept, with or without the computer there being online. It would create a clear “do not disturb” zone for others, and a psychological change for my own benefit.

As unimpressed as I’ve been with Martin’s writing, I love his idea of writing on a dedicated DOS computer using WordStar. My first major word processor was WordStar 5.0, on a 286 with DOS. One of the good DOS versions. I think it was 3.3, then I was fortunate to have my newer version be 5 and then 6. I missed the ones before 3.3, and the versions between that and 5, except in passing on computers that were not my own. I adored WordStar 5.0 and had many of the keystrokes memorized. While I was using that, I actually had the chance to try WordPerfect and thought it was about the worst thing ever. My roommate loved it. You could do fancier things if you had the time and inclination to learn how. To be fair, I didn’t need anything fancier than you can do in Windows Notepad. I eventually used others, most notably Ami Pro, which created the resume I used for getting the job doing tech support that, it turned out, was for Word 6 (and the earlier ones if anyone called). I had tried Word 2 and dismissed it before that, but I fell in love with Word 6. It helped to have had intensive training on it.

So I have three problems:

  1. I get distracted too easily, as if I have ADHD more than I ever would have credited.
  2. I get interrupted by others.
  3. I have technical and environmental issues that maximize distraction and hinder focus.

Another thought: I have been known to have trouble bringing myself to reread my stuff to revise [case in point: right here I got interrupted for about an hour, with the biggest component being the wife], edit, or rewrite. This fits well with a possible attack on the goal and problem that I am considering.

We have sometimes talked about my going camping all by myself as a solitary retreat, even for a night. This idea originated with the wife, oddly enough. It makes sense. Camping is the kind of thing I can afford. She doesn’t camp, unless you count the level of rustic involved in going to a friend’s cabin in the woods, using an outhouse or composting toilet, having no refrigeration and modest cooking facilities, and having electricity via a solar setup or generator. There’s hot water and a well. You pretty much have to use the generator to run the pump to fill the tank to have some showers. When we all went there last summer, it was ungodly hot and that was miserable. I spent a lot of time in a pond and that gave me a severe “swimmer’s ear” infection. We almost entirely ate restaurant food or stuff that needed neither cooking nor cooling.

Besides swimming if there’s a pond, walking in the woods with someone who appreciates it (myself), cooking campfire food for the only one who wants it, and reading a lot, that would be a chance to write.

On paper. Realistically, I’d have to write on paper. It’s hard enough to bring a Kindle or two and a phone, keep them charged if the duration is long enough to need it. To write I’d either have to do it on a Kindle or get something portable but bigger. Or use paper.

If I use paper, I can write anywhere. I can sit in a parking lot! I used to write handwritten letters that way. I could pointedly get out of the house, go sit somewhere and spew into a notebook. Not in the yard, since I’d have no peace there. I’d have one of the neighbors standing by the car talking my ear off. Or at the picnic table.

I’d need to get the stuff into electronic form later, and that would force me to read what I had written while transcribing. There would inevitably be at least minor edits and corrections in the process. This may be the part that pushes me hardest to do it.

Another thing I’ve concluded is that I need multiple ideas going at once. I flit too much between things. If the things I have for flitting between are different pieces of writing or planning on paper for stories, then I am more likely to get something done on some of it, rather than nothing on any. That isn’t tied to where I write and the mechanics of it. It’s tied to recognition of my own inability to focus indefinitely on one project without flagging or pursuit of a shiny thing.

I’ve sometimes wondered if I ought to dictate some of my writing. It strikes me as slow yet spontaneous. If I were to work at a modern computer, dictating could be an option for creating a version that needs serious editing. It might have enough of a different feel, revising that, to keep me from dragging my feet. There’s a… stigma, for lack of a better word… associated with speech to text dictation. I spent years supporting Dragon Naturally Speaking for a law firm. I also did a presentation in college – in 1984! – on the state of work being done on voice recognition technology. At the time, they thought they almost had it. Even Dragon was sketchy and got gradually better over several years in basically the early aughts. Now it’s pretty much a given that any voice will be recognized with reasonable to near perfect accuracy by a device, without training or speaking carefully. That’s massive computing power and AI for you. It’s how we have spy devices for our homes, able to understand what we say when we address them. But I digress.

If I get in the writing habit and work on the distraction and focus angle, so long as I have the ideas, this could work.

Season 8 Episode 4 (Spoilers)

First thoughts, minimal details. Man it was dense. It felt so long.

Sad about the deaths, though I was maybe expecting more, or more significant ones, except the first one was actually one of the most significant possible. Just not one we might have speculated on the same as others.

Sad about Jaime after being super happy about Jaime.

That’s not me. Not what I was expecting, but yet another repeated line.

How did word spread so widely about Gendry?

The Hound and Arya are such a great duo.

So Arya will end up taking out Cersei for sure, unless Jaime does. The duo will take out the Mountain.

There has to be a target a dragon can hit that’s effective and safe to hit, buy they sure aren’t making it easy.

Odds of Arya sailing west are up. Odds of John winning the throne are up. Odds of Daenerys dying are up. Odds of Cersei dying are certain. Varys strikes me as an unexpected hero to steer the realm to a rational rule with his dying breath.

Ghost sure was unhappy about going north and man the poor thing was hurting. I just hope the whimpering wasn’t a sign of mortal danger for Jon. Also, I just realized that white of Ghost fit the Targaryen thing as much as the Snow thing.

Still waiting to see Nymeria’s pack come into play.

No sign of any further magic concerns following Night King.

Funeral was well done.

More if I think of it. Haven’t watched any YouTube reactions yet and that might make me look at it differently.

Oh! Glad to see Bronn was back.

Timeline Elasticity

If any of you follow all my babbling here, you know I think about alternate history scenarios, and alternate timelines to ours based on points where events large or small departed. One of my fiction ideas, started but never remotely completed, was one such based where I grew up. In it, I had certain changes I knew I wanted, then started thinking about what would have had to happen in the wider world to make it so. I could stick to lesser changes, and certainly I could keep it ambiguous. However, I arrived at the change possibly deriving from there having been no Teddy Roosevelt. I knew that was a huge change, but in fact it’s more so than I had realized, based on subsequent reading of history.

Digression from the main topic: TR gave us the Spanish-American War and the advent of the United States as an empire. He really kicked off the progressive movement, a creature of both right and left, and inaugurated massive changes to the size and role of government and collusion with big business interests. Things may have been ripe to lean this way in any event. That’s where the title of the post comes in. Who knows. We might have had no Great War, or no US participation in it. Take that away and you change the economy. It’s more certain there’s no Second War.  I’d originally thought about Wilson being eliminated, but it was TR who put us on a collision course.

The first big thing that impacts is a company that makes fireworks never becomes a munitions company, never becomes as big, never makes the owner as rich, never has residual effects on my family history.

When thinking about timeline changes, you can butterfly up a storm and treat it that all bets are off. You can also treat events as being somewhat elastic relative to what we knew in our timeline. I suppose that’s kind of a temporal-centric outlook, as if we are the One True Timeline. But if it’s elastic enough, then it’s not going to diverge as much as it would otherwise across a wide range of moderate changes.

What I mean by timeline elasticity is that things happen like JFK still becomes president around the same point in time, even with a good bit of change prior to that, even with one or more other presidents having been different. It snaps back, as best it can.

I would think that if you want to use that as an approach when planning out an alternate timeline, then you would have to be consistent. You can’t plead timeline elasticity when people question Nixon being president despite there never having been a Teddy Roosevelt, but wildly diverge on something that would be just as elastic. To put it another way, you’d treat the initial departure as your science fiction gimme and be “realistic” with other details. The “gimme” thing is a concept I got from Allen Steele. He said “you get one gimme” for your story. For instance, faster than light travel that simply exists and you don’t need to explain or justify at length. It’s the impossibility you’ve allowed yourself. But that’s what you get, and the rest follows or is logical.

This whole thing came to mind again in relation to Melody, of all things. I had been thinking it would be entertaining to reference Melody in the alternate timeline, which would be visited in the past, just a few years after Melody’s release in our timeline. I pictured having it be more successful. The thing is, change things enough and does it ever happen? If it does, would we recognize it? Just one thing is the minimum change: Mr. Perkins has an uncle who lost his hearing when a bomb fell on Berwell Street in the war. No war. No bomb. No story. Unless the uncle was destined to lose his hearing and the cause changed.

Now, it’s possible I could invoke some of the changes I want without such a huge point of departure. It’s possible strategic local events could do what I want, and nobody would notice much difference otherwise. On the other hand, the deeper story, including why and how people ended up crossing between timelines, seems to factor in the bigger source of change.

Besides, I still have a chance to use Melody in a story if I want. All I have to do is write a puppy love story based on myself, but in which I’ve seen the movie.

I suppose you could say that A Sound of Thunder was elastic. When the scared time traveling dinosaur hunter steps on a butterfly and changes everything, people are still people and things seems quite familiar. It’s just that the wrong guy got elected and English has changed slightly. Over millions of years of evolution that’s not much.

At least you don’t have to worry about these things if you change something now that matters going forward. For instance, changing physics to eliminate explosives, electricity, and some other details, while also adding subtle degrees of more mystic elements working. I had a similar but more radical idea years ago. If I wrote it now, people would think I was inspired by Dies The Fire. Or possibly Coldfire Trilogy. When I read the latter, I tried to figure out whether the author had been one of my pen pals. I briefly corresponded with a bunch of other aspiring SF&F writers found via the Writer’s Digest Book Club, and told some of them more about my ideas than I probably should have. In some ways, Coldfire was completely different from my biggest idea at the time. In others it was disturbingly familiar. Alas, there’s not really anything new under the sun, in some permutation or another.

The Long Night Rewatch (Spoilers!)

It’s been almost a week, so I will be freer with details than I was when I watched it the first time. The episode was chaotic and dense enough that I opted to watch it again this morning before tonight’s new episode airs.

I liked it even better the second time.

I am not remotely unhappy or even especially surprised by Arya’s role. In retrospect, it was not only telegraphed during the episode, but was also what drove her sometimes odd story arc throughout the series. In the “making of” after the episode, they talk about knowing it’d be her for at least three years. The question the wife had was whether that dates back to when they had the sit down with GRRM to have him disclose to a key group what his plan were for the various characters and ending, or whether this was an independent decision. If the latter, it makes one wonder if in the books who does it will ultimately matter less than what comes after, or other events. Speaking of what comes after, I see tonight’s episode as almost a part two (probably the first portion amounts to that, realistically, then it goes in the direction of what’s next) showing aftermath, spread of knowledge of details, and reactions. If one wanted to build a false myth and redirect away from her skills, they could fake that Jon did it, but they’d have to think of that fast.

I had actually meant to post thoughts on how we might not be done with the proverbial Dark One and, as such, not done with Rand AKA Bran having an important role. In the Wheel of Time, (spoilers!) the Dark One turns out not to be a corporeal being, but rather the ethereal personification of entropy. The God of Death, in a sense. The Dark One (DO) employs minions and an agent, or avatar, to act out in the world, with circumstances that allow the DO to touch the world making him increasingly able to do so. The Creator has an even less direct role. The Dragon is the person who acts as the Creator’s champion; the savior. The DO is represented by Ishamael, later resurrected as Moridin. Rand, Dragon Reborn, defeats and finally kills Ishamael, but this doesn’t defeat the DO.

The nature of the Night King is such that he was just going to kill Bran physically, once they were done staring at each other and doing whatever was connected with that, which may have been something virtual or astral. They are both connected to the Weirwoodnet and are greenseers to some degree. But was the Night King the Dark One, or was the Night King the avatar of the Dark One, who is ultimately unaffected by his avatar’s unmaking? If the force the Children of the Forest harnessed in creating the Night King always existed and continues to exist, well, it may have to take a long rest, but the proverbial wheel still turns. If that’s the case, is the GoT version of DO still able to touch the world, or is he the equivalent of trapped away until next time in a few thousand years when someone drills a bore into someone’s chest with obsidian at a weirwood tree?

I loved the echo between Lyanna Mormont and Arya Stark. I loved Lyanna’s heroic demise. She saved a lot of people from that giant and was every bit the badass we knew she’d be.

Arya was delightful to watch as she whirled through wights. It was fascinating to see the long game center on her, with her as much the agent of the Lord of Light, Creator or whatever the force of good, life, or anti-entropy might be as Bran was. Action element and mystic element separated between two people.

If Bran was manipulating things all along in the past to make sure events played out as they did, we may yet see some of that depicted on the show. I’d be surprised if there’s not at least a little cleanup of that entire plot line. I’d also be unsurprised if there’s not reason for him to contribute to how the politics goes, or to prep things for some long in the future repeat of the battle with evil.

I noticed this time the echo between Sam and Jon. Sam was almost useless and might as well have been in the crypts to get attacked by undead late in the episode. Yet he fought bravely enough, enough of the time, to have survived, if not without some hiding or cowering. Edd died protect Sam, and maybe that was as much Edd’s role all along as Baeric’s with Arya. And to different degrees Mel’s and the Hound’s, though the Hound remains with us. Toward the end there, all the badass fighting by Jon was for naught. There was as much hiding, cowering, confusion and despair as there was accomplishment.

The charge of the light brigade, as it were, was brilliantly done to show what they were up against. Melisandre made the Dothraki literally forces of light, so you could see them swallowed and extinguished by forces of darkness. I was fascinated by Melisandre’s greeting to Grey Worm.

House Mormont is no more. Jorah went out as a heroic badass in exactly the way we might have expected. Sam’s sword was incredibly useful. Perhaps that was tied to the depiction of Sam as being not especially useful. He owned the weapon, not the skill, and he knew it.

Melisandre had ways of knowing things, so it was no surprise for her to dredge up “not today.” What’s fascinating in retrospect is why Jaqen H’ghar was in King’s Landing in the first place and why he took Arya in as a trainee, then let her decline and leave once she’d passed the test. There have been theories about him all along. He was supposed to kill Ned but it was moot. He was Syrio. That sort of thing. It makes sense that she’d be prepared to do what needed to be done later, but someone would have needed to know. Was Bran manipulating people? Was H’ghar working with the forces of R’hllor?

What else? Been working on this off and on long enough to have lost track of things I might have been thinking.

I wasn’t surprised the Night King wasn’t harmed by fire. He was supernatural in origin. He had to be unmade at a weirwood, in just the right way. I loved the look on his face when the flames cleared.

I’m waiting to see Varys have an actual role this season, and a fitting death. We know it’s coming, after Mel predicted it. Will we ever learn what he saw in the flames? I wonder if he will be a traitor.

Anyway, can’t wait for the next one. I’ll update this or mention it later if I see something glaringly missing.

Update:
I haven’t rewatched that part to catch it myself, but I saw an intriguing catch from when Jon was facing off with Viserion and he seemed a bit lost. Apparently he stood up an yelled at the dragon, which would seem to most an odd mode of attack. Allegedly what he yelled was “go!” He apparently had seen Arya waiting to get past the dragon and used distraction to allow her to get through at the right time. That certainly changes things. I’ll have to look for it.

Happy Birthday

This is the birthday of the girl I had a crush on around the time Melody came out in 1971. I didn’t know her name then, and she was gone the next year, as I know I have written elsewhere here. We were younger than the age depicted in the movie, by a year, which was basically the same age as the actors playing Daniel and Melody. He would turn 12 shortly before filming ended, and she would turn 11 just after filming began. (In her case, you can see her look older or younger at different times during the film, or look like it’s late in the filming because her hair has sun bleached, but I digress.)

It really would have been fascinating to see the film when it was first out and I was smitten with Carol without understanding what I felt at all. I might not have waited until 5th grade to try to seek her out and identify her. That was fruitless, because she had moved. When she returned, she looked different and time enough had passed that I’d never have made the connection. I learned by seeing a picture of her 4th grade class on Facebook, and there she was.

Long, relatively dark hair. Birthday in May. Father with a drinking problem. Dancing involved in my falling for her. It’s just crazy the parallels. The rest would have gone completely differently, but I could see us ending up hanging out. She’d have been receptive because she thought nobody liked her and she had exactly one friend.

I’m so glad I learned her identity, even if it wasn’t until we were 50 or so.

Happy First of May

May first is celebrated by fans of Melody due to the degree to which the Bee Gees song First of May inspired the story told in the film, and due to its inclusion in the film as the theme of Daniel and Melody. It is played starting when they officially “get together” when she makes unambiguously clear she returns his interest. In the movie, it plays as they go from the school to the overgrown cemetery, then is reprised after the famous cemetery scene and as they walk to her apartment to have tea with her family. That’s on YouTube as First of May, Cemetery Scene, Melody (1971).

This embed is my favorite version that creates a music video for First of May from scenes clipped from the movie, covering a lot of that part of the story, without sticking exclusively to the part around the cemetery scene.

This is a much happier observation of May first than the increasingly widely observed Victims of Communism Day. But we should certainly remember them as well.