The Cutting Edge

Watched The Cutting Edge on Amazon Prime last night. It’s the umpteenth time I’ve seen it, but it had been a while. Between me and the wife, Three copies of it came into the marriage. She grew up partially in Minnesota. We, and her family, sometimes quote it as if it were The Princess Bride or something.

Naturally I like it because it’s a romantic comedy, albeit more dramatic than some. However, I have always loved figure skating. My father loved it and I grew up with that. Everyone but me ice skated, to some degree, on the bogs. They used my physical problems and the presumption I’d be unable to do it as a reason not to spend the excessive money skates for me would have cost. It was roller skating that my father competed in, in roller dancing pairs. He also played ice hockey, which did a number on his knee.

Throw figure skating and romance together and it’s all over. Funny thing is, I remember hearing about the film when it was in production and being intrigued but skeptical. I never went to see it, catching it years later on video.

I still love it, but I don’t find Moira Kelly as attractive as I once did. Rachelle Ottley is still pretty awesome, though. I remain surprised that D.B. Sweeney didn’t have a bigger career.

If any girl had behaved toward me the way Kate did to Doug initially, it would have been all over. Sadly, that became my mental image of girls at an early enough age to stick. They also didn’t have to be that way all the time. Once was enough. It’s like reputation. Once destroys it. Building it takes Every Single Time without that Once. I try to be understanding of root causes when I see that now, but it’s not so easy when you’re younger.

Heck, I can think of an example offhand, even though she’s nobody I ever found attractive. She would have helped establish the broader negative impression. My 4th grade crush, in what could have been a Melody-like scenario, had a single friend in town. That friend’s father went on the destroy my woods and build on the land around us. To my crush, that girl was awesome. I saw her as a bitch who hated me, notably around 6th grade. I find it hard ever to think of her any other way, and was shocked when she saw me at an event in another town a couple years later and greeted me with enthusiastic friendliness. When I think of writing a Melody-like story based on my youth, someone analogous to her would probably be a character and I find it hard to picture her as helpful and sympathetic. And yet sleeping over her house was how my crush got some time out of the home environment with her town drunk father.

I digress. I really love The Cutting Edge. I’m liable to watch it a dozen more times before I expire. Granted, I’ve already watched Melody more, and Moonrise Kingdom twice if you don’t count the large portion of it I’d seen via clips. It may have been considered cheesy, but to me it’s a classic.

You Gotta Have Art

On this day in the Melody universe, Friday, June 5, 1970, nothing we saw on screen happened. Or the cafeteria scene happened, and nothing happened the previous day. This isn’t an exact science, unless you are Alan Parker and have a clear memory of the intent, despite almost 50 years having passed.

However, there was a painting scene reportedly filmed but left out. I’d like to think that that happened on the otherwise empty day. They were in art class, and Daniel was noted to be really good at painting. Presumably someone already knew that, with respect to the intro part of the film when he wanted to try painting something new and had a girly magazine a boy at school had given him so he’d no what a nude looked like.  However, we could take that to be from his prior school. Or he could have gotten it at this school but mostly he’d kept a low profile in whatever brief time he’d been there before the school holiday in late May.

Besides what I’ve seen about it, there’s one picture floating around, of Ornshaw with a paintbrush, looking crazed. It’s not high resolution and isn’t easy to tell from the background, but I’ve concluded it’s at school. My initial perception was that he’d visited Daniel’s house and it was in Daniel’s room. Could also be that. I’ll post the picture here.

 
Picture of Ornshaw with paintbrush, presumably in deleted scene in art class from Melody movie.

My Friend Maureen Normally Sits There

If my timeline for the fictional events of Melody is accurate, then on this date in 1970 Daniel asked to sit with Melody in the school cafeteria. Melody didn’t say no, but told him “I don’t know, my friend Maureen normally sits there.” Maureen, right behind him, is amused and sits. The whole places laughs and Ornshaw rescues Daniel and guides him to the table with the gang of boys. Melody looks Daniel’s way, shades of Daniel having looked at her in assembly. Ornshaw sees her and makes a face. She cutely responds in kind.

Nothing happens the next day. Or this is the next day, and nothing happens on this date instead. It’s unclear. I suspect that the missing day involved the art scene I have heard that they filmed and didn’t use. There’s never a reference to Daniel’s painting talent at school or among the other kids, except from Ornshaw at field day, but supposedly it was known due to the unused scene.

He’s Quite a Nice Boy, Really

If my timeline of dates for events in the fictional Melody universe in 1970 is accurate, then on this date there was a school assembly. Whatever else happened, the headmaster led them in singing the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy and Daniel stared across the hall at Melody. Ornshaw noticed and started a whisper brigade to let Melody know, so she turned to look once it got to Muriel and she said “Melody, someone’s looking at you” and something else indistinguishable that probably indicates who or where.

Later that day, there are what appear to be music tryouts. Are they for the next year? Maybe. Seems kind of late in the school year. Stacey is on the tuba, providing some subtle humor. Daniel walks into the music room with his cello. Melody and Rhoda are waiting. When Stacey is done, Rhoda gets called in, apparently for vocals. Melody is uncomfortable and uncertain. Daniel is thrilled and uncertain. For something to do, she practices on the recorder. Daniel turns it into a duet, which makes her happy and him happier. Finally Ms. Fairfax comes out and uses the excuse of sending Daniel with a note to Mr. Dicks to shut them up so they don’t drown out Rhoda’s tryout. Fairfax clearly has some idea what’s going on already. I like her. The fact that there’s a subtle indication she’s maybe having a thing with the headmaster makes her even more human.

Daniel suffers the dinner party, which we know was planned for the Wednesday following the day the main characters were introduced, so it has to be Wednesday. Melody eats watching TV with her mother and grandmother. They had fun creating a completely inane fake movie scene to show on the TV. When asked if she’d picked up her pink dress from the cleaners – the one she will wear to the upcoming dance – she shows her humorous, smart ass side to divert them away from her failure to do so and push their panic buttons with a wild tale. As she’s being sent to her room, she tells her granny that the boy in the tale, clearly inspired by Daniel, is “quite a nice boy, really.” At that point we know she’s reciprocating and getting reeled in.

Love at First Sight

I just realized that if my revised schedule for Melody is correct, this is the date on which Daniel sees Melody in ballet class and falls in love. Later he follows her, Muriel, Peggy and Rhoda to the cemetery where Muriel demonstrates kissing on a Mick Jagger poster. I didn’t post the revised schedule, but referenced it at the end of my new timeline post, after I realized my timeline overlapped a school vacation week in 1970 in England.

Mine

It’s not gone. It’s mine.

I had meant to look up the lyrics to First of May for a while, and just remembered. I traditionally heard it as “… kissed your cheek and you were mine.” Since Melody, I have seen or heard it primarily interpreted as “… kissed your cheek and you were gone.”

It’s mine, not gone. Subject to lyrics sites not always being accurate.

Mine makes much more sense. This is a wonderful moment, the moment she is… gone? No! The moment she’s his! Someone may come between them later, but that day, when he kisses her cheek, it cements that their young relationship is love.

Gone would have made excluding a kiss a good decision.

Mine would have made including a kiss a good decision.

They didn’t include the kiss, which I will never understand. They took pictures, both directions, on the set and then for publicity and such later. They got an almost accidental kiss at the seaside.

Of course, what if they hadn’t been interrupted before the wedding finished? (“Man and wife! Say man and wife!”) Would Ornshaw have said kiss the bride and would they have kissed properly? It was written that way, both for the sake of the story and because maybe the team didn’t want to go there. It was fine in 2005 in Little Manhattan, and still innocent and chaste in a way that Moonrise Kingdom wasn’t, but in Melody they were going for almost complete innocence.

Anyway, that was all. It’s “mine.” Gone, gone.

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.

 

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Love Grows

One of the best parts of The Kissing Booth was their use of Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse, essentially as a music video over a video collage of activity between Elle and Noah once they secretly get together. Shades of the use of Melody Fair, First of May (though this is broken up by the cemetery scene and then reprised in the actual film), To Love Somebody (though this does have cheering audible over it), and Give Your Best in Melody. For all we know, there will someday be YouTube videos of Love Grows with that movie clip.

This is one of those songs I have loved since forever. Which is to say, 1970 when it charted as a one hit wonder studio group featuring the prolific Tony Burrows. It’s one of the “can’t resist singing along” songs for me. Funny thing is that I associated it in my mind with another super favorite, My Baby Loves Lovin’ by White Plains, before I ever knew it was Tony Burrows on both. He also sang Beach Baby with First Class, which I may have forgotten in songs that remind me of Zack, and United We Stand. The last one was a decent song but never grabbed me like the other, and I left out the 5th hit he’s known for, a novelty song I never cared for much.

The big ones are the first two, for hands down being big favorites I can’t not sing along with. On that note, here’s the embed of the title song…

 

Ka-Boom

I can’t help thinking that Ornshaw hopping into the back seat of Mrs. Latimer’s car at the beginning of Melody, initially landing in the same spot in the middle, is meant to be analogous to the bomb landing in the car in the same spot at the end of the movie. I’d noticed this before but I don’t believe I had written it. It stood out for me just now on a casual watch of part of the film between doing other things. Ultimately he blows up her tidy little world. He’s the catalyst and enabler of the events of the film. No Ornshaw, no Melody. It’s cleverly done. No wonder Parker – assuming he was the source of it via his primary role in the script – turned out to be a brilliant filmmaker.

Awstats Not the Most Useful Thing

I’ve grumbled about this before, including in the recent post about a hit for Tracy Hyde pics that, when I search it, brings up no actual result pointing here. Now I also see one for Tracy Hyde photo, same deal. Most of the “search phrases” reported by Awstats are things like attacku3k, pressdjv, changing1gx, holdk6w, etc. Completely strange and bogus. Then again, the referrers are almost completely fake, too: Referrer spam, in hopes you might click them when you look at your stats, or something. Some of them are topical, at least, like one that points to something on how to be assertive.

Why purport to show search strings in the stats when obviously you can’t or won’t? So far this month, through about 90 minutes ago, I have about 437 hits from Google. The rest are trivial. By comparison to supposed hits from other sources like “direct address,” “bookmark,” or “link in e-mail,” search hits are trivial. However, that is based on “pages,” which is a number inflated by spammers or other malicious sources hitting things on the site that might not even be visible to people. It’s what happens when you get a relative monoculture of one convenient CMS such as WordPress. Or even an oligarchical culture of a few such things, rather than a wild west of people writing their own HTML. Then again, the nature of the web is relatively transparent regardless. Back in the day, PCs using a Microsoft OS got viruses or malware, and, as people would say, “Apple doesn’t get viruses.” Aim at the big target.

So really those Google hits are probably actual people less a portion of malicious sources arriving via search, and are some fair portion of the 2317 “unique visitors” so far this month. Yet the stats can’t see what the search strings were and report them? I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some obfuscation from Google going on, since they are in the business of reporting their own results if you sign your site up with them. Google Analytics, in my experience, is a bit like hitting a gnat with a sledgehammer. Also I haven’t seen actual search strings there, on sites where I have used it, though it’s possible they must be if you look hard enough through the mess that is the interface.

The most useful thing I can discern currently is that an overwhelming amount of my traffic is now from Great Britain, with the next two being a race back and forth between Japan and United States. That’s how it settled out since blocking enough malicious IP addresses to reduce the numbers from the usual suspect countries. What do I post about a lot? Melody, the 1971 movie. Where was it filmed and where did it eventually if not instantly become popular? Great Britain. The actors tend to be from England or elsewhere in the UK. Some of them are actually part of the movie’s fandom. Where was it a runaway hit? Japan. However they’re finding it, that’s gotta be the source of a lot of traffic.

For some reason, this post is particularly popular as a landing page, and has been almost since I posted it, but after that is the category for Melody. Above both of those are the main page, naturally, and the feed. How are that many people reading via RSS? This is not my blogging heyday. Heck, in my blogging heyday, I’d have considered these great stats. I’ve had individual posts avalanched with tens of thousands of hits in years past, but not in a long time. Anyway, after that some of the results include popular ancient posts on an archived site at this domain that was created in Expression Engine and never ported to WordPress. Brave souls, going there when the pages consist of long lists of PHP errors before and after the actual post. The version of PHP on the server outstripped the version supported by EE.

So I can discern a few things mainly by looking at the stats. Melody posts generate some interest. So do some of the music posts. Google sends me a lot of mystery traffic from searches. For all I know, a lot of that goes to the archived site. A weird number of people use the feed. Most of the traffic is nefarious. All I get for comments are spam ones, which I believe these days are generally automated. The mix of pages people visit via HTTPS is substantially different, with the residual politics category and history category being far above Melody, but the total coming that way is dwarfed by plain HTTP.

It’d be fun to see a better report of the search results, but oh well.

How It Should Have Ended

I still haven’t done the Melody blurb rewrite, but thinking about that has left me amused to imagine Melody getting the Honest Trailers treatment, or the How It Should Have Ended (HISHE) treatment. Obviously I can’t readily create videos that would emulate those, even if I came up with content that would make them work, but I can imagine Epic Voice Guy talking about coming for the short skirts on pubescent girls and staying for the story of love, friendship, and childhood anarchy in a world of clueless adults.

As for how it should have ended, that’s a darn good question! It’s possible that the ending is perfect for what the movie strives to do, and it’s just the questions of what happens after that make it feel incomplete. Moonrise Kingdom doesn’t leave us hanging in the same way. But then, Moonrise Kingdom also deals more seriously with the marriage thing, and leaves the kids knowing they can’t really get married, but a ritual won’t hurt. You can see Sam and Suzy ending up together forever. But Sam is more Ornshaw than Daniel. Heck, Suzy is perhaps more Daniel than Melody.

Melody could have ended with each of the lovebirds having it explained to them what marriage is about, even without the sex talk and detail of that part, and about the legalities. They could have been allowed to have a ceremony that would mean something to them and then carry on without there being trauma. If they drifted apart, well, that happens, but they could simply have been particularly young boyfriend and girlfriend until they grew up enough to have it not be unusually young and still loved each other, or grew up enough to grow apart and move on. Perhaps if the adults have sense, when they are rounded up and returned home after the ending, or when they return home themselves upon realizing they’ve nowhere else to go, that might be how it goes. That’s about the happiest after-ending you could have without invoking pure fantasy.

Not what I set out to cover in this post, which is already much longer than I’d expected, but I had further thoughts on the class and family aspects. You have Ornshaw, essentially an orphan, low class but super smart, if sassy. You have Daniel upper/middle class but may as well be an orphan, with a horrible family situation and a mom who is simultaneous neglectful and an overbearing helicopter mom before the term was invented.  Then you have Melody, working class but with a more normal, which is not to say imperfect, family situation. We watch Daniel fall in love with her family and perhaps that makes him love her even more. Arguably the scenes with her father are meant to contrast with Daniel’s father, absent even when present, entirely disengaged. For all Melody finds her dad buffoonish at tea, for Daniel it’s a pleasant switch.

Anyway, How It Should Have Ended: Melody. That would be fun. An honest trailer would be easier, since you could use actual footage and create a voiceover. I wouldn’t begin to be able to animate any HISHE type of video.

Tracy Hyde Pics

I was amused to see that a search for “tracy hyde pics” registered in my stats, which normally don’t show traffic that resulted from searches. At least, not legitimate ones. I’m impressed, since when I searched that on Google, this site didn’t come up in any of the 12 screens of results. It did get kind of interesting though, with things purporting to have Tracy Hyde nude, topless or whatnot. Many years ago I used to have fun with Google by creating posts with bunches of names of current celebrity young women and the words nude, naked, etc. This would generate a bunch of traffic, and probably a bit of disappointment or chagrin. Erica Durance was the favorite for searches at the time, though I was partial to Allison Mack. That turned out a bit unexpected, celebrity-wise.

Anyway, I haven’t actually posted any Tracy Hyde or Melody-related pictures. There are tons of them out there, and I have downloaded a few. I created one from a screenshot as an aid in learning the name of the actress who played the unnamed character played by Karen Williams. A more obscure one I found is a collage of modeling images of Tracy Hyde when she was even younger. You can totally see the star quality that made them want her for the film. You can also see the ways in which modeling is a form of acting.

So I’m sorry to say that there are no Tracy Hyde or other Melody pics here. Maybe someday. I don’t like to upload pics via WordPress, so when I have done pictures in the past, I have sized them as needed, uploaded them with FTP, then embedded them in posts, sometimes with the embedded picture linking to a larger copy. I’d probably do this with textual context, like illustrating something I am discussing. Or discussing the illustration, as the case may be.

I don’t watch much TV these days. Not that I ever did. So I’m not sure what names I’d even use in a tease post with nude, naked, etc. Maisie Williams, perhaps? Bella Ramsey is a bit on the young side. Halston Sage? Eh, whatever. That was kind of a past amusement. Now, who cares?

When You Never Watched The Movie…

You write a DVD cover blurb that sounds like this utterly ridiculous one from the Melody DVD:

An excellent musical score by the Bee Gees adds appeal to this curious little movie about two ten year olds, Daniel and Melody (Mark Lester and Tracy Hyde) who are completely taken with each other and announce to their parents, in all seriousness, that they plan to get married. This marriage is not planned for the distant future, but as soon as possible. The uproar that is caused when their seriousness becomes clear is not too surprising. Their best friend Ornshaw (Jack Wild) is not too thrilled with their plan either. What makes the film work is that the entire story is told from the children’s point of view in which the grownups’ objections, since they have no relation to the truth of what the children are feeling, come across as silly or inconsequential. This film is a reunion of sorts for Oscar-winning Oliver! co-stars Mark Lester and Jack.

My aim is to rewrite this using the same amount of words/space, so my text could be used in the same spot on a DVD case. Or as a brief description that might actually make the film sound like something you might enjoy seeing. I transcribed from the case to help with that end, but that allows me to post and critique it her. This is vastly more annoying than the reviews you see by people who sound as if they never saw the film.

The music not only adds appeal, but also was incorporated into creation of the story concept and the writing of the script. That phrasing sounds like damning with faint praise.  That gets worse when it is described as “this curious little movie.” That tells me the writer found the movie odd at best and is warning people that there is a good chance they won’t like it.

The kids are not ten. They are eleven. While their age is never outright stated, the school year and time of year makes them 11 or so close as not to matter. This also fits with the ages of the actors, though that is moot in that Jack Wild was 17 and Lesley Roach was 16, yet they were playing kids who were also 11. It’s possible that kids in the grade level could be as old as 12, but few would be lower than 11 by late in the equivalent of American fifth grade. Not that it matters. My equivalent crush with some surprising similarities was around the time I turned 10.

Why do we need to mention Mark Lester’s name twice? Why do we cut off in the middle of Jack Wild’s name, at the end, so he is mentioned one and a half times?

At no time do the kids announce to their parents that they intend to get married. It is probable that both sets find out, but the only ones we see knowing and doing a poor job of talking her out of it are Melody’s. The closest we see Daniel coming to announcing it (which doesn’t mean it didn’t happen off-screen) is when his mother finds the note saying that they are eloping.

Melody and the love between the two kids is central to the story, but not remotely the only part of it. If you could say it’s about one thing, that would be love. But it’s love between friends as well.

About the only thing in the description that is accurate is that the story was told from the point of view of the children. I’m not sure it’s the objections to the marriage idea that come across as silly and inconsequential so much as it is the general incompetence of the adults that makes them come across that way in general.

I might never have paid enough attention to this to tear into it, except my oldest used the description as the basis for her decision not to watch the movie. That was what cause me even to read it. I was horrified.

Moonrise Kingdom

After the kids weren’t eager to watch Melody with me, I bought Moonrise Kingdom in SD digital from Amazon and watched it for the first time. I was a little worried that I had effectively “already watched it” by seeing all the clips and some commentaries online. It’s true I’d seen a lot of it, even key scenes, but there was a lot missing, and order missing. That is, the clips didn’t reflect the order in which things were shown in the film. That was not in exact chronological order. It flashes back. It gets to the goldfish promptly.

I don’t have a detailed analysis or such after one viewing. I can say it’s hardly a “remake” of melody, or even all that close to being anything but homage to Melody. The comparisons I saw made to another film or two that predated Melody make me think it owes more to at least one other. The one thing I saw that was a tiny detail that was a direct tie between the two was the bubbler. That’s water fountain to folks outside the Massachusetts or New England area. That was when he was sneaking off to get to the dressing room where the birds were getting ready for the Noah’s Ark show. As far as we ever know, the first time he sees her is when she turns to look, along with the other girls in bird costumes. And at that, you only see her face framed by the costume. It begs the question of why he seemed to be seeking her out. Much as there are elements unseen or unexplained in Melody, we are left to fill in if we don’t believe that’s Sam’s first sight of Suzy. Sam paints, as does Daniel, but painting was a big factor in at least one of the other movies in the genre. It ended up being a minor factor in Melody.

I was thinking you’d have a somewhat different film if Daniel painted Melody. There was room in the world of Melody for her to have gone to Daniel’s house after school on days when adults weren’t home. Whereas at her house adults were always home. You see her family meet him, but not vice-versa. You see her family reacting with her to the whole marriage thing, but you only see his mother reacting to the note about eloping. Which begs the question of what she knew and when she knew it before then, as well as why he left a note. Besides to give the story an exploding car.

One thing Moonrise Kingdom did was give us a satisfying ending. Sam gets a decent family. He and Suzy get to see each other. They complete each other and are more stable, happier people. Her parents avoid the crisis that her mother’s affair might have caused. Edward Norton might not have to stay single after all, however subtle that scene was. In Melody, the ending is the anarchic explosion of the kids in response to the ridiculous adults. Daniel and Melody run off ambiguously, since where can they go, really. Yeah, in Moonrise Kingdom we can wonder what happens in the future. Do the two kids stay together as they age, becoming lovers and then married for real? Do they become friends who happened to have that adventure than bonded them together?

Moonrise Kingdom, which we never actually see stated on screen as the name of their cove, their land, until the painting at the end gives us the source of the title, has distinct differences due to the kids being basically a year older. In Melody they are 11, notwithstanding some people saying they are 10 and others saying they are 12. If you’re matching the school year and time of year, 11 it is. That explains the difference in maturity and activity. Despite all the publicity pictures, we never see either of them kiss the other on the cheek. They hold hands, maintain as little personal space at times as you might expect, and he puts his arm around her when they sit in the rain after the bad day. Sam and Suzy kiss, French kiss, dance close, reference his male reaction to her, and he “feels her up.” They sleep cuddled together. For all that, it’s still nearly as innocent as Melody.

The adults are messed up, just as they are in Melody. We see the hint of the headmaster having an affair with Miss Fairfax, but they are single so who cares, even if he’s a religious figure and her boss. We see more overtly that the police chief is having an affair with Suzy’s mom. Suzy knows this and her father figures it out. The stylized nature of the film means the scouts are active endlessly. The troop leader is more attached to that than he is to being an adult with a real job.

The scouts are the closest we get to the friends and classmates around Daniel and Melody. Instead of a best friend sidekick to Sam, Suzy is the best friend. We see the scouts come around to helping Sam, and Suzy, rather than hating Sam as they had.

Anyway, I liked it. I liked it a lot. It’s not Melody, but I will also watch it again. Which is why I bought it rather than renting it.

Oh! I just realized as I went to click the categories that a parallel to Melody might be when Sam sleepwalked and set a fire in his foster home’s yard, compared to Daniel setting fire to his father’s newspaper. At least I didn’t sleepwalk when I was a kid, along with wetting the bed. I saved sleepwalking for when I was an adult, and did it a number of times circa the early to mid nineties. This was bad because I could easily have fallen down stairs. I’d get up to go to the bathroom, apparently so sleepy that I didn’t remember having done so, and I’d get turned around on my way to or from. I woke once with my hand on the knob of my stepsister’s door, at the opposite end of the hall and right at the top of the stairs. I woke in the closet of the spare bedroom I used as a computer room. I woke at the door of my room, or by the bathroom door. It was crazy.

Well Then

On my first attempt to get the kids to watch Melody, they are refusing. That’s with them having been intrigued because I had to order it from South Korea, and offering them each a small stipend to watch and give feedback. On a day when they’ve been looking for ways to make money. I think I caught them at a bad time, where they are preoccupied with other things. Worst case, I will requisition the living room one day while they are on school vacation and watch it myself for the sake of seeing it on a full TV screen. Since they will be around, they will no doubt see at least parts of it.

It also didn’t help that the oldest had me shut up and read the description on the jewel case. That decided her. I read it afterward and was appalled. It’s the equivalent of a review that sounds like it was written by someone who hasn’t seen the movie. It’s almost entirely nonsense.

That begs the challenge of what would you say to describe it in about 150 words and make it actually both reasonably accurate, comprehensive, and appealing.

Melody DVD

A couple weeks or so ago I ordered a region-free Melody DVD from an eBay seller in Korea. The price was great and I didn’t have to worry about working around it being a copy intended for the UK/Europe. While I found a decent quality version on YouTube, I wanted to be able to have my own copy that would look good on a larger screen.

One potential problem was my DVD drive on the computer. When I tried to play the DVD of Bohemian Rhapsody my brother gave me for my birthday, the drive kept stopping and the tray popping out. I finally gave up, and had planned to redeem the watch anywhere online code so I could stream it from Amazon. In the course of taking Melody for a test run, it only did this once. Still annoying, but not the end of the world.

I’m going to try to get the kids to sit still to watch the whole thing and opine about it. It may help that they are intrigued after the wife brought in the package and asked if I was expecting a package from Korea. “Yes, it’s a DVD.” “For your brother?” He is internet-impaired and had me order him a bunch of stuff off Amazon, one of which ended up coming from a seller in Germany. “No.” Said something about an old movie I’d discovered and fallen in love with, and couldn’t get any other way. I’ll also warn them to wait for the goldfish.

There are things I could see and hear much better on the DVD, even playing on the computer. However, I would be surprised if it’s not bootleg and it’s just that nobody cares. The case would be easy to produce to look official. The variant of it is the US release. It may have also been used in other countries. I base that perception on the end title screen with “to Love Somebody” on it. I would like to think that an official DVD would have substantially better quality than YouTube, rather than modestly better quality that’s nice for being an improvement but slightly disappointing for not being a big improvement.

We’ll see how it looks on a TV, played in the DVD player of an Xbox. To do that they either have to be out of the house or watching with me. They are out of school for the next week, bracketed by two weekends. Stay tuned for how this goes and what they might have to say about it.

Please Come To Boston

Nope, this isn’t about the song of the same name, pleasing as it may be. That just seemed like the thing to use as a catchy title for a city versus country post inspired by going to Boston. Tomorrow I have appointments there for two of the kids. It’s old hat by now, but when I was a kid, driving through or especially to Boston was exotic. Gross, too, before the pollution levels reduced. There was a time I was there almost weekly, but that was before I formed retrievable memories. When I was 17 days old and had meningitis, my parents drove me there and couldn’t figure out how to get to the hospital. They stopped and asked an anonymous cab driver. Instead of giving directions, he said “follow me” and led them there through a convoluted but speedy route. Maybe he didn’t save my life, but that random driver sure helped the cause.

I grew up essentially in the middle of the woods, in a small town that was rural inching toward suburban. Cities were polluted and criminal! They were crowded. With people! The very idea of going to one, let alone living in one, even something as urban as Brockton, was abhorrent. I still don’t like the idea, but I mind it less and can see the appeal to some. My oldest was briefly interested in the idea of living in the city when she was younger, maybe to go to college or work there when she was older. For her, even if that was a factor back then, being able to do without a car isn’t a factor. Unlike so many young people these days, she is ready to drive just as early as she can possibly manage it. And recent talk of MIT aside, she’s tentatively interested in going to college in the next town and commuting from here.

There’s a definite culture gap between city and country. My sister married an awesome guy from Dorchester and his family may as well have been from another planet. Absolutely nothing wrong with them. Just a completely different culture and outlook.

I see Melody, set in London, with the kids running around loose in the urban environment, and it’s as foreign to me as the fact that the location is in a different country and the date is almost fifty years ago. At least I lived through the same time and was close to the same age then, and England isn’t so different. Especially not then. Some might wonder if it has lost its way more recently. The kids made the most of it. There were benefits. Hop on a bus and be at Trafalgar Square. Hop on a train and be at the seaside and back before you can really panic anyone. It’s relatively new that we can walk under two miles, or drive and park, to get on a train to Boston or points in between, and from there take other transport to get around. Beats the traffic, depending, but it’s slower.

What I don’t look forward to is the drive home tomorrow. It’s likely to be late enough, especially on a Friday, that it’ll be full rush hour already. Then you’re in traffic headed toward Cape Cod, if not as bad as it’d be closer to the actual summer season.

Frankly, it still amazes me to live in a building with multiple units, on a postage stamp of land (if it’s a quarter acre I’d be surprised) with other buildings crowded around. The traffic is getting a little crazy, even though it’s still a relatively rural town. While being near stores and such is good, I wouldn’t mind moving somewhere much more rural. As long as I could afford it. Before I met my wife, I had developed the still nebulous goal of saving enough money to buy some cheap land somewhere, most likely wooded, where it could still be had cheap. I figured it’d be a camping get away, then maybe I could build a cabin, maybe someday live there, depending. Anyway, time to make the donuts. Supper, that is.

All I Know

On a happier note, I happened to play this after playing my favorite Melody-based music video and thought I would share. It also happens to be way up there in the extensive list of songs I have trouble keeping myself from singing along with. Makes sense, considering that Bridge Over Troubled Water and Scarborough Fair have always been on that list. My daughters are singing Scarborough Fair in their spring chorus concert, so the older one developed enough of an interest in what would otherwise be outside her usual taste that she learned to play it on guitar and was serenading me the other day while talking music as I cooked. Astrophysicist? Rock star? No telling which she may be at this point!

For some reason, I tend to associate The Wedding Song with All I Know, even though it’s Paul Stookie. That is also on the sing along list. It’s notable for playing on the radio when people went to their cars after my friend Julie’s wedding back when we were barely out of high school. Apparently YouTube associates them, too, or knows I do, since that’s how it came to mind.

I’m late for bed now, so I’ll stop here and either carry on in another post or add some of it to this tomorrow. I’ll also double check the links I included later, since I didn’t actually play all of them just now as I was picking them.

I’d Forgotten

About the Netflix series, essentially a movie, The End of the Fucking World. I loved it. Until the ending. Then the wife refused to watch it after hearing me yell at the screen and be that upset.

My reaction to the ending aside, it was brilliantly done.

When I briefly surfed Netflix a while ago, I was reminded of it and realized it’s sort of like a somewhat older, much more twisted Melody taken to extremes. Not to mention that it essentially starts with them running off together. However twisted his initial motivation seems to be, it’s a poignant love story. But then, so is Romeo and Juliet, and that hardly ended well.

I wonder if I could bring myself to watch it again, just to contrast them with it fresh in my mind.

There was talk of a second one, when it was so well received. I couldn’t help wondering how they’d pull that off. It would have to mean the ending we thought we got wasn’t the ending we actually got, and disaster was somehow averted. It might also have to be an entirely different thing, since it would have to go in the direction of an apparent happier ending from the starting point of apparent tragedy and presumed consequences.

But What’s The Plot?

I’ve been thinking a lot about a variant on the type of story seen in Melody or Moonrise Kingdom, based as a starting point on personal experience and local settings of the time. I’d need to start by putting it into writing as a fleshed out story, not by having grandiose ideas that I could go right to a screenplay. However, it’s helping me to visualize how it might play out on screen. I’d already found myself using that trick for a story set back similarly far in time, with kids suspiciously like my own and a younger me running into each other because science fiction. I’ve even thought of integrating the two ideas to some degree.

I realized that I am not sure I have a point. For me personally it’s nostalgia and what might have been. What is the audience getting from it? What do they get from the others?

I haven’t watched all of Moonrise Kingdom, but I’ve watched clips and seen it dissected and so forth. It’s partly a personality study and shows that the two of them complete and kind of heal each other. They also help the community they are part of… grow up, or something like that. It’s a stylized presentation. It shows the importance of rituals, even if they aren’t legally binding, in a way that Melody never manages or attempts to talk about. It will forever be important to Daniel and Melody, and leave a lasting tie between them, that they were “married.” It doesn’t matter that it’s not legal. It doesn’t matter that it was performed by a friend, in front of a group of friends and classmates. It doesn’t matter that Ornshaw never finished saying “…man and wife.” It doesn’t matter if they remain an item or ever marry for real, though that would make it even more special.

Perhaps it’s about the importance of family and about being understood. I really have to watch Moonrise Kingdom soon. From what I have seen, it looks like I might find it both less charming and relatable, and more coherent than Melody.

Melody is about love, mostly. Love of friends. Puppy love or romantic love, depending how seriously you take it at that age. Some have said the real story is the relationship between Orshaw and Daniel, which tosses out class distinctions (which also exist with Melody, who is a happier middle between the two boys), and which survives Melody, despite having been threatened by the girlfriend coming between them.

It’s about how serious love between the kids is, to the kids, in the face of adults being old miseries. It’s about how ridiculous the adults seem, to the kids, and in fact are more objectively. Yes, it’s a nostalgia trip to when many of us felt that way, looked through that window and saw That Girl who stopped our world in its tracks. Or had That Boy look at us like that and found ourselves taken with the fact that he was “quite a nice boy, really.”

I’m still not sure I see the rebellion as being anything but support for the rest of the story. It did notice, speaking of little details, and forgot to mention that at the end it’s not the groups of boys and girls, but a group of all the kids, celebrating the same end, having wanted the same thing. Maybe I’m missing something.

Incomplete, inaccurate, or varying in mileage as my offhand conclusions may be, they represent something that’s a takeaway from the films. I need not only a climax to the story, more dramatic than boy likes girl, girl reciprocates, they hang out, things get in the way, they run off to the woods or something, they are found, people are sorry they picked on poor Rudolph., but also something learned or demonstrated. Or I’m over-analyzing and could have been an English major instead of an accounting major. Accounting is never analytical, after all.

This is the part I find myself thinking about now. Characters, including supporting characters, their motivations, their interactions, and the outcome and lessons of it all.

Mick Jagger

Seeing the news – if it’s not an elaborate April Fool’s joke – that Mick Jagger needs heart valve surgery made me think that he needs Camille Davis (Muriel) to kiss him and make him all better.

Speaking of Muriel, I have only met one Muriel in my entire life, at my first job, in late 1979 or the beginning of 1980. I liked her a lot, and loved the name. She was, compared to me at the time, a much older woman.

I never thought of using the name for one of my kids. It’s not ideal with the actual surname, but wouldn’t be ridiculous. The wife vetoed Wendy. I didn’t come out and suggest Karen. Kaylee would have fit, but we weren’t sure we wanted to bandwagon onto a Firefly name. Melody would have been ideal, had the name come to mind at all. It would have flowed better with the same middle name and the surname. She has an angelic voice and writes her own songs, so the music association would fit. I didn’t realize how much I liked the name Molly until later. It would also have worked, if not fit as ideally. Middle name would have needed to be different. But I digress.

I tend to associate the names Muriel and Ariel with each other. There was an obscure song when I was near the end of high school that was named Ariel. It seems to be a more common name than Muriel, and of course it was Disneyed. I know one Arielle. Same name, variant spelling.

The M thing is something I noticed in passing recently. Melody. Muriel. Maureen. Peggy is usually short for Margaret. That just leaves Rhoda the odd one out. None of that was probably intentional, but certainly when writing a story you get lots of leeway in selecting names. It’s like having a bunch of babies!

Joking aside, I hope Mick has successful surgery and recovers well. He’s in good shape. He has to be to do the things he does on stage.

Little Details

I’m not going to remember them offhand, but I was thinking about writing up some little details I’ve noticed along the way. The impetus for this is that I was just reminded of what I noticed about the trolley in the end credits.

Now, I didn’t notice that Mark’s double is on the trolley with Tracy because Mark couldn’t be there the day it was filmed, any more than I ever realized that most of the race on sports day was run by his double. It’s not enough of a closeup on the trolley. In the race you can only see it, maybe, if you know. The fact that the trolley going off into the distance was filmed on a different day from the rest of the end anarchy is a reminder that filming takes time and isn’t easy. You could say it takes takes. Takes and takes and more takes.

What I noticed is that the trolley goes way into the countryside. That view from about is not showing London proper. It’s full fledged countryside. Perhaps not as far from the city as you’d have to go now, almost fifty years later. That begs the question of where they’ll go, and what happens after. Or begs the question even more.

When they are in the headmaster’s office, we see him standing adjacent to them, and what’s on the wall? A giant picture of him! Not a predecessor or historical figure. The headmaster has the wall decorated prominently with his own picture. The filmmakers didn’t have to do that, and it’s subtle. Relatively speaking, anyway. How many people are going to go to the theater and watch Melody over and over, as if the year is 1977 and the film is Star Wars? Well, apparently plenty, in Japan, but still. Come for the short skirts and young girls! Stay because it’s a great story!

The first time we see the hordes of kids pouring into the school and heading to class thunderously, there are tiny vignettes. One kid drops his satchel all the way down to the ground floor. That could be a complete throwaway, but a moment later we see the same kid struggling down the stairs, against the tide, because of course he’ll need to fetch it.

There are little details like on Saturday after Boy’s Brigade and then setting his dad’s paper on fire, we see Daniel’s satchel in the background of his room.

I just realized that in the cafeteria nobody has a drink. They have plates of food, not trays like when I was in school. No milk or other drinks. I supposed that the anti-detail.

Going through fast and looking for things I’d otherwise forget to mention, I just noticed a clock on the wall at the dance. In theory, that speaks to the time of day questions, if they’re that attentive to details. It’s fuzzy, but the clock appears to say it’s about 5:30. There’s another one when melody is consoling Peggy, but it’s impossible to see it.

In terms of how light it appears outside afterward, it could be that late, circa May/June. It’ll make tea a bit on the late side, but it is the weekend.

Unrelated to details, there’s a girl who is not quite but almost part of the main group and I am curious who she is. You see her laughing with Melody and others at field day. At lunch, if you look past Melody as she looks toward the boys, she’s on the left and laughs her ass off when Melody and Ornshaw make faces at each other. Rhoda is to the right past Melody. She has enough presence that I’ve wondered for a while. She gets to be there and laugh, but unless I’m mistaken gets no lines. I might be able to find out at some point.

I love the little detail of Melody and Muriel watching the high jumps and applauding furiously for Robert Sinclair. Then Melody gives Muriel what I’d guess to be a pep talk about going after him. The next jumper delays her, crashes and burns, then she scurries after Sinclair as Ornshaw watches. After she leaves, the girl I wondered about is talking to Melody inaudibly, the girls gathered around, making Melody laugh. The same girl is talking after Daniel collapses and you see Melody say what appears to be “what!” Until I noticed that, I wondered what Melody would make of Daniel fainting. Heck, I’d still love to see the post-faint scene where everyone gets all excited and his mother is a pest.

Why should Dicks need to tell the kids what color the Young Latin Primer is? And why should the page he has them turn to later in the movie be 24, a lower page number than 27 earlier in the movie. Also, it’s late in the school year. Page 24? 27?

Note that Dicks is asking Ornshaw why, why, why in an echo of Ornshaw earlier asking for details about W.I.C.

As Daniel and Melody leave, there’s a clock on the wall. It looks like it may say 4-something, but it’s hard to tell. That seems late, considering the punishment appointment was for 3:30 and the whole thing didn’t take that long. On second look, it looks more like it says about 3:50, almost 4:00. That’d make sense. If they were actually paying enough attention to details that they set the clocks appropriately in case viewers noticed, that’s impressive.

When they arrive at Melody’s building, I think of the scene with the little girl as a subtle detail. We saw her being one of the kids and now she’s not.

It’s not a background detail, but all of what goes on around the table is great. Daniel just adores her family and you can see it. Melody is repeatedly irritated at her father.

Harking back to the free range thing, nobody is the least bit concerned that Melody is only just arriving home at tea time, even though school got out presumably at close to 3:30. They have no phone. They have no awareness of where she might be. And again, you see extremely young kids playing out in the yard. Not that it should be a problem, given all the adults around able to see them easily. However, early on, extremely little kids were tagging along behind the rag man, or out walking their own goldfish without being in a gang or even nominally with an adult. In a city. I always thought of that as being much scarier than being in the country where I was.

Not that the woods and swamp were perfectly safe, even with fewer animals around then. I was in my teens before they released wild turkeys in an effort, overwhelmingly successful, to repopulate them. That eventually brought back coyotes and coywolves. There were almost no deer then. Now they’re almost a plague. You didn’t see bobcats as much, and there weren’t rumors of mountain lions. There weren’t bears, even the tiny number known to be around. The swamp had giant snapping turtles and snakes, but those were something like black racers. Easy to avoid and completely harmless, respectively. The swamp had been drained and reshaped, which probably disrupted wildlife for a while. There were stories of people going in and never coming out. There was black muck that you could get stuck in. There was allegedly quicksand, but I never wandered into areas where it might be. The roads in town were almost entirely free of sidewalks. Now any new roads must have them, and they often retrofit them when rebuilding. Now you can stay on a sidewalk from the end of my street down most of the length of the main road through town.

Anyway, nothing else leaped out at me on a quick skim watch through the movie when I was working on this last night. I did look closely enough not to identify where all the rooms are in Melody’s apartment, but to see that the place would probably have room for everybody based on how far apart the doors to the units are. I’m still suspicious that they gave that detail short shrift because allegedly the apartment was an interior set and that additional room never needed to be seen.

I guess it’s kind of related to note that Tracy’s hair color changes in places, as if some of the scenes are late in filming and the lower part has had a chance to get sun bleached, while in others it looks fully dark. I also previously mentioned a lack of attention to detail in the form of the ponytail appearing partway into the ballet scene. Also the view from behind the girls after the teacher drags in the boys, versus facing the girls, where you can see they are posed differently. Not important except to my OCD tendencies.

Update:
The girl I wondered about, if I am not mistaken, does have dialogue. She is the one, early in the film, in the gang of girls out on break, who asks “you kiss boys Muriel?” “Been out with your boyfriend, have you?” (I have no idea why I typed the wrong line, but I just happened to notice it so I corrected it.) Sitting down with my coffee before work I was thinking “hey, if she’s such a big part of the group of girls, why isn’t she in that scene?” So I looked with sound off. When I saw her talking, I turned it on long enough to play what she said.

Update 2:
That nameless character was played by Karen Williams. She had roles in four things from 1969 – 1972, and played herself in a 1980 documentary. Oddly enough, I had thought that might be her. Intuition, mostly.

I’ll Have a Screenplay Yet!

I’m laughing at my title, but anything is possible.

Even as I was bemoaning the difficulty of forcing yourself to do work that requires creativity, while I was at it, I added major components to the idea that’s been percolating in my head for a story a bit like Melody or Moonrise Kingdom, featuring elements from my own youth. Not sure I have an ending exactly, but I have a crescendo brewing.

I just have to keep reminding myself that the setting can never exactly duplicate what I knew back then, even though I would set it then.

I am also toying with the idea of incorporating one or more kids having seen Melody into the plot. I had already thought of that for a book idea I’ve had percolating for much longer. Indeed, I thought of combining the two things. Melody meets SF/fantasy.

I need to work on something of an outline for the more basic version and see how many holes I still have at this point. Perhaps then i can flesh it out and actually write it. All this writing of essentially stream of consciousness blog posts has gotten me used to the idea of sitting down and writing something. If I can put that to more directed use and then edit appropriately, maybe magic will happen to an old guy. Okay, not really old, but getting there and needing life to change. It’s harder to let yourself be truly old when your oldest kid won’t even be 15 until later this year.

Sharing An Earworm

Ron Dante was the lead singer of both The Archies and The Cufflinks. I sometimes mix him up with Tony Burrows, who was a one hit wonder five times, with five different groups, including some of my all time favorite songs and one, Beach Baby, that I forgot to list as a Zack song.

The Cufflinks had a hit called Tracy, which can’t be blamed on Tracy Hyde fandom, since it predated Melody by a couple years. The same can’t be said of the song Tracy Hide by the Wondermints, which has good lyrics but to which I have yet to warm, as something I like to play, good as that band is.

Anyway, here is the current earworm. Or recent one, since playing the video and writing this post seems to have helped dispel it from my head. I’d been singing it while loading the dishwasher, before coming back to the computer.

 

 

Odessa

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the release of the Bee Gees album Odessa, which I loved when I bought it sometime in the seventies or very beginning of the eighties. It’s the album that gave us First of May and Melody Fair. I’d like to think I heard those before I bought the album, but they weren’t big hits like Words, I Started a Joke, and so forth from the pre-disco days. It also has Give Your Best, so that’s a Melody threesome.

Morning of My Life (AKA In the Morning) predates Odessa, going back to 1965.

To Love Somebody also predates Odessa, as the second single from Bee Gees 1st in 1967. It was written by Barry and Robin for Otis Redding, who never got a chance to record it.

I’m still curious what the other two songs that could have been used in Melody were. Presumably David Puttnam would know.

I always loved the song Odessa. It’s one of those long, almost experimental songs, almost operatic, a bit surreal. The album was one of the unusual ones I could enjoy hearing in its entirety. That’s rare.

 

Granny

A character that adds a bit of nuance to Melody is “Granny Perkins,” Melody’s grandmother who lives with the family. The thing is, she can’t be Granny Perkins. Melody’s name from her father is Perkins, and it’s obvious that Granny is Melody’s maternal grandmother.

There’s the relationship between her and Mrs. Perkins, whose name is Flo, as we learn from Granny. The two of them look like they could be mother and daughter. Obviously that’s a matter of casting. In real life at the time, if I remember right, Granny was old enough to be Melody’s great grandmother.

The big clue is when Daniel is at tea. Granny is talking, mainly addressing Mr. Perkins, and she refers to “my Ernie,” obviously speaking of her husband. If she were addressing her son, she would say “your father” or such, more likely. I could be wrong, but it strikes me as how she’d talk to her son-in-law instead of her son.

My father’s parents didn’t live directly with us the way Granny does with the Perkins family. They lived in the same house, in a pseudo-apartment that took four of the six rooms in the house. The first floor had two large rooms, which were a kitchen/ dining room, and a living room. The full bath was on the second floor with the grandparents, and the first floor had a half bath.

Yes, this made the place kind of small, for a large looking house. It had belonged to my grandparents. My parents had planned to build a new house across the street. It was the only house on the street, though there were several other buildings. On the opposite side there was a tiny building that was an office; a maintenance building of sorts, the only one that exists to this day, and the closest one to being usable as a dwelling; a pump house for our well; a storage building clad in green metal; and a similar building, originally, that my father had bought with a small lot for his business. Something I am not supposed to mention happened that resulted in his having to build a replacement, only to have it happen again, this time to be replaced on the other side of town instead. On the same side as us there was an old sawmill, which I only saw used once in my childhood; there was a long, low storage building that housed things like bulldozers and bog equipment; there was an even bigger green metal clad building similarly used for storage; and then there was a row of small shed-like buildings, clad in green metal, ranging from several feet square down to shallow closet sized. In the middle of those, one was an outhouse, which gives an idea what I mean by the range of sizes. Those lined the road as it started down a hill from the uplands down to the level of the swamp. There was a twin of the outhouse down in the swamp, in a wooded area between two sections of cranberry bogs. In their early years, the sheds had been used for storing munitions, from what I understand. That was the primary business of the man my grandfather worked for, who had originally owned all the land around us and the bogs. In later years, the largest and smallest of the sheds got hauled to our yard. The largest my brother and I used as a chicken coop. The smallest we used as more or less a potting shed.

My grandfather couldn’t afford the mortgage. Their kids were grown and only the youngest still lived there. My father prevailed in the battle over whether we would take over that place, house the five of us in two rooms and the cellar and keep his parents housed, or build our own place. There were conditions, like what he would do to finish the cellar to make viable rooms out of it. It wasn’t the end of the world and I certainly never knew better as a kid, but it only got part of the way there. The marriage was probably doomed then and there, even if it hadn’t been already. It’s interesting having a clearer idea of the dynamics of a situation like that, now that I’m an “old misery” myself. I can understand how they irritated each other, and I always knew it wasn’t one-sided.

It was cool having the grandparents around. Handy, too. Between older siblings, my father working a stone’s throw up the street, and grandparents handy, there was never an issue with an adult being around if needed. Not that my grandmother babysat us, per se. My mother didn’t work, but we were babysat by my mother’s younger sister a couple times before I was school age. We also saw a lot of my mother’s parents, and stayed with them a lot. We didn’t get left in her care, but we also visited my great grandmother, my mother’s mother’s mother, regularly. My oldest got her name. Unfortunately, she hates the name. Oops.

So to me the Waltons weren’t strange, having the grandparents living in the same house, even though ours were semi-separate. It’s probably much more historically normal to have multiple generation households than not. Or three+ generation, really, since parents and kids are multiple generations. But, you know, multiple adult generations. The dynamics might be something to be worked out. Finances, too, since that might be part of the point. I can totally see having my kids live with me after they are adults, but not as people I’m supporting when they are in their thirties. I can see living in the same house with them and their kids. It’s a source of stability.

I still haven’t figured out where they fit Granny Perkins in that apartment. Near as I can tell so far, you go in and the kitchen/dining room is on the right. Adjoining it and next on the right is the living room. Melody’s room is directly at the end of the hall, and before that is the master bedroom. Before that must be the bathroom, though for some reason I thought that was on the right. But if the bathroom is on the right, it would be in the same spot as the living room. Since you can see the kitchen from the living room, well… I’d have to review and see if I am clear again. Maybe she’s in a closet on the right before Melody’s room? It’s all supposedly a set built in the main building they used for filming, which doesn’t explain the appropriate views out the windows. Maybe that’s CGI. Oh wait… 1970. LOL.

Darn, gotta go to the dentist and either publish this without reviewing it or save a draft. I think I said what I wanted, if not well, so I’ll go for it.

Start With The Goldfish

I discovered a couple things last night. One is a better quality Melody on YouTube than the movie I linked in my Melody Links post.

Another, specifically found when I plugged the Saucy Turtles Make Terrible Bathmats Charlie “memory maxim” (that I heard as “memory maxie” until I saw the correct text in a transcript) into Google to see if it was unique to Melody or was something found in nature, so to speak. It was obviously made up for Melody. No surprise. They were going for the adults seeming ridiculous.

I found a video with Alan Parker and David Puttnam, centered mostly on making Melody and how they came to be in the movie business.

The big takeaway from that is that forever after they first screened Melody, they’ve been saying to get to the goldfish sooner. Like right away. What they saw was that the first ten minutes were dull and didn’t pull people in. Once you got to her and the goldfish, people were hooked. This is actually what I was picturing, anticipating getting the kids to watch it. I was thinking I’d need to tell them to be patient, maybe give them an idea how things were being introduced, and figure when it got to her they might find it a bit archaic but certainly more compelling. Archaic is exactly part of why I want to have them watch it. I just want to do it movie night style with the DVD that will, I would hope, translated more crisply to the TV than even the best YouTube one.

A smaller takeaway was that Melody essentially did well in markets where it was allowed to retain the name Melody. Japan, mostly. I knew they had considered releasing it as To Love Somebody, but I was not aware that it had been released under that name in the United States. Kind of makes asking people if they saw “Melody” when it came out in 1971 even sketchier. At least that name made more sense than S.W.A.L.K., the name the distributor insisted on for the UK and not sure how far beyond.

One of the comical parts was Alan had no idea how to write a script formatted to look like a script. It was all a learning experience, based on what other scripts looked like. He was also a bit taken aback by the detail he had to include, notably in describing every bit of the scenes set to music that had no dialogue at all.

Finally, there’s a better description of how Alan came to do some of the outdoor filming of mobs of kids. It was the sports day. It was absolute chaos, yet magic happened.

Worth a watch if you’re curious about the details of how they pulled the whole thing off, and bits about their later careers and how Melody and their start with it influenced things.

Start with the goldfish. Brilliant advice.

Update:

I watched the new movie link to the end and found that not only are the opening credits slightly different, but also the end in this release doesn’t show the words “To Love Somebody” on the screen where it appeared in other releases available on YouTube. That might be what distinguishes a copy made for the American or any other market when that alternate title was used, even though they never show any title but Melody when the film starts. I also confirmed that the entire video is crisp as it looked at the beginning. Technically I didn’t know the whole thing was good when I linked it. Just seemed logical.

More Concerts

I mentioned previously my first and most recent concerts, and said I’d fill in more later. It’s later. I’m afraid I don’t remember the order of the concerts after the Bee Gees and before Styx with Pat Benatar. For what it’s worth, whoever opened for the Bee Gees was nobody you ever heard of and was pretty bad, but I still thought it was mean that people booed them so mercilessly. I rather like the more modern approach of pairing bands that are closer to peers than to have an unknown like Jimi Hendrix open for the Monkees. But to be fair that’s a nostalgia tour marketing concept.

It’s so weird trying to drink anything when you’re numb after getting a filling. Just a side note.

I am pretty sure my last concert before Styx was Pink Floyd, in my only trip ever to Foxboro Stadium. My youngest brother treated me. I wouldn’t have thought to go to Floyd, as much as I loved The Wall and wondered how Roger Waters had gotten into my head when I first heard it at Daphne’s house when it came out. And of course, I try to do a non-Melody post and what happens? There’s a direct connection between Melody and Pink Floyd! Sir Alan Parker went from ad copy writing (writing marketing material is fun! But it can be hard and takes a lot of creativity, from what exposure I’ve had to doing it) to writing a screenplay to directing. The screenplay was Melody. The directing bug bit him when he did some second unit stuff, not even credited, I believe, on Melody. Outdoor stuff with gangs of kids. The field day specifically, if I remember correctly what I read about it.

Parker went on to direct, among other things, Fame, which I saw with my friend Perry and possibly Joan in 1980. Love me some Irene Cara! Speaking of connections you can make, you go from Irene Cara to Electric Company to Joss Whedon;s father to Joss and, you name it: Avengers, Buffy, Dr. Horrible, but of course for me it’s Firefly. We considered naming our middle child Kaylee. Turned out it would have fit, but it had also become surprisingly common, in one spelling or another.

Digression. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.

Then Parker directed Pink Floyd: The Wall, which was released in 1982. I didn’t see it until 1985, at Layla’s house. It was pretty wild. Not what the album made me visualize. More fascinating than the fact that he connects to Pink Floyd and it’s fun to make these connections is that he directed a large gang of rebelling school kids in The Wall. It seems somehow… familiar. Gotta teach your children well, not employ darkly sarcastic thought control.

That Pink Floyd tour was the one where they had a huge pig suspended over the place. Not sure the whole thing worked as intended. The lasers in the foggy air were wicked cool, though.

I am 99% sure that the concert I went to before Pink Floyd was Foreigner, with Joe Walsh as the opener. I didn’t know from Joe Walsh at the time, apart from Life’s Been Good, which is actually a song I associate with my friend Frank. His show was awesome. I was in the men’s room when Rocky Mountain Way started. I remembered the song from my childhood, but couldn’t have told you who did it, and wouldn’t have remembered it if not prompted by hearing it. I wasn’t expecting Life in the Fast Lane, another song I associate with Frank. So there were three hits, and the stuff I didn’t know at all was good. The way music you hear in concert is usually better than you might perceive it to be if you tried listening in another setting and format. I’m not sure I would say he was worth the ticket all by himself, the way Benatar was, but he was damn good.

Foreigner, the original lineup, was just amazing. The connection to Floyd is that I took my youngest brother to Foreigner, his first concert ever. That was at the Worcester Centrum, my only trip to that venue. He was blown away. That was his response, some time later, treating me to Pink Floyd.

Foreigner was one of those bands that seemed like they kept playing and playing and playing and it would go on endlessly, with every ounce of energy at the end that they gave away from the beginning. The live version of Hot Blooded is great live. It doesn’t belong on my greatest hits CD, thankyouverymuch. They have the distinction of being the only band ever to leave my ears hurting. It lasted a while, too. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but I guess it’s a risk you take.

One relatively early concert I went to was one of my all time favorite bands who are the Bee Gees, the Moody Blues. Not one of the amazing, fancy concerts where they have an orchestra to help them do justice to things like the tracks off Days of Future Passed. Passed, not past, people. There’s probably a linguistics lesson in there somewhere, but I’m no Mark David Ledbetter.

This was not one of my better concerts. It was cool. I got to see the Moody Blues! Their new music was also good, from Long Distance Voyager or whichever one they were promoting. The company was abysmal and made the evening miserable. If I were to talk about songs reminding me of Daphne, the girl who messed with my head so thoroughly that I arguably still haven’t recovered, I would have to include Moody Blues as an entire band. Luckily that doesn’t ruin them for me. We both already loved them. It was one of the things we had in common. That and space. I’m not sure I ever met anyone else who shared my dream at the time of starting a private space launch company. Obviously that didn’t happen, but it was at the heart of one of my earlier book (series) ideas after I realized if I couldn’t ever do it I at least could fictionalize it. I was floored when I read Heinlein’s The Man Who Sold the Moon a few years later and saw the commonalities and by how many years he’d beaten me to it, albeit in short form. I don’t know when I might have read it had I not signed up for a US literature class for which part of the reading came from Heinlein’s The Past Through Tomorrow. After having bought that for the class, and having been thrilled the professor was that cool, I had to drop the class before it even began. I made sure to sign up with the same guy a later semester, but then he had switched to Lovecraft. Just not the same! Though I don’t regret the exposure to it. It was something my late uncle loved.

Wow, that was a digression. I only remember who one of the other people with us was. She and he are both FB friends these days. I think another one of the people with us may have been a guy she pined for and had ground down into having sex with her, once, and ensuring I knew about it, while maintaining the bizarre… virginal?… act toward me. That aside, everyone seemed to be in a tempestuous mood. The drive there was unpleasant and argumentative. The mood in the group of us in the venue itself was, well, moody. It was a relief for it to be over, even though the concert proper did settle things down.

In terms of company and the moods people were in, that was the worst. It wasn’t as bad taking abuse from Zack’s sister over my accidental purchase of seats with an obstructed view for ELO. Which I know I mentioned somewhere, but should also go in a post specifically about concerts. Moody Blues were the third of my three concerts at Providence Civic Center. I can remember two at Boston Garden, but I may be forgetting one. I’ll get back to the rest of the concerts another day.

First of May

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about discovering Melody is that from the time I fell in love with the song First of May, I had something of a story in my head based on it. If pressed to put the story to film, I probably couldn’t have done better than Melody.

The song lends itself to provoking a story in my head not just because it tells the bones of a story that leave it for you to flesh out in your imagination, but also because it hit a nerve. It hit the memory, much nearer to hand then, of youthful love that was just that powerful. It hit the dream of a love that would never die, even if there was an interruption of being able to be together or a wane in its intensity along the way. I was all about that romantic love that for me has never successfully been requited.

The song was brilliantly and evocatively written. The movie makes brilliant use of the song as inspiration and prop. The use of Melody Fair and To Love Somebody is a bonus, but they all fit together so well.

If Melody didn’t exist, someone would have to create it. That is, a film based on or inspired by First of May.