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 much 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.

Sequel

I was thinking never mind a remake. A sequel could have been interesting. It could have answered some questions that will be left forever up in the air about what happened after, or it could have continued to leave ambiguity while still picking up later.

It could have been a bit like having a sequel to The Cutting Edge, another favorite movie of mine. Figure skating meets romantic comedy! What could be better? Besides something that resonates with my own childhood as dramatically as Melody manages. You come along later in their lives and they’re married. Hijinks ensue with their own kid and/or themselves. Times change. Kids not entirely. That they married for real would be some vindication, without regard for how they arrived there after whatever hell there was to pay for the antics at the end of the original.

Of course, in fan fiction anything could happen. A while back I saw someone posit a scenario where they find themselves at Hogwarts via the trolley. Surreal. Or you could put them in a post-apocalyptic situation. TEOTWAWKI could hit while they are off on the trolley, and they are fending for themselves, trying to get by with the clothes on their backs. Pure fantasies of whatever variety.

Skipping ahead would certainly fit the storytelling pattern of the movie. Just as we never see what happens when Daniel collapses after winning the 220. His mother panics! Get the medic! Maybe we don’t need to do more than infer just how traumatic it was for everyone to get their lives and schooling back to something passing for normal. Maybe we don’t need to know how the kids became married old miseries. They just are, and we revisit old friends later in their lives. Ornshaw graduates Top Gun, becomes a hero and gets to return there as an instructor. Wait, wrong movie. Since he’s actually smarter than the teachers, he goes on to become one and show how it’s done. Daniel becomes famous for his art. or at least struggles to make a living at it other than by illustrating Melody’s stories she writes for children.

Or we could throw them together years later, after they’d been torn asunder. Their love will never die, but if they are separated for a while, it takes the right circumstances for a reunion and a more adult romantic comedy before they actually live happily ever after together.

None of which is exactly where I was going with this. The wife started talking and had trouble stopping, much as happens too often when I start typing.

If you go with the Heinleinesque scenario of all realities existing even if they are fiction in our own, then there’s a very real alternate reality, timeline, dimension – whatever you care to call it – in which the events of Melody happened. Number of the Beast, but we’re not in Oz anymore. We don’t know anything about the fine details of that reality in the parts we didn’t get to see, or that came after, but they are happening to those people in that world. Except in the many worlds theory, we have infinitely branching timelines in which any little variation that could happen does happen, each propagating a new universe. Some seem familiar, even indistinguishable. Some seem utterly alien. It takes so little to make a change. A movie that’s released in 1971 and flops in the United States instead does well and makes stars of the people involved, or bigger stars of the already famous ones. That’s a huge ripple through time. Tracy Hyde becomes a household name. She has more and bigger roles. She never becomes a legal secretary. A ten year old boy who’s not entirely different from Daniel Latimer sees it and his life is changed. A far cry from seeing it 47 years later than that and feeling zealously happy yet wistful. Might not be as big a change as we’d have if that movie George Lucas released in 1977, you know, the space one, hadn’t flopped, but… oh wait, that one didn’t flop.

If you put those two concepts together, then every fiction is its own timeline, and every one of those varies and branches infinitely. The one captured by the purveyor of a piece of fiction in our world is just the one we know, not all that could be. Imagine that Icy Hot Song if Ned never lost his head. Or if Avienda, I mean, Ygritte, survived. You know nothing, dear readers.

Seriously, though, a sequel could have been fun. It would have required greater success of the original. While there’s been a great deal of inspiration provided by Melody, despite its cult status, giving us things like Moonrise Kingdom, since most people never heard of Melody, most people wouldn’t care to follow the rest of the story. A shame, but there it is.

1971 Was so long ago, I had to check with my siblings to see if we maybe had seen Melody. As expected, it was no. Never heard of it. I figured that the possibility existed that I could have seen and forgotten it. I doubt it, though. Much as I love First of May and Melody Fair, neither of those came to my attention until later in the seventies. I’d have known them from the movie. The thing is, I know for a fact that we went to see Flight of the Doves in 1971. I remember it being a big deal to my sister. That was yet another Jack Wild film. Yet all I can remember is that I saw it. I remember nothing about it. I remembered parts of the Planet of the Apes movies vividly. My father took as to all four, regardless of whether they might have been age appropriate. I think of myself as having an excellent memory, but things do get spotty from my youth. That wasn’t the best year ever, either, since my father had left in early 1970 and the divorce would be final in the latter part of 1971. Ironically, 4th grade was an exceptional school year for me, and that was 1970-1971. I had both my first crush on a peer, Carol, resembling Melody, and a crush on my pretty blond math teacher. I crashed in 5th grade and had one of my worst school years.  I’ve mentioned it before, but seeing Melody right when I had that first crush in Daniel-but-shyer (and younger) fashion would have been fascinating.

I’m rambling. (I know: “No kidding! You just figured that out?” Heh.) I should be asleep and instead I’m going on and on without saying anything further that pertains to the post. So I’ll stop and survey the damage now.

Melody Jones?

While being not-asleep, I just discovered this video of a song by Jack Wild. Catchy! I heard the lyrics on the first listen as a “Melody girl.” When I found the lyrics online, I discovered it was “Melody Jones.” I had seen the video presented by YouTube as an option before, but since it was labeled “Jack Wild  – Melody,” I assumed it was a compilation of clips of Jack in his Ornshaw role in Melody.

Offhand, I couldn’t find anything more about the song besides the lyrics. That was harder than normal, since it was obscure and I didn’t know the name, except to assume the song was named Melody. This creates the same problem the name of the movie does: It’s a word. If the whacky fake name of SWALK (or S.W.A.L.K.) that the distributor slapped on Melody in an effort to make less money in part of the world has one thing going for it, it’s that it’s a bit more distinctive in an online search. Not that they were thinking about pleasing Google back in 1970 or 1971.

It’s notable that Jack’s first wife was named Gaynor Jones.

Take out the Jones and it could be a song about Melody Perkins, which is what I figured it was when I heard it as Melody girl.

In poking around some more, I discovered that Jack Wild had done his own version of Working On It Night and Day, which is pretty cool. I also discovered a deleted scene picture, something I have not come across any of before labeled as such, of Jack as Ornshaw messing with a paint brush in what would probably be Daniel’s room. That fills in something I’d had a mental image of when Ornshaw tries to make Daniel feel better by listing off things he has going for him, including being good at painting.

Anyway, catchy song and a complete surprise. Now I’ll be able to find it again. Both of them, for that matter.

Peggy Swailscroft

Kay Skinner, now Kay Worsfold (I really like that picture), played Peggy Swailscroft in Melody. It’s always interesting to see whether the kids had been in other things before, and how long they acted after. In her case, that was her first role, and her short acting career ended with a 1972 release. Melody filmed during May through August 1970, when Kay was 12, and came out at the end of March 1971.

I bring her up for a few reasons. She is one of Melody’s closest friends. Besides her, that seems to include Rhoda, played by Lesley Roach, and Muriel, played by Camille Davis. Peggy plays an especially pivotal role, being with Melody at the dance. That makes her the foil – is that the right word? – making it harder for Daniel simply to go up and ask Melody to dance with him, but providing Daniel the excuse to bring Tom Ornshaw for moral support (courage in numbers). My take is that Peggy doesn’t read the situation right and, distasteful as dancing with Ornshaw may be, bear with it for the sake of Melody completing that dance with Daniel. Can’t really blame her, since he’d obviously rather be anywhere else but dancing with her.

Kay did a wonderful job playing that role. She captures the personality of the kid who would be amused to clue Robert Sinclair in so he’s aware of Muriel, then run away before Muriel can get her for doing it, and would play a central role in grilling Muriel about her apparent boy crazy exploits.

I’ve noticed that Kay has noted the cult following of Melody and has popped up online to note what a blast she had being in the film. The kids who were the stars have said similar, that it was a lot of fun.

Even if it was also work, can you imagine growing up, growing older, and having not only the memory, but also the thing you were in to watch. Like home movies, but different. So cool. And hey, she got to work with Roy Kinnear in her last role! She didn’t share scenes with him in Melody, but it looks like he might have played her dad in Raising the Roof. If so, that gives her something in common with both Melody Perkins and Veruca Salt.

We either never learn or have to be paying really close attention to learn both first and last names for the supporting kids. Is it strange that the girls we tend to know by first names and the boys by surnames? We learn Peggy’s name, though, except it took a transcript for me to catch it.

At the dance, there is an exchange between Ornshaw and the gang of boys, one in particular, in which we learn two things:

Hey, look at Swailscroft.
She thinks she knows it all.

Go on, Tom. Dance with her.

No, you won’t get me out there, mate.

I couldn’t hear all this clearly, watching even the best copy on YouTube. I thought Ornshaw was referring to Melody when he said something indistinguishable and that she thinks she knows it all. After all, there was no love lost between those two, and they had made faces at each other in the cafeteria scene. (Actually, Ornshaw does later say of Melody “She’s a bit stuck up, that one.” Forgot that when I first typed this.) But perhaps he’d know not to make fun of Melody in front of Daniel. If Melody was the last to know Daniel loved her, Ornshaw had to be the first. At that point, I had no reason to expect Ornshaw to dislike Peggy.

This is the one and only time in the entire film where Ornshaw is addressed as Tom, and the reason why the more perceptive or obsessed knew his full name. Then famous last words, not getting him out there. Between wanting to do most anything for Daniel and being susceptible to goading and the need to keep up his image with the guys, it was all over just after that.

As for the others, I think Lesley Roach as Rhoda is adorable in the film, and perfect in the key scenes she is in. Her last role was in 1976, but she was in a ton of stuff starting in 1966. She appears to have enough of a career that it’s odd that she stopped. But then, child actors often remain such and don’t make the leap to adult roles. Her name stands out because there was a Roach family locally that were family friends for a while when I was little. It appears that she and Kay have remained connected, or become reconnected. Here’s little clip of her playing a 9 year old when she was 16. I see that was 1971, which means she was closer to Jack Wild’s age than to the age of Tracy Hyde or Mark Lester. She tended to look as young or younger.

Of course, I’m going by IMDB, for film and TV roles. Any given actor could have gone on to do stage work. Camille Davis is listed with Melody as her first role, then with four more roles, all in 1982. She seemed older and more mature than some of the others, but she was “the big one” after all.

I took a big break with this unfinished, so I hope I didn’t lose the thread and end up sounding incoherent. The other kids, including Kay as Peggy, did a lot to help make the movie as great as it is. It’s just a shame it did so poorly in most markets.

I forgot to note that you hear Peggy’s last name not once, but twice in the movie. When Ornshaw is trying to get rid of Melody after the Latin punishment, before Daniel comes out, knowing full well why she is there, among other things he says: “Is old Swailscroft
waiting for you, is she?” That’s actually cleared than at the dance, but originally I had no clue who he meant.

Update:
The correct spelling may be Swailescroft. You never know what’s going to happen in something like a transcript. Both are out there, anyway. In either case, it doesn’t seem to be a real surname, so Google returns limited results. Kay seems to be involved in a Facebook group for Melody fans, which is cool.

Ella Songs

The obvious, first, foremost and forever to the day I die Ella song is MacArthur Park. Not by Donna Summer! Not that Donna wasn’t awesome On The Radio. While it also reminds me of my older brother, since I remember being with him when I first heard it and fell in love with it, it was the theme song of the drum and bugle corps in which she was part of the color guard. They did a nice job of it as an instrumental. It is on some level especially suitable because of the wistful parts:

And after all the loves of my life
After all loves of my life
You’ll still be the one

And:

Oh and after all the loves of my life
After all the loves in my life
I’ll be thinking of you
And wondering why

Except, of course, I won’t. I am sure it would never have worked. I could have made a better show of it, and might always regret that, and regret hurting her by turning inward when she finally expressed overt reciprocity. I might regret not having my first date, my first kiss, that sort of thing, with someone that over the top special to me, at, well, what would have been the low side of the age of 15. I did the equivalent of Daniel walking off with Ornshaw and leaving Melody standing there after having presented herself as his if he left with her. (Immediately after I typed this, Melody Fair came on my large, random playlist. How funny.) Even before then, I had the opportunity to kiss her, had I been willing to do it in front of dozens of onlookers. She saved me by offering “a rain check.”

Off and on, to one degree or another, I pined for her for years. it peaked just after 9th grade, 1976. I wasn’t fully and completely over it until late summer 1982, when I ran into her just before I started college and we talked for, heck, upwards of half and hour, maybe closer to an hour, until the store she was working in was closing and I went to pay for the backpack I was buying for college. I continued to have regrets and question myself even longer, but I knew there was just absolutely no chance, that it had been for the best, and that we were such different people that there was no way. Unless we hadn’t become those people to enough of a degree back in the beginning, and might have grown up together to be more compatible or on the same page.

That said, there are two Paul Davis songs, some of my all time favorite songs, that both bring her to mind. It’s funny for me to say a song is an all time favorite, since I would probably say the same of dozens of songs, and would be hard pressed to narrow it even to a few, let alone one.

I made my friends laugh one time when I was driving somewhere and I declared Paul Davis to be “an unsung singer.” It was an unintentionally funny expression.

I Go Crazy captures the feeling, with Ella and to some degree others, of not entirely getting over it, of regret, of the ease of falling right back in.

Sweet Life captures what I imagined it could be like being together, married, in love, having children, and it not always being perfect but love prevailing. It’s a much more idyllic version of what I eventually ended up living, despite that having had its moments. She’s not the only one this applies to, though it’s more generic in that regard – a song of what might have been, perhaps – but it was originally for Ella.

I’m trying to think of more. I am sure there are some. The only one I can think of that sort of fits is Saturday Night by the Bay City Rollers, for no other reason than it was out at exactly that time when I was crushing on her in 9th grade, and I was hearing it in the school cafeteria. Oh, to some degree Elenore by The Turtles, which is a song with a funny history. They tried to fit in every cliche they could to make the song too ridiculous for the record company, and ended up with a hit.

Now, there are Bee Gees songs. I loved them from way back, and may have associated things like Words or To Love Somebody with Ella along the way, but I also associated them with basically any girl I fell for hard enough. Whereas How Deep Is Your Love has a very specific association with a girl named Jemma. The getting to her through being friends with her brother that would probably have had success years earlier with Paula and her brother Paul was not successful with Jemma and her brother Joe. Too big of an age difference. Paula was a year younger than me and Jemma was five, which is nothing now, but was a lot then.

I guess I can update this if anything else comes to mind soon enough. Otherwise maybe a “how could I forget!” post.

Update:

There was a particular video for To Love Somebody that I was actually looking for when I linked the song video above. It didn’t pop up offhand, so I used another one. The one I just linked is clips from Melody, but isn’t the exact clip of the song as used in the movie, great as that is. It’s more of a complete progression. As it is subtitled: Kids Grow Up.

 

DVD

I ordered a region-free Melody DVD that is supposed to have the option of English or Korean subtitles. It’ll take a while to get here. It’ll be nice to see it in a crisp resolution at a larger format than YouTube. Since I learned when trying to watch the Bohemian Rhapsody DVD my brother gave me that the DVD drive on my computer is barfing, I’ll either need to get something to watch it with, or use the Xbox. Since I have to do that anyway, I have a crazy plan to make the kids watch it and get their reactions. I figure I’ll give them a small stipend to get their cooperation. It’s nothing they’d ever sit still for otherwise. We can watch while their mother isn’t home, and I can report what they have to say about it here. We’ll see how that goes. I’m curious to see what the DVD might have for extras besides the movie itself, and whether there’s anything I haven’t already seen online.

Free Range Kids

It annoys me that there has to be an expression to describe “free range children.” Back in the olden days, we simply called them children. Yes, not a Melody post! But that inspired it, because it’s such a dramatic image of another time and place. The past is, after all, another country, and that was another country and in the past. It was also a different environment from the one I grew up in, city instead of rural.

I learned to ride a bike when I was 8, rather old because of my mild physical retardation from meningitis as an infant. I believe I talked about this in one post or another in the past few weeks. Once I could ride, that was it! I was gone! I had wings. Nobody thought a thing of my riding three miles to visit friends.

Even before that, though, I was walking all over the woods, to the nearest beach, to the store (over a mile away), and of course to the bus. We had to walk a third of a mile just to get the bus to school. It was rare and frigid for me to get a ride. My mother walked me to the bus, which stopped even farther away, for the town’s version of kindergarten. That was for a short time during the summer before first grade. It gave them a chance to teach us how to go to school and give us some bare preliminaries. Which was funny for me, since I already knew how to read. I don’t remember ever not knowing how to read, so I would guess I learned sometime in the 3-4 years old range. It was physical retardation. After that I walked with my older siblings for first grade, with my sister for second grade, and by myself thereafter. My kids had to walk to elementary school just a little farther than my walk to the bus. We ended up being expected to walk with them through third grade, even though they were considered fine to walk home by themselves.

Someone called the cops on the youngest when he went out to play with a kid about three houses down the street at the age of about 5. That was a little young, but it was also close, with a sidewalk and not busy street. I never did figure out who called. We taught the kids from a young age not to dash into the street and how to cross safely if they needed to. Compared to where I grew up, it’s downright urban, but really it’s a quaint old factory town’s downtown, the outskirts of it, basically suburbia, in a town that ranges to pure rural, cranberry bogs, and thick woods.

Circa first and second grade, I hung out with a kid, Reggie, who lived about a mile from the end of our street (end of our street being the bus stop, 1/3 of a mile from our house). He was on the other side of the main intersection and only traffic light in town. The big business at the junction was a liquor store/variety story with a gas pump. While we spent some time in his house, mostly we ranged around outside. We freely crossed the street. We walked back along the main road most of the way back to my street. We would collect bottles to turn in at the store so we could get ice cream bars or candy. Nobody thought the slightest thing of it that six or seven year old kids were doing this. That would have been about 1967-1968.

I think the last time anyone worried about my going walkabout was when I “went to pick blueberries” when I was 3 and it was the wrong time of year. The dog went with me. Then they went out in the woods and swamp to find me. I gather I wondered what all the fuss was about. Since my father’s business was maybe a tenth of a mile or so up the street from us, I would range between there and the house, almost as early as that age. I’ll never forget being no more than 5 and rushing down the path that was a shortcut between the two, trying to get home and failing. The business had an outhouse. The outhouse tended to attract hornets and I didn’t like it anyway. What a mess! I remember my mother cleaning me up while I stood in the bathroom sink. At least if all we had to do was pee, well, we lived in the woods. The world was our urinal.

I had to save this so I could go to bed on time. It’s always disorienting to pick back up on something like this after it has sat. If it veers off from this point even more than usual, that’s why.

Actually, I can remember going up the street to a building my grandfather worked out of, not long before he was disabled for good, and riding down the street with him on a giant bulldozer. I probably wasn’t even 4 yet then. I know i was extremely young and it’s one of those super early but vivid memories. He had worked for the original owner of all the land around us, who died two years before I was born. He had actually been involved in draining the swamp and building cranberry bogs many of the adult relatives would be employed on during harvest when I was little. We would hang out and watch, maybe hand pick rogue cranberries from the banks around the bogs. The house I grew up in was built for the guy he’d worked for, whose wife then refused to move there. That was how my grandparents came to buy it. My parents took it over when my grandparents couldn’t afford the payments. Originally they had planned to buy land and build a new house across the street. Weirdly, that house exists in my head, along with an imaginary house that never existed on a rise on the other side of the swamp from where we were. Both of those are yellow, whereas the house we ended up in was always white. The house on the other side of the swamp would appear in dreams when I was a kid, with us living in it. It wasn’t something I simply imagined. The house we didn’t build is more a matter of imagining it, knowing it could have happened, rather than it being pure fiction of my subconscious.

Anyway, when I was a kid, I walked all over. I rode my bike all over. When my father’s shop was in another part of town, I walked there from school some days. There was no special permission needed to leave school on foot rather than bus one day.

By the same token, if we were absent from school we were absent. Daniel and Melody didn’t go to school that day and paid the price later. In my case, we were supposed to take a note to the office the next day. I remember that in high school, but not in elementary. However, I seldom missed school in elementary. I was sickly after moving to the house I grew up in, mysteriously, and they eventually injected me with gamma globulin as an experiment to see if it’d help my immunity. It was years before I was sick again to any degree. Then I was sickly the last two years of high school and beyond, to varying degrees ever since. Since the cause became clear after a while, that provided insight into the mystery of my chronic ailment when I was very young, and why (I found out later) it didn’t start until after we moved. Also, it didn’t actually not affect me during the years after the gamma globulin. It just stuck to the more subtle aspects.

If one of my kids missed school, especially elementary, you had to call by a certain time. Like calling out sick from work. In middle school you just call the office, rather than there being a special voicemail line for it. If you don’t call them, they call you to find out if you know your kid isn’t at school. After all, kidnapping! Is! Rampant! Or something.

While my kids are mostly homebodies, they do stuff like walk to the store. The major street between us and many things you might want to walk to is not for the faint of heart, but between us and downtown, and to cross either main road downtown, is not so bad. The oldest is 14. She had a good friend not all that far away, and would walk there, but the friend’s mother kind of freaked out at the idea of doing so, especially in the dark. Conversely, the day her kid got off the late bus and came here, her mother called the police to come get her and was completely freaked out. Granted, the kid was messing with her mother by having her phone’s “battery die so she couldn’t call.” Probably just as well the kids had a falling out. You get too restrictive, then you have offspring who explode later. My kids wouldn’t feel like they couldn’t ask to go, or tell us where they were going. They aren’t as free range as I was in part because they don’t care as much, and in part because it’s a different place and time. At least we’re not stopping them, and they’re all old enough that nobody should be reporting them as unaccompanied kids as so many idiots have done with no good reason.

When I watch Melody, it’s awesome to see the kids roaming around London. They’re not only going to and from school, but also gallivanting around otherwise. It’s awesome to see two 11/12 year olds able to hop on a train and go to the seaside – on a school day! – and nobody questions it. Nobody wonders why they are hanging around at the beach, going on rides, riding the train, all without an adult. Or nobody wonders enough to call the authorities, anyway. that’s old enough that even here and now they might be fine. We’re nominally walking distance from the commuter rail to Boston and points between here and there. Two of the kids are old enough to ride as unaccompanied minors, and would probably receive little or no scrutiny.  In theory, one of them could decide to walk over to the station and pop up to Boston for the day, as long as they had the money. It’s kind of the equivalent. At the actual and apparent age of Melody and Daniel, that wouldn’t be possible. The youngest might even pass for old enough, if it came to it. I can’t see why any of them would think to do that, but it’s there.

When I was 14 and 15, I was riding my bike to high school, about five miles. I was riding to my friend’s house, an additional maybe two miles. I was riding to buzz around Ella’s house, go to the next town north from there, or a couple towns east of there, to watch drum and bugle corps practices, and I was riding home, often in the dark. The power of love. Google tells me the ride straight home from the far flung east practice would be about 7.4 miles. From the northern practice spot straight home would be about 9.6 miles. From the launching point where the group would go to practice, just a few houses from Ella’s, it’d be 5.9 miles to or from home. From there to the eastern practice spot would be about would be about 7.3 miles. So I’d go 5.9 miles, then 7.3 miles, then from there home 7.4 miles, all to stalk Ella and get those extra looks at her and see her in action, wielding a flag or a wooden rifle as part of a choreographed performance. All to the tune of MacArthur Park. It was a bit obsessive. No wonder I related so much to the boy in Endless Love when I read it several years later, and when I saw the film. Even though that was a sexual obsession and it hadn’t occurred to me yet that I ought to be after that as part of it.

I digress. But my point is I was still a freshman in high school, 14 turning 15, and I was everywhere. At that time in my life, I thought it’d be the Best Thing Ever to ride a bike across the whole country. It’d be cool, still, but I’m kind of used to driving. I’d love to drive across the country again, and glad I got even a marginal chance to do it once.

Do kids ride around like that these days? Even in the name of love? Maybe I’d have been glued to video games if we’d had them then. Who knows. Maybe technology moots the whole thing.

Recess

One thing that struck me in Melody was that in secondary school they have what are called breaks, which in elementary school are called recess here. Once I was past 6th and my kids were past 5th grade, in jr high school and middle school, there was no recess. In the movie it’s the equivalent of the first year of middle/high school. They have a morning break, even if we see no later one.

That could be there to fuel the plot, but I’d consider it more likely that such a thing existed at the time and thus was incorporated into the plot. That makes more sense than inventing it.

Given the amount of steam kinds have to blow off in the movie, it’s probably just as well.

We could have met the kids at school and seen some antics other ways than the break shown early in the film, but it worked well to introduce the gang of girls around Melody. Kissing Mick Jagger would have lacked context without it. The wedding, though, required the kids to go on break and not come back. Not sure how that many snuck away, with staff and older students monitoring, but then I still don’t know how Daniel and Melody left their houses “for school” dressed in street clothes and packed for a day of fun without being noticed. Besides adults being oblivious old miseries.

Anyway, it was just one of those things I found curious. By 5th grade, at least two of my kids didn’t care about recess. I was never a big fan, but I wasn’t one to run around wildly, and it was a social minefield. I didn’t want to go out there because there were people! OMG!  We didn’t have to work as hard as the kids in the movie seem to be required to, so they ought to need the break more than we did. For my kids, it is more like depicted in Melody, maybe more so, and was even before middle school. For my generation the teaching was lax, at least in my school system. Lucky we’re not a bunch of raving imbeciles.

 

What Do They Talk About?

I just remembered a topic about Melody (which I refuse to refer to as SWALK or S.W.A.L.K. because the distribution company that renamed it that was idiotic) (though if you watch the end of the film you see an artifact of even the filmmakers having thoughts of alternate names, on the screen where it says “To Love Somebody” toward the upper left and the Melody signature appears to the lower right) (But I digress parenthetically, isn’t that annoying?) that I might have mentioned in other contexts, but haven’t given its own attention.

What do Melody and Daniel talk about when they are together, to the extent they talk?

There’s a lot to be said for the glow of simply being together, and they fell for each other without needing to date, converse, and get to know each other. But it’s not like they’re going to move on to horizontal communication if they run out of things to say and the glow isn’t enough.

I know, I know. Petty details. Just enjoy the story.

Up to the point when she waits for him and snatches him from Tom Ornshaw, I believe the extent of verbal communication between them has been, first, his asking to sit with her at lunch and her response. If Ornshaw hadn’t dragged him to the other table, maybe more words would have been exchanged. Not like she wasn’t interested. Second, his asking her to dance. Anything else was looks exchanged, as far as we are shown.

They talk on the way to the spot in the cemetery where they sit, but we don’t know what they say. They have the famous scene that we get to witness. They talk on the way to her house, but we hear music, and at least part of it has to do with crossing the street and maybe intentionally sneaking across without the cop.

They don’t talk to each other during tea, in front of her family, at least on camera. Who knows how long he’s there or what else transpires. Obviously they had to talk enough to plan the day of skipping school together, however long after that was.

What always bothers me is the conversation sitting in the shelter when it rains. It’s the kind of thing you might expect from kids in school. What class would you be in right now makes sense, but since school would be the thing they have most in common to talk about, by then you might think they’d have talked about subjects they like or hate. When they’re building the sand castle, they talk about their families and trips, and what they are doing. That’s where the topic of getting married comes up, and she sounds sensible about it. They both have a feel for how miserable people can become with age. Perhaps that adds impetus when they become so keen on marrying now.

I see them running out of things to say pretty quickly. They can talk about things they like or do, such as his painting. Arguably the film could have been written to include having him paint her. They need a better understanding of what their future options may be before they can talk a lot about what they want to do in the future.

Maybe I’m just being an old misery, being pessimistic. I am reminded of the last and primary date I went on with the third of my Melody girls, Maddie. It was very uncomfortable, sitting in a restaurant in Salem, just kind of staring at her because I had absolutely no idea what to say. Now, that could be partly just me and my autistic leanings, but we really didn’t have much in common. Right about then, it really did need to segue into something physical, or else end. For better or worse, I did the equivalent of going to the arcade with Ornshaw instead of catching the hints (like playing Physical on the jukebox, duh). I was put off by the lack of anything in common to make for conversation. I hadn’t even seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s yet. Heh. I also perceived her as being considerably less intelligent, and that was a turn off, even had she been even cuter than she was. And she was, but I have learned in my life that people wind up closer later than they seem younger, as their brains sort of… power up… at different rates. She eventually became pretty successful, both beautiful and well preserved, and, as near as I can tell, not straight.

My point is having nothing much to talk about can be brutal. The fact that they would have each other and be essentially growing up together the rest of they way might inherently give them common ground. The fact that she is jovial and a talker, while he is moodier, quieter, perhaps more maudlin, might mean that she manages to carry the conversational duties.

The wife and I never run out of things to say. It’s entirely possible that in about six year or so we’ll find ourselves apart, but it’s hard to picture just on that basis. It would have been wonderful if combined with the kind of romantic love Daniel and Melody have. Not sure what I’d do with that! Besides want to get married and stay that way forever.

Update:

I thought I had added an update to this. I later thought about myself at around that age with my friend Zack, and the fact we absolutely never ran out of things to talk about. We didn’t even go to the same school, so we had attending the same grade in common, but not the same grade together. It might not be as bad as I’d been thinking. It’s just that it needed to be put into what would fit the script.

Update 2:

I had added an update! To the wrong post. Duh! So below is the text that I had meant as the update that I attempted to redo above.

Thinking about this subsequently, I realized that when I was that age, my best friend Zack and I never ran out of things to talk about. It’s the closest I can come up with tot he same relationship at about the same age. In reality, all that distinguishes it from being the same is that he wasn’t a girl. It was emotionally intense. The kids in the movie would rapidly be, if nothing else, best friends, or it wouldn’t last anyhow. I may have taken too much from a more adult scenario of tentatively establishing a relationship and not knowing what to say to have an engaging conversation. Still, I’m also thinking of their limited worldview versus the type of relationship – sex entirely aside, since even when you’re older there has to be much more to it or it can’t last and be stable – represented by actual marriage.

Ages In Melody

I was thinking. I know, sounds dangerous. Unless I am mistaken, we are never given a definite age for the kids in the movie. Right? There are now two references that come at the possible ages indirectly.

One is when Melody is inconsolable with her parents, after the bad day that followed the day they skipped school to go to the seaside. When told that people generally wait to see if they like each other when they’re older, she asks how old. Her father says “in their twenties, older sometimes.”

She plaintively says “but that’s twice as old as I am now.”

Which only tells us she is at least 10, and that much was already obvious. She could be as old as 12 and still shorthand it to “twice as old” in reference to twenties.

We do know that Tracy Hyde’s age was 10 at the very, very beginning of filming in May 1970, and 11 from May 16 through the end of filming in August.

We also know that Mark Lester’s age was 11 when filming started in May, and 12 when filming ended in August, since his birthday was July 11. Probably just as well he was a year older, as it worked well for them to look the same age in the film.

Finally, we know that Jack Wild was 17 during filming, and turned 18 the September 30 not long afterward. He very much looks and seems older in the film, while still looking young enough to pass. In his case, actual age of the actor tells us nothing.

Now that I know what the headmaster is actually saying to Melody after Daniel discloses that they want to get married, there is another clue. Which I guess is about what I always took to be implicit. “I assume you’ve already promised your fair, freckled first-form hand in marriage to this young gentleman?”

As I noted, I could never figure out that the headmaster was saying first-form in that exchange. That’s an indication of grade or level in school, or it was at the time. First form in North America is equivalent to 7th grade. The surviving British term seems to be sixth form, but in that article it notes:

Pupils started their first year of secondary school in the first form or first year, and this was the academic year in which pupils would normally become 12 years of age.

In the US the year for turning 12 would ordinarily be 6th grade, or the 7th year of school including kindergarten. In a typical system with a middle school, that would be the first of three middle school years. I went to a jr high system, so elementary went through 6th grade, jr high was 7th and 8th, and then it was four years of high school. I think the system that ends at 10th grade, or 11th year, makes a lot of sense. A lot of high school was repetition or boredom, and that could be a good point to separate out the harder core academic track students from those who would pursue a more vocational or job training path. But I digress.

I had always imagined this as 5th grade, and thus particularly early, based on their ages. Further, it is obviously late in the school year, based on my analysis of the timeline from various cues. That’s a big difference, 5th to 6th. You could say that was the leap from cooties to not cooties, generally speaking. It didn’t take a stretch to imagine a similar story happening to me in 5th grade. For 6th it would just have been a matter of being one of the lucky guys who had a girlfriend. There was one I knew of in just my classroom, which was one of four or five classrooms for the grade.

In Melody, the kids actually seem younger and more innocent than that, except sometimes they don’t.

I’ve seen reviews or commentaries that range from describing the kids as 10 years old to 12 years old. Then again, I’ve seen reviews that made me wonder if the reviewer actually watched the film. Sort of the equivalent of dashing off a last minute book report for school based largely on the jacket description and what you imagine was in the book, or get from opening and reading a couple paragraphs in a few places and maybe the conclusion.

Speaking of conclusion, I think what I should probably conclude is that they are in the equivalent of 6th grade, AKA 7th year, and that if they are 11 in the film, they won’t remain so much longer. It all works with the skilled depiction of showing the two of them growing up dramatically over a short time. For that matter, it’s not clear either of them were still comfortable acting as young kids even when they still were shown that way. Melody was out of place with the gang of little kids mobbing the rag man. It was just… what she knew at the time.

So I’m going to call them 11, but high side. I am prepared to believe that Tom Ornshaw was actually older, maybe by a year. Wiser, if not. He’s a study all by himself. Bright but treated as stupid. Clearly older in outlook and wisdom than his form one cohort. I’m going to call them 6th grade.

Rich or Reg?

Oh man, I found a decent transcript of Melody, and it’s great because I learned some things, but also need to go through and hear the words again. There are definite mistakes in the transcript, though not many. I even got some of the stuff I couldn’t hear at all before. I even found out where we learn that Ornshaw is named Tom, and learned Peggy’s last name.

The one that’s got me going is that I was sure I heard Mrs. Perkins (whose name may be Flo if I follow the transcript right) call her husband “Rich.” The transcript has it as “Reg.” Then it uses “Reg’ afterward to refer to at least one line of his dialogue.

It’s too late at night to play the parts I want, so I’ll update this after I do that.

Another find is part of a sentence I could never make out because it made no sense to me, but that puts the kids in an older grade level than I had them pegged in based on their age. By their age, I would have them in 5th grade, in the US, which would be 6th year in England. Tale end of the year. “First form” is seventh grade, or was when the terminology was used. Or maybe that’s seventh year, which would be sixth grade in the US. That wouldn’t be so far off.  The transcript line in question is the headmaster saying:
“I assume you’ve already promised your fair, freckled first-form hand in marriage to this young gentleman?”

First-form. I could never tell it was first-form. The whole question is a little odd anyway, but all I could figure he was saying was “first born.” While seemingly true – first and only – it didn’t make sense. The headmaster referring to her grade level would make sense.

Anyway, I’ll have to see if I can do a combination of turning the sound up and lip reading for the Reg/Rich question. I can’t usually read lips well. Sometimes it’s obvious. After Daniel passes out upon winning the 220 while thinking of Melody, we see someone saying something to Melody and her, getting serious, saying “what!” That could be interpreted to mean someone saying what happened to him. Or it could just be one final look at her being the center of attention of a group of friends.

Update:
I couldn’t wait. It’s clearly Reg, watching that exact bit with an ear out for the difference, and watching her lips.

I’m also amused by the “he’s out on bail” line, which I had never heard enough to catch. The transcript says Melody snickers, but it’s very subtle. I take it to be a joke about him being home from the pub.

It’s hard to hear, still, but it seems like it’s correct that Granny calls Melody’s mother Flo.

And yes, I can hear where Ornshaw is called Tom, but only because I know it’s there.

I confirmed that Melody says “I’m always the last to know.” A different transcript says that she said “I mean, I was the last to know.” That would make a bit more sense to me, complaining about the specific case rather than always.

July 7 September 11

It’s crazy the coincidences that happen. In the movie Melody, in the graveyard scene, she reads a gravestone. I always wondered whether it was real and they took advantage of it for the film, or whether it was simply a prop so it would say what it needed to say. It says:

Here lies my
beloved and beautiful
Ella Jane
wife and lifelong friend
thank you for 50 years of happiness
laid to rest
July 7, 1893

Henry James McDevott
gone to join his Ella Jane
September 11, 1893

Probably a prop, since they needed the details to match what the script would do, but perhaps they found the stone and planned around it. It’s really a crucial part of the film, given that it plants the idea that not only does he love her, as he has already been telling people, but will love her for many years and that being in love means being married. The rest of the movie would be completely different if the two of them didn’t decide they really must get married now.

At any rate, this was filmed in 1970 and released in 1971. The dates on the stone are the same as the London bombing of 7/7/2005, and of the notorious 9/11/2001.

Coincidences like it happen all the time. Look how many seemed to predict what happened to the World Trade Center. It’s still a bit wild, catching a detail like that, despite the fact that it has no actual significance.

Not Quite 11 Years Old In 1971 But…

Brits being unable to identify the vagina seems like it fits with the innocence depicted in Melody. Other details in there too, although Chef would be proud that they know where to find the clitoris.

Not that everyone in Melody is completely innocent, given the strong presence of girly magazines and nude pictures, even if Daniel having one was completely innocent of any sexual connotations. The boys, especially Ornshaw, weren’t entirely innocent when trying to sneak at least one of them into the girly show. It’s just that they are all still on the edge of childhood and being in love doesn’t make them think “hey, let’s get naked together.” Give them a couple years, if they’re still able to see each other and he still loves her for more than a couple weeks of sixth year.

Of course, given that these days everyone calls the vulva a vagina, maybe it’s not just the Brits who are confused.