Forming Ideas

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

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

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

Writing and Distractions

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I have three problems:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season 8 Episode 4 (Spoilers)

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

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

Sad about Jaime after being super happy about Jaime.

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

How did word spread so widely about Gendry?

The Hound and Arya are such a great duo.

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

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

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

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

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

No sign of any further magic concerns following Night King.

Funeral was well done.

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

Oh! Glad to see Bronn was back.

Timeline Elasticity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Long Night Rewatch (Spoilers!)

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

I liked it even better the second time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Birthday

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

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

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

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

Happy First of May

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

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

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

Game of Thrones 70 (Likely Spoilers)

At least, idle commentary that might allow you to extrapolate enough to constitute spoilers.

First, I actually went back to HBO Go to see what the episode title was and am astounded that it is listed as Game of Thrones 70. I’d been referring to it as Battle of Winterfell leading up to the episode, because, well, that was what it was expected to be and what it was. It’s almost as if the actual title was supposed to be inserted where a placeholder had been, and someone forgot.

Next, if you watched it you can guess at what key moment I yelled out “YES!” loudly enough to be heard through the wall and closed door from the other room. Not what I had expected, but not something surprising either.

After last week’s episode when Bran made himself sound like Rand Al’Thor and the Night King sound like the Dark One from Wheel of Time, I wondered if there would be some degree of virtual jousting between them as if the Godswood at Winterfell was Shayol Ghul and this was Tarmon Gaidon.

I feel like I need to rewatch to be sure I caught who did or didn’t survive more accurately, but I will probably see that information detailed soon enough by YouTubers. There were three super appropriately heroic deaths that were clear, and another that was both heroic and explained a lot. Or raised questions.

I really can’t say much without outright discussing it. It threw a ton of theories and deeper stuff out the window, overall. Maybe not for how the books will do things when they select someone to finish them in a decade or two after Martin has pulled a Jordan but less untimely and with slower writing.

Update:

I haven’t checked HBO again, but others seem to be referencing an episode name of The Long Night. That would make sense as a name, since it was essentially all over the course of one night.

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…

 

Trouble Is a Friend

Something triggered the vague memory of a music video I used to watch. I couldn’t remember who it was, but I remembered a bear and an eye, and the thing being partially animated. I also knew that it was associated with my friend Paula, because I discovered the artist through her Facebook likes several years ago. The song seemed fitting for her, and was one of two by the artist that I found I liked a lot. The other one was The Show, which is cute.

Anyway, I started out with something like female singer music video bear eye and got nowhere. Then I remembered she was Australian! Female Australian singers gave me a scrollable horizontal row of artists and there she was, a couple scrolls over: Lenka.

If that hadn’t worked, I might have thought to look at Paula’s profile to see if I could rediscover who it was from her music likes. After Paula’s awesome son died in a tragic work accident maybe three years ago, leaving two babies and a young wife behind, trouble was definitely more of a foe for her. The whole thing still jars me to the core, and I’m not family as she is. I hadn’t even met him, but he was highly regarded and my town rallied behind his family.

I digress and the digression is making me cry. In a way, the whole thing hits close to home because I did have a crush on her in 6th grade, when she was in 5th, and the interest never completely died for all it was never red hot as it was with someone like Ella. She would arguably be the more likely of the two candidates for a Melody-like story based on my own youth. I had planned probably to include an analog to her, and her brother, in my alternate timeline book(s). If my life had gone just slightly differently, she would be one of the more likely people for me to have had kids with at a younger age than what actually happened. (Jeez, that brings up another topic!) As such, the death hit me in a “could have been my kid” way even more than just having a contemporary’s kid I’d never met die might have.

Enough of that. Here is Trouble is a Friend by Lenka:

 

 

The Kissing Booth

I felt like relaxing and watching something light, which tends to mean romantic comedy. This time I surfed Netflix until The Kissing Booth caught my eye. It’s something of a teen genre romance/romantic comedy, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It was adorable, as was the female lead, in a down to earth sort of way.

Since it shares aspects of the “can men and women be close friends” genre represented overwhelmingly by When Harry Met Sally, I spent much of the movie wondering when we would find out that Lee was in love with his best friend Elle, while she had a crush on his brother Noah, who turned out to have a crush on her. To paraphrase Meg Ryan, “and then they fell in love…” Except the issue was a longstanding rule between the besties that family members were off limits for dating, leading to a secret affair and recriminations.

It ends ambiguously, not in terms of all that being settled and the relationship being sustained, but in terms of Noah, apparently a school year older than the two besties (who were born on the same day at the same time to  mother’s who were best friends) going to college all the way across the country. I’m intrigued to see they are making The Kissing Booth 2, and wondering which way that will go. Will it turn into Lee and Elle after all?

Apparently it was panned for being cliched, but these things tend to be. They’re like movie junk food. Yum! It’s certainly fitting that Molly Ringwald stars as one of the adults.

Saw Endgame

Loved it. It was astonishingly well done. Better than I expected or might have predicted even from how good Infinity War was.

I can confirm there is no end credit scene. The first part of the credits is worth watching for how beautifully done it is, but once that’s over, it’s safe to go join the bathroom line.

I took my oldest to a showing not that long after I got home from work this morning. She wanted to go because she’d learned that Loki would be in it. She loved the whole thing, even with having missed more of the MCU movies than I did. The wife observed that seeing Dr. Strange was particularly useful. She went with the youngest Thursday evening. The ones I never saw, apart from the Ed Norton version of Hulk, were Winter Soldier, Dark World, Ant-Man, and Ragnarok. I’d say Ragnarok and Winter Soldier were the most important ones to have seen for their weight in the overall storylines and cast of characters.

Anyway, that’s it until it’s been out long enough to be even slightly more detailed.

Update:

I realized I didn’t say why I stayed for the end credit scene that I already had good reason to know didn’t exist. One of the YouTube people I sometimes watch sent a notification that I saw in my inbox as, in part, “end credit scene explained” for Endgame. So if this person was analyzing the end credit scene, then maybe there was one? No. I haven’t watched the video, but the title/description is obviously misleading. Weird, since we all know nobody ever does that kind of thing for views.

Endgame of Thrones

Given the wordplay possible with Endgame and Game of Thrones, and the cultural event that is this weekend in both regards, my overactive imagination can’t help going all Number of the Beast via the quantum realm.

An expansive take on quantum many worlds theory is that anything that can happen as a branch of reality creating a parallel universe not only does happen, but also any fictional reality exists as an actual reality in its own universe (or presumably its own infinitely branching multiverse). Heinlein’s Number of the Beast, not IMHO his best work ever, yet intriguing enough that I read it twice, long ago, delves into that, notably by visiting Oz.

So I find myself picturing the Avengers gang going astray and landing in Westeros in the midst of the… endgame… of the Game of Thrones universe as, up to that point of departure, depicted in the TV series. Puny Mountain! Hulk smash. But perhaps I’m just easily amused.

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.

Never Forget

I forgot a song in my song tribute to my late stepsister! I cannot hear Rock and Roll Never Forgets without thinking of her, and picturing her as the person being spoken to in the song. Even though I was never aware of her going through that phase of ceasing to party because she stopped and thought about her dignity. She’s the one who famously told me my problem was that “you never learned how to party.” I was a bit miffed at the time, but she was basically correct. But then, she would never have been in any danger of being diagnosed on the spectrum as I would have, my older brother would have, as different as he is from me, and my older sister might have. She was also the person who vehemently corrected my misspelling of Seger. I don’t even remember the circumstances in which I wrote Bob Seeger or however I spelled it, and she whipped me into shape. That may figure into why I associate him with her so heavily.

Anyway, here’s the song I should never forget.

 

 

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.

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms (Spoilers)

Wow! We knew Martin had been a fan of Wheel of Time, and friendly with Jordan, but somehow I never pictured it quite as starkly as Bran being the Dragon Reborn and the Night King being the Dark One. All the “break the wheel” stuff, with a different meaning of course, last season drove me crazy because of the direct lifting of the term by the Game of Thrones show writers. Seeing Bran describe himself as the latest incarnation of the enemy the Night King needs to defeat in order to bring on endless night was perhaps the most glaring parallel there’s been.

Anyway, what a great episode, for all it’s a setup episode for the big action, and for all it continued to tick boxes of what we wanted or needed to see. When I saw the title, after the ending of the first episode, I figured it was Jaime-centric and he had to be the knight in question. I mean, obviously that much episode and stuff needing to happen would mean it couldn’t all be about him and updating the folks at Winterfell on his actual story. I just never expected the Brienne angle.

They continued the people showing up, being together for the first time, or after a long time, maybe the last time. It was chilling, some of the scenes where you might guess a death is being foreshadowed, or especially where “you’ll be safe in the crypts.”

Gendry! And now she knows. Both things. One might have fun with the fact that they represent elements of Mat and Perrin.

Daenerys learned the truth at arguably the best possible time, in the best possible way.

I was expecting “burn them all” to come up. Bran and Jaime went about as expected, if in somewhat of an afterthought way, since Bran was right he couldn’t have disclosed it to everyone.

Little Bear is brave. A shame she’s going to die.

Theon’s story has become fascinating to me. I know ultimately he saved her, but I wasn’t expecting the warmth between him and Sansa. Let alone the part with Bran.

I have to wonder if Bran and Night King will end up having a virtual duel alongside the physical fighting, as in A Memory of Light. The parallels aren’t exact, however much I make of Bran being Rand. In some ways, so is Jon, who is also Perrin, even though Gendry is also Perrin. Jon is certainly a reluctant king.

The little girl made me think of Shireen.

I expected fireworks with Tormund and Jaime being in the same place with Brienne.

Anyway, I actually want to watch this one again. I’ve never watched a second time, but there were a few words of dialogue I missed due to uneven sound. Next week is the big one! An entire episode devoted to battle, and at that it might leave us on a cliffhanger that concludes in episode 4. We’ll see. Episode 6 will have to be the conclusion and epilogue post Night King, and episode 5 will presumable be whatever battle follows that at Winterfell. It may be that there is a battle involving the dead after they defeat Winterfell and move south while the living flee. It may be that the dead are defeated or close enough next week and the rest is about Cersei, the throne, and the political fate of Westeros. Throw in fixing the seasons, if defeating the Night King doesn’t take care of that, and you have a bit more to tell.

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?

My Stepsister

The older of my two stepsisters died of a stroke a year ago today at the age of 55. It remains shocking and heartbreaking. I hadn’t actually seen her in many years, in no small part to her living 1500 miles away. She could be tempestuous when we were younger, but I was proud of the successful, together person she grew up to be, and happy to see the rapport she developed with my father.

I may have mentioned her when doing “songs associated with people” posts, but as I recall, I did not do one specifically for her. This seems like an appropriate time. I was asked, almost a year ago, not to post anything about her death, memorializing her or whatever. Thus I never posted about it on Facebook, and have mentioned it nowhere more than passingly. This has made the whole thing harder to take, letting it fester rather than benefit from sunlight. Even this barely qualifies, but perhaps it plus the passage of time will be sufficient.

My stepsister was never notable for having a big interest in singing. However, I will never forget the time we sang along together to Olivia Newton-John’s Let Me Be There. I did the male part, while she did Olivia’s part. It was a blast. That was probably in 1974. I was also second guessing myself and thinking of If You Love Me, Let Me Know, which also has a male part. However, it has a less extensive male part, and I sang during most of it. Funny how memories can muddle.  More after the video.

I associate my stepsister with ABBA in general, and Mama Mia specifically. We were in the back of my father’s station wagon and she was singing along with Mama Mia heartily the first time I ever remember hearing the song or the band. That couldn’t have been later than 1976, because of the location. Good taste.

Rock & Roll All Night by Kiss is one of her songs because I will always remember hearing it with her at a house in the neighborhood where she sometimes hung out and, to the extent possible at that age, partied. I can’t hear it without thinking of her.

Rich Girl by Haul & Oates was a shared experience among a few of us. I think my friend Frank might have been there at the time, since I know there was an incident when we were at my aunt’s boyfriend’s house, where my aunt lived at the time, when he and my stepsister went out on a rowboat together. He lived on the water in Plymouth. Anyway, we were sitting around a table and that song was playing on the radio. She, at least, was singing along. The lyrics include “it’s a bitch girl…” and my aunt’s boyfriend chewed us out over listening to and singing a song with such horrible curse word lyrics. He was kind of a mess. All of us shared kind of a quiet WTF reaction to the man being insane.

Last and perhaps least, barring anything I might have forgotten offhand, is that my stepsister resembled Linda Ronstadt so much, for a long time, that songs by her can remind me of my stepsister. My other stepsister for a long time resembled Valerie Bertinelli in her heyday and hated the fact, even though that was incredibly complementary.

One of them in particular does, a later one by Ronstadt that I had loved and then forgotten existed until recently. When I rediscovered it, I bought the MP3 so it comes up on my big playlist periodically. I’ll end with the video for How Do I Make You.

 

 

Things I’d Like To Say

I was surfing YouTube music videos last night before I went to bed and came across a song I love and had forgotten existed. It’s Things I’d Like To Say by The New Colony Six. It’s a forlorn yet upbeat, beautiful song of regret, maybe shades of The Worst That Could Happen. Someone else got the girl, but there were things he still wanted to say and was hoping they’d eventually get married, but if he really loves her then maybe she’ll never suffer the heartbreak he is suffering now. This morning I went to buy the MP3 on Amazon and found it not available. I don’t remember having that happen before. Well, unless you count the super long version of Time Has Come Today by the Chambers Brothers not being available, while shorter versions were. Here it is on YouTube. Enjoy!

 

Something About You

So I’m back with the series of “favorite song by an artist” posts, prompted by a Boston song having played on my playlist and reminding me that they were one of the groups I’d thought of initially. In theory, this should be a terribly hard decision. There’s only one song on their entire debut album that I don’t like. At that, it’s more a matter of being lukewarm to it than disliking it. I can easily listen to that album start to finish and skip nothing. I never warmed to the other albums, or even heard anything off of anything past their third one. I love the one big hit off each of those two albums, but the real magic was the first. They were yet another one of those now classic rock bands that debuted when I was in high school, or within the few years just before and after. 1976, in their case, just before the start of tenth grade.

Despite how amazing they were, one song is a “my song” kind of song and thus makes this cut: Something About You. It’s me, except the guy found a girl eventually, but his combination of feeling too much and not wanting it to show, and his temper, sometimes mess things up. I’m shockingly mellow these days, but I always had the temper that ran through some of the men in my family. I didn’t tend to take it out on people, even if it was a result of people, but I had to learn not to break things I didn’t want to have to or couldn’t afford to replace, or come off looking foolish. I learned to keep that inside, along with other feelings.

In an unexpectedly astute moment many years ago, my stepmother noted that I hold things inside and, I forget how she put it, but essentially it did things like drive up my blood pressure. It always drove the wife crazy that I won’t fight. She’ll do that almost for sport or fun. The last time my temper peaked was probably around eight to ten years ago, give or take a bit. That was the point at which it became a three way thing with her seeing another guy while we stayed together for the kids and stability. The other guy waxed and mostly waned subsequently, but she tenaciously waxed it recently. Even though it’s water under the bridge and it’s weird to imagine there ever being an actual relationship between us again, it has reminded me how my temper can be. But I digress into something way longer and more personal than intended as the intro for the song. And yes, that all related to why and how she came to tell me, more than once, how easy it would be for me to find people to get laid with. I find that laughable, of course, given how long and convoluted it was to get her, finally, at the age of 42.

When I was younger I thought I could stand on my own
It wasn’t easy, I stood like a man made of stone

Relatable. I might have been better off if I’d actually been more like that and not wanted it, wanted The One, whoever that might be, so much when I was young. But still, I couldn’t express an interest when I had one. Couldn’t act on it. Had learned to expect that even if I did the best outcome would be simple rejection.

I could easily have picked More than a Feeling. I could have picked Rock & Roll Band, a great entrant into the genre of “we’re a band, here’s how we started or the experiences we’ve had” songs. We’re an American Band. What’s Your Name. Turn the Page. Creque Alley. Jukebox Hero. Life’s Been Good.

But not those or the other great songs. There’s just Something About You:

 

 

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.

At Least I Can Watch Game of Thrones

Somewhere along the way, Comcast talked the wife into adding TV and we got a lower bill for internet service that way. It’s pretty much basic plus HBO. Unlike The Orville now that Disney owns it and wants to punish Comcast’s customers, I can actually watch Game of Thrones on the web.

Despite Martin’s problematic writing of great concepts, and my resulting inability to read the first book, as if it were Winter’s Heart or Crossroads of Twilight, but without excellent context to keep you slogging, I absolutely love the show. I didn’t watch it really, apart from some clips, until after the first six seasons had aired and a guy I used to work with ensured I was able to see it. He later did the same for the seventh season, before he left us for parts unknown.

I fell asleep early last night, in response to that being closer to my normal schedule anyway, and my having gotten too little sleep Saturday night. I woke in the wee hours enough to stay up for a while and watch it.

Of course it was thrilling to see it again after the hiatus, but there were a lot of obligatory moments, and at times a feeling of dialing it in, that weakened the episode. Still, there were many things that needed to be done or checked off and it was well presented for doing so. There were the meetings of people who haven’t been together in a while, or have never been in the same place. Arya and Gendry flirting was everything the shippers could want.

What I don’t get is Bronn. I can’t remember the setup from the previous season that left him in King’s Landing and working for Cersei. WTF? Obviously I missed something, and I find it hard to believe he would actually do the thing she asks of him. Mercenary, yes, but we’ve seen he’s more than that.

Bottom line: I enjoyed it and can’t wait for more.

What If

It’s not just a genre for alternate history SF any more. It’s a 2014 2013 (the latter per IMDB, the former per Amazon, which owns IMDB) romantic comedy, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and Adam Driver. Fantastic! Zoe was just gorgeous, and amazing. Daniel makes you completely forget he was ever Harry Potter. Adam is tall. Very tall compared to Radcliffe. I don’t think I had noticed his height as the rogue Skywalker. He made a great Ornshaw-like friend, whose cousin is actually the girl in question.

Weird! I just discovered that the original title was “The F Word.” I had heard of that one. Just never saw it, though the trailer looks familiar.

Megan Park was Zoe’s sister and was also great. I would be attracted to the looks plus quirkiness of Chantry (Zoe), but would be attracted probably more at sight to Dalia (Megan), if I knew nothing but how they each looked.

The film was delightful, funny, quirky and different. It was somewhat a modernized variant of When Harry Met Sally, which to its credit is something I didn’t catch until well into the movie. On the negative side, it’s about being soundly friend zoned, and could bring out bad memories of Daphne. On the positive side, it’s a look at how important being that close as friends can be to a relationship.

Daphne didn’t ruin things by wanting to be just friends after cuddling with me and being my first kiss. She didn’t really even ruin things by dating my best friend and ultimately having casual sex with my other best friend. She ruined things by coming along later and teasing me with the possibility of something that was never going to happen and spending some nights platonically in the same bed as me. At that point, much later in our lives than our high school and immediate post high school years, she lectured me about the evils of casually having sex, rather than “making love.” Yet that was just what she’d done with one of my friends who had zero interest in her but was having a dry spell just then. He thought of it as lowering himself shamefully. But this is supposed to be about a movie I just watched and loved.

I still find it funny to watch these things and see people in, say, their twenties or so being so free, enthusiastic and open about sex. That’s not the world I grew up in, or at least not a part of the world I ever saw personally. It’s how it ought to be, but it still boggles me. I probably would have been better off to have been the guy in Hello I Love You, working and working and working, never making the slightest attempt to be social, and being 29 with no dating experience or friends but 200k in the bank. No way I’d have stayed “living at home” as he did to help save money. I moved out about as soon as possible, never went back to my mother’s, and still feel somewhat shamed I moved to my father’s to make it possible, or at least easier, to go to college. One of these days I might remember to write a post about how I’ve always identified with my work to an irrational degree.

Maybe that’s why I like romantic comedies. They connect with something I wanted and never had. Which reminds me how great it was that The Princess Bride had a cameo in What If. One of the best movies ever.

Hello, One Small Hitch

After watching Moonrise Kingdom and already being up past my bedtime, I watched One Small Hitch free on Amazon Prime. It may be a “by the numbers romantic comedy,” but I was entranced. I thought Aubrey Dollar (sounds like a stage name if I ever heard one) as Molly was wonderfully acted and stunningly beautiful. Like Melody, Molly would have been a fantastic name for my second daughter, had we thought of it. Even though I have seen it and know how it ends, I might even consider watching it again after a while. I knew roughly how it would end before it started, after all, because of what it was.

I liked the rest of the cast as well. Josh seemed more generic than Molly, to me. Giselle was well cast and in the end a very wise character. I just loved Max and was sure he must be one of those old guys I’d seen in other things before. Yet the only thing I might have remembered him from was Hill Street Blues. I wasn’t a regular viewer of that, but would have caught enough to have seen him in action when he was much younger.

If you like romantic comedies and don’t mind that they are all relatively predictable variants of the same basic idea, I would recommend it.

After this, late as it was, I started to watch Hello I Love You, which I remember seeing promoted last year. I love the idea of it. I love Emma, played by Kabrina Miller, and to a lesser degree her friend Mandy, played by Elizabeth Monte. It’s a great setup, that the two of them play elaborate practical jokes on each other and this Emma believes Andy is part of the next one of those. That figures into her accepting ten dates with him after he comes up to her, a stranger, and asks her to marry him. At the end of the ten dates, he will ask again. Andy’s character is in some ways relatable to me – 29 and no dating experience, plus career frustration for all he’s been a workaholic. His is the weaker character or casting, in my initial impression of having watched until partway through their first date.

The premise is good. The villainy of the people at the production company is predictable. I found myself wondering if that wouldn’t turn out as you might expect. He works in a lowly job at the production company and pitched this as a reality show idea. The girl has no idea she is being filmed.

I turned it off before the first date was over. I had finally gotten quite sleepy, and I was cringing. Sometimes I empathize too much with people on the screen and, in a home environment where I have a choice, will stop watching because I find it too hard to take. It’ not Andy on that date, in that messy, awkward situation. It’s me. I internalize things that much when they are happening to other people, even fictional other people. Arguably an autistic tendency, if you subscribe to the theory that autism involves feeling and empathizing to excess, rather than not feeling or relating. That makes it hard to people if you have those tendencies, even if you’re nowhere close to something that’d ever be diagnosed. So I was ready to skip ahead or go to bed, and being sleepy made it go to bed. I may pick it up where I left off, or may fast forward and watch enough bits to follow what happens. One awkward thing made me think of Melody. On the first date, he tries to order for her because he has seen that on TV or whatever. It doesn’t go well. That reminds me of Daniel trying to carry Melody’s bag because he “knows” that’s what you do when you’re walking with the girl. Except they’re 11 years old. Melody bemusedly takes it back with a silent I can do that myself kind of reaction.

Anyway, there’s my romance binge for last night, when I didn’t feel like doing anything else. For all I wasn’t sleeping yet, I was way too tired to think much or do anything at all useful.

Update:
I couldn’t resist. I continued watching Hello I Love You. It was awesome. Didn’t go exactly as I’d expected, apart from Mike turning good, the boss getting what was coming to him, and Emma being angry when it turned out to be a reality show. I had also thought about permissions right at the beginning, and wondered how it would go if they couldn’t get the right to use her in the show. Despite that, I didn’t think it would be a big plot point.

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.

Separate Ways

I have mixed feelings about Journey. They’ve done some stuff that’s objectively good and has been extremely popular, but I get… bored or something by hearing a lot of it. I think that connects with what my friend Ted found when he borrowed my greatest hits CD and tried to listen to it on the overnight shift when we both did developer support for Major Software Company. He handed it back to me the next day with something along the lines of “ugh, it puts me to sleep, I need to stay awake” as his commentary.

That said, there is one song I just adore, and did before I even knew it was by Journey. I first had it on one of those anthology records. Yes, vinyl. The track was mislabeled as being by someone else! Talk about poor production values. At least the songs were all intact. eventually I learned it was indeed Journey. The only Journey song that comes close for me is Lovin Touchin Squeezin. I also love Steve Perry’s post-Journey song Oh Sherry, notable for having been the subject of a piece in Reason Magazine on MTV.

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.

Watch The Orville?

Every Friday after a new episode airs Thursday night while I’m sleeping, I watch The Orville on the web.

This is the first new episode to air since Disney took ownership.

Unless it’s some crazy oversight that happened when they changed the site unnecessarily because reasons, they have changed it so Comcast customers are not accepted. Comcast did vie with Disney for the purchase of Fox, after all. So let’s punish Comcast customers? Who may have little choice who to use for internet because of the history of localities thinking they had the right to grant monopolies for cable TV service, which was always nonsensical at best.

I didn’t really have time to watch it all before taking the kids to an appointment, but I figured I’d catch part of it. Alas, there will apparently be no commentary from me this episode, and no encouragement of everyone to watch it because it’s awesome. If I won’t be able to watch it, I won’t be able to care. If this is how Disney is going to be, I’m even less likely to want their streaming service than I wasn’t in the first place.

Update:
I looked at this again when I should really have been going to bed, and found they had modified things to acknowledge the “corporate transaction” and changes to Fox TV, and to offer the ability to create an account or log in with Facebook. I did the latter and was excited. Then I agreed to create a password in case I ever wanted to watch something where the FB login wouldn’t work.

Instead of playing the episode, it started a 2 minute and change preview timer for how much you could see before logging in with your cable provider. Comcast remains not an option. Bastards. I’m not going to move onto some paid service just to get the one show. If this isn’t resolved or it doesn’t become available through a service I’d use anyway, they’ll lose an avid viewer and as annoyed as I may sound, I won’t lose sleep over it.

Update April 25, 2019:

As noted here, I checked again and found they had fixed the problem.

Questions 67 and 68

It’s wasn’t remotely one of Chicago’s biggest hits, but this is easily my favorite of their songs. That’s despite greats like Saturday In the Park and Old Days. I like the romance suggested by the song, and the thinking the relationship makes him do. I remember loving it when I was young and it was somewhere closer to being a current song. Could even have been in 1969, when it was released.

 

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.

Do You Believe In Love

Here’s the first of my posts  featuring a song that is my favorite by that artist. I decided to start with the one that reminded me of the idea when I heard it on the radio on my way to work. This is not to dis The Power of Love, I Want a New Drug, or any of the rest, but this would be the one Huey Lewis and the News song I would select if I could only ever hear one of their songs in the future.

 

Favorite By Artist

I just remembered on my way to work in the wee hours an idea I’d had a while back, when I wasn’t actually blogging anywhere. That is to identify and post my favorite song by a series of artists. Some this would be difficult, if not impossible. Others are, for me, a no brainer. There are some whose music I like reasonably well but have One Song that stands far above the rest. It might not work for Bee Gees or Carpenters music, but Huey Lewis? Sure. Chicago. Journey. Easy! One hit wonders would be cheating, of course. But I can actually name a hands down favorite Boston song, and I love a bunch of their stuff. The trick might be thinking of all the possible artists as the days go by. I could even pre-compose a series of these and have them scheduled to publish each day, so I don’t have to try to remember, and can even surprise myself a little as I see them appear.

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.

What to Say?

I’m at a loss for what to post without it being too much. Since I want to go to bed ASAP, earlier than normal so I’m not sleepy all day tomorrow, there’s not much time.

I’ve been meaning to write about, probably in a series of posts as notable examples come to mind, songs I can’t resist singing. I still have songs I associate with people I can post about. There’s always random songs that I happen to think of sharing.

I may actually have died down on things I have to say about Melody. Mark the calendar!  One of those conversations you have in your head, with one of the “girls group” actors (the one who identified the one I was curious about), had me thinking about posting about blog fame and how I met my wife, but I may already have covered that sufficiently.

Bushcraft topics are something I have not gotten into, and that’s likely to center around whenever the next season of Alone airs. However, it also touches on my childhood and growing up in the woods, and not being in the right place at the right time. It also touches on my potential fiction. Thinking about that recently made me think of the bed wetting problem I had when I was young. (Actually addressed, I noticed in one of the clips, in Moonrise Kingdom. Sam lets Suzy know he might wet the bed, when they are going to sleep in the tent together when they have run away. To “the seaside,” no less! She’s like “okay,” and it’s no big deal.)

I was thinking that even if I’d thought to grab the pup tent and some stuff and camp out in our woods, or go camp out in a shelter of natural materials, I would have to have worried about that possibility. The funny thing is, it was probably not nearly as frequent as the shadow it cast over my life makes me think of it as being. It stopped absolutely as soon as I hit puberty sufficiently at 11 years old. I was still paranoid enough that I wouldn’t go on the class campout in 6th grade, after I had turned 12. I always wondered if it was a similar story with the girl who was the only other one in my class who didn’t stay for the night.

There were no pullups then. One of my kids had a worse problem than I ever did. All I had to do was spend enough money on those and hope they didn’t leak very often. My father ranted and threatened me. My mother took me to the doctor when they had no clue what might cause it, but he used the idea of cutting the opening wider as a scare tactic (I promptly figured that out even then). With my kid, I learned it can be a problem caused by constipation. It was more a matter of worsened by, in that case, but it’s entirely possible that could have been a factor with me.

My mother boggled me by not having a particularly strong memory of bed wetting having been a thing. For me it dominated my childhood. My first friend in my childhood was born nine months after me and was the daughter of the best friends of my

[At this point I was interrupted and then went to bed after saving this as a draft. This is how it goes.]

As I was saying, first friend, daughter of best friends of my respective parents. Her mother and my mother met at nursing school, which my mother didn’t complete because it turned out she couldn’t bear the sight of blood. We could come home as wet and muddy as we wanted, but please no blood. Which means she must have really hated my tendency to have bloody noses. Shared by the same kid who shared my bed wetting problem. My mother’s reaction to my random, profuse bloody noses was that it meant I had high blood pressure and was going to die. While I did end up with hypertension later, that’s kind of an odd thing to say to your kid even if it had validity.

I had a nickname that was based entirely on the bed wetting thing. I absolutely loathed it and frankly would try to avoid anyone who knew or used the nickname. If I’d been a different sort, there might have been some violence inflicted. They always told me I didn’t know my own strength, after all. I actually learned to be gentle lest I hurt someone accidentally. It infuriated me when that friend, on Facebook decades after I’d last seen her, relayed that her mother said “hi nickname!” Where “nickname” is the one in question. It kept me from friending her mother on Facebook. Though I did go, a few years later, to a big surprise 80th birthday party for her mother. I just looked to see if I’d given the friend a pseudonym. Yes. Julie. So a couple years ago I went to the 80th birthday party for Julie’s mother. I walked in and both Julie and her sister let out a dropped-jaw “wow!” Apparently they were impressed with how I look in my old age. Of course, all the stuff about my being unattractive isn’t how I looked. It’s how I perceived myself, helped by a number of people along the way.

Anyway, my reaction to the nickname reflects just how strongly I felt, and feel, about the whole thing. My experience made it easier to deal gently with my own kid, but it’s a whole new world in that regard anyway.

So I found myself thinking about the idea of going out and camping in my woods when I was, say, 8 or 9, and realized it would have been weird given that problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’d found that under those circumstances it simply never happened. Because of it and not having many friends who would have been candidates for that anyway, there weren’t sleepovers with friends until I was past that. My last bestie before Zack was a girl, a year older than me, and while I could swear I have a memory of sleeping over there, it is probably based on a memory of being there at breakfast time. I wouldn’t have risked it. I slept over my grandparent’s house and don’t remember wetting the bed there. I probably did more of that closer to the point where it stopped, at which point it had waned for a long time, than I did younger. Maybe there were environmental factors to that, too. I got sick when we moved into the house where I grew up, for environmental reasons. Whatever. I also don’t remember it happening when we went camping. If it were a rare thing, I might connect it to the nerve damage I suffered as an infant. That made me seem retarded while actual being highly intelligent, but probably wasn’t behind the loss of nocturnal control. Then again, puberty was when I shed the bulk of the physical effects of the damage, though it took into my twenties for that to be complete for all practical purposes. To this day I take unnatural delight in being able to speak glibly and do physical things most people would take for granted. The thing is, the kid with the problem had no such thing. Nor the environmental factor, at least not to the same degree.

I didn’t intend this to be the bed wetting post. Yet there it is.

I suspect it didn’t happen all that often, or it would have been even worse. It’s just that it was like the end of the world every time it did. It would be an interesting personalized alternate history: What if there had never been bed wetting?

ONLY a Year?

It amuses me to read something like this article about a sexual dry spell survey that found nearly 3 in 10 American adults are stuck in a dry spell for nearly a year. OMG!

Obviously my experience has been entirely abnormal and people just don’t wait until they’re 42, only to discover the libido of the partner who deigned to have them isn’t all that after all, and then get abandoned for the rest of their life five years later. Amateurs! Had I not met the wife, which might not have happened without it being online and her being sufficiently aggressive, I fully expected and had accepted that I would be alone and unencumbered by that allegedly normal experience for the rest of my life.

I could write at some length about all the messed up perceptions and feelings I developed from childhood on, and I have to some degree elsewhere here. It’s a horrible thing to do to a young person, convincing them that they are evil for being interested in sex, that having it is wrong, that they are ugly and unappealing, that nobody would ever find them attractive sexually or romantically, that the opposite sex is to be feared or is a source of intimidation, or anything like that. For that matter, it’s a horrible thing to convince a young person that they are hopelessly stupid, incompetent, or will never amount to anything more generally, and the one certainly can’t help the other.