Melissa Benoist

I touched on her in my Glee post, since she was in at least one of the first videos of Glee songs I discovered, and was known to me from watching a little Supergirl when it first aired. I’ve started watching that as my next series following Glee.

They really wasted her talent, especially in season 5. You could make a case for the focus being on the original cast as they pursued careers and angst post-McKinley. That case would include a relatively short, discrete run for the show, as happened. You could make an alternate case for there to have been less of that and more focus on the Glee club and the high school hijinks. The latter might not have worked with Sue’s continued appetite for destruction of Glee, and all things arts (perhaps the other political agenda of the show: importance of arts in schools).

At any rate, it struck me when I saw her in Glee that she didn’t look that much like the Melissa playing Supergirl. But then during the course of her time on Glee, you could see her completely disappear into a look. When she played a Spice Girl, for instance, she didn’t look at all like herself. There were some serious acting chops, and malleability of look, along with her amazing singing ability. It was almost a shame she went to something where that saw so much less (albeit some) use. Speaking of Flash, even though I saw him as Flash first, it is so hard now to see Barry Allen without seeing that smarmy asshole Sebastian from Glee. Unlike Melissa, he really doesn’t look different.

Lea Michelle may have a bad reputation, but she sure can sing. It wasn’t misplaced to bring Melissa in as “the new Rachel.” The topper is Melissa having done a great job playing Carole King on Broadway, home of Rachel.

Back to the look thing, it’s worth remembering that on Glee she was playing 16 years old or so, rather than early to mid twenties as Supergirl. Of course she seems different. But that’s helped by versatility.

She did get a great storyline with Jake, arguably an underused character, and one who could have returned even though Marley had good reason to go. This intertwined with a storyline with Ryder, and the competition between them. It’s a shame the latter actor ended up with her in real life and turned out to be… not ideal. Shades of Rachel and Finn being together in real life, until he self-destructed. Kitty got to be evil centered around her, and then reform. Speaking of underused people later, Kitty was one. Glad she did come back.

I’m still baffled by Melissa not returning for the finale. Just for that one bit, the dedication. Other commitments, sure, butthat obstructive? The timing seems wrong for it to have been to avoid being in the same place as Blake Jenner.

Anyway, she is my favorite part of Glee, closely followed by most of Brittany, and then probably Quinn, who is arguably underrated as a singer and who got weirdly left out at times. It was her show, essentially, but I’ll never be that keen on most of Rachel.

I look forward to getting into Supergirl extensively. I don’t remember them well, but so far I am on episodes I watched when it was new.

Glee

I just today finished watching the entire series of Glee, which airs 2009-2015. I had poked it with a stick when it was new, because Jayma Mays was on it and we’d loved her brief appearance on Heroes. I didn’t think to comment about it as I watched, but I could write about my thoughts in encyclopedic length. This means I may or may not post many different times about it, as I did when obsessed with Melody.

How did I get sucked into it after all this time? As I discovered Melody existed by seeing music videos to certain favorite Bee Gees songs and parsing that they were from a movie, I started seeing YouTube videos of songs from Glee. Then there were clips, videos of stats about songs, etc. I had watched Supergirl briefly when it was new, and it was a Huge Big Deal that it starred Melissa (WHO??) Benoist. I believe the specific video that grabbed me was one with her in Glee, doing Tell Him with Heather Morris, as Marley and Brittany. I was aware of Cory Monteith’s death, I may have heard something about what happened with Mark Salling, and I knew Lea Michelle was notorious. I didn’t have any idea of Naya Rivera’s death in 2020 until I started seeing the Glee videos on YouTube and seeing it mentioned in comments.

One of the big things that struck me was the political agenda of the show. It was very much a product of its time, and is a fantastic example of politics being upstream of culture. Even agreeing with the main agenda, if it had been any more in your face, I’m not sure I’d still have liked the show. Universal gay marriage exists, and should exist, but the proponents were rather impatient. It should have seen a legislative approach, while the ultimate resolution was legislated by the Supreme Court. Of course, to me marriage isn’t even a government thing at all, ever, and is a contractual association between any two or more people old and mature enough to understand what they are undertaking. The only reason for it ever to involve the government is that traditional marriage does, and presents a shortcut to legal details that otherwise at best require a jumble of paperwork, and a shortcut to benefits bestowed by the government. Some of the latter is to incentivize the creation of new subjects citizens, which takes you back to the presumption of opposite sex, but hey. Social Security survivor benefits? Marriage. That kind of thing, poof, all made automatic. Since the world is as it is, not as it should be, then it makes sense to have legal same sex marriage.

The funny thing is I got the wife hooked on it and she has actually watched the entire thing twice in the time I watched it once. We both fell in love with Brittany. I can see why they picked her up as a regular due in part to audience reaction.

When I did poke the show when it first came out, I somehow saw enough snippets of it to have seen Acafellas, to have seen an instance of “that’s how Sue sees it,” and to wonder how in the world it was going to work having a kid in a wheelchair doing song and dance numbers.

I could write for hours on every detail, so I need to stop soon. Some of the music… Meh. Good job, not my thing, and that does include some (most?) showtunes and old stuff. I eventually figured out the beloved Defying Gravity must be a song from the newfangled musical based loosely on Wizard of Oz. That I call it newfangled tells you a lot about how I perceive it and when it came to be on my radar. I haven’t looked it up to confirm that, or to find out just how old this “new” musical is. I hated most mashups. Ugh! If they were much more intolerable, I might have abandoned watching. And yes Will Schuester, I am part of the America that hates when you rap. Breaking the fourth wall and being self-referential amused me, as did periodically trying to pretend there was any relationship between the school’s finances and the elaborate productions, and as did the whole “band as furniture” thing.

Season 5 was pretty awful, especially after episode 13. The Quarterback was handled nicely, and I cried less than I’d expected. I probably liked season 4 the best, although I wanted more at the school and less in New York. Season 6 got some mojo back, in no small part due to the incredible new kids and a more mature Kitty. Those guys got such short shrift, but the show would arguably have run longer had Cory not self-destructed, a process that was visible in his appearance late in his run.

I’ve bought some songs from the show. Two feature Marley and Jake. I’d never heard of one, and the other one is a favorite of mine, at least as good as the original, which I also got around to buying. The other is The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, which I liked better than the original, perhaps in part because of my age when it was a hit. Nothing else has grabbed me enough yet. Maybe some of the Christmas music later.

The other character we both particularly love is Burt. He is just the best.

Well, that’s about enough for now.

Alone Endgame

If you haven’t seen the past few episodes of Alone, there will be spoilers, and there will be speculation about the outcome.

So, we had our second third medical pull in episode 10. I just hope those starting to accumulate won’t mean an ending like season 3. It’ll forever feel like Zachary Fowler has an asterisk next to his win, amazing as he is, because the second place contestant, Carleigh Fairchild (why can I remember their full names but have trouble remembering first names from this season?), was pulled before she could die of the effects of weight loss. Michelle being pulled previously made me cry. This one made me sad. Both were, on seeing what they looked like under their clothes, absolutely necessary.

I just looked at Wikipedia to get the names and I am confused. It says Nikki was there for 52 days and was medically evacuated after Michelle day 48 and Barry day 69. I do not remember seeing that. I remember being surprised that we were down to just Woniya among the women. Maybe one of those times I dozed off when watching Alone was for longer than I thought.

With an episode left – I was right that there’d be 11 – we have Jordan, Woniyah, and Nathan.

My money is on Jordan. It seems somehow wrong that the guy who bagged a moose shouldn’t win, even if he is having trouble getting enough fat and protecting his stash from critters. His net was impressive.

If he doesn’t win, I’m rooting for Woniyah and would be surprised if it’s not her if something happens to him. The women have rocked and it’d be cool for one to win. Not if it’s contrived, but based on skill and the inevitable degree of luck involved.

I’m impressed that Nathan has done so well without a ferro rod. Perhaps others will try it in the future, seeing how well it can work if they are skilled. His reliance on the gill net is going to bite him, and I’m not sure he has the mental edge of the other two. It’d be perfectly cool for him to win and show that it can be done with a departure from the norms. He has already proved a lot. Anyone who is there for 70 plus days is the cream of the crop. There have only been seven contestants or teams that have been there longer in one season or another than he has, out of all the ones there have been. Other seasons were 47 total, so that’s 40 from other seasons and at least 7 from this season he will have outlasted.

These guys who remain will all be 70 days or longer. The record for anyone is 87 days. They are getting close. While it’s gotten harder, it strikes me that food has been easier this season than some. We’ve seen our first trapping of land animals that were larger than mice, our first successful hunt, and reasonable fishing results. We’ve seen evidence of a great deal of berries, up until it got too wintry.

If Jordan can get fish and not lose all his remaining moose meat, he has a solid shot. Woniyah is doing well with traps. Well enough? Maybe. Nathan is in the most danger food-wise, and it may come down to who gets to a low BMI first. Or who has an accident or loses hope.

Update:
It was surprisingly hard to figure out what I’d missed or was forgetting. It was Michelle who tapped “voluntarily” for medical reasons. It was Nikki who was involuntarily evacuated due to weight loss. I’d mixed them up and thus thought I’d forgotten Nikki’s departure. It was Michelle’s I’d forgotten, yet I did see it the week it happened. The only way I was able to figure this out was by playing the recap by the only YouTuber I know of who is doing recap/commentary about Alone now. I was unable to flip through the episode. When I tried going to late in the episode, it let me opt for the interactive ad, which I’d never picked before. I wanted to get the ad over and be able to flip through, back and forth, without it barfing. When I realized I needed to go back in the episode, it gave me standard ads because I’d been bad and skipped around. Apparently it cannot, in fact, keep track of the fact you’ve done an interactive ad.

Casting Again

This has implicit spoilers, if you have never read The Wheel of Time series.

The casting has grown on me, especially Rand and Mat after seeing more of the actors. Rand looks a lot like the Michael Whelan depiction, rather than the bizarre DKS depictions on most of the covers. The big thing is he looks slightly out of place in The Two Rivers due to his reddish hair, grey-ish eyes and extreme height. As long as the Aiel are cast to look within the range of why Rand resembles an Aiel, it works. He is also able to look a bit younger than the initial picture made him look, so he can age beyond the two years the story takes.

Mat looks like Mat, especially in some of the other material beyond the initial picture I saw. He looks of The Two Rivers.

Perrin… I can live with, but the build isn’t as broad or muscular. I can see a somewhat Middle Eastern appearance being in the realm for the area.

Egwene is still the one I look at and say “that’s not Egwene.”

She and Nynaeve have deep local genes. Ignoring that because TV, they look beautiful and strong-willed. It would be worse if they’d been cast as blonde or ginger, since they most definitely aren’t.

Lan’s casting will be interesting to see, since he actually looks Asian. They could cast someone of Japanese or mixed heritage easily, or of heritage that includes Korean or Mongolian.

Anyway, you’re catering to an audience that hasn’t read the books several times, or at all, and won’t care if the casting is accurate in appearance or ethnicity (which of course is all shook up this far in our future after thousands of years and the Breaking). It would still be weird if they didn’t cast a dark black beauty as Tuon, or an older one of the same as Semirhage. It would be weird if they didn’t cast Elayne, Morgase, or, if they ever get shown, Tigraine and Ilyena, as blondes or reddish blondes. It would be weird if they didn’t cast Avienda as some shade of redhead.

All of this makes me wonder about Loial. Will he even look like an Ogier? Ogier are aliens, so there’s no need to make them look human except to save on makeup or special effects. Perhaps they’ll take some guy and slap bushy eyebrows and Spock ears on him as if he’s the token elf.

I haven’t seen what anyone else has to say about this, besides a family member who was upset that people were critical of the casting. This suggests to me that my reaction must be mild compared to some. I’m not sure Peter Dinklage is a good comparison to bad casting being good, though. To make the Imp look as he did in ASOIAF would probably have required CGI or other hoop jumping that would detract from the dragon budget. That show, is, however, a good example of how far you can diverge and still be entertaining. Characters removed. Characters that don’t exist. Characters completely different ages. My understanding is that Logain will have a much bigger/different role on the WoT show, so there’s an example already if that is accurate. Maybe they’ll remove Faile! Heh. No, she’s critical to Perrin’s arc, but a lot of that can be trimmed. Kind of like a book or so per season, so maybe 8 seasons for 14-15 books (depending whether they show us anything from New Spring as backstory), with books 8-10 being squeezed to bare essentials to play a big part in condensing it that much.

WoT Casting

I didn’t go look up the details, but I saw a little bit about some additional casting for the Wheel of Time series.

Not sure how I feel about it. I know you don’t have to follow the books exactly, but…

I’ll still watch it to see how badly they fuck it up story-wise, but I’m not holding my breath.

Alone Season 6 Episode 5 (Spoilers)

Naturally Alone skipped a week for Independence day in the US, so this is where we learned whether Justin actually nailed the moose when he fired the arrow at the end of episode 4. There was some waiting for the beast to expire, but yes. This is a huge first for Alone. Part of it’s location and what’s available and legal. Part of it’s skill.

We’re getting a fascinating look at carving up a moose with a multitool and then processing and safekeeping the meat to maximize what keeps and what doesn’t get swiped by critters.

Contrast this to the contestant who proudly brought no bow and arrows, being a student of the show and knowing it’s traditionally useless. I was struck by most of them bringing that this year due tot he change of venue and better availability of non-fish.

Impressive of the two women who got rabbits. I thought one of them had snare loops that looked too large, but I’ve never even tried snaring so what do I know. Also, the hare she got turned out to be pretty big.

Notably, nobody went home and nobody as yet got obviously sick from what they’ve eaten. I wondered when the cramp attack happened if that was connected to the large numbers of berries. Man I hate cramps! Normally I get them in my legs. Not often, luckily. However, I recently had them in my torso. WTF!? The worst time I had them in a calf it felt like the muscle turned inside-out and it felt wrong for months afterward.

The previews! It looks like we’re getting a repeat of the shelter fire, but maybe more so. Or the editors made it look worse than the first time. Seriously, it looked like she might have lost the whole shelter. I guess we’ll see next time. Also, given that they seem to go for 10-11 episodes, we’re halfway there. At about 23 days, we’ve lost three and seven remain, Guaranteed one or two go next time. Well, thinking abut it, if episode 10 is a double episode finale that starts with three remaining, we have 4 to lose before then, and 4 episodes to lose them in.

Barring unforeseen problems, moose dude looks like a winner. At least a  finalist.

Not so sure about wolverine hunter with the shelter I looked at skeptically before he planned to improve it but got diverted. I’m surprised more of them haven’t insulated to the hilt. I suppose if you keep a fire inside, not as much need. Long as it’s protective enough from wind and elements. It’s bad, though, when snow comes way into the shelter, up to your sleeping bag.

Good episode.

Moose? Alone Season 6 Episode 4 (Spoilers)

I’m asleep when Alone airs, so I watch it sometime the next morning, after work. I completely forgot yesterday until I saw in Gmail a notice of a new video from Ray. The part of the blurb I saw before I realized that I’d forgotten Alone and could be spoiled was suggestive of what ended up happening.

I was happy that the consequences of the fire were minimal and the cliffhanger was just for excitement. Bad enough, since she had to do a lot of work on her shelter, and try to make it less likely to catch again.

The difference in apparent food sources between the sites is dramatic. I suppose it always was, but in this case there’s wild game as well as fish. What’s missing compared to the Vancouver seasons is food from the sea other than fish, and the variety you might find. Mussels, crabs, limpets, seaweed. What’s there compared to other places seems to be volume of edibles like berries. It’s the first time bringing bow and arrows has been useful. There was another grouse. We’ve seen multiple squirrels. Rabbits. Muskrat, for what that was worth. Always mice. For most of them, it seems to be a matter of getting that kind of food or starving. I would think that if one of your ten items were going to be rations, you’d want the rations to be a fat and protein rich item you could use to supplement things like blueberries during the stretch when there’s no meat or fish.

Based on the title, I was expecting someone to bag a moose. Maybe they did, but it’s part of a cliffhanger where one is leaking blood and may or may not be found and harvested.

These people are great shots! Shooting a squirrel from way up in a tree you’re not even that close to? Amazing.

The arrow in the leg looked pretty bad but also looks likely not to be a showstopper. It’s possible it hobbles her due to depth or infection. It’s also possible we hear little or nothing further about it.

Poor Ray. Falling in when jumping to that rock. Finally trying to expand his hunting area, only to be too winded to go far. He’s our first tap that’s not due to overt injury or illness. Just “I can’t do this.” It wasn’t working out well for him, and it was getting to him, though he was understandably torn. He reminds me somewhat of Mike Lowe, if not as creative. Kind of sad that he had a decent shelter, then perfected it, then left.

I notice this year the environment has dictated a relatively narrow style of shelter that relied heavily on large quantities of natural materials for insulation. None of this basic tarp shelter stuff. That’s an element and a starting point, guaranteeing waterproofness and speeding the process, but in the end you might never know there’s a tarp in all that.

I was expecting a moose. I want a moose! Heh. Based on the snippets the show of scenes through the season, there will be one. Just may not be that one.

Alone Season 6 Episode 3

Gotta love when they do cliffhangers. Nobody tapped, but it’s obvious next week someone will. But will it be due to the shelter fire in progress when the show ended? Will it be due to the arrow in a leg shown in the preview for episode 4? Will it be something else?

Poor Ray. I love Ray! I totally understand the thing with the squirrel.

I’ve concluded there’s a shocking amount of luck involved, which can completely cancel out skill.

The one skilled at fishing can’t catch anything. So far, not even with a fishing platform allowing lines to go out farther from shore. The one who took the risk of bringing a gill net instead of a ferro rod is getting giant fish in his net. I had assumed this would prove to be a poor location for a gill net. Go figure. Not that I know much about fishing.

It seemed completely disgusting to lick the milk from the doe rabbit. Besides that, though, what a nice haul with snares. Maybe becauseof all the surrounding burned out areas. If wildlife has found a haven in the green island where that site is, that would explain the ease of snaring four big rabbits.

I’m not sure I’d do well at something where eating organs, heads, even entrails, is what you do to maximize food intake.

Same with fish eggs. The idea of roe has always disgusted me. Raw eggs right out of the trout? Hell no! If I thought I really needed the food, I’d have thrown them in stew. At least let them cook, and blend in with the fish proper. I wasn’t too surprised that he got sick. Apparently the fish had died long enough before he retrieved it that bacteria had a chance to set in. It had to happen either to him or to lick milk off raw rabbit guy.

Smart with the birch sap. That’s decent flow for the time of year. A shame she couldn’t rig up a tap and collection system and either simply drink it, or render it down toward syrup or sugar. Add that to your tea of fir needles or blueberry leaves.

Anyway, I can’t wait to see the outcome of the fire. I suspect it’s one of those things, where they play it up. And while not great to have the shelter damaged substantially or even lost, as long as she doesn’t lose her tools and such, and can hold out for the night of being cold, it might not be a showstopper.

Starring Gandalf?

The news is that Rosamund Pike has been cast as Moiraine for the Wheel of Time series. First casting decision and apparently touted as the star, also with producer credit.

She looks close enough to the part, even if her hair is a bit light in its natural color. She’s about the right actual age, to within a couple years, and manages to look younger than she is. Ambiguous.

The thing is, calling her the star would be like casting Gandalf and calling him the star in a Lord of the Rings series. She’s an important character who is as responsible as anyone for saving the world, but she also spends a large chunk of the two years real time of the events of the main 14 books dead, out of action. Gandalf. If you take the one prequel book, or inflate things to show more of the 20 years of her life that led to the events of the main series, or somehow eliminate the time she spends dead, then it fits better. But she still doesn’t get a lot of proverbial screen time compared to other star characters. Not in the longer run.

Given that they are blurbing the series completely inaccurately versus what the actual storyline is, it’s less surprising. My hopeful take on the blurb is misdirection, trying not to give away too much, preferring to obfuscate for those who didn’t read the series but might be interested in such a fantasy show.

If I had expected them to cast one person first, it would have been Rand. However, for viewers who aren’t readers, that means nothing or, worse, gives away that he’s the messiah. You let it become apparent that Jon Snow is that important later, even with a finished series.

Muskrat Vengeance

Season 6, Episode 2 of Alone. This will be spoilers, probably, even if I am vague.

The title of the episode is “Tainted,” which sets it up that something associated with that will play a role. Clever editors that they are, they create the question of which thing it might be. We already wondered from last week about the mushrooms tainted with mouse turds. Clever, putting traps in that area, knowing it’s a popular rodent hangout.

One of them cuts her hand, pretty deeply. This might normally want a stitch or three, but in the end appeared to be coming along fine. It could yet be an issue.

In the first episode, it seemed like food wasn’t a big deal. But maybe it’s just that the gill net was a far better idea than it sounded. Now we see people already not eating because lack of fish in particular.

But wait! Here’s a trout, finally. Look at those parasites. Hey, I’ll cook it thoroughly. Will the fish cause a problem by being tainted? Or will the cut be tainted?

Now Donny gets a muskrat. Of all things! This bring back memories of my childhood, and a muskrat we played with by cranberry bogs in a neighboring town. It lived at the edge of the reservoir. I was pretty young and don’t remember much besides it was cute. We entertained ourselves while my mother worked.

Poor thing, through the head. So he butchers it and goes over the things to do and look for so it’s not tainted. Scent glands begone! Check the innards, no spots on the liver. To me it goes without saying to cook it well, and it looked like it was cooked just short of charred.

Two hours later… The pain! Man, it looked horrible. Well, poor guy never recovered and did the right thing. It did answer a question I’d always had: What if you’re on medication? He was too sick to take the meds he’s on as a result of his heart attack a year earlier. While some of that stuff may sometimes be questionable, and an overreaction if you haven’t had a heart attack and they just suspect you could, better to be safe, especially in that severe of a case. What makes me wonder about just what the “taint” was is he complained about all his joints hurting, after a while. I haven’t tried researching yet, and haven’t watched any YouTube folks who might have done so.

I thought the fishing raft with the found barrel was clever. Not so much when I interpreted “raft” as something she’d ride on and was saying “don’t fall in, not here.” But the idea of it holding lines and drifting out deep enough to maybe catch something, then be pulled in, that’s great.

Alone Season 6 Episode 1 (Spoilers!)

I’m not going to try particularly not to spoil this. Read on at your own peril.

So the new season of Alone is in a new location, in the Arctic, around Great Slave Lake in Canada. Cold is more of an issue than in the past. Large game is more available than it has been in the past. Large predators are at least as much of an issue, and there’s overlap between game and predators, especially if you count “predator” as anything big any potentially aggressive or incautious enough to harm you.

I was wondering whether the contestant who harvested mushrooms that had extensive mouse turds would get sick, or whether instead the first contestant ever not to bring a ferro rod would get sick when he couldn’t initially boil water. If so, we didn’t see it this episode, which took us to day 5.

The first tap was on day 4. An otherwise excellent contestant fell and broke his leg. Ouch. That was, as I recall, Tim. I am bad at learning their names and remembering them after the episode is over, until they’ve become a weekly fixture.

I was dismayed by the guy not bringing a ferro rod. We have seen friction fire done on Alone, by a great contestant who lost his ferro rod. He actually had less trouble than this guy who planned for using a bow drill. I can’t be too critical, having never tried it myself. It depends heavily on the types of wood and having practiced. He’ll have to work at keeping the fire going or easily rekindled from embers.

The ferro rod was a trade-off for bringing a gill net. That struck me as a strange thing to bring, so it was fitting that he was shown harvesting a gigantic trout with it. What about when the water freezes? If it freezes enough to be an issue before they’re done.

I was amazed by the contestant who took out a squirrel with an arrow through the head.

I guess we’ll see what’s next. I enjoy watching, but just as glad it’s not me in that environment. I’d like to see some better shelter building than has been evident so far.

Little Manhattan (2005)

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

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

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

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

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

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

The fantasy elements are funny and sometimes touching.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Alone Season 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Iron Throne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wheel of Time (Spoilers)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Dream of Spring? (Spoilers!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best small council ever.

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

Tyrion’s fate was good.

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

The white book was as expected.

Ser Podrick.

Not surprised the deaths were concentrated in episode 5.

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

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

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

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

I loved Bronn’s outcome.

Ghost! Everyone happy now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update:

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

Two Night Stand

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maybe this is why I like this genre so much.

The Orville Renewed

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

I’d Forgotten

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

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

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

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

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

Mick Jagger

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

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

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

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

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

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

Granny

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Concerts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for a Reread?

Someone on the Wheel of Time group on Facebook posted a question about the consequences of something that happened near the end. I didn’t remember that thing happening. That might mean it’s time for a reread.

I read the first five so many times it’s ridiculous, since when I first read those books, they were all that had come out. I’ve read the sixth one a lot, but after book 8 I no longer did a reread prior to each new release. That made “the slog” even worse. The slog is when you get to books 9 and 10, and arguably 8, and it… just… drags… while the pieces move around the chess board. In book 11, Jordan’s last complete one before he died, I said “Jordan’s back!” It was classic Robert Jordan, back in good form.

What I found when I finally did a reread of the entire series was that the slog isn’t as much of a slog when reading start to finish without waiting for the next book. There actually are super exciting and consequential things that happen even in the worse of the books, since – and this has to be hard when writing such a series – each volume has a climactic conclusion, even if nothing seems gripping before that.

It has been a couple years or so since my last reread. I think I have read the final book twice, but maybe it’s been three times. That one needs it more than normal, and if nothing else, it’d be worth my picking that one alone up. Since then, being largely broke and hating what publishers have done to book prices, I have been reading mostly indie books on Kindle. Great discoveries, that way. For instance, I’ve never read a Christopher Nuttall book I haven’t liked, and mostly more than that, even when I go into it thinking I’m not so sure this is my thing. That reread, of all the books I have in paper format, took something like six months. The complete thing is a big commitment. I’m tempted to get them all in Kindle format, but they are one of those things where you don’t save much money by saving the publisher  100% of their marginal cost of publishing a book.

Anyway, even when I read the first ones, I sometimes see something I missed, and I always find I forgot the exact order of events or little details. It also changes it to have read to the end of the series, since there is a crazy amount of foreshadowing.

It’s a shame I was unable to get though even the first Song of Ice and Fire book, Game of Thrones. I love the series and the idea of the books, and appreciate the rabid fandom and the details I learn about the books from YouTubers, but to me GRRM just wasn’t a very good writer. It’s better to be a writer who’s as “not very good” as him and wealthy from your work than it is to have nothing more than ideas that may never make their way to print. That doesn’t make it any easier to slog through it, and it doesn’t make it any easier to pick up the book, open it, and recognize whether I have read a given passage or not on my last attempt. I’d drop it without marking my place and not be able to tell where I was. I could open it to later in the book, start reading, and not recognize that I had missed anything. I’ve never experienced anything like that.

Perhaps next winter, when I’m especially broke unless the pattern changes, I’ll reread all or some of WoT again.

As for the TV series, I am worried. I love the idea that it’ll be brought to life, but it could be a disaster so easily. It just feels too much like it’s being done to be done, by people who may not love or understand the books. It requires massive condensing, and it would be easy to mess that up, just for starters. We’ll see. I’ll be watching and no doubt commenting vociferously.

The Orville Episode 11

I was completely convinced through much of the episode that Gordon would find out that Laura was a distant ancestor of his. They’re much too subtle for that. Nicely done. I was super impressed with Leighton Meester.

I kept thinking “I’m from Iowa. I only work in space.”

Back to the Twilight Zone moment: If the photo with Gordon had somehow been on the phone.

The nicotine addiction subplot was a riot. Tobacco may make me deathly sick, and may be the reason I was sickly before they gave me gamma globulin before I reached elementary school age, and may be the reason my brain phased in and out during school, and may be the reason I got super deathly sick when I was 16 1/2 through the rest of school, and so forth, but I still appreciate the humor and sympathize with the cravings.

I was never clear on why we were transporting the contents of a 400 year old time capsule from Earth to another planet.

I believe I have touched upon the concept of entangled lives and the influence people have on each other here. It’s cool that the show demonstrated it so well. That’s also why there’d be so many ramifications of “going back and changing things based on what we know now.” It’s going to be a dramatically different timeline, even for a minor change, and you might have no conception what would be different. For instance: My parents stay together. That completely eliminates my youngest brother. It eliminates his three kids and leaves his cool wife and her son my brother adopted in other hands. It changes the lives of my stepmother and stepsisters, with us never even knowing them. It would change me completely. In my twenties, I had an odd sort of a delayed meltdown over my parents splitting up. My father left just before I turned 9 and the divorce was final well after I turned 10. It was arguably for the best, but obviously to have not happened, things would already have been different, so there you go.

It’s kind of a thought provoking episode, in terms of how we are remembered, or not, how we interact and affect each other, and how we change but stay the same over the years and centuries.

The Man of the Hills Waits Here

Another fun music topic is misheard lyrics, which was much more common for me when I was young. I still sometimes intentionally sing the wrong words to Bohemian Rhapsody. The algebra has the devil put aside for me. Yeah, that part. And as a side note, what a legacy that is. One song, bringing unbridled joy to generations. (The eldest stood in the door and listened/sang with me as I played it just now.)

A much more obscure song with an amusing, weird misheard line is Ma Belle Ami, by the Tee Set. (I forgot they were dutch, and for some reason had it in my head that they were Irish. More shocking green than Shocking Blue? But nope, I was wrong.) Great song, which for some reason I connect with my older brother, and with Smile a Little Smile for Me by The Flying Machine (also not Irish – thought I might have been confusing the two bands). Probably a matter of having heard them in his company when I was young, and them having been current in the same basic timeframe.

When I was young, initially and for some amount of time afterward, I heard “the man after him waits here” as “the man of the hills waits here.” In retrospect, that’s a riot. Even more so because I now associate the misheard line with Firefly. There’s an episode where River and Simon disappear, taken by hill people. To this day we joke “it was the best day ever, no hill people required.” Or hill folk, as Jayne says in the actual quote where he’s pretending to read Simon’s diary.

Beware the man of the hills! He waits here, ready to kidnap you! I really don’t know what my ears were thinking. But then, I was young enough that “the man after him…” would have made no more sense than “the man of the hills…”

Speaking of Looking Back

I’ve always loved the Chicago song Old Days. It evokes a wonderful sense of nostalgia, even though to me it was already slightly dated. I missed Howdy Doody being a thing. My older brother watched it as a kid, and I seem to recall my father having fond memories of it, despite having already been 14 when it first aired.

Listening to it today, I was thinking that the old days it described were not that old at the time. Turns out the song released in 1975. I’d have said it was slightly older than that, if I had to guess.

Not it’s 2019. so we are 44 years further removed from the old days of the old days. Isn’t that a kick? For us old people, anyway. Drive-in movies sure take me back! They might mean nothing to folks who are, say, 30. 40? Considering what a significant memory it is for me the first time I went to a sit down theater instead of a drive-in, and how rare that continued to be for a few more years, they fit. Now it’s a novelty.

Anyway, that was all. Just reflecting on the fact that it was possible to look back lovingly on the old days all the way back then, and now the point when the song came out is even older old days than it was about. From 1975, the equivalent was 1931, before my parents had been born.

One Thing Struck Me Funny

When watching the latest Orville episode there was one of those things that tends to hit me as out of place, over the top, weirdly inappropriate. or however you might describe it. Talla, the new security chief, remembers how she could never “get laid” after some incident when she was younger.

Now, I’m all for doing that. I really should have when I was young. Or even in my thirties. And I suppose the show isn’t directed to kids. And I suppose if they’re young enough, it’s just going to be a throw away line that goes right on past them, as these things mostly did with me when I was a kid and movies lacked ratings. (I know, this is a show.) And they’ve show visuals that are worse. All of which is why it really shouldn’t have hit me like that. It did, though. It felt inappropriate.

Perhaps it sounds odder to me given my history of believing that girls actively opposed it and “getting laid” was a purely male obsession. In my brain, intellectually, I know that’s not true. Yet even after being married, I still have trouble buying it in a deeper way. In the way where you just automatically know it’s part of what make all people tick, it’s part of the culture, of being human. I’ve sometimes heard the talk talked, but I’ve never really seen the walk walked.

I know. It’s not something wrong with the show’s dialogue. It’s more something wrong with me. It still struck me in a “did she really just say that” sort of way.

Orville and Connections I Make

I watched the latest episode of The Orville a while ago. I have to go to bed too early to watch it Thursday night, so it’s a Friday morning ritual once I am home. As I told the wife, not every episode is going to be in the best science fiction ever aired on television that last week was, but it was good, and unexpected. For instance, I knew River Tam there had to be involved in the destruction somehow, but I wondered if she could destroy ships with her brain or what else the mystery mechanism might be.

I was also telling the wife that they not only have an Admiral Halsey, but also an Admiral Perry. Heinz Doofenshmirtz would be sad. Everybody knows the name Ted Danson, but the wife didn’t recognize Victor Garber, who plays Halsey. She never watched Alias at all, not even a little as I did. Other than that, to me his most notable role was as one of the friends in Sleepless In Seattle, one of the me movies I named. I forgot While You Were Sleeping when I wrote that post. Those two movies sound antithetical to each other, but I lean toward loving both of them.

Scrolling all the way down, I found Garber’s first role was as Jesus in Godspell, released in March 1973. Doesn’t look at all like the distinguished older gentleman we’ve long seen him as in more recent decades. There’s a video of the song Day By Day as used in the film, and you can see him there. However, the song was on the charts before then.

We sang Day By Day in chorus in 6th grade, which was the 1972-1973 school year. 99% Sure it was 6th, not 5th, and it’d be logical all around, plus well timed with respect to the movie, notwithstanding the song and stage production weren’t new. I’ve long had it on MP3 and just can’t help singing along with it, despite not being religious. It makes me happy and takes me back.

So there you go. From Orville to Godspell and chorus at the twilight of elementary school. It’s the fundamental interconnectedness of all things at work.

When the Pedestal Goes Away

Original title was Shower Thoughts, but since that’s the name of a site or whatever, I figured I’d go with the other one. It is, however, where I had the train of thoughts.

I ended up thinking about what it must be like to be a celebrity and to need or want to protect your safety and privacy. Rebecca Schaeffer came to mind. It must be especially weird when you aren’t a big name, but are nonetheless a name to some.

Melody was essentially a commercial flop, as delightful and well made as it is, and was saved from complete obscurity and financial ruin for the production company’s first film by runaway success and a favorable distribution deal in Japan. So the film was always huge in Japan and a few minor markets, so Tracy Hyde, not already a big name like Mark Lester and Jack Wild, was an idol regionally. She went on to do some other roles through her twenties, but nothing huge. Melody went on to become, increasingly to this day, a cult classic.

Thinking of her life was a trigger to this. You’ve been moderately famous. You’re not hugely sought after, but in some circles there’s still demand. You were paid fairly modest amounts for the roles you did. Now you have to cope with staying private, the possibility of being stalked, the possibility of being more in demand by fans than you’d prefer. Perhaps paid appearances now and then are a boon, but it’s not the same as having been on a series that gets you steady employment as a convention guest for decades. You have a life.

That made me think of Keanu Reeves, who is an amazing human being, quietly humble, charitable, and an ordinary guy. He reportedly simply goes ahead and rubs shoulders with everyone, riding the subway and so forth. Reading about him makes you want to be more like him. He’s just a guy, who just happens to act for a living. Perhaps we ought to see actors more like that.

All of this, which took far less time to think about in the quick shower before work than it takes to write and expand slightly upon, reminded me of my revelation of the past few years (it’s been around five or so since the provocation and probably between 3 and 4 or so since I worked this out) that I have tended to put people on pedestals in my life. I make them, in my mind, something they can’t ever be. I did this to my friend Zack, but never to my friend Frank. Two very different people met at two different times. If anything, I was the one on Frank’s pedestal, but not the same problematic way.

Being seen by me as falling off the pedestal, or not having belonged there in the first place, was messy. The mess was made and can never be unmade, but I made the breakthrough of recognizing that Frank Zack is and always was just a guy. A good guy. A guy with strengths and foibles like any of us. Which gives me an inverse thought I should address, if not in this post. (Typed the wrong name, though the same applies. Or did, since Frank died several years ago.)

I generally did the same with girls. Those I crushed on, anyway. But if I saw things I didn’t like, that already created cognitive dissonance. Anyway, the more the pedestal, the more difficult for me to see her as approachable and act accordingly. If the wasn’t a pedestal, or it was countered too greatly, I’d go the other way, and be talking myself out of it. I recognized the pedestal problem with girls before I ever recognized the harm it had done to that friendship over the decades, and before I ever saw Zack once and for all as a mere mortal. And figured out that being a mere mortal in not a bad thing!

This also made me think about the way I have always looked at authority figures, which includes teachers/professors and bosses. I have no idea how I developed it. It has to go back to an extremely young age or be somehow inherent to me. I always had a fear of authority figures. I was the last kid who would ever have gotten in trouble with the police. I had no dealings with them. Yet they terrified me.

With bosses, I would either be afraid of them or, if I saw them as stupid or incompetent, not take them seriously at all. Neither thing works very well. Usually they are just people doing a job, and have strengths and weaknesses. Usually they are not in fact out to get you, and do not want you to fail. That’s the opposite of what they’d be after. Duh. Arguably this also intersected unhealthily with my perfectionism problem. Forget bosses. I never thought did a good enough job at anything. Except sometimes I knew I was great, and it would be times like that when I’d know a boss was stupid for not realizing it. Then I’d not take them seriously, rather than being afraid of them. Seldom have I ever realized later that I wasn’t as good as I thought, in those cases. Usually, though, I assume I am awful unless regularly and vehemently told otherwise. I’ve gotten better about this. Assuming you don’t take the state of my employment as an indication that, no, I have not, which could be. If you’re awful, who would hire you, and why would you go trying to get a job you can do better than most people that you’re sure you can’t possibly do as well as they’d expect? Why go there? So maybe not.

But I digress. I know I always do, but these are topics neither thought of in the shower nor contemplated for inclusion when I thought of writing this.

I think my point was to compare my realization about my friends just being people, and girls just being people even if they give me elusive butterflies, to the fact that celebrities are just people. People who sometimes need or want to cope with the potential problem of other people not seeing them as such. Of course, fame can be a rush. I’ve had a minor form of it in the past. It really was kind of a kick. So maybe that’s the price of that rush, but you’re still just people. If you were a kid when the fame started, maybe it’s nothing you ever sought or could have known the price of before you started paying.