The Keyboard Lover

Some bracing days here in The Burg.  It’s cold, we’ve had snow–it’s feeling like back in Indiana, though we haven’t had massive car pileups that have left people dead here . . . yet.  Give it time:  winter has a ways to go.

Where am I–oh, yeah.  It’s story time, and did I have a good one last night.  The scene was something I’ve been thinking on for a while.  Annie and Kerry head off to the school’s music hall–actually Orchestra Hall, but lets not quibble–and they head up to the keyboard room, because throughout the story it’s been hinted that Kerry is something of a keyboard lovers, and it’s mentioned during his discussion with Professor Matthias Ellison that he kinda, sorta spends a lot of time looking at this stuff online.

To say Kerry is standing in a little stretch of person heaven is a bit of an understatement.  As we’ll see, he does know his stuff:

 

Place looks a bit like this, only there's a lot more toys . . .

Place looks a bit like this, only there’s a lot more toys . . .

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie watched Kerry closely, but she was also watching Professor Ellison closely, too. Kerry was interested in this short history lesson, but his eyes were also darting around the room—and the professor was seeing this as well. Any moment now the professor is going to start showing Kerry the other items in the room—

She didn’t expect what the professor did next. He looked Kerry up and down while he tapped his left index finger against the top of the organ. “Tell me—” He pointed at an instrument about three meters away. “Do you know what that is?”

Kerry answered right away. “Mellotron Mark IV.”

“And the one to the left?”

“That’s a Mellotron Mark II.”

“And you know that because . . ?”

Kerry backed a few steps away from Professor Ellison. “The Mark IV has had that same sort of case for most of the time it’s been produced. The Mark II . . .” He look over his shoulder, then back. “Two manuals, side-by-side.”

“Correct.” Professor Ellison move slowly towards the instruments. “This Mark II is a bit famous—it originally came from King Crimson—” He stood before the machine and powered it up. As soon it was ready, he began playing.

Kerry’s face broke into an enormous smile as the professor held the first chords, then progressed to the second set of chords. “No. You’re kidding.”

Professor Ellison played for another ten seconds before stopping. “Oh, yeah. It’s, uh, gift to the school.”

Though the two males in the room knew this music, Annie certainly didn’t. “What was that you played?”

Kerry turned, all excited. “The opening to Watcher of the Skies: it was the first song on Foxtrot.” He pointed at the machine. “This is the machine it was recorded on.” He turned back to Professor Ellison. “Right?”

“You are.” He patted the machine. “Tony says he has a mellotron in storage, but he’d rather not dig it out because the new tech is better . . .” He chuckled. “Or he doesn’t want to fly across the ocean to get this.” He pointed to another keyboard on the other side of the room. “Do you know that one?”

It was one difficult one to figure out, but he finally figured it out by the brightly colored buttons above the keyboard. “That’s a Rolland Jupiter-8, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is.” He grinned. “Do you sit up at night and look at these things on the Internet?”

“Um . . .” Kerry felt a little silly answering. “Yeah. Did anyone own that?”

“Oh, yeah. That was used by ABBA on their last studio recordings, though that one’s been loaned out a few times for other recordings.” He pointed at a black one positioned on a stand behind him. “This one?”

Kerry had this one right away. “It’s got OB-X in the upper left corner, so I know it’s an Oberheim.”

“One of the more well-know systems. It’s the original case and everything, but we’ve givin’ it the Xa upgrade. Still plays the same, though.” He narrowed his eyes as he grinned. “On what album you think it was played?”

Kerry knew what he wanted to say, but shook his head, keeping it to himself. “I don’t know. What?”

The Game.”

Just what I was thinking. “Oh, man.” He put his hands to the side of his head out of frustration.

Annie was loving the interplay between Kerry and Professor Ellison. The professor was obviously enjoying quizzing Kerry and then watching his reaction, and Kerry was euphoric being surrounded by what he saw as musical history. “Does that mean something? About the album?”

“That album was the first time Queen used a synthesizer.” Kerry ran over and touched it. “Wow, this is . . .”

“Nice, isn’t it?” Professor Ellison winked at Annie, then headed towards the far end of the room. “What about this one?”

The blue and green buttons gave it away. “ARP Quadra.” Kerry looked it over closely, because he was familiar with this type from having seen it in videos. “This wasn’t one of Tony’s, was it?”

The professor laughed. “You ever see the Lyceum shows?”

“Yeah, I’ve got DVDs of it.”

“Same one. He also used this on the Mirrors Tour.”

Annie’s memory was jogged by something the professor said. “Didn’t we visit the Lyceum Theater when were in London?”

Before Kerry could respond, Ellison had his own question. “You visited the Lyceum?”

Kerry nodded. “Yes, when we—Annie and I—had a free day before going to Amsterdam.”

Ellison nodded slowly. “Sweet. Lucky you.” He pointed to the one to the left of the Quadra. “And that?”

“Well, since I can see ‘Pro Soloist’ on the cabinet, it’s an APR Pro Soloist.”

“Dead giveaway, I’d say.” He flipped it on and played a short snippet. “Recognize that?”

Kerry nodded. “Keyboard solo from Firth of Fifth.”

“For someone eleven years old, you know a hell of a lot about seventy’s prog rock.”

“You can blame my dad for that.” Kerry looked down at the machine the professor had just played. “He was into this, and sort of got me hooked.”

“You should hear Kerry talk about this.” Annie came over and stood next to him. “I certainly have.”

Poor Annie.  A week with this kid and already she’s a music geek widow.

They wander about looking at more things, pointing out some tech that the professor didn’t think Kerry would recognize but did (the Memotron MIDI rack modules being one), and then they get to the Big Three–

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

They reached the far end of the room where sat three massive systems. Professor Ellison rubbed him hands together. “Now for the big players.” He pointed to the one on the right. “That one?”

Kerry felt Annie’s grip on his arm tighten as if she were willing him to give the correct answer. “Moog modular analog synthesizer.”

“Correct. I know, it’s pretty easy guess that one.” He motioned for them both to come closer. “This was used by Wendy Carlos during the recording of Switched-on Bach. We’ve spent a lot of time getting it back into pristine condition.” He moved to the middle system. “This is . . ?”

Kerry had seen many pictures of this system, but he never thought he’d see one in person. “Yamaha GX-1.” He pulled Annie closer, as if he were sharing a secret. “Only a hundred of so of these were made, and like only a dozen were sold to people outside Japan.” He turned to the professor. “Who did this belong to?”

“No one.” Ellison almost chuckled at the look of disbelief on Kerry’s face. “It was bought in 1977 especially for the school. According to the manufacturing certificate, it’s the last one built.”

“Wow.” He wanted to reach out and touch it, caress it—a real piece of history, this is—but he didn’t want to seem too starstruck. I so much would love to play this . . .

Ellison wondered if he was going to have to pulled Kerry away from the machine. I’ll have to invite him over again and let him at least sit at it. He moved to the lasts machine. “Now this keyboard—” He stepped before the dual keyboards, one positioned over the other, and brought the machine to life. “I’m going to bet you, Kerry, that you’ve not only heard this machine play, but you’ve seen it as well.” He twisted around, his fingers taping on one of the wings. “Well?”

When he didn’t say anything for a few seconds, Annie wondered if Kerry didn’t know what this thing was. I’m certain he does—he only need a little push . . . “You’ve seen this before, haven’t you?”

There wasn’t a response for another few seconds, then Kerry began nodding slowly. “It’s an ARP 2500.” There was no response from the professor, though Kerry was pretty sure about what he was waiting to hear. “If everything’s ready here on the Dark Side of the Moon . . . play the five tones.”

Professor Ellison turned back to the keyboards and pecked out five notes: D, E, C, an octave drop to Middle C, then G—the five notes that were once used to communicate with an alien mothership. He turned to face them. “You mean like that?”

“You have got to be kidding me.” Kerry slipped away from Annie and examined the device up close. “Hum. Custom case, two wings, dual manuals–yep, this looks like it.” He looked up at Ellison. “How long have you had this?”

“We picked it up a couple of years ago.” Ellison shut the machine off. “We knew the person who had it, but never thought to bring it into our collection. Finally we convinced him to part with it—for some great compensation, mind you.”

Annie started tugging at Kerry’s arm; she gave him a look of pure bemusement once she had his attention. “And what was that all about?”

“That, um—” Kerry waved his hand over one of the wings. “This was the synthesizer that was used in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The five tones were used to send a message to the aliens that came to visit us—”

“I hope they were friendly.”

“They . . .” Kerry figured Annie was playing with him; he saw it in her body language, and her tone of voice. “They were nice.” They both laughed as Annie repositioned herself on Kerry’s left arm.

Now that he’d shown Kerry most of the goods in the room—and developed his opinion on his knowledge of keyboard history—it was time to do a little digging. “So, what can you play?”

 

Kerry doesn't play as much as this guy, you can rest assured.

Kerry doesn’t play as much as this guy, you can rest assured.

Yeah, time to dig into the kid and see what he can play.  What can he play?  Well . . . I’m gonna write about that tonight.

Where as a few days ago I felt like I was at a personal low, last night, using all the information I’d gathered and putting it out in the history I was spinning, I wrote almost nineteen hundred words.  I could have went two thousand, but I want to finish up the last part in a single sitting, and I figured where I stopped was the best place to stop.  Some writer once said that you should leave your story hanging at a cliff-hanger moments so you’ll get the creative juices flowing when you come back later, and I find that works will with this story.

The week is winding down, both in real life and at my school.  Only it’s taken about a month to get through the school week:

There are times, however, when real life feels much the same.

Early Morning Afternoons

The end of the week approaches and already my mind is in a flurry over what I could do come Saturday.  I don’t have any long trips planed, not with another threat of snow on Sunday, but if it’s better on Sunday I may go on another road trip to somewhere close.  I find I feel a lot better when I get out into the real world and don’t stay closed up inside the apartment all the time.

One needs this to at least feel a little human.

I’m also thinking about what I want to write this weekend.  I have an idea for a post to write Saturday morning, because it’ll take to long to write it during this stretches I have between when I wake up and walk off to work.  That means the best time to do this one is over coffee and whatever I’m munching on at Panera.  I’m also working on an idea for another article, but that’s something that probably won’t start up this weekend.  Maybe next.  I’m never really sure how that works; I just go with the flow.

Okay, maybe they're not going out that far . . .

Okay, maybe they’re not going exploring out this far . . .

Most of my writing time will be on the novel.  I’m in the final stretch now.  It’s Friday afternoon, classes are over, and since there isn’t a lot of study–it is only the first week, and it’s not like they have homework yet–my kids are off on a little side trip of exploration.  Really, it’s Kerry’s trip, and Annie’s following and observing.  See, there was something that was said to Kerry way back–well, it was a couple of weeks ago for him, but it’s more like almost three months for me, and he’d almost forgotten about that comment until overhearing a couple of teachers.  Then he woke up, went, “Hey!”, and now it’s Side Trip Afternoon instead of resting with all the other kids who have pretty much burned themselves out by now.

A night in the hospital will do that to you, ’cause you get all rested up.

I’ll finish this scene tonight, then it’s on to something I call The Midnight Madness, and then there’ll be some Saturday activities that will flow into something that happens just after midnight on Sunday morning.

And that will be that.  Episode One of Book One is over and done.

Right now I’m sitting at exactly 112,500 words, and one hundred and thirty thousand words does seem to be right about where I’ll end.  That means I’ll wrap it up first part of February, about three and a half months after I started writing for NaNoWriMo.  Then on to something different, something . . . maybe smutty, since I found out some erotica stories I sold back in 2011 are mine again, and that would be a good time to see about getting a cover, reformatting the suckers, and putting them out there under a different name.  Then watch that cash roll in, Yes Sir.

I won’t hold my breath.  But I will work on editing.  I will work on getting something out there.

It’s about that time.

Taking the Magic to the Mat

It would appear I have survived Snowmaggedon II:  Electric Boogaloo, here in The Burg.  We got eight inches of snow and I was sent home early because it was pretty nasty out there.  Though not as bad as the last snow we had–at least this time there were plows about and about.  At the moment the cold is what I need to worry about, as it’s about five degrees outside, and the wind chill as I walk to work will be about fifteen below.

Perfect weather for flying back from Manitoba.  But that’s not gonna get written for a few more years.

After feeling down and low the night before, I threw on some old music–like early 1970’s stuff–and examined what I’d written the night before.  I saw where it was lacking, so I did a little editing and a bit of adding, and when I was finished I was far more satisfied with the final outcome.

But that was the stuff I’d already worked on.  I needed to finish out the scene.

The class is Self Defense for Beginners.  The instructor is Madam Ramona Chai, straight outta Hong Kong, who is never going to come out and say, “I know kung fu,” but rather, “Besides t’ai chi ch’uan, wing chun, and southern style praying mantis, I know pencak silat, yaw-yan, eskrima, and krav maga.”  She also knows how to use the weapons that several of those disciplines use, so you have an instructor who could probably kill anyone with one hand and not a lot of thought.

Oh, and she knows magic.

What better way to scare the hell–I mean, demonstrate how she is looking out for their safety when they get on the sparing mat and face off against one another?  Oh, yeah.  They will.  She pretty much tells them without telling them, which is a very kung fu movies way of doing things, if you think about it.  But back to the basic question:  how does she show them?

Nurse Coraline comes in, and the two face off.

Up to this point most students know red haired Nurse Coraline as pretty and curvy and ready with a quip.  They didn’t know she can fight like a demoness, too.  Both she and Madam Chai go at each other with super speed–Kerry is reminded of the Martian Commandos in The Stars My Destination, who are able to accelerate their bodies to ten times normal speed–start landing blows, and when all else fails, they began throwing magic at each other.  Madam Chai does something that looks like a wall of compressed air, and Coraline jumps up in the air and does a slow back flip like an anime girl before tossing a fireball at the instructor.

This is how you do it without the fan service, kids.

This is how you do it without the fan service, kids.

By the time the demonstration was over, the kids were able to see that they might get a few bruises here and there, but they weren’t going to die from an electrical attack, and students outside the mat didn’t have to worry about being consumed by magical hell fire, as there was an invisible barrier that went up when the competition starts.

I’ll say this much:  I had fun writing the scene.  I’d been thinking about it for a while, and when it was time to get it down, I went right at it and didn’t stop until it was finished.  I signed off for the night happy and even pleased with what I’d done.

I’d had my own fight–and I think I came out on top.

Dark and Stormy Write

Right before the alarm went off I was dreaming that I was writing about the strange dream I’d had.  It was full of people looking for things to do, and people pissed off that nothing was getting done–on, and a couple of cable guy who never showed up on time, who would then show up right when you’d just left the house after the appointment “block” was over, and claim you weren’t home–which, of course, you weren’t, because they didn’t show up when they were scheduled.

No one was offering to juice me up, let me tell ya.

I wonder if the reason I had such a weird dream was because I was so entirely not happy with what I wrote last night?

Now, after the excitement Sunday–I do use that term loosely–yesterday was very strange.  I was suppose to meet up with a friend online, and when they did show, they were so busy doing other things in real life that I could have used the two hours I spent waiting for them to write.  But, like a fool I didn’t.  That sort of set me off, and for the rest of the day, and into the evening, it was hard to get the flow back.

But it was a dark and stormy night . . .

But it was a dark and stormy night . . .

Oh, I did write.  But I wasn’t happen with it.  It felt uneven as hell.  I had things I wanted to say, but those things just weren’t there.  What came out seem to stutter, to form with an incomplete voice.  Whatever was coming out didn’t seem like me.

Sure, I was getting distracted, and that’s my own fault, but of late I haven’t felt like listening to music, and that’s been affecting me when it comes to laying down the tunes.  Music has always helped me through some bad times, but these days I feel like I’ve heard it all, and when I try thinking of something new to listen to, I kind of twist my head to one said and thing, “Naw, I don’t want to give that a try.”

The one thing I did do last night was push the story over one hundred ten thousand words.  I didn’t push it that much, but that’s okay:  there is another chance to fight the good fight tonight.  Another chance to sit down at eight PM and get my thousand in before ten.  Maybe even rewrite a little of the mess I did last night, because I was also dreaming that I was very unhappy about having to rewrite something, and that’s very likely a direct reference to what happened with my story, rather than within the story.

So, on 30 January, I will have one thousand blog posts completed.  That’s next Thursday.  The novel won’t be finished–I think there are more that ten thousand words left, though I could be mistaken–but the end for the fire episode will come to a completion soon after.

I have a good idea what comes after both those events are in the slush pile, so to speak.  Something wonderful, you ask?

You’ll have to wait and see.

Ringside with Buttercup

After all the excitement yesterday it time to rest up, relax, and spend a little time back in at the casa.  Spending four hours on the road can become a tiring experience, so by the time I rolled back to the apartment I wasn’t in the mood to do anything but veg and maybe watch a little television, and hope for a good night’s sleep.

The sleep I got.  The television was pretty lame, as there wasn’t anything good on, so I let it play in the background.  A couple of the flicks on were five hours of BS stuffed into two hours of celluloid, but since everything is digital these days, you can do that with compression.

Oh, and there was writing.  I finally put all my new kids in their respective covens, so no more worrying about who is suppose to be where when I need affiliations.  I also figured out who isn’t returning for their B Levels, because I do think ahead.  I’m like that; always planing for the future of people who don’t exist.

This also means the writing is back on track, with over a couple of thousand words written over the weekend.  The word count total–as the novel finishes up the Chapter Nine Thursday classes and moves into the Chapter Ten Friday morning participation–is one hundred nine thousand, two hundred ninety-nine.  I’ll pop up one hundred ten today, and it would appear, with this short Chapter Ten, and two more to go, that I’ll finish this first episode of Book One in another fifteen thousand or so words.  Yes, one third of a story clocking in at one hundred twenty five thousand words–no problem.  Happens every day.

It’s not a nice return for Kerry, however.  He spent the night in the hospital, and the other A Levels didn’t know what was happening with him.  No, they didn’t rush to his bedside:  this is a bunch of kids who hardly know each other.  No bonds formed here yet.

When he does walk into class–which happens to be “Self Defense for Beginners”–he gets asked how he’s doing.  He also starts getting teased by a couple of boys because when my Dark Mistress of All hauled Kerry off to the infirmary, he was doing a bit of the moaning and crying thing.  One even went so far as to tell another girl who was sticking up for Kerry that “sure, you’d cry, that’s what girls do,” and ended up getting all the female types in the room to shoot death laser eyes at him, thereby insuring he’ll never date an A Level girl at any time during the next six years.  (As a side note, the girls in the school outnumber the boys by a little more than four-to-one, something that Kerry pointed out with great glee.  Yes, at Salem, It’s a Girl’s World–and they will let you know it.)

How does Kerry deal with this?  He turns to Annie and starts quoting lines from The Princess Bride.  Fortunately for him, she’s seen/read it, and she start quoting what she remembers, and they end up playfully chasing each other around the huge, open room with a sparing mat in the center.

Kerry doesn’t say that quote.  You know which quote I’m talking about, don’t look at me like that.  That’s not one of my favorite quotes of the movie, and just like in the flick, it gets said over and over so much in real life that when I hear it I just sigh and pretend I’m atomizing the person.  No, the one I prefer is when he yells, “I want my father back, you son of a bitch!”, due in part to the intensity Mandy Patinkin delivers.  He admitted that when doing the scene he was reminded of his own father’s death, and the memories were getting to him when he uttered his lines.

Besides, I almost always think of Mandy as Rube Sofer from Dead Like Me, the middle man for the Reaper who always meet at Der Waffle House to discuss what souls they’re going to take for the day.  Rube, who is always trying to get Death to stop in for dinner and who swears at him when he doesn’t like something on the list of people they’re taking before they die.

"This job is killing me. Yeah, I went there . . . (checking list) Whadday say your name was?"

“This job is killing me. Yeah, I went there . . . (checking list) Whadday say your name was?”

And who tries to offer words of wisdom to new Reaper Georgia, who’s first assignment is to take the soul of an eight year old girl who dies in a train derailment, and decides not to, that it would be better to let her live:

Dead Like Me: Pilot (#1.1)

George: If you want her to die so bad, you do it!
Rube: [angrily] I can’t, no one can except you. Death is non-transferable, she’s your mark. Only you can do the deed.
George: Well then, barring any unforeseen accidents, I’d say she has another eighty years.
Rube: Yeah, well you believe me, that’s eighty years she doesn’t want.
George: What is that supposed to mean?
Rube: Her fate was sealed the moment she got onto that train. Her soul expired. You know what happens when you keep a soul around after its time?
George: No.
Rube: Same thing happens to milk. It spoils, goes bad, souls go bad in all kinds of ways.
George: But…
Rube: [continues to speak in quiet anger] If you’re having trouble comprehending the severity of the situation, why don’t you consult Webster’s on the definition of bad? If you don’t take her soul, it’s going to wither and die and rot inside her. I’ve seen it happen. Do you wish to condemn her to that?
George: [crying] She’s just a little girl. She can’t die, it’s cruel!
Rube: [gently] It is cruel. It’s cruel she won’t know what life’s really like. It’s cruel that she’ll miss out on so much love and pain and beauty, and that’s sad for everyone in the world except for her. She won’t give a rat’s ass, she’ll be doing something different. That’s just the way it is.

Good ol’ death, always a comfort.  And the Reapers will show up at Salem soon enough.

You can bet on that.

I’ve Seen the Saucers

Oh, Hai!  It’s Soufflé Girl once again but this time I’m on the road.  Well, my machine isn’t a dud, all stuck in the mud, so that’s a good thing in my favor.  That might have given you a clue, so I’ll tell you straight out:  I’m in New Jersey, and I’ve been on the road since four-thirty, and as it’s now eight AM, you do the math on how long I’ve been traveling.

Why am I here?  Because no one would have believed in the early years of the 21st century that our world was being watched by intelligences greater than our own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns, they observed and studied, the way a man with a microscope might scrutinize the creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency, men went to and fro about the globe, confident of our empire over this world. Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic regarded our planet with envious eyes and slowly, and surely, drew their plans against us . . .

And if you don’t recognize those lines–which are not mine, as if I need to say it–you need to turn in your sci fi geek card if you have one, because you just suffered major alien invasion fail.

I am just south of this somewhat fuzzy-looking, early morning field–said picture taken at seven AM with a mobile phone and a pair of semi-shaky hands.  It’s actually a park next to a pond just outside of Princeton Junction, NJ, which is just to the east of Princeton, home of the famous university and professors.  It doesn’t look like much, does it?  Really, it isn’t.

GM Field 01

So pretty in the morning light . . .So why be out here at dawn’s early light.

Because of these guys:

 

Why you gotta come down here an cause a ruckus?

Why you gotta come down here an cause a ruckus?

That is the marker set at one end of the field to commemorate that this place is, indeed, Grover’s Mill, NJ, and on October 30, 1938, Orson Wells decided this joint was as good as any to start the alien apocalypse.

For a little background:  The Mercury Theater On the Air radio troupe decided that for their Halloween broadcast they’d do a modern-day reenactment of H. G. Wells’ War of the World.  Rather than place the story in England, where it took place in the novel, Orson moved the local to the U. S., and had the Martian War Machines first touch down outside Princeton, NJ, so he could play the part of the smarty-pants scientist who comes in, sees them crawl out and start mowing everyone down before heading for New York–sure, Philadelphia is much closer, but even Martians knew no one wants to go to Philly ’cause they’ll get booed.  “You only killed two hundred with that heat ray?  You suck!” Tough crowd.

During the broadcast it was announced that what people were hearing was a presentation, but if you missed like the first ten minutes of the program and only heard the simulated death and destruction, you might assume you were hearing the real deal.  I mean, it’s not like anyone had an Internet where they could get the shit spoiled out of the program, so you had to go on faith that what was playing was legit.

Some people, apparently, thought just that.

Now, there are all sorts of stories about what happened that night.  I have stories from my maternal grandparents that people were in a panic that night, though they didn’t know anyone who panicked–it was always some guy who knew a dude who’s wife’s best friend went crazy.  There is a well-known story that a woman in Indianapolis ran into a church where services were being held, told people New York City had just been destroyed and it was the end of the world, but if you come from Indiana–as I do–you’ll know that’s also known as “Thursday Night”.  Jack Parr was working in radio at the time and he told the story about how people called him and asked what was happening; he told them it was just a radio show, and eventually some of the callers accused him of covering up the invasion.

Since 1938 a bit of investigating has been performed, and it’s safe to say that the majority of the, “People were ready to kill their families!” stories are anecdotal.  One of the things that Wells took advantage of was timing the “Martian Invasion” part of his broadcast to start about twelve minutes into the show.  Why?  A popular show on the NBC Red Network would start a musical number after the opening comedy sketch, and Wells wanted “station flippers” to be confused by what they were hearing, and stay to find out what was going on.  That Orson:  always the showman.  Tell us what Rosebud really meant . . .

Most of what we know about the program today is due, in part, to bad human memory and the media blitz that followed in the weeks after the broadcast.  Though the stories dropped off the front pages in a matter of days, over twelve thousand articles were written about the broadcast, and one might say the media played a big part in making a huge star out of Orson Wells.  Though a lot of people remember this shot:

You Martians! Get off my lawn!

Proof positive that someone was so taken in by what they heard that they were gonna start blastin’ those war machines.  Except it’s a staged photo:  someone from Life Magazine paid the guy to pose for the picture so they’d have something to run in their next issue.

That doesn’t mean that someone didn’t do any shooting . . . behold!  The Martian War Machine!

Jump back, Hoomans!  I'm here to kick ass!

Stand aside, Hoomans! Mars needs Women!

What you are looking at is something that is pretty hard to see these days.  It’s an old water tower that was used by the residents of the area in 1938.  Legend has it that a few people were out that night trying to figure out what was going on, saw this thing in the woods, and took a few shots in its general direction.  The reason I say it’s hard to see normally is because it now sits on private property, and the trees normally block the view of the tower.  So, by visiting when the trees are bare, one may see the war machine in all its, um, glory.

There you have it:  my visit to the site of the alien invasion landing site, and I’ve lived to tell the tale.  There are a couple of other places here in New Jersey I’d like to visit, and I still have one location in Pennsylvania that will take me at least a good seven hours of driving to get there and back, and if I’m going to spend that much time on the road, I may as well head back to Indiana.  But these day trips are good for getting out of the apartment, and how many chances will I ever get to see something like this?

We now return you to the regularly scheduled program, already in progress.

A far better look at the Martian Memorial, not taken by someone with shaking hands in the early morning light.

Behind the Black Curtain

There’s just a touch of snow on the ground, I’ve finished my soufflé and I’m working on my coffee.  It’s time to get down to brass tacks.

If you were looking in on me yesterday–and my blog stats say you were–you can see I made it through the day.  It was a long day, because I didn’t make it to bed until just after midnight.  So, up at four AM, off to bed at midnight–yeah, long day.  My evening was pretty much one thing after another:  The Spirit of St. Louis was playing on TV, I was chatting with a couple of people–one who was going off on an anti-vaccination fool and another discussing another article I have coming out, maybe today–and I was working on my novel.

A bit like this, only I like my coffee in a mug.

A bit like this, only I like my coffee in a mug.

Busy little multitasking beaver I was.  If there were only any money in that.

So what has been happening with that novel of late?  Writing.  A few nights ago I wrote twelve hundred words, then about six hundred, then last night I ended up somewhere between eight hundred and a thousand words.  I didn’t get an exact total, because in the middle of all this multitasking I managed to shut Scrivener down by accident and lost my session word total.  But based upon where I left off Thursday night, and where I left off last night, it was about a thousand words.

What has happened is my Dark Mistress of All, Helena, has for reasons unknown started using a little magical electricity on Kerry, which isn’t setting well with Annie, because it seems like Helena’s stepping up the power each time.  And sooner than you can say Lum chan:

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie was almost out of her chair. “Stop it. Stop what you’re doing.”

Helena stepped to her right, her eyes locked on the young girl. “How do you know I’m doing this?”

“Stop playing stupid. You know you are.” Annie clenched her fists. “Stop it now.”

“Or?”

That was the real question—what would Annie do? She knew better than to throw a spell at an instructor—particularly one who’d been, or was, a Guardian. She also knew she wasn’t going to allow Kerry to be hurt . . . “Just stop it.”

“You’re going to have to convince me.” Helena shook her head. “Words won’t do it, I’m afraid.”

She’s being impossible. “What do you want me to do?” Annie turned to Kerry, then back to Professor Lovecraft. She spoke as forcefully as she could without yelling. “Can’t you be decent?”

Helena crossed her arms and leaned her face into her right fist as she appeared to consider Annie’s question. “Oh, Annie . . .” She dropped her hands to her sides. “You know what I am.” She snapped the right fingers—

Kerry’s whole body clenched: his shoulder drew in, his arms curled, his legs pulled together as he clenched himself. His eyes closed as his mouth opened in a silent scream. He remained frozen like this for a few seconds, then jerked to the left and right as if he were having a seizure. Five seconds after his current turmoil began he flopped over onto his desk, his head lying against his right arm as he moaned.

Annie couldn’t take any more. She jumped from her chair and marched towards the professor as the class watched in silence. “That’s enough, stop it, Stop It NOW.”

If Helena appeared bothered by the outburst it wasn’t evident. “Please return to your seat, Miss Kirilova.”

Miss Kirilova wasn’t about to meekly return to her desk. “I said—”

I heard you. Now, return to your seat.” Helena stepped around her and approached Kerry.

“What are you doing?” Annie spun on her. “Stay away—”

Helena pointed to the empty seat. “Get in your goddamn chair, Annie.” It was the first time the professor has spoken in anything but calm, even tones.

Felisa Ledesma, the Mexican girl in Blodeuwedd Coven, didn’t bother speaking softly. “What a crazy bitch.”

“You be quite too.” Helena was now standing over Kerry as Annie glumly retook her chair. “Or I’ll show you just how crazy I can become.”

Yeah, Salem is a fun place.  Come for the class, stay for the electrocution.

Helena teleports Kerry off to the hospital where he is cared for by Nurse Coraline, who also gives Helena a butt-full before she returns to class.  After class she returns with Annie, they see Kerry, find out he’s staying over night, and Helena comes up with an excuse to take Annie to the back of the ward to be alone.  After throwing up a magical black curtain–she is a sorceress, right?–they discuss why teacher was laying on the magical juice to Annie’s  boyfriend:

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

She turned to Annie, who was staring at her with a combination of animosity and curiosity. “You’ve been waiting to confront me since I shocked Kerry. Here’s your chance: let me have it.”

For the last couple of hours there were many things that Annie wanted to say to Professor Lovecraft, but after hearing her apology to Kerry, there was only one question that mattered. “You said you had your reasons for casting that spell on Kerry. What was it?”

Helena widened her stance slightly and crossed her arms while meeting the girl’s gaze. “You.”

For the first time since the incident with Kerry Annie registered an emotion other than anger. “Me? You’re crazy.”

You understand my mental state now?” Helena didn’t let Annie respond. “End of June, you were visited by a couple of people from The Foundation, yeah?”

Annie remembered the interview well: her mother and she had gone into Plovdiv to meet with two women from the regional office in Brno. They’d had a pleasant chat, talked about the upcoming school year, what she wanted to do . . . “I remember it well. My mother and I spent the day in Varna before going home.”

“They asked you a lot of questions about magic . . . About what you wanted to learn, but more important, what you already know.” Helena’s tone softened. “They asked you a lot about sorcery.”

That wasn’t a question. “How do you know that?”

“Because that interview produced a report.” She brought her hands together and tapped her thumbs. “One that I read.”

The anger was back, and Annie felt her face redden. “You’re spying on me?”

“Oh, please. Get over yourself, Annie.” Helena chuckled, which made Annie grow even redder in the face. “It’s a standard practice with Legacies these days—particularly those Legacies who have an interest in sorcery.” Her face darkened slightly. “We wouldn’t want another Scouring.”

Annie felt a chill run through her when she heard the word “Scouring”. Her parents had left before that event, right near the end of the school year in 2000. Her parents had told her a little about what happened, how there’d been an attack by Deconstructors who’d spent years infiltrating the school and convincing some students to follow them. Students had died along with instructors, and parts of the school were destroyed.

I can see why she’d worry about Legacies who know sorcery. “I understand now.”

“Good.” Helena hesitated as she eyes Annie closely. “The report was fairly standard: said you had a good grasp of the basics of spells casting; that your knowledge of sorcery was ‘advanced’, and that your ability to perform simply sorcery spells was ‘astounding’.”

“Really?” Annie’s mood swung back from dark to light. People from The Foundation thought I was astounding? “They said that?”

“They said other things as well. The line that stuck out the most was that ‘while the subject is technically competent and exceptional proficient, she comes across as emotionally immature’.” Helena’s demeanor turned stern. “And the last thing I want in my classroom is an emotionally immature sorceress.”

Emotionally immature. The words stung at Annie. There were many things her mother had called her from time to time, but “immature” wasn’t one of those things. “I’m not like that—”

“Maybe not. But I couldn’t take the risk.”

“Were you afraid I was going to attack you?”

“It’s happened before.” She motioned pass the dark shield into the ward beyond. “Had a B Level come at me the second week of school last year, about a quarter of the way into the class. She ended up in the ward out there, and it wasn’t for just a night.”

“Yeah, I wanted to get a rise out of you, so I stuck your boyfriend’s fingers in my magical light socket.  No hard feelings.”  Probably a good thing they don’t have corporal punishment, though wait until you find out what some of the detentions are.

There you have it.  Thursday in the story is almost over–one scene and I’m there.  Three more chapters and this first episode is history.  Then I can move on to the next project.  And tomorrow I may be taking a road trip.  I’ll see how the weather goes.

It’s nice when we can sit and just chat, isn’t it?