Getting Science All Up In Here

I don’t get out my these days–that’s sort of clear to a lot of people.  And one of the things I don’t get out to do is see movies.  Most of that is due to having sort of a high standard when it comes to seeing a movie, and that’s to be entertained without having too much of my intelligence insulted.  That’s why I’d only seen Mad Max:  Fury Road this year of 2015 and nothing else.  I’m just a cranky bitch when it comes to film.

Yesterday, however, not long after posted on my blog, I headed out to see The Martian, the movie based upon Andy Weir’s 2011 novel of the same name.  One reason I wanted to see the movie was because it was science fiction, and from everything I’d read of the novel, pretty accurate science fiction, with the emphases on science.  I will say now that I have not read the novel, but I’m probably going to pick it up and give it a read just to see the differences between the printed and visual versions.

The interesting thing about the novel is how it came about.  Weir wanted the novel as scientifically accurate as possible, and did a lot of research on the surface of Mars, on botany, astrophysics, space craft design, and orbital mechanics, going so far as to write is own program so he could track the orbits of the ships in his novel.

Which is something only a few crazy people do for, say, a game.

Which is something only a few crazy people–like the one who wrote this a few years ago–kinda sorta do for games.   Crazy.

Weir had been writing since his twenties, and The Martian was his first novel.  He shopped it around, and when none of the publishing houses showed interested, he started publishing the book for free on his website, going thought chapter by chapter.

That's insane.  What sort of nut does that?

That’s insane. What sort of nut does that?

After a while people asked him to put out a Kindle version of the story, and he did, and he sold the book for $.99, the lowest price one can offer for a work on Amazon.  After he sold thirty-five thousand copies in one month, Crown Publishing Group approached him and asked if he’d like a sweet deal for his book.  The deal made him another one hundred thousand dollars and got him a movie, so it sounds like he got what he was looking for.

If you’re asking, “What’s this about?”, it’s about a guy who, through no fault of anyone, gets stranded on Mars and has to find a way to stay alive until he’ rescued.

If nothing else, fall back on a meme that says the same thing through Apature.

If nothing else, fall back on a meme that makes you wonder if Aperture Science runs the space program.

That’s the story in a nutshell, and without going into a lot of detail, it’s what the movies shows.  What I loved was the attention to detail and how everything was so . . . sciencry.  As I indicated I haven’t read the book, but there were things in the movie that because of my knowledge of Mars and space stuff in general, I got right away.  (There was a scene in the movie where the main character was looking at a map, and the minute he realizes something and was hit with a light bulb moment, so was I.  Geeks, I know.)

The movie is magnificent in appearance.  The Mars stand-in was Wadi Rum in Jordan, which has stood in for Mars in a couple of movies, and one of the locations used in Laurence of Arabia.  With the help of a little CGI you feel like you could be there on the Red Planet.  All the tech looks workable and has an authentic feel.  And the spaceship Hermes and the Mars HABs . . . Oi.

Magnificent spaceship porn, yo!

Magnificent spaceship porn, yo!

I can look at the ship above and see stuff that’s supposed to be there on a real spacecraft, and that makes me happy.  There are things I saw happening in the movie that shouldn’t have happened (when you decelerate in space, your engine is supposed to be pointed towards the forward edge of your orbit, thank you), but they were minor and nitpicky.  Even Weir admits that he made the storms on Mars more visually impressive than they would be in real life because, you know, sometimes you have to do that.

The characters are good, though I think NASA in the middle of the 21st Century would be a tad more diverse than shown, and in one major instance, a character was completely whitewashed. The moment I saw the character’s name I thought “Shouldn’t she be Korean?”  This, again, came without reading the novel, and after a little investigation last night I discovered I was correct.  It isn’t impossible to find an actress of the proper ethnicity these days,  so Hollywood, you need to stop that shit right now.

There is one scene in the movie that got a huge laugh out of the audience I was with–and with me as well–and without going into detail:

When you see the scene, you'll get this completely.

When you see the scene, you’ll get this completely.

I came out really happy, not only because I saw what I’d say was a real science fiction movie, but because there was a scene involving engineering that was done while ABBA’s Waterloo played on the soundtrack.  I mean, come on:  that’s something I’d do in my stories, so you know I was smiling like crazy and bouncing in my seat as the scene played out.  And in a moment of disclosure, in a game I was running some twenty years ago, I’d planed to use Waterloo as a song-over during a scene were some people were preparing in invade a planet.

See?  Great minds think alike.  And so do those who know what makes science fun.

Down On the Deck: Home By the Sea

Here I was, yesterday, saying I wanted to finish this scene and chapter, and guess what?  Did!  Totally did.  No, really.

See?  No brag, just truth.

See? No brag, just truth.

And as you can see Chapter Seventeen awaits, where it’s a week later and–humm.  Looks like the kids are heading home for the holidays.  Yes, it’s that time, when the school shuts down for two weeks and all the kids go home to see their parents.  And if you look closely, you can see that Kerry is heading back to Cardiff and Annie is heading back to Pamporovo.

Actually, Chapter’s Seventeen and Eighteen deal with the kids being away from each other–the first scene of Chapter Sixteen is one of only two times you’ll see the kids together the next two chapters–but that’s in the future, and right now we’re finishing up the present, and it’s time to get my kids together again.


(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

The dots on within the image had already crossed half the map when Nurse Bianca called the deck and informed the girls that Nurse Thebe and she were downstairs with warming blankets. Alex was able to get off a quick thank you when Kerry called in. “Flight Deck, this is Overnight. On my mark lowing to four hundred kph and beginning our decent.” He paused for about six seconds before continuing. “And . . . mark.”

Emma, as group pilot, gave the overall command. “Overnight, slow to four hundred kph and follow us down.”

Penny kept her eyes on the display, watching the dots descend towards Cape Ann. She nodded her approval. “Smart move. Forty kilometers out, coming in at four hundred kph—”

“They’ll be here in ten minutes.” Annie figured out the plan during the time Kerry informed them.

“A little more, actually.” Alex waved her hand over a pad. “Lights up on the roof and the Clock Tower. They should be able to see us now.”

“And we need to do now is lay out a landing pattern.” Alex walked over to the window and looked out onto the darkened meadow. “And light a few fires to everyone can warm up on the spot.”

“Good idea.” Penny tapped Annie on the arm. “You’re helping, right?”

“I wouldn’t miss this for the world.” Annie gave the display another look. “You think I’m waiting up here—”

“—While he’s down there? Nope.” Penny tapped near her ear piece. “Overnight, this is Flight Deck. We have the Flight School overhead lights and the Clock Tower beacon lit, and we’re going to set up your landing grid for you. Over.”

Emma returned with the acknowledgment. “Roger, Flight Deck. Should be on the ground soon. Over.”

All three girls were about to turn from the hologram when Kerry’s voice broadcast through the room. “Hang on, Overnight: A little homecoming music is in order. Hit it.” Immediately four loud guitar cords rang out followed by a heavy drum and bass rhythm. A few seconds later the vocals rang out: “Home by the sea/home by the sea—”

Annie chuckled. “I’ve heard this one before.”

Penny stared at the dots in the tank with a smile on her face. “Bloody hell.”

“That’s my Darling.” Annie grabbed the coats and levitated them towards the girls. “They’ll be her in a few minutes.”


Once more the Flight Deck is running pretty smoothly considering it’s being run by three teenage girls.  They got the action down.  This is why when the bad guys came calling, the school just locked shit up and put the kids out there with the adults, because nothing is crazier than a teenage witch.

“That’s my Darling.”  I actually loved writing that line, because if there’s something Annie’s doing this year, it’s getting loosened up around people.  Well, people she likes.  Other bitches best watch out or they’ll get a lightening bolt shot their way.

And here we have Kerry bring everyone home with music–He’d actually sort of foreshadowed this back on PEI:


“Already figured that out.” He pushed the map display to his right until they were looking at the western coast of Nova Scotia. “Right there.” He marked the point. “About as west as you can get before you run out of land. Which means . . .” He sketched a line to the southwest until he encountered a well-known point of land. “Rockport. And our home by the sea just to the west.” He quickly connected the marked points on the map, creating a line from their current location back to the school. “There’s it is: that’s the route.”


“Our home by the sea”.  So what song does he play coming in?  Why, Home By the Sea, what else?

Not only does he play it, he plays it loud:


All three girls hurried downstairs and found Bianca and Thebe waiting just outside the main hangar door. Penny began pointing to different spots around them. “Alex, set up three fires on the right, I’ll do the same on the left. Let’s get them in a large semi-circle.” She pointed straight ahead. “Annie, could you set up a row of lights for about twenty, thirty meters, maybe five meters apart?”

“Not a problem.” Annie rose about a half-meter off the ground and crafted a white light source on the ground before floating out about five meters to do the same thing again. She did this five more times, setting up a thirty meters runway for the flight to line up on and bring them into the group of fires Alex and Penny created.

She floated back to where the girls and nurses stood. Annie adjusted her wool cap and glanced skyward. “Do you hear that?”

Alex looked up and grinned. “Music?”

“Yes.” Annie grinned wildly. “Kerry must have it his tablet loudspeakers.”

“Jeez.” Penny shook her head. “Vicky must not worry they’re going to be heard from the ground.”

“It’s not like any of the Normals would see them.” She pointed towards the southeast. “I think that’s them.”

Annie saw two sets of yellow-white lights moving off to her right: one seemed to indicate where to turn, and the other seemed to point downward. The continued moving to her left as they now appeared to quickly lose altitude over the east wall. At the north end of the meadow tree line the lights continued swinging to the left, then stopped and began approaching her.

She heard Penny giving instruction for the flight as they lined up on the makeshift runway. The music was easily discernible now, and she could now clearly make out the lead flight, bundled up tight against the cold, with nary a square . Kerry pointed downward with his left hand until they were within touching distance of the ground, at which point he flattened his hand and spread out the lights at his fingertips, while Emma waved her right hand overhead to slow the group, then pumped a fist into the air bringing the flight to a complete stop. The last few lines of the song played—”Cause you won’t get away/So with us you will stay/For the rest of your days/Sit down/As we relive our lives in what we tell you”—before Kerry punched his tablet and shut down the song.

Emma pulled down her balaclava before looking backwards over her shoulder. “Dismount.” She was off her broom a few seconds later as Kerry pulled down his balaclava and slipped his goggles up onto his forehead.

Each of the girls grabbed a couple of warming blanket. Annie immediately made clear which team she was going to treat. “I’ve got the lead.”

Penny chuckled. “Figured that.”

Annie saw Kerry drop his backpack and come around the front of his broom and hold up his right hand for Emma to slap. They exchanged a quick nod before Kerry turned towards Annie, a huge grin affixed upon his face. “There you are.”

“Here I am.” She secured one of her blankets around Emma’s shoulders before doing the same to Kerry. “You need this.” Standing this close she saw patches of frost on his parka, and noticed his glasses were partially fogged. “Come on, both you—” She took Kerry’s hand and waved for Emma to follow. “Come warm up.”


Kerry does a quick high-five with Emma–who seems to have a good pair of lungs on her and likes being in control–and then he’s like, “Open arms for my Sweetie!”  Annie’s being nice handing a blanket to Emma, but then she’s not going to be a bitch a ignore her like someone used to do her.  And there’s frost on Kerry’s parka–probably from when he warmed up coming down to the school.  The temps went up considerably, believe that.


The entire flight had left their backpacks next to their brooms and was now crowding around the fires as the nurses examined a few of those students seen shivering. The two instructors went from student to student asking them them how they felt, patting each on the shoulder. Vicky checked on Emma before turning to Kerry. “I see you’re in good hands.”

Kerry wrapped his blanketed arms around Annie. “In the best, Nightwitch.”

“As I thought.” She stepped towards the middle of the runway. “Okay, listen up—” She raised here voice so everyone could hear. “As soon as you’re warmed up and feeling better, move your brooms and your packs to the hanger—do not unpack them now—then go get something to eat. As there’s no racing tomorrow, we’ll have a debriefing at nine, and after that we’ll unpack and put away our gear. And anyone who doesn’t want to change now let me know and I’ll have housekeeping move your clothes back to your dorm rooms.” She flipped her parka hood back, removed her wool hat and flight helmet, and shook out her hair after stripping off her balaclava. “It was a pleasure flying with all of you.”

“Hey.” Emma pulled her blanket tight as she stepped closer to Annie and Kerry. “I’m gonna see if Nadine will give me a jaunt to the Dining Hall.”

“No problem.” He grinned back at his wingmate. “After flying a couple of thousand kilometers, I think we’ll walk back.”

“Okay, then: catch you later.” She gave them both a wave and walked off.

Finally alone, Annie unzipped Kerry’s parka, pushed back his hood, and removed his head gear, dropping it to the ground next to them. “Feeling better?” She slipped her arms under his parka and around his torso.”

“I am now.” He leaned his head against her shoulder. “What’d you do last night?”

“Hung out with the girls and Jairo.” She felt comfortable and secure against Kerry’s body. “Penny and Alex had me over to sleep with them: they asked Professor Semplen to get housekeeping to move another bed into their room. They said they didn’t want me sleeping alone.”

Kerry held tightly on to Annie. “That was nice of them.”

“It was.” She whispered into his ear. “Did you miss me?”

He moved Annie back so her face was mere centimeters aware, then kissed her slowly for almost twenty second. “Oh, Darling—” He pulled her into a warm embrace. “Every second I was away.”

“So did I, my love—” Annie closed her eyes and held on tightly to her soul mate, least she slide to the ground. “So did I.”


No racing, just Midnight Madness after a little dinner and a cup of something warm, and some warm arms to lay in.  Annie got to do a bit of a sleepover with her covenmates, and Kerry is giving her a long, lingering kiss in a fire-lit PDA, probably because his lips are cold.  Yeah, that’s what it is.

Everyone’s home in what turned out to be a long chapter–one of the longest, actually–and now it’s time to send the kids away for a few weeks.

Where a few more surprises await them . . .

Rocking Along the Overnight Way

So, Cassidy, were are we now?  Good you should ask . . .

As I may or may not have pointed out, last night was my electrolysis session.  It was two hours of fun, if you consider having an electric needle stuck in your face fun.  At least Bonnie–the woman who does my work–and I were having fun, talking about Emmys, Game of Thrones–which I told her is also called Boobs and Dragons, which she loved–Orphan Black, menopause, and women who should wear something over really, really tight leggings.  I mean, what else are you doing to do for two hours?  I’m sort of sitting there with nowhere to go while she does her shock and tweeze routine,  so you make the best of the situation.

And don't mind how numb you are when you get home.

And don’t mind how numb you are when you get home.

But I did write:  last night and even a little this morning.  I wanted to get the scene moved alone, and . . . the part I added required a bit of thinking–which I did on the forty minute trip back from my session–and once I got home I needed to sit, change, get organized, and write.

And I came up with this:


(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Just west of Millinocket they turned nearly due north as they skirted the eastern border of Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin. After completing the turn and getting set on their new course Kerry pulled down his balaclava—which everyone now wore under their flying helmets to keep their exposed faces warm—and looked to his left. He could just making out the darkened bulk of Mount Katahdin ten kilometers away. It was nearly impossible to make out detail with the naked eye as there was a new moon, and under low-light the green tint hide the beauty of the scenery.

Kerry remembered the location of their camp site, and with them moving along at nearly two hundred kilometers an hour, he quickly calculated they’d arrive in approximately twenty minutes. He called to Nightwitch and asked if it would be all to play some music off his tablet computer—which he’d brought to help navigate—to perk everyone up after nearly two hours of chilly flying. To his surprise Vicky told him to go ahead and put it on external so it wasn’t jamming the comms.

He quickly found three songs, set his modified computer over to external sound, adjusted the transmission field so it’d cover a sphere about twenty meters across, and hit Play. A few seconds later the snare roll of Smashing Pumpkins’ Cherub Rock began, and in seconds the Salem Overnight was cruising at eight hundred meters past the tallest mountain in the state of Maine as the bass, drums, and grinding guitar of the song filled the sky around the flight.

He found himself bouncing up and down on his broom’s saddle, moving with the rhythm of the tune. He looked to his right and saw Emma had pulled down her balaclava and smiled his way while bobbing her head. Nadine gave him a thumbs up from the other side of the group, and a few others looked his way and nodded in agreement. After nearly one hundred minutes of flying in darkness and sub-zero wind chills, everyone welcomed the addition to their travel.

Seconds after the first song ended the opening cello strikes to Viva la Vida began, and Nadine chose that moment to pop over to Kerry’s left. As Chris Martin began singing Nadine joined in and motioned for Kerry to accompany. He joined her on the second verse and continued singing as she returned to her position on the first chorus. He smiled broadly as he sang without benefit of magical auto tune, remembering that they’d almost chosen this song to play last year during Ostara, and they’d practiced it twice before Kerry decided to go with Lovers in Japan.

Though he knew he sounded terrible, especially when compared to Nadine’s fairly wonderful singing voice, he enjoyed singing along, and when he started getting into the second chorus, he heard others joining in, their off-tune voices coming in over the comms. It got him smiling even more, and the chill that had help him for the last hour drifted away.

The last song was one he’d always wanted to play while flying: Murray Gold arrangement of the Doctor Who Theme used from 2005 to 2007. He cranked up his system as the synths, guitars, bass, and drums were accompanied by the National Orchestra Of Wales and the quick tempo bombast of strings and horns blasted out over the almost deserted and near-frozen Maine countryside. It was only two and a half minutes long, but by the time they came up on their final turn and approach, Kerry was once more fully alert and ready to start setting up camp in the minus eight Celsius winter darkness feeling suitably heroic.


Kerry bringing the tunes to the sky!  Now, it’s been said before he’s done this–during the graduation flight Annie and he took at the end of their A Levels, he played music from his tablet, and he’s brought it along once more.  On the way up it’s a lot of cold flying–the temps are legit for the date and time, and if you really must know the wind chill, it’s -25 Celsius–but now that they’re down to the last sixty kilometers, he’s ready to rock out.

And it is sixty--okay, sixty-one.  We'll just ignore that last kilometer . . .

And it is sixty–okay, sixty-one. We’ll just ignore that last kilometer . . .

Which brings us to Kerry’s Last Sixty Kilometer Play List:

Smashing Pumpkins, Cherub Rock

Yeah, I remember this from when I was working in downtown Chicago and the Pumpkins were still kind of a local band.  And flying through the night with some awesome thrash going on is a good way to get the blood pumping as you’re flying past a big mountain peak.

What Kerry would see, only with a lot more darkness.

What Kerry would see, only with a lot more darkness.

Coldplay, Viva la Vida

Not only does Kerry like this song, but so does Nadine, it seems.  It’s a nice touch pointing out that he almost played this the year before at Ostara, but decided to go with another Coldplay song.  A good, driving beat that gets one in a bit of a positive mood and should make you forget the cold.

Murray Gold, Doctor Who Theme from 2005 to 2007:

And last but not least, Kerry is for sure gonna throw this one on.  Two-and-a-half minutes of tecno-orchestral bombast, it would be like having a marching band behind you as you fly triumphant through the night.  This would probably get a smile out of Erywin as well, as she’s something of a fellow geekette–after all, she is Leela.

Tonight:  gotta write my recap and I hope to finish this scene after that.

You might even get to see Emma . . .

Bechdel-Wallaceing Down Memory Lane

Ah, the sweet smell of Wednesday.  It’s hot and muggy outside, but tomorrow it’s not going to get out of the upper 60s and rain all day.  Maybe I’ll wear my purple dress tomorrow, because why not?  It’s like this when you walk to work, right?  All the time.  Best enjoy this, ’cause in a few months it’ll be snowing and cold and I’m gonna need a pair of rubber boots to wear, ’cause I damn sure don’t want to do it in flats.

Now we have writing, and a strange title for today’s post.  The title refers to the Bechdel-Wallace Test, a litmus test for female presence in fictional media. It’s named for Alison Bechdel, creator of the comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, which she credits to idea first put forward by her friend Liz Wallace.  The rules are simple:


1.  The story includes at least two women
2.  Who have at least one conversation
3.  About something other than a man or men


Booyah.  Simple, right?  You’d be surprised.  This is mostly applied to movies, but it can be applied to any sort of fictional media.  And you get a lot of funny results.  Most of the Harry Potter movies/books fail this test, but Starship Troopers passes because of one conversation.  Now, I’m not gonna point out that the movie Bikini Car Wash totally passes this test, because to do so points out that you shouldn’t take stuff like this so seriously that you revolve your whole story around whether or not you can pass the test by hitting the required marks–that’s known as gaming the system, and it’s easy to do.

I don’t try to game, however.  I let my work stand on it’s own merit.  I will say, however, that I do pass the test, though the first novel has Annie talking about Kerry a lot to Deanna on  a couple of occasions, but that was because a lot of the story was about her working to get back his memories.

"Let me tell you about my boyfriend. He doesn't remember me from our dreams, and he thinks I'm really another girl he fell in love with, but . . . not. Pretty clear, huh?"

“Let me tell you about my boyfriend. He doesn’t remember me from our dreams, and he thinks I’m really another girl he fell in love with, but . . . not. Pretty clear, huh?”

There have been a lot of other conversations, though, that weren’t about Kerry.  Annie and Helena talking about Shadow Ribbons; Isis and Wednesday talking about going outside The Pentagram; Wednesday and Erywin talking about getting comms and sensors back on-line; Erywin and Helena having a number of conversations; Helena threatening Maddie about being a mole for the Guardians. And the conversation below:  Annie and Deanna getting into a little school history.  Which is always fun . . .


(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

“Fortunately for everyone Wanda was affable and well liked, which was considered a change from a few of the school’s overly-strict instructors. And given her age, she tended to identify with the students, which they loved. And as a seer she was good: from what I read two-thirds of her visions tended to be accurate.

“But . . .” A large smile began forming on Deanna’s face. “You know how Normal entertainment tends to portray seers as being eccentric, sometimes to an extreme?”

“Eccentric or insane.” Annie tended to stay away from popular books and movie that had ridiculous or hurtful portrayals of witches, and in particular hated the stereotype of the seer who was anti-social or crazy. While she knew it wasn’t Normal artist’s fault that they’d never knowingly interacted with witches, it was still bothersome that they were played for the lowest common entertainment value. “I don’t care for either.”


Seers coming across and eccentric and crazy in popular fiction?  Think they have a certain witch in mind?  Probably.  A nice little touch I love is showing how the people at Salem react to the way their kind are represented in different forms of media popularized by Normals.  Think Deanna doesn’t get pissed every time she sees a woman staring into a crystal ball?  Think Erywin nearly blinds herself rolling her eyes every time she sees witches standing around a bubbling cauldron?  Think Helena hasn’t gone all Elvis on her television whenever there’s an evil sorceress in a program?  They know how they’re seen–either played for laughs or decked out as pure evil–and even when someone comes close to getting it right, they shake their heads and mutter, “For heaven’s sake, we own TVs–we’re not living in the 19th Century, you know!”

But, you know, every so often someone does fit the image . . .


“Neither do I, for obvious reasons. However, stereotypes exist for a reason, and it seems Wanda was one of those exceptions. According to the diaries from the time, every vision was a Pronouncement, and she made a huge deal out of each one: standing up, spreading the arms, tossing back the head, and speaking in a really loud voice.” Deanna almost shouted out the last few words to give them the emphasis she wanted. “And it was likely to happen at any time: in class, during meals, during celebrations, even in the middle of the night. That’s why she got the nickname Crazy Wanda, because there was nothing subtle about the way she brought her sight to the attention of others.

“However, given that she was a great instructor, the staff and students put up with her, and she not only became a mainstay, but by the early eighteen hundreds she was being considered as a coven leader. Then Imbolc, 1803, came around, and that is how all this—” Deanna held out her hands and looked about the office. “—came about.

“The diary of the Ceridwen Coven leader stated that right in the middle of the Imbolc feast Wanda stands up and begins speaking of her vision. In this one, she states that the school must build a second building for divination studies just to the east of the current structure, and it must be completed and ready for the next school year, or—as she stated—’The whole of the establishment will be consumed in flame and agony’.”

Annie was torn between grimacing and laughing. “That’s quite a vision to proclaim: give Divinations their own building, or watch the school burn to the ground.”

Deanna nodded. “And what bothered the school staff was her sixty-six percent success rate on visions. The school’s one hundred and thirtieth anniversary was happening that summer, and they wanted a school—and students—there to witness said anniversary. So . . .” She raised her eyebrows as she turned her eyes towards the ceiling. “Here we are. They broke ground right before Beltaine, and they completed the building the first week in July. Wanda got her building—and an office—and the school didn’t burn down.” Deanna sighed. “Everyone was happy.”


I should try that with my job:  “If I don’t get a raise, FIRE AND BRIMSTONE, YO!”  Yeah.  I’d get shown the door real quick.  Probably would help if I could turn people into newts . . .

Now you know why there are two buildings out at Memory’s End.  And all’s well that ends well, right?


Annie leaned against the wall. “So how long did Wanda teach here after this was built?”

Deanna’s mood began to shift and turn dower. “Four years.”

“Did she go back to The Netherlands after that?”

“You could say that—” Deanna looked down for a moment. “She died 2 November, 1807, right after the Samhain celebrations.”

Given the way Deanna’s mood changed Annie was almost afraid to ask the cause of the young seer’s death. “What happened?”

“She killed herself.” Deanna paused just long enough for Annie to get over the shock before continuing. “She came out here early in the morning with a potion—which is what they called them back then—and her body was found right before lunch. She gave no reason for her suicide: all she left behind were instructions on who would get her books, that she wanted her body immolated, and that the ashes were to be dropped into the Maas River a bit upstream so they’d flow past her home town on their way to the sea.”

With the end of the story the mood in the office changed dramatically. “That doesn’t seem right. How could she kill herself?”

Deanna came over and touched Annie’s shoulder reassuringly. “It’s not the first time it happened, and certainly wasn’t the last.” She glanced to her left. “A total of five instructors of divination have died in this office, four by their own hands—the last one killed herself in 1964.”


Well, that’s a bummer, but it was one I expected, because when I set Wanda up in the notes I wrote “1770–1807” next to her name.  She didn’t make it to forty.  And, you find out, that’s not unusual out at Memory’s End–or at the school . . .


“That’s so . . .” Before coming to Salem she’d knew nothing of the dark side of the school save for whispered comments about The Scouring, and though the Day of the Dead attack was horrible, she believed it to be an exception. “I don’t know how you can work in an office where people killed themselves.”

“It doesn’t bother me.” Deanna softly chuckled. “Besides, this place is drenched in blood. The school is going to be three hundred and thirty years old next summer, and in that time nearly six hundred people—staff, instructors, and students—have died here—”

“You’ve seen a lot of that, haven’t you?” Annie was very much aware of Deanna’s involvement in The Scouring, how she managed to lead a majority of her covermates out of Åsgårdsreia Coven before it was destroyed by a Deconstructor attack, even though they hadn’t studied the event in history yet.

“More than I’ve cared to see.” She slid her hand behind Annie’s shoulder and directed her out of the office. “Let me show you something—”


Deanna led them towards the stairs going to the first floor. “One of my favorites places here.”


Let’s hope the place Deanna wants to show Annie is a happy one, because I managed to end almost a thousand words of writing on a real down note.  Not to mention that she pointed out that nearly two people have died each year at Salem for the duration of its existence, and that’s a strange bit of history to keep in mind.  In Annie’s first year at the school ten people died, and that number was nearly fourteen, and that’s a hell of a way to start off your magical instruction.  And even though it was pointed out that Deanna was involved in saving a lot of people from her coven during The Scouring, she’s leaving out that something like thirty were killed when Åsgårdsreia Tower exploded–yeah, right up in flames it went.  Not a pretty sight.

Maybe tomorrow there’ll be happy time.  Pretty sure we could all use it.

Revelations Into Genesis

Blame this all on Skye Hegyes, who while conversing with me the other day said, “I need a Genesis play list.”  Well, Sweetie, you come to the right place!  (See, you got a Sweetie; usually only Annie gets a Sweetie.)  This gives me an excuse to post about something besides writing, and to show off my obscure knowledge of worthless crap that usually only I care about.  I’m kinda the Queen of Useless Crap, and today you get to see it in full-blown mania.

Back in the day when I was a young lad–and, yes, I did look like a lad–I used to listen to this band, and many others, on the FM stations broadcasting out of Chicago.  This was back in the days when you’d get ten minutes songs, entire albums being played at night, and ever so often, a DJ getting drunk or loaded and needing to be hauled off the air before the FCC came down on their asses.  It was really kind of a glorious time for music, because you could hear everything, from metal to folk to progressive to soft pop all in the course of an hour.  No rules, just music.  My thing was progressive, keyboard laden music, because I’m strange, okay?  That’s why my record collection tended to have a lot of Elton John, Yes, King Crimson, Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Genesis in them, and when one of those would come on the radio I tended to stop what I was doing–which was mostly reading–and listen intently, because this was one of the few escapes I had in live, and I made the most of that escape.

I have stated before that I have a Genesis connection in my novels.  Three characters were named after members of the band:  Mr. Mayhew, the rep who came for Kerry, was named after John Mayhew, the drummer on the Tresspass album, and not to be confused with the dude who plays Chewbacca.  Ms. Bernice Rutherford, Kerry’s case worker, is named after Mike Rutherford, the bass and guitar player, and Mr. Gabriel was named after Peter Gabriel, the first lead singer.  In the third novel, the C Level novel–yes, there should be one baring death–you’ll met someone named Collins, and they will not be regarded as a nice person.

There isn’t a Mr. or Ms. Banks person in my novels, however, because it’s also stated the Tony Banks, the keyboard player, has actually given lectures at the school.  Hummm . . . so if he knows about the school, does that mean . . .?  Nah, couldn’t be.  But we’ll get to him and how he sort of sets something in motion in a moment . . .

All of the videos included are live shows.  I mean, anyone can put on an album and kick back, but with a live show you get to hear not only how the songs sound before the studio engineer gets their mitts on the recording, but in some cases, how it the technology of the time kept a band from sounding the way the did on a record.

One of the terms you’ll read is “soundboard”.  If you’ve ever been to a concert, it’s usually found in the middle of the floor of a show, maybe half-way or two-thirds of the way back from the stage.  This is where the input from the different instruments is gathered and mixed so you can hear a show that doesn’t sound like a hot mess–or maybe it does for various reasons.  This is the best location to get a recording of a live show, and most bands do just that.  David Bowie is supposed to have records of ever live show he’s ever performed, which would be taken off a tape unit getting the final mix from the soundboard.  There is only one of the following recordings that is not from the soundboard, and I’ll identify that concert in the notes.

So . . . the music, and the novel.  How do they relate?

First off, Kerry, who is a geeky music fan due to one of the only influences his father handed down, was told by Mr. Mayhew that Tony Banks has taught at the school–you know, it’s almost as if someone knew what sort of music he liked and threw out that hook, yeah?  He gets to Salem and at the end of the first week Annie and he visit the Keyboard Room and meet with Professor Ellison.  And while there, this exchange happens:


All excerpts, this page, from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

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 took a few steps back 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 glanced 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 belonged to the band King Crimson—” He powered up the machine. 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. “No. You’re kidding.”

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

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

Kerry answered, and he couldn’t hide his excitement. “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?”


The intro to Watcher of the Skies is so famous that sound is replicated on modern mellotrons and Memotrons as “The Watcher of the Skies Package”, because it’s that damn bad.  And what did Annie and Kerry hear Professor Ellison play?

Why, it’s right below

The first show was recorded for an audience at Shepperton Studios at the beginning of the Selling England by the Pound tour.  This was the “classic” lineup that was together for four albums:  Steve Hackett on guitar, Mike Rutherford on bass and Taurus bass peddles, Phil Collins on drums, Tony Banks on keyboards, and Peter Gabriel on vocals.  This really gives people an idea of what sort of theatrics the band was into at the time, and they were . . . a lot.  Gabriel was uncomfortable in front of crowds–yes, I know, strange, right?–and that was on of the reasons he loved the costumes, because it insulated him from the people who paid to see him sing.  He doesn’t banter with the crowd:  he tells stories as introductions to the songs and then gets to singing.  The stage is stripped down and pretty bare, and there aren’t a hell of a lot things going on that we sort of take for granted in shows these days.

Of particular interest is Hackett, who is sitting on the left side of the stage from our point of view.  And I do mean “sit”:  he sat on a stool right up through the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour, would play his guitar, and often drink beer–lots of beer.  There are many stories about how he’d set his finished cans on top of the speakers around him, and during some shows would knock them off by accident and send them scattering across the stage.   1970s, I know.

The opening of the next two shows is the intro my kids heard, played then as it was in my novel on the infamous “Black Bitch”, a Mellotron Mark II that was prone to acting up and breaking down when it was least expected.  But if you’re a keyboard geek like me, you love these cords . . .

Selling England by the Pound Tour, Shepperton Studios, UK, 30/31 October, 1973:

As the above show was one of the first done on the tour, this one below was the second to the last.  This is a famous performance jokingly called the Selling Equipment by the Pound show, because at some point after the show concluded people broke into the Academy of Music, stole all the guitars, and held them for ransom.  The 5 May show, which was to have been the last, was canceled and moved to 6 May before the band managed to get their equipment back after a bit of negotiation, and the likely exchange of money and/or a few . . . “substances”.  Taylor Swift never had to put up with this shit, let me tell you.

This show is also famous as it’s the last time Peter Gabriel sang Supper’s Ready live.  This is the twenty-three minute song–yes, you heard me right–that closes out the album Foxtrot, and it’s considered the band’s magnum opus and a concert favorite.  The title is also the code that Erywin used to let the kids know things were going sideways during their trip to Kansas City, so there.  It’s also one of the last times Tony Banks played the piano intro–right around the 42:45 mark–to Firth of Fifth live, because he hated playing it on a shitty little electric piano, and after completely blowing the intro a few times in other shows, he stated he’s never try it live again.

Oh, and the ticket prices for this show:  $3 USD.  That included a twenty-five cent service charge.  I actually paid that amount for a few shows at the old Hammond Civic Center.  You could even buy a tee shirt afterwards for five bucks . . .

This is the only one of the videos that came from a fan recording, which means someone was sitting in the audience with a tape recorder getting this all down, and this is what we heard when we spoke of “bootleg tapes” of shows.  The guy who recorded this must have had a hell of a tape deck, because this is almost of soundboard quality.  This is really how one would have heard the show back then, complete with audience approval.

Selling England by the Pound Tour, Academy of Music, New York, 4 May, 1974:

Onward to what was probably, at the time, one of the most well known and nearly mythical tours ever:  the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour, done in support of the eponymous album.  The show was basically the whole album replayed, with lots of costume changes, images flashed on screens, and story telling.  It was, however, 1975, and a lot of these things were near disasters:  the videos never seemed to sync up with the music correctly because it was all controlled manually–’cause technology was limited, yo–and a few of the customs were a complete pain in the ass to wear.  The worst was the infamous “Slipperman” outfit, which was . . .

This goddamn thing.

This goddamn thing.

That’s an actual picture from one of the shows, and someone was high as hell when they decided this was a good idea.  Gabriel had about two minutes to get into that outfit, and half the time he’d be out of breath once he was back out on stage, and the other half of the time he couldn’t get the mic close to his mouth.  Either of these meant that while he was in garb you couldn’t hear most of whatever he was trying to sing.  70s, people:  it was a different time.  Now you know why a lot of shows with a lot of costume changes just play a backing vocal of the singer while they dance across the stage.

While trying A For Advanced I spent a lot of time listening to this show while typing away at Panera.  This is also a famous recording as it’s the only professional recording of the tour, done for the King Biscuit Power Hour radio program, and broadcast a month or two after this performance.  I’ve found only one other soundboard recording from the Lamb tour, but this one is one of the best.  And, no:  Peter isn’t out of breath while singing The Colony of Slippermen.

Lamb Lies Down on Broadway Tour, Shrine Auditorium, L.A., 24 January, 1975:

We move on.  Peter Gabriel has left the building, and it was decided Phil Collins would get out from behind the drums and sing, something that made him pretty nervous at the time.  From this point on the band hired another drummer to place the album parts, and for the Trick of the Tail Tour Bill Buford was personally chosen by Phil because they’ll played together in the band Brand X.  This follow is a great soundboard recording, mostly because the band was recording show that would eventually end up on the Second’s Out album, and Phil even makes reference to that near the end of the show.  At this point there were actually two drum kits on stage, as Phil would run back and play drums when a song fell into a prolonged instrumental segment–as it did on a few of these songs, notably Cinema Show, which has a four minute keyboard solo.

Mike Rutherford and Steve Hackett introduce some of the songs because Phil wasn’t comfortable speaking to the audience.  Because he was a drummer, and most of the time they’re nice and cozy sitting behind their drums.  He got better, don’t worry.

Trick of the Tail Tour, Hammersmith Odeon, London, 10 June, 1976:

The Wind and Wuthering Tour was the first to see Chester Thompson on drums, and the last to see Steve Hackett perform with the band.  Steve decides to leave during the recording of the album, and he agreed to go out on tour to help promote the album.  This is one of  their best shows, and it’s a lot of fun to hear Phil address the crowd in Portuguese.  This was also the start of them starting to get big, though the huge stadium tours were still ten years away.  Personally this is one of my favorite tours, and the one I almost saw when they came through Chicago in late 1977.  I say almost because plans fell through at the last minute, and I was unable to procure tickets when they played the International Amphitheater.  This show has them performing Inside and Out, which they did only in Europe and South America, and was replaced by Your Own Special Way once they came to North America.  Inside and Out was found on a twelve inch record Spot the Pigeon, which had three songs that never made it onto other albums.

Wind and Wuthering Tour, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 21 May, 1977:

And then there were three–hence the name of the next album and sorta tour name.  Because there were only three band members now, they hired Daryl Strumer to play guitar and bass while on tour, and continued to use Chester on drums.  These two guys would remain part of the touring group for pretty much the remainder of the band’s existence.

I say this was “sorta tour name”, because fans referred to this tour as the Mirrors Tour due to the placement of six mirrors over the stage–

Like this.

Like this.

Which were used to direct light on to the stage, and could give the audience different views of the stage–

Like this.

Like this.

This tour saw The Eleventh Earl of Mar and Cinema Show being performed in their entirety for the last time, and it was also the last tour where Tony used a mellotron:  after this he started going with digital samples in place of the mellotron’s tape samples, and the probably shipped the keyboard off to a special school in Massachusetts.  The Dijon show is not only a great recording, but hearing Phil tell the Story of Romeo and Juliet–the intro to the song Cinema Show–in French is hilarious.

Should also point out that the intro to the song Burning Rope is the same that Kerry plays in the Keyboard Room with Professor Ellison.  He’s even playing it on the same synthesizer being used in this tour.

… And Then There Were Three/Mirrors Tour, Dijon, France, 3 June, 1978:

I’m including the Chicago show of the same tour for two reasons.  One, this is taken from the live radio broadcast, done by WXRT–the station I used to listen to when I lived near Chicago–at the old Uptown Theater, and two, this was the last time they performed Dancing With the Moonlit Knight in it’s entirety.  This was the song that opened the album Selling England by the Pound, and the band performed the song as a favor to the radio station, who asked nicely if they would pretty please do it for their Chicago fans.  You can also hear how we sometimes heard shows that we couldn’t make, and keep in mind this broadcast was free and not some Xfinity “Bringing you the concert for only $100!” shit.

… And Then There Were Three/Mirrors Tour, Chicago, 13 October, 1978:

And now back into the novel for a bit.  During their walking tour of London–before Young Kerry knew he was a witch and remembered that the girl he sat with at lunch in Russel Square was his soul mate–the kids visited a number of locations, but there was only one that Kerry wanted to see . . .


They ate in silence for maybe three minutes before Annie asked Kerry about the one thing that had been on her mind since taking their cab ride to the site he wanted to visit. “Why did you want to see that theater?”

He tapped a finger on the table as he swallowed. “The Lyceum?”


“’Cause I wanted to.”

“Yes, but why?” She shook her head. “No one does anything for no reason whatsoever, Kerry. Why did you want to visit there?”

He started drumming the fingers of his left hand lightly against the table. “One of the groups I listen to, they did a few shows there back in 1980—almost exactly twenty years before I was born. It’s like . . .” He shrugged, keeping his eyes on his food like someone was going to steal his sandwich. “I feel like I’m connected to it, you know? There’s also, like—” He frowned before turning his gaze back towards the street once more. “I figured I better do it now while I can.”


What he was talking about this show:  the Lyceum show recorded near the end of the English side of the Duke Tour.  The BBC program The Old Grey Whistle Test recorded footage of the band on the nights of 6 and 7 May, and broadcast about an hour of that.  This meant getting soundboard recordings of both shows, and besides the BBC filming, there were a few amateurs filming as well.  Eventually someone put that footage together with the sound, and a DVD of the shows was released.

The video isn’t great, mostly because this was filmed thirty-five years ago.  But what you get from this show is the back and forth between the band and the audience, which was tremendous.  As you can see, there are times when Phil’s about to lose his shit because the crowd is just yelling crap at the stage.  Oh, yeah, and that’s his real hair, and seeing him with a beard can be a bit of a shock.

However, his banter with the audience is good, and we not only get to meet Roland the Bisexual Drum Machine–no, really–you get an earful of The Story of Albert, which is the lead-in to The Duke Suite, which was supposed to show up on the Duke album as performed here, but the band decided too many people would think they were trying to make another Supper’s Ready and scrapped the idea.  The suite consists of six songs:  Behind the Lines, Duchess, Guide Vocals, Turn it On Again, Duke’s Travels, and Duke’s End.  Most everyone knows Turn it On Again, which was the main single from the album.  The first three songs in the suite opened the album, and the last two closed it out.  One of the other reasons it wasn’t included on the album as they play live–as you’ll hear–is Turn it On Again is performed in a different time signature than the other songs, necessitating the stops before and after.

Duke Tour, Lyceum Theater, London, 6 May, 1980:

Abacab, and the album that lost a lot of fans because they’d “sold out” and gone “commercial”–and let’s face it, if you’re an artist and you wanna eat, it’s what you do.  The following show came days after the infamous Leiden, The Netherlands, show, where fans booed the band, and Phil got pissed off enough to yell into the mic, “I’m gonna kick the shit out of the lot of ya.”  This is a great show, though, and it’s the only time Mike Rutherford played drums, which happened during the song Who Dunnit?

Abacab Tour, Festhalle, Frankfurt, Germany, 30 October, 1981:

What about the Mama Tour?  There aren’t any good records of the full concert, soundboard, bootleg, or otherwise.  The person who usually gets the best concert recordings is waiting on a soundboard recording for one show, but that hasn’t arrived yet.

We do have this, and it’s one of my favorites for putting just under twenty minutes behind me.  It’s the In the Cage Melody, and whenever I need a quick writing dash I put this on.  The video also shows the Vari-Lite system, which was used for the first time on this tour, and is pretty much a standard these days.  It’s a computerized light system that controls the color and, for the first time, movement of lights, and before this tour you need to have a special system built for you–like Queen often did–if you wanted fancy moving lights.  The band actually put up a few million of their own cash to build the system, which meant that they made money off other bands who wanted to use the same system.  Now you know one of the reasons why Phil Collins has been able to pay out one hundred million dollars through three divorce settlements and still live comfortably.

Oh, and when look at the display on the video below?  The keyboard Tony is playing with his right hand is the same ARP Quadra that Kerry plays Burning Rope on in the Keyboard Room.  Thanks, Tony!

In the Cage Melody, Mama Tour,  National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, England, February, 1983:

And down to the last of their final shows where they were pretty much riding the crest of stardom.  First the Invisible Touch tour, which was probably their biggest:

Invisible Touch Tour, Wembly Stadium, London, 1 to 4 July, 1987:

And The Way We Walk Tour, done in support of their We Can’t Dance album:

The Way We Walk Tour, Earl’s Court, London, 8 November, 1992:

These two shows have their most “radio friendly” tunes, which are the songs they’re probably most known for unless you’re an old bitch like me, or a crazy kid like Kerry.  These last two shows were notable because several of the songs needed to be performed at a lower key to prevent Phil from straining his voice on high notes, and that came in handy during their last tour in 2007, because his voice had deepened with age and hitting high notes was right out of the question.

So there you are, Skye:  a huge playlist for you to hear, and four thousand words of history for everyone else to blow off.

I believe my work here is done.

Tilting My Horizons

With all the writing I’ve been doing of last–believe it or not, about three thousand words yesterday–I haven’t had a chance to talk about something I’ve started playing with.  But if you have Goggle Earth on your computer–which is something that comes with Maps and requires a newer computer–then you’re in for a treat.  Because now, you can feel like you’re flying over cities, hills, and plains.

I discovered this one day while fooling around with images, and I saw one of the icons in the lower right that, when I hovered over it, said “Tilt the View.”  Being curious I clicked it and saw that, yes, the view did tilt, making the scene look as if I were approaching the area from the air.  I figured I’d return things to the “flat” view and clicked it again . . . and everything flattened out more.  Whereas the first view made it look as if I was pretty much overhead, this new view shows me everything as if I were sitting several hundred feet in the air and seeing everything all the way to the fuzzy horizon.

You know where I started going with this, don’t you?

When I started putting together Emma’s and Kerry’s Scavenger Flight, I started looking at the sights as they may see them.  Now, this kind of viewing isn’t perfect:  the computer is trying to render a stereo-graphic image of a satellite picture, and sometimes the scenes look as if they came right out of The Lawnmower Man.  Other times it looks pretty great, and there are some images that are pretty damn spot on.  But if you’re a writers, and you want to get an idea of what a particular area of the world looks like, and you want to see the area in a way that you can reimage your own way on the printed page, then this is a fun tool to use.

For example, this is what I see when I’m over Cape Ann looking west:

You can't see the school--only I can see it because magical.

You can’t see the school–only I can see it because magical.

Even if there were buildings there, most of what you’d see are trees.  We’re directly over Selena’s Meadow here, and you would see the Areodrome, the west wall, Sunset Tower, maybe a few other things, but that would be here.  That brown section of trees in the middle of the picture?  That’s where Emma and Kerry had to hide out during the Day of the Dead, and where Annie asked Kerry to be her Dark Witch.  Now you know.

Thirty clicks to the east you find the Danvers Apartments, site of the original insane asylum:

Looking just a touch Lovecraftian here--must be the non-Euclidean geometry.

Looking just a touch Lovecraftian here–must be the non-Euclidean geometry.

And way off to the west and southwest, the Connecticut capitol building in Hartford.

Pretty much see at the angle Emma and Kerry would see.

Pretty much see at the angle Emma and Kerry would see, though they would be closer.

You can actually hold down the left mouse button and move the image around a little, but if you hold down the shift and the left mouse button, you and start tilting and rotating the scene to get the best view.  Doing that helps you get things to look as you would like them to look.

South of Hartford we have the Port of New Haven, which Team Myfanwy had to visit–

As it would have looked while they approached from the north on their way to Long Island, just across the sound.

As it would have looked while they approached from the north on their way to Long Island, just across the sound.

And then, finally, their trip into Queens.

Ballpark, World's Fair site, Unisphere . . . and keep an eye out for aircraft landing or taking off.

Ballpark, World’s Fair site, Unisphere . . . and keep an eye out for aircraft landing or taking off.

On their way out of New York they’d head east again, down Long Island, and all the way to Montauk Point and the lighthouse:

Where, if they come in over the south shore, they'll see the cliffs there.

Where, if they come in over the south shore, they’ll see the cliffs there.

Now, that radar dish on the left of the above image:  that’s Camp Hero, a holdover from Cold War better known as the Montauk Air Force Station.  At one time there was a hidden coastal battery here that was kept ready in case the Russians decided to invade New York City, and once they came this way their ships would get blasted.  Or if there were aircraft, that radar would discover them and rat their commie asses out.  The radar is the only one of its kind in the world, and you can actually walk around it, though it’s behind a big fence designed to keep people out.  There are rumors–otherwise known as crazy ass conspiracy theories–that say all sorts of strange stuff happened out here, including mind control, time travel, teleportation, and contact with aliens.  Maybe The Foundation knows something about this . . .

While I was at it I looked up a couple of locations that made it into the last book.  Like a certain pedestrian bridge in Kansas City:

The Deconstructors must be making things look so strange.

The Deconstructors must be making things look so strange.

The Foundation hospital where Annie and Kerry were sent after the Battle of Link Bridge, otherwise known as the Center for Disease Control:

And not a zombie in sight.

And not a zombie in sight.

And, lastly, the take-off point for the Mile High Flight, Mount Katahdin.

That lower "Mt." label is just about in the spot from where they departed.

That lower “Mt.” label is just about in the spot from where they departed.

And, just for laughs, I included this:

Because airports in the middle of the desert are so interesting.

Because airports in the middle of the desert are so interesting.

You may ask, “Cassie, what’s this?” and the answer is, it’s Groom Lake Test Facility, but you know it better as Area 51.  Why would I include this, because it’s not been mentioned.  Could it be because it may get mentioned?

You be the judge of that.

Beyond the Valley of Ashes

It’s late, isn’t it?  Yep, but it’s been a busy morning, really.  And yesterday was all sorts of busy.  I was out shopping:

Total clothing score!

Total clothing score!

I had a great full-vegan lunch:

Mine is on the left, and I loved the ruben rice bowl.

Mine is on the left, and I loved the reuben rice bowl.

And, oh:  I checked out a Tesla S Sedan.

I could love this dash.

I could love this dash.

And jumpseats in the back for the kids!

And jumpseats in the back for the kids!

Looks good on me, don't you think?

Looks good on me, don’t you think?

This morning it’s been writing and getting some food.  Mostly writing, because that keeps me busy.  And it keeps the story moving forward, which is important, right?  Because, strangely enough, people are interested in my kids.

And this is an important part of the story, because Kerry is off the leash, he’s in a park with Emma, and Annie is four hundred kilometers away.  The last time Kerry was alone with Emma was when school was letting out for Yule, and we know what happened then.  So . . . Wingmates On the Loose.  What could happen?

Well, a lot of talking, actually . . .


(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

It was no surprise they made it to New York City in two hours. Since Advanced Flight One began Emma and he had developed a great rapport as pilot and navigator. Kerry was great with maps and geography, so it didn’t take him very long finding their destinations and plotting a course. Emma had developed a good feel for reading weather conditions through the broom’s advanced look-ahead systems, and she could calculate times based upon time and speed in her head quickly and accurately the first time, which made filing a flight plan easy.

There was slowly strolling down Herbert Hover Promenade when it became obvious Emma was thinking about their flight. “What’s up after here? Montauk, right?”

“Yes.” For their Scavenger Flight Vicky they’d already visited five locations: the former location of the Danver Asylum; Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts; the Capitol Building for the state of Connecticut in Hartford; the port of New Haven, Connecticut; and Old Field Point on the northern short of Long Island, New York. The Unisphere was their current location, and only three more remained: Montauk Point Lighthouse on the southern tip of Long Island; Woods Hole, located on Cape Code, Massachusetts; and Plimoth Plantation, nearly fifty kilometers to the north. After the plantation, then only need to fly the eighty kilometers across Massachusetts Bay to return to the school—which if they did at three hundred and fifty kilometers an hour would put them on the ground in less than fifteen minutes later. “We just gotta fly out to the end of Long Island for that, then do another water crossing to get to Woods Hole.”

“Uh, huh.” She glanced at him out of the left corner of her eyes. “How did you know Montauk was at the end of Long Island? You said back at the school you’d tell me.”

“Right.” He stared straight down the lane, his eyes focused on their objective. “It was in a science fiction novel.”

Emma’s eyebrows climbed quickly towards her hairline. “What?”

“There was a scene in a novel where a couple of people had to go to a spaceport to get a ship, and it was stated it was out by Montauk Lighthouse. After I read the book I looked up the location to see if there really was a lighthouse there, and—” He shrugged. “That’s how I know.”

“More stuff you know because you just do.” She smirked. “You and your science fiction stories.”

“Well, that’s where juanting came from—” He cocked a strange look in her direction. “—or did jaunting come from The Foundation first, and the author put it in his story to tell people that it existed?”


Now you know what all those points on the one map I showed were for:  they were the points on their Scavenger Flight.  And they had a lot of them for some reason–probably because they’re so good at what they do.  Actually, that’s why, and it’ll get brought up later.

There’s Kerry talking about what seems to be his favorite novel again, The Stars My Destination–which happens to be one of my favorite novels as well.  And just so you know Kerry–and I–are telling the truth, I found a copy of the novel as it was serialized in Galaxy Magazine in 1956 and 1957, and if you look at the highlighted sections, you’ll see what Kerry was talking about.

See?  They even have jaunting.

See? They even have jaunting.

And that’s how he knew where Montauk Lighthouse was located, just like he said.

But Emma isn’t thinking about lighthouses–she’s got something else in mind.  No, not that, but someone else–


Emma shrugged. “I have no idea. Maybe Mattie will tell us in history one of these days.” They walked in silence for another thirty seconds before she brought up something that had been on her mind for a while. “I heard a rumor about Annie.”

Kerry was fairly certain he knew what this rumor was. “And?”

“Some of my covenmates said Annie didn’t use levitation in her Judgment Trial, but that she was actually flying—you know, like—”

“Like using a Flight Gift?” Annie had spoken with Isis the next night while Kerry was in Advanced Transformation, and she was told that while she wasn’t in trouble for using her gift to win her trial, the rumors going around the school about what she was doing with her Friday mornings at the Aerodrome were going to stop being rumors. Annie let Isis know that wouldn’t be a problem, and told Kerry that night that if anyone should ask if she could fly, he should answer truthfully. “Yeah, she did.”

“How long did you know?”

“Since the beginning.” Answer truthfully. “At the end of last school year we were told we’d be tested for gifts when we returned, and that’s what happened our first Saturday back. That’s when they told us about our gifts—”

Our gifts?” Emma looked at him strangely. “You, too?”

“Yeah, I’m a Mimic. That’s one of the reasons I’m in Advanced Transformation: Jessica’s teaching me how to better my ability to transform different parts of my body.”

“Wow.” She grinned widely. “Why didn’t you say something?”

“’Cause we were told not to talk about it to others.” He shrugged. “That’s why people didn’t know Annie could fly.”

“Hum.” Emma nodded once. “I can see that. So, what can you do with this Mimic? Just change parts of your body?”

“It’s more than that: I can change stuff so it’s just like that of other people. Here—” Kerry stopped Emma before looking around to make sure they were alone. “Watch this—” He looked at Emma for a couple of seconds before his hair grew out down to his shoulders, his now curly locks a duplicate of Emma’s. “See?”

Her eyes grew wide as she chuckled at the sight. “That’s just like mine.”

“Yeah, it should be exactly like yours—without the styling, of course.” He returned his hair to its natural state. “I could do this last year to a limited extent: just hair shade and complexion. I practiced with Erywin a few times—” He didn’t go into any detail on why he was trying to match Ewywin’s hair color. He turned and continued heading towards their objective. “Now Jessica’s got me learning how to narrow thing down so I can so different areas—”


“Eye color, nose and lip size—” He turned from Emma for a moment. “I’ve been doing extremities like fingers, hands, arms . . . It’s not hard with the guys, but trying to make changes with the girls isn’t easy. You guys have small hands.”

“Well, yeah.” She sighed, the smile still on her face as she examined Kerry and saw him as a completely different person. “So, how does it work? What kind of magic is it?”
Jessica had explained the way the Mimic Gift worked, but as Kerry didn’t want to spend five minutes giving that explanation to Emma, he pared it down. “It’s not really magic, it’s just something I do—that’s the way it is with Gifts. My aural aspect kinda touches yours, and since your aura is a reflection of your physical aspect, it means I can make it part of my physical aspect.” He shrugged. “It’s really a lot more complicated than that, but that’s basically what happens.”

“Okay.” Emma looked straight down the path towards the clearing ahead. “You practice with Annie? You know—” She quickly glanced in his direction. “Change things so your parts are like hers?”
He nodded. “Just my hair and complexion and stuff, though I’ve done her eyes.” He chuckled. “She gets a little weirded out by that.”

“I can imagine.” They stopped in a small half-circle where two wide, parallel paths converged so they was smaller and closer together as continued towards the Unisphere. “Do you know what this place is called?”

“I think it’s Astronaut Court.” He pointed to the statue to his left at the top of a small, terraced garden. “I know that statue is supposed to be famous, but I don’t remember what it’s called.”

She giggled. “Finally, something Kerry Malibey doesn’t know.” Emma looked towards their goal. “How’s Annie?”


Yeah, how is Annie?  Oh, she’s not here, is she?  Ding Ding Ding!  Let’s see where this goes . . .


“She’s good.” Kerry didn’t try to deflect the question: this was the first time Emma and he had been alone since they’d started flying, and he figured it was only a matter of time before she returned to a subject he knew had to be on her mind. “We’re both real busy, though, what with all the advanced classes and the Gift training.”

“Is that what she’s doing this morning?”

“Yeah. Isis and she are supposed to be flying around Cape Ann this morning, getting her more used to the colder weather.” He sighed. “She should be sitting down to lunch right about now.”

“Where as we have to settle for energy bars, jerky, and water.”

“Such is our curse.”

She laughed. “Yeah.” Emma grew silent as she seemed to grow slightly withdrawn. “Can I ask you something?”

Here it comes— “Sure.”

She slowly sighed. “Are you happy?”

“You mean with Annie?”


Just like with talking about their Gifts, Kerry didn’t want to hide anything anymore. “Yes, I am.”

She looked down at her feet. “I still like you.”

He nodded back. “I know.”


Eleven months after the cat was let out of the bag, it’s out again, though this time it seems as if Kerry was expecting something.  Well, let’s see where this goes–

Oh, wait:  that’s it.  That’s as far as I got before I went out shopping.  But!  I’m going to finish the scene this afternoon, and, I promise, I’ll post the remainder tonight so people don’t go to bed wondering what happen to these two.

Trust me:  you’ll see it almost as fast as I will.