The Night Air: Embracing the Madness

It’s 15 F/-9 C outside, which means I’m gonna have a cold walk into work in about an hour.   It’ll be almost Annie and Kerry cold outside, but don’t worry:  I keep bundled up.

How I normally look walking back and forth to work this time of year.

How I normally look walking back and forth to work this time of year.

My coat even has a hood, so I could go flying if I wanted to fly–assuming, you know, that I had a broom or could fly like a bird like certain characters of whom I write.  But I can’t do that, so I have to deal with trudging around in the cold on foot.  Flying to work would be nice, since it’s only a mile away and I’d be there in no time.

Speaking of getting somewhere in no time . . .

The next part of the scene has been in my head for a long a long time–probably a bit longer than the “Resting in Fenway” scene as a whole.  I’ll get to the part I really love in a second, but here are the kids, with the music on, and it’s bringing back memories of a far warmer time than what they’re experiencing now:

 

All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie couldn’t prevent the smile from appearing on her own face. Kerry’s reference wasn’t difficult to pick up: when they were together in Berlin, she’d played Muse’s song Madness more than a few times when they were in their hotel room—sometimes so much that she expected Kerry to make mention of the replays, or at the least roll his eyes every time began playing.

To her surprise he not only didn’t complain or mention the constant performances, but after a while Kerry actually appeared to enjoy the song, and there was one time when Annie came out of the bathroom and caught her soul mate reading the lyrics on his computer while the song played. The song played during the last Samhain dance, and Annie wondered if perhaps Kerry asked one of the instructors—maybe Deanna, though more likely Erywin—to play it early.

She leaned in close, stretching out her body so she was nearly perpendicular to her boyfriend. “You like this, hum?”

“Well . . .” He turned up the volume just a little. “It reminds me of a special few days.”

“Oh?” She moved her face closer to his. “I felt it was a special time as well, my love.” She touched the tablet display and turned up the volume as loud as possible, letting the sound fill the dark, empty stadium. “No one around to hear—”

“Only us.” Kerry sat back in the broom’s saddle with his eyes half-closed. “A long way from summer in Germany.”

“I have on my charm bracelet; that means it’s always summer no matter where we are.” Annie slipped through the air until she was hovering over the end of his broom. “And no matter what is happening with these dreams, know I’ll always be here for support.”

Kerry grinned as she semi-mimicking the current lyric. “So is this real love, or is it just madness?”

Umnik.” For the first time since leaving the school she flipped back the hood of her coat. “You know better than that.”

 

What Annie said there was “smart ass”, but the literal translation is more like “big nerd”, showing that Annie can swear and be on point the whole time as well.  We’re heard Annie swear before, but usually she just calls someone a bitch, and that usually comes right before she starts to light them up.

This scene does relate back to the days when the kids were in Berlin, way back in the early parts of Act One.  And it also relates back to the song mentioned in the scene.  This was another one of those, “Ah, ha!” moments for me, because when I decided to use this song in the background of the story, I first saw it in this scene, which then set me to wondering, “How did it get there?”  A little quick research showed that the song was released just the week before my kids hit The Big B, and knowing Annie’s taste in music is a little more modern than Kerry’s, I had no problem seeing her dancing around her room and the lake house while getting ready to leave for school with her dancing around to the beat–something she’s already told us she does.

Pretty much a Chicken coming before the Egg moment, wouldn’t you say?  First I see the scene in Fenway, then I think of the song, and then I incorporate how the song came into my kid’s lives before I write the scene in which that happens.  Yes, my mind works in strange ways.

Oh, and here’s the tune in question, in case you want to imagine what’s happening next with a little music to make it complete.

For your interesting worthless fact of the day, if you played the video, you heard a distinctive “Bromm bromm bromp” through much of the song.  The instrument making that sound is a Misa Kitara digital MIDI controller, which looks a lot like a tablet surface built into a guitar, and is played a lot like one, only instead of strumming strings, you run your fingers over the tablet.  Now you know something you likely didn’t a few minutes before.

Annie has her hood back–what could that mean?

 

“Yes, I do.” Kerry flipped back this coat hood as well, exposing a relaxed face and affectionate eyes as the song segued into the guitar break. “So much, Sweetie.”

She twisted her body around until her feet were away from Kerry and appeared to be swimming towards him. Isis said that first day we were mermaids of the air. The song reached the crescendo as she pushed with her arms towards him, as if she were moving through water.  I am more than that.

Annie whispered a version of a line from the song while centimeters from his face. “Imam nuzhda ot vashata lyubov, skŭpa moya.” She took hold of the collar of his coat and turned her head as her lips met his. She felt the music swell around them as she held the kiss while floating together meters above the ground. She didn’t want to break the kiss; she wanted to hold it, to press it into herself and keep it there through the winter, into the spring, and take it home for the summer—

I love him so much. My soul mate; my husband to be. She finally broke the kiss so she could stare into his eyes—

Kerry sighed as his head tilted back, enraptured in ecstasy. He took Annie in his arms and clenched her tight. “Will come to me in my dreams—” He whispered into her ear. “Will you come and rescue me?”

Annie pulled herself against him tight. “I will come anywhere to rescue you, my love.” She kissed him again. “Anywhere.”

The song finished and Annie looked up as she found them surrounded in silent. “A little more of this—” She reached down and stopped the music stream. “And a little more of this.” She took his face in her hands as she kissed him once more.

 

Leave these kids alone for a few minutes, and before you know it the lip locking is underway.

Leave these kids alone for a few minutes, and before you know it the lip locking is underway.

 

 

Now . . . what Kerry said there at the end goes back to one of the lyrics of the song.  What is sung is, “Come to me/Trust in your dream/Come on and rescue me”, and some people–if they were, say, a writer–would say that’s foreshadowing.  Perhaps they’re right.  Perhaps they’re not.  Only I know for sure.  Bwah, hahahaha!

Annie also said something, more or less, from the song.  Her whispered line is, “I need your love, my darling,” which is something that’s sung after coming out of the instrumental bridge, and happens when the song moves towards the crescendo.  Her love, her soul mate . . . her husband to be.  Annie’s always got her eyes on the prize, and at that moment she had him right there, all alone in the dark in a baseball stadium.

There isn’t much left to this scene, but I have to say:  after waiting just about a year to get it written, I’m finally glad to have made it real.  Now if I could only get someone to draw a picture of the moment.

That would be perfect.

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?”

“Yes.”

“’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.

Correction:  it finally came in.  This is an FM broadcast from Phillidelpha taken when they played there in late November, 1983:

We have this as well, and it’s one of my favorites mixes 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, Madison Square Garden, New York City, 30 September, 1986:

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.

The Samhain Dance: The Final Reveals

Well, here I am with the late night edition!  Seriously, though, it’s been a long day, but way back fourteen hours ago, I promised this part of the scene, and here it comes.

There was a lot of crazy writing last night to get the last twelve hundred and fifty, and there was a lot of good music, too.  But the important thing was figuring out how to get my characters on stage, so to speak.  Like the one who’s about to show . . .

 

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

Annie watched Sutou Takara from Advanced Flight One join their group. Right behind her was Chunghee Pang—one of Takara’s covenmate and another of their Advanced Spells classmates—and a girl Annie knew as Amitee Jaramillo, Pang’s girlfriend from Chile and the only other D Level in his coven. Rivânia Suassuna, also from their Advanced Spells class, followed close behind Pang and Amitee.

She had no idea what each of them was wearing. Takara’s costume was like a military uniform—black pants and a red jacket—supplemented with a sword and two small metal boxes hanging from a belt around her hips

Rivânia’s outfit also seemed to be some kind of military-style uniform: a green, black, and gold suit under a matching sleeveless long coat, allowing her to wear forearm gauntlets. The biggest difference between her costume and Deanna’s was the gold helmet with large, forward facing horns, making it impossible not to notice Rivânia

By comparison Pang and Amitee didn’t appear that much different than she’d seen him in class, or either of them wandering around the school on the weekends: they wore jeans, tee shirts, and heavy boots. What set them apart was that their clothes was splattered with dried blood, and both carried knives and machetes secured in scabbards attached to their belts.

Kerry positioned Annie in front of him, keeping his arms wrapped around her waist. “If there’s anyone who can—” He nodded in Takara’s direction. “—it’s probably you.”

She nodded back. “Who am I?” She adjusted the heavy scarf around her neck. “Do either of you know?”

Annie looked up and back at Kerry, who shook his head. “Neither of us know.”

Hai.” Takara pumped her fist in a rare show of excitement. “You were the only ones outside East Asia who would recognize this outfit.”

Kerry rested his head against Annie’s shoulder. “Since I know Amitee and Pang are Maggie Greene and Gleen Rhee—”

Pang threw up his hands. “Obvious, huh?”

“A little. And Riv there—” Kerry chuckled. “She’s Lady Loki—”

Rivânia chuckled. “Or just Loki. Makes it easier to say when telling people to bow to me.”

“But you—” He smiled softly. “You gotta tell me.”

“Mikasa Ackerman.” Takara grabbed the straps holding the boxes to her belt and gave them a good yank. “You know Attack on Titan?”

“I’ve heard of it, but that’s all.”

“She’s one of the main characters.”

Kerry said nothing, instead snuggling his head up against Annie’s. “I think our secret is about to be unveiled.”

Annie turned slightly to the right. “You said she might know.”

“Well—” Takara stood with her feet slightly apart and her hands positioned before her stomach. “I do.”

Almost everyone in the group perked up when they heard this. Nadine was the one who spoke for them all. “Who are they?”

 

So we have another Marvel deity–probably looking for people to get to bow to her–a couple of zombie killers, and a character from an manga/anime.  It’s likely that, even as geeky as Kerry is, at that time in 2012 he would not have known Attack on Titan, and therefore would not have known the story of the last Asian girl in the world, even if she really was only half-Asian.

But given she's an manga/anime character, she still looks like every other girl in the world.

But given she’s an manga/anime character, she still looks like every other girl in the world.

Now, the argument could be made that Rivânia is cross playing her character like Penny is doing, but given that Loki does return as a woman at one point in the comics, she’s probably not–

And given the continuing state of Tom Hiddleston's hair, he'll be able to play her in the next movie.

And given the continuing state of Tom Hiddleston’s hair, he’ll be able to play her in the next movie.

But it’s now time for Takara to spill what she knows.  And she doesn’t disappoint–

 

“She—” Takara pointed at Annie. “—is Kaioh Michiru and, um, he’s—” She pointed at Kerry. “—Tenou Haruka.”

Annie dramatically brushed back here aqua hair and smoothed down her light blue a-line dress and did a slow, single twirl on the low heeled aqua pumps with matching ribbons that wound twice around her ankles. She laughed as she flipped her arms outward. “Finally. It was growing tiring not being able to say anything.”

Kerry tugged the lapels of the cream-colored jacket that matched the light slacks he wore with the dark blue button-down tee shirt. “You can blame me for that. I asked her not to say anything.”

Though Takara was able to identify Annie’s and Kerry’s identity, the others remained puzzled. Erywin asked the question that remained unanswered. “Who?”

“Oh, yeah—” Takara turned a bit to her left and right. “Annie’s Sailor Neptune and Kerry’s Sailor Uranus.”

Nadine finally figured the connection. “Oh. From Sailor Moon?”

“Yes.”

 

There you have it.  They came as characters from another manga/anime, which explains Annie’s aqua hair.  This also makes them Plant Guardians and members of the Outer Senshi, which given their magical powers is something they can probably do now–just like any other magical manga/anime character.

Though Kerry isn't that much taller than  Annie, and he's certainly not a better dresser than Haruka,

Though Kerry isn’t that much taller than Annie, and he’s certainly not a better dresser than Haruka.

An interesting point is brought up, however . . .

 

“Yeah, but—” Nadine looked at Kerry with a puzzled look. “Isn’t Sailor Uranus a girl?”

“I’m cross playing.” Kerry crossed his arms. “Besides, I prefer to think of Haruka as gender fluid.”

Pang chuckled. “You got that right. How come you guys didn’t come wearing fukus?”

Annie took her soul mate’s arm and pulled him close as his face grew red. “It will be a while more before I can convince my love to wear a costume like that.”

He stared down at the floor, still slightly embarrassed. “Probably a long while more.”

Helena appeared out of the shadows and joined Erywin. “Hello, everyone.”

Kerry looked up and waved. “Hey, Xena.”

Erwyin gave her companion an appraising stare. “You should let Kerry find a new costume for you next year; you’re wearing out the warrior princess, my dear.”

Helena pifted. “I’m a bloody Kiwi: what else am I gonna come as?” She turned and pointed a warning finger at Jairo, who appeared about to speak. “Say hobbit at your own risk, dear.”

 

So we have two cross players this year:  Penny as a male character and Kerry as a female character.  And as far as that fuku goes (that’s a Japanese girl’s school uniform, by the way, which is a lot like the uniform Annie wears at Salem), it likely will be a long time before Kerry ever works up the nerve to wear one to a dance.

It’s at this point that people start filtering away, most of them off to watch the Åsgårdsreia and Mórrígan girls beat the shit out of each other because why not?  This leaves just four people and one purple dragon standing in the group, and that quickly whittled down even more . . .

 

Within seconds all that remained were Annie, Kerry, Nadine, and Deanna. Annie appeared as if she were about to say something when Nadine moved next to her. “Um, can I ask a favor?”

She was surprised to hear Nadine be so formal with her. “Certainly.”

“Would you mind if I danced with your boyfriend?” She nodded in Kerry’s direction. “You know, a, um, ‘Welcome to the A Team, good race’ sort of congratulatory dance?”

Annie cocked her head to one side as she looked in Nadine’s direction, then turned slowly towards Kerry. Her grin was wide and warm. “I think that’s a great idea.” She squeezed Kerry’s hand. “Go enjoy yourself, my love.”

Nadine showed her dragon off her shoulder. “Go fly around the rafters; I’ll call when I need you.” She grabbed Kerry by the arm before he could speak. “Come on, Starbuck: let’s rock.”

Annie moved next to Deanna and watched Nadine drag Kerry to the dance floor, but she had something else on her mind . . . “Can we speak?”

Deanna glanced at the aqua-haired girl. “I saw you look in my direction before telling Nadine she could dance with Kerry.”

“That’s because I hoped you would noticed.” Annie glanced across the Dining Hall. “I see our sofa’s unoccupied—” She turned to the coven leader. “Shall we?”

Deanna motioned towards the other side of the hall. “Lead on—”

 

Annie wants to speak with Deanna?  Hummm . . . usually that means she’s got something soul mate related on her mind, and if you remember last year, her conversation with Deanna was about discovering that someone was worthy of love, and that if a certain boy asks you to do, say yes!

There you have it.  No writing tonight as I’ve been uploading video, which mean–get ready for a travel post tomorrow.

Not So Ready in the Ready Room

First off, Happy Loving Day, which is the day the Supreme Court of America ruled to disband all anti-miscegenation laws in 1967.  And if you’re old–like me–you’ll probably remember that a lot of the same things said about marriage equality today–like allowing it to happen goes against the religious beliefs of some–were said about mixed race marriages then.  Same cart, different driver, but in the end the destination will be the same.

I’m dragging a little today because I was up at two and fought to get back to sleep between then and about four-thirty.  I haven’t had a night like that in months, and it’s hitting me kinda hard, but I’ll get through it:  I always do.

And now . . . Kerry’s at the Flight School waiting for class to start.  This is right after Annie’s Flight class, so Friday is for flying.  This is also the first time were we see Kerry alone since he left Cardiff, and the first time we see someone else since those days . . .

 

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

Kerry sat in his old seat in the Pilot’s Ready Room and casually dropped his goggles and gloves in the seat to his left. He wasn’t the first—three other students arrived before him—but he was the only one sitting in the front row, something Annie and he did all through A Level Basic Flight.

He adjusted his glasses, something he did less and less these days. Since learning a simply adhesive spell in Wednesday’s class last year, it was rare that his glasses ever slipped these days. He thought it might be due to the quick landing he’d made outside the Hanger followed by the dash up the stairs to the main floor. It wasn’t that Kerry was late: he was actually ten minutes early.

But after the morning he’d had watching Isis and Annie flying about the Aerodrome—and Isis put Annie through a few easy maneuvers that proved she was actually using her gift and not levitating—he was ready to see what his flight class had in store.

After speaking with Nadine in Advanced Spells the other night Kerry had an inkling of what to expect over the school year. She told Annie and him about working on brooms, about learning to fly by instruments only; developing flight plans; being taught how to make minor repairs to a PAV—and, most of all, the three camping flights she took designed to prepare her for—

“Hey, Kerry.” Emma stood to his left, eyeing the seat where his goggles and gloves rested.

 

Guess who?!

 

“Hey, Emma.” He poked his thumb to the empty chair on his right. “Let’s get comfortable.”

“Sure.” A hint of dejection peeked through her demeanor as she settled into the chair. “Saving that for Annie?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“Oh?”

“She’s not taking the class.”

“What?” Emma twisted around in her chair. “Why not?”

“She felt she could learn most of this stuff either from me or from her parents.” He extended his legs and stretched. “Vicky told her she can come if and when she likes, though.”

Emma still appeared puzzled. “So what’s she doing instead?”

Kerry brushed some hair back from his forehead. “She’s probably over at the Black Vault right now.”

“Oh, right—sorcery.” Emma sat back and crossed her legs. “Gotta be the dark witch.” She caught herself, hoping she didn’t say something that would upset Kerry. “Right?”

He nodded slowly, a smile appearing upon his face. “Yep. We both do, as a matter of fact. It’s something we promised each other.” He didn’t bother to mention where that promise had taken place. “I like your new patch.”

 

By now not only do we know that Annie and no one else is always to the left of Kerry, but he knows it as well.  And that move of his–saving the seat to his left–was to prevent a certain wingmate from sitting there.  And she knows it, too:  you can sense it in her body language.  She was really hoping to plop down in that left-hand seat . . .

And she caught herself before she said something mean about Annie.  She doesn’t know she’s cursed, but she also doesn’t want to make Kerry upset.  After all, if you have to depend on your wingmate when you’re up in the air, and you’ve been talking shit about his girlfriend, will you really trust him?

Anyway, back to patches.

 

Emma glanced down by reflex, just making out her new flight patch: that of a witch on a broom flying across the shadow of a crescent moon with the constellation of Leo over her back. Her call sign was emblazoned across the top of the patch, white letters against the blue background used to represent Mórrígan Coven. “Oh, yeah. I had to ask what it meant, ‘cause I wasn’t sure about all the stuff.”

Kerry didn’t wait for his wingmate to explain. “Selene is the goddess of the moon, which you knew. She’s usually associated with the crescent moon and was often seen in paintings and drawings with constellations—of which you have both.” He examined the outline of the stars. “That’s Leo, which I think is seen in April, which is—” He grinned. “—your birthday month.” He chuckled in a low town. “Hence Selene.”

Emma’s mouth dropped open. “How do you know all that crap?” She started laughing. “I mean, I like looking at stars—”

“And you didn’t notice any special ones when we took astronomy last year?”

She thought about his statement for a moment, then tapped her forehead. “Oh, yeah: Harpreet pointed out Leo right around my birthday last year. Don’t know why I didn’t remember that.”

“Well, you were thinking about your birthday.”

“And speaking of that—” Emma crossed her arms and tried her best at a hurt pout. “You never did say where you went that night. You vanished right after Sorcery class and when you came back—”

“I told you what happened.” Kerry sat back with and crossed his arms, only he smiled and appeared relaxed. “I had to go to New York for testing, and I fell down and cracked my head when I was about to leave.” He’d told that particular story to Emma twice last year, and had hoped she wouldn’t ask again. “It’s that simple.”

 

It’s already come up a couple of times about Annie and Kerry’s Excellent Adventure, and how teachers and students believe the cover story is probably a load of crap.  Emma obviously doesn’t believe it, and the fact that they cut out on her birthday–19 April is Emma’s birthday, exactly two weeks before Kerry’s–means she remembers it even more.

So now we’ve seen her patch, which is pretty classical for a goddess.  For Kerry . . . um, it’s a bit more creative:

 

“Uh, huh.” Figuring she wasn’t going to get a better answer than the one she’d heard a few times already, she went back to the subject of flight patches. She pointed at Kerry’s jacket. “What’s yours suppose to mean?”

Kerry had spent several minutes examining the patch when he saw it for the first time, and spent a couple of minutes explaining the meaning to Annie. Of all the new B Level flight patches he’d seen, his was likely the most complex. “Well, this here—” He pointed to the pilot on the broom in the lower left corner of the circle. “—is supposed to be me. And these other points—” He pointed to the dark hurricane, then the bright cloud of gas behind that, and the strange looking planet behind the cloud, and the planet Earth at the far end of the string. “This is the Maelstrom, then the Ionian Nebula, then original Earth in front of our Earth.” He pointed to his call sign in the circular margin. “And here I am against Cernunnos green.” He grinned broadly. “Simple, huh?”

Emma shook her head slowly. “Again, how do you know that? And what does it all mean?”

“Well, it helps if you’re a geek.” He chuckled. “And it helps if your instructor is a big of a geek, too—”

 

It also helps if the author has access to the Battlestar Galactica wiki and was able to look up a few things based upon the “life” of the character upon which Kerry’s call sign is based.  Actually, I knew those things, but I had to check the name of one location in particular . . . yes, I’m a geek.

And so is someone else–

 

“I heard that, Kerry.” Victoria Salomon, the school’s flight and jaunt instructor, made her way up the center aisle towards the podium in the front center of the Ready Room. “And, yes: being a bit of a geek helps when you have to come up with a bunch of call signs that mean something to the pop culture sensibilities of my A Levels.” She turned to the two fliers, addressing the red head with the longest hair.  “How you doing today, Emma?”

“I’m doing fine, Profe—”

“Vicky, Emma.” Vicky’s grin was friendly and infectious. “You’ve earned the right to address me by my given name. It’s the way we do things in the advanced classes.” She flicked her eyes in Kerry’s direction. “Ain’t that right, Starbuck?”

He nodded and grinned back. “That’s right, Nightwitch.”

Vicky did a quick head count of the people in the Ready Room, then clapped her hands. “All right, pilots.” She sidestepped behind the podium. “I see it’s thirteen, and that means we got things to discuss . . .”

 

Kerry’s so used to talking to the instructors using their first names, and Emma–who has already said she find it hard to do–is still stumbling.  And we do see, again, that the gingers are paired up.  Is that because no one wants to be their friends?

Right now I’m about seven hundred words away from breaking sixty thousand total–

So if I write tonight I can make it.  If I write.  Which I probably will.

So if I write tonight I can make it. If I write. Which I probably will.

Sixty thousand plus for two acts?  Not bad at all.

On Wings of Flight

Yesterday was a personal day:  a lot of time on the road, and very little writing.  Oh, it got done, but like three hundred words worth, mostly because I wanted to get the next scene started, but I didn’t want to get too much because I was falling asleep in my chair.

It's all gonna happen in that big building at the top-middle.  You'll see more tomorrow.

It’s all gonna happen in that big building at the top-middle. You’ll see more tomorrow.

Now, on to the travel.  As it was my eleven month anniversary of being in hormone replacement, I decided to take a little day trip, and headed down to the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport outside of Washington D.C..  And while I didn’t write, I took pictures:  lots of pictures–

Like walking up to the entrance.

Like walking up to the entrance.

I’ve visited the Air and Space Museum in downtown D.C., and I’ve been to the Air Force Museum outside Dayton, OH.  As you might have guessed I love aircraft.  I almost went into the Air Force at one time, and would have loved to have gone up on the shuttle, danger be damned.  Here I got to hob-nob with one of a kind aircraft, many of them among the last of their kind, and a few of them the only ones of their kind–

Like this--

Like this–

And this.

And this.

The 367-80 was the test plane that led to the Boeing 707.  It’s also famous for one of the most famous incidences in flight history, when test pilot Tex Johnson performed two barrel rolls the Dash 80 (as it was called) in front of a bunch of Boeing executives on 6 August, 1955.  You wanna see?

The the evidence from inside the plane.

And the evidence from inside the plane.

But I saw more as well:

Like this beauty.

Like this beauty.

That is one of the last aircraft used for training by the Tuskegee Airmen, and if you don’t know their history, you need to read more.  This biplane was off in a far corner of the museum because, as I discovered later, it’s being moved to another museum in downtown D.C..

And I found this:

Yeah, if you don't know this aircraft, you do need to read more.

Yeah, if you don’t know this aircraft, you do need to read more.

But since I’m talking here, the Enola Gay was the B-29 that bombed Hiroshima, Japan, on 6 August, 1945.  It only dropped one, but I think you know by now the one we’re talking about.  As the Air Force Museum has Bock’s Car, the aircraft used to bomb Nagasaki, I’ve seen both bombers.  And I can move on to other things–

Like this:

This Concord wasn't used in Doctor Who, but it's still impressive.

This Concord wasn’t used in Doctor Who, but it’s still impressive.

And this:

Didn't Indiana Jones crash a couple of these?

Didn’t Indiana Jones crash a couple of these?

And a Super Connie:

Back when planed looked elegant.

Back when planed looked elegant.

The last surviving plane to make the first flight around world in 1924.

Air and Space Museum 06072015036

Doesn’t look a day over eighty.

And I found the first human-powered aircraft to cross the English Channel:

Air and Space Museum 06072015098

Heading towards France because the pilot wanted a good meal when he touched down. Just kidding.

 

The first jet bomber, flown during WW II:

The Germans were way ahead of us in a lot of ways--

The Germans were way ahead of us in a lot of ways–

And a rocket plane, the ME 163, that was one of the desperation weapons used as WW II came to a close.

And sometimes the Germans were just a little nutty.

And sometimes the Germans were just a little nutty.

I also found a Blackbird, but it wasn’t singing in the dead of the night–

It's just sort of sitting there--

It’s just sort of sitting there–

Waiting for its close-up in a Transformers movie.

Waiting for its close-up in a Transformers movie.

But I got a picture before it changed.

But I got a picture before it changed.

And another.

And another.

I also discovered how the space program used to run on 124 kilobyte (yes, not a typo) computers:

Seriously, your phone is bigger.

Seriously, your phone is bigger.

I also found a space lab:

And some tunnels.

And some tunnels.

Really as big as a bus as was once said.

Really as big as a bus as was once said.

I discovered where the museum kept their nucwewur willis:

Bad Star Trek imitation, I know.

Bad Star Trek imitation, I know.

And the Mother Ship:

I watched this last night.

I watched this last night.

With R2-D2 along for the ride.

Didn't see him though.

Didn’t see him though.

Most of all, I saw the space shuttle Discovery, which I’ve wanted to see a long time.

How it looks when you walk into the hanger.

How it looks when you walk into the hanger.

Some close ups:

Air and Space Museum 06072015067

Air and Space Museum 06072015068

Air and Space Museum 06072015093

 

Air and Space Museum 06072015088

Air and Space Museum 06072015081

Air and Space Museum 06072015097

 

Hello, Canada Arm!

Hello, Canada Arm!

And I managed to get a couple of pictures with the orbiter:

Looking pregnant here because I was leaning back for some reason.

Looking pregnant here because I was leaning back for some reason.

And I got ready for my close up.

And I got ready for my close up.

All in all, a good, tiring day, and I was totally beat when I arrived home.  But . . . I’ll probably go back again.  Maybe next year when I get close to two years on HRT and I’m done seeing my doctor.

Tomorrow, more writing–

Because after all this fun, it's time to go back to work and write about, um . . . flying!

Because after all this fun, it’s time to go back to work and write about, um . . . flying!