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!

 

The Splits in the Road

The chill has returned to the air here in The Burg and I may actually consider wearing a work dress in today, one that’s a little heavier than normal because the high will be a rainy sixty-five F, or eighteen C, and I don’t want to catch cold.  Don’t worry:  it’ll be back up close to ninety before we know it.

It rained like crazy last night, and I actually had to wait for about twenty minutes after I left work to walk home because I didn’t have an umbrella.  getting home saw another shower of a different sort, as I cried for about fifteen minutes straight because–well, who needs a reason?  All my gal pals out there know this.  I watched a little television, then sat and finished yesterday’s scene while Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome played in the background.  And I can never see or think about that flick without remembering a MechWarrior game I once ran where one of the players ended up in command of their rag-tag group of mechsoldiers, and one of the first things he wanted to do after getting a steady job with the Lyran Commonwealth (this was old school MW, none of this newfangled stuff) was piss it all away.  He wanted to run jobs on the side for whomever wanted to pay, he wanted to establish a casino and brothel on company grounds, and he wanted to build his own version of Thunderdome “out behind the mech sheds” so when people had a beef, they could go in there and do whatever the hell they wanted.

Unfortunately for him, the other players thought those were all bad ideas, and after he left that night a few people stuck around and told me, the GM, those ideas were such total bullshit they were gonna off his character.  Fortunately for him–and everyone else–he never returned after that evening, probably because he knew he’d brought the unit to within inches of mutiny, and thought he was a dickish player, he was smart enough to know something bad would happen if he returned.

This at least kept me from dreaming up a mission titled, Babe;  Pig in a Vindicator.

This at least kept me from dreaming up a mission titled, Babe; Pig in a Vindicator.

Bad gamers:  can’t live with them, can’t go full auto to the head on them with an Uzi.

Back in the garden, however, Annie and Kerry aren’t dealing with a bad gamer, though it would be interesting to see Wednesday playing Shadowrun–“You call this magic?  It all sucks!  This is magic!”  Her question was asked–was it answered.

 

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

“Unless you come and be my minions.” Wednesday stopped rocking left and right now that she was past the point of asking her question. “The question I have is: are you gonna feel strange helping out people who you see in other classes every day?”

The couple exchanged looks once more, and Wednesday could tell, based upon their expressions, he question was one they’d never considered before this moment. She also suspected that it wouldn’t take them long to come up with an answer . . .

Annie answered for them bother. “It won’t be a problem, Wednesday. We can do that.”

“You can?” Wednesday didn’t doubt Annie’s sincerity; she simply wanted to hear a conformation uttered by them both. “You’re sure?”

Annie nodded. “Yes, I’m sure.” She turned to Kerry. “What about you?”

Kerry nodded slowly. “Yeah.” He glanced over to Wednesday. “I mean, it’s not like we’re really in class with everyone else—”

Annie nodded along with her soul mate. “Other than sorcery, we don’t have any crafting classes with the rest of our level.”

 

This is really the first time they point out to another instructor that they really aren’t in the same class as the other students, that they are beyond that B Level stuff.  So what does it matter if they come into the B Level Spells class and help out?  It’s the same as getting kids from the upper levels, right?

This is the road they take.  During their A Levels they started setting themselves up as apart from everyone else, and now, in their B Levels, they prove it as a fact.  Some would say this is pride talkin’, and we all know what that comes before . . .

It’s all set, and with that comes the good nights–

 

Annie remained latched on to Kerry’s arm once they were standing. “Thank you, Wednesday. We won’t let you down.”

“I know you won’t.” She gave them both a quick nod. “Good night, you two. See you around.” A soft pop followed her disappearance as she jaunted off to the Instructor’s Residence.

Kerry pulled his left arm—and Annie—in tight to his body. Though it was late, he cherished these moments when he could be alone with her, knowing that the chances of anyone stumbling across them were minuscule. “Sweetie?”

Annie mumbled her response with her head resting against his shoulder. “Yes, my love?”

“Do you get the feeling that this year we’re going to have almost no free time together?”

Knowing their schedule long before they’d departed for school, Annie was well aware that their free time would be far less than during their A Levels. “You know what this is, don’t you?”

“You know you’re answering a question with a question?” He twisted around and kissed the tip of her nose. “Just like on the train before we entered the Chunnel last year.”

“Really?”

They both hugged and giggled for a few moments, then Kerry kissed her once more. “Yes, I do know what this is—”

“What, then?”

“It’s a test. We’re being tested.”

“Yes.” Annie took his hand and they began walking towards the tower. “Last year we were out in the field; this year it’s being kept inside the walls.”

“Do you think the Guardians are behind this?”

“It’s hard to say. It could be, but then—” She shifted Kerry into a slower walk. “Helena was in the meeting last year when we were asked into all the classes. This could be something coming from San Francisco.”

Kerry had felt the same way since realizing, before arriving home, that they had been chosen for every advanced class—and had so far discovered they were the only ones out of their level in classes that weren’t something of an extended course from the year before. “At this point I don’t think it matters. We were asked, we had the choice to say no . . . and we didn’t.”

Squeezing Kerry’s left hand tight, Annie giggled in a tone filed with mirth. “No, my love, we didn’t. And I wouldn’t have expected us to say anything else.”

 

Nothing more or less, eh, Annie?  You know you’ve got your boy trained, don’t you.  That should be the next Act:  How To Train Your Dark Witch.  To be fair to Kerry, however, once he remembered all of his past with Annie, he started changing, and grew up a bit rather fast.  After his talk with Annie in his hidey-hole he knew the score, and decided on a path to follow.  A good deal of his story is about figuring out where he wants to go with his life.  Annie’s wanted to be a sorceress and a Guardian since she was a middle tweener, and Kerry has a lot of catching up to do in that regard.  But he’s getting there.

And speaking of sorceresses . . .

I see a bad witch arising . . .

I see a bad witch arising.

After I finish my running around tonight I get to write about Helena.  I love writing about her–

She’s always . . . interesting.

Hangin’ At the Plass

The question I asked yesterday was “Would I write more?” and the answer came this morning.  One of the reasons this post is coming out at this time in the late morning is due to writing another twelve hundred an sixty words towards the new novel–which, if you’re keeping track, means I’ve written just over three thousand words over the last two mornings.

But I also needed to do a little research this morning as well.  For one, I needed to know the weather in Cardiff on the day Erywin came for Kerry, and that was easy enough to find, because the Internet has that information.  Also, since I figure people would want to know, I got a few pictures of the area that Erywin and Kerry are visiting.

Without further ado . . .

 

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

The Cardiff weather was chilly and cloudy, and this contributed to the lack of people milling about Roald Dahl Plass. Those who were walking about this late morning were dressed to protect them against the fifteen Celsius temps and matching wind coming in from the west.

Two people joined the small crowd, entering the plass east after walking around the north side of the Pierhead Building. Both, a woman and a young boy, were dressed for the conditions: both wore jeans, and the woman wore a jacket over his blouse while the wore a hooded sweatshirt. They made their way towards the center of the open amphitheater, pausing next to one of the large columns located near the a short flight of steps.

Erywin glanced to her left and right. “You know I’ve never been here.”

“They fixed it up nice after Torchwood Three blew up.” They both chuckled at Kerry pop culture joke. The Mistress of Formulistic Magic was a bit of a geek herself, and was one of the few instructors who understood what he talked about most of the time. “Really, you’ve never been here?”

“As your mother pointed out, I don’t have much of a need to come into Cardiff often.” She motioned towards her left and Cardiff Bay. “Let’s go over this way, shall we?”

 

If you know Cardiff, you know the Roald Dahl Plass.  First off, it’s named after Roald Dahl, the Cardiff-born author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I know most of you know, and who once worked as a spy for England during World War II–and who reported back to Ian Flemming, who later wrote stories about a little-known spy who liked martinis–and whose primary mission was to come to American and seduce Republican congresswoman Clare Booth Luce.  Apparently Dahl wasn’t the template for James Bond (that was reserved for Canadian Sir William Stephenson), because Dahl wrote back to his superiors that he needed to return home because, and this is an exact quote, “I am all fucked out! That goddamn woman has absolutely screwed me from one end of the room to the other for three goddam nights.”  And that’s probably why snozzberries showed up in two of Dahl’s work.

Back to the story . . . not only is the Roald Dahl Plass a well-know spot in Cardiff, but as far as the BBC is concerned, it is/was ground zero for a couple of their science fiction stories–

A TARDIS recharging station and the location of Torchwood Three?  Kerry should give tours of this place.

A TARDIS recharging station and the location of Torchwood Three? Kerry should give tours of this place.

Which is why Kerry makes the comment he does in the above excerpt.

Google Maps even has the names, so it must be true.

Google Maps even has the names, so it must be true.

Oh, and Mary Poppins visits this place from time to time.  Though that could be Missy . . .

Oh, and Mary Poppins visits this place from time to time. Though that could be Missy . . .

Either way, it’s where they come to chat about, well, things.  Things that, it seems, bother Kerry a great deal.

 

“Three people, run everything, and one of them’s an AP.” Erywin changed the subject. “How’s your holiday?”

Kerry had figured this question was coming, whether here or at lunch. “About as well as I can expect.”

“In other words . . ?”

He wasn’t going to escape giving his true feelings. “It sucks. I hate being home.”

“I figured as much in just the few minutes of watching the interaction between your mother and you.” Erywin didn’t want to prod anymore than necessary, but she sensed that while it might pain him, Kerry needed to talk. “Did you have any issues concealing what you’re really learning?”

“That was the easy part—” Kerry chuckled without a single trace of humor in his voice. “The morning after I came home they asked me three questions about school, and one of them was about the report card.” He glanced at the ground and scoffed. “They asked a few questions later in the week, but that was it.” He shook his head. “They don’t care: there’s no interest in anything I do.”

 

Erywin knows that Kerry wants and needs the acknowledgement of his accomplishments, and like it or not, his parents fall into the small group of people whom he’d like to hear, “Good job,” from once in a while.  However, we’ve also seen that Kerry’s parents are fairly cold and unaffectionate, and the number of shits they appear to give about Kerry’s accomplishments are zero.  Which finds him in the position of being around people he has to lie to about what he’s doing at school–remember, his parents don’t know he’s doing witchy things at school–but who don’t want to hear about whatever he’s lying about in the first place.

And he goes into great detail about his sadness:

 

They stopped under the overpass leading from the east side of the bay—where the Pierhead Building and the Senedd were located—to the west side and shops at Mermaid Quay. Here they were out of the slight but constant wind covering the plass. Kerry checked for nearby pedestrians before continuing. “I miss the school. I miss my room at the tower, and the commons, and the garden. I miss the grounds. I miss the classes. I miss . . .” He finally came to the truth. “I miss magic. I miss not having it in my life except when I’m alone at home.”

Erywin chuckled. “Gotten used to it, haven’t you?”

“Yeah. I have to be careful when my folks are home, but on they days they’re both at work, I’m using it around the house.” For the first time since leaving the house he smiled. “A couple of weeks ago I levitated a pot over a small fireball and cooked soup.”

Well done.” Erywin didn’t bother holding back her excitement, for what Kerry just described was something she wasn’t able to do until she was nearing the end of her C Levels. “I know you brought your broom home; have you been flying?”

“A few times. I gotta watch how I leave the house, because I gotta turn invisible quick as I’m going out the door.” He nodded. “But, yeah: I’ve been flying. One time even ventured into England.”

“Did you have your passport?”

“Of course.” He laughed this time. “My mom called me while I was out over Swindon, which is why I take my mobile with me everywhere.”

 

A few months before in story time Kerry wanted to hear from Annie about what it was like growing up around magic all the time, and now he’s finding out what it’s like not having it in his life.  And it sucks, big time.  He’s taken to doing things on his own when he’s alone, and also comes to admittance that he’s taken to the sky on a few occasions, venturing out at least a hundred kilometers from home.

Flying alone, of course.

Erywin points out a major truth for him, likely one he hasn’t even figured out for himself–

 

“If I’d known, I’d have gotten out my old broom and meet you for tea.” She moved a little closer and spoke and in low, intimate tone. “You know what you really miss, don’t you? You miss being with your own kind.” She didn’t wait for him to ask what she meant. “Your back in the world of the Normals, but you’re an Aware; you’re a witch. You’re one of us.” She shook her head slowly. “And now that you’ve had exposure to our world, you long to be part of it again.”

He glanced down at the ground. “Yeah.”

“You also miss the freedom that you have at school. Yes, there are rules and regulations, but there is also flying on the weekend, and long walks on wooded trails, and the Midnight Madness, and most nights where you don’t get to bed until after midnight . . .” The twinkle in her eye returned. “And those nights when Annie and you flew off to the Observatory and fell asleep in the viewing chairs.”

 

You’re not like all those kids you used to go to school with, Red:  you’re a witch now, and you’ve done magic and faced death and been out on secret missions and slept with your girlfriend–Um . . .

 

His head snapped up. “You knew about that?”

“Several of us did.”

How? From Isis?”

She shook her head. “No. She never said a word.”

“Must have been Deanna.”

The chuckle returned. “A good witch never reveals her sources.” She cleared her throat as she took a step back. “Speaking of your better half, how is Annie?”

 

Yeah, how is she, Kerry?  Well, I know, but you guys won’t–

Not until I write it, that is.

Loveteams Sailing On the Midnight Tide

As a writer, part of your job is to create good characters to carry your story.  A good writer will try to make great characters, and a great writer will probably spend a great deal of time climbing into the skins of their creations and walk around in them to get a good feel for what they’re doing.

Sort of like The Whisperers from The Walking Dead, only writers usually smell better.  Usually.

Sort of like being one of The Whisperers from The Walking Dead, only writers usually smell better. Usually.

It’s no secrets I’ve spent a lot of time with my characters–with two in particular for the last four years–and after a while you get so deep into their skins that they become a part of you.  Or is that you, because they’re not real; they exist only as an extension of your imagination.  As the majority of your know, I’m not a believer in the concept that my characters write the story for me, because if that were true, the lazy little witch jerks aren’t doing their job.  I mean, would it kill them to get off their butts and write a few hundred words while I’m sleeping?  No, it wouldn’t.

One of the great things about not only writing a novel, but then blogging about it, is getting feedback about what was written.  I’ve gotten a lot comments about the excerpted scenes, the world I’ve created, and about the characters.  Boy, have I gotten comments about the characters . . .

The one person I’ve had the most interaction with in terms of my characters has been with Renxkyoko Iglesias, who has her own blog over by der, as we say in Chicago.  She has an exceptionally active interest in my kids, and we’ve had some long discussions about their likes, their wants, and their battles.  I mean, we’re talking about kids who’ve fought monsters and Deconstructors, which is a lot more than most twelve year old kid are doing.  I seem to recall my daughter playing Pokemon on here Nintendo DS when she was twelve, and there wasn’t an Abomination in sight that she needed to save a wingmate from.

Oh, and we’ve discussed their love.  Especially their love.  We’ve talked about their struggles in that area, their romantic advances, and their “overnights” that tend to happen in the school hospital, but they’d had at least one in their tower commons, and a three others that occurred when the kids were away from the school.  (We won’t count the two times that we can infer from their dream visions, because, well, they haven’t happened.  Yet.)

They’re a cuddly couple, that’s for sure, but we know from reading their romance isn’t perfect.  For one, there’s a certain redhead from Colorado who made perhaps the most clumsy play for the affections of another, but only because Kerry never made a first move on Annie.  Emma’s somewhat loathed by a few people, only because she (a) wouldn’t listen to Kerry when she should have, (b) almost got him killed because she wasn’t taking precautions when she should have been watching her ass, and (c) told The Ginger Hair Boy that Annie was a bitchy ice queen who wasn’t worth his time.  Batting a thousand there, Emma.

But a lot of discussion revolves around Kerry, and his love for Annie.  Or should I say, “apparent love”?  Maybe even say, “kinda, sorta love”?  Of all the conversations we’re have, Kerry’s feelings for Annie have been some of the most intense.  (When we’re not discussing Emma, but that’s another story.)  A lot of this discussion revolved around whether or not Kerry really did love Annie during the time between the first night they entered Salem, and the morning after the Day of the Dead attacks and announced his love for Annie–or did he?  Because there was something that happened in March where he seemed to figure out how much he really loved her, and for how long, and in the current rewrite of the scene I just did, he seemed to profess that he’d loved her for a long time, but, you know, he’s forgotten all about that . . .

Some of what we’ve batted back and forth is whether or not Annie and Kerry are really OTP.

Right now most of you are going, “Wait?  They’re a one time password?  I don’t get it.”  Here, OTP means One True Pairing, and that means the characters are meant to be together and they are totally a ship, which is another way of saying they are a couple who have formed the deepest bonds of love, and no one will ever pull them apart.  “Shipping”, as it’s called, are where couples are bound together, usually by fans, and there will likely be a multitude of arguments over this pairing until word has been given that the ship has sailed–that is to say, the romance is canonical and becomes official.

Korasami is a ship that sailed.  Believe that.

Korasami is a sailed ship. You can bet Kerry will take notes.

It’s actually a combination of fun, excitement, and frustration having these discussions.  Fun, because I love talking about my characters, and who else around me can I speak to about them?  Exciting, because I like to hear what other people think about the direction in which I’m taking all my characters–not just Annie and Kerry, but others in my Foundation World as well–and frustrating, because, as the writers, I know things, and it’s impossible for me to refute or confirm certain discussions and arguments because if I do, I give away future plot elements.  And you know I know stuff and things, ’cause I’ve plotted everything out for like–decades.

Do I know if the things that Annie told Erywin about in the glen are true?  Do I know if Kerry really did love Annie during the time before he knew he loved her that first night in the hospital, the next day in the garden, and that third time by Lake Lovecraft?  What did Kerry mean when he said, “Like I did this time?” when he remembered when he totally, completely told Annie he loved her?  Who is the girl in Kerry’s rune dream?  Who was the girl in his first vision at Memory’s End?  And . . . why did his vision of what might be his wedding night with Annie take six months to manifest?

Most importantly, were those visions real?  Are they going to happen?  Is this ChestnutGinger ship ever gonna sail?

Oh, believe me, I know.  In the next novel some of these things will get addressed, and a couple will even get answered.  Which ones, you ask?

Come aboard:  I’ll serve drinks later, and then we can talk.

Out of Geekdom

Nothing about writing today, because I didn’t work on anything writing related last night.  It was a time to relax and recharge, and I’ll get into things a little tonight after I return from getting my nails done and grabbing something to eat.  No, I needed a nap and the need to sit and watch some TV last night, all the while thinking about something that’s been on my mind for a while.

It has to do with geekdom.  If you’ve followed the blog for a while you’ve seen some of my posts about my various steps into things geeky.  I’ve been into a lot of different things over the years, and I suppose I could say that I’ve tempered that love with a sense of reality, turning my love of various fandoms into a thing that I nurtured and cherished.

However . . . this year I’ve stepped into a “geeky gift exchange” that was limited to a small number of people, and since joining I’ve been going nuts.  No, really:  I’ve been really beating myself up the last couple of weeks over being in this group.  I should point out that I get like this with any gift exchange, because I’m fairly particular about giving gifts.  It’s not the value that I want someone to remember, but rather, I want them to have something that comes from my heart and speaks to them.

And then I begin reading what people in the group already own, what they’ve collected–and I began feeling bad.  Not for them, but rather, for me.

To paraphrase Karen Blixen, I had a collection in geeky things in my library in my home.  It wasn’t big, but it was growing, and it covered a lot of different things.

My first love had always been book–science fiction to be exact.  I was a space travel junkie, but there were a few other stories that I loved just as well, and in the 1960s and 70s I spent hours reading and trying to find stories relating to my favorite authors.  I collected Omni and Twilight Zone magazines, both sadly gone these days, and both of which offered fantastic stories and information while they were out.  I had nearly every issues of the first and all the issues produced during the Twilight Zone‘s short, two year run.  Twilight Zone was famous for first-run printings of Harlan Ellison’s Grail and Paladin of the Last Hour, among his best writing and my favorite stories, as well as Steven King’s The Jaunt and his now-famous review of The Evil Dead where Steven pretty much lost his shit and gushed out his love for the picture.

Then it was Doctor Who, which I started watching in PBS in Chicago about 1980.  Yes, twenty-five years before all the fans who today talk about how they’ve seen ALL THE EPISODES of the show, starting with Rose in 2005.  Uh, huh, sure you have.  I was fortunate to be able to watch the show on one of only two networks in North America that ran it at that time.  (The other network was a station in Toronto, Canada.)  After a while I began taping the show so I could go back and watch episodes when the mood struck, and when our local station finally managed to get access to the then full catalog of existing episodes (just under a hundred are missing, having been destroyed during various BBC vault purges), I was kept busy buying VHS tapes in bulk.

Then I asked for a scarf.

The Forth Doctor was my first Doctor, and he was known for, among other things, his long scarves.  My first wife, pregnant with our son, felt like she needed something to do, so she found a pattern for the multi-colored, eighteen foot scarf, and made it for me.  It was big and heavy, but it was also glorious.  I would actually wear it out and to work, and I didn’t mind the stares shot my way by people who wondered what in the hell I had wrapped around my body.

I few years later I wore that scarf to a huge convention where I met several of the actors, watched the first North American viewing of the Doctor Who episodes The War Games and The Caves of Androzani, and eventually had my picture taken standing alongside a full-sized Dalek that two guys had made in their auto body shop in high school.

This is not that Dalek:  back in my day Daleks didn't sport v-neck armor.

This is not that Dalek: back in my day Daleks didn’t sport v-neck armor.

I went to several DW cons over the next few years, cosplayed a few more times (we just called it “dressing up in costume” because we didn’t know what I was going to get labeled in the future), and met more actors.  At one con I managed to spend nearly forty minutes chatting with Colin Baker, the Sixth Doctor, and we just talked about things–not always about the show, but stuff about what it was like to act, what it was like to be in other shows, what it was like to live in England and have to hop a flight to Chicago where he’d find himself talking to people like me.  We did get to talking about his not being allowed to have a Regeneration Episode, and he had a . . . few . . . choice . . . words on that matter.  Still and all, Colin was an extremely nice guy and a lot of fun.

Again, not Colin, but I am digging the blond, Helena-like blond hair that I'd like for my own.

Again, not Colin, but I am digging the blond, Helena-like blond hair that I’d like for my own.

There were several other things I got into over the year.  Role Playing Games, of which I have dozens, and some of the games I ran during the 1990s were, in a way, legendary.  I collected Battletech miniatures, some of which are impossible to find.  I’d have people paint them and put them on display around the home.  During the period I was between my first and second marriages I began collecting anime:  some movies, some OVAs, a few wall scrolls, more than a couple of figurines that could only be bought in Japan–which, thanks to the Internet, was doable.  I also began collecting animation cells from various productions.  Of these I don’t have many:  maybe a dozen.  The majority are from the original Sailor Moon and Urusei Yatsura, with a couple coming from Song of Escaflowne and Silent Mobius.

All old school stuff, but as they are the original, hand-painted cells, they were and are worth a big of cash.  I know a couple ran about $200 in late 1990s money, and I believe the head shot I have of Lum set me back about $300.  The one I really wanted, the one I got into a bidding war with two other collectors, was for a full-body portrait of Sailor Saturn and her Silence Glaive, which was about as rare a cell as they came.  I stopped when my $850 bid was passed, and I later learned from the seller that the winning bid was $1,100.  Yeah, the things we did twenty years ago when we had money.

A figurine of what the cell would have sort of looked like.  Yeah, I just loved some World Destroying Firefly . . .

A figurine of what the cell would have sort of looked like. Yeah, I just loved some World Destroying Firefly . . .

So what happened to all this stuff?  Well . . .

You see, while I was happy in my geekdom, and wanted to continue adding to the collection, others close to me–otherwise known as First and Second Wives–had other ideas.  My first wife grew bored with my geekness–as she did with just about everything else pertaining to me–and began getting pissy with my collections and my interest.  When I got to where everything I did turned into a big argument, I stopped the pursuit of all things geek, though I didn’t actually curtail my gaming on the weekends.  It was during the time just after I moved out that I lost my Omni and Twilight Zone magazine collections:  my ex told me she sold them at a garage sale, but I’m more of a mind that she tossed them in the bin.  I later lost my Doctor Who VHS collection to my stepson, who my second wife allowed to make off with my boxes of tapes.  I was also “convinced” by my second wife to give him my scarf, because there wasn’t any need to keep it, right?

Some of the other things that happened during my current marriage has been the boxing of my figurines and the removal of my wall posters.  Some of them went to my daughter, but most of them have gone into garage storage.  I was told having them around the house looked–well, not good, right?  My Battletech miniatures are boxed up as well, since I was informed that it wouldn’t be a good thing to put them on display.  I never managed to frame my animation cells, either, and right now they’re sitting in my closet back in Indiana, still in their shipping sleeves.  I’m heading Back to Indiana in a week, and I promise to get a few photos of these and put them up for you to see.  One day my daughter will get them if she really wants them; if not, I’ll probably give them away to someone who’d love a pissed-off looking Sailor Mars about to fireball someone’s ass.

I really have no one to blame for my current geeky apathy other than myself.  Yes, I received little to no support in my pursuits, and in so many instances I felt as if I was working in a vacuum with my fandom, because the only one who felt an interest in these things was me.  Just like with my gaming–which I eventually stopped because I was told by someone that they didn’t understand why I gamed, and kept wanting me to scale back my weekend endeavors in that area–I agreed to curtail these activities, and ultimately I lost interest in the act of surrounding myself with things that reminded me of those interests I loved.

These days I keep my geekness to the area of intellectual endeavor, because I can always look something up and memorize facts and use that knowledge to kinda keep me warm a cozy.  It’s not always comforting, however:  it’s like the difference between having a sweater that keeps the chill away, and curling up under a comforter with someone you love who’s going to whisper in your ear, “I’d blow up a star to be able to speak to you one last time.”  No, not nearly the same.

Which is why I see what others I know have and love, and brings on the tears because it reminds me of what I once had–

And what, over the decades, I’ve lost because I didn’t want to upset people who didn’t support me.

Hey, it’s never too late to turn that around, is it?

Travels of a Crocheting Groupie

Over the years I’ve done some strange posts.  I’ve written about a variety of things, most of them revolving around writing, but sometimes I go places and do things that are interesting to others.  And there have been times when I’ve reveled things about myself that have surprised and sometimes shocked people.

This post . . . it’s a little of everything.  A tail of travel to exotic movie locations, a look at things on a long journey, and a bit of strange, personal information about me.

So, let’s get to the full disclosure:

I am a crocheting groupie.

I’ve been a member of a group on Facebook, HodgePodge Crocheting, for as long at the group has been around.  Why, you ask?  Do you crochet?  No, I am not a hooker, which is what we call someone who does.  Then why are you there?  Because my bestest friend, Tanya, owns the group, and she included me in the group when she put it together.  In fact, there are only three other people who joined before me, and the owner of the group is one, so there.

For the longest time I was a private groupie, because I wasn’t out as a woman yet, and the thousands of people in the group–yes, that’s true, we’re over three thousand strong–weren’t aware of my status as a transwoman.  But one day I jumped in on a question about gender identity in young kids, and that was it:  I was off and running.

These days I’m the Memestress and Keeper of Helena, our own Drama Llama, one of the Lorekeepers of TARDIS Knowledge, and a member in good standing.  I’ve also been promising to show off our groupie tee shirt . . .

See, a while back we sold tee shirts to our members, one with the group logo and the wording that proclaimed that we were proud HodgePodge Groupies.  Many members have already shown theirs, and I was getting questions about when I was going to show mine.  The answers were always the same:  I’m going to show it soon, and I’m going to do it at a famous movie location.

A couple of weeks ago, it was time to get to some picture taking.

To get to where I needed to go was gonna take some time, so I headed out early, pretty much as the sun was coming up, and began driving west:

Look:  mountains ahead!

Look: mountains ahead!

As you can see the Pennsylvania Turnpike is curving up into the mountains.  Just behind that “Blue Mountain” sign is the first of four tunnels I needed to traverse.  There are two just on the other side of the sign, then another about ten miles beyond that, and then further to the west, the Allegheny Tunnel, which is the longest on the turnpike.

Now, what do I do when I’m out driving for long periods of time?  Wouldn’t you know it, I shot a video!  First off, it’s not the car moving, it’s the camera:  I was holding it in my right hand while I drove with my left, and kept the vehical on cruise control.  The music is loud because that’s usually how I keep it when I’m driving.  Don’t try this at home, kids:  I’m a professional.  And at about forty-four seconds you’ll probably notice some caterwauling which is me doing my best to sing.

My best isn’t that good.

Beyond that is Sideling Hill–a place I visited last year–and this place:  Breezewood, home of a lot of places to stop and eat, as well as Gateway to the Abandoned Turnpike.

You should see this place at night--I have.

You should see this place at night–I have.

I needed to get a bit of breakfast and some coffee, and since I was running just a little ahead of schedule, it was a good place to relax and decompress.  Because I had a long ways to go to get to my first stop . . .

Right here, just south of Pittsburgh.

I heard the shopping here was a little "dead".

I heard the shopping here was a little “dead”.

I know more than a few of you are saying or thinking, “Cassie, why’d you drive half way across the state to visit a shopping mall?”  Because this isn’t just any shopping mall:  this is a famous movie location.  Monroeville Mall was the location for the filming of the original Dawn of the Dead, the second of the original George Romero zombie movies, released in 1978.  Filming took place from ten PM until 6 AM; at which point the mall Muzak came on and since no one knew how to switch it off, that was a wrap.

Since I was in the area I thought, hey, stop in and look around.  See if any of the undead are still around . . .

Zombies?

Zombies?

Yoo hoo?  You around?

Yoo hoo? You around?

Calling all Walkers.

Calling all Walkers.

Since it's fall, all the girls who love fall will be here trying to get their pumpkin spiced candles.

Since it’s fall, all the girls who love fall will be here trying to get their pumpkin spiced candles when they’re undead.

The mall has changed a great deal since 1978:  new stores, new look, probably even a layout change here and there–though the food court still looked pretty funky, so I gotta wonder if there’s been many updates there.  Since I didn’t see any zombies, I bought a pair of boots and a pair of flats.  Because . . . shopping.

Here we have Dawn of the Bitchy Resting Face.

Here we have Dawn of the Bitchy Resting Face.

But this isn’t where I really wanted to show myself wearing my groupie tee shirt.  I said I was doing it at a famous movie location, and I knew just the place.  Because before you can have a Dawn, you need a Night . . .

Night of the Living Dead wasn’t just a genre changer, it was a genre maker.  Before this movie zombies were some drugged-out losers controlled by a bokor.  Everything that we know and love about zombies started with this moving, and while many have added to the mythos, without this little film you wouldn’t today have a guy on TV running around drilling zombies with a crossbow, a woman lopping off heads with a katana, another guy running around yelling “Coral!” and a woman who wants you to just look at the flowers.

Romero started the zombie apocalypse with a virus brought back from space (just like Robert Kirkman would lie about a few decades later when he pitched The Walking Dead and said the zombies were begin created by aliens) and before you knew it, the dead were crawling around looking to add to their numbers and fill their bellies at the same time.  He didn’t have a lot of money for filming, and he pretty much had to just shoot wherever he could–like an hour up the road from Pittsburgh in Evans City.

All of the shooting took place outside a house that is no longer standing, and inside a house right inside town that is still there.  But George needed some place special for the opening shots, which would involve–what we didn’t know at the time–the first attack by a zombie on a living person in cinematic history.

Where would you do that?  Where do you think?

"I need dead people.  Where's a good place to find them?"

“I need dead people. Where’s a good place to find them?”

Welcome to the Evans City Cemetery, and that sign in the above photo was in the movie.  This is it:  Ground Zero for Zombie History, because up the winding road and at the top of the hill is where George filmed Barbara and her douchey brother Johnny visiting their father’s grave before Johnny stupidly joins the ranks of the undead.

Here’s the small chapel in front of which Johnny and Barbara stopped:

It looks a lot better when it's not in black and white.

It looks a lot better when it’s not in black and white.

Here’s the lucky couple paying their respects:

Johnny can't even remove his driving gloves.

Johnny still being a douche, however.

And the site today:

Much better in color.

Much better in color.

And then Mister Don’t Say the Zed Word shows up and Barbara trying to escape from the horror:

Run, Barbara, Run!

Run, Barbara, Run!

And almost forty-five years later, Cassidy is trying to do a Barbara.

Zombies?  Are you there?  This is Cassidy.  Come and get me.

Zombies? Are you there? This is Cassidy. Come at me, bros.

Famous movie locations:  since a lot of my friends, Tanya among them, are huge Walking Dead fans, where better to show off my HodgePodge Groupie tee shirt than the site of the first cinematic zombie attack.  And am I worried I’ll be attacked by the undead?  No.  Not only because it’s a bright, sunny day, but . . .

Back off, Walker dudes:  I got my hooks.

Back off, Walker dudes: I got my hooks.

And I bought a big one just in case things get serious:

I'd be about a million times more bad ass if I had a katana.  And I was a bad ass woman who knew how to use it.

I’d be about a million times more bad ass if I had a katana. And I was a bad ass woman who knew how to use it.

I even managed to get my get my favorite traveling companion in one shot, my trusty CR-V with almost 150,000 miles on the odometer.

 

A girl and her car can't be seperated.

A girl and her car can’t be separated.

So there you have it:  travels to Zombieland, with stop-offs for breakfast on the way out:

Good morning!

Good morning!

And a stop for pumpkin spice latte on the way back:

Here

Good afternoon.

All that took place two weeks ago, on a Sunday, the 14th of September.  But I wasn’t quiet done . . .

See, today–the day of this post–is my friend Tanya’s birthday, and one of the things I wanted to do was wish her a happy birthday in a special way.  Because she’s . . . well, she’s a friend like no other, and you do lovely things for those friends.  I had intended to film a message for her while I was snapping pictures back in Evans City, but then realized, “Nope, I’m in the zombie graveyard, I need a better place.”  Which brings me a little closer to home:  near my apartment, down in Riverside Park right by the river.

So, without further ado, my birthday greeting.

And there you have it:  the travels of a crocheting groupie out to show off her tee shirt to not only her friends in her group, but to her friends on this blog . . . and most importantly, to try and make today a special day for my friend and, in many ways, my creative muse.

Until next year . . .