Travelin’ By Tunes

Where in the World Was Cassidy Frazee on Sunday evening.  Well, I was in Baltimore.  Why?

Skating, of course.

Actually I wasn’t skating, but a metric shit ton of other women were, as we were all there for a clinic hosted by World Champion Laci Knight of the Angel City Derby Girls, which was the first woman’s flat track derby team and generally considered one of the best leagues in the world.  Since I’d love to become a pivot, I signed up for this clinic back in January and was waiting for the chance to be on the rink with another person from whom I could learn.

Of course I was there to observe only as I’m not certified, but those be the breaks.

So I cut out of The Burg about 4:30 PM (or 16:40 if you are from outside the U.S. and/or happen to be a witch attending a special school in Massachusetts) and drove on down to Baltimore, which put me there right before 6:00/18:00.  This gave me time to grab a bite before getting to the clinic:

Dining on the best the city of Baltimore has to offer.

 

The clinic was fun.  Even though I couldn’t skate I was allowed to stand in the middle of the rink and watch all the craziness going on about me.  I shot video for my time, though I’m not allowed to post any of it here.  We did, however, get a team shot at the end of the night.

 

Yes, that’s Laci’s doing the handstand while still in skates.  I’m over on the right not in skates and wearing my HARD shirt.

One of the things I had with me while traveling is my portable speaker, which I linked to my phone so I could play music from my various YouTube playlists.  The radio in my car doesn’t work, and even if it did, it doesn’t have all the snazzy Bluetooth features that so many vehicles have today.  Therefore I made do the best I can, and this is how I do so.

It’s no secret that I’ve been in a massive funk for a while–at least three months with January being The Month From Hell.  There was a time when music used to alleviate these feelings, but it hasn’t happened in a while. But Sunday afternoon and through to the night–yeah, there were a few magical moments that caught my attention and set my mood to “Yeah, this is Cool.”  And I’d like to share those moments with you, ’cause they’re sharable.

The first song that caught my mood as I was crossing into Maryland while the sun was setting was this: Sukiyaki, which was released in 1963.  Performed by Sakamoto Kyu, the actual title is Ue o Muite Arukō, which translates as “I Look Up As I Walk”.  When it was released in the U.S. it was given the name Sukiyaki because they rightly knew no one who wasn’t Japanese–or at least understood Japanese–would be able to pronounce the title.  This was also the first single from Japan to chart on Billboard, making Sakamoto Kyu the first Asian on the U.S. charts.  This is always been one of my favorite songs and I can remember hearing this as a young kid way back in the day, as they say, and when I need something catchy and soothing, I go here.

 

A point of trivia:  Sakamoto Kyu was aboard Japan Airlines Flight 123 when it suffered cabin decompression, lost its vertical stabilizer (aka, the tail), and crashed on August 12, 1985. 520 people were killed and this remains, to today, the worst single aircraft accident.

The next one came as I was making my way out of Baltimore, specifically as I was heading north along I-695, the Baltimore Beltway, heading into the massive interchange with I-95.  And what played as I rolled down this stretch of highway was Elvis’ Burning Love.  Now, full disclosure: I am not an Elvis person.  I don’t consider him the King of Rock and Roll, and I don’t have a lot of use for the majority of his catalog.  There are, however, a few of his songs that get me going, and this is one of them.  And with the darkness around we on a somewhat empty section of highway, this was the perfect tune to set the tone for my journey home.

 

I stopped off in York to pick up a few food items before continuing home.  Being in York generally means I’m about a half-hour from pulling into the apartment complex, so when I finished up the play list I had going I popped in the next song: the just over eleven minute Elton John epic, Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.  The album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the first actual pop/rock album I bought with my own money and it got good and worn out on my turntable, with this opening track getting the most play.

Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding is best known for the grandiose opening, which was not recorded by Elton but rather by album’s engineer, David Hentschel, who spend a considerable amount of time on an APR 2500 synthesizer overdubbing track after track to achieve the orchestral effect.  It wasn’t supposed to actually be part of the song, but after Elton heard the playback he told Hentschel to add it to the track.

Mentioning the ARP 2500 allows me to bring up the photo of Phil Dodds, then VP of Engineering at ARP, installing the 2500 used in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  I believe this very instrument now resided in a private school for witches…

 

I timed this nearly perfectly: the tune was coming to an end just as I parked my car right around 12:10 AM on Monday morning.  Do I know how to do this, or what?

 

Music hasn’t actually touched me in a while, so it was great that my mindset was such that I felt so good going south to the City of Chicken and Waffles (true, this is where it’s really supposed to have started), enjoyed a skating clinic, and then had a nice time driving back in the darkness.

Let’s hope I have that same feeling today as I head to Jersey to visit with my doctor…

Getting Your Art On: Setting the Interest

The last two nights of writing have ended up seeming a bit surreal, because of back inside Helena’s A Level sorcery class, and I’m remembering all the stuff I wrote about her the first time while doing it all again.  And make sure realize that some of the instructors at the school have been on the job for close to twenty years: there are two who fall into that category easily, and two more were creeping up on that goal.  Helen is one of those instructors who has been teaching for about ten years straight, but during the 1990s she actually had a few other stints between Guardian field operations where she put in a year or two of instruction during her down time.

And when you consider that every instructor, as well as the staff, were students before they became instructors, that tacks on anywhere from six to eight additional years spent at school.  When you had that on, Helena has spent nearly twenty years at Salem, and Jessica and Erywin have been at Salem for closer to thirty.  But you know, what’s thirty years when you’re likely to live for a hundred and fifty?

Speaking of one of the instructors is actually been at the school for over twenty years, first as a student and then instructor, we now get in to actually meeting Professor Matthias Ellison, the head of the Arts and Music Department.  The reality is that save for a few people who come in from time to time to help out with things, he is the Arts and Music Department, as the only other people who are associated with this department are those student tutors who Matthias reaches out to to help other students.

Believe me when I say I had fun putting his background together, because it gives you a little hint of how he actually got to where he’s at and you get to see a little of the Normal background that drove him to be who he is today.  So let’s kick back and enjoy Professor Ellison’s opening statements.

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Professor Ellison waited for everyone to find their workspace before he begin taking the first attendance of the year. As soon as he was satisfied that everyone was in the proper classroom he moved the tablet about three quarters of an arm length from him and turned to face the students. “Good morning, everyone, and I would like to welcome you to Introduction to Art. I am Professor Matthias Ellison, but most people call me Matthias. It’s easy to remember because it sounds like an important name, and I prefer being called that because ‘Professor Ellison’ sometimes sounds a bit too stuffy.

“A little bit about me. I was born in Canada and come from a Normal background. When I came to the school I was placed in Blodeuwedd Coven, were managed to maintain fairly good proficiencies and graduated in 1991. After leaving here I went to college in Canada and managed to get my Masters before coming back here to teach in 1998. I was present during The Scouring and fought with honor alongside a number of instructors and students—and some of those students with whom I fought for now colleagues of mine.

“I mentioned I’m from Canada. Specifically, I’m from White City, Saskatchewan, which is situated on the Trans Canada Highway about ten kilometers east of Regina, a city famous for its NHL hockey players, a song by The Guess Who, the hometown of actors Leslie Nielsen, Stephen Yeun, and Tatiana Maslany, and the fact that everyone messes up the pronunciation of the city by not realizing it rhymes with a body part found only on women.” He waited for a smattering of laughs to die down before continuing. “White City is also known for The Ice House, which serves the greatest hamburgers in all of Canada, and anyone who says that isn’t true is a liar. There’s little that makes the town spectacular: it’s what people in America would call a ‘bedroom community’ and today it’s filled with a lot of upscale people, two of whom are my parents who work in downtown Regina.

“One of the more interesting things about White City is the origin of its name. One says that it came about because of a misspelled store sign, but another—the one I like best—is that it was named after the White City section of London, England. I mean, it’s not unusual: a lot of places in North America are named after cities and towns in Europe, so it makes sense that perhaps someone decided to name my hometown after location back in the old world.

 

Everything in the preceding three paragraphs is true.  Not only did I do my research, but I happen to have a couple of Facebook friends who live in the Regina area, and when I told them that I was actually researching Regina for this section of my novel, they gave me a few hints on what to include.  One of the friends remarked that she was surprised to see me include the MacKenzie Art Gallery and the University of Regina, which both appear below.  My other friend is actually from White City and found it interesting that I wanted to write about it.

And it’s this friend who told me to make certain that I wrote about The Ice House, a local burger joint that is well known through this part of Saskatchewan, and which she actually said serves the best burgers in all of Canada.  So I looked up a little information on The Ice House and discovered that it is not only a burger joint but a liquor store as well, because Canada.  I mean, why not?  Load up on a burger and fries, maybe a little poutine while you’re at it, and then grab some beer  and wine for the drive home.

Come for the burgers, but don't leave empty handed.

Come for the burgers, leave with the adult beverages.

Their primary burger is known as The Iceberg, which is a homemade confection that appears to be the sort of thing that I would eat if I visited this place.  But if you have a huge appetite you can try the scaled up version of The Iceberg called The Glacier Burger, a CAD $29 monstrosity that will guarantee you don’t leave this establishment hungry if you can find the energy to regains your feet and stagger out to your car.  In fact, it looks almost like one of those novelties that you see restaurant served from time to time: you know, like a five pound/two and a half kilogram steak that if you can eat the whole thing you get for free.  Though I’m pretty sure with this burger you pay up front before you start eating.

Oh, and make sure you have a beer with it to, eh?

Oh, and make sure you have a frosty beer with it too, eh?

And one last thing to point out and that’s the correct pronunciation of the name Regina.  This one I got directly from my friend Nicole, who lives and works in Regina, and who has said on occasion that since far too many people pronounce the name “Ra-GE-na”, there is an easy phrase to help you remember the correct way to pronounce the name: “Regina like Vagina.”  Yes, just like Professor Ellison said, it rhymes with a particular body part found only on women–well, on csiwomen.  There’s just some of us gals who haven’t quite caught on with that particular trend…

Now that Matthias has given us a little background on Canadian geography, he gets into one of the main reasons why he is the person he is today:

 

“I really didn’t think much about my hometown’s name origin until I started here as an A Level. That’s because two months after I started here an album came out titled White City: A Novel, which was written and performed by Pete Townsend—he’s a guy who’s been in the band The Who for like forever, which is something I’m sure almost all of you didn’t know.

White City—the album, not my hometown—is what was known as a ‘concept album’, which means all of the songs tied together to tell a story. You don’t hear of those too much these days, mostly because the music buying public can’t really listen to a song that’s more than four minutes long before they tune out, but back in the 1970s and through a bit of the 1980s, they were all the rage; it seem like every famous band then put out at least one during their lifetime.

“Now here’s a dirty little secret of mine: before coming to Salem I wasn’t really that into music. I listened to music, but it was little more than background noise to my life. It wasn’t until I was able to sit and listen to White City that I started to get into music. It wasn’t that the music was great—because it was, it was fantastic—but it was the idea that one could convey a story using music and lyrics, and make it a coherent, meaningful experience.

“You might say that this album was my musical epiphany, because it wasn’t long after that I realized that all music tells the story. It does this because music triggers an emotional response in each of us and makes us feel things that we didn’t realize we could feel.

“While I was home on Yule holiday that year I parents took me to the MacKenzie Art Gallery, which at that time was still connected to the University of Regina, my other alma mater. This was the first time I was exposed to paintings and sculpture, and the experience left me speechless. When you’re twelve years old you’re supposed to find art stuffy and boring, but I didn’t: I found it amazing. When we were leaving the museum I bugged my parents to buy me a book that would show me how to sketch, and I spent the rest of my Yule holiday working on sketching. And I brought that book back to school with me, managed to get a hold of a sketch pad and pencils, and spent the rest of my A Levels sketching whenever I had time.

“When we returned home from school that summer I couldn’t work on magic, so I worked developing my artistic talent. I also asked my mother if I could take piano lessons that summer, and she paid for me to see a teacher. So that summer I was not only learning to draw and paint, but I was also learning to become a musician—or, I should say, I was learning how to play piano.

“After returning to school I asked the then head of the Arts and Music Department if I could perform during Ostara, and if she could get a tutor to help me work on a piece between the start of my B Levels and March of the following calendar year. She agreed to both my request, and in 1987 I performed at my first Ostara. After I left the school I went back to the University of Regina enrolled in the music program graduated with honors from there, and then worked on a Masters that would allow me to teach music and composition.

“And when I was finished with all that, I decided that the one place in the world where I could make the greatest impact with what I’d learned was right here at Salem. And I’ve been here ever since.”

 

There you have it:  Matthias Ellison discovered music because the guitarist from The Who created album that, I feel, is one of his best and most underrated works, and because his parents decided to expose him to art.  And from that he learned to draw and play, then went to college to understand it better before coming back to Salem to pass along what he learned.  Which is how real teachers do this.

Now that we have his background, it’s about time for him to explain why he likes the arts–and why you should as well…

A Hundred at the End

I said I was going to do it and yesterday I did.  Somewhere around six-thirty P.M., I not only crossed the one hundred thousand word mark, but ended up a hundred and fifty words beyond that point before stopping for the evening.  It took about two and one half hours of writing to get to that point, but get there I did.

So in 169 days, or five months and sixteen days, I wrote 100,150 words, for an average of five hundred and ninety-two words per day.

Not a bad five and a half months of writing.

Not a bad five and a half months of writing.

The majority of what I wrote yesterday was part of a thousand word monologue performed by Professor Ellison–who we are still excerpting today.  Funny how that happens.

Oh, and after I finished with this part of the novel, I got dressed up, put on makeup, put on my over the knee boots, and headed down to the local restaurant that usually frequent where I got a ricotta cheese plate and the cannoli to accompany the three glasses of champagne I drink to celebrate the end of 2016.

I wanted to feel good today, not like I'm dying.

I wanted to feel good today, not like I’m dying.

All in all it was a good evening, and I didn’t end up going to bed until about one o’clock in the morning, which allow the fireworks which go off near my apartment to finish.  The first New Year’s Eve I spent in my apartment I went to bed about a quarter to midnight, not realizing that a tremendous fuselage of fireworks was about to go off, and continue going off, for nearly ten minutes.  I don’t make that mistake anymore.

So what remains of this visit to the Keyboard Room?  Not a lot, which is why am going to dump out the rest of the scene today, my first gift of 2017 to you.  Also, as of right now I’m eight thousand words ahead of this point, so I have plenty of room to maneuver.  So let’s finish this part and see what sort of satisfaction Kerry gets:

 

The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Kerry looked down as he smiled. “I guess I knew the piece better than I thought.”

“I’d say.” Matthias returned to his place at the right side of the KRONOS. “So, do I have you sold on this?”

“Oh, man—” Kerry started laughing. “This and the KROME are what I want to work with. They’ll fit right in with what I want to do.”

Matthias picked up on the wistful look that momentarily crossed Kerry’s face. “I take it you have plans for beyond this next Ostara?”

Annie squeezed between Kerry and the keyboard and took his hand. “He told me he has a plan for when he performs that Ostara during our D Levels.”

He nodded. “This year I want to learn the equipment and see how I can use it to play simple stuff. Then the following Ostara—” He looked toward Annie once again before turning back to Matthias. “That’s when I want to play something impressive.”

Matthias nodded. “It certainly won’t go wrong with this equipment.” He gently rested his hand on the instrument panel of the KRONOS. “Now, when it comes to this particular instrument I have good news and I have bad news.”

 

So Kerry can get his keyboards, but there’s that old “good news/bad news” thing going on.  So just like Annie and Kerry, let’s find out what the professor’s going to tell them–

 

Annie sensed Kerry starting to wilt, but she knew Professor Ellison wasn’t the sort of person who would string them along and then disappoint at the end. “Perhaps you should get the bad news out of the way first, Professor.”

“That’s a good idea. The bad news is both the 88 key version of the KRONOS are reserved.”

“What?” Kerry’s eyebrows shot upward in disbelief. “So what’s the good news?”

“The good news is Nadine was in first thing this morning and reserved both keyboards.” Matthias pointed at Kerry. “She specifically said that I needed to set one of these aside for you, along with one of the KROME workstation. She will use three keyboards in her performance and two of them are the ones we just looked at.”

Kerry let out a sigh of relief. “I should’ve figured Nadine would be looking out for me.”

“Well, you two have rehearsed together the last two Ostaras.” Matthias cleared his throat. “She also mentioned she was the one to put the bug in your butt about starting to work with keyboard workstation.”

Annie gave Kerry a playful look. “I was wondering when you would get around to mentioning her.”

“Yeah.” He allowed a sheepish look to vanish from his face before continuing. “She emailed me at the end of June and we started corresponding back and forth for a couple of weeks. Since she wanted to use a workstation for this Ostara, she thought it would be a good idea if we both worked on them at the same time.”

Matthias nodded. “It’s a good idea. It’s also probably why she reserved both the 88s.”

“She probably figured we get the basics down on the keyboard and then work off the same set up when we knew we wanted to do.”

“Exactly.” Matthias motioned at both keyboards he’d shown. “I’ll get these two set aside for each of you, then get you a couple of MIDI servers and a monitor to cable into the keyboards.” He pointed at another instrument further down the row. “She’s gonna use one of the keyboards down there, too.”

Kerry leaned to his right so he could look around Professor Ellison. “What’s that?”

“A Roland Jupiter-80. It’s a digital synthesizer with analog modeling capabilities. Really a nice instrument.”

“Ah, yeah. She used one of those the first time we performed.” Kerry knew that Nadine was a fan of Roland equipment and that was all they used them for their first performance. He got to pick the equipment for last year’s performance thought she worked hard to have him use a Roland keyboard in place of the Yamaha piano. “You know what she’s going to perform?”

“She’s going to do three songs, but the only one she told me about was Foreigner’s That Was Yesterday: she said she was going to do the old twelve inch remix version.” He placed his hands in his pants pockets as he smiled. “You familiar with that?”

For the first time Kerry was stumped. “I don’t think I know that.”

Both Annie and Professor Ellison looked at Kerry with mock shock, though Matthias was the one to speak. “Really? Look it up when you get the time: I think you be impressed.”

 

That Nadine, she likes to look after the kids she used to tutor.  It seems when it comes to music Nadine has been a great influence on Kerry–not because she has better insight into his musical stylings, but when it comes to equipment she seems to be a bit more knowledgeable.  One has to wonder if Kerry would’ve considered using keyboard workstations this time around if Nadine had emailed him over the summer and said, “Hey, you need to look at this.”  Either way, Nadine is a good influence on Kerry when it comes to the technical aspects–even if she can’t always get him to use what she likes.

Though she's using this for her performance no matter what this year.

Though she’ll use this for her performance this year no matter what.

And if you were ever wondering what Roland equipment Nadine and Kerry used during his A Level performance, his keyboards were a RD-700nx piano for the lower keyboard and a V-Synth GT for the upper keyboard, while Nadine used the Jupiter-8o for her lower keyboard and a Juno-Gi for her upper keyboard and synth pad.  All this equipment is legitimate and based upon a Roland catalog for 2011.  Yes, I do my homework.

And for the first time we see Kerry stumped by a song title.  Yes, there is some old music he has never heard, but you can be assured that once he had a few minutes alone with his computer he probably looked up the song that Nadine had chosen the play–at least the only one she mentioned was going to play.  Don’t worry, I know what both of these kids are playing for the next Ostara.

It looks like were almost done with getting the equipment, but there’s one more question…

 

He removed his hands in his pockets and interlaced his fingers together. “Anything else you want to discuss?”

Kerry shook his head. “I’m covered.”

Annie answered before Matthias could ask her. “I have nothing, Professor.”

“I have something for you before I returned to my office.” He lowered his voice just a little. “Since you’re already a little advanced for this class, would you be willing to help a few students if I ask you to give them assistance?”

By now Annie was so used to being asked to be a minion that she didn’t question the request. “I wouldn’t mind helping if necessary, Professor, but you should know that our levelmates aren’t always receptive to us helping out during labs.”

“I’ll worry about their feelings: that way you can concentrate on helping.” Matthias chuckled as he waved everyone toward the doorway. “I need to get back to my office—”

Annie nodded. “It’s quite all right, Professor.”

Once in the hall Matthias closed the door to the Keyboard Room and took a couple of steps back from his soon-to-the students. “Thanks for coming by; I’ll see you in class next week.”

Annie and Kerry said their farewells and headed toward the stairs leading to the ground floor, with Annie holding Kerry’s hand tight. “Now that you have all that out of the way, how do you feel?

He let out a long sigh. “Excited and relieved.” He glanced at Annie out of the corner of his left eye. “We should meet with Nadine after dinner and tell her we met with Professor Ellison.”

Annie knew how eager Kerry was to discuss the work Nadine and he would do together preparing for Ostara, and sitting down with her after dinner would also give Annie a chance to sit and talk with her friend. “I would like that.” She pulled Kerry to a stop a few steps short of the ground floor landing. “You’re certain you want to keep this year’s Ostara performance simple?”

Kerry gave a slight nod as he smiled. “Trust me, Darling. This year I just want to do a great performance of a few songs. The last thing I want are any surprises.”

 

So there you go: Kerry is ready for his 2014 Ostara performance.  Well, ready in the sense he has his equipment set aside; there’s still matter of rehearsing songs, but that’s a trifling matter.  By the time November rolls around Nadine and he will probably have a pretty good handle on playing their parts, which means they’ll have January and February of the next year to start the rehearsals with the house band.

When you think about it, there’s a crazy amount of work that goes into getting up on stage at Ostara and performing for ten minutes.  And Nadine and Kerry are like your normal performers: they seem to be their own worst enemies in that they’ll just want to play well, they want to play great.  In reality, these two kids do their best not to play but to perform, and if it ain’t perfect, they ain’t gonna be happy.

Just like Annie says, now that that’s out of the way…

We’re going to go and spend some time with our favorite witchy doctor–

Arts and Music: Seeing and Hearing

Here we are at the penultimate day of the year, and as of this moment I’m about twenty-seven hundred words from one hundred thousand.  Getting that amount in the next two days is doable, so I’m gonna have to get with it if I want to hit my mark.

Now, I’m about to get technical–yeah, I know, some of you don’t like that.  You want magic and morte spells and kissing and possible love triangles, but given that one of my characters is an esteem nerd of the highest caliber and can chat the lingo when needed, there are times when the story is gonna get down with the techspeak.  And this is one of those times.

So hang on…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie and Kerry followed the professor the short distance down the corridor to the famous Keyboard Room, were nearly all of the schools usable keyboards were kept. Matthias headed inside and headed down one of the aisles, finally stopping before group of instruments that looked nearly brand-new. “At the end of the last school year I put in orders for some of the newest equipment from both Korg and Roland. These came in at the beginning of August.”

He lay his hand across one of them matte black keyboards. “This is a Korg KROME workstation. I managed to pick up five of these: one 88 key version and two each of the 73 and 61 key versions. It has a very nice action, lots of processing power, and you can use the MIDI function to upload and download sounds as you need them.” He turned to Kerry. “For your performance what do you want to use and how?”

Kerry had his answer ready to go. “I want to use two keyboards. I’ll use the bottom one as a piano/synthesizer and the top one as an organ/synthesizer.” He looked at Annie and smiled. “Really simple set up, you know?”

Annie was half laughing as she turned toward Matthias. “I’ve heard about this several times, including once when we were in Paris.”

“He interrupted your time while you were alone with this?” Matthias shook his head. “He must be serious, then.” He ran his fingers over the KROME workstation. “This is a good machine, but it’s not quite the top-of-the-line. However, I would suggest using the 73 key version as your organ/synthesizer: it would be perfect in that role.”

Kerry appeared satisfied. “That works for me. So what do I use for the piano?”

Matthias took three steps to the right and touched another matte black keyboard with wood finish on the sides. “This: the Korg KRONOS. This is the successor to the OASYS and improves have upon that workstation significantly. This is basically everything that Korg wanted to do with the OASYS that they couldn’t because they lacked the technology at the time.

“This is DAW ready, has MIDI inputs and outputs, and allows you to select a nine different engines, including three analog modelers and one of the best piano engines in electronic keyboards today.” Matthias activated the machine and began pressing icons as soon as the display panel was active. “How’s your playing?”

 

This section above is the result of about two weeks of off-and-on research trying to not only figure out what sort of systems would be profiled for Kerry’s pleasure, but what all this stuff means.  I mean, I went through different sites and watched videos, and once I’d figured out what I wanted to see, I had to check if they were actually available in the fall of 2013.  All for about four hundred words within the story.  Believe me when I say I care to get things right, kiddies.

Now, what does all that stuff mean?  Let’s go through it:

Keyboard Workstation is a particular kind of keyboard with the processing power to allow you to take pre-generated sounds and modify them, usually as MIDI files, for later playback.  You can even used a keyboard workstation to layer different digital samples together for a combination of sounds that are later used either in a recording or a live performance.

Kerry is using two workstations.  The first is the 73 key Korg KROME, which is a nice system that is affordable (about $1,000) to anyone serious about performing.

At least Kerry is getting his keyboard for free.

At least Kerry is getting his keyboard for free.

There is actually another Korg keyboard similar to the KROME called the KROSS, which is considered a more mobile system (that means it’s lighter) good for live performances.  Start doing your research and you discover there are a lot of “KROME verses KROSS” discussions out there, and while they don’t usually get too heated, you quickly see this becoming the “Star Trek/Star Wars” debate for the keyboard players.

As for his main keyboard, Kerry’s going with the 88 key Korg KRONOS:

A lot of keyboard sweetness right here.

A lot of keyboard sweetness right here.

This is considered one of the top workstations today, the successor–as pointed out by Professor Ellison–to the Korg OASYS (pronounced “Oasis”, because if you sound out the acronym it’s O-A-SYS.  OASYS actually stands for Open Architecture SYnthesis Studio), which showed up in the mid-2000s and was replaced after four years due to advances in technology.  The reality is the KRONOS is what Korg wanted the OASYS to be, but they didn’t have all the needed technology until about eight years later.  It’s more expensive (about $3,500) but a lot more powerful than the KROME, and has one of the best piano engines in the world.  And “engine” is something I’ll touch on below…

Action is how the keys feel.  The KRONOS feels like you’re playing an actual piano due to the weighted keys, while the KROME feels a bit more like playing an organ, and this is the main reason for Professor Ellison’s suggestion on setup and usage.

Daw is Digital Audio Workstation, which is the standard for recording these days.  It’s often a computer tied into a keyboard workstation upon which composing is done and downloaded as a digital file.  There are a whole lot of programs out there, some of which are open-source designed to run on any computer, which means just about anyone can begin composing and recording anywhere.

Engines are the keyboard’s built-in software used to process the sound samples and allow them to be reproduced when the keys are pressed–or as we’d say in the business, “triggering an effect”.  (Least you get too confused, triggering an effect means that when you press a key something happens.  In a work processing program on a laptop computer, pressing the key marked “C” makes the character c, while pressing the middle-C key on the KRONOS produced a middle-C sound as sampled.  Both are examples of triggering an effect.)  One of the KRONOS engines allows you to emulate just about any kind of piano in the world, and since the keyboard is a workstation you can change those sounds up however you like.

Analog Modeling is used in some of those engines:  that’s a fancy way of saying you can take a clean, digital sample and run it through various filters to make it sounds like a warm and fuzzy analog synthesizer sound.

And yesterday Kerry said something about Splitting the Keyboard, which is something you can do on both these machines.  The software in the keyboard can segment the keyboard so you can play one set of sounds with your left hand while playing something else with the right, or so something like add cellos to your lower register keys while you play piano with both hands.  If you watch video of Roger Hodgson, formerly of Supertramp, playing the opening bars to Hide in Your Shell, you’ll see a good example of splitting the keyboard, as he plays a combo piano/electric piano sound with his left hand while playing a combo organ/synthesizer sound with his right.

So now that I’ve gotten ALL THAT out of the way, it appears Kerry is interested.  The question is:  does he feel like giving the keyboards a spin right now?

 

Kerry made a back and forth motion with his right hand. “I suspect I’m rusty. I didn’t feel like playing a lot over the summer.”

Matthias glanced at him. “I think that’s gonna change as soon as you play this.” He stepped away from the keyboard. “Give it a go.”

Kerry gave Annie’s hand a squeeze and then stepped up in front of the workstation. He surveyed the control panel before seeing that the display was set for piano. He ran through the intro of his A Level performance, Lovers in Japan. He not only felt how the keyboard reacted much like the P255, but that it had an even richer sound than that piano. He stopped after close to a minute of effortless playing. “Wow. This is incredible.”

Annie moved up alongside. “You should have seen your face.”

He slowly turned toward her. “What do you mean?”

“You looked fabulously pleased while you played. It was like seeing you back on stage for a moment, though you seemed far more satisfied with what you were doing this time.”

“That is certainly true.” Matthias stood just beyond the the right edge of the KRONOS. “Care to satisfy my curiosity?”

Kerry stepped back away from the workstation stood alongside Annie while facing Matthias. “What do you have in mind, Professor?”

“I want see how rusty you actually are.” He nodded toward the keyboard. “Play the intro to Firth of Fifth. I know you practiced it last year because you told me.”

Kerry’s eyebrows shot upward for second. “Yeah, but I haven’t played it since then. That’s been over a year.”

“It’s not like I’m asking you to play it at 9/8 tempo.” The instructor chuckled. “Come on, dude. You know you want to give it a shot.”

 

All I can say is you gotta love it when one of your instructors calls you “dude”.

 

“I…”

Kerry was about to hesitate again when Annie whispered in his ear. “I would like to hear you play.”

He touched the left side of his forehead to her right forehead and spoke in a low voice. “That’s what you said to me the first time we came here.”

“And you were hesitating then about playing Ostara.” Annie twisted her head around so she could see his eyes. “Professor Ellison is right: you want to do it and you know you can do it.”

Annie stepped back as Kerry turned to face the keyboard. She said nothing, for she didn’t want to do anything that would affect his concentration. Like Professor Ellison she waited for Kerry to remove the doubt from his mind and play.

She watched as he let his hands hover over the keys. She noticed the imperceptible motion of his fingers and knew what was happening based upon the few times she’d sat in on a few of his rehearsals: he was imagining playing the first few notes and his hands were reacting appropriately.

He started playing without saying a word. His fingers touched the keys and music emanated from unseen speakers. Annie wasn’t watching his hands, however: she was watching his face. Whenever he wasn’t certain that what he was going to play was note perfect the tension was reflected through a series of facial tics, frowns, and grimaces. But when he knew the piece he was performing, his face grew relaxed and his hands danced over the instrument.

Right now his fingers dance with great freedom. If Annie had been unaware of Kerry’s statement, she would’ve assumed he’d last performed this piece the day before.

A little over a minute later he slowed the tempo, touched the last few keys, and removed his hands from the keyboard. He took a step back from the instrument and glanced toward Annie. “How was that?”

A smile slowly formed upon her face. “I’m not that familiar with the piece, but it sounded perfect to me.”

“It was perfect.” Matthias stepped up to Kerry and patted him on the shoulder. “Pretty impressive for someone who hasn’t played that piece in over a year.”

 

As for more research, I looked around to see if there was any video of someone performing the same opening.  Fact:  there are a lot of videos of people playing the intro to Firth of Fifth ’cause it’s a good piece to show off your chops, and people love to show those chops.  It only took viewing about a dozen videos before I found this one, which the person in question performed on a Yamaha Clavinova CVP 301 electronic piano, first built in 2004.  Though one person says there’s a small mistake in this performance I’m damned if I can hear it, so I say this is about a perfect as you’re gonna hear it without going to the original recording.

In short, this is pretty much how Kerry would have played that day in the Keyboard Room:

It looks like Kerry has everything he needs–however, there may be just a bit of a problem…

Arts and Music: The Personal Evaluations

While I managed to cross the ninety-six thousand word line last night, I didn’t come near thousand words as I wanted.  Probably because when I got home around five I sat down and watched the last movie in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.  So there was three hours spent camped out in front of the TV right there.  No complaints, though: you need that time to sit and recharge the batteries, and to get your mind and write creative space.

Will I write three thousand, seven hundred words by midnight on Saturday?  Doubtful.  But I will cross the hundred thousand word mark by at least 1 January, because I don’t intend on going out and getting stinking drunk on New Year’s Eve like I did last year.  So crossing that line will be a good way to celebrate the coming of what I feel is going to be a year just as shitty as 2016.

And as I pointed out to others, on New Year’s Eve instead of playing Auld Lang Syne, we’re gonna play The Rains of Castamere:

This is a perfect image of 2016--

This is a perfect depiction of 2016, and I’m sure I’m not the one holding the knife.

On to happier news now.  When Kerry goes off to visit Professor Ellison on the first day back to school, it’s often with Ostara in mind.  That’s what happened the first time Annie and Kerry visited, and it was implied that they discussed music selections when they visited during their B Levels.  And it’s true he’s there to discuss what he wants to do during this year’s performance–please also doing a bit of a postmortem on what happened last year…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“First, I want to scale back my next performance. Instead of doing one long, complicated song, I’d rather do two or, if you let me, three songs instead.”

“Any particular reason why?”

Kerry nodded. “Burning Rope was a complicated piece and I feel I may have gotten a little over my head. I pushed myself with an ambitious piece—” For just a moment he looked a bit chagrined. “And it almost got away from me. I feel like I need to step back a little and do a change of pace this year so I can push myself again the following year.”

Mathias said nothing for a few seconds: when he did speak there was a semblance of pride in his tone. “Again, spoken like a true artist. We are often our own worst critics, but if we can put that ego aside and look at those points where we know we were skirting with danger, it helps us grow that much more as an artist.

“I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to stifle your confidence, but I had my doubts you could actually pull that performance all. It wasn’t that I thought you wouldn’t play well; it was more that I was worried you were going to convince yourself you couldn’t do piece correctly. And when you go into a performance like that with any sort of doubt, the results can sometimes be disastrous.

“It was a good performance: maybe not the best you could’ve done, but still a hell of a lot better than what most people were doing. But from where I was sitting I could see that look in your eyes on a couple of occasions where you were wondering, ‘What the hell have I gotten myself into?’ The fact you got through it with nary a bobble is another sign of true artists: keep pushing on no matter what.”

Matthias stood and circled around to the edge of his desk. “As a C Level you have an option on three songs, though as you know you have to keep them relatively short. If you’re looking at doing something a little simpler, three songs isn’t a problem.”

Kerry smiled, appearing relieved. “Thank you, Professor.”

“You’re welcome. And as I’m sure you’re going to discover, Nadine is also doing three songs. So you guys will be able to rehearse together again.” He took a couple of paces away from his desk. “Since you indicated a first thing you want to discuss, I gather there’s a second?”

 

In the B Level novel Kerry shared his concerns with Annie that perhaps the song he played shouldn’t have been the song he played, and he felt as if he’d taken on too much too soon.  Were finally hearing that Professor Ellison agrees with that summation, but that he’s also happy to hear that Kerry learned from the experience and wants to scale things back just a little this next time around.  Someone might say, “Well, performing three songs isn’t actually scaling back,” but Kerry will have an option of playing three, which means he can only play two if he wants.  Sure, two five minute songs is still ten minutes of performing, but at least you break up the action a bit.

Now to Kerry’s done with his postmortem–and this time around he didn’t beat himself up too bad–he gets to the second part of why he’s there.  Beyond the, “I want to talk about what I want to play this year,” stuff:

 

“There is.” Kerry stretched his shoulders before letting them drop to his sides. “For the performances this year I’d like to work with keyboard workstations.”

This caused Matthias to return to the front of his desk where he once more against the edge. “That’s interesting to hear. But why the sudden interest in working with that sort of equipment?”

Kerry ran his right hand through his hair a couple of times. “Last year it was really cool to get to use all that different equipment. I mean, playing Tony’s ARP was tremendous, and I got to use a mellotron which was cool, but the more I thought about it over the summer the more I realize that stuff is all part of the past.” He gave a quick shrug. “If I’m gonna play in modern times, I need to know how to use modern equipment.”

Matthias returned rubbing his chin. “Hence using a workstation.”

“Yeah. I did some research over the summer and saw what you can do with the new workstations. I want to learn how to create and modify MIDI files; I want to use one with DAW software; most of all I want to be able to do things like split the keyboard and switch between engines and use customized play lists. And you’re only going to be able to do that with a modern keyboard workstation.”

For a few seconds Matthias regarded Kerry. “You know what Tony thought about new equipment, don’t you?”

Kerry was well aware what Tony Banks thought on that subject. “He said he always tried to work with the newest technology and he didn’t look back on the old stuff with any sort of nostalgia.”

“Pretty much. He certainly liked working with digital samples more than he liked working with stretching tapes and overheated electronics.” He stood up once more began heading toward the door, waving it open as he turned towards his guests. “Come on, I want to show you both something.”

 

Ah, keyboard workstations, something I spent a good two weeks researching just so I could get a thousand good words on the matter.  (Trust me, it’s usually like that…)  Kerry got to play with a bit of history during his B Level Ostara performance, but he also got a taste of the present when he used an Akai keyboard controller to play MIDI files so his keyboard sounded like an organ.  So now he wants to move up to creating those files and working with Digital Audio Workstations (DAW) and splitting that keyboard so he can pretty much play two different things at the same time.

You know, just like real musicians do.

Which means we keep to see what sort of goodies Professor Ellison has stashed away in the Keyboard room–

There’ll Be Artwork and Pain

Let’s get this out of the way first thing: a couple of days ago I passed sixty thousand words.  It took eighteen days to get there, but there was probably less actual writing since during those two and a half weeks I was kind of preoccupied with real-life.

But I got it done.  And I got a feel good about that.

Right here's the proof of feeling good.

Right here’s the proof of feeling good.

I think it’s really funny that if you look at the picture above, you see that the word count I ended with last night was exactly two thousand words less than the word count from the previous scene.  Since then–which is to say this morning–I’ve added a few more words so that counts don’t jibe, but still: I love little coincidences like that.

Also last night, I wrote a total of twelve hundred and sixty-four words.  That is probably the biggest amount I have written in a long time, though all that writing was done with the help of Dragon software.  It took me exactly two hours and forty-seven minutes to finish the scene–how do I know that?  I’ll tell you in a bit.

And one last thing before we get to the excerpt: I noticed when I begin speaking Annie’s dialogue, I speak in “her” voice.  Which is to say, I soften my tone and try to speak with just a bit of an accent.  Not much, but there’s a little bit there.  I guess you could say I’m getting into her character what I’m speaking as her, and I do think about what she would actually say as opposed to what I am going to write.

Then again, I caught myself speaking of slightly English accent when I was doing Penny’s voice.  But just like with Annie, I speak of slightly softer tone when speaking is Penny or Alex, and I’ll probably do the same with him speaking as Anna or Elisha.  Funny how that works out.

Now that we got all that out of the way, let’s look at part of what I wrote.  I’m not going to give you everything today, you’ll just have to do with what I’m giving you here.  I assure you, it’s going to be enough.

And it should be good.

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“He’s fine.” Annie look back toward Penny and Alex before turning toward Anna and Elisha. “Could you give us a few moments alone, please?” Alex nodded and turned away with Penny doing the same. Anna and Elisha did the same and headed off in the opposite direction from the other two girls.

The moment everyone was out of sight Annie began gently pulling on Kerry’s arm. She moved close to him so no one else could hear her speak. “Let’s sit, my love. Please?”

Kerry nodded just enough to acknowledge that he heard Annie. They sat on the floor between two of van Gogh’s paintings while still keeping Starry Night Over the Rhône before them. Annie was about to ask Kerry something when he suddenly leaned forward, closed his eyes, and began sobbing aloud.

She was unsure of what to do beyond wrapping her arm around him. Annie had never seen Kerry act like this before—no, that wasn’t entirely true. Kerry had experienced a number of sobbing breakdown for, but all of them had occurred at school and in private. While she had seen him shed a few tears in public before, this was the first time she’d ever seen him break down completely with other people around.

Annie pulled him into her, holding him close. “What is it, my love? Please tell me what’s wrong.”

 

It goes without saying that Kerry is something of an emotional mess right now, the comforting of the soul mate not withstanding.  His worst fears came true and he’s dealing with them with varying  degrees of success.

However, this is something different:  this is something that’s overwhelming him, ’cause Annie knows, he’s not one to up and breakdown like this in public.  She’s good at getting him to open up to her, and this time is no different:

 

It took a few more seconds for Kerry can bring himself under control. He held his head up and back, drawing in deep breaths, and after the third one he was ready to speak. “I don’t want you to think this strange—”

Annie chuckled. “I won’t think it’s strange, I promise.”

Kerry pressed is fingertips against his forehead. I really like van Gogh’s paintings. I don’t know why, I just saw them on-line one day and I thought about how fantastic they looked. I know it seems strange that I would like art—”

“I don’t think it’s strange at all. You’re intelligent and creative. Look how you enjoy my artwork; look how you enjoy playing music.”

“I know.” He looked across the enclosure at the painting on the far wall. “It was when Elisha asked where van Gogh was when he painted the other Starry Night, and I said he was in an insane asylum—” He rested his head against Annie shoulder. “Have you ever heard the song Vincent?”

She stroked his hair. “No, my love. I haven’t.”

He drew in a long, slow breath and exhale completely. “It’s an old song by Don McLean. He wrote about Vincent van Gogh and it’s a really…” Kerry’s voice caught as he tried to control his emotions. “It’s a beautiful song. I don’t listen to it much because it makes me feel sad.”

Annie knew there was more to what Kerry was feeling now than just being sad about a particular song. But she couldn’t come right out and say that: it wasn’t the way to get through to him. However, having known Kerry all her life, she knew how to pull information out of him. “I’d like to hear the song one day. But something else must have occurred, something even more sad, that is connected to this painting. Is there?”

He looked off into the distance for a moment then turned back and focused on the painting. “I was looking at this painting and the other Starry Night on-line one day—it was like a month before I was invited to Salem. I had Vincent on a playlist shuffle and it started playing while I was looking at the pictures. I started thinking about what it must’ve been like—” He looked down and closed his eyes for a second. “What it must be like to go mad. And I got all, you know—” He turned to Annie with tears in his eyes. “You know.”

She brushed the tears from his left cheek. “I do indeed know, my love.”

He nodded. “Some sitting there, trying to get control of myself, and my mom walks into my bedroom without knocking or anything. And she sees me there, crying, with the music playing, and she’s like, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ And I told her I heard a sad song and made me cry. And she—” He closed his eyes as he fought to keep from sobbing again. “She says, ‘What the hell is wrong with you? You’re worse—’ He shook as he strained to get out the last few words. “‘Sometimes you’re worse than a girl’.”

 

And here’s where it was a good thing I had a few glasses of wine inside me when I wrote those last few paragraphs, ’cause something like what happened to Kerry happened to me.  Only it happened while the aforementioned song was being performed live at the Grammys and I started crying in the living room in front of both parents, and I ended up getting a disgusted look from my father and pretty much the same last statement from my mother.  Yeah, thanks a lot, guys, for knocking me down with that burn.

Needless to say, Annie’s got some choice thoughts for her future mother-in-law, and while she calls her something that sounds like “witch”, it ain’t.  Louise Malibey doesn’t know it yet, but she’s shaping the life of another person she’s never met–and she’s doing as shitty a job with her as she has with her son.  Having an emotionally traumatized witch who knows Morte spells in the house is one thing:  having his cool and collected Dark Witch girlfriend who can River Tam your ass in a fast second is another, and that’s one that could come back to bite one on the ass at some point.

Now, for the song in question:  I picked this version because of the slideshow of van Gogh’s artwork the presenter put together.  Enjoy.

 

Now, as to my claim that I finished the current scene in exactly two hours and forty-seven minutes–yeah, I got this backed up.  Last night I also modified my YouTube Music From San Junipero playlist based upon an extended playlist that Black Mirror creator and writer Charlie Booker put together on Spotify.  He says that his playlist has all the music that was in the episode, all the music he tried to get into the episode but couldn’t because of licensing issues, and a couple of songs “that inspired”.  The time it takes to play all the songs?  Two hours and forty-seven minutes.  I started writing as the first song began and finished as the last song ended–which is a nice bookend in a way as the first and last songs are bookends to both the playlist and the TV episode.

So here you go, some great music coming from one of the best hours of television ever written:  not just my opinion–one I gave when I recapped this episode a short time back and you should read if you haven’t–but the opinion of many others who enjoyed great TV.

Now, what’s Annie gonna do to help Kerry out of his current mindset?

Guess you’ll find out tomorrow.

Checking in From Post D.C.

A quick check in ’cause I can’t seem to go away.  After getting off work yesterday I spent two and a half hours on the road driving to Washington, D. C., to visit a friend from West Virginia who was lobbying Congress on behave of the Sierra Club.  She was staying in the Marriott Marque, which was a pretty swanky joint:

Though you wouldn't know it from this blury picture. :)

Though you wouldn’t know it from this blury picture. 🙂

I didn’t return home until 10:30 PM, so there was no writing.  There was, however, a lot of listening to music on my phone since I’d just bought a whole lot of data and could affords to let it run for about forty-five minutes.  And it also allowed for me to find a new opening to the next scene that will show Kerry doing something he’s never done up to now.  It’s gonna be fun.

In the meantime I broke a nail this morning–really, it snapped and then I had to pull the acrylic overlay off–

It looks worse than it is.

And being it’s Wednesday I’m in full Mean Girl regalia:

Even have the right Resting Bitch Face for pink.

It’s a quick check in and it means I’ll be into the writing tonight after I return from the phone bank.  I hope to finish up the last of the meeting between Kerry and his mom, which would mean getting into the next scene and showing something surprising and something special.

You just gotta wait.

Straight Outta the Golden Gate

Hey, look!  It’s time to go back to the Ukraine, ain’t it?  Yep, sure is.  I’m not going to say much up here in the front ’cause I’m gonna do a lot of talking in the middle and that’ll give you enough to read as is.  So, when Annie asks, “That’s the Golden Gate?” you know Alex will have a reply–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

“Yes.” Alex waved an arm at the immense structure. “The last Great Gate of Kiev. You can thank the Russians for this: they built it for the city’s fifteen-hundredth anniversary, though everyone then and now says it looks nothing like the original gate—” She shrugged as she lowered her voice. “I guess the only way we’d know what it really looks like is to get a witch out her and have them Postcog the area. It’s the only way we’d know for sure.”

“That’s true.” What Annie knew of Postcogntion was limited to what she’d already read at home and at school. She knew Deanna taught the basics of the skill though she’d heard her say once before that she wasn’t as skilled at seeing into the past as she was the future. Annie figured that, like Demonology an Necromancy, if a student showed promise with Postcognition Foundation personnel from outside the school came in to help develop their talent.
She tapped her friend lightly on the arm. “Let’s talk about this over lunch.”

Alex nodded. “Good idea. It’s down this way.”

 

Now for an annoying historical interlude:

What Alex says about the Golden Gate is true:  it was part of the city’s fortifications going back to at least before the 11th Century and perhaps a few centuries before that.  The truth is no one really knows because stuff like construction records were pretty sketchy at that time.  By the 1800’s the Golden Gate didn’t exist in much of anything but ruins, but in the early 1980’s the Soviet Union decided Kiev needed a nice present for their 1500th anniversary and rebuilt the Golden Gate in it’s present form.  Just about everyone who knows a little history say the current look is all wrong and at the time this gate went up various historians were telling the Russians this, but in 1982 one did not tell the Old Soviet Union “Nyet!”, it told you–often with a trip to a gulag in Siberia.

But the Golden Gate became world famous when it more or less became one of the moments of the suite Pictures at an Exhibition, written by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky in 1874.  The suite was composed in honor of Mussorgsky’s friend, artist Viktor Hartmann, who passed away in 1873 at the age of 39.  Mussorgsky imagined the suite as representing the feelings one would have as they walked through an art gallery viewing Hartmann’s work, and the musical movements were based upon certain paintings of Hartann’s–one of which was that of a gate designed as a monument for Tsar Alexander II.  That movement, the last of the suite, was The Great Gate of Kiev.  And that’s the gate in the image below:

Not the Golden Gate, but the real Great Gate.

Not the Golden Gate, but the real Great Gate.

Though Pictures at an Exhibition was originally written for the piano it didn’t take long for it to be adapted for the orchestra, and the version below, conducted by Maurice Ravel, is considered by many to be best interpretation of the suite.  Since we’re dealing with The Great Gate of Kiev here we’ll stick to that movement, which tends to bring down the house every time:

 

Now, the above piece actually starts out with the penultimate movement, Baba Yaga’s Hut on Hen’s Legs, and doesn’t get into The Great Gates of Kiev until around 3:20 in the video.  There’s a reasons for that…

Because my first exposure to Pictures at an Exhibition was only classical if you consider rock to be both classical and progressive.  Not long after I started driving–believe it or not I received my licence on 1 April, 1974, and the world has never been the same–a friend gave me an 8-track tap telling me, “This is some of the freak music you like to listen to,” which was a label I was given at the time–Listener of Freak Music–because out of nearly everyone in my school I was one of the few who listened to FM radio.  It was 1974, okay?  People were just not ready to break with Top 40 AM…

Anyway, I popped the tape in my player and drove around that night being amazed ’cause this was a recording of Pictures at an Exhibition as arranged by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer and performed at the Newcastle City Hall in North East England on 26 March, 1971.  Not only did I become a fan of the group then, but it also made me go to the library and seek out the original source material and start getting introduced to actual classical music.

Pictures at an Exhibition has remained a favorite of mine all these years and I’ve even managed to hear it performed live by ELP on three different occasions.  The selection below, taken from their album of the performance, covers the same two movements as the classical piece above, which allows you to hear how three guys on keyboards, drums, and bass made this score their own.

Now that the music’s out of the way we can get to lunch, and wouldn’t you know it:  the girls aren’t going that far…

 

They quickly left the park and the enormous gate behind as they crossed the street. Alex, walking on Annie’s left, nodded her head towards the road. “That used to be moat in case you were wondering about the name.”

“I figured when I saw it was Yaroslaviv Val that it had something to do with fortifications, particularly with the gate here.” Annie glanced at the park. “I supposed the wall ran along the other side.”

“It didn’t surround the whole city, but there was a wall over there.” As they walked beyond the western boundaries of the park street took a slight dogleg to the right where Alex pointed to a set of stairs. “There’s the place: I told you it wasn’t far.”

Annie examined the name of the restaurant—Eurasia—as well as some of the placards advertising the wears. “They have sushi?”

“Sure. Yakatori and sashimi, too.” Alex looked down and away for a moment. “It’s not all that fancy, but the food’s good.”

Annie nodded. “That’s all that matters.”

A strange tone took hold in Alex’s voice. “If you’d rather—”

“Alex.” Annie turned toward the girl as she flashed a comforting smile. “I didn’t come here to be impressed: I came here to hang out with you. This is fine.” She nodded towards the entrance. “Let’s go inside.”

The Eurasia was styled much like a modern sushi restaurant. They found a small booth near the bar and given that the place had just opened and was nearly empty they were waited almost immediately. The girls order a combination of nigiri sushi and several rolls to start as well as hot tea for both.

Once they food arrived they began eating immediately. Annie found the food prepared nicely and to have a fantastic flavor. She swallowed her second smoked salmon roll and wiped her lips. “This is tasty.”

 

Did you really think Annie wouldn’t like sushi?  That’s not as surprising as Alex liking it, but then Alex seems to be full of surprises–the biggest one here being that she’s a little worried the fare won’t be to Annie’s liking.  Even though Annie and Kerry mentioned their luncheons in London, they probably never said where they were meeting and the rest of the Party of Six may have figured that when they were alone, The Lovey Dovey Couple liked them so fine dining.

Alex had no idea this is just a lateral move from a fast food joint in Russel Square.

Alex had no idea this is just a lateral move from a fast food joint in Russel Square.

And that’s the actual location when the girls are enjoying their sushi right now–

As they prepare to talk about stuff–and things…

Saturday Morning Silliness

The post title says it all:  it’s a quick update of what’s going on but…  you’re getting more than that this morning.  Oh, yeah:  a lot more–

Coming to a Theater Near You–Again

After a night of interruptions–including a couple of romance scammers who spent well over an hour trying to convince me that I was the one for them–I finally finished the “movie trailer” for B For Bewitching.

This was a real undertaking, let me tell you, for my mind wasn’t actually seeing things as clearly this time around as last.  I should say I did see things clearly, but for some reason I didn’t bring them to life as well as I did the last time I posted one of these–which was only a week and a half short of six months ago–and I know that because I posted it for another writer friend who is in the process of trying to market her first novel, and she’s got the growing pains that come with trying to market yourself.  Of course, because her last name is Noble I like to call her Doctor Donna, because I’m like that.

What’s different this time around?  A couple of things.  First, this time around I left off a lot of the screenplay marks like “EXT. LAKE SHORE — DAY” and “EXT. TRAIN STATION— NIGHT”, because this was taking me a whole lot of time to write, and I was forgetting these things, to be honest.  Yes, I know, I’m bad.  Therefore, this is more like a first draft of a screenplay, with most of the camera set ups loaded inside the descriptions.

The other thing I did was include music, and this is where I really spent most of my time trying to tie scenes in with specific lyrics.  That’s what took the longest time, listening to the songs over and over and figuring out what scenes should go where.  That’s why you’ll see lyrics posted in the areas where the scene descriptions are located:  in a “real” trailer you’d hear the music in voice over (or here, V.O.) as the scenes plays out.  Not only did I include the lyrics, but I’ve also included the songs themselves at the appropriate areas, but there are two songs used, and they definitely show a change in the mood of the trailer.

I should also point out that neither song is played in its entirety;  about half the lyrics are missing from the first song and the whole second verse of the last song is missing.  Because no one is going to sit through like nine to ten minutes of trailer.  Five on the other hand . . .

Either way, you might want to give the songs a listen as you either read through, or before hand.  Just a suggestion.

During the reading you may encounter the phrase “beauty pass”.  This is a term where there’s a tracking shot over something that’s meant to show it off.  In Star Trek:  The Next Generation majestically sailing past the camera now and then was a beauty pass.  It’s also a term used in CGI rendering and for getting your hair and makeup done in New York City, but I’m doing neither of those.

Also, you’ll notice that a few people who are among “the hated” show up in this treatment, and they even have lines!  There’s also a character who you’ll recognize instantly–

Then, for better or worse, there’s the “movie trailer” for the second novel.  Enjoy.

 

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

FADE IN:

CLOSE UP ON CLOSED EYES:

The log drums intro of Crowded House’s Private Universe begins as the camera pulls back revealing KERRY MALIBEY laying in bed with the covers pulled to his chin. Once his face is in full frame his eyes open, but he seemed unaware where he is.

QUICK CUT:

The music continues as the camera focus across a room. ANNIE KIRILOVA sits up wearing a black cami top, her hair slightly mused, appearing slightly confused while looking at something just off camera.

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY are standing together in the bedroom, both in their night clothes moving towards the camera as she waves her hand.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“No time, no place to talk about the weather.”

QUICK CUT:

Camera POV from behind ANNIE and KERRY as they look out an opening door, revealing a sunny yard beyond.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Promise of love is hard to ignore.”

QUICK CUT:

KERRY and ERYWIN SLADEN walking across a open plaza.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Who said the chance wasn’t getting any better?”

KERRY
“It sucks. I hate being home.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY alone on a sofa.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Labor of love is ours to endure.”

ANNIE
“I hate being thirteen.”

QUICK CUT:

Camera POV making a beauty pass over the SALEM SCHOOL Pentagram and Great Hall.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Highest branch on the apple tree.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY siting on the second floor of Cernunnos Coven at night with PENELOPE RIGMAN, ALEXANDRIA CHORNEY, and JAIRO YBARRA.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“It was my favorite place to be.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE appearing serious and deadpan with KERRY standing in the background as she’s yelled at by LISA GLISSANDI.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“I could hear them breaking free.”

LISA
“Don’t you get it? No one cares what you want.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE dressed in her night clothes floating out of a multi-colored, iridescent fog.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“But they could not see me.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE, PENNY, and ALEX watching red blips inside a holographic bubble.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“I will run for shelter.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Endless summer lift the curse.”

QUICK CUT:

KERRY lifting ANNIE around her waist as she holds her hands over her head and cheers.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“It feels like nothing matters.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY dressed in summer clothes standing with bicycles in the middle of a country road on a sunny day.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“In our private universe.”

The instrumental bridge begins to play as we cycle through a number of scenes:

QUICK CUT:

DEANNA ARRAKIS is sitting in a room with ANNIE and KERRY.

DEANNA
“There’s something I’d like to discuss.”

KERRY
“Does it involve tea?”

QUICK CUT:

ISIS MOSSMAN twisting around in mid-air and lightly hands on her feet in front of ANNIE and KERRY while they stand inside the Aerodrome.

ISIS
“Do you want to be a mermaid?”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE wrapping KERRY in dark ribbons of shadow as she levitates him in front of Sorcery Class.

QUICK CUT:

KERRY on his broom alongside PENNY and ALEX on theirs as they enter The Diamond, a large, enclosed racing structure. All look up at something and break into smile as PENNY leaps off her broom.

QUICK CUT:

A blond KERRY and an aqua-colored hair ANNIE standing in the Pentagram Garden late at night. She kisses him on the nose.

ANNIE
“It’s been such a special night.”

The song picks up as scenes continue:

QUICK CUT:

KERRY is in Queens, New York, standing in the World’s Fair grounds with EMMA NELSON. They are both in their flight gear, and the Unisphere is in the background. He turns to her as she speaks.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“I will run for shelter.”

EMMA
“What is wrong with you? You’re twelve years old and you talk like you’re married.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY walking along a lake in the gray misting light rain.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“Endless summer lift the curse.”

KERRY
“I wait to stand by your side.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY in their school uniforms standing close together in a large room with several students standing in the background.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“It feels like nothing matters.”

KERRY
“I’m gonna stand over here and watch you kick this guy’s butt—”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE smiles at his comment.

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE is floating over KERRY, who is in his night clothes, as is ANNIE. All around them multi-colored mist beings to take shape into recognizable shapes.

ANNIE
“Come to me. Come be with me.”

KERRY
“Annie?”

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“In our private universe.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY are sitting in an airport lounge with darkness beyond the windows. He hands a small, gift wrapped package to her.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“And it’s a pleasure that I have known.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY are walking down a street wearing jackets on what seems a chilly day.

ANNIE
“I’ve never had people tell me that didn’t want me around.”

KERRY
“You can do two things, then: either change and be what they want—or ignore them and continue being yourself.”

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“And it’s a treasure that I have gained.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE waking up inside a dark aircraft cabin. As the lyric is sung the camera POV shows her face rising up over an armrest.  The music comes to the foreground.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“And it’s a pleasure that I have known.”

QUICK CUT:

As the song moves back into the instrumental with an increased tempo KERRY is squirming in his sleep, mumbling.

KERRY
She’s not your CONCERN.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE is speaking with KERRY aboard the same plane.

ANNIE
“What were you dreaming about?”

KERRY
“I was talking to a girl.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE meeting with DEANNA lying on their backs, looking at a video. We cut to the video showing a scene from the year before, where ANNIE and KERRY met with DEANNA the first time. This time there are colorful outlines around bodies.

ANNIE (O.S.)
“Why does mine have that bright yellow border?”

DEANNA (O.S.)
“Bright yellow indicates a fear of something—losing control, losing respect—”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE appearing a bit sad.

ANNIE
“Losing someone you love.”

QUICK CUT:

KERRY sitting up in a hospital bed unable to move as ANNIE feeds him breakfast.

ANNIE
“Were you speaking with that girl again? The one you mentioned the last time?”

KERRY
“Yes, I was.”

ANNIE
“Who is she?”

KERRY
“I don’t know.”

QUICK CUT:

KERRY standing in a stark, gray fog, wearing his pajamas as he looks around.

KERRY
“You’re not Annie.”

A GIRL speaks but is not shown.

GIRL (O.S.)
“No, I’m not.”

KERRY
“Who are you?”

GIRL (O.S.)
“You know who I am”

KERRY
“Why do you want me to know everything about you?”

SMASH CUT:
BLACK SCREEN:

The music stops as the screen goes completely black. There’s a pause before we hear the girl speak.

GIRL (V.O.)
“Because you hold my life in your hands.”

The screen remains black as we hear a high hat strike before the famous eight-note bass intro of Queen’s Under Pressure begins.

FADE IN:

POV from across a large mat with a large circle in the middle. The camera looks over the shoulder of a student as we see ANNIE in her school uniform, her feet bare, standing in an outlined box opposite the camera. The mat is surrounded by students.

QUICK CUT:

CORALINE GALLAGHER is with DENNA in a comfortable looking room. CORALINE is dressed in a sweater and jeans; DEANNA wears a light blue abaya.

CORALINE
“Did you notice the one connecting thread in those dreams?”

DEANNA
“You’re talking about Annie—”

CORALINE
“She could probably be considered a trigging factor.”

DEANNA
“Five times is too often for it to be a coincidence.”

CORALINE
“You think it’s a vision?”

QUICK CUT:

A group of students in heavy winter gear are flying on PAVs through the darkening sky, with a touch of the sun to the right of screen.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Um ba ba be, Um ba ba be, De day da.”

POV over two students as Cape Ann is scene in the distance.

QUICK CUT:

We are in the headmistress’ office, where MATHILDE LAVENTURE is speaking with CORALINE and DEANNA. Until otherwise noted the song plays in the background.

MATHILDE
“I have to assume the student in question is Kerry Malibey.”

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“Pressure pushing down on me.”

CORALINE
“Given what happened last night with Kerry, we’d like to have Erywin help us.”

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“Pressing down on you, no man ask fore.”

MATHILDE
“So have her help you.”

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“Under pressure.”

DEANNA
“We’re asking for her official assistance.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY are in light blue coveralls getting into rigging hanging from the ceiling. RAMONA CHAI and HELENA LOVECRAFT are with them, helping the prepare.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“That brings a building down, splits a family in two.”

RAMONA
“Both signals are over the red line.”

HELENA
“How are you feeling?”

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“Puts people on streets.”

KERRY
“I’ve been looking forward to this since last night.”

ANNIE
“I can’t wait to start.”

QUICK CUT:

POV CLOSE UP on the face of someone that looks human, but is hairless. It’s gasping for air and appears confused.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“Um ba ba be, um ba ba be.”

HELENA (O.S.)
“Don’t try to talk, just nod—”

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“De day da, ee day da—”

QUICK CUT:

POV showing the upper torso of the human-like thing looking towards the camera as HELENA stands next to it, helping.

QUICK CUT:

POV showing another human-like thing looking towards the camera with RAMONA alongside. It smiles back.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“That’s okay.”

QUICK CUT:

CORALINE and DEANNA are meeting with ERYWIN in a library room, with comfortable sitting chairs, end tables, and subdued lighting.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“It’s the terror of knowing what the world is about.”

ERYWIN
“Do you believe he’s a danger?”

QUICK CUT:

CORALINE and ANNIE are next to KERRY’S bed in the school’s hospital. CORALINE stands over him as ANNIE sits to his left. He appears almost terrified as he closes his eyes.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“Watching some good friends screaming—”

KERRY (In a near whisper)
“She’s coming for me.”

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O. IN B.G.)
“Let Me Out.”

QUICK CUT:

Two racers on PAVs collide at the start/finish line; one slams into the ground as the other flies off their broom and towards the camera. At this point the song comes out of the background and plays over the scenes.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Pressure on people, people on streets.”

QUICK CUT:

DEANNA standing in a ghostly version of the school while dressed in ethereal armor. She throws up a glowing shield as an flickering, orange light bathes her face.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Turned away from it all like a blind man.”

QUICK CUT:

CORALINE, DEANNA, ERYWIN, and JESSICA KISHNA stand looking incredulously at something off-screen. ERYWIN shouts out something as she throws up her hand.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Sat on a fence but it don’t work.”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE in the hospital standing over an unconscious KERRY laying in bed while CORALINE stands at the food of the bed.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Keep coming up with love, but it’s so slashed and torn.”

QUICK CUT:

The air in front of ANNIE shimmers slightly as she is hit by a fireball that dissipates; she pulls back her right hand and looks down at something as a dark mass forms around her open palm.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Why—”

QUICK CUT:

Three racers in black with green piping drop down over the top of trees at high speed as they race past the camera’s POV.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Why—”

As the third “Why” in the song stretches out—

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE being held from behind as she looks on frightened.

QUICK CUT:

KERRY in a room screaming at someone or something.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Whyyyyyyyyy—”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE in her night clothes running out of her room into a dark, coven corridor.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Love, love, love, love, love.”

QUICK CUT:

Overhead POV as the camera follows a racer in their black uniform with green trim traveling over a rocky surface in snow before plunging over the slide of a mountain into a whiteout and vanishing.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Insanity laughs under pressure we’re breaking.”

QUICK CUT:

POV on KERRY on a busy street as he turns to face the camera.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Can’t we give ourselves one more chance.”

QUICK CUT:

POV on ANNIE sitting at a table in a restaurant, waving with a slight smile on her face.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Why can’t we give love that one more chance.”

SMASH CUT:
BLACK SCREEN — RUN TITLES:

Prepare

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Why can’t we give love give love—”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE with KERRY on a sofa inside a room as he kisses her.

SMASH CUT:
BLACK SCREEN — RUN TITLES:

To Be

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Give love give love give love—”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE in the dark with KERRY, both wearing winter gear, as she seems to float above and to his side. She leans in to kiss him.

SMASH CUT:
BLACK SCREEN — RUN TITLES:

Bewitched

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Give love give love give love give love.”

QUICK CUT:

POV CLOSE UP on ANNIE with KERRY standing in a court yard and dressed for a cool day. There are tears on his cheeks as she holds his face between her hands.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Because love’s such an old fashioned word.”

QUICK CUT:

POV CLOSE UP on ANNIE standing in a bedroom dressed in her night clothes as she smiles softly at something beyond the camera.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“And love dares you to care for—”

QUICK CUT:

POV CLOSE UP on A GIRL WITH RED HAIR in the same bedroom and dressed in her night clothe, smiling back at the camera.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“The people on the edge of the night—”

QUICK CUT:

ANNIE and KERRY sitting at an outside table at a cafe with PENNY, ALEX, JAIRO, and KAHOKU SAYASONE. All are smiling and laughing.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“And loves dares you to change our way of—”

QUICK CUT:

POV ANNIE and KERRY, at night, sitting on a bench under a covered walkway. It’s cool outside; he’s in a hoodie and she a sweater. ANNIE stays nestled against KERRY with is arm wrapped around her. They both look happy and content.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Caring about ourselves; this is our last dance—”

QUICK CUT:

An aqua-haired ANNIE and blond KERRY dancing: he with his arm high over his head as he is yelling out, while ANNIE dancing wildly near him.

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“This is our last dance.”

QUICK CUT:

POV ANNIE and KERRY, both in winter gear out on a gray day. He’s on his broom; she’s flying free. She waves for him to follow, and they head towards the camera. It turns and follows them as they fly out over a gray, churning ocean and quickly dwindle into the distance

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“This is ourselves. Under pressure.”

SMASH CUT:
BLACK SCREEN — RUN TITLES:

The Foundation Chronicles: B For Bewitching

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Under pressure.”

QUICK CUT:

KERRY sitting in a chair in what appears to be a family room. He speaks over the piano.

KERRY
“Mom, Dad . . .”

LYRICS FROM SONG (V.O.)
“Pressure.”

QUICK CUT:

As the song plays out POV ANNIE standing before a closed privacy curtain.

ANNIE
“You’ve yet to see me angry.”

POV KERRY sitting up in a hospital bed.

KERRY
“Uh, huh. And if you had been angry?”

QUICK CUT:

POV on ANNIE in her school uniform as she floats down from above, a cold loon on her face, a shimmering ice blue sphere in one hand, as purple-yellow ball of energy in the other. She comes to a hover half a meter above the mat—

SMASH CUT:
BLACK SCREEN — RUN TITLES:

Classes Start This Fall

FADE OUT:

 

And there you are;  three days of work that I hope were worth it.  And just think:  there’s another coming.

Maybe even before I age another month and reach my two year anniversary on hormone treatment, which is a month from yesterday.

Maybe even before I age another month and reach my two year anniversary on hormone treatment, which is a month from yesterday.

See you around the magical campus, kids!

The Final Solo: The Final Shenanigans

New day, new stuff, it’s bright and sunny outside, and I’ve been writing.  You know I would because I told you I would.  And what did I do?  I finished the scene!  Yay for me, right?

Well, I didn’t lose it at the dinner last night, though someone didn’t like my “hula hoop” earrings, so I kinda told them to screw off and moved on.  It’s really the way to do it, ya know?  I also didn’t get blind drunk, so I had a pretty good night’s sleep.  Which is why I was able to focus for the most part and get this all written.

Now . . . I mentioned shenanigans, and that’s what the kids are up to here at the end of Annie’s solo.  So let’s get into that scene, all of what I just wrote, so you can see what they’re up to here on Cape Ann.

 

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

Vicky jaunted to the three-by-three meter platform set atop the center of the Flight School’s room and ran along the railed walkway to the stairs leading to a larger viewing platform set at the north end of the building four meters above the roof. She heard Isis pop in behind her and saw her soar over her head so that she was waiting for her.

The sky was the same solid gray overcast from this morning, but unlike the area where Annie did most of her solo flight it wasn’t raining. Vicky knew the kids were still following Invisibility Flight Sanctions and couldn’t be seen from the ground, but she’d see them if she looked for their auras, which they were so far unable to hide. She scanned the area to the south and spotted them a few seconds later. “There they are.”

Isis saw them peeking in and our of their light bending effect as the approached the south grounds of the school. From better than a kilometer away she heard the faint echos of music. “Christ, he’s blasting that thing.”

“Yeah, no kidding.” Vicky rolled her eyes as they entered the school’s south grounds. “He’s gonna wake the neighbors with that shit.” “Waking the Neighbors” was a euphemism used by the staff and instructors to indicate an activity on school grounds that could become noticeable to the Normal population living outside the school wall.

Both women watched the couple streak across the sky while remaining close to the western wall. Isis shielded her eyes and picked out Annie in the lead with Kerry following close behind. “How high you think they are?”

“Probably seventy, eighty meters.” Vicky saw them pass Sunset Tower and the Instructor’s Residence as they continued northward. “They’re gonna buzz the whole school.”

“Yeah.” Isis began laughing. “Kinda looks that way.” The solo flight slowed as Annie and Kerry circled around Observatory Tower and headed southward. “Recognize the song?”

Where the Streets Have No Name. Kind of appropriate considering where they were this morning.” Vicky sighed as the two spots moving near the east wall turned and flew towards The Pentagram. “Mathilde in her office?”

“She usually is this time of morning. Have breakfast and catch up on morning news and emails before enjoying the weekend.”

“Yeah.” The children slows and dropped lowers, appearing to swerve inside Ceridwen Tower. Vicky shook her head, sighing. “Of course they gotta buzz The Pentagram.”

“Twice.” Isis watched them make a second circuit of The Pentagram before gaining altitude and heading their way. “Mathilde knew Annie was gonna have her last solo today so she shouldn’t be too pissed.”

“Right.” It was only as Annie and Kerry approached Selena’s Meadow that Vicky realized how loud they were: the music seemed to fill the whole of the open space as if there was attending a concert. They dropped to about three meters near the center of the meadow and slowed as they approached the school, coming to a soft landing about ten meters away from the hangar.

The moment Annie was on the ground she threw back the hood of her parka, pulled down her balaclava, and began dancing wildly to the music, bouncing and spinning around with a huge smile on her face. As soon as Kerry was off his broom her joined her, smiling as broadly as he raised his arms and began swaying back and forth.

Vicky and Isis said nothing as the song entered the outro and Kerry kissed Annie as the last lines were sung as the music faded out before they turned and looked upwards to the viewing platform, holding each other tight and still laughing and smiling as they waved.

“You know—” Isis moved a little closer to Vicky as they waved. “This year we’ve taken these two and put them through some incredibly demanding shit, and they push through and make it all work. And you know what we keep forgetting?”

Vicky glanced at Isis. “No, what?”

“That no matter how bad ass these witches are, they’re still kids.” She turned to face the flight instructor. “And from time to time, we gotta let them be kids.”

“That we do.” She nodded slowly. “That we do.”

 

There you have it:  they come flying into the school grounds at high speed, soaring over parts of the Normal world with magic-enhanced computer sound system (Thanks, Isis!), and they do a major flyby/fly over of the school grounds, including buzzing the Instructor’s Residences, the covens, and the Great Hall, just to let everyone know they are back, Jack, and they’ve done more this morning than all the other witches in this joint combined.

Let me tell you, I put more time into developing this scene than I did in writing the sucker.

It really started on my Friday walk into work, when I started getting the song Where the Streets Have No Name stuck in my head.  Mostly because I’d though about Annie flying about in the ocean with nothing to guide her but a heading.  Since I usually find time at work to think about these things–which is to say, most of the time, because my mind is always working–I started wondering about how this might play into the end of the solo flight–

When I got home that night, after dinner and a nap, I started putting it together.  First I had to find a YouTube song that Kerry would use.  He’s got a computer that’s Foundation Powered now, so getting a download or stream fifty klicks out to sea isn’t a problem.  I found the song after a few searches because I never give up on that shit.  Then I started listening and checking times:  I probably went through the song a half-dozen times before I saw the scene laid out in my mind.

But I had to check a few things.  Like knowing how far they’d need to fly before getting into the vocals a minute forty-five seconds after the start of the song while flying three hundred kilometers an hours–the answer is nine kilometers.

Then I needed to know the path they’d take on their flyby, and since I know the layout of the school upon the land that is Cape Ann, I mapped it out:

Only one buzzing of The Pentagram here, but know you know they did two.

Only one buzzing of The Pentagram here, but know you know they did two.

The mark in the lower right-hand corner is where they dropped to eight meters off the ocean surface as the music started.  Why?  ‘Cause they wanted to do something exciting.  You’ll discover in the next scene that on their leg into the school their comms were off for about ninety seconds, and that’s when all the plotting started.  They popped up over the northeast corner of Gloucester then headed over the school wall and up the west wall.  They slowed a little, and since it’s about five kilometers from the south end of the school to the north, there’s another minutes or so killed–

Because you know I know the time.

Because you know I know the time.

This means by the time they loop around Observatory Tower and head back south the song is about half over.  So they speed up, do a couple of quick loops around The Pentagram (Hi, Headmistress!) and finally make their way to the Flight School, where during the last minute of the song Annie decides to let her exuberance break free and starts dancing around, because she’s a thirteen year old girl and, as Isis points out, some times you gotta let bad ass witches be kids.

And after all that Kerry ends the flight by laying a big, tender kiss upon his little cabbage roll as someone croons out “I’ll go there with yooooouuuuu.” as the music fades.  They aren’t thinking about getting in trouble for their little stunt:  they’re home and Annie nailed that final solo flight, so absolutely no shits about the consequences are given.

Seriously, I spent like two and a half hours Friday night figuring this out, and probably went over this scene here and there yesterday to the point where I likely invested another three hours visualizing this to the point where I could totally make a movie out of this part if I knew how to make a movie.  I even had the chance while getting my nails done to explain the entire scene to my manicurist while she worked on my pedicure, because she loves hearing about my little witches, as she calls them.

And lastly, here’s the version of the song Kerry played, taken from the 1993 HBO broadcast of U2 in Sydney, Australia, during the Zoo TV Tour.  And remember, Annie:  wherever you go, Kerry will go there with you.

A Quick One While I’m Away–

No, I’m not going to play The Who song here.  This is just to let you know that I’ve been up since six forty-five writing, and though I’m five hundred words into the scene, I’m not going to finish it before I have to leave to get my nails done, so as soon as I’m back from the manicurist I’ll put the finishing touches on the scene–which should come in at just under a thousand words–and post it in it’s entirety this afternoon, along with all the stuff I started doing last night to put the scene together.

Trust me, it’ll be good.

Oh, I lied:  here’s the song A Quick One, While He’s Away, taken from the deluxe edition of the seminal Live at Leeds album.  It’s here, in these nine minutes, that the album Tommy was born.  For reals.