Philadelphia Freedom

Really, if you read yesterday’s post, how could you not think I was going to follow up with this title?  After all, it’s the title of one of the most well-known songs of the 1970’s, and the name of a sports team that Bill Burr forgot to mention when he was ripping the city a new one a few years back.  No way I wasn’t going to make it my title.

Outbound from The Burg, the train left on time, but lets note that it’s a local train, so you end up stopping a few times along the way.  We were also held up by another train at one point, which is a major fault with commuting by train in his country–you have to share the line with freight.  When building high speed rail you need dedicated lines; when I rode the TGV back in 2006, it wouldn’t have done to bring the train to a stop from 180 mph just because a fright line was crossing ahead.  Gotta nip that crap in the bud.

This saw us getting into Philly about and hour late.  No real biggie, ’cause I wasn’t on any kind of time table save for my return trip, and I’d still have time to make it with time to spare.  Spent a few minutes looking for the subway station, and then realized that I had to leave the train station and walk across the street.  Bought two tokens–to get to 5th Street and then return–and I was on my way inside a car that seemed packed to the rafters with people.

So it was I made it to the Park.

I arrived at the corner of Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.  Really.  You step out of the train station and to your Independence Hallright is the Liberty Bell, and as you walk across the park, there’s Independence Hall to your left.  It looks none the worse for wear, but then you’d expect that because being part of the national park system, there are people taking care of it.  At least they don’t have to worry about douchebags looking to destroy it because it’s old . . .

I didn’t go inside ’cause I was on a schedule, but I did take time to walk in and see the Liberty Bell, just to see if, like the Constitution, Nic Cage could steal it.  After giving it a close examination, the verdict is no, he couldn’t,  Liberty BellYou can see it’s pretty big, and doesn’t look as if it would be something you could pick up and run with, but hey:  maybe they’ll rig up something with explosives where they touch them off and Micheal Bay it right into the back of a U-Haul, and just like that, they off into the night!  Yes, Hollywood, you can cut a check for my idea right now.

Saw the first bank–it’s not ripping anyone off ’cause it’s closed, but it looks pretty cool.  Then I headed over to the location of Ben Franklin’s house, and why it’s no longer standing, you do get to see his privy hole.  What is a privy hole, you may ask?  The 18th Century equivalent of a nice outhouse.  It’s where your, um, “business” went when you were finished with said doing.  And, in Franklin Court, there were a number of covered privies, all marked so you’d know where people were pooping over two hundred years ago.  History!

I mailed a document from Franklin’s post office, the only one that doesn’t have a zip code or flies a flag–for obvious reasons if you think about it–and visited his print shop.  No where did I see his opinion on why having an older mistress is totally hot, nor of his connections to The Hellfire Club and if he partied with Sebastian Shaw.

Then it was back to the 5th Street Station and a return to the train station, and while waiting for the subway I could hear Bill Burr going on about “your shitty little subway”.  Yeah, after you’ve been on Chicago and Hong Kong’s subway, it seems small, but then it’s old as hell, too.  At least it’s still running, and I could get back and forth for a couple of bucks.  I really love traveling by subway, don’t ask me why, but zipping through the dark is sort of a cool rush for me.

I had to wait for my return to The Burg, so caught a little lunch before waiting for The Pennsylvanian to return me home.  For one the jobs I held in Chicago I had to pass through Train Station SouthUnion Station every day, and Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station reminds me a little of Chicago–though you have to walk down the famous Untouchable Stairs to reach the main floor.  But the feeling here is the same:  huge and majestic.  It’s one of the reasons I set a Train Station Northscene in Her Demonic Majesty in Chicago’s Union Station because nothing says timeless like one of these places.  I’m a sucker for buildings like this, and while I’m the first one to say I want to live in the future, seeing all these places disappear slowly gives me a sadness, because I know we’ll never see their likes again.

Then back home.  The The Pennsylvanian is more of a direct route home, so no stopping all long the line, which meant getting home when I was suppose to get home.  I looked up the route for this train, and discovered it takes five hours to travel from Philly to Pittsburgh, due in part to the line following rivers for most of the way through the Allegheny Mountains.  This is where high speed rail would kick butt, but ultimately be far more expense to employ, because you’re gonna do a lot of cutting through mountains, and where you can’t go over, you go through.  That’s going to mean long tunnels that you can go through fast, maybe some as long as fifty miles, and given the longest train tunnel in the U.S. is only eight miles, who’s going to build a fifty mile tunnel?  Hey, it’s been done.  And when it comes to getting water, distance doesn’t seem to be a problem

The end to all this was I ended up having dinner about four-thirty, then went out for a long walk.  When I returned to Laputa, my body felt as if someone had beaten it with a pool cue, and it was all I could do to make it through Torchwood.  I crashed and burned about ten-thirty, but today I’m alive and in much better shape.

Where to go next?  Well, now . . . that’s the question, isn’t it?  Back into the novel today–

Tomorrow, we’ll see where my mind takes me.

The Philadelphia Experiment

I was back to the grind last night, deep in The Foundation Chronicles, for which Book One is now called A For Advanced, because I like that better, and given that kids coming into the school are known as A Levels, and they are getting advanced, so there.  I like it, I’m sticking with it, and I’ll try to tie in each level somehow–meaning the next book will be B For This is a Bitch, or something along those lines.

But it was laying out parts and chapters, and getting the scenes down, and my head was starting to hurt, because I’m seeing images in my mind of what’s suppose to happen, and then I’m figuring out when, then I’m coming up with a cute metatitle so when I begin to write the scene, I know what it’s about.

I didn’t work up a complete count last night, but I’ve now worked out twelve parts and thirty-four chapters, which means there are approximately one hundred and thirty-five scenes.  Three hundred words per scene equals forty thousand, five hundred words, and I know I’ll have more than three hundred words per scene, so even lowballing this thing, I’m hitting fifty thousand easy.  Actually, it’ll more likely I’ll get closer to five hundred words a scene, so sixty-seven thousand, five hundred words right now, and I’m pretty much assured to hit one hundred and fifty scenes by the end of the novel.

There is work ahead of me–

But not a lot today, for I am on the road again, which is why I’m working on this post at just a little before six AM.

In a little less than an hour I’ll leave Laputa–my Castle in the Sky–and walk three blocks to the train station, where I’ll get tickets for The Keystone to Philadelphia.  Pull out of the station at 7:20, and just about an hour and forty minutes later I’ll pull into the 30th Street Station.  After that I’ll take the Market-Frankford subway line to 5th Street, and just like that I’ll pretend I’m Nic Cage looking to rip off the Liberty Bell, only with far less insanity and no bees.

This is something I’ve been thinking about doing for a few weeks, and today–while the weather is cool and there’s no rain–is a good day to train it.  I’ll leave out of Philly on the 1:55, while gets me back home for dinner before four PM.  And since I’m on the train, I can sleep if I like, and not have to worry about being tired at the wheel while driving back on the Turnpike.

I did my research, and I know my way around pretty much.  Since I’m going to stick to that part of the city, there isn’t a lot I need to look up.  I may leave the return open, and catch the 2:45 home:  I don’t know.  Right now I’m debating.

Either way, I’m once more out of the house and looking around.  And I can add one more city to my list of “Been There” while my Weeping Angel guards the house.

If I see anyone stealing the Constitution, I’ll get pictures.


One Line, Two Line, Blue Line, Green Line

World building is a wonderful thing, because you never know where it’s going to take you.

If there is one thing I love about developing intricate stories, it’s world building.  For my unpublished Transporter series, I created some fourteen hundred years of history to play in, and began thinking about how I got from Point A to Point Z.  For Her Demonic Majesty I kept my action local to Chicago, but I imagined it as part of a huge conurbation known as The Pentagram, and it became necessary to build some terminology and rules around magic in the world.  Lately I’ve dug into building viable world around other stars, and then integrating them into stories–such as what I did in Diners at the Memory’s End, where I built a system around a K Class star so I could have an interesting couple of paragraphs in the story.

I’m getting into some world building for a story, something revolving around a couple of characters another person and I created for a game a long while back.  I’m trying to pull them out of one universe and put them into another, and it’s involving a bit of brain work, because I’m having to change everything.  Not that changing everything is a bad thing, because I get rid of a universe that essentially turned your characters into a form of fan fiction, and I put these characters into a world that they own.

I’m all about owning.

One of the things I have is an idea where my kids from Europe–where the two main characters are from–fly over to Boston, where they’ll attend a private school somewhere close.  So, they fly out of somewhere in Europe and head to Logan Airport, after which . . .

That brought up the question:  how do I move a gaggle of kids from Logan Airport to some super private school out on Cape Ann?  Well, there are buses that could do the job, and originally I thought about that, but then I started using the Google Maps on Logan and–what’s that?  It’s a train station!

See, I wanted to get my kidlettes to Salem, and from there I could take them by bus to Cape Ann, because trains are cool, no?  Sure.  Only one problem:  the train outside the never goes to Salem.  It stops at a rail-head about ten miles north, far short of the Witch Capital.

See, though, this is the age of the Internet, and all one has to do is Google “How to get from Logan Airport to Salem by train,” and you’re catapulted into a world where answers are there for the taking.  Like the one that said you have to take the subway from the Airport over to the Government Center, then catch the line to North Station, and from there you’re on your way.

One MBTA subway map later, and I see they’re right:  take the Blue Line to the Green Line, and from there you’re off to the train station, and from there you’re off to Salem . . .

So now I had my kids on the way to Salem, where I was going to put them on buses for the trip out to Cape Ann.  So I’m looking at the area on Google Maps using satellite view, and–what’s this?  This line cutting through the woods?  Why, it’s a train track.  So back to the MBTA site and after a quick check of the train schedules–yep, there’s a commuter train that head out to the cape.

Which gives me other ideas . . .

Not only do I love world building, but did I mention I love the Internet?

It can take me to so many places I’ve never been, all so I can others along.