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Monday, March 31, 2014

Here's what's happening

The big reason why posting will be more sporadic here than usual over the next six weeks is that we have made a decision that is going to greatly impact my family life.

We're moving.

To one of those "house" things.

We're not leaving out current town, but the physical location of Casa Jaquandor will be shifting a couple miles. Thus a great deal of time will be spent putting the stuff in boxes and schlepping it to the future location of Casa Jaquandor.

First...the interior needs to be painted. Badly. We briefly considered doing it ourselves, but the job is sufficiently large that we just don't have time or, quite frankly, inclination. The best idea is to have the place painted before we move, as opposed to piece-mealing the job over a year or so, which will involve moving stuff out of rooms and generally making for disruptive living, as well as temporarily living with what might be the worst colors ever used in a house. Seriously. Look at this stuff:



See what I mean? Ugh!

We're thrilled about this kitchen, though:



The master bedroom, which is less than ideal for bedroomy-stuff. I don't want to live surrounded by walls the color of something I once vomited.

Blue Room, Green Room, Pukey Room, Creepy Room! (And that hallway...yipes.)



Back in the kitchen:




Ayup. Awful.

But when it's all done, among other nice luxuries, I will have my very own book room! I get the Blue Room (soon to be the "After the Rain" room, which is a shade of light purple). I will be photodocumenting the eventual construction of my library, but here's how the job is beginning:




I tremble in fear of what the pile of book boxes is eventually going to look like. A cave-in might kill me.

Onward and upward! Zap! Pow!

Sentential Links

Linkage!

:: But now I'm home, and it feels as though I never left. Did I just dream the entire thing?

When you travel, you are who you are in each exact moment; there isn't time to question yourself. Everything is new. Survival instincts guide every decision... shelter, water, food. A lumpy bed, canned corn for dinner, and cold showers start to become natural, but so does swimming under a waterfall, visiting ancient ruins, and eating couscous in the Sahara Desert. It is a lifestyle of constant change and adaptation. At home, those instincts vanish and our biggest obsticale becomes ourselves.
(You know, I think that's what Tolkien was getting at when he ended The Lord of the Rings with Sam getting home, after everything that's happened, after bidding farewell to Frodo and Bilbo and Gandalf and all the Elves, and saying, "Well, I'm back." It's the idea that the great experience of his life is over but life still looms ahead of him. I often feel that way after trips elsewhere, although my longest trips have never gone more than a single week. Returning always feels like a recalibration of the brain to its original level of smallness.)

:: There will come a day in the future when you will wonder how you could have ever smiled, and you will think that before your life was filled with smooth seas and ignorance is bliss. Hold the memories of the good times like a talisman to your heart, and let the knowledge that the bad days won’t last forever warm your indifference and renew your spirit.

:: I don't know much about the upcoming sci-fi comedy, Space Station 76, except that it is directed by Jack Plotnik, stars Liv Tyler (whom I adore) and Patrick Wilson, and that it's currently doing the film festival rounds. Well, I also know that it apparently takes place in the future as it was depicted back in the ‘70s, with Old School sets, costumes, effects, moustaches and feathered hair... which is why I'm mentioning it here on Space: 1970 at all! 

:: It is nowhere written in the heavens that Pro Football shall always and ever be America's most popular spectator sport. A hundred years ago the most popular sports in the US were horse racing and boxing, and those have faded almost completely from the scene. How much longer does football have at the top? (This is a good point, one which I argued with a friend at work a few months back. He utterly rejected the notion that football will ever lose popularity, to which I pointed out that even baseball is nowhere near the going concern it once was. He seem to deny this, too...but I remember when the World Series began on a Saturday night and when its ratings were high enough that networks simply didn't schedule new episodes of anything while the Series was running. Now it starts in the middle of the week and networks don't avoid it at all. None of which is to say that football will be forgotten in fifty years or whatever, but it's worth noting that the sporting world changes too.)

:: With only a few weeks to go before the very few students I have left write their GED exam, I find these images on the Tumblr. I have nightmares that these will be the answers they will put down even though the real GED test is mostly multiple choice except for the written essay.

:: No wonder people back then believed Heaven and Hell were as real as London. They lived in not just a demon-haunted world but an angel-infested and God-bothered one. They believed the borders between this world and either of the next were permeable and devils and angels were roaming back and forth between here and whichever place they called home and taking living human beings with them as they went. Essentially this meant they believed that this world wasn’t quite real, and you can hardly blame them for that.

:: I always wonder how they’d do THE FUGITIVE today. Richard Kimble would have a bitch of time getting a new identity every week and getting an apartment and job without having his credit record and job history revealed. Whatever story he told employers could be checked on line.

More next week!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Burst of Weird and Awesome

Oddities and Awesome abound!

:: I know I've blogged about this before, but it's been years and it's always stunning to look again. Here is the amazing forbidden "Stairway to Heaven" in Hawaii.


I'd walk this. Would you?

:: I'm going to link this rather than embed it here, because the image is massive. It's an infographic depicting the work habits of some of history's great geniuses, from various walks of life. Interesting that most seem to have been early risers....

More next week!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Symphony Saturday

Today we come to the end of Hector Berlioz's symphonic output, during which we've seen that Berlioz was one of the most unique of symphonists, refusing to adhere to the standards of the symphonic form. This work is no exception. Here we have the Symphonie funebre et triomphale, which was originally written for concert band or military band. Berlioz later added optional parts for strings and choir. Berlioz was commissioned to write this symphony by the French government for use at a ceremony honoring the tenth anniversary of the July Revolution, one of France's numerous Revolutions in the 18th and 19th centuries. Berlioz wasn't terribly enamored of the existing government of his day, but figuring that 10,000 francs was 10,000 francs, he dusted off some old, abandoned works of his and reconfigured them for this piece. Apparently the first performance -- with an enormous ensemble that couldn't be heard very well outdoors -- was something of a fiasco, but this symphony became fairly popular during Berlioz's lifetime.

The Symphonie funebre et triomphale is in three movements: The Funeral march, the Funeral oration, and the "apotheosis". In this piece Berlioz looks backward to the state of French ceremonial music from the early 19th century, with the enormous funeral march to begin and the triumphal march to conclude. The central movement, with its beautiful melody for solo trombone, comes as a welcome respite between these two large, spectacle-filled movements.


Next week: Robert Schumann.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Something for Thursday

In the course of writing Lighthouse Boy (not the actual title), I've been listening to more film music lately (more than usual, anyway), with a special ear for classic scores of the Golden Age. Without doubt, my favorite Golden Age film composer is Erich Wolfgang Korngold, whose music formed the backdrop for many a fine Errol Flynn adventure. Here is a suite of his score to The Adventures of Robin Hood, played live at The Proms. (My newest addition to my "Things I Gotta Do Before I Die" list is to attend a concert or two at The Proms.)


Now there's some swashbuckling music for you!

(And as a onetime trumpet player, I was interested in one particular practice I saw here for the first time ever (it happens at the 7:28 mark, among others): the trumpeter stretches a mask of what looks like felt over the bell of the instrument. I imagine this softens the tone somewhat, muffling the trumpet without changing the instrument's tone outright, the way a mute does. Korngold knew his way around the orchestra, that's for sure!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On Mr. Wilson



Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills, died yesterday at the age of 95. He was the only owner the team ever had, and, like seemingly everything else around these parts, Buffalo's relationship with him was...complicated.

Wilson brought football to Buffalo when he decided he wanted to own a football team but the NFL wasn't playing along, so he joined some other rich guys and launched the AFL. Somehow the new league got off the ground -- even with Wilson having to loan some money to another of the owners, a guy named Al Davis, so he could get his franchise, which he dubbed "the Raiders", off the ground -- and eventually flourished to the point that the NFL just merged with the AFL, thus paving the way for the NFL as it exists today.

There would be no football in Buffalo today if not for the efforts of Ralph Wilson, and it's entirely possible that without him, the NFL itself might not be what it is today. In the annals of football Ralph Wilson's name might not loom so large as, say, a Paul Brown or a George Halas, but he's no mere footnote, either.

But Wilson had his troublesome qualities as well, which were often balanced with the good. He could be difficult to work for, as evidenced by his tendency to buck heads with his own underlings. He wasn't George Steinbrenner in this regard, but Wilson did burn more than a few bridges with good people (most famously former GM Bill Polian, who built the Bills of the early 90s and who then went on to a short stint with the expansion Carolina Panthers and then to the Indianapolis Colts, who Polian then built into one of the best teams of the 2000s). It's generally been an article of faith that one major factor that's kept the Bills from ever becoming a championship team was Wilson's level of discomfort with people he didn't know well, which kept him from ever really exploring other possibilities as far as people running the team. Thus Wilson rarely went looking outside his organization for bright, motivated people whose trajectories were on the way up.

Wilson also was one to rattle the "relocation" saber every so often, when the team's stadium lease was coming up. He never outright said, as far as I can recall, that the team would have to move if he didn't get his way, but the message was always pretty clear that the county-owned (and therefore taxpayer-funded) stadium would need some new stuff done to it every seven or eight years, if the team was to "remain viable in this market". The whole NFL racket of shaking down municipalities for stadiums or stadium improvements is pretty nauseating, especially in light of the NFL's non-profit status as it wallows in as much money as anybody has in this world. Ralph Wilson played this game to the hilt, but...he never did move the team, or even come close to doing so, and over the last twenty or thirty years, that hasn't been the case around the NFL. Al Davis moved his Raiders twice. Georgia Frontiere moved the Rams, Art Modell moved the Browns, and of course, thirty years ago the Irsays brought in moving vans at midnight to haul the Colts away from Baltimore. It happens, but Ralph Wilson resisted the siren call of richer markets.

But on the other hand -- and there's always an "other hand" with Ralph Wilson -- he also staunchly refused to publicly consider any kind of ownership succession plan that would guarantee the team's future in Buffalo after his death. It's become almost an article-of-faith around here that Wilson must have had some kind of "secret plan" ready to go for after his death, but...well, I guess we'll find out now, won't we? If he did, great. But if not...well, as radio play-by-play guy Van Miller used to say, "Fasten your seatbelts!"

Ralph Wilson never moved the team or even came close, but he did extort the county for as much money as he could. Ralph Wilson seemed cheap at times, never being mentioned at all as a guy who would spend top dollar to get the best executives or coaches, but he did shower money on a lot of players in attempts to make the team better. Ralph Wilson was one of the most important figures in the sporting history of this town, but he lived in Detroit. Like I said, it was complicated. Hey, that's Buffalo. It's never easy, for us.

Thanks for the football memories, Mr. Wilson. I hope you had one final trick up your sleeve, though.

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

What's an old genre of something that you miss and you know is never coming back? For me, it's 1970s-era variety shows. The closest we get to that sort of thing is reality competition stuff like America's Got Talent, and those aren't that interesting to me anymore.

(I hope this question makes sense...I was trying to figure out how to word it....)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sentential Links

Linkage!

:: Overalls are everywhere at the moment. I'm loving all the new skinny jean overalls. I seriously considered investing in a pair, but I already had the overalls you see here. And no one needs two pair of overalls. That's just excessive. (Excessive? Never! Obsessive? Well...um...moving on!)

:: I feel like I can get a glimpse of why someone might become a work-a-holic, especially in this stage of my writing career when I’m really fighting hard for my dream. Not writing seems like wasted time. There is a balance to be found for sure. (Anya Monroe has become one of my favorite writer-peeps. Check her blog out!)

:: So, did I know about Ellen Page?

Sure. Why not?

How did I know?

Same way I know most everything I know.

I read it…

…somewhere.
(I didn't know! But then...I didn't care, either. But you know, it's interesting to me on this basis: I tend to just assume people are straight, mainly because that's the statistical likelihood. And then I find out they're gay, and I'm briefly surprised, and then I invariably end up thinking, "Why do I need to know this, anyway?" I understand on one level why it's "news" when someone famous "comes out", but at the same time...I just don't care. And I shouldn't, right? Thoughts?)

:: Maybe that's the muse of sleeping poets and passed out musicians, but my muse is none other than Lucy, and I have always been Charlie Brown.

:: Is it easier to write paranormal, as opposed to contemporary romance?

:: It has taken me a while to realize that the truth doesn’t always need to be shared. And when you do, it’s important how you say it. But there’s even more to it than that.

:: You’ve probably experienced this yourself at some transitional point in life – listened to a song, and its melody and/or lyrics leapt out to fill your mind with stunned silence, that weird missed-step feeling of Fate having a hand between your shoulder blades. Regardless of its release date, that song would then become synonymous with a fragment of time when, for a few moments, you didn’t feel quite so unique, or so alone and unheard by the world, depending on how you viewed it.

:: If a candidate for federal elected office cannot muster the courage or mental fortitude to be interviewed by the singular local paper covering her district, she’s fundamentally unqualified for public office of any kind. (Alan Bedenko is rather unimpressed with the birther lunatic the Republican Party is offering up for Congress in this area. What a disgrace...but then, this is the same NY GOP that begged fellow birther lunatic Donald Trump to run for Governor. Having one of our major parties be so completely insane is so bad for the country.)

More next week. Unless there aren't.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bad aim, you shall have.

You know what we haven't had around here lately? A good old-fashioned geek-gasm! I saw this photo-essay thing on Tumblr last night:










I buy this, for the most part. There are really only two major instances of the Stormtroopers looking like boobs, in the entire Original Trilogy: when our heroes are fleeing the Death Star (and after Tarkin has signed off on Vader's plot to let them escape so they can be tracked to the Rebel base...which is really kind of shitty news if you're one of the four TIE Fighter pilots sent to not blow up the Millennium Falcon), and when our same heroes are fleeing Cloud City.

In the latter case, there's only one egregiously bad instance of "Holy shit, you stormtroopers suck!", in a very brief shot where the heroes dash across a wide room and one Stormtrooper comes along behind them and, despite his clear line of sight and lack of obstruction, misses with both shots he takes. Chewbacca turns around and with one shot puts this guy down. So yeah, that dude sucked. But for the rest of the time, the Stormtroopers don't really have good shots on the heroes, and R2 puts up his smokescreen, so there's that.

As for the Ewoks, this shows a nice pattern to the Imperials' thought processes which bites them in the arse again. Remember in the first movie, during the briefing, General Dodonna points out that the Death Star's defenses are designed against a large-scale assault, like a fleet of battleships. The Death Star is designed to go up against a bunch of Star Destroyers, and it never occurs to the Empire that anyone's going to attack with a bunch of tiny fighters. Likewise, it never occurs to them that the primitive natives of Endor pose any threat at all, and in reality, they probably don't. It takes Ewok numbers plus some technologically-savvy Rebels (led, in this case, by an improvising smuggler by trade) to manage to get control of things. And also, remember that the Rebel mission on Endor is not complete defeat of the entire Imperial apparatus there; they're just looking to get in, blow up the shield generator, and get out. If they manage to do that and still leave a thousand Imperial troops alive, then they've still got the job done.

It's always interesting to me how the "Big flaws in Star Wars!" always vanish if you think about them a little bit!

Sunday Burst of Weird and Awesome

Oddities and Awesome abound!

:: Interesting article on the Lost Art of the Unsent Angry Letter:

WHENEVER Abraham Lincoln felt the urge to tell someone off, he would compose what he called a “hot letter.” He’d pile all of his anger into a note, “put it aside until his emotions cooled down,” Doris Kearns Goodwin once explained on NPR, “and then write: ‘Never sent. Never signed.’ ” Which meant that Gen. George G. Meade, for one, would never hear from his commander in chief that Lincoln blamed him for letting Robert E. Lee escape after Gettysburg.

Lincoln was hardly unique. Among public figures who need to think twice about their choice of words, the unsent angry letter has a venerable tradition. Its purpose is twofold. It serves as a type of emotional catharsis, a way to let it all out without the repercussions of true engagement. And it acts as a strategic catharsis, an exercise in saying what you really think, which Mark Twain (himself a notable non-sender of correspondence) believed provided “unallowable frankness & freedom.”

Harry S. Truman once almost informed the treasurer of the United States that “I don’t think that the financial advisor of God Himself would be able to understand what the financial position of the Government of the United States is, by reading your statement.” In 1922, Winston Churchill nearly warned Prime Minister David Lloyd George that when it came to Iraq, “we are paying eight millions a year for the privilege of living on an ungrateful volcano out of which we are in no circumstances to get anything worth having.” Mark Twain all but chastised Russians for being too passive when it came to the czar’s abuses, writing, “Apparently none of them can bear to think of losing the present hell entirely, they merely want the temperature cooled down a little.”

That's about it for this week. Interesting article, though, with an interesting hypothesis as to why the Internet is so often a cesspool of spittle-flecked rage. It's not just that it's easy to post angry missives online, it's that the very ease of doing so negates the intended catharsis of writing them in the first place.

More next week!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Symphony Saturday

Of all of Berlioz's literary muses, and there were many, none burned quite so bright in his head and heart than Shakespeare. It was through a performance of Hamlet that Berlioz first saw actress Harriet Smithson, thus inspiring his most famous and enduring work, and it was Shakespeare who inspired Berlioz to write what is, for me, his single greatest symphony and work in general. It's his third symphony, Romeo et Juliette.

The fact that Shakespeare had such an effect on Berlioz is all the more remarkable given that Berlioz discovered Shakespeare in translation, and given that in Berlioz's day, translation wasn't quite so rigorous a pursuit as it is now. The focus was not so much on accuracy, and translators felt little compunction toward changing a work to suit their own ideas. The version Berlioz saw had Juliet awaken in her tomb, so that the lovers could have one last moment together before dying. Translators at that time just didn't much care about total fidelity to a work, for good or ill. It little mattered, though: Berlioz was thunderstruck.

Nicolo Paganini had commissioned a work from Berlioz, if you'll remember from last week; while disappointed in the result, Paganini was as good as his word, and paid Berlioz the 20,000 francs he had promised. That influx of cash gave Berlioz the financial freedom he needed to pursue his next work, which is the very symphony we are considering here. And what a work it is. Romeo et Juliette is a symphony mainly because Berlioz says it is. There are almost none of the standard features one might expect from a symphony. Instead of four movements, here we have seven (or even more, depending on how they are counted). Voices feature strongly throughout, culminating in a massive choral finale that depicts the Capulets and Montagues coming together after the deaths of their children. The work is heavily programmatic, going right down the line and basically telling the story of the play in the right order, starting with the fighting in the square and the intervention of the Prince.

With all the symphony's uses of vocal forces, it might be surprising, then, to note that the most intimate parts of the story are depicted purely orchestrally. Berlioz never allows voices to depict either Romeo or Juliet; instead, when the lovers are called for, the orchestra depicts their moods. This results in the central section of the work, when we "hear" Romeo at the Ball (where he first sees Juliet), the love scene, and then a brilliant and effervescent scherzo depicting Queen Mab (as described in the play by Mercutio). The symphony's use of voice is pretty much restricted to the people affected most by the two doomed lovers, but the lovers themselves are only shown in the most deeply abstract music of the orchestra itself. That level of music insight is a prime reason why I love Berlioz as much as I do.

Yes, this symphony stretches the very idea of what constitutes a symphony in the first place, but it's not hard to see the trend continuing through music history later on. In terms of form, this work clearly anticipates Mahler by fifty years; in terms of musical depiction of drama, this work clearly influenced Wagner (who actually sent Berlioz an autographed copy of his score to Tristan and Isolde, noting his admiration for Romeo et Juliette in the inscription). All that, of course, would be of little concern were the music itself not so engaging. Berlioz tended to have an odd time with melody, and this work is no different -- but the "Romeo Alone and the Capulets' Ball" movement is its own little tone poem, and the love music here is, to my ears, utterly rapturous. Even that movement alone amazes in its construction: it begins with Romeo wandering after the ball, struck by love, and we hear the tenors offstage, singing snatches of the main dance music from the ball. But the tenors fade away, and Berlioz's main melody eventually begins. But somehow it sounds tentative at first, as though Romeo is trying to put what is in his heart into music. Eventually, though, the lovers come together, and the music flowers.

There isn't a single aspect of Berlioz as a musician that is not in evidence in Romeo et Juliette: his storytelling approach to music, his belief in the power of the orchestra to convey emotion, his skill at writing orchestra textures that still sound fresh to this day. While I have always discounted the notion that music can, by itself, tell a story, this work stands as the finest example I know that that doesn't mean that story is story and music is music and never the twain shall meet. Here, story informs the music and the music informs the story. If Hector Berlioz really was only known for a single work, and this was that work, he'd be in my personal Pantheon anyway.

The symphony is so large that this performance is in three parts. There are a few complete performances on YouTube, including a very nice live one (with an annoyingly sedate audience). The three parts correspond to the sections of the symphony, which break out like this (courtesy Wikipedia):

Part I

1. Introduction: Combats (Combat) - Tumulte (Tumult) - Intervention du prince (Intervention of the prince) - Prologue - Strophes - Scherzetto

Part II

2. Roméo seul (Romeo alone) - Tristesse (Sadness) - Bruits lointains de concert et de bal (Distant sounds from the concert and the ball) - Grande fête chez Capulet (Great banquet at the Capulets)

3. Scène d'amour (Love scene) - Nuit serène (Serene night) - Le jardin de Capulet silencieux et déserte (The Capulets' garden silent and deserted) - Les jeunes Capulets sortant de la fête en chantant des réminiscences de la musique du bal (The young Capulets leaving the banquet singing snatches of music from the ball)

4. Scherzo: La reine Mab, reine des songes (Queen Mab, the queen of dreams – the Queen Mab Scherzo)

Part III

5. Convoi funèbre de Juliette (Funeral cortège for the young Juliet): "Jetez des fleurs pour la vierge expirée" ("Throw flowers for the dead virgin")

6. Roméo au tombeau des Capulets (Romeo at the tomb of the Capulets) - Invocation: Réveil de Juliette (Juliet awakes) - Joie délirante, désespoir (Delirious joy, despair) - Dernières angoisses et mort des deux amants (Last throes and death of the two lovers)

7. Finale:

La foule accourt au cimetière (The crowd rushes to the graveyard) - Des Capulets et des Montagus (Fight between the Capulets and Montagues) - Récitatif et Air du Père Laurence (Friar Lawrence's recitative and aria) Aria: "Pauvres enfants que je pleure" ("Poor children that I weep for") - Serment de réconciliation (Oath of reconciliation) Oath: "Jurez donc par l'auguste symbole" ("Swear by the revered symbol")






Next week: Berlioz's final symphony, which is, again, rather unique.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A brief writing update


For various reasons, the only writing project to which I can devote any time at all right now is Lighthouse Boy (not the actual title), which got stuck in a particular spot because I just couldn't figure out where to go with it. I tried one thing, and rejected it; then I tried another, and rejected that; then I tried still a third, and rejected that. And each rejection of a particular plot direction meant deleting at least several days' work -- a few thousand words, each time out. It sucked.

But, I finally got it figured out. The solution involved a bit of retconning and refitting earlier material to give one character a skill he hadn't had before, and figuring out how to move the tale in a new direction entirely. The book's backstory involves a fight for the throne -- because all good stories have to involve a fight for the throne -- but somehow, I got myself into the situation where every way forward involved bringing that war front and center, and that's not what I want to do. At least, not yet. I want this book to be an adventure tale like Alexandre Dumas, not a wars-of-succession tale like George RR Martin.

But, at least I'm getting the length right, in the fine tradition of Dumas (but hopefully not quite so bad as Martin). Currently the book stands at a little over 100,000 words...and I figure I'm only now nearing the one-third mark. Wow, this is going to be a doorstop!


Onward and upward!

Something for Thursday

It's not much of a secret that my musical tastes sometimes run to the more obscure, and this band is no exception. They're not unheard of -- you still hear a couple of their songs on "Greatest Hits of the 1980s" things -- but The Hooters never really cracked into the mainstream, alas. I loved their blues-influenced sound and their singers' voices, both of which sounded like they'd smoked just enough Marlboros in their lives to get a little character.

Anyway, this song is off their album One Way Home, and it's easily my favorite off that album (which is, in turn, one of my favorite albums from the 1980s). It's an eerie song with supernatural undertones, and I eventually ended up writing a short story based on it. That story ended up being the first tale I ever submitted for publication anywhere. It was rejected, of course, but the editor wrote a note in the margin that she'd come this close to buying it. Oh well...funny thing was, that first rejection slip felt pretty good. It felt like I was in the game, you know? (Every rejection slip since then, though? F*** those editors!)

Here are The Hooters, with "Graveyard Waltz".


Oh yeah, and here's the story I wrote. Maybe I'll re-read it one of these days...but I'm a bit afraid of what I'll think, given that it was written by the Me-of-fourteen-years-ago....

Answers, the fifth!


Oy...yeah, I suck. This month has been very hectic, folks and I lost track of this. Ugh! But, let's get it done, shall we? (Not in one post, though. I think.)

Anyway, from Roger:

Still thinking football: what are the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. favorite game you've ever watched? I assume I know #1.

Well, I'm not sure what #1 might be, although I assume it's the Buffalo Bills' "comeback game" against the Houston Oilers in the playoffs after the 1992 season, in which the Bills were down 35-3 in the third quarter before eventually winning, 41-38, in overtime.

Here's the bummer part of that: I didn't watch most of the comeback.

That game took place on the weekend I got back to college for the second semester. I watched the first half, and figured that the Bills' collective geese were cooked, so I decided to go with The Girlfriend (now The Wife) to the grocery store to pick up some provisions. When we got back, the Bills were mysteriously only down 35-24, and immediately made it 35-31. Yes, I missed most of the furious comeback. But hey, at least I admit it; in the Buffalo area you'll find about 200,000 people who claim to have been there that day. The stadium only held about 80000 people at the time and the game wasn't even sold out! (Ha ha, no blackout for me since I went to school 800 miles away...and then I didn't watch.)

I don't know if I can rank the games in general, but here are a few that I really got a kick out of watching:

Bills def. 49ers in 1992: This game, early in the season, was awesome. It was played at Candlestick, and it was the first time in NFL history that neither team punted. Just a great game.

Bills def. Raiders, AFC Championship, Jan 1991: The famous 51-3 throttling. For one day, the best football team on the planet played in Buffalo. Nobody was beating the Bills that day, in that stadium.

Super Bowl XLII: Giants 17, Patriots 14. An astonishing game, an astonishing result, and so so so worth it to see St. Tommy and his hooded master come up short.

Super Bowl XLI: Colts 29, Bears 17. This is one of the weirdest games I've ever seen. It was just strange. At halftime the score was Colts 16, Bears 14 -- and yet, the announcers were saying things like, "Geez, what do the Bears need to do to get back in this game?" It was either the closest blowout in football history, or the most lopsided close game in football history. It was easily the weirdest football game I can remember.

Super Bowl XLIII: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23. I rooted for the Steelers in this game, but it was really hard even despite the fact that the Steelers are my second favorite team, because Kurt Warner was the Arizone quarterback, and he's one of my favorite sports figures ever. I hated seeing him lose a second Super Bowl, and he played pretty heroically. That game was full of amazing plays and individual performances; Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald put up numbers in the fourth quarter that most times would be great numbers for an entire game.

Vikings def. Bears, 1992 season. This was a regular season game that I taped on the VCR for my college roommate, because he was off doing something with the college choir. The fourth quarter began with the Bears up, 20-0, and when he finally got home to watch the game, I had cued the tape to that moment, telling him that he didn't need to watch anything other than the fourth quarter. He turned pretty green when he saw that 20-0 score...and then he watched the Vikes' comeback for a 21-20 victory, a comeback that was sparked when Bears quarterback Jim Harbaugh decided to call an audible at the line with disastrous results. (Guess what? You can actually watch the ESPN NFL Primetime highlights for this game on YouTube. God, I love the Internet!)

That's a pretty good representation of games I loved watching.

Woody/Mia/Dylan - thoughts on whether it will, or should affect Oscar voting, seeing Allen's films, being in Allen's films.

I don't really know what any of this was about. I've never been a huge Woody Allen fan, so I don't usually bother to see his movies on that basis alone. I have no problem with someone deciding that Allen's "squick factor" now looms to large to really enjoy his work. From what little I heard of this there was an awful lot of "He said, she said", but the things getting said seem kind of bad....

OK, more to come. I promise. I also promise that I won't screw up the August edition this badly! A lot of things in real life are in motion right now, though. Good stuff -- I should probably blog about it all at some point....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Random Wednesday Conversation Starter

How much do you sing? Publicly? In a choir, or solo? Only at home amongst friends? Only in the car or the shower?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The revolution will be incentivized.

(I've changed the wording below a little since my first posting.)


I actually donated to a Kickstarter project recently: Mercado Revolution, a new venture in Buffalo that will...well, here's how Mercado's visionaries describe it:

Mercado will kickstart the Buffalo/Niagara region by assembling 15 different, excellent restaurants under one "market" roof - a centralized hub where anyone can sample products from Western New York's top food artisans, watching from counter seating as dishes are made. The market will also serve as an incubator and lab for the next generation of Buffalo culinary success stories. Thanks to culinary director Scott Kollig, Mercado will bring the latest techniques and world-class ingredients to WNY from Washington, D.C., where Scott has worked for celebrity chefs as a chef de partie and sommelier. Working together, we will create an incredible culinary bazaar - a one-stop shop to experience the future of food and drinking.

When it comes to food, I've always felt of two minds in this region. I've never been down on the food that's here, but at the same time, it's impossible to not realize that there's a great deal of exciting things happening in the food world that just don't make their way here for years and years and years. The Buffalo Niagara region tends to be oddly resistant to new things, but the time just may be right for something like this, as a lot of small and independently-driven projects are underway in this region that seem to signify a terminal frustration with business-as-usual. I suspect a lot of it is the younger generation, which has had the chance to go elsewhere and see different things and come back with new ideas.

So what is Mercado? I was a bit fuzzy at first as to how this project will be different from, say, the wonderful St. Lawrence Market in Toronto (one of my favorite places on Earth). The Mercado people have been releasing little bits of information here and small tidbits of their vision there since they announced their project, and it seems that Mercado will be something halfway between a market and a restaurant, with the best features of both. Their focus will be on locally-sourced (as much as possible) and locally-prepared foods, as well as (I believe) foods that have never been seen here before. They are also pledging to be as affordable as possible (a major consideration for my family and I, as we aren't generally in a position to spend more than $100 on meal very often). My general sense is of a hybrid between a restaurant and a fine public market. Either way, it's exciting stuff, and I look forward to visiting once they're up and running. There will be many options under one roof, with -- it is to be hoped -- the kind of vitality that the best such places in the world offer.

I don't consider myself a "foodie", but I am curious about food and while I enjoy a cheap meal from Mighty Taco or a pizza from Imperial as much as anyone, I do also want more variety and international flavor to choose from in this region. There's room here for a lot of different approaches to food, after all, and a locally funded business like this seems to me an idea so obviously good that I'm not sure why more people aren't rushing to fund it.

Heck, I'm looking forward to the coffee.

Follow Mercado on Twitter, if you're so inclined. They're not backing off their ideas of community engagement.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Candyland? Again???



Patrick Rothfuss on the game Candyland:

He’s bored because the game is tedious. And it’s tedious because there is no skill involved. You draw a card, you look at a card, you match a color, you move your piece.

Games that involve no skill are not good games.

Yesterday, after months of not playing, we brought out the game again and took another crack at it. Because he wanted to, and he asked nicely. And I can deal with some tedium if it makes him happy.

But we changed the game a little bit. We added a house rule where you drew two cards and got to pick which one you wanted.

With this small change, Candy Land became an actual game.

Sure there was still a huge random element to it, but now there was some skill as well. You had to make decisions.

Oh, why the hell didn't I ever think of that?

You see, the problem with Candyland is that, aside from shuffling the cards, there is no random element to it at all.

It's a "start here and first one to get there wins" game. But instead of rolling a die or spinning a spinner, you draw cards. The cards have colors on them, and the game board is a path laid out in blocks the same colors as are on the cards. So if you draw a red card, you advance your piece to the next red square. There are a couple "double" cards, which move you forward two squares of that color. And there are a couple of spaces where you lose your turn.

The problem is that once you shuffle the deck and start game play, literally all you are doing is playing out the sequence of cards. There are no choices to make, no element of chance whatsoever. Your route through the game board is already determined, and all you're doing is unveiling it, one card at a time. It may seem like there's chance involved, but that's an illusion, simply because you don't know what's going to happen. It's like seeing a movie: you may have no idea at all what the story is, but there is exactly one scene that can be happening at, say, the fifty-five minute mark. It's the same thing in Candyland. The only way for the game to include an element of chance is for the first arrangement of the deck to line up in such a way that it doesn't bring any of the players to the end, in which case you have to reshuffle. But that's it: as soon as you start drawing cards again, you're right back to simply playing out a drama.

But here, Mr. Rothfuss has made one teeny-tiny change that introduces a whole new element to the game. It might have actually been fun, as such.

Damn. I wish I'd thought of that.

Sentential Links

Links!

:: So yes, I sing. I’d rather sing harmony than melody. I’m a baritone and can generally find the bass line to any song, even those without one. I sing in the shower. I sing inside my head when singing out loud would be inappropriate.

I do sing.


:: You know, I believe you. You work hard for the money. Harder than people know.

But the question is still: How hard?


:: Casper is a GHOST and by definition that means he's is a transparent spirit that everything can pass through, light, RAIN and even that gun you will throw at the ghost after you waste your bullets trying to kill it.

:: What passes for joy in the Funkyverse: He’s Not Really Dead, Part IV.

:: It’s also to the point that culture is not static and that every generation wants their own music, books and movies. (Odd thing: Aside from a few short stories, I've never really read Heinlein. I bounced off The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress years ago, but I've never really tried to get into him outside of that.)

:: It’s a trend that comes and goes. Forty years ago we loved Archie Bunker and those kooky Corleones, and thirty years ago we cheered on J.R. Ewing. I suspect the trend really reignited with debut of THE SOPRANOS. Tony Soprano was clearly a monster, but he was so fascinating and complex that he drew us all into his world. Don Draper on MAD MEN was another. Walter White became America’s chemist. Vic Mackey brought new meaning to good cop/bad cop. And who can forget everybody’s favorite serial killer, DEXTER? (I don't know...to me, evil is only interesting to a point....)

:: The use of drones as a tool to study wildlife is a marvelous idea. We all like the various animal cams. My mother-in-law is absolutely obsessed right now with a camera that's fixed on a bald eagle's nest. I saw this footage and was thrilled by its potential.

More next week.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sunday Burst of Weird and Awesome (late Saturday edition)

Oddities and Awesome abound!

:: Trains are wonderful and people are garbage, which is in partial response to...

:: ...Amtrak is running a pilot program for writers' retreats on their trains. If accepted, I guess you literally get to ride around the country on Amtrak and write. I'd consider this, if not for family obligations and the job at The Store and whatnot.

:: Want to listen to ten hours of "sad violin music"? Sure you do.

More next week!


Symphony Saturday

In 1833, after a concert of his music, Berlioz was introduced to Niccolo Paganini, who was already one of the most famous figures in the musical world, owing to his unimaginable virtuosity with the violin. (Paganini is one of those figures whose performances would almost certainly be a destination were any classical musicians of today to find the keys to Doc Brown's Delorean.) Paganini loved what he had heard at the concert, so he officially commissioned from Berlioz a work for solo viola and orchestra, so that he might have a worthy new work to perform on the Stradivarius viola he had just acquired. Berlioz set to work...but Paganini was ultimately disappointed, because he had expected a virtuoso showpiece in which he would be constantly playing, and Berlioz was simply not attuned to that style of thing.

Berlioz never wrote a proper concerto. The closest he ever got was this piece for Paganini, which turned out to be his second symphony. It's also the only one of Berlioz's four symphonies to follow the traditional four-movement model, but it has the extensive passages for solo viola, making it a kind-of symphony-and-concerto hybrid, and it is also deeply steeped in Berlioz's love of literature. This time the object of literary interest is the poetry of Bryon, which led Berlioz to title the work Harold en Italie ("Harold in Italy"), after the hero of Byron's poem, Childe Harold's Pilgrimmage. The soloist "plays" the part of Harold as he tours Italy, witnessing such scenes as the treacherous paths in the mountains, a group of pilgrims marching to a shrine, a love-serenade, and in the final movement, a dance and revelry at a camp for outlaws. That fourth movement takes a page from Beethoven's book by quoting the first three movements before getting down to business, but this is a literary allusion as well as a musical one: Harold, in the form of our violist, is remembering his previous journeys before the revelry begins.

Harold in Italy is, for me, a delightful listen. It's loaded with Berliozian drama, his weirdly asymmetrical approach to melody is on full display, and his love of interesting orchestral effects shines through (the wonderful moment in the last movement when he sends some musicians offstage to quote the Pilgrim's March, for one).

Here's Harold in Italy, performed this time on original instruments by the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, with Gerard Causse as the soloist and John Eliot Gardiner conducting.


By the way: the very Stradivarius viola that Paganini owned, inspiring him to commission Berlioz? That viola still exists, and is currently owned by the Nippon Music Foundation.

Next week: What is, for me, Berlioz's greatest symphony and his greatest work, and by far the strangest symphony he wrote. Maybe. (They're all pretty strange, you know.)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Wow.

That is all.

Instaweek

The week in photos!
































Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy Pi Day!



Fixing the Prequels: Revenge of the Sith (part nine)


previously:

eight
seven
six
five
four
three
two
one

OK, this is long...quite long. But necessary, because this is when we finally get to the meat of the whole thing.

At the end of last entry, Mace Windu had placed Anakin Skywalker under house arrest for the crime of MWJ (Marriage While Jedi). And now, Windu is on his way to force the Chancellor from power, not knowing – and having refuse to hear from Anakin – that Palpatine isn't just the Chancellor, but also a Sith Lord. Anakin knows that Mace Windu is walking into disaster, and that he'll need help if he is to take down a Sith Lord. What will Anakin do? Here we go!

I like the interplay of Anakin and Padme looking across the Coruscant cityscape to one another, but Anakin's decision to defy Windu and go join the arrest of the Chancellor comes a bit out of the blue. We know why he's feeling so tortured, but even so, there's nothing that really establishes it; we have to tease it out from what we know of the story at that point. We have Anakin and Padme looking at each other across the skyline (well, looking toward one another, anyway), and then Mace and friends arrive to arrest the Chancellor (knowing that he is possibly a Sith Lord), and then Anakin takes off.

So I change all this to remove Mace Windu knowing of Palpatine's Sith status, and to establish Anakin's rage at Windu for basically having kicked him out of the Jedi. Anakin is starting to spiral out of control, now. In the film, the sequence of events feels incomplete, so my goal is to connect the dots a bit.

Again, I'm doing this without a lot of comment -- I'll just present my rendition of events. Enjoy -- revisiting this terribly sad and emotional sequence was quite rewarding!

EXTERIOR: Planets – battle montage.

The various battles continue, with OBI WAN, YODA, PLO KOON, and other JEDI leading the fight against the battle droid armies.

INTERIOR: Coruscant – Jedi temple – Great Hall.

MACE WINDU stands with three other JEDI as he confers with a fifth, a young-looking JEDI WOMAN named GALINDA.

("Galinda" is just a placeholder name, obviously. Go with it, folks!)

WINDU: We are going to confront the Chancellor and force him to stand down from his office.

GALINDA: Understood.

WINDU: If he refuses, we'll be forced to act against him. Palpatine has many friends in the Senate. It will be your job to take a contingent of Jedi to the Senate and enforce our decision.

GALINDA: The people won't like it, Master Windu.

WINDU: We are acting in their interest. Democracy must be restored, even if by force. You have your instructions.

GALINDA: I will await your signal.

WINDU: May the Force be with us all.

GALINDA bows as MACE WINDU and his other three JEDI turn to go confront the CHANCELLOR.

INTERIOR: Coruscant – Senate building – observation deck.

PADME sits with BAIL ORGANA, MON MOTHMA, and several others.

MON MOTHMA: All reports are that the war cannot go on much longer.

BAIL ORGANA: That may be true, but if so, we don't yet have enough support in the Senate to stand against the Chancellor.

MON MOTHMA: I wonder what the Jedi think of all this....

The political talk goes on, but PADME is not listening quite attentively. Her hand absently massages her own belly, and she finds herself looking past her comrades, to the great glass windows overlooking the city.

INTERIOR: Coruscant – PADME's apartment.

ANAKIN kneels on the floor, meditating. He is trying to achieve peace, but is having little success.

ANAKIN: Calm...at peace...passive....

His eyes are twitching, though, and he is beginning to sweat.

ANAKIN: Padme....

INTERIOR: Coruscant – Senate observation room.

PADME's attention is increasingly focused on the great cityscape. We see that she is looking in the direction of her apartment building.

INTERIOR: Coruscant – Padme's apartment.

ANAKIN's meditation is growing more and more intense. He begins hearing VOICES:

PADME: Anakin! Please!

YODA: Death is a natural part of life...Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not. Attachment leads to jealousy....

PALPATINE: He even learned to stop those he loved from dying....

MACE WINDU: You are no Jedi...The boy will not be trained.

PALPATINE: Your destiny does not lie with them.

PADME: Anakin! Please!

OBI WAN: Let her go, Anakin!

PALPATINE: Anakin!

MACE WINDU: Anakin!

QUI GON JINN: Anakin!

OBI WAN: Anakin!

PADME: Anakin!

ANAKIN snaps back to the present and blinks his eyes. He is very sweaty now. One last voice sounds in his mind:

PALPATINE: Only with my help, with my power, will you be able to save Padme.

ANAKIN rises to his feet and starts toward the door, but the JEDI move to intercede. He raises his hand to do something with the Force, and they ignite their lightsabers. ANAKIN gestures to a large sculpture and raises it with the Force, and the JEDI move into defensive position...but instead of hurling it at the JEDI, ANAKIN hurls it through the glass window, smashing it wide open. Then he runs and leaps into the open air, the sky of Coruscant.

C-3PO: Oh my!

EXTERIOR: Coruscant – twilight – sky above city.

ANAKIN plunges through the air and lands atop a speeder, whose DRIVER reacts with astonishment. ANAKIN jumps into the speeder alongside the driver.

ANAKIN: The Senate building. Jedi business.

The DRIVER jabbers something, but obeys.

INTERIOR: Senate building – Chancellor PALPATINE's office

PALPATINE sits at his desk, calmly reviewing reports. We HEAR the outer door slide open, and PALPATINE looks up from his work and smiles.

PALPATINE: Master Windu! It is good to see you, my friend. I assume you bring news. Has Master Kenobi defeated General Grievous?

MACE WINDU enters, with the three other JEDI.

WINDU: He has, Chancellor. The Separatist forces are on the run and will be dealt with. For all intents and purposes, the war is over.

PALPATINE: Indeed? Many people may still die while the Separatists are on the run. Be mindful of assuming too much.

WINDU: Jedi are always mindful.

PALPATINE: And this news could not be trusted to your preferred messenger, Master Skywalker?

WINDU: Skywalker is...indisposed. An internal Jedi matter.

PALPATINE: Pray you handle it more delicately than your prior treatment of him, Master Windu. Now what brings you here?

The three other JEDI shift to form a defensive formation behind WINDU.

WINDU: It is time to restore proper governance to the Republic, Chancellor. You have promised to set aside your special powers and leave office when the war ended. That time is now.

PALPATINE: Is it?

WINDU: We are prepared to make a move to encourage the Senate to stand with us.

PALPATINE: I was not aware of any public mandate granted the Jedi.

WINDU: You will step down, Chancellor. You will step down now.

PALPATINE rises.

PALPATINE: Are you threatening me, Master Jedi?

WINDU: You will step down.

PALPATINE: You have no authority.

WINDU: The Senate will do our bidding.

PALPATINE: I am the Senate!

WINDU: Not yet!

WINDU ignites his lightsaber, as do the others. PALPATINE stares at WINDU.

PALPATINE: You would raise a weapon against the elected leader of the Republic?

WINDU raises his lightsaber.

WINDU: Step down, Chancellor.

PALPATINE: It's treason, then.

A lightsaber snaps into PALPATINE's hand, and he surges over his desk as his ignites it.

JEDI: He's armed! He's a Sith!

PALPATINE's red-bladed lightsaber cuts down two of the JEDI almost immediately, and with shocking skill for a man his age, takes on a duel with the last JEDI and WINDU at the same time. In seconds he cuts down the third JEDI, and turns to face WINDU.

WINDU: Sidious.

PALPATINE: Only now do you understand.

EXTERIOR: Coruscant – night – Senate building.

The speeder that ANAKIN commandeered arrives, and Anakin barely waits for it to stop before leaping out and onto a speeder platform. He races inside, knocking over several DIGNITARIES in the process.

INTERIOR: Palpatine's suite.

The fight between PALPATINE and MACE WINDU continues. PALPATINE is clearly the most lethal opponent WINDU has ever faced, but even so, WINDU is hardly an easy target for PALPATINE, and the two cause considerable damage to the suite in the course of their deadly battle.

Meanwhile, ANAKIN is racing through the corridors toward the Chancellor's office.

The battle enters the Chancellor's main office, where PALPATINE and MACE WINDU circle each other, blades clashing with tremendous speed and force. We see PALPATINE sense something in a tiny glance to one side, toward the door, which is followed by a tiny smile. And then WINDU begins to get the upper hand...or is PALPATINE letting him?

ANAKIN enters just as WINDU forces PALPATINE behind the great desk and forces him to drop his lightsaber. PALPATINE uses the Force to throw something at WINDU, but WINDU deflects it, sending it through the great window, smashing it open. Wind begins howling through the office as PALPATINE stumbles and backs against the edge of the precipice.


PALPATINE: Anakin!

WINDU: Skywalker! Help me!

WINDU tosses ANAKIN his lightsaber, which he still had clipped to his belt. ANAKIN catches it...but does not ignite it. Not yet.

PALPATINE: Anakin, I told you this would happen! The Jedi are taking over the Republic!

WINDU: Don't listen to him, Skywalker! He's a Sith Lord! He's been a Sith Lord all along!

ANAKIN stands still.

WINDU: I will end this, Chancellor. Your plans are at an end, and you are under arrest.

PALPATINE: No. No, you will die!

PALPATINE blasts WINDU with Force lightning, which forces WINDU back.

PALPATINE: The Jedi are finished!

WINDU: Never!

WINDU manages to block the lightning with his lightsaber and force PALPATINE back until the Chancellor slumps back, breathing heavily.

WINDU: You are a traitor.

PALPATINE: No, you are the traitor! Anakin, you can see what is happening!

WINDU: Help me, Skywalker, and you will be a Jedi again.

PALPATINE: You will never be one of them, Anakin.

WINDU: Don't listen to him, Anakin!

PALPATINE: They know about Padme, but they can't help you save her! They will take her away from you!

WINDU: Enough of this!

WINDU steps forward for his final attack. PALPATINE tries to resist, but seems to be fading. WINDU moves in closer and closer...the flashes of the blue lightning reflect off ANAKIN's face as he looks from PALPATINE to WINDU and back again...WINDU's lightsaber blade gets closer and closer and closer to PALPATINE's throat....

PALPATINE: I can't hold out much longer....

WINDU: It...is...over!

WINDU raises his lightsaber for the final stroke, but then another lightsaber ignites and intersects his. ANAKIN has stepped in.

WINDU: Skywalker! What are you doing?!

ANAKIN's eyes are wide and full of fear as he faces WINDU.

WINDU: You are a traitor as well!

WINDU's words harden ANAKIN's expression as he defends himself against WINDU's attack. The duel is brief but furious, and WINDU almost wins when he strikes ANAKIN on the shoulder. The blow is only glancing, though, and ANAKIN becomes enraged and attacks with renewed and terrible vigor.

PALPATINE: Yes! Let the hate flow through you!

ANAKIN barely hears him as he pushes MACE WINDU back to the window. WINDU can barely keep up with ANAKIN's onslaught, and then ANAKIN strikes, severing WINDU's right hand. WINDU's saber tumbles into the abyss and WINDU himself shrieks in agony.

And then PALPATINE springs to life, not quite so wounded as before:


PALPATINE: Power! Unlimted...POWER!!!

PALPATINE unleashes a torrent of Force lightning to dwarf everything he threw before, and in seconds it is over: MACE WINDU, one of the most powerful Jedi ever, is flung to his death.

PALPATINE: So die the first traitors.

A look of horror takes over ANAKIN's face.

ANAKIN: What have I done?

ANAKIN turns to face PALPATINE, now looking more the frightened child than anything. He holds up his lightsaber, but his hand is trembling.

ANAKIN: Don't...don't move...you're under arrest....

PALPATINE: Stop this foolishness, boy. Your choice is made. Your destiny awaits.

PALPATINE steps forward. His face has contorted into a grotesque and evil mask which he now conceals beneath the folds of the hood of a robe he pulls onto his shoulders.

PALPATINE: You can never be a Jedi now, even if you wanted to. My power awaits. Take it! She will die if you do not. Search your feelings, my young apprentice!

ANAKIN lowers his lightsaber...deactivates it...drops it to the floor.

PALPATINE: You know she will die. You are her only hope. And I am yours.

ANAKIN sinks to his knees.

ANAKIN: I pledge myself to you, Lord Sidious.

EXTERIOR: Kashyyyk – battle – command center.

YODA is listening to a report when he suddenly seems to sense something, looks away, and then returns to the moment.

INTERIOR: PALPATINE's office.

PALPATINE: You swear to learn what I have to teach you?

ANAKIN: I swear.

EXTERIOR: Utapau – battle.

OBI WAN is climbing back onto his six-legged mount when he, too, senses something amiss. But he, too, dismisses the quick feeling....

INTERIOR: PALPATINE's office.

PALPATINE: Do you swear that you will stand against enemies of the Republic, no matter who they may be?

ANAKIN: I will stand against them, Master.

PALPATINE: Good! Then rise, my new Sith apprentice. Rise...as Darth Vader.

ANAKIN rises. His face is grim. He has turned.

PALPATINE: And now, Lord Vader, it is time for your first duty...if your feelings are clear.

ANAKIN: They are clear, my master.

PALPATINE grins and laughs. His laughter echoes as we cut to:

INTERIOR: PADME's apartment.

PADME's speeder arrives and docks; PADME and R2-D2 emerge, and C-3PO approaches.

C-3PO: Miss Padme! I'm afraid we've had some excitement....

PADME: What happened here?

She runs into the apartment and sees that the window has been smashed open.

C-3PO: I believe Master Anakin may be in some trouble.

R2 beeps with concern.

INTERIOR: Jedi Temple – Great Hall.

Jedi Master GALINDA has organized all the JEDI of fighting ability, several hundred strong, in the Great Hall.

GALINDA: We have not heard from Master Windu. Soon we will move on the Senate anyway.

EXTERIOR: Jedi Temple – concourse.

ANAKIN walks across the concourse toward the Temple entrance.

PALPATINE: (offscreen) The Jedi Order's attempt to seize control must be stopped.

ANAKIN: (offscreen) I will stop it.

GALINDA and several other JEDI emerge from the temple and run toward ANAKIN.

GALINDA: Skywalker? But Master Windu said....

Her attention is caught by the marching contingent of CLONE TROOPERS, easily a thousand strong, marching onto the concourse behind ANAKIN.

PALPATINE: offscreen Traitors to the Republic cannot be tolerated. Do what must be done. Show no mercy, for they have earned none.

ANAKIN: offscreen I will show them no mercy. I will do what must be done.

GALINDA ignites her lightsaber, as do the other JEDI. ANAKIN's expression does not change one bit as he ignites his...but now, he carries PALPATINE's red lightsaber.

EXTERIOR:  UTAPAU-TENTH LEVEL-LANDIXG PLATFORM-DAY 

The battle between the CLONES and the DROIDS rages throughout the sinkhole. OBI-WAN rides up to CLONE COMMANDER CODY. 

OBI-WAN: Commander, contact your troops. Tell them to move to the higher levels. 

CLONE COMMANDER CODY: Very good, sir. 

CLONE COMMANDER CODY starts to move away, then remembers something and returns to OBI-WAN. 

CLONE COMMANDER CODY: (continuing) Oh, by the way, I think you'll be needing this. 

He hands OBI-WAN his lightsaber, and the LIZARD rears up. 

OBI-WAN: Thank you, Cody, I've always had the most trouble with dropping this. Now let's get a move on. We've got a battle to win here! 

CLONE COMMANDER CODY: Yes, sir! 

OBI-WAN and the LIZARD ride off down the wall of the giant sinkhole.

EXTERIOR: GALAXY – BATTLE MONTAGE.

Another MONTAGE of JEDI leading CLONE TROOPERS into battle.

On Kashyyyk, YODA looks increasingly disturbed.


INTERIOR: Coruscant – Jedi temple.

ANAKIN is methodically butchering his way through the JEDI, with the CLONE TROOPERS backing him up. The scene is hellish as JEDI after JEDI falls. They Force-throw large objects at him, but he flings each aside.

INTERIOR: Palpatine's office.

PALPATINE presses a button, and COMMANDER CODY's holographic image appears.

CODY: Chancellor?

PALPATINE: Commander Cody. Your time has come.

CODY's posture changes, as PALPATINE's voice and words trigger something in him.

CODY: I obey, sir.

PALPATINE: Execute Order sixty-six.

CODY: It will be done.

PALPATINE grins evilly as CODY's image fades.

PALPATINE: Die, Jedi fools, die....

EXTERIOR: Utapau – tenth level.

CLONE COMMANDER CODY gestures to a nearby Clone Trooper. 

CLONE COMMANDER CODY: Blast him! 

The battle rages all around OBI-WAN. DROIDS and CLONES are everywhere. OBI-WAN is riding on a LIZARD, cutting down DROIDS as he races across the battlefield. Suddenly a volley of laser blasts from behind him knocks him and his LIZARD off the wall of the sinkhole. He looks around just in time to see his CLONE TROOPS are firing on him. OBI-WAN falls hundreds of feet to the bottom of the water-filled sinkhole.

EXTERIOR: MYGEETO-DAWN 

The sky slowly awakens on the crystal world of Mygeeto. A battle rages. Clone troops battle the droid armies across a long bridge. KI-ADI-MUNDi uses his light saber to deflect enemy fire. CLONE COMMANDER BACARA (1138) exits a Gunship near the entrance to the city. He rallies his TROOPS to attack the city, then gets a message on his comlink. He stops and moves to one side as a HOLOGRAM OF DARTH SIDIOUS appears on the comlink in the palm of his hand. He moves further into the shadows. 

DARTH SlDIOUS: Commander 1138 . . . 

CLONE COMMANDER BACARA: Yes, sir. 

DARTH SlDIOUS: Your time has come. Execute Order Sixty-Six. 

CLONE COMMANDER BACARA: It will be done, My Lord. 

DARTH SIDIOUS fades, and the CLONE COMMANDER snaps the comlink closed and looks to the main plaza of the city, where KI-ADI-MUNDI is leading the charge. The clones stop. KI-ADI-MUNDI turns around and is blasted by clone fire. He's killed before he can defend himself. 

EXTERIOR: FELUCIA-FOREST-DAY

A column of CLONE WALKERS marches across the forest floor. The STRANGE CALLS of the alien forest creatures of FELUCIA suddenly stop. The Jedi AAYLA SECURA and her CLONE TROOPS brace for an ambush. 

AAYLA: Steady. . . . steady . . . 

They all look around for signs of the enemy. CLONE COMMANDER BLY moves up behind the Jedi. BLY blasts AAYLA in the back. The OTHER CLONES fire on her as she hits the ground. Another Jedi, BARRISS OFFEE, is cutting down a patrol of DROIDS when a CLONE WALKING TANK and SEVEN CLONE TROOPERS round a corner and blast the Jedi away. 

EXTERIOR: KASHYYYK-MEETING HALL-DAY 

YODA drops his gimer stick, clutches his chest, and rests against a wall. 

EXTERIOR: KASHYYYK-EDGE OF VILIAGE-DAY 

The battle appears to be over. WOOKIEES stack destroyed Droids while CLONES assess the damage to their equipment. A Jedi, LUMINARA UNDULI, talks with EIGHT CLONE OFFICERS standing in a circle around her. Suddenly they reveal their hidden pistols and blast her before she can react.

The Jedi QUINLAN VOS is riding on top of a CLONE TURBO TANK. The main cannon of a second tank slowly swings to point right at him and a COUPLE OF CLONES. The cannon fires, and QUINLAN VOS and the CLONES disappear in a huge EXPLOSION. 


INTERIOR: CATO NEIMOIDIA-COCKPIT CLONE FIGHTER-DAY 

The CLONE PILOT watches a hologram of DARTH SIDIOUS. 

DARTH SIDIOUS: Execute Order Sixty-Six. 

CLONE PILOT: It will be done, My Lord. 

INTERIOR: CATO NEIMOIDIA-JEDI STARFIGHTER-DAY 

PLO KOON heads his ship toward a battle on a landing platform. 

EXTERIOR: CATO XEIMOIDIA-JEDI STARFIGHTER-DAY 

The FOUR CLONE PILOTS with PLO KOON drop back and blast him out of the sky. 

EXTERIOR: SALEUCAMI-FOREST 

Three Speeder Bikes race through the forest. A Jedi, STASS ALLIE is in the lead. The TWO CLONES following her drop back and blast her, causing her to crash in a huge EXPLOSION. 

INTERIOR: CORUSCANT-CHANCELLOR'S OFFICE-NIGHT 

DARTH SIDIOUS stands alone in his private office, illuminated only from a hologram projector beam from above. A small HOLOGRAM OF COMMANDER GREE stands in front of him. 

CLONE COMMANDER GREE: Yes, My Lord. 

DABTH SIDIOUS: The time has come. Execute Order Sixty-Six. 

EXTERIOR: KASHYYYK-MEETING HALL BALCONY-DAY 

A vista of waterways, high green mesas, and giant tree cities serves as a backdrop for the fierce battle, CLONES AND WOOKIEES against TRADE FEDERATION DROID ARMIES, with treaded tank-like vehicles. CLONE COMMANDER GREE holds his comlink. 

CLONE COMMANDER GREE: It will be done, My Lord. 

CLONE COMMANDER GREE snaps his comlink shut. 

YODA watches from the balcony. The battle rages as CLONES and WOOKIEES attack DROIDS coming across the water on CORPORATE ALLIANCE TANK DROIDS. CHEWBACCA and TARFFUL stand on either side of the Jedi Master as he watches the battle below. CLONE COMMANDER GREE and ONE OFFICER walk onto the balcony toward YODA. YODA stands looking over the battlefield below. When they are close enough, the CLONES reveal their weapons and fire. But faster than the CLONES can reveal their weapons, YODA ignites his lightsaber, leaps in the air, and beheads both CLONES. CHEWBACCA and TARFFUL fire their weapons as more CLONES enter the hall. The Wookiees call out to YODA to follow them. CHEWBACCA picks YODA up and carries him away. 

EXTERIOR: CORUSCANT-JEDI TEMPLE-NIGHT 

A JEDI is surrounded and gunned down by CLONE TROOPERS. Many fires are burning in the Temple.

EXTERIOR: Coruscant – sky – night.

A speeder flies through the air.

INTERIOR: Coruscant – sky – night – speeder.

PADME sits in the speeder, reviewing some documents, when something outside catches her eye. They are flying by the Jedi Temple, where fires are visible and smoke is rising into the air.

PADME: What is happening at the Temple? Pilot!

CLONE PILOT: There is danger, Senator. I am now ordered to escort you home.

PADME: But the Temple--

CLONE PILOT: My orders are from the Chancellor, My Lady.

PADME starts to say something else, but sits back and says nothing.

INTERIOR: CORUSCANT-JEDI TEMPLE-NIGHT 

ANAKIN walks through the Jedi Temple, where he finds and kills SHAAK TI without so much as breaking stride.

INTERIOR: CORUSCANT – JEDI TEMPLE – LIBRARY – NIGHT.

ANAKIN enters the library. He is immediately attacked by JOCASTA NU, the elderly but fierce librarian, who wields her lightsaber with dance-like grace that does not avail her at all as ANAKIN runs her through and Force-tosses her body aside. Then he deactivates his lightsaber and walks through the library, coming at last to stop before one of the busts of Jedi long-gone: the bust of QUI GON JINN. He stares up at the bust for a moment.

INTERIOR: Utapau – water cave.

The cave is filled by a lake whose surface is smooth until OBI WAN suddenly emerges from beneath the surface. He removes his breathing apparatus from his mouth and pulls himself up onto a rock, where the creature he'd been riding has just died. OBI WAN rubs its neck one last time.

OBI WAN: What is happening?

INTERIOR: CORUSCANT – JEDI TEMPLE – LIBRARY – NIGHT.

ANAKIN still stands before QUI GON JINN's bust, his back to the camera.

YOUNGLING: (offscreen) Master Skywalker?

ANAKIN does not move. We now see that there are several dozen YOUNGLINGS here, where they have come to hide.

YOUNGLING: Master Skywalker, there are too many of them. What are we going to do?

ANAKIN stares up at the face of QUI GON JINN.

PALPATINE: (voiceover) You must destroy them all, even those too young to understand why their destiny is at hand.

A single tear runs down ANAKIN's cheek as he finally looks down from QUI GON's kind and unchanging expression.

ANAKIN: (voiceover) I will do what must be done. It will be a kindness, releasing them from the clutches of the Jedi.

ANAKIN turns to face the YOUNGLING and steps forward, out of the frame, leaving only the bust of QUI GON JINN, which reflects the red light of ANAKIN's lightsaber as he reignites it.

YOUNGLING: Master?

We HEAR the characteristic sound of a lightsaber in motion, and then cut away....

And that's where we'll stop. From here on out, it's all downhill. I love the way Lucas composed the entire scene once Anakin had fallen: the betrayal and destruction of the Jedi is masterfully done, with all those amazing battles on stunning planets that we've never seen before, accompanied by some of John Williams's finest work. One thing that bothers me is that the music from Anakin's first march on the Temple is tracked in from Episode II, which always strikes me as odd – it seems to me that moment screams out for the first big sounding of the Imperial March with Anakin as Vader.

I also always thought that Anakin should have made the switch to a red lightsaber here, which I rectify. Ultimately, though, this sequence has to show that while Anakin has made the choice to allow the dark path to dominate his destiny, he is still maintaining some semblance of who he was. He hasn't completely gone yet...maybe.

Next time, the ramifications of Anakin's betrayal become clear. Tune in, Star Warriors!