Again, On the Road: Spruce Knob, W Va

IMG30209

Spruce Knob, on the Allegheny Front eastern continental divide, is the highest point in W Va and the highest point within 200 miles of Washington DC (about 185 miles, 5 hours including 40 minutes to drive the narrow paved road, 12 miles, to the summit, from US 33/WVa 28 near Riverton).

I thought I hadn’t gotten to the summit since 1994, but I then discovered I had been there in August 2010, and then returned to Blackwater Falls in September.

1

2

3

4

SR 93 from Davis through the old strip mine fields is now replaced by US 48, which is being made into a freeway.  The Atlas shows 48 intersecting 32 just north of Davis and south of Thomas.  But the sign still says 32. The W-bound side still is about 8 miles short of completion to Davis.  The reclaimed strip mines look like terraced landfills, near the Mt. Storm power plant.  There is one coal processing plant. Halfway between Mt. Storm and Moorefield there is a rather ugly quarry, shortly after the scenic overlook, looking east from the Allegheny escarpment (with wind turbines on top of the ridge).

IMG30220

(Posted: Friday, July 22, 2016, at 11:30 PM EDT)

A couple more cell pictures, posted on Instagram

Spruce Knob summit

instasprucekbob1

US 48 view,  some stripmine cuts or quarries visible from overlook 20 miles NW of Moorefield

instaus48-1

 

More on the idea of “character diversity”, particularly in love or intimate scenes, for my own fiction

IMG_2856

I wanted to add a note about any potential “casting diversity” or, for that matter, character diversity issues in my own manuscripts (last taken up in January 2016).

It’s true that many of my manuscripts (novels and screenplays) focus on “me” or my avatar as a central driving character, and that my tastes in what is “desirable” (Fort Eustis memories) drive the tension.

DSCNF125

In fact, there is a certain pattern in many of them.  A character like “Bill” meets a charismatic, larger-than-life and tall young white male hero (symbolizing “virtue”)  in the early chapters (rather like Ayn Rand’s fantasy for the young John Galt). Later, he loses his “individual contributor” job and has to face becoming more “sociable”.  He gets contacted to go to some sort of re-regimenting “re-education academy” in the country (in West Texas in a couple scripts, in West Virginia in another, and a simple “intentional community” in DADT III last story). He has to learn to do “real jobs”.  It sounds a little like Maoist re-education (the right and left come together at the other side of the Moon, you know).   At the “academy” he encounters the hero, and builds up to an intimate confrontation.  In the meantime, the outside world has an existential catharsis.

“Bill” is different but he’s not supposed to get off as a “member of a group”.  He has to learn to share the risks that others had to endure.  It’s seen through a moral lens.

But a couple of more recent manuscripts present the narrative primarily through a separate, heterosexually married white male character, with “Bill” inn his backstory, and with some gay interests.  In the novel, the character is a good family man whose marriage will be challenged by a gay college student, as well as “extraterrestrial” events (and a mystery virus to boot).  In another screenplay “Titanium” the protagonist is a white male journalist whose fiancé has been abducted (possibly by aliens) when she “went up”.  But the reporter has another girl friend, who is of opposite race, and helps the girl friend raise a child.  But I’m in the background. It get’s pretty complex.

I grew up in a world where most movies and entertainment catered to conventional white stereotypes of what is desirable from men and women.   People did not think about the idea that other kinds of people should be presented as “attractive” then as they often do today,

(Published: Friday, July 8, 2016 at 11:30 AM ET)  Related post today.

A Capitol Fourth, 2016: Clips, with some surprising political retrospect

IMG29930

It started with a chain dance, not exactly a Virginia Reel from the old days of straight singles clubs.  Before, a couple of brothers played a game of mistaken identity on Capitol Hill.

1

2

Then Colin Powell gave a speech appealing for the USO, which entertains troops, often at some sacrifice by performers.  Now the USO comes up in the 1999 film “Southpark” when “Big Gay Al” mentions it (before blaming Canada);  he made an allusion to my book and the military DADT at the time.  In fact, Powell, as Chariman JCS, first opposed President Clinton’s 1993 plan to lift the military ban on gays, but gradually accepted “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” which Clinton announced July 19 that year at Ft. McNair.

3

Besides the closing of the Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture, the National Symphony played the “Liberty Fanfare” by John Williams:  Two brief clips (the second is the ending)

4

5

(Posted: Monday, July 4, 2016 at 11:45 PM EDT)

IMG29942

Also: Fort McNair in Washington DC (site of Clinton’s DADTDP speech)

mcnair

Sample of Basque music at Smithsonian Folklife festival

IMG29738

Here are a few clips of Basque music and show from the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, opening day on June 29, 2016, on the Mall in Washington DC.

IMG29823

Concert at 3 PM: Concluding song with accordions, winds, and percussion (four segments)

1

2

3

4

Earlier clips from the same group

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

Earlier clips before the main event; last two are folk dances

12

13

14

15

16

17

A cappella singing

18

 

(Posted: Friday, July 1, 2016 at 9:30 PM EDT)