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“It’s Not the Years, It’s The Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology, Part 4 — Fortune and Glory

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.

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Professor Henry Jones, Jr. of Barnett College, NY.

1934 — Abner Ravenwood dies in Nepal.[1] Marcus Brody returns as curator of the National Museum after three years working for the American Museum of Natural History.

Late Summer 1934 — A large-scale excavation Indy had been organizing for the Rub al Khali desert in Saudi Arabia has to be abandoned because Rene Belloq got to the site first.[1]

Fall 1934 — Indy begins his first year of teaching at Barnett College, located in upstate New York, and closely associated with the National Museum. Marcus Brody sits on the college’s Board of Regents.

December 1934 — Indy is hired by Caspar Zzyzx to recover a treasure map in the South Pacific island chain known as the Marquesas Islands. The map is recovered with some difficulty, and Indy’s colleague Dr. Lopez is killed by headhunters.[2]

January 5, 1935 — Aboard their chartered ship, the Julie Anne, Indy, Zzyzx, and the ship’s Shrinecovercaptain, Whitby, analyze the map and determine it leads to the “Shrine of the Sea Devil,” an underwater temple of major archaeological significance 1900 miles to their north. The Julie Anne heads there, while her crew plots mutiny. They believe the shrine to be filled with pearls, and the first mate, Turps, has a score to settle with Indy.[2]

January 11, 1935 — While Indy is diving below the surface, the crew takes over the ship. Indy finds the shrine, but in the process, awakens a giant octopus, which causes catastrophic damage to the Julie Anne, killing the mutinous crew. (Zzyzx and Whitby escape on a dinghy.) Turps, the last surviving crew member, attempts to fight off the giant octopus with hand grenades, but only succeeds in destroying the ship once and for all. Clinging to the wreckage, Indy is rescued by Amelia Earhart, who is making her historic solo Hawaii-to-California flight.[2]

April 1935 — On an expedition in Ceylon, Indy has a run-in with a Nazi SS colonel called Albrecht von Beck, and recovers an artifact known as the Heart of Koru Watu.[3]

Late April, 1935 — Indy is visited at Barnett College by two Chinese officials, Kai Ti Chan and his female assistant Mei Ying. They commission him to find the massive black pearl known as the “Heart of the Dragon,” located in the tomb of the first Chinese emperor. (Indy had been inside the tomb before — very briefly — in the spring of 1934.) The Heart is said to have immense power, and the Chinese government is worried it will be found by dangerous people. To navigate the tomb’s treacherous paths, Indy will need to assemble the “Mirror of Dreams,” the first piece of which is to be found inside the artifact he had just brought back from Ceylon.[3]

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May 1935 — Indy travels to Prague Castle in Czechoslovakia to recover the second piece of the Mirror, and goes on to Istanbul for the third (outwitting von Beck and his Nazis at every turn.) Mei Ying approaches him in Istanbul, and informs him that Kai is a Triad crime lord in league with the Nazis. Indy and Mei Ying travel to Hong Kong to rendezvous with Indy’s associate Wu Han and infiltrate Kai’s stronghold. Before they can act, Mei Ying is abducted by von Beck and taken by submarine to Kai’s private East China Sea island. Indy and Wu Han tail them there on a junk, and overhear Kai and von Beck agree that Hitler can have the Heart once Kai has used it to take over China. Leaving Wu Han behind, Indy makes a dangerous trip through the bowels of Kai’s fortress, picking up an ancient weapon known as Pa Cheng (“Dragon’s Claw”). He frees Mei Ying, collects Wu Han, and the trio flees back to Shanghai. Indy and Mei Ying continue on the the tomb’s location near Xian. Using the Black Mirror, they navigate most of the way to the center of the massive tomb’s interior, but become separated. In a final attempt to kill Indy, von Beck appears driving a drilling machine straight at him. Vo Beck loses control and goes over the edge of a chasm and vanishes for good. Indy finally gets to the Heart, but the power it unleashes causes him to drop it. Kai shows up and is able to briefly harness the power, summoning a some of the emperor’s terra-cotta soldiers, and a massive dragon. With the help of Mei Ying and the Pa Cheng, Indy manages to turn the power of the Heart against Kai and destroy him.[3]

Late May 1935 — After abandoning the search for the Peacock’s Eye diamond back in 1919, Indy is offered the chance to finally possess it. In exchange for Indy recovering the cremated remains of Chinese emperor Nurhachi, Chinese millionaire (and organized crime boss) Lao Che will give him the diamond in payment.[4] Indy does not seem to be in any great hurry to get started, lingering in Hong Kong with Mei Ying before heading back to Shanghai.[3]

Early June 1935 — Indy and Wu Han recover the ashes of Nurhachi in an adventure that goes unrecorded. Indy also befriends a young Shanghai orphan boy, Short Round. Short Round, somewhere between 10 and 12 years old (no one is really sure) had attempted to pick his pocket, but Indy quickly became fond of him and promised to get him to the U.S.[5]

June 14, 1935 — On high alert, Indy goes to his pre-arranged meeting with Lao Che in aMV5BMTczMDM0NjY1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjMwNDczMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,669,1000_AL_ Shanghai nightclub. Wu Han is already there, disguised as a waiter. One of Lao’s sons, Kao, had attempted to steal the ashes the night before, and got a maimed hand for his efforts. The nightclub’s singer (and Lao’s mistress) Willie Scott joins them at the table. In a tense confrontation, Lao finally turns over the diamond when faced with Wu Han’s pistol — but he has poisoned Indy’s drink. Chaos erupts in the nightclub as Wu Han is shot and killed by Lao’s other son, Chen. Kao opens up with a submachine gun. The diamond is lost in the confusion, but Indy knows that Willie has the antidote to the poison. He grabs her and jumps out the window, their fall broken by several awnings. They land in a car driven Short Round, who gets them to the Shanghai airport after a brief street chase. They arrange transport on a Ford Tri-motor freight plane, unaware that the freight company is owned by Lao Che.[6]

indiana_jones_and_the_temple_of_doom_poster_by_leonrock84-d9mlnklJune 15, 1935 — The freight plane pilots, on orders from Lao Che, dump the plane’s fuel and bail out. Indy attempts to use his limited piloting skills, but when he discovers the fuel situation, realizes they must bail out, too — with no parachutes. They use an inflatable raft to slow their fall when they bail out at low altitude. They ride the raft down the snowy foothills of the Himalayas, and end up in a river passing an impoverished village in northern India. The village began suffering from extreme drought when its protective “Sankara stone” was stolen from its shrine — along with all the village children. The village’s holy man asks Indy (who he believes was sent from the sky by Shiva) to go to nearby Pankot Palace (believed by most to be abandoned) and retrieve the stone and the children.[6]

June 16, 1935 — Feeling obligated to help the people of the village, Indy, Willie and Short Round ride on elephants toward Pankot Palace.[6]

June 17, 1935 — After a day-and-a-half’s ride, the party arrives at Pankot Palace, which is not abandoned — in fact, it has been restored and seems to be thriving. It is presided over by a child maharajah, and his prime minister, Chatter Lal. At a banquet later that evening, Indy begins asking uncomfortable questions — Pankot was once at the center of an area terrorized by the bloodthirsty Thuggee cult. The maharajah and Lal deny that the Thuggee have been revived, and Lal brings up Indy’s own less-than-stellar reputation as a grave-robber, making a point that rumors can be damaging. Indy is also curious about the food at the banquet — a bizarre meat-based menu (eels, beetles, monkey brains) that no true Hindu would ever touch. Indy’s suspicions are further aroused when he is attacked in his room later that night. After dispatching his assailant, Indy discovers a secret door that leads to a massive underground temple. Indy, Willie, and Short Round observe a Thuggee human sacrifice ritual presided over by the high priest of Kali, Mola Ram. After the ceremony is over and the worshippers have exited, Indy attempts to get the three Sankara stones that are on the altar, but is captured along with his two companions.[5,6]

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Indy, Willie Scott, and Short Round, 1935

June 18, 1935 — Short Round is put to work in with the abducted village children in the mines below the temple, digging for the two remaining Sankara stones. Indy is forced to drink a hallucinogenic brew that induces the “black sleep of Kali” and putting him into a zombie-like trance. Willie is set to be the next sacrifice. Short Round escapes the mines and awakens Indy from his trance by burning him with a torch. Indy grabs the three stones, rescues Willie, frees the children, and the three escape via a fast-running mine cart. Mola Ram orders all the mine tunnels flooded. Indy and company barely avoid the deluge, make it out a tunnel exit, and clamber up a cliffside to a rope bridge over a deep river gorge. They are quickly surrounded by Mola Ram and his Thuggees. Indy cuts through the bridge supports, the bridge snaps in two and slams into the cliff wall. Most of the Thuggees are dispatched, but Indy must still defeat Mola Ram as they dangle over the river. Mola Ram is ultimately sent plunging to his death, and Indy manages to save one of the stones from following him into the river. The British Army arrive to provide assistance.[6]

June 20, 1935 — Indy, Willie, Short Round, and the children return to the village.[6]

Late June, 1935 — Willie and Short Round return to the U.S. [7].

July – August, 1935 — Remaining in India, Indy’s curiosity is piqued when he finds some map fragments leading to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, a Bengalese temple buried under silt in a flood of the “Lost Delta” 2000 years ago. The map proves accurate, and Indy begins a large-scale excavation immediately. He brings in Sallah as a consultant and partner. Word soon leaks out that the temple offers all visitors either earthly riches, eternal youth, or visions of the future. The site is flooded with curiosity seekers…and is also running out of funding. Sallah decides to monetize the situation by offering motorized tours of the dig site for a fee. In the meantime, Indy had gone missing for a week, deep within the temple searching for the source of the temple’s power. He returned to the surface not long after rescuing one of the tour groups that had gone astray. The massive dig and profitable tours continued under Sallah’s supervision for an unknown time after Indy returns to the U.S.[8]

TombOfTheGods_TPB_finalMay 23, 1936 — Archaeologist Henrik Mellberg sends a letter requesting the assistance of Indy on a matter of grave importance. Five years earlier, Mellberg and two associates, Francis Beresford-Hope and Marwell O’Brien, discovered the key to the “Tomb of the Gods” in a remote Russian village north of the Arctic Circle. They divide the key into three pieces and each man takes one for safekeeping. O’Brien’s portion of the key has recently fallen into the hands of the Nazis (specifically, the “Ahnenerbe” — the “ancestral heritage” branch of the SS, supervised by Friedrich von Hassell). When Indy arrives at Mellberg’s Manhattan apartment, he finds the Nazis are already interrogating him. Mellberg is fatally shot as they make their escape, and his portion of the key ends up in the hands of mercenary treasure hunter Janice Le Roi. Indy and Marcus Brody agree that the third piece must be recovered as soon as possible.[9]

June 6, 1936 — Indy and Brody arrive in Lhasa, Tibet, the last known location of Beresford-Hope.[9]

June 10, 1936 — Beresford-Hope had died alcoholic and insane in a cave in Tibet, but Indy and Brody discover his son son, Alex, who is initially suspicious, fearing they may be Nazi agents. They escape an attack by Tibetan bandits with the help of pilot Jock Lindsey.[9]

June 12, 1936 — Indy, Brody, and Alex Beresford-Hope arrive in Shanghai. Alex turns over his father’s piece of the key, which has a map that can guide them to the tomb’s location in remote Siberia. Brody and Indy argue over what to do next, with Brody all for dynamiting the tomb to prevent whatever’s inside from getting released, and Indy driven by his curiosity to discover whatever’s inside actually is. Indy’s view wins out, and he and Alex plan to continue to without Brody.[9]

Mid-June, 1936 — After their ship stops in Japan, the final piece is taken from Indy by von Hassell and Le Roi. Von Hassell turns on Le Roi as well, cutting her arm to attract sharks, and setting her and Indy adrift in an oarless boat in the icy North Pacific, and keeping Alex as a hostage. They are rescued by a whaling ship who spotted the signal fire they had made out of articles of their clothing. Marcus Brody was also aboard the ship, trailing them in case he was needed. Grateful for Indy saving her life, Le Roi draws a map from what she remembers on the two key fragments.[9]

June 25-26, 1936 — The whaling ship arrives in Siberia in the vicinity of the Tomb. They race Von Hassell’s Ahnenerbe team on dogsleds, both sides tumbling into a crevasse opened by a lightning strike. After wandering through the caverns for some time, Indy and Le Roi find that von Hassell has discovered the door to the Tomb, and pressures Alex to open it. Alex refuses, and is immediately killed by von Hassell. Brody is ordered to open the door next, but suddenly three of Von Hassell’s men are possessed by the spirits of the tomb, and open fire with their machine guns. Indy overpowers the men and rescues Brody. Impatient, von Hassell opens the door himself. Inside is a vault with a seemingly bottomless pit. Unsure what monstrosity could or would emerge from that pit, Indy comes around to Brody’s viewpoint. He shoves von Hassell into the pit, lights some dynamite, and seals the door.[9]

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August 1936 — With a crew of two Peruvian mercenary “guides,” Satipo and Barranca, and five native Quechua Indian bearers, Indy searches for a hidden temple in the jungles of Peru, where he hopes to find the golden Idol of the Chachapoyans. They are making their way through territory belonging to a tribe of hostile warriors, the Hovitos. Indy has half of a map, Satipo and Barranca the other. As they get closer to the temple, they are abandoned by their superstitious native bearers. Barranca attempts to take Indy’s half of the map, but is dealt with by bullwhip and flees into the jungle. Satipo meekly agrees to continue. They are following in the footsteps of another archaeologist (“a competitor” as Indy describes him), Forrestal, who never returned. Indy and Satipo enter the temple and quickly discover the decayed corpse of Forrestal, speared by one of the temple’s many security traps. They continue on, skirting the temple’s traps, until they come to the final room. Indy attempts to remove the idol without triggering anything, but fails, and the pair flee for their lives as a massive boulder is released to crush them. Satipo — afterattempting to take the idol for himself — is killed by the same trap that got Forrestal. Indy recovers the idol and exits the temple just as the massive boulder seals it shut. He is immediately confronted by a group of Hovitos, brandishing the body of Barranca, and holding Indy at spearpoint. They are in the service of Rene Belloq, who promptly takes the idol from Indy. Indy runs for his chartered seaplane, piloted by Jock Stewart, narrowly escaping the Hovitos’ spears and blow-darts. He gets out alive, but empty-handed.[10,1] Continue reading

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology, Part 3 — The Young Archaeologist

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.

June 1925 — The newly-minted “Professor Jones” gets his first job after graduating — teaching a summer course on Britain’s megalithic monuments at the University of London. 

He discovers he has a brilliant but difficult student, Deirdre Campbell, who is the daughter of his department head, Dr. Joanna Campbell.[1]

IndianaJonesAndTheDanceOfTheGiantsMid-August, 1925 — At the conclusion of his summer course, Indy is invited by Dr. Campbell to join her and Deirdre on an excavation of St. Ninian’s Cave on the southwest coast of Scotland to look for a golden scroll that proves the legend of Merlin the wizard had basis in historical fact. After a series of violent run-ins with unknown assailants, Indy, with the help of Deirdre and Jack Shannon, gradually uncovers a plot by a modern day druidic cult, the Hyperboreans. The leader of the Hyperboreans, Albert Powell (wealthy member of Parliament and, it turns out, Deirdre’s half-brother) plans on using the scroll in a ceremony to unleash the power of the Omphalos, which he recently arranged to have stolen from the museum in Chicago. The scroll is not at St. Ninian’s Cave, but they find a clue as to where it actually is — in an old convent near Stonehenge. Powell heads out to recover it, leaving Indy, Shannon, and the Campbells to die in the cave he has filled with toxic gas. Three of them escape, but Joanna Campbell succumbs. They actually find the scroll in the convent ahead of Powell, but are captured by him not long after, and discover that the midnight ceremony Powell is planning includes a human sacrifice in the form of Deirdre. It turns out the Omphalos that Powell stole is a replica, and the ceremony fails. Powell perishes by falling into a massive bonfire.

Under the pressure of these few weeks, Indy and Deirdre find themselves in a passionate romance.

In Scotland, Indy is presented by the townspeople with a Webley .455 revolver. In freeing Deirdre from the cult ceremony, Indy makes his first peacetime self-defense kill with the Webley, and it “sickens” him, but from this point on, he rarely ventures out on his expeditions without a handgun.[1]

Fall 1925 — Indy begins teaching full-time at University of London, mostly courses in Celtic archaeology. He admits it’s not his favorite area, and he struggles with the Celtic language despite his facility with other languages. (Perhaps it’s all too closely associated with his father’s Holy Grail obsession.) He spends his off hours rambling around the English countryside, for which he develops a deep affection.[2] It is around this time, in the New Forest, that Indy meets Gale Parker, an academic and adventurer, basically a female version of himself (except she can fly a plane.)[3]

January 1926 — Indy finds out he is not scheduled to teach any classes for the upcoming semester, but will instead assist on a major University of London expedition to Tikal, Guatemala.[4]

February 21, 1926 — Under the leadership of the new head of the archaeology department, Dr. Victor Bernard, the expedition begins moving from the coast to the Guatemalan interior. Deirdre Campbell, whose relationship with Indy has cooled in the aftermath of the previous summer, is also on the expedition.[4]

March 7, 1926 — After some exciting initial discoveries in a Mayan pyramid, the expedition is disrupted by graverobbers, and they are lucky to escape alive.[4]

March 8-14, 1926 — Indy receives treatment for a gunshot wound suffered in the robbery attempt (it wouldn’t be his last), and the failed expedition makes its way back to New York via train.[4]

Mid-March, 1926 — Indy, arm still in a sling, attends the opening night of Marcus Brody’s highly controversial National Museum exhibition displaying evidence that ancient Old World civilizations had been to the Americas long before Columbus. Brody shows Indy several pages from a journal written by his old friend, noted explorer Jack Fawcett, who has gone missing in the midst of searching for a lost city, Ceiba (popularly known as “El Dorado”), deep in the Amazon jungle. Fawcett believed it was inhabited by fair-skinned people of Celtic origin. Indy and Deirdre decide to go in search of Fawcett.[4]

Late March, 1926 — On the eight-day ocean voyage that takes them to Brazil, Indy and Deirdre rekindle their romance. As the ship arrives in the bay at Rio de Janeiro, Indy and Deirdre are married by the ship’s captain.

Various clues and encounters with practitioners of the mysterious Candomble religion indicate that Fawcett is being held captive as “breeding stock” in the lost city of Ceiba. The inhabitants of the city have the ability to “veil” — to become like shadows, effectively invisible. High-ranking members of their society (which does appear to have Celtic origins) also have the ability to veil the city itself from outsiders.[4]

Early April, 1926 — After days of traveling by seaplane and on foot deep into the Amazon IndianaJonesAndTheSevenVeilsjungle, Indy and Deidre are taken captive by Ceiba’s inhabitants. The veiling causes everyone in Ceiba to exist in a semi-dream state. While their fate is being decided in shared dream with the Ceiban High Council, their physical bodies are busy escaping, plunging off a cliff into the river below. Pursued by the Ceibans, Indy, Deidre, and Fawcett make it back to the lake with the plane. After taking off, they discover the fuel tanks have been drained by a hostile tribe, the Morcegos — the plane plunges into the jungle, killing Fawcett and Deirdre. Indy is rescued from the jungle after several days, suffering from multiple injuries and typhus. He has no memory of his time in Ceiba or the crash that killed his wife of only a few weeks.[4]

Summer 1926 — Indy is still grieving for Deirdre. At some point during time away from his university duties, he examines the work of the ancient American Mound Builders along the Missouri River.[5]

He also pays an extended visit to his old mentor, Abner Ravenwood in Chicago, perhaps assisting Abner in his work. During one of their discussions, Abner cautions Indy that in the overlapping areas of mythology, occult, and archaeology that they both specialize in, it is important to remain skeptical and rational in front others, no matter what one may witness with his own eyes. Under the circumstances, Indy is grateful to have to distraction of working with Abner, and basks in the hero worship Abner’s teenage daughter, Marion, lavishes on him. In a complete lapse of judgement, Indy seduces Marion. Abner finds out, and this leads to a permanent break in their friendship.[6]

January 1927 — Indy travels to a conference in Dublin to present a paper on Celtic influences in New England.[7]

May 1927 — Depressed over recent events, and still feeling that Celtic archaeology is a bad fit for him, Indy resigns from the University of London and returns to Chicago to investigate possible employment at his alma mater. He finds his old friend Jack Shannon running a jazz club, and reluctantly involved in the organized crime that comes with the territory.[8]

IndianaJonesAndTheGenesisDelugeJune 1927 — Jack Shannon, due to the pressures of his new lifestyle, has found religion and invites Indy to his church to hear a lecturer, Dr. Zobolotsky, who claims to have discovered Noah’s Ark, and is still in possession of a small piece of it. After the job possibility at the University of Chicago falls through, Indy finds himself agreeing to join Zobolotsky and his daughter, Katrina on an expedition to Mount Ararat in Turkey to document the existence of the Ark. After Shannon’s brothers are murdered in a mob hit, he decides to go on the expedition as well.[7]

June 21, 1927 — Indy and Shannon leave Chicago by train to join the Zobolotsky expedition. They are trailed the whole time by Bolshevik agents, who feel that proving the Ark’s existence would undermine the anti-religion Bolshevik government.[7]

Early July, 1927 — The expedition arrives in Istanbul and heads for and heads for Mount Ararat.[7]

Mid-July, 1927 — Partway up the mountain, the two tailing Bolsheviks shoot and kill Zobolotsky, and are themselves killed by the local Kurds. Indy, Shannon, and Katrina continue up the mountain, and finds the Ark — and a bunch of Janissaries, a fanatical Turkish religious group who believe finding the Ark will trigger the apocalypse. Gunfire ensues, causing an avalanche which buries the Janissaries and the Ark, probably forever. [7]

August 1927 — Shannon and Katrina become engaged and head off to California. Indy is hired by a small, unnamed college in New England.[7]

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology, Part 2 — Risks and Rewards

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.

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Early 1915 — Professor Henry Jones, Sr. returns to teaching at Princeton full-time, and Indiana completes his sophomore year of high school.

Indy, who as a youth never met an odd job he didn’t like, hires himself out as an errand boy for busy Princeton students.[1] Indy probably loathed asking his father for spending money, and liked to be out of the house as much as possible.

Summer 1915 — There is likely a round of summer school for Indy after missing his entire fall semester last year, and hopefully a trip to the New Mexico ranch he has grown attached to. His Uncle Fred and Aunt Grace provide the emotional stability his father does not, his similarly-aged cousin Fred, Jr. is one of his best friends, and ranch work agrees with him.

At some point this summer, Indy works shoveling coal at a train depot, either in Princeton or New Mexico. [2]

Autumn 1915 — Indy begins his junior year of high school. He gets a job as a soda jerk at the drugstore downtown. He also begins dating Nancy, the daughter of famous author Edward Stratemeyer, creator of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Stratemeyer bases a lot of Nancy Drew on his daughter, who is independent and intelligent and loves mysteries.[3]  

February 1916 — Indy begins spring training for his high school baseball team.[3,4]

SpringBreakAdventureLate February, 1916 —  Indy is desperate to borrow Mr. Stratemeyer’s electric Bugatti car to take Nancy to the prom, but it needs a new generator. Indy takes the generator to an acquaintance of his father’s at Edison Laboratories in West Orange, N.J. Important plans for a long-lasting, powerful battery are stolen (along with, accidentally, the Bugatti generator). At first, German spies are suspected, but Indy and Nancy discover that a big oil company is behind the theft.[3]

February 26, 1916 —  Indy and Nancy attend the prom in triumph, much to the consternation of Indy’s rival, Butch.[3]

March 5, 1916 — Indy arrives at the New Mexico ranch for his spring break, accompanied by his father.[3]

March 8, 1916 — Indy and Fred, Jr. leave for a camping trip, promising to be back in time for Indy’s departure for Princeton on Sunday the 12th. What they actually intend to do is hitch a ride to the border town of Columbus, N.M., and visit the brothels. They arrive to find Columbus seemingly abandoned, but really just anticipating a violent raid by Pancho Villa and his Mexican revolutionaries. Indy and Fred get caught in the crossfire when the raid actually happens. Fred escapes, but Indy is taken by Villa’s men.[3]

Mid – Late March, 1916 — Inspired by Villa’s dedication for fighting for “the people,” Indy 2004c800-6554-11e4-871e-1b62bfda1b3c_young-indiana-jones-chronicles-sean-patrickquickly goes from hostage to participant. He meets Remy Baudouin, a hedonistic and temperamental Belgian ship’s cook several years his senior, who had jumped ship and settled in Mexico. Remy joined Villa after the federales raided his cantina and killed his wife. Indy also notices that one of the people Villa is trading with for weapons looks vaguely familiar and speaks Arabic. After spending a few days with Villa and his men, and observing their tactics which include theft and looting, Indy decides the revolution is hurting the people as much as helping. Upon seeing newsreel footage of the ongoing Great War, Remy decides to return to his homeland and fight for Belgium. Indy agrees to join him, but before he can do that, he finally recognizes Villa’s arms dealer as Dimitrios, the man who stole the jewel from the Egyptian tomb back in 1908. Indy recovers the jewel and rides to meet up with Remy in Veracruz and find a ship going to Europe.[3]

Early April 1916 — On the ship steaming from Mexico to Ireland, Indy and Remy have hidden themselves as stowaways. They are found out and put to work in the engine room. Indy gets them back in the captain’s good graces by overhearing a German saboteur attempting to induce the Mexican crew to mutiny. He tips off the captain, but not before nearly being tossed overboard.[5]

Indiana the dog dies in Princeton of old age as Indy is on his way to Ireland.[6]

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Remy Baudouin

April 1916  Upon arrival in Dublin, Indy and Remy go to work as barmen in the local pub to afford the remaining fare to London, where they intend to enlist with the Belgian army. Indy’s flirtation with a young Irish girl, Maggie Leamass, prolongs their stay as he keeps spending his money on outings with her rather than saving it. Her brother Sean, who gradually builds a friendship with Indy, is a militant Irish Republican.[7]

April 24, 1916 — Indy witnesses the Easter Rebellion, a failed attempt to end Britain’s rule of Ireland and establish a free Irish republic. Many of the people known to Indy from his work at the pub and friendship with Sean and Maggie Leamass are involved.[7]

May 13, 1916 — Indy and Remy leave for London as soon as the final executions of the Irish Rebellion ringleaders are complete. (They had stayed to offer the Leamasses moral support.)[7]

Mid-May, 1916 —  In London, Indy and Remy officially enlist in the Belgian Army. Indy gives his age as 22, and his name as “Henri Defense.” (Remy indicates they would have taken him no matter what.) While waiting to be called up for service, Indy begins a relationship with a well-educated, outspoken English suffragette, Vicky Prentiss.[7]

Late May, 1916 — Indy thinks enough of Vicky to invite her to Oxford to visit his old tutor, Helen Seymour. Miss Seymour does not approve of Indy’s recent life choices, and insists Indy write his father (who still thinks he is in Mexico) and update him. Miss Seymour invites Indy and Vicky to a dinner party with Winston Churchill, who has words with Vicky on the topic of votes for women. Back in London, Indy proposes marriage to Vicky, who declines. Indy and Remy’s call-up papers arrive, and they set off for the battlefield.[7]

June 1916 — “Henri Defense” and Remy are now privates in the 9th Belgian Infantry, and participate in basic training at Le Havre, France. During his downtime, Indy acquires an old soprano saxophone and teaches himself how to to play it.[8]

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July – August 1916 — The 9th Belgian Infantry goes into combat in Flanders. Indy and Remy get their first taste of vicious trench warfare, seeing heavy action, witnessing the death of several comrades, and losing all of their company officers. Indy, at some point having been promoted to corporal, is in charge of the decimated unit when it is finally pulled from the front lines.[9]

Trenches_of_HellAugust 1916 — The much-reduced Belgian 9th are attached to the 14th French Infantry, and thrown into the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare. Their first assault on the high ground ultimately fails in the face of heavy German machine guns, poison gas, and flamethrowers. The second assault (after a two-day break), initially succeeds, but they don’t have enough troops to hold the position, and the Germans counterattack. Remy is severely wounded, and Indy is taken prisoner. At the prison camp, he participates in a tunnel escape, which fails. Because he is caught wearing a coat with the ID of another soldier (a repeat escapee), Indy is sent to Dusterstadt, a fortress on an island in the Rhine River being used as a maximum security prison for “incorrigibles.” There he meets Charles De Gaulle, another incorrigible repeat escapee. They devise an escape plan (leaving the prison inside the coffins of two dead prisoners). DeGaulle is re-captured, but Indy makes it to freedom.[9]

September 1916 —  Indy has returned to the Belgian Army, and is now working as a f1fa00ce56d3ea54aeef369d8e02882c--indiana-jones-sean-patrick-flanerymotorcycle courier, taking messages from the trenches to the high command in their palatial estates far from the front lines near Verdun. He witnesses yet another failed frontal assault across no man’s land. The French generals are growing increasingly desperate. Indy, who speaks fluent German, volunteers for a dangerous mission — sneaking over to the German lines under cover of night, and eavesdropping to see what intelligence he can glean from conversations in the command bunker. He discovers that two massive railway howitzers (“Big Berthas”) are being brought to this position in advance of another French attack. When the French high command are informed of this, they fall to squabbling among themselves, ordering, cancelling, and re-ordering the attack. Indy finally “loses” the written orders in a staged motorcycle accident. He is sent back to the trenches, where he reunites with a recovered Remy.[10]

October 1916 — Indy and Remy are granted a two-week furlough in Paris. Indy stays with a colleague of his father’s and, out of politeness, is forced to attend a high society dinner party rather than carouse in the bars and brothels with Remy. There he meets the exotic dancer Mata Hari, and he begins a passionate affair with the older woman. They are clandestinely followed wherever they go. Indy struggles with the fact that she is obviously seeing other men. He is finally confronted by British and French authorities, and warned to stay away from her. His two-week furlough is cancelled. (Mata Hari is later revealed to be a spy for Germany, and is executed the following year.)[11]

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Leading a charge on the African front

November 1916 — Indy and Remy are promoted to lieutenants and transferred to the African front. They get lost on their way to their new posting near Nairobi, and stumble onto an Allied camp in the middle of the savannah. They are the 25th Royal Fusiliers, made up mostly of older veteran soldiers, and they have been tasked with destroying a massive German railroad gun that seems to be able to disappear at will. Reconnaissance by Indy and the Fusiliers uncovers a tunnel hidden behind an artificial cliff face. After a complicated hijacking of the train, they succeed in their mission. The Fusiliers then agree to escort Indy and Remy to back their unit. They are captured and get taken to the German camp commanded by the legendary General Von Letow-Vorbeck. Indy and the Fusiliers manage to turn the tables on Von Letow-Vorbevk, and take him hostage. Indy, Remy, and their hostage accidentally take flight in a hot air balloon. After traveling many miles, the balloon crashes in the wilderness. They escape an encounter with hostile tribesmen, and facing a rapidly approaching German unit, Indy and Remy let their prisoner go in order to make a quick escape. They are soon picked up by the Fusiliers.[2]

PhantomTrainOfDoomLate November, 1916 — Back with his unit, Lt. “Defense” leads his mixed Belgian-African unit against an entrenched position under heavy fire. When Indy notices the enemy’s machine gun has jammed, he goes against Major Boucher’s withdrawal orders and continues the attack, which succeeds. Indy earns a promotion to captain, and the enmity of Major Boucher. Indy and the major are then ordered to lead a large expedition 2000 miles through the Congo region to retrieve a shipment of heavy machine guns that has foundered on the west coast of Africa, near Port Lopez. [11]

December 3, 1916 — The expedition across the Congo begins.[11]

Mid-December, 1916 — The trans-Congo expedition encounters a village wiped out by smallpox, except for one small boy, who seems healthy. Major Boucher orders the boy be left behind to die, but the company defies his orders.[11]

December 24, 1916 — Most of the company has perished from disease, and those that remain alive are very ill.[11] Continue reading

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology Part 1 — Childhood

Remarks in italics are not taken from explicitly-stated events in the canon material. They are my own speculations, logical inferences, gap-fillers, and extrapolations based on fragmentary references and passing mentions in the original sources.

1898

Dr. Henry W. Jones and Anna Mary Jones, wedding day, 1898

July 1, 1899 — Henry Walton Jones, Jr. is born in Princeton, New Jersey, to Henry Walton Jones, Sr., a Scottish-born Oxford graduate and professor of medieval studies at Princeton University, and Anna Mary Jones, who comes from a respected Virginia family. [1,2] 

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c.1900 — The Jones family acquires an Alaskan malamute dog, and names him Indiana. Young Henry Jr. is already demonstrating a penchant for risk-taking behavior. [1,3]

c.1901-1904 — At some point during this time, Henry and Anna Jones have a second child, a daughter Susie, who dies in infancy. [4]

Summer 1905 — Henry Jr. spends the first of many summers on his Uncle Fred and Aunt Grace’s ranch in New Mexico. [5]

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1906 — Henry Jr. first sees a bullwhip in action at a traveling circus, and is fascinated by it. [6]

1906 – 1907 — By now insisting on being called “Indiana” or “Indy” out of his love for the family dog, Indy develops a restless streak. He is frequently getting into trouble or being truant from school. He becomes a baseball fan and passionate baseball card collector. He begins receiving tutoring in foreign languages, becoming conversant in French, German, and Spanish, at the insistence of his father, whose mantra is “language is the key to understanding mankind.” [1,4,7].

He continues to spend summers in New Mexico. [8]

1907 — Henry Jones, Sr. publishes a book on medieval chivalry that is a huge success. He is invited by universities and lecture halls around the world to come and speak. [1]

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May 1908 — Henry and Anna Jones announce to Indy their plans for a two-year world tour, beginning that summer. Henry will be giving lectures, meeting foreign scholars and donors, and gathering various manuscripts and translations relating to the Holy Grail legend, which is his passion.[1]

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Helen Seymour

Early July 1908 — The Jones family arrives in London just after Indy’s ninth birthday. Henry catches up with several of his Oxford friends, and engages the services of his former tutor Miss Helen Seymour (“the best there is”) to accompany them on the tour and provide tutoring for Indy. The now elderly Miss Seymour is initially resistant to the idea, saying she is used to tutoring university students, and is not a “governess,” but is ultimately convinced. On the tour, in lieu of fourth and fifth grades, Indy is expected to observe and record as much as he can, complete a lengthy reading list, write essays, and learn ancient Greek and Latin. [1,9]

Late July 1908 — After nine days’ sail from London, the Jones party arrives in Alexandria, and then travels to Cairo. Henry kicks off his lecture series at Cairo University, leaving Indy and Miss Seymour to their studies and explorations. While investigating the pyramids of Giza, they meet up with another former pupil of Miss Seymour’s, T.E. Lawrence, who invites them to observe famous archaeologist Howard Carter’s excavation of a tomb in the Valley of the Kings further down the Nile. The day after the tomb is opened, it becomes clear that a jewel has been stolen overnight from among the artifacts, and the man guarding the tomb’s entrance is killed. Investigation by Lawrence and Indy lead them to Dimitrios, the camp’s demolition expert, as the thief. Dimitrios manipulated the local crew’s superstition about a “mummy’s curse” to aid him in his theft. Despite Indy and Lawrence’s solving of the mystery, Dimitrios manages to escape with the jewel. [1]

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It is in Egypt that Indy first expresses interest in being an archaeologist. Lawrence supports his ambition, but suggests studying languages to begin with. Indy is torn between archaeology (his true passion) and linguistics (a more practical skill, and a path supported by his father) for the next fourteen years. T.E. Lawrence becomes a close friend and frequent correspondent until his death in 1935. [1,10]

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Indy and T.E. Lawrence

August 1908 — Indy and family leave Egypt for Morocco, where they will be staying with former Oxford classmate of Indy’s father, Walter Harris, a prominent journalist for the London Times. Indy befriends a household slave boy, and, taking a cue from Harris, disguises himself as an Arab to freely explore the city with his new friend. They are captured by slave traders and brought to the market, where they are rescued by the timely arrival of Harris, who buys their freedom, and Indy is returned to his family. [1]

September 1908 – May 1909 — The activities of the world-touring family group during this lengthy period is unknown, although it seems they remained in the North Africa/Middle East area. Indy may have actually buckled down and studied, as his facility with languages continues to grow. [11]

June 1909 — When the touring party visits Jerusalem, Indy meets another noted archaeologist, Abner Ravenwood of the University of Chicago, who is looking for clues to the location of the lost Ark of the Covenant around the Temple Mount. It is not known whether Ravenwood mentions having an infant daughter back in Chicago. [12, 13]

August 1909 — Indy, now ten years old, and family join up with the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition, led by former president Theodore Roosevelt, in British East Africa. Roosevelt professes himself a great admirer of Henry’s book on medieval armor. The expedition’s purpose is to gather specimens for the Smithsonian Institute, but they are having trouble finding a certain sub-species of oryx. Indy meets up with a young Maasai boy named Meto. As they learn to communicate with each other, Meto tells him where to find the onyx. Indy guides the expedition to where the onyx can now be found, but is disturbed by how many have to be killed to ensure a proper supply of specimens. [14,15]

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Indy and Theodore Roosevelt

September 1909 — The touring party sail from Africa to Nice, in southern France, and from there by rail to Paris. Henry has full calendar of academic and social obligations, and Indy is supposed to stay busy studying and visiting museums, but he can’t help sneaking away and investigating slightly seedy artists’ cafes, where he interacts with Edgar Degas and Pablo Picasso, who is beginning to experiment with cubism. [14]

November 1909 — Indy attends horse riding school while his family stays at the U.S. embassy in Vienna. At the school, he meets Princess Sophie of Austria and develops his first romantic feelings for her. They slip out from under their governess’ supervision to ice-skate. This nearly causes an international incident, and Indy is sternly reprimanded. He later tries to give her a snow globe, but is rebuffed at the gate by the palace guards. Indy and his parents attend a dinner thrown by the US ambassador to celebrate the “First Psychoanalytic Conference,” with Sigmund Freud, Karl Jung, and Alfred Adler as the guests of honor. Spurred by some of Indy’s remarks at the table, the three eminent psychiatrists get into a debate — and criticize the notion of romantic love as a human construct. But they agree that repressing one’s feelings is bad. Taking them at their word, Indy returns to the royal palace and is actually granted a brief audience with Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The duke patiently but firmly declines Indy’s offer to marry his daughter (when he is old enough), and denies him an opportunity to say good-bye, saying she is already in bed. After leaving, Indy sneaks back into the royal quarters, where he presents Princess Sophie with the snow globe, and she gives him a locket with her portrait. Indy wears the locket for many years thereafter. [2,16]

During a brief stay in Florence, Indy attends his first opera, La Bohemie, composed by Giacomo Puccini. Puccini dines with the Joneses and their host family after the performance, and is attracted to Indy’s mother. While Indy’s father is away for a week in Rome, Anna begins an intense flirtation with Puccini. She feels neglected by Henry, Sr., who is single-mindedly focused on his lectures. (He does not send a single letter when in Rome.) Puccini invites her to meet him at the train station and go away with him. She goes to the station…but only to walk by him and welcome her returning husband home instead. [2]

December 1909 — The touring party returns to Paris for a second visit. [2]

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Henry Jones, Sr. c. 1910

Winter – Early Spring 1910 — The Jones party travels through Murmansk and St.Petersburg, Russia. After causing mayhem at a wedding held on a large Russian estate, Indy is rebuked more fiercely than he’s ever been before and banished to his room. He decides to run away, and as he is making his way through the Russian countryside, he encounters the elderly Leo Tolstoy, who has also run away from his materialistic and aristocratic family. After encountering a brutal round-up of gypsies by the Cossack military, Indy and Tolstoy decide to head further east, but Tolstoy’s health clearly is not up to it. They convince each other to return to their respective families. [17]

The family travels from Moscow to Greece. Anna Jones, fearing that Henry is too distant and distracted to spend as much time with Indy as he should, leaves them to have a weekend together. Henry teaches Indy about various schools of Greek philosophy, and a narrow escape from a damaged cliffside elevator at the “hanging monastery” of Kalabaka creates a bonding moment between Indy and the normally stern and reserved Henry. [17]

Spring 1910 — While in the city of Benares, along the Ganges River in India, the toruing party is lodged at the Hindu National College. There they encounter members of the Theosophical Society who are in the process of grooming a new “world teacher” — a young boy named Jiddu Krishnamurti. Miss Seymour, a typical Victorian Christian, is suspicious of the “free love/socialist” theosophists and their claims, but comes to realize that faith is faith. Indy gains a deeper understanding of philosophy and different approaches to religion. The family’s stay in India is a fairly lengthy one. [4]

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Anna Jones, c. 1910

On the train trip from India to China, Anna Jones falls seriously ill, but has recovered by the time the touring party arrives in Peking. Henry is looking forward to meeting with a famous Chinese scholar (who has completed Chinese translations of the Grail legend). The rest of the group decide to explore the Chinese countryside with the help of their guide, Mr. Li. There is some concern about Anna’s health, but it’s Indy who comes down with typhoid fever in a remote Chinese village. With the nearest American doctor three days away, Anna reluctantly agrees to allow a local Chinese doctor to treat Indy with traditional methods. He recovers. [14] 

The Jones party also spends some time in Vietnam, where Indy picks up some of the Vietnamese language. [18]

June 1910 — The epic Jones world tour concludes in Australia, where Indy meets Harry Houdini and gets the opportunity to fly in an early airplane. [19] Continue reading

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“It’s Not the Years, It’s the Mileage”: An Indiana Jones Chronology (Introduction)

Working with the James Bond novels last year got me thinking about compiling another 91XTKfFZ3kL._SL1500_chronology for a great period adventurer of the last century — Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr., better known by the name he swiped from the family dog, “Indiana.” If you piece together his entire life story, as the Holy Bee has just done, you know that he’s not just Indiana Jones, professor of archaeology, expert on the occult, and obtainer of rare antiquities. He’s also Indiana Jones, Titanic survivor, World War I veteran, boy-toy of the notorious spy Mata Hari, romantic rival of Hemingway, roommate of Eliot Ness, amateur jazz musician (adept at piano and soprano sax), widower at 26, highly-decorated Army Reserve Colonel, and much, much more.

As we know, the movies, and most other Indy media, generally start off with a year written right on the opening scene, or first page. That has pretty much taken all of the detective work out of assembling a base-level chronology…unlike the James Bond stories, which may only hint at a year once every few books.

There’s also the “Indycron.” The Indycron is a private database maintained and curated by Lucasfilm to ensure story and character continuity across media platforms. Every novel author, every game designer, every comic book writer has to check with the Indycron to prevent contradictions and repetition.

The Indycron is a relatively recent development, however, which makes creating a logical timeline incorporating the massive amount earlier material a bit tricky — and at times, impossible. (Sorry, Marvel Comics.) Sloppy mistakes by the actual creators don’t help, either, particularly the novel authors. (All of them are guilty of facepalm-worthy screw-ups, but I’m especially looking at you, Martin Caidin. Your description of Indy as a “professor of Medieval Literature and Studies at Princeton” — when that was his father’s position — is unforgivable. Did you forget Indy is an archaeologist? I know you’re interested in technical details about vintage aircraft far more than characters or story, but at least give the background packet provided for you by Lucasfilm more than a cursory glance, you weirdo.) These errors, inconsequential as they may be within an individual story, collectively made my task very difficult.

Plus, I’m sorry to say, the Indycron actually does a pretty lousy job even with recent material. Indy meets Belloq under at least three different circumstances, and the Lost Journal of Indiana Jones and Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide, both Lucasfilm-approved books released in 2008, contradict each other all over the place.

Also unlike the James Bond novels, you may have noticed that we’re working with more than one medium, which makes for a lot more material to absorb. All of the original Ian Fleming and Fleming continuation novels, along with the “Young Bond” series, numbered around 27 books, all of them pretty slim. It was the work of 4 or 5 months to get through them, and that was at a pretty lackadaisical pace. Yes, watching a movie takes less time than reading a novel, but still — the sheer bulk of the Indiana Jones universe is daunting: four feature films, 22 ninety-minute installments of Young Indiana Jones on DVD, 13 novels, 17 young adult novels, 36 comic books (according to the Holy Bee canon), and various other bits and pieces floating around out there. Even though we’re given a year for almost every story, it can still be a challenge to make it all fit together coherently across all media. It’s enough to make armchair chronologists tear out their hair…but also gives them their rush. I know I’m not alone in this particular pastime. Other websites have attempted it as well.

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So…if the years are already given for pretty much every story at the suggestion of Lucasfilm, and James Luceno’s richly-illustrated coffee table book Indiana Jones: The Ultimate Guide and multiple websites have already assembled chronologies, then what’s the point of doing this? Continue reading

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The Holy Bee Recommends, #18: Thomas Berger’s “Neighbors”

To a lot of people, the title Neighbors conjures up fairly recent memories of the raucous Seth Rogen/Zac Efron frat boy comedy. To an older generation, it may trigger a dim recollection of the identically-titled flop starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. To colossal shut-in nerd like the Holy Bee, the go-to is the Thomas Berger novel on which the Belushi/Aykroyd film is based.

Berger (1924-2014) wrote about two dozen novels, but he’s probably best known for SUB-BERGER-obit-master180the picaresque quasi-Western Little Big Man. He also wrote one of my favorite Arthurian novels, Arthur Rex. But it’s this seemingly low-stakes, dark comedy tale published in 1980, set in sleepy suburbia, that I keep coming back to. I’ve re-read it many times since I was about fifteen, and it doesn’t seem to get old.

Earl Keese, 49, and his wife Enid live at the end of a cul-de-sac in a semi-rural area near an unnamed “village” where everything closes by six, and within commuting distance of a large unnamed East Coast city.  Keese works at an office in the city, but beyond that, we never learn anything about his occupation. Enid is a housewife. They have a single child, daughter Elaine, who is away at college. He arrives home one Friday evening to the news from his wife that there’s only leftover succotash for dinner — and that the vacant house that they share the end of the cul-de-sac with is now occupied by a younger couple.

220px-NeighborsWithin minutes, Keese is dealing with the female half of the couple, Ramona, who shows up on his doorstep, seeming to want nothing but to make him uncomfortable. She helps herself to Keese’s wineglass he had left on the coffee table, stares fixedly at his crotch for long enough that he believes his fly must be down, and remarks — after knowing him all of three minutes — that “you’re not so old, but you are too fat.” With old-fashioned politeness, Keese invites the couple to dinner, then goes into the kitchen to discuss non-succotash dinner options with his wife. He raises the possibility of going out to a nice restaurant. Enid is totally passive and doesn’t want to do anything (a recurring theme for her.)  When Keese returns, he finds Ramona has vanished, and her partner, Harry, has let himself in without knocking, and — after knowing him all of two minutes — slaps Keese affectionately on the ass.

From that awkward but sort of harmless beginning, things degenerate. At first it’s just that everything Harry and Ramona do is completely foreign to anything in Keese’s experience, and that they do not observe the social cues and forced inane niceties of late-middle aged suburban life. This culture clash spirals downward quickly. Over the course of the next 24 hours, there is psychological warfare, sexual tension, property damage, physical violence, and not a wink of sleep. What’s worse is that the more Keese tries to expose Harry and Ramona as sociopaths, the more these efforts backfire. When he attempts to verify some of Harry’s seemingly bold-faced lies, they almost — almost — check out. Sometimes Keese actually gets the better of them, but usually he is the one humiliated. The ultimate humiliation is that Enid and Elaine (who has arrived home unexpectedly) repeatedly come to their defense, implying that Keese is close-minded and paranoid. The more harried he becomes, the more calm and dismissive they become.

If it were merely a back-and-forth of retaliatory hijinks, it would be more of a kind with the shallow-but-entertaining Seth Rogen movie. Berger goes darker and deeper. The twist here is that even though the book is not written in the first-person, everything in the story is filtered through Keese’s perception — and that perception is not to be trusted. If the novel were in first-person, Keese would be an “unreliable narrator.” It is revealed in the first few pages that his eyes and mind often play tricks on him, causing him to see things that aren’t really there, or rather, to twist things that are there into bizarre hallucinations. When he first sees Harry and Ramona’s dog, a large wolfhound, he mistakes it for a naked human being on all fours. That sort of thing. How much of this affliction affects Keese’s perception of his neighbors is for the reader to decide. There are moments when Harry and Ramona aren’t around that his wife and daughter admit the new neighbors are indeed creepy people and that they are just trying to placate them. But there are also moments when they are not there that Enid and Elaine continue to defend them, or at least shrug off Keese’s concerns. What is to be believed? What the hell is going on? Continue reading

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The Holy Bee Recommends, #16: “Beatles ’66: The Revolutionary Year” by Steve Turner

In these virtual pages, we’ve already discussed why 1966 was a revolutionary year in 41tfo6prkll-_sy344_bo1204203200_general. Now, to continue our celebration of this landmark year’s 50th anniversary, we’ll get specific. What did 1966 mean to The Beatles? According to Steve Turner’s excellent new book, Beatles ‘66: The Revolutionary Year, it was the crux of their existence as a working band — building on past triumphs, peaking with their most remarkable work, and even sowing the seeds of their eventual demise. Turner considers the events of 1966 too important to be condensed and shoehorned into a typical Beatles bio, and the year deserves its own book.

It was first and foremost a transformative year for them. In the space of just a few months, they went from their matching suits and famous pudding-bowl haircuts, bashing out “She’s A Woman” into a wall of deafening screams, to being draped in beads and velvet, sporting moustaches and soul patches, and beginning the recording process for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. In between, they made the momentous (and unprecedented for a 60s “pop group”) decision to quit touring, produced what many feel is their greatest album, Revolver, and its accompanying single, “Paperback Writer/Rain,” and embarked on individual journeys of personal growth and self-education that fundamentally altered their relationship with each other and how they approached their art.

The catalyst for all of this was the fact that the first part of 1966 was the least active period of their professional lives. It wasn’t always going to be that way. 1966 was supposed to follow the pattern of 1964 and ‘65: film a movie in the first few months of the year, a world tour in early summer, a U.S. tour in late summer, a U.K. tour in the autumn — and writing and recording three hit singles and two hit albums in the midst of all that.

The pattern was broken when a suitable film idea could not be found. Initial talk about adapting Richard Condon’s 1961 Western novel A Talent For Loving came to naught. The film was eventually made in 1969, with Richard Widmark, Cesar Romero, and Topol (!) in the roles intended for the Beatles (one assumes a fourth role would have been created for the fourth Beatle.) Boggles the mind how anyone thought a very-adult Old West sex farce would be a suitable vehicle for four English musicians, but stranger things have happened.

So after a soul-punishingly brutal schedule since the onset of Beatlemania, with no movie 8d389a137df76159148ff5091cba9ba1shoot happening, The Beatles had over three months off. The only thing on their work calendar for January was doing some overdubs for the film of their famous Shea Stadium concert from the previous summer. Once that was done, John and Ringo skipped town to vacation in Trinidad, where Ringo celebrated being out of the public eye by growing a full beard a year before they “officially” debuted their facial hair look. George married his girlfriend of almost two years, Patti Boyd, and also headed for the Caribbean for a honeymoon. Paul remained in London, and plunged into intellectual pursuits.

John often gets credit for being the “experimental” Beatle, but the trend was started by Paul around this time, who began being associated with places like the Indica Art Gallery and people like art dealer Robert Fraser, artists Peter Blake and John Dunbar, and writer Barry Miles. He assisted with the launch of the famous “underground” newspaper International Times, attended lectures and concerts by modernist composers, and basically gorged himself on every scrap of intellectual stimuli he could get his hands on. He was the first Beatle to really experiment with the possibilities of home recording, creating sound-saturated tape loops by removing the eraser head of his Brennell Mark V reel-to-reel recorder.

A lot of this may have been instigated by living for almost three years with the family of his long-time girlfriend, actress Jane Asher. The influence of the unconventional and sophisticated Ashers was bound to rub off on Paul. Jane’s father, Dr. Richard Asher, was a brilliant endocrinologist, mother Margaret was an oboe professor at the Guildhall School, and brother Peter was half of the music duo Peter and Gordon. The press at the time reported Paul’s unusual living arrangement (millionaire pop star living in girlfriend’s parents’ attic) as being quite chaste — like another sibling. But given how open-minded the Ashers were, one would have to assume nocturnal navigations between the two bedrooms were undertaken. Even so, after a couple of years, Paul realized he needed a place of his own. He bought a large townhouse on Cavendish Avenue, just around the corner from Abbey Road Studios, in 1965. By the time it was ready for him to move in it was early 1966, and Paul had begun his cultural crash-course. By staying in London, he was staying close to the action.

John realized he had miscalculated by opting for the mansion way out in the countryside, and frequently expressed his envy of Paul’s being at the heart of things. He did what he could from his more isolated environs, mostly reading — and experimenting with another new development of 1966: LSD. More on that below.

George, although he did not eschew the acid experience at this stage, was choosing to expand his consciousness via more spiritual means. His interest in Indian religion and philosophy was growing by leaps and bounds, and now he found the time to devote himself to studying it — and struggle with learning the difficult-to-master sitar.

Their desire to improve their minds in this fashion was typical of intelligent people who had missed large portions of traditional education. “Having gone from the classroom to The Cavern, they leapfrogged the university experience,” said journalist Tony Barrow.

During this time, the individual Beatles sat for lengthy interviews with radio and print journalists such as Alan Freeman, Ray Coleman, and Maureen Cleave, who took them seriously and asked sophisticated, grown-up questions — a welcome change from their inane group press conferences when on tour. Although the philosophical underpinnings of these interviews would come back to haunt John in the coming months.

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March 1966 — back to work

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