#348: Temporal Thoughts on A.R.Q.

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #348, on the subject of Temporal Thoughts on A.R.Q..

This was running on Netflix, and it appeared to have a time travel element, so I put it on my list of movies to watch and possibly analyze.  The blurb, though, suggested it was yet another Groundhog Day clone, people caught in a time loop, and as temporal anomalies go time loops are pretty boring.  However, a time travel fan sent me a Messenger message suggesting that it was worth watching, so I grabbed my pad and pen and started watching.  My notes cover maybe the first half of the movie before I gave up on them.

For what it’s worth, it’s a decent action film with quite a few twists; this is not a full analysis and I have attempted to keep the reveals minimal.  I immediately recognized lead figure Robbie Amell as Renton from his role in When We First Met where he played heartthrob Ethan; he was also Stephen Jameson in The Tomorrow People and Ronnie Raymond in The Flash, so by now he was a familiar face to sci-fi/fantasy fans.  The action begins immediately, as Renton awakens to see that the clock says 6:16, the girl whose name we eventually learn is Hannah is sleeping next to him, and suddenly the door bursts open and masked men come through, grab Renton and drag him out, there is a scuffle in which Renton falls down the stairs and hits his head, and he awakens back in bed at 6:16 with Hannah lying beside him.

Unlike Groundhog Day, more like 12:01, we gradually learn why time is looping.  It has something to do with the Arcing Recursive Quine, A.R.Q., which is usually referenced as the Ark or Arc.  Working for a massive corporation called Torus, Renton, an engineer, invented something he thinks is a perpetual motion machine that produces excess power.  For what it’s worth, I conceived of the same device when I was in junior high, and when my father pointed out that that was what I had described it was obvious that it wouldn’t work.  His doesn’t actually work, either, but he doesn’t know it yet, and neither does Torus, who wants it back.  Torus is engaged in something called the Energy Wars, their chief adversary being The Bloc.  Renton has it up and running in his garage, monitored by a multi-screen computer system.  He booby-trapped it with an electric charge, and at 6:16 in the morning a member of the team that had come to find it touched it, was killed by the electrical charge, and created the front end of the time loop.

The machine has a motor driven by batteries which are recharged by a generator turned by the motor.  It’s probably not as simple as that, but they figure out that the loop resets at 9:25 because for some reason the batteries fail.  They know that the loop resets consistently at 9:25 because for some reason which the movie ignores the computer is recording the activity of the machine as it goes through every loop, showing that it runs from 6:16 to 9:25 and then again runs from 6:16 to 9:25, repeatedly.  Why the computer’s memory is not erased when everyone else’s is (and the computer remembers more iterations than Renton) is not addressed.  Further, it appears that the loop has been happening thousands of times, so it is remarkable that the computer’s memory has not overflowed.  Presumably eventually it will.

The second time we see that it is 6:16, Renton is the only one aware of it.  He goes through the beginning of the day several times, each time learning more including the first big twist, and each time being killed one way or another, usually shot.  Then suddenly, and perhaps not entirely inexplicably, Hannah awakens aware of what had happened in the previous iteration–only the one, but from that point forward she is aware of each repeat of the loop.  That means that the two of them are now working to make it different, as they uncover additional twists.

Renton and Hannah are arguing about what they need to do, as Hannah wants to give the machine to the Bloc so they have a chance to defeat Torus, and Renton wants to take the machine and run, or barring that to destroy it so that no one will have it.  Their options become more limited when someone they have identified as a Torus mercenary infiltrator (plot twist) in the team becomes the third person aware of the loop.  Now three people are trying to change events as the loop unfolds, each aware of what happened in some of the previous loops.

We are ultimately told that the loop is localized to the house, but we don’t learn from that what’s happening in the rest of the world.  In fact, in the early iterations we hear the same television broadcast several times, so we don’t know whether somehow time outside has frozen and the broadcast repeats because it played in the first iteration, or whether the idea that the loop is spatially limited is wrong and the broadcast is repeating, or whether something else has happened out there.  In several of the iterations the villain calls in a strike team from the company, and in at least one, probably more than one, it arrives, so time within and outside the circle must be connected.

There is a problem that in one of the later loops Renton and Hannah discover a recording they sent to themselves that they do not remember having made, which they later do make to send to themselves.  This is inconsistent with the temporal loop scenario unless they made it in an earlier iteration that they don’t remember, and the content of the message really could only have come from their memories of the loop.

Both sides develop the interesting strategy of escaping a losing situation by permitting themselves to be killed so that when the time expires they will get another try at it.  They reach the conclusion that if they turn off the machine time will continue past 9:25, but only Renton knows how to turn off the machine.

The film ends with another unexplained temporal twist, and the loop continues reminiscent of Triangle.

It is indeed a compelling action movie with several excellent plot twists, and despite the fact that the morning is repeating the viewer rarely knows what will happen next.  I wouldn’t recommend it for the time travel elements, but it’s an enjoyable film well done overall.

#347: Versers Scrambled

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #347, on the subject of Versers Scrambled.

With permission of Valdron Inc I have previously completed publishing my first five novels, Verse Three, Chapter One:  The First Multiverser Novel, Old Verses New, For Better or Verse, Spy Verses, and Garden of Versers, in serialized form on the web (those links will take you to the table of contents for each book).  Along with each book there was also a series of web log posts looking at the writing process, the decisions and choices that delivered the final product; those posts are indexed with the chapters in the tables of contents pages.  Now as I have posted the sixth, Versers Versus Versers,  I am again offering a set of “behind the writings” insights.  This “behind the writings” look may contain spoilers because it sometimes talks about my expectations for the futures of the characters and stories–although it sometimes raises ideas that were never pursued, as being written partially concurrently with the story it sometimes discusses where I thought it was headed.  You might want to read the referenced chapters before reading this look at them.  Links below (the section headings) will take you to the specific individual chapters being discussed, and there are (or will soon be) links on those pages to bring you back hopefully to the same point here.

There is also a section of the site, Multiverser Novel Support Pages, in which I have begun to place materials related to the novels beginning with character papers for the major characters, giving them at different stages as they move through the books.

This is the eighth and last mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 78 through 86.  Previous entries in this series include:

History of the series, including the reason it started, the origins of character names and details, and many of the ideas, are in earlier posts, and won’t be repeated here.

Chapter 78, Kondor 168

At this point I had two problems.  One was pacing; the other was bringing each of my characters to a satisfactory end for the book.  I still did not have worlds chosen for Slade or Beam, and was going to have to do one of them next, but I had at least two more Kondor chapters to bring him to the finish point, one more Hastings chapter, and probably one more Brown chapter.  I also had to decide who would be last.

This had been chapter 67 before the addition of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 79, Slade 167

Sometimes in play one gets an idea for a world, and sends a player character there to see what might happen.  This was like that, only less so initially–I had the notion that Slade would return to a future version of the parakeet valley world, but I was not at all certain how far future.  My three notions were medieval, modern, and science fiction, but I was not seeing much of a story for any of these.  I put it to Kyler, and he said definitely modern, but perhaps not quite modern–mid twentieth century or even late nineteenth century.  The notion of our auto mechanic appearing in the age of steam appealed to me, so that’s where we went.

I had already decided that the version of the language he spoke would have become something known only to scholars, but would still be recognized as language.

This was chapter 68 until the Takano chapters shifted it.


Chapter 80, Kondor 169

I had originally thought to do most of this in retrospect, but remembered an editor friend suggesting that action was better, so I tackled trying to tell more of it as it happened.

Before the addition of the Takano chapters this was chapter 69.

I once saw a Doctor Who special in which one of the companions commented that her job was to say “What is it, Doctor?” so the Doctor could explain, and that there were only so many ways to say that.  I think of that as the Amir asks Kondor that question.


Chapter 81, Beam 55

I pondered where to send Beam, and the best thing I could think of was a published world called The Industrial Complex.  The player on whom he is based was there when I was running him, and did some surprising things, so it might be a good direction for me.

Prior to including the Takano chapters this was chapter 70.

On the last edit I discovered that this was double-numbered Beam 54; there were no further Beam chapters in the book, so it just involved fixing this one.


Chapter 82, Hastings 185

At this point I decided I had to add the other character, so I began writing the Tomiko Takano stories.

I had originally written that Lauren did not sense any other versers, but was changing events such that Tomiko would be the girl on the curb, and that meant Lauren would detect someone but would not have time to learn more.

This was chapter 71 before the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 83, Kondor 170

I had thought that I would be going directly from the report to the Amir to the defense of the shoreline, but then I recognized that there had to be some discussion about where the attack would come.

This had been chapter 72 until the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 84, Takano 12

I knew this would be the end of the book for Tomiko; I still had to write the last chapter for Kondor.  I had to integrate what Tomiko saw with what I had already written for Lauren, as the stories were now overlapping.  The other problem was exactly how much of this new world I should write, knowing that I was going to have to pick it up in another book.

Then, of course, I was going to have to interweave the dozen Takano chapters into the six dozen chapters of the main story.

The decision to place it here between two Kondor chapters was connected to the decision to switch the order of the final two chapters of the book, discussed in connection with them.


Chapter 85, Kondor 171

Even though I had only written four chapters of the Tomiko story, I expected this would be the last chapter of the book, as all the characters came to cliffhanger endings.

This was originally chapter 74, and the final chapter of the book.  The reasons for changing that are discussed in connection with the final chapter; moving it also meant placing the last Takano chapter before it, so I wouldn’t have two Kondor chapters in a row.


Chapter 86, Brown 195

There was a question about whether when Derek got to the bridge a voice would say “Captain on the bridge” and some mechanical crewmen would snap to attention, or whether it would go as it did, with an artificially intelligent humanoid holding the position of captain.  When I got here, I decided that making Derek First Officer had a lot more potential for interesting story, including addressing why the captain has not maintained the education of the humanoid indigs aboard.

I swithered about whether this would be the last chapter, or whether Kondor would end the book.  I had considered Lauren as well, but decided against her at some point.

Originally I ended the book with Kondor 171, with this as the penultimate chapter.  However, when Kyler was reading the chapters he said that the Brown chapter was the best ending for the book, the best cliffhanger.  However, if I moved it that would give me two Kondor chapters in a row–which was remedied by putting the last Takano chapter between them, also having the benefit that it prevented me from going directly from Lauren throwing the child to Tomiko catching her.


This has been the eighth and last behind the writings look at Versers Versus Versers.  If there is interest and continued support from readers we will endeavor to continue with another novel and more behind the writings posts for it.

#346: The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #346, on the subject of The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them”.

Reaching song number fourteen in our publication efforts, I should mention that this was actually tied for thirteenth, but I had to choose.  Last month’s Joined Together had been number 17 for the song itself and number 9 for the quality of the recording, and this one was number 8 on quality of recording but 18 on the ranking of the song, so I went with the ranking of the song.  Tristan did not list either song on his choices.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

I don’t recall when I wrote this, but I know it was early.  The five vocals on the recording were the parts as sung by The Last Psalm with Peggy Lisbona on the melody, backgrounds (SATB) by Ruth Mekita, Ann Hughes, yours truly, and Jeff Zurheide; we lost Ruth, Ann, and Jeff in June of 1974 and never had five vocals again, so the song dropped from the repertoire.  (It would be remiss of me if having named all those people I did not mention that we had John Mastick on drums and Andy Nilssen on bass, with Dave Oldham and Ralph Bruno doing sound and lighting.  Jeff and I played guitars; Peggy and I covered piano, but not on this song.)

Astute Bible students will recognize that the lyrics closely (but not exactly) follow Romans 10, where Paul is saying that the church needs to send people to preach the gospel so that the world can hear it and turn to Christ.  The first two verses echo the importance of delivering the message, while the bridge and final verse actually do so.  Remember, The Last Psalm ministered during that time when every Christian musician was expected to do evangelism, and so the song is evangelistic in part, although it is primarily an exhortation to evangelize.

I have one minor memory about this song.  When I was teaching it, Peggy said she could not possibly leap up to sing “tell me” in the middle of the chorus (it’s a jump from a low G to an octave higher), so I sang those two words, while she sang the rest of the melody.  I thought it silly at the time–she sang the higher G twice on the bridge–but my singers were volunteers and I wasn’t going to push them to do what they didn’t think they could do.

The song is here.

If We Don’t Tell Them.

So here are the words:

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

There are many many people, they’re in every place and time,
People of all continents and people of all kinds,
People of all races looking for some peace of mind.
Just call on the Lord and be saved.

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

Many people ev’rywhere are dying to be free.
Many people say that that’s the way they’re meant to be.
Many people look, but not so many seem to see:
Just call on the Lord and be saved.

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

Jesus came and gave His life,
He died for you and me.
He said that if He set you free,
Indeed you would be free!

Someday you will recognize He came and died for you.
Someday you may realize the things He said were true.
Then I hope that you will know exactly what to do:
Just call on the Lord and be saved.

Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Tell me how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?
Oh but how can they call on what they don’t believe,
And how can they believe in what they do not know,
And how can they know of what they have not heard,
And how can they hear if we don’t tell them?

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together”

#349: The Song “I Can’t Resist Your Love”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #349, on the subject of The Song “I Can’t Resist Your Love”.

This fifteenth song on our list was started by my wife.  It has to have been 1979 or 1980, as I remember her sitting in the dining room of the apartment we had in Pennsville working on it.  She was stuck for a chord and asked for help, and suddenly I was contributing words and music.  She didn’t like all my contributions, and we still argue about who wrote what, but ultimately we were pleased with the outcome.  I listed this the number twenty song on my list, and although there are a few places where I didn’t get the vocals exactly right (and embarrassingly it is the tenor–my part–that has the mistakes) I put it number 11 on performance/recording quality, probably largely for the vocals.  Tristan ranked it tied for fifteen.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with the first song, linked below.)

It was always envisioned with at least four vocals, which is what is used here, a guitar providing a fifth at the end.  We used this as our closing song in TerraNova, where we had five vocals, but I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sing the soprano (which was an added part anyway, as Debbie Kregger was not an original member).  It is a rock anthem, with the intention that the ending chorus would keep repeating more than it does in the recording, but it’s a long song with two instrumental verses (one of them done with contrapuntal vocals) and two bridges, and for the recording I thought it was long enough with four choruses.  (It is a short chorus.)

My wife gets full credit for the concept, that the world is very alluring, but ultimately the love of Christ outpulls anything offered elsewhere.  She also gets credit for the truly unique rhyme and meter scheme on on the verses.

The song is here.  It is again a wav file, and so a large download, but I think worth it.

I Can’t Resist Your Love.

So here are the words:

I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

So many times I see
The world is rushing by me,
And everything I see
Looks so good.
I only want a part–
I feel it tug on my heart,
And that is when I start
To wish I could,

But I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

People are getting high,
And life is passing me by,
And so I wonder why
You call my name.
I’d like to be a star
And drive a fancy sports car,
But I know Who You are
And why you came,

And I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

And I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

I don’t need you for your money:
I will serve you without pay.
‘Though you may think it sounds funny,
I just wanna hear you say,

“Welcome home thou good and faithful servant;
Over few things you have proven true.
I will make you ruler over many.
Enter in the joy I have for you.”

Now when I look around
I see the joy that I’ve found
While all the world is bound
In chains of sin.
They need to turn to You–
If they could see what You’d do,
Then they would know You’re true,
And let you in.

How I wish that they could hear me
Telling them You are the way.
If I let Your Spirit steer me,
One day I will hear You say,

“Welcome home thou good and faithful servant;
Over few things you have proven true.
I will make you ruler over many.
Enter in the joy I have for you.”

I thought that I was free,
But You reached out and drew me,
And though I tried to flee, where could I go?
I couldn’t resist Your love,
The kind of stuff I dream of.
I want you far above
All things I know.

And I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist Your love,
I can’t resist, I can’t resist Your love.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them”