All posts by M.J.

#333: Uncertain Worlds

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #333, on the subject of Uncertain Worlds.

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 fourth mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 34 through 44.  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 34, Kondor 160

In order to write this chapter, I had to pore over Lauren’s character sheet and create a couple lists of her skills, which ones she would attempt to teach to whom, both psionic and magic.  Some of that would be visible to Kondor and some would not, but I needed it.

Once I had the list I had to decide how many days Lauren was teaching before Derek interrupted her, and then continue with the days thereafter that she was teaching Joe and Zeke in the Amirate.  I decided on five days for the first stretch before I started writing, but changed it to four while I was writing because I didn’t want to get that far ahead just yet.  Still, since I was covering a lot of time during which Beam was trying to get intelligence about them, I wound up concluding that Lauren would have time, at one skill of each type per day, to teach them everything she would have wanted to teach.

This was chapter 29 before the Takano chapters were included.


Chapter 35, Brown 184

I was working with the lost colony spaceship concept, and of course part of the trope is that the indigs have lost all technological knowledge.  That was going to impact their actions, and Derek was going to watch them and recognize some of what was happening.  I included that here.  It also struck me that unless they had a computer-worship cult like I created in The Industrial Complex (in The Second Book of Worlds) they weren’t going to pay any attention to the computer terminals, and wouldn’t think twice about Derek accessing one or taking it apart.  I might yet use that other world for one of my characters, maybe Beam if I wind up writing more worlds for him, so I want to keep this one different.

This was chapter 30 before the Takano chapters were incorporated.


Chapter 36, Hastings 178

This was one of those chapters that didn’t really come easily.  I had put Lauren’s name at the top primarily because she had been neglected the longest at this point, and it was several hours before I thought of how to begin.  Once I began it, I went from there, but it was short, and I felt I was being pushed toward the climax of this story prematurely and needed to slow it down.

This was chapter 31 before the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 37, Slade 160

The big problem I had at this point was that I was trying to delay the climax of the book, but I didn’t have that much I could do with the Arabian story that would be interesting and not accelerate the final confrontation.  Kyler kept coming back to an idea, that the two groups should have a meeting on neutral ground, and probably have Slade and Dawn do a bit of non-lethal sparring.  I couldn’t see how this could happen without Slade losing someone, and I couldn’t afford for him to lose anyone because I needed the five-against-five confrontation for my climax.  Still, the idea of trying to arrange such a meeting had merit.

The ending about Shella dragging him off to dinner was a sudden inspiration for a way to get out of the scene.

Before the Takano chapters were incorporated this was chapter 31.


Chapter 38, Takano 6

I could feel that the story of this world was coming to an end, with two or maybe three more chapters.  My two problems were first that I wasn’t entirely certain how this one ended, and second I had only vague notions of where she should go next.

I delayed this chapter in the insertion process as I didn’t want the process to seem mechanical.


Chapter 39, Brown 185

I sat on this chapter for a couple days.  I knew that it was going to begin with the delivery of food, and that Derek was going to try to figure out a lot about their hosts by the food.  I was not sure how it was going to work until I finally just started and gave it its head.

I had originally intended to have Derek say something about how he generally trusted that the King would ensure that he found something he could eat and drink wherever he went, but I got sidetracked with the pyrogenesis and forgot.

This was originally chapter 33 before the Takano chapters were added.


Chapter 40, Beam 50

I wanted to write this as conversation, but I started writing it when I was very tired, and wound up couching it as narrative.  I got through a lot of the information but decided I should just save it and see if I could rewrite it into dialogue when I was more awake.  I did that the next night.

This had been chapter 34 before the Takano chapters were incorporated.


Chapter 41, Kondor 161

The label went on this chapter entirely because Kondor was the character who had been silent the longest at this point.  I asked Kyler what should happen, and he said at this point he feels sorry for Kondor, who can’t accept the world as it is despite the evidence.  I know what he means, but to some degree Kondor demonstrates that for some people who don’t believe in God there can be no proof otherwise, that all the evidence can be explained.  I see him one day meeting a god, perhaps in the company of Slade, and having the god explain that to Kondor he can be explained as a very powerful being from another universe.  As long as an alternative explanation is possible, men like Kondor choose to disbelieve the supernatural.  I had a short-lived acquaintance with a friend of a friend who at that time had read as much C. S. Lewis as I, yet who maintained that he was an atheist.  After some discussion I asked why he was still an atheist, and he responded that he thought probably it was because he had made that choice and was staying with it.  To some degree, that’s who Kondor is.

It took quite a bit of thought to devise the notion that Kondor was going to experiment with his new skills; I’m almost embarrassed at how long I pondered what to write here.  Then it came together fairly easily once I had that starter.

Before the Takano chapters were added this was chapter 35.


Chapter 42, Brown 186

My struggles with the Brown story included that I needed it to move but not too fast, and I wasn’t entirely certain where it was going or how to get there.  However, I had set up the notion that his superior computer was going to tap into the ship’s computer, and having him fall asleep helped with the problem of not wanting to say how long that took.

Originally chapter 36, moved to 42 by the inclusion of the Takano chapters.


Chapter 43, Takano 7

I debated what kind of magic the witch would use to kill Tomiko, but as the scene developed it was quite natural for the witch to grab her face and stare into her eyes, and from there an electrical spell was both simple and obvious.

When I was integrating the Takano story into the other chapters, I had decided that I should insert the first after the second chapter of the book, as a good place to introduce her.  I calculated that her dozen chapters would fit into the seventy-four I’d written for the other characters by placing one roughly ever six chapters, although I did not want her last to be the last in the book (which it would were I to stick mechanically to an every-sixth-chapter framework beginning with chapter 3).  As I was doing the first edit in which I was inserting the chapters, I came to Beam 37 and thought it was too soon for the next Beam, so I placed Takano 7 after the original chapter 36 (instead of 38) to delay Beam a bit.  That also would have two other advantages, one that it would tighten Tomiko’s story enough that she wouldn’t have the last chapter, and the other that it would break the illusion that I wasn’t thinking about where to insert her chapters but just doing it mechanically.


Chapter 44, Beam 51

I had been thinking for a few chapters about what Beam would do, and how he could obtain information about Lauren.  I’m not sure how it will play out, but I imagine Kondor becoming suspicious through practicing his mind reading on the ambassador, and the information being actually rather limited.  But we’ll see how it goes.

Prior to the inclusion of the Takano chapters this was chapter 37.


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

#332: The Wish of Scott Wesley Brown

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #332, on the subject of The Wish of Scott Wesley Brown.

I’m not sure how important Scott Wesley Brown was in the history of Contemporary Christian Music, but he seemed important to us at the time, probably for what were somewhat personal reasons.

His album I’m Not Religious, I Just Love the Lord–his third, according to sources–was already at the radio station when I got there, but for various reasons the only song I ever played from it was his cover of House at Pooh Corner written by (or possibly co-written with?) Kenny Loggins and previously released by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.  We also received his album One Step Closer, from which I remember nothing clearly.

However, at some point during my tenure he was live, solo with a piano, at a local church concert hall, and I took the opportunity to interview him.

As far as I recall, he was the only musician of whom I ever asked whether it was easier or harder to get into Christian music professionally then (the early eighties) than it had been a decade before.  His answer was indeterminate.  After all, he observed, at that time there were probably at least a dozen contemporary Christian labels and a host of supportive radio stations (ours had gone from being on a list of the top twelve to a list of the top fifty, an indicator of how much the field had grown in perhaps half a decade), but there were a lot more people seeking success in the industry.

I also asked him about one particular song, one of the great forgotten songs of the era, and he told me a story.  It seems that after a concert a nun came up to him.  I don’t recall whether he told me what she wanted, but as she was departing she said to him, “I wish you Jesus.”  He really liked the statement, thought it the best thing one could wish someone, and he wrote the song I Wish You Jesus, performing it on his live album Songs and Stories.

The backup band for that concert was Glad, whom we have mentioned before in connection with Found Free and to whom we will return.  There is a studio version, but I’ve always preferred the live one.

Every night, when we were not a twenty-four hour station, that song played as we ended our day, the FCC-required information spoken over the instrumental sections.  It was probably more our signature song than the Johnny Fisher song which I mentioned last time opened our broadcast every morning.  Our listeners loved it, and missed it when management made us replace it with a spoken only closing.

A quick check shows that Brown ultimately released twenty-five albums, and his songs were covered by everyone from Amy Grant to Placido Domingo.  His last reported release was in 2003, but his official website indicates that he is still available for ministry appearances.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.
  17. #264:  How About Danny Taylor.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.
  19. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.
  20. #272:  To the Bride Live.
  21. #276:  Best Guitarist Phil Keaggy.
  22. #281:  Keith Green Launching.
  23. #283:  Keith Green Crashing.
  24. #286:  Blind Seer Ken Medema.
  25. #288:  Prophets Daniel Amos.
  26. #290:  James the Other Ward.
  27. #292:  Rising Resurrection Band.
  28. #294:  Servant’s Waters.
  29. #296:  Found Free Lost.
  30. #299:  Praise for Dallas Holm.
  31. #302:  Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-named Re’Generation.
  32. #304:  Accidental Amy Grant.
  33. #312:  Produced by Christian and Bannister.
  34. #315:  Don Francisco Alive.
  35. #324:  CCM Ladies of the Eighties.
  36. #329:  CCM Guys at the Beginning.

#331: What’s With the Names?

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #331, on the subject of What’s With the Names?.

People get confused about my name, sometimes calling me “Mike” or “Michael”, sometimes “Joe”, and quite a few other variants.  It’s my own fault, though, and there’s a story behind it.

The name on my birth certificate is indeed Mark Joseph Young.  From my youth into my twenties everyone called me Mark (except for those who had more perjorative designations for me).  I signed my name Mark J. Young, and still do on legal documents, because my mother said that “Mark” and “Young” were both common enough that there would be other “Mark Youngs” out there and I should use the middle initial to distinguish me from them.  It turns out that there are other “Mark J. Youngs” out there, too, but of course not as many.  In college the Mark J. became something of a gag.  My college career started at a very small school, Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts in Teaneck, New Jersey (no longer there) where the unofficial slogan was “At Luther you’re not a number, you’re a rumor.”  I think there was one teacher for every ten students, and there weren’t as many as twenty teachers, so it was difficult not to know almost everyone at least by name.  The girls–the on-campus girls all fit in the same dorm–started calling me “Mark J. (fill-in-the-blank)”, sometimes complimentary, sometimes perjorative, always a bit embarrassing.  But the J seemed to be a permanent part of my name.

Then following college (my second undergraduate degree, from Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts) I landed that job at WNNN-FM.  I got it partly because my background in music gave me some technical experience and some familiarity with the Christian contemporary music field, partly because my two degrees in biblical studies suggested I was a good fit for a Christian radio station, and partly because they were desperate, having lost the entire on-air staff in a mass exodus when new management bought the station but for the new guy who had just relocated from the midwest to take the job and couldn’t afford to leave.  On the air I was simply Mark Young, easy to remember.  I also used the name when I sang, and on one occasion a pastor actually asked if it were my real name and suggested that it was an excellent name for a singer.  I guess that was because it was simple.

After a couple years at the station someone decided we should launch a station newsletter.  We had built a sizeable mailing list through a fundraiser we had run, and needed to send these people something more than just a thank you note.  I became the editor and principle writer, with some of the other staff contributing.  We were getting the thing printed by a local newspaper, The Elmer Times, and I would meet I think monthly with the associate editor there to go over copy and layout.  We were friendly, as one is in such relationships, and talked about other things, and one day we talked about me writing something for his paper.  I had taken a course in creative writing (fiction) at Gordon, and had some ideas for some political satire.  I remember writing three, but publishing two; I don’t remember why.  I have them somewhere in the bottom of a drawer of a dresser that went into storage (the basement) a few years back when I was hospitalized.  Maybe one day I’ll dig them out and publish them online for nostalgia purposes.  Anyway, because I was on the air in the county five or six days a week, sometimes on both the FM and AM stations, we agreed that the name Mark Young ought to be dissociated with the articles, and I suggested that I should publish them as M. Joseph Young, which we did.

Fast forward a decade, and that name lay dormant in a dresser drawer somewhere, but Ed Jones was trying to make his role playing game work.  I don’t think it would embarrass him for me to reveal that he really wasn’t a very good writer back then.  He also had problems with the mechanics.  (He was brilliant with concepts, and had far broader experience with the role playing game world than I.)  I partnered with him, and there are several long stories there but along the way I mentioned that I was already published as M. Joseph Young and thought I would keep the moniker for this.  He agreed, and said he wanted to be listed as E. R. Jones, which was fine with me.  I still use the name on most published books, and autograph books that way.

It took five years to get Multiverser into print, and then I had to promote it.  I had just gotten on the Internet and was pretty clueless about what to do there, but the Internet Service Provider included a bit of web space for a web site in their standard service, so I started building one.  Then I discovered GeoCities and several other free web space places and started creating other web sites, all linked to each other and all one way or another feeding back to the game.  (Most of these have been gathered at M. J. Young Net as the other sites have closed down.)  One was the temporal anomalies site, another Dungeons & Dragons™ related, another dealing with Bible, another with lyrics from my songs, another doing character creation for AD&D™, another covering martial arts in role playing games, another dealing with law.  These went up quickly–but the thing is, they went up under different names.  It was obvious that the Multiverser stuff had to be M. Joseph Young, because that was the name on the cover, and since the time travel stuff was directly connected to that (the original presentation of the theory was in an appendix in the Referee’s Rules) that also got the nom de plume.  The music and Bible stuff, though, was much more connected with Mark J. Young or Mark Young, so that’s how that was listed.  For some reason I did the D&D stuff under that name as well; I can’t now remember why, although I had lost touch with some of my early players and perhaps hoped they would find me (still looking for Bob Schretzman, with whom I lost touch when I was in law school).  So I had both names on the Web, relying on hypertext to connect them.

I had been invited to join a game designers group, and Gary Gygax was in it.  He dropped a note announcing that there were these guys trying to launch a new role playing game site who needed articles.  I thus wrote and sent my first article published on someone else’s web site, republished now as web log post #237:  Morality and Consequences:  Overlooked Roleplay Essentials, and it appeared within a couple days under the name M. Joseph Young on Gaming Outpost.

In order to get feedback on the article it was necessary that I sign in to their forums.  That meant I needed a user name, and I think for the first time I realized the problem I’d set for myself by using three different iterations of my name online.  If I made my screen name MarkYoung or MarkJYoung it would be dissociated from the Multiverser and time travel stuff; but if I made it MJosephYoung it would disconnect from the AD&D, Character Creation, and Martial Arts stuff.  Yet I thought MarkJosephYoung too long for a screen name.  Thus, pretty much on the spur of the moment, I created the screen name MJYoung.  It was at the time just a way to encompass both of my online “identities”.  Unexpectedly, though, it became a third identity.  There are people I know from my internet interactions who know me as M.J., and I’ve been to conventions where that is what they printed on my name badge.  It took me a while to get used to being called that, but some who are very dear to me use it, even some who are not gamers, so it’s become the nickname.

Funny, I always wanted a nickname.  I noticed as a kid that if your name was James your friends called you Jimmy or Jim, but you got called James when you were in trouble or there was some formal reason for it.  Roberts were Bob, Richards Rick, Peters Pete, Ronalds Ron.  If your name is Mark, you are Mark in all situations.  My father sometimes called me Marco Polo, which I thought was weird (like the World Wide Web, the nickname is longer than the name).  Kids trying to tease me would sometimes use Marky, which I didn’t like because it was being used as a derogation, and I had a babysitter once who called me Mighty Joe Young, which didn’t stick and really wasn’t very descriptive.  I know that people who call me M. J. are being informal and friendly; it’s my nickname.  Either that or they’ve forgotten my given name, which happens more often than I would have expected.

So that’s how I got all these names.  As someone has said, call me anything you like, just don’t call me late for dinner.  Or as Merlin said when Lauren asked what she should call him in Old Verses New,

“Whatever you like,” he said.  “Merlin, sir, Pendragon, lord, sire, teacher–it would be better for our relationship if it were something respectful, but so long as I know you mean me I’ll answer.”

Oddly, although I’ve been Mark Joseph Young all my life, I was in my forties when Multiverser artist Jim Denaxas asked if I’d ever noticed that my name was a sentence.  I never had, and probably I would not have done had he not mentioned it.  My reaction was that that would certainly be a good way for people to remember my name.  Thus I’ve started using Mark Joseph Young in a lot of places, such as my singing, and that’s why you’re reading the mark Joseph “young” web log.

So that’s the story.

I guess I left out the parts that most people include.  Mark was the name of an older man who worked in the office where my mother worked, who told the boss he should go easier on her as far as the physical activities (like digging through boxes on shelves in the file room) when she was pregnant.  I was named for him, sort of, and not for the apparently popular soap opera character (or actor?) of the time for whom so many of my peers were named, propelling what had been an uncommon name into the top names of the generation.  Joseph is the name of my mother’s father, who was an Italian immigrant as a boy so I don’t know if that’s an Americanization.  Everyone called him Joe.  Young is of course a rather common English name, and I have English blood but am really a thoroughbred mutt.  I get asked if I’m related to, and I usually say no before the question goes much further.  The Youngs to whom I am related were in Mississippi, and with the death of my grandmother they’re all descended from my Aunt Francis Potter, so if there are any Youngs in that branch (descendants of a late nineteenth century preacher named Cornelius Bryant Young, my great-grandfather) they’ve never contacted me and they didn’t show up when one of my sons did one of those genetic find your relatives things.  (I do have two brothers, a sister who retained her maiden name when she married, five sons, and three daughters-in-law, with at present one and a half grandchildren, and my one brother has two married sons and a recent grandchild, so there are more Youngs out there related to me, they’re just not living nearby.)  Those parts probably aren’t important, but they are part of the name.

#330: Temporal Notes on an Episode of “The Orville”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #330, on the subject of Temporal Notes on an Episode of “The Orville”.

A long-time early fan of Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies (and contributor of Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies Unravels The Final Countdown) contacted me via Facebook Messenger to ask a question about a particular two-episode time travel story arc of a television show.  I have made it clear that I don’t do analyses of television series, but given that this was one question about one episode of one series, and I was probably going to have to answer him in a post that would have been too long for that medium, and I have been neglecting my time travel audience to some degree, I decided to bring it over here.

We will begin with his post, with minimal edits marked:

Have you watched the tv show The Orville?  It’s sort of a self-aware knock off of Star Trek.  They’ve had at least a dozen Star Trek actors in cameo roles in the first two seasons.  Anyway, there’s a time travel story.  I’m going to try to present it to you with as few spoilers as possible, in case you’ve not seen the show.

So, in one episode, the ship hits a temporal anomaly in space which causes the seven-years younger version of the ship’s first officer to be sent forward in time to land on The Orville.  Episode proceeds, she’s eventually given an unsuccessful memory wipe and sent back in time.  They attempted to wipe her memory so that she could not affect the future.  But it didn’t take.  So she changes history such that The Borg have conquered The Federation.  (Not exactly, that’s the spoiler-free version of the story[.])

Next episode, seven years later.  The Borg have conquered The Federation.  She remembers that time trip and realizes that it was her tampering that caused it.  So she rounds up everyone from The Orville.  This time, they send back the doctor (A Star Trek DS9 Alum) to do the memory wipe correctly.  Timeline restored.

Under your theory, once she travels into the future, the future self no longer exists, correct?  It would be as if they went to New Jersey for seven years, only they didn’t age.  So there can’t be two of them in the future.  (That’s not a spoiler, You’d have seen it coming[.])

What about her knowledge?  There’s no reason to think the younger version wouldn’t always be sent into the future.  And there’s no reason to think the memory wipe wouldn’t take.  So the last problem is the doctor going back to redo it.  Anomalies you can see?

But the lady was questioning that.  “If she’s younger me, then why don’t I remember any of this?”  And eventually concludes that she doesn’t remember it because the memory wipe must have been successful.  No reason to think she wouldn’t still think that.

Based on what I’ve said, what are your thoughts?  I think it resolves, except for the first officer being there.  What difference does that make?  I’m not 100% I agree with your theory there.  If she eventually will go back in time, why wouldn’t two of them be there?  But anyway.

Thoughts?

So that is the question.

First, my wife and I enjoyed the first season of The Orville when FoxNOW was a free service on our Roku television.  When they went to a subscription service, well, it didn’t seem worth the money to subscribe for the sake of only one show we were at all likely to watch, and a good but not great one in our assessment, so it was forgotten.  The time travel arc was not included in what we watched.

The statement that the older version of the first officer would not be in the future is partly correct, but it’s more complicated than that.

One of the problems we have is a problem with the fact that this is a television series.  I am assuming that the event which moved the first officer to the future occurred prior to season one episode one.  That would mean that she never boarded The Orville, and thus all of the episodes we have watched are wrong.  The older version of herself is not there because she never was there; someone else is first officer, and all the espisodes to date have to be re-imagined to include this other officer.  Our time traveler will not, in this original history, meet herself, but will find that she has no history for seven years.

There would be no problem if they simply found a place in their time for this traveler from the past, as Starfleet did for Dr. Gillian in Star Trek IV:  The Voyage Home.  The trouble begins because they decide to send her back, and once you send anything into the past, you alter the past and create an anomaly.  Remember, no one even imagines that this time traveler might have been their first officer, because she never was.

We also hit our first real complication here.  The writers want us to believe that returning the first officer to the past restores the original timeline which we saw in the previous episodes, but that because she remembers the future the timeline is altered.  In fact, she never was the first officer on The Orville, and so the history created in which the Borg conquer the Federation is the first history in which she is present, and it is her presence (rather than absence) which causes the change.

The obvious solution would seem to be not to send her back–but it’s too late, because that would create an infinity loop (see Temporal Theory 101 and 102 for explanations of the anomalies and terminology):  if she does not go back, the Borg do not rise to power, and the crew of Orville have no reason not to send her back, so she will go back, causing the rise of the Borg, leading them not to send her back, in a repeating cycle.

We will have to assume that their analysis is correct, that the Borg rise to power because of something she remembered about the future that was not eliminated by the mind wipe.  It is a very improbable analysis for them to have made:  no one in the future remembers any history other than the one in which the Borg rise to power, and so it should not occur to anyone that sending the first officer back caused this, and even less likely that they would believe it was because of a failed mind wipe.  However, we have another set of complications here, tied to an unanswerable question:  why did she land on Orville when she traveled to the future?

I suspect that what the writers thought was she went to the coordinates of her older self.  That does not work, though, because she had no older self in the original history and so could not go there.  Our questioner has suggested that the older self would be there because the younger self is going to travel to the past, and that would work in a fixed time theory universe–but this is not fixed time theory, because they change history more than once.  Before the younger self departs for the past it is possible that something would prevent that, and therefore we have to finish the history which terminates with that departure before we can begin any history in which there is an arrival in the past.  The older self was not there in the original history.

It might be argued that she went to The Orville because she, her younger self, was on The Orville when she was transported to the future, and so using a frame of reference theory that’s where she went–but it does not appear that she was ever on that ship prior to the first episode of the series, so that theory won’t hold.  Note that if this trip to the future happened during the time covered by the series, we would have seen it happen in a previous episode and had to deal with her disappearance then, even if we also had her reappearance which altered history.

I am out of potential rational explanations, and am forced to suggest that of all of the vastness of space she managed to appear not floating somewhere in the empty vacuum but on a ship to which she had no known connection somewhere in that vast vacuum.  She rolled a googol-sided die and got a perfect result.

That gives us our complication, because the entire history of the universe has drastically changed following her return to the past, and there is no reason to suppose that The Orville even exists in this new world, or that it has the same crew or the same mission or is within a thousand light years of the same location.  Yet when our time traveler leaps forward presumably from before those changes have been made, she must land on the same ship in the same location.  If she doesn’t, of course, we have an infinity loop; but even if somehow she does whoever is on that ship has to make the same decision to send her back at the same moment.  Further, they must fail to wipe her memory in exactly the same way, despite the fact that everything else in this universe is different.

So we assume that against incredible odds our time traveler who has not yet caused the rise of the borg lands on the same ship in the same place and is sent back at the same time to the same time.  Yet even with all this, we’ve got a disaster.

Our assumption is that having leapt to the future, the officer learns perhaps many things about the future.  Somehow at least one of those things remained in her memory when her mind was wiped, and that one memory caused a drastic change in history when she acted upon it in the past.  However, her duplicate self arriving in the future is in an entirely different future.  The odds that she would learn the same single thing that changes history are, once again, drastically against.  It isn’t just that she is unlikely to land on the same ship, or that the ship is unlikely to have the same crew.  Even were we to grant those improbable outcomes, we cannot escape the fact that this ship and this crew are the result of the seven years in which the Borg rose to power and conquered the Federation.  There is almost nothing significant our time traveler could have learned about the original history that would be true in this altered history.  Apply mind wipe, and send her back to her own time, and how is it even possible that the one thing she remembers is the same thing that created this Borg-dominated history?  Yet it must be so for the story we are given to be true, and if it’s not so then the Borg will not rise to power in this new version (in which the time traveler came from the Borg-dominated future) and we have, again, an infinity loop.

So somehow against such incredible odds our time traveler is returned to her own time with exactly the same retained memory and so causes the exact same history–the N-jump we need to save time.  That gives us a future; it is the future in which the Borg dominate the universe.

Somehow the crew of The Orville decide that this is wrong, and that it must be this way because the memory erasure didn’t work properly.  They decide this despite the fact that not a one of them has any notion that history every has been or could have been different than it was, that the Borg defeated the Federation in the only version of history any of them has ever known or experienced.  Maybe they have an alien aboard who, like Guinan in Star Trek:  The Next Generation, can simply sense that this timeline is somehow “wrong”–but in that case it will never sense that it is “right”, because it can’t be corrected, and the “right” timeline, the original history, is the one in which the young first officer never returned to the past.  Still, somehow they decide that the rise of the Borg to power is not the original history, and then they add to that that it was caused by the young officer’s trip to the past, and then that the reason she altered history was not because she hadn’t been there and now was, but because she remembered something she should have forgotten and acted upon it changing the past.  They have absolutely no evidence to support any of these conclusions, but that’s what they conclude.

Having concluded it, they decide to do the most foolish thing anyone could possibly attempt to do in time travel.  They decide to fix history.

The problem is, either you will succeed or you will fail.  If you succeed, you eliminate the problem that caused you to try in the first place, so you won’t try, so history will revert to the version in which you do not make the trip to the past to fix it.  Thus the best hope is that you will fail, and that therefore history will continue as it was.

In this case, apparently they succeeded.  Not long after they sent the officer back with the faulty memory wipe, they sent a doctor back to do it right.  He succeeds, with the result that the Borg never rise to power.  We can assume that all of history moves much as it did, but when we reach the moment when the doctor has to depart to fix the problem, that problem does not exist, because it was already fixed.  That means that they don’t know the first memory wipe failed, or that the Borg ever rose to power, and they don’t send the doctor back to fix it, so it doesn’t get fixed, and we have an infinity loop.

There is one more minor issue in all this.  In the version we are shown the older first officer says, “If she’s younger me, then why don’t I remember any of this?”  We don’t know in which history she is supposed to have said this.  In the original history, she doesn’t exist.  In the second history, in which the Borg rise to power, she should remember whatever it was she remembered seven years before, and the consequential rise of the Borg, and possibly even recognize her fault in this.  In the history created by the doctor, she would not remember it because that second mind erasure worked.

So in conclusion, the time travel foray by The Orville was a temporal disaster several times over.  Of course, we can sort of forgive this because the show is something of a parody.  I’m just glad I was not subjected to having to watch the disaster unfold on the screen.

#329: CCM Guys at the Beginning

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #329, on the subject of CCM Guys at the Beginning.

Last time we covered the ladies of the eighties, a conglomerate article to help us get through everyone I think ought to be mentioned.  This time we’re doing the same with some of the guys.  This is a very broad shot here.  Some of these gentlemen had virtually faded into obscurity by the time I reached the radio station, others were barely on the scene when I left it.  Undoubtedly some of these people have a much bigger place in contemporary Christian music than would appear from my coverage of them; they simply weren’t that significant during the years when I was immersed in the industry.

I am starting with Randy Matthews, because he was someone known to me for one song long before I reached the radio station, from whom I never heard anything else.  Yet his Didn’t He, released in 1973, was a classic in Christian rock music maybe before there were contemporary Christian radio stations.

For years I knew of Randy Stonehill only as one of the early Christian musicians connected to Larry Norman.  I still don’t know any of his early work.  However, when I was at the station we received his album The Sky is Falling, and for some reason we focused on the rather goofy song Bad Fruit as the song to play.  I remember nothing else from his career.

Richie Furay was a very successful secular rock musician before he started doing Christian material, having been a founding member of both Buffalo Springfield and Poco.  I remember his Myrrh releases I’ve Got a Reason and Seasons of Change, but not well enough to recognize any of the titles on them; I find very few in video form, and none that I remember.

Darrell Mansfield also appears here as a name I remember without any other information.  He released several records with his self-named band, and was in the band Gentle Faith.  I’m not sure we ever had any of his work at the station.

We did have a couple albums from Denny CorrellStandin’ In the Light, How Will They Know, and Something I Believe In.  His bluesrock sound is captured in this song, the last cut on the last of those albums, Changin’ My Heart.

Mylon LeFevre was born into one of those Southern Gospel family bands, and sang with them.  His first song was picked up by Elvis, and then by many others, making him wealthy overnight; he sang with other bands, but in the sixties was attempting to launch something in the vein of Christian contemporary/rock music, for which there was not yet a market despite the rising Jesus movement.  He became involved in drugs which nearly killed him, and then returned to a clean life, and in 1982 released the first album with his new band, Broken Heart, entitled A Brand New Start.  I was unable to find any recognized cuts from this online, but the band continued producing albums through 1990.

I encountered them on stage at Creation ’82, where I was working stage crew and reporting for the radio station.  In setting up the band had placed a small amplifier behind LeFevre for his electric guitar; there were two other guitarists in the band who were working with the sound crew.  The head of the sound crew asked about plugging LeFevre’s guitar directly into the main system, which the guitarist declined, and then the suggestion was made that the amp could be miked, again declined with the explanation that LeFevre’s drug use had seriously damaged his ability to play, and the guitar was really more of a prop so he would have something in his hands while he sang.  Still, the band was impressive, and he could still sing.

Every morning during the times when we weren’t twenty-four hours our radio station came on the air with Johnny Fisher, and his All Day Song from his 1974 release Still Life, reportedly his third album but his first on a recognized label (Light).  I remember the release of his 1982 Dark Horse album on Myrrh, which I remember was good, but can’t find any cuts from it online; in a drawer somewhere I have a promotional T-shirt from that album which no longer fits.  I might have the album itself on vinyl somewhere, but I’m afraid I don’t have a good catalog of my record collection.

Carman first reached us with his self-titled Priority Records release in 1982.  It had a neo-rock-‘n’-roll sound reminscent of Elvis, of which Some-O-Dat was the memorable cut.  Then sometime within the next year we received a promotional single of a live version of a really clever and rapidly popular song, Sunday’s On the Way.  Not long after an album was released with that title, but the studio version of the title song lacked the life and excitement of the live single, which does not appear to be available anywhere.  The link here is to a similar live performance worth hearing.  I put this down as the best song Carman ever did, although I don’t know most of his career for which there is an album release as late as 2014.

Jazz fusion guitarist James Vincent had released four albums through secular labels before Sparrow Records delivered his 1980 disk Enter In to us.  The title song typified the style, and several other songs from the album are available in online videos.

According to his discography, Tim Sheppard had a couple albums out in the 70s before the release of 1979’s Songtailor, and a couple more in the 80s plus some appearances with other artists in collections, and then one more release in 2017.  I only ever heard Songtailer, and I only remember one song from it–but I remember it, one of the great songs that I still sing in the car decades later, The Fiddler.

Joe English made his name as the drummer for Paul McCartney’s Wings, but in 1980 he released the first of five Christian solo albums (with many often well-known supporting artists), Lights In the World.  I vaguely remember songs like Get Ready, and that for the time the production values were impressive.

I have the impression that Bob Ayala was very popular in other places.  I remember the album cover from Joy By Surprise, which had very strong Narnia imagery.  I was also impressed by the more subtle Narnia imagery of the next album, Wood Between the Worlds.  Unfortunately, I recognize none of the song titles.

Wayne Watson also goes down as someone popular elsewhere, but was one of those “just another solo act” guys for us.  However, his cover of Touch of the Master’s Hand still brings tears to my eyes when I try to sing it, and his later New Lives for Old, while not as memorable, was still good.

I’m not quite old enough to remember Dion and the Belmonts, but I do remember his 1961 rock-‘n’-roll solo hit Runaround SueDion DiMucci had a long and reasonably successful secular career, and then in 1980 hit the Christian contemporary field with the Dayspring release Inside Job.  I am embarrassed to say that I don’t remember any of the song titles from that or the next two albums, both of which were sent to the radio station while I was there, because I not only played cuts from them, I attended a small concert at a local church and had a chat with him afterwards, which I only remember as something we did (my wife with me at the time).  I do remember that he was good, talented and worth hearing.  He has continued to release albums nearly to the present, of which I of course know nothing.

What I remember about Michael W. Smith is that from the beginning with The Michael W. Smith Project in 1983 my mind connected him to Amy Grant.  I can’t even tell you why.  I can tell you that he is still around, and I hear him on the local Christian stations from time to time with new material.  The track lists from his early albums ring no bells.

I’m sure there were a lot of other male vocalists at the time; these are the ones that came to mind for whom I didn’t think I could do a whole article, but I’ve got more on the list ahead.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.
  17. #264:  How About Danny Taylor.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.
  19. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.
  20. #272:  To the Bride Live.
  21. #276:  Best Guitarist Phil Keaggy.
  22. #281:  Keith Green Launching.
  23. #283:  Keith Green Crashing.
  24. #286:  Blind Seer Ken Medema.
  25. #288:  Prophets Daniel Amos.
  26. #290:  James the Other Ward.
  27. #292:  Rising Resurrection Band.
  28. #294:  Servant’s Waters.
  29. #296:  Found Free Lost.
  30. #299:  Praise for Dallas Holm.
  31. #302:  Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-named Re’Generation.
  32. #304:  Accidental Amy Grant.
  33. #312:  Produced by Christian and Bannister.
  34. #315:  Don Francisco Alive.
  35. #324:  CCM Ladies of the Eighties.

#328: The Song “Still Small Voice”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #328, on the subject of The Song “Still Small Voice”.

I liked this song, ranking it number 7 for quality of the song; Tristan had it tied for his number 5.  The problem was in the quality of the recording and performance, which was hampered by a number of foolish mistakes.

There is a version of this available on Collision Of Worlds which is probably better than this.  I opted against it because Jonathan sings it, and while it’s good, that was 2012 and he was a much better singer a few years later–and although I’m including some recordings from that album, it didn’t seem right to use one I didn’t sing and he didn’t sing quite as well as he would later.

The problem was I didn’t have another recording that wasn’t buried in a long concert tape, and I needed one.  I recorded this in my living room, and made a couple of rookie mistakes.  One is that I was a mere few days out of the hospital and not fully recovered, and it’s a demanding song to do solo; I’m not sure it’s a great performance.  The other is that I recorded it on a recorder with automatic level control (ALC) in a room in which an air purifier was running.  The air purifier wasn’t really noticeable as background noise, but when the music stops it comes to the foreground fairly quickly.  I should have anticipated that, but I didn’t realize that the recorder had ALC (which I also should have realized).  I think I was twelve or thirteen when Jay Fedigan and I recorded something on a cassette deck with ALC, and we hit a cold ending which was immediately followed by the ticking of a clock we had not even realized was in the room.  Put it down as stupid of me.

The recording is here.  It’s not a bad recording, but that I wrote the song, with help from Tyler Choniger, for 7dB, where we had three vocals, and so it’s missing at least two, not to mention a rhythm guitar and other instruments.  We only had two of us singing for the Collision recording, although we were going to add a third.  If I were doubletracking in a studio I would make it four.  As it stands, You’ll have to imagine at least one more.

I had written most of the chorus, but for the last line, when I brought it to Tyler, and I thought it was going to echo some of the ideas from Walkin’ In the Woods, about churches failing to deliver what people need.  Tyler suggested that the opening words should close the chorus, and then I started writing the verse.  He wanted to include the D69add4, so we slid up to it in the middle of the verse; I thought that sliding from the CM7 to the D69add4 was becoming almost cliche (I did it in Holocaust, that I clearly remember) and so on the bridge I decided to go the other direction, which gave us the descending feeling in the chord progression, which went well with the overall theme of struggles in the song and gave the idea for the “sinking feeling”.  Its history is told in slightly more detail on the Collision website notes on the song.

In the original version we counted out the beats for a measure’s pause after the bridge.  Jonathan didn’t like that, so eventually I changed it so that he would start that last chorus when he felt it and we would all come in on his cue.  That’s more the way I do it in this recording.

The vocal cadenza at the end was intended to be a freeform ad lib cadenza, and I hope it sounds like that, but I don’t really do improvisational cadenzas all that well and find I do much better by experimenting with the music and writing one.  Thus this is the cadenza as I always sing it, although I suppose technically if someone wanted to sing something different that would be within the parameters of the song.  I happen to like this one very much.

Still Small Voice.

So here are the words:

There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.

The pressures of life are closing in;
Temptations are luring me to sin.
My problems are tearing me apart.
I feel like I’m dying in my heart.

There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
It’s not in the thunder, not in the pyre,
Not in the lightning, not in the fire,
Not in the sermon, not in the choir.
There’s a still small voice.

The deadlines are coming way too fast;
Before I can reach them they have passed.
I’m struggling to get things up to speed,
With too many mouths I need to feed.

There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
It’s not in the thunder, not in the pyre,
Not in the lightning, not in the fire,
Not in the sermon, not in the choir.
There’s a still small voice.

I know that God is on the throne,
And yet I have this sinking feeling.
I know He calls me for His own,
And so I reach to Him for healing.

There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
It’s not in the thunder, not in the pyre,
Not in the lightning, not in the fire,
Not in the sermon, not in the choir.

  There’s a still small voice, God is calling to me
There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
  Ev’rything is in control.
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
  He is on the throne, calling for His own, He will not abandon me,
There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
  He calls my name, He leads me on, tells me where to go,
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
  I can hear that still, small, still small voice speaking to me speaking to my
There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
  Soul, the still small voice of God, Holy Spirit, let me hear your
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
  Voice, loud and clear, small and still, from the heart of God,
There’s a still small voice speaking softly to my soul,
  The still small voice I hear.
And the still small voice tells me God is in control.
It’s not in the thunder, not in the pyre,
Not in the lightning, not in the fire,
Not in the sermon, not in the choir.
There’s a still small voice.

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”

#327: Verser Separations

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #327, on the subject of Verser Separations.

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 third mark Joseph “young” web log post covering this book, covering chapters 23 through 33.  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 23, Kondor 158

Once I got this part of the story moving, it was difficult to interrupt for other tasks.  I had just written three chapters in a row (originally 16-18), but took a break here for other tasks.

The explanation to Zeke about primary and secondary versers arose organically, but as I wrote it I realized it was going to be vital to the resolution of a future encounter I had planned.

This was chapter 19 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 24, Beam 47

Mostly I wanted Beam to recognize that there were more versers than he’d guessed, and retreat to get better intel.  I picked up a few extra points along the way, including giving him the word “versers”.

This was chapter 20 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 25, Slade 158

The briefing was a necessity; it also saved me several telepathic conversations between versers in different locations.  By having Bob tell the Caliph what he had been told, I didn’t need to go through the part about telling him; I only needed to include his instructions to Lauren at the end of their conversation, so that worked.

This was chapter 21 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 26, Kondor 159

When I reached this point, I was not certain whose chapter this should be.  I wanted to delay Derek’s entrance to the next world partly because I wanted the reader wondering and partly because it was still coalescing in my own mind and I wasn’t entirely certain I had chosen a next world for him.  I wanted to delay Beam’s next chapter because it would move the plot closer to the endgame than I wanted to be yet, and I wanted to give the impression of time passing as he made the return trip.  I had just done Bob, so that left Lauren and Joe, who were in the same place, a place where I needed to figure out what was happening there.

While I was discussing this with Kyler, I commented that I was not certain what was happening at Vashti’s home, and among other comments said something about a memorial service for Derek and Vashti, which Kyler said was probably appropriate.  So I decided to go with Kondor’s viewpoint for it, and cover it as the deaths of heroes.

This was chapter 22 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 27, Beam 48

It took a while to work out this plot, and I still am not certain how it will play out, but for the moment it gave me a good solid direction for the story.

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 23.


Chapter 28, Brown 182

I had been toying with what kind of world to use, and I wanted something high-tech.  I had been working on something called The Wanderer, a fairly stock lost colony ship world, and settled on it mostly by default.  Since I had never gotten very far with it, I had a lot of room for details, and one of them was what kind of indigs would be aboard.

I discussed the aliens extensively with Kyler.  The question was whether to make them humans, or if alien just how alien to make them–Vulcans who could hide a few distinctive features, Klingons who were entirely humanoid but could never pass for human, Greys who were still humanoid but very alien, or E.T.s, clearly very different.  We agreed on something like Greys.

We also discussed the functions of melanin and chlorophyll, and decided on a paler skin color with some melanin but also some chlorophyll.

I was going to have Derek reunite with Vashti in this chapter, and then encounter aliens in the next, but it struck me that if he were running down main corridors it would be incongruous for him not to encounter anyone aboard.  Thus I had to introduce my aliens sooner, and put Vashti on hold until the next chapter.

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 24.


Chapter 29, Takano 5

I am still exploring this world and trying to figure out what happens here, but I’ve a feeling it’s going to come to an abrupt ending fairly soon.  Tommy’s meeting with the witch probably doesn’t go well.

I wrote everything here before the meeting with the eagle before I went to bed, and then did the rest in the morning; I had intended to include the part about eating apples and forgot it when I was writing about breakfast, but went back and added it before I finished the chapter.

It had been six chapters, and seemed a suitable place to insert this one.


Chapter 30, Hastings 177

I put Lauren here because she had gone longest without a chapter; I realized immediately that I didn’t know what she could do, but then that was because she didn’t know what she could do, sitting at the Amir’s castle with only Joe and Zeke, so that gave me opportunity for her to teach Joe and Zeke.

I needed the Arabian story to move considerably more slowly at this point, which was difficult because I had four viewpoint characters in it and I had to keep their stories active and prevent them from being dull.  I also had to figure out what was happening in Derek’s story, which was not happening just yet.  My one advantage was that my four viewpoint characters were on three separate stages, so I could see what I could do with each of them.

This was chapter 25 before the Takano chapters were inserted.


Chapter 31, Slade 159

Part of this was the feeling that the story had to slow a bit here, and on every front.  Things were changing, and Slade was going to feel it, but they were getting tense in a different way.

This was chapter 26 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 32, Brown 183

I had pondered the problems of the elevator, and it occurred to me that it would be a simple matter to adjust gravity to negate the feeling of movement, and that meant that the indigs would not realize the elevator moved but would regard it as a magical transport between decks.  It further would mean they didn’t have any sense that the decks were stacked above and below each other.

This was chapter 27 before the Takano chapters were integrated.


Chapter 33, Beam 49

I started from the point that Beam had no proof of his claimed victory over the unknown enemy verser, and went from there, winding up in the idea that he saw this as a game he would win.  It gave me a good spin on Beam’s thinking.

Before the Takano chapters were integrated this was chapter 28.


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

#326: The Song “Mountain, Mountain”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #326, on the subject of The Song “Mountain, Mountain”.

I ranked this number 15 as far as best songs go, and number 16 on quality of recording and performance, and wonder that I placed it so low, but there were a lot of good songs from which to choose; Tristan, who has learned to play this one of all my songs, had it tied at number 1, which brought it to number 8 on our combined list.  (The ranking system is explained in connection with previous web log song posts, linked below.)    The recording is here.  That’s a WAV file, so it’s rather larger than the mp3s I usually post.

Mountain, Mountain.

It is hard to know where to begin, but I suppose it has to begin with Barry McGuire.  If anyone out there knows him, please tell him that the song I wrote about him is here, and I would love for him finally to hear it.  I wrote about Barry in my history of Christian contemporary and rock music series in #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire, where I mentioned the advice he gave me reported, after a fashion, in post #163:  So You Want to Be a Christian Musician.  He is also mentioned in some detail in #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts and #272:  To the Bride Live, and he will be mentioned again.  Yet it is that first concert, the first time we met, that matters here.

After the concert I joined the throngs crowding around Barry, who had come down from the stage into the audience area to interact.  Barry was then probably the biggest name in contemporary Christian music, but apart from that he is a large and imposing presence both for his size and for his character.  I asked the question I had asked many others, about what someone should do who wanted a career in Christian contemporary music, and he took several minutes to address it.

I returned to my dorm from the concert and immediately wrote this song.  The first verse, the verse about the mountain, was about Barry.  From there I looked for, and found, three other nature images which conveyed something people desire.

I took my guitar to a common area where there would be more students, and played it for several.  I remember Angelic Andy (and I wish I remembered his name, although I have many memories of him otherwise including his parka which matched mine) heard it, and asked me to play the verse about the sun again.  I have found this to be true of the song, that those who like it generally have a favorite verse (mine will always be the mountain) which touches some part of themselves.  My son Tristan insists that the second and third verses should be switched, because the river is connected to the mountain, but I keep them as they are because glory is connected to greatness.

I have met Barry twice since then, as I elsewhere have mentioned.

I opened for him at the Gordon College March Thaw, which I think must have been 1977.  That was something of a fiasco.  Jeff Zurheide and I and a drummer named Ken Spear (or Speer?) were supposed to play backup for Reverend Harold Bussell, former RCA piano recording artist and then our Dean of Christian Life.  Someone had claimed there was a piano in the banquet hall, but when we got there it was a disaster, and although I rushed back to the school to borrow an electronic piano from a friend, Harold wouldn’t perform on an instrument he’d never played.  That left the three of us, and Barry had specified that there shouldn’t be a male vocal band before him so we were faking instrumentals–me on keys, Jeff on guitar, with Ken on drums.  We also discovered about the same time that the school’s portable public address (P.A.) system had been burned out by some previous user, and was not available, so at that point I had to cobble together a makeshift P.A. from a couple of instrument amplifiers and my microphones.  When Barry took the stage he made a joke about how one day he was going to come into a place that had a tin can on a mike stand with strings running to cans on all the tables.  I confess the joke stung, because all things considered it was a decent bit of rigging to get a sound system up and running for him and no one ever thanked me, that I recall.  After the show I caught up with him, guitar in hand, but he asked that I just give him a chance to get out and get some sleep.  This was the second time I had seen him in a year; I figured I would see him again.

It was most of a decade before that happened.  In the early 80s when I was a disk jockey on contemporary Christian radio station WNNN-FM he was playing a concert hosted by one of our bigger supporters, and at the last minute someone arranged an interview with me on the air.  I don’t remember a lot of that interview, but after it I put on something that would play for a few minutes and walked him to his car.  I didn’t have a guitar, and it didn’t occur to me to sing the thing a capella, and shame on me for that.  I have not seen him since.

We performed this with Cardiac Output, and so there is already a page of lyrics for it here.  Perhaps the reason this is low on my performance list is because of that–in Cardiac Output I sang the first verse, Lori sang the second, we did the third in a sort of Simon & Garfunkle duet in which we kept passing the melody back and forth, and the fourth verse was done as a trio reminiscent of Peter, Paul, and Mary.  I didn’t have the sheet music for those, didn’t take the time to recreate them, and wasn’t sure I could make the soprano sound good if I tried, so this recording does not have the vocals which I really did like.

So here are the words:

Mountain, mountain, great and tall,
Can you teach me anything at all?
I see your greatness, your majesty;
How can greatness grow in me?
The mountain answered, calm and sure,
“What do you want greatness for?
Be humble, serve in love, and wait.
Only God can make one great.”

Sun, oh sun, up in the sky,
All men see you–tell me why
And how such glory here may shine,
So I can make such glory mine.
I got this answer from the sun:
“Do not be foolish, little one.
I am what I was made to be,
And so God’s glory shines in me.”

River, now to you I turn.
Have you some secret I can learn?
You move mountains ev’ry hour;
How can I control such power?
The answer came to me with force:
“The power is from God, of course.
I do whatever He may ask;
He gives me strength to meet the task.

Ocean, ocean, deep and wide,
I’m asking you to be my guide.
In fullness none may challenge you.
I’d like to know such fullness, too.
The ocean roared–I heard him laugh–
“My fullness you would like to have?
Become, then, empty of all else,
And let God fill you with Himself.”

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”

#325: The 2019 Recap

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #325, on the subject of The 2019 Recap.

Happy New Year to you.  A year ago I continued the tradition of recapitulating in the most sketchy of fashions everything I had published over the previous year, in mark Joseph “young” web log post #278:  The 2018 Recap.  I am back to continue that tradition, as briefly as reasonable, so that if you missed something you can find it, or if you vaguely remember something you want to read again you can hunt it down.  Some of that brevity will be achieved by referencing index pages, other collections of links to articles and installments.

For example, that day also saw the publication of the first Faith in Play article of the year, but all twelve of those plus the dozen RPG-ology series articles are listed, described, and linked in 2019 at the Christian Gamers Guild Reviewed, published yesterday.  There’s some good game stuff there in addition to some good Bible stuff, including links to some articles by other talented gaming writers, and a couple contributions involving me one way or another that were not parts of either series.  Also CGG-related, I finished the Bible study on Revelation and began John in January; we’re still working through John, but thanks to a late-in-the-year problem with Yahoo!Groups that had been hosting us we had to move everything to Groups.IO, and I haven’t managed to fix all the important links yet.

At that point we were also about a quarter of the way through the novel Garden of Versers as we posted a Robert Slade chapter that same day, but that entire novel is indexed there, along with links to the web log posts giving background on the writing process.  In October we launched the sixth novel, Versers Versus Versers, which is heating up in three chapters a week, again indexed along with behind-the-writings posts there, and it will continue in the new year.  There are also links to the support pages, character sheets for the major protagonists and a few antagonists in the stories.  Also related to the novels, in October I invited reader input on which characters should be the focus of the seventh, in #318:  Toward a Seventh Multiverser Novel.

I wrote a few book reviews at Goodreads, which you can find there if you’re interested.  More of my earlier articles were translated for publication at the Places to Go, People to Be French edition.

So let’s turn to the web log posts.

The first one after the recap of the previous year was an answer to a personal question asked impersonally on a public forum:  how did I know I was called to writing and composing?  The answer is found in web log post #279:  My Journey to Becoming a Writer.

I had already begun a miniseries on the Christian contemporary and rock music of the seventies and early eighties–the time when I was working at the radio station and what I remembered from before that.  That series continued (and hopefully will continue this year) with:

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it is evident that the music dominated the web log this year.  In May I was invited to a sort of conference/convention in Nashville, which I attended and from which I benefited significantly.  I wrote about that in web log post #297:  An Objective Look at The Extreme Tour Objective Session.  While there I talked to several persons in the Christian music industry, and one of them advised me to found my own publishing company and publish my songs.  After considerable consideration I recognized that I have no skills for business, but I could put the songs out there, and so I began with a sort of song-of-the-month miniseries, the first seven songs posted this year:

  1. #301:  The Song “Holocaust”
  2. #307:  The Song “Time Bomb”
  3. #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal”
  4. #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods”
  5. #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe”
  6. #320:  The Song “Free”
  7. #322:  The Song “Voices”

I admit that I have to some degree soured on law and politics.  Polarization has gotten so bad that moderates are regarded enemies by the extremists on both sides.  However, I tackled a few Supreme Court cases, some issues in taxes including tariffs, a couple election articles, and a couple of recurring issues:

I was hospitalized more than once this year, but the big one was right near the beginning when the emergency room informed me that that pain was a myocardial infarction–in the vernacular, a heart attack.  Many of you supported me in many ways, and so I offered web log post #285:  An Expression of Gratitude.

Most of the game-related material went to the RPG-ology series mentioned at the beginning of this article, and you should visit that index for those.  I did include one role playing game article here as web log post #303:  A Nightmare Game World, a very strange scenario from a dream.

Finally, I did eventually post some time travel analyses, two movies available on Netflix.  The first was a kind of offbeat not quite a love story, Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies unravels When We First Met; the second a Spike Lee film focused on trying to fix the past, Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies unravels See You Yesterday.  For those wondering, I have not yet figured out how I can get access to the new Marvel movie Endgame, as it appears it will not be airing on Netflix and I do not expect to spring for a Disney subscription despite its appeal, at least, not unless the Patreon account grows significantly.

So that’s pretty much what I wrote this year, not counting the fact that I’m working on the second edition of Multiverser, looking for a publisher for a book entitled Why I Believe, and continuing to produce the material to continue the ongoing series into the new year.  We’ll do this again in a dozen months.

#324: CCM Ladies of the Eighties

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #324, on the subject of CCM Ladies of the Eighties.

The number of people in Contemporary Christian and Christian Rock music back in the early eighties didn’t seem all that large, but as I’ve been working through those I remember I perceive that it will take a long time to get through even all those I think worth mentioning.  Thus I decided to do some conglomerate entries, naming and briefly recalling many who probably deserve more attention than I am offering but not from me.  There are a lot, and this article will be substantial because of that, but we’ll break them up, ladies first.

Melissa Manchester, 1975

We featured Evie Tornquist Karlsson when we wrote about Ralph Carmichael, as her version of Pass It On (linked there) probably made the Kurt Kaiser song famous.  Evie is one of several female vocalists whose career began when she was single who then married, kept the maiden name in the middle and added the married name.  Her first album, Everything Is Beautiful, had its US release in 1971 when she was fourteen years old, then was released in Norway two years later; she had four releases in 2007, but they appear to be compilations released in Norway.  She did mostly middle-of-the-road covers of contemporary hits from many artists, but also had a substantial Norwegian career.  Her husband was a Norwegian singer-songwriter.  I remember her for Give them All; my wife won’t take me to the local shopping center for fear I might break out singing Give the mall to Jesus.

Sandi Patty, sometimes Sandy, sometimes Patti, is another contemporary MOR vocalist who did mostly covers, but did them well.  I once characterized her as the Linda Rondstadt of Christian music–great range, fabulous voice with soaring highs, could have sung opera or pretty much anything she wanted.  This early live rendition of How Majestic Is Your Name demonstrates some of her talent.

Twila Paris came from one of those family gospel singing groups, and recorded her first album, Little Twila Paris, in 1965 when she was about seven years old.  She did not record another one until 1980.  She received numerous awards over the course of her career, but I confess I know her name but do not remember a single album or song.

Lilly Green was a singer-songwriter whose third and final album, I Am Blessed, was the only one I ever heard–but the fourth song, Crucify Him (this video has a bit of dead air at the beginning) quickly became a favorite.

Micki Fuhrman‘s third and final album, Look Again, came out in 1981, and I found a favorite song on it as well–so much so that decades later when I saw a cassette copy of the album I bought it to listen in my car.  The song is entitled I Stick With Winners, and is a clever take on why faithfulness.  There were several other good songs on that disc, but I’ve got a lot of girls to cover here.

Looking over Cynthia Clawson‘s discography I recognize nothing but one song, on an album I never saw–but I know it was released to radio stations as a single, under the title Take Us Home for Christmas, and it’s a wonderful Christmas song which at the time was something new and different.  I remember it decades later as one of those new Christmas songs that were worth the vinyl.

On that same subject, Pamela Deuel Hart made Always Christmas the title song of what appears to be her debut album, an otherwise undistinguished collection of familiar Christmas music.  Regrettably, this song, which recalls a notion from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, that it was always winter but never Christmas until He turned her life around so it is always Christmas and never winter, does not appear on a web search for videos.  She released several more albums, but I never heard any of them.

Kelly Willard was one of those artists whose name came into my head but to whom I could make no connection–until I looked up her discography and immediately recognized the title song of her debut album, Blame It On the One I Love, a light jazz-influenced contemporary hit.  Kelly is also known for a duet she did with the previously-covered Paul Clark, Woman…The Man That I Love.

Karen Lafferty released a few albums through Maranatha Music, but her best known song is not on any of them.  Rather, Seek Ye First appears in several multi-artist collections focused on worship music.  I remember it well, because it was used by one of our local ministries as the opening theme of their radio show.  It was one of the first popular songs in the worship music genre, at a time when evangelistic songs were still preferred but slowly fading and a lot of Christian music was moving toward exhortation.

Jamie Owens released two albums under her maiden name, Laughter In Your Soul and Growing Pains.  The latter included the song The Victor, which Keith Green heard and recorded, pushing Jamie to success in the field as the song was picked up by The Second Chapter of Acts and became a standard.  Then she married her producer Dan Collins as they were working on her album Love Eyes.  It, and all her subsequent albums, was released under her name Jamie Owens Collins.  During that time, she managed to write the song Daniel which appears on the album, and to produce it herself without his knowledge, and then arrange for the recording to be played when she walked down the aisle at their wedding.  Unfortunately, no video version of the song was found online.

There were a few albums in our radio collection by Janny Grein, and I recognize the covers for Free Indeed, Covenant Woman, He Made Me Worthy, and Think On These Things–what I don’t recognize is any of the song titles, but I do recognize that she was a Christian folk artist with a long career.

I remember Kathy Troccoli every time I hear another New York-style huge voice alto (think Bette Midler).  The chorus of the title song of her debut album Stubborn Love has stayed with me all these decades, with its lush broadway-style production and her powerful voice coupled with the uplifting message–if you’re not listening to all the linked songs in this article, you probably do want to listen to this one.

Every time I hear the name of Casting Crowns lead vocalist Mark Hall, I wonder if he’s possibly the son of a girl for whom we had two albums.  The first must have been Flying, because it’s the only album listed under her maiden name, Pam Mark, but by the time she released her second album, This Is Not a Dream, she was Pam Mark Hall.  I don’t remember any titles from either of those albums, but her album Never Fades Away has a familiar look and sound, with several familiar song titles on it.  These include Little Miss Much Afraid (with what sounds like Fireworks‘ Marty McCall supporting vocals), Lord of the Starfields, and others not available on video.

I recognize enough Reba Rambo album covers that we must have had a stack of them at the station, including her first, the 1969 release Reality, although I recall no titles from that.  She was more of a contemporary southern gospel artist, but borderline.  I remember the standard He Looked Beyond My Fault (And Saw My Need) from 1971’s Songs My Mother Taught Me, The Land of Oohs and Ahs/Somewhere Over the Rainbow and the title song from from 1977’s Lady, and a couple songs from The Lady Is a Child.  A few of the intervening albums don’t look familiar, but I remember the album Dreamin’.  It appears that her last release was 1982’s Lady Live.  In 1980 she married Dony McGuire, and they released several albums as a duo through 1987.

In creating this list I remembered the name of rocker Leslie Phillips, who later recorded as Sam Phillips and Sam Burnett.  Her album Beyond Saturday Night in 1983 pushed the envelope a bit for solo female CCM vocalists, as demonstrated by Put Your Heart In Me, and I vaguely remember the 1984 album, title song Dancing With Danger.

I’m adding one more artist to this list.  We never played anything, nor indeed had anything, of hers at the radio station, and I can’t vouch for her faith (which she cryptically attributed to the influence of, of all people, Paul Simon).  She was a member of Bette Midler’s backup band The Harlettes before launching her solo career, but Melissa Manchester recorded one song on her 1974 Bright Eyes album that was an expression of faith that most Christians never heard.  Oh Heaven (How You’ve Changed Me) (a slightly different arrangement from the album version, but well done live).  Although when I arranged it for my friend Sue Adams Kirkegard (RIP) I changed the words to the last line of the last verse (to “You’ve got to ask Him in yourself”), it’s still a great song that should be remembered.

That’s not all the girls–we already did articles on Honeytree, Amy Grant, quite a few ladies who were part of larger bands but had separate careers (Sandra Crouch, Tremaine Hawkins, the girls of 2nd Chapter of Acts), and we’ve got at least one more still on the list.  These, though, manage to cover a lot of those who deserve to be included but for whom I would be hard-pressed to remember enough to support a separate article.

I’ve got one for the boys coming up.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258:  British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.
  15. #260:  Lamb and Jews for Jesus.
  16. #262: First Lady Honeytree of Jesus Music.
  17. #264:  How About Danny Taylor.
  18. #266:  Minstrel Barry McGuire.
  19. #268:  Voice of the Second Chapter of Acts.
  20. #272:  To the Bride Live.
  21. #276:  Best Guitarist Phil Keaggy.
  22. #281:  Keith Green Launching.
  23. #283:  Keith Green Crashing.
  24. #286:  Blind Seer Ken Medema.
  25. #288:  Prophets Daniel Amos.
  26. #290:  James the Other Ward.
  27. #292:  Rising Resurrection Band.
  28. #294:  Servant’s Waters.
  29. #296:  Found Free Lost.
  30. #299:  Praise for Dallas Holm.
  31. #302:  Might Be Truth and the Cleverly-named Re’Generation.
  32. #304:  Accidental Amy Grant.
  33. #312:  Produced by Christian and Bannister.
  34. #315:  Don Francisco Alive.