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It's A Wonderful Marit

Once upon a time, there was a marit (a kind of djinn) named Ginny. She lived in Manhattan with her partner, Mirabel, but that is a story for another time. Today, she was wandering downtown to pick up a gift for her great-granddaughter when she noticed a distraught man who was sitting on the ground and rubbing a lamp with all his energy and concentration.

It wasn’t even one of those lamps like you would see in Aladdin. It was a small oil lamp for a table or camping out, but quite obviously the man was rubbing it with a purpose. Her curiosity piqued, she stepped right in front of him, towering over him and his lamp.

“Did you have any particular wishes in mind that I might be able to help you with?” she inquired.

Of course, he was stunned, because while he had been desperately rubbing the lamp, he did not expect to actually have anything happen.

He stammered a bit before managing to get his question out, but manage he did. “Are you a genie? Really?”

Ginny paused prior to responding, but finally said “Let’s assume for the moment that I am a genie, ok? Let’s try to work through what you need so badly that you would rub a camping lamp hoping for one!”

He nodded tentatively.

“Great. First thing – I am not dressed for sitting on the ground at the moment. Do you mind if we find a place to sit and chat? Perhaps some tea or other drink? And what should I call you?”

“I’m George. And yeah, I’m probably a bit dehydrated on top of everything.” He stood up and the two started walking down 5th Ave.

“How about there?” she suggested, pointing to a fenced in seating area.

“But it’s fu-“ A couple of men stood up abruptly to leave. “Okay, there.”

The hostess seated them and as soon as they placed their orders, Ginny directed him to tell her everything.

“I’m the president of a small credit union. Today one of my employees was taking a deposit down to where we keep our reserves and somehow between taking it from our counting room and the entrance to the other bank, it disappeared.

He searched high and low before finally – two hours later – telling me what had happened. I’ve been trying to figure it out, now, too. And I was supposed to be going on a trip with my wife and now I can’t do that until this problem is fixed.”


She raised her eyebrow. “Employee?”

“Well, it’s my uncle William.”

She shook her head. “I have to ask this. I’m sorry. What’s your last name, George?”

He hung his head. “I know. I know. It’s too absurd for words. I blame my mother, who thought it would be sweet. But yes, my last name is Bailey. And yes, my uncle is known as Billy.”

“You do remember that we are assuming I am a genie, right? Not an angel?!”

“I had no idea how one would summon an angel! And I’m not exactly religious. So…”

She laughed, gently. “It’s okay. Let’s try going back to the beginning. Mind if I join you to talk to your uncle?”

“I can’t very well tell him that I got a genie to help me! Or an angel, I suppose. So, how do I explain you?”

“Tell him I’m a private detective.”

“Wait – you’re a private detective?”

“No – we’re just going to act as if I am for the time being, okay? If you vouch for me to him, he will believe you – I assume you have a reputation of never lying?”

He blushed, but he also nodded.

The credit union proved to be only a couple blocks away and Uncle Billy was waiting there, pacing back and forth and ringing his hat in his hands repeatedly.

They took seats in the small conference room, with George explaining that she was a private detective and was there to help. Billy accepted it without a second thought.

Ginny pulled out a pad and pen and started with basics: Who, what, when, where, how, and why.


Who? Billy. The employees. Finally, George.
What? $50,000
When? Left the counting room at 9:15am. Got to the bank at 9:37am. Got back to the counting room at 10:52. Talked to all the employees. Told George at 11:15.
Where? Not yet determined, but almost certainly between those locations.
How? Not yet determined.
Why? Not yet determined.

“George, how long is the walk from here to the bank?”

“Ten minutes for me. Fifteen minutes for Billy, usually.”

“Okay. So, I know what happened, because it has to be what happened.”

Two incredulous faces pinned her with their eyes. “What?!” “HOW!?”

“Billy, before you left the building, did you have a conversation with somebody or more likely an argument?”

“I did! I forgot – but yes, we had a brief spat as I was about to go outside.”

“Do you know his name and where I could find him?”

“Yes – he’s been a nuisance to me for years, but he keeps some money here all the time and gives us a hard time for how we conduct our business.”

“Let me guess. He runs another bank?”

“No, that’s not it. He runs a ceramics shop and he makes things out of clay. He’s just a few doors down. Part of why he uses us is he can roll himself –”

“—here in his wheelchair. Got it. Gentlemen, I saw the shop when George and I were on our way here. I will be right back.”



Ginny walked over to the ceramics shop, where the proprietor was sitting at a low desk, painstakingly detailing a ewer. She identified herself, showed him her private detective’s ID, and he interrupted.

“Is this about the money! Thank god! I had no idea what to do with it when I got back here and found I had $50,000 that wasn’t mine. I don’t think I have any mob people among my clients, but you never know.” He rolled over to his file cabinet, unlocked it, and pulled out a satchel. “Would you please return it to its owner? I would be incredibly grateful.”

“It would be my pleasure. Can we give you a small reward of some sort?”

If your client would care to place an order or two, that would be lovely. Beyond that, really – I didn’t do anything.”

“Sure – I will pass the order along shortly. Thanks I think I know just the thing.” She grinned.



She made her way back to the credit union and was let into the conference room. She dropped the satchel on the table.

“He didn’t know where it came from and was horrified when he discovered it. He asked me to please return it to its owners, asking only for an order or two as a reward of any sort. Billy? You are off the hook!”

Billy coughed and then laughed and finally got himself together and left Ginny and George together.

“Really,” George asked, “How did you figure out where it was and why did it have to be there?”
“But George Bailey! Of course it had to be with the Potter!”

He collapsed, laughing til he cried. After a few minutes, he managed to thank her a few times. Then, “So, are all my wishes done?”

Her turn to laugh, if not quite that hard. “Do remember, that all we did was assume I was a genie, George. The only magic I used on this was analysis. Well, that and remembering the movie. But do me a favor? Is your mother still alive?”

“Yes?”

“Ask her if she ever annoyed a genie or made a silly wish, would you? Way too many coincidences in this one!” With that, she took her leave, stopping only to place an order for herself with the potter.

With a bounce in her step – not exactly an unusual thing for her – she looked forward to telling her partner, “I got to pretend to be a genie today!”
joshwriting: (Default)
I was re-watching National Treasure 2, and noticed, in the credits that it was written by "The Wibberleys."

I know of an author whose last name was Wibberley, though I'd been pretty sure he had died more than a decade before this movie was made. Still, I went alooking.

Leon (Leonard) Wibberly was the author of one of my all time favorite books, The Mouse that Roared - also a wonderful movie.

Cormac Wibberly (the husband half of the team of screenplay writers) is his son, and did the two National Treasure movies along with several other works.

Color me amused.
joshwriting: (Default)
As part of my research for my Improbable Histories class, I watched a couple movies I have not seen previously, Time Quest and Time Changer.

Time Quest asks and answers the question "What if JFK had not been assassinated?" A time traveler comes back to November 22, 1963 and prevents the shooting of President Kennedy, in the process changing many features of the years to come. The cold war, the space race, Viet Nam, music, future presidencies, and his own family are among the areas on which we get to see some of the influence.

Time Changer works in the opposite direction. It starts in 1890 and one of the characters is sent into the future where what he sees may influence his actions in 1890 - in the hopes of causing that future world to never be what comes to pass.

Time Changer is a tad heavy-handed with its morality, but then again it is quite upfront about its status as a Christian movie. The conceit is that a few carefully written words in a minor religious treatise are (will be) enough to bend society a hundred years (and a bit) later one way or another - that saying the wrong thing in this book will lead to a largely godless society: ours.

Time Quest is, perhaps, no less heavy-handed, but in treatment of the Kennedy clan and its legends. It takes potshots at others along the way, but focuses on a) why did this intervention happen, and b) what are the results of it. Personalities are painted with a jaundiced eye, with nobody put on a pedestal.

I can't honestly recommend Time Changer. It is a bit too shrill even given its pre-stated biases.

Time Quest is poorly acted and its pacing and scripting are odd and uneven, but the story is interesting to me, at least. I love the little twists and the idealist in me loves the world that is created.
joshwriting: (Default)
I just rewatched the movie Pump Up the Volume. It was a product of the early 90's that I brought my students at my school to see. In many ways, the messages it gives from then still or again resonate now.

The movie addresses, among other things, the tyrrany of standardized testing in terms o school performance and evaluation. The practice of pushing students out of a school to inrease the appearance o perormance results isold, not new. Compounmd that with keeping those self-same students on the rolls until you get the money for them, and you have the basis of an incredibly corrupt system.

Reading news excerpts over the last few years shows Superintendents, Principals, Guidance Counselors, and Teachers all caught cheating/lying to increase their students' scores on these high stakes tests. What lessons are we, are you taught by this behavior?

I wrote the linked essay not too long after I saw the movie for the first time: http://www.geocities.com/josh_shaine/everybody_knows.html (I apologize to those who are offended by Yahoo/Geocities sites.)

(I like the Leonard Cohen version better than the Conrete Blonde version, but for some reason the CB version is the only one that made it onto the sound track! Grr...)
joshwriting: (Default)
Movies for Josh to Watch: Ghost World (at Vainglory's recommendation); Amelie (having just watched the star in another flick, "He loves me... He loves me not")

Movies for others to watch:
Topsy-Turvy (Gilbert and Sullivan)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (A brilliant adaptation of Ray Bradbury's work)
joshwriting: (Default)
Chocky (book by John Wyndham) seems to have aired as a British TV mini-series in the mid-80's, with two sequels. I have to see it.

What else do I have to see?
joshwriting: (Default)
...that I would love everybody I know to see or have seen.

Amazing Grace and Chuck (Gregory Peck, Alex English, Jamie Lee Curtis - 1987)
Buckaroo Banzai (Christopher Lloyd, Ellen Barkin, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, Peter Weller - 1984)
Flap (Anthony Quinn, Claude Akins - 1970)
Harold and Maude (Bud Cort, Ruth Gordon, Vivian Pickles - 1971)
If... (Malcolm McDowell - 1968) (O Lucky Man and Britannia Hospital are sort of continuations, though not necessary to the first flick - and if you saw the second or third, you would not know the first existed)
Kind Hearts and Coronets (Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Valerie Hobson - 1949)
The King of Hearts (Alan Bates, Genevieve Bujold - 1966)
The Man from Snowy River (Kirk Douglas , Jack Thompson , Tom Burlinson , Sigrid Thornton , Lorraine Bayly , Chris Haywood - 1982)
The Man in the White Suit (Alec Guiness - 1951)
Slither (James Caan , Peter Boyle , Sally Kellerman , Louise Lasser - 1973)

I am sure there are more.

Descriptions are available at MSN Entertainment as well as other places. I do not agree with all of their judgments, but the plots are pretty on target. Trailers for some of the films are out on the net somewhere - post 1980's have the best shot.
joshwriting: (Default)
Mentoring the unwilling or unsure is dangerous. Mentoring them in dangerous areas is even more dangerous.

I was listening to "Wrapped Around My Finger" earlier today and then wandered into the living room, where Susan is watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

This is a pair of depressing tales about the training of folks in one's art. CTHD, in particular, takes what could have been a set of promising, love-filled lives, and sets them turn to mist and despair.

She cannot bow to her true teacher/master, cannot accept that for all she has done, he is still beyond her.

He is seduced by her youth and potential - not seduced sexually, though it might as well have been so. He relaxes just enough, just too much.

*shakes head*

Too close? Not close enough? And, when her life has been redeemed, by external measure, perhaps, she determines that it has not.

A part of me wants to treat it in the same way that I wanted to treat the end of Brazil. Our hero escapes. He goes beyond the bounds of where harm can befall him.

Here, I want to believe in Zoltan: "Wish comes true." Matter of factly, it is so.

But we know it is not, that that legend is false. All our hopes for the future dissolve into mist.

All from putting too much trust in one who cannot yet be trsuted, who may never be able to be trusted, but certainly not yet.

Yet, without that trust, would there have been a chance of her reclamation? Would another have been able to do what the Wudan master could not?

Yet, he had to do it that way, for to do otherwise would have been untrue to his self, his chi.

*sigh*

Alas, Obi-wan. It is ever the way.

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