Rhettie and Wally, Sitting in a Tree…
A Beatle Birthday Tribute with A Beetle’s Helpers
Earlier today I posted some background to this story, along with a poem. It’s the poem that Rhettie and Wally refer to near the end of their meeting today.
Rhettie and Wally will be continuing here with ideas they came up with from watching the 1971 animated classic The Point. They discovered The Point by reading lyrics and notes in Genesis’ Lamb Lies Down on Broadway concept album, where one song refers to John Lennon as #9, which led them to #9 Dream, which led to a reference to Harry Nillson, which led them to The Point.
The conversation below recaps some of that, but more importantly, The Point seems like it’s going to be a…turning point (hey, not all puns are my fault) for their project, which this publication will be covering more of now. We’ll go back for some history too. They’re trying to produce some stories and maybe a musical metamockumentary about what Rhettie is seeing in her dreams — where Bug Stu shows up regularly.
Prior to watching and discussing The Point, Wally’s emphasis on simplifying concepts had given Rhettie the impression he probably wouldn’t understand, but would still be helpful, useful, for creating something that others would enjoy and derive some larger benefit from. It not only changed the way she saw him, but the way she was seeing her own hunch about how “There can’t be a point without an egg first.” (It might take some time to really understand what she’s getting at there. The background and poem I linked to above will help a lot.)
They watched The Point together at Matches, the co-working studio, on February 2 of 2021, which happened to be the 50th anniversary of its airing on prime time TV. Now it’s mid-February and they’re meeting at Matches again to follow up on The Point and other timely (especially today when you receive this) connections.
A note about (real-life) Bria’s “concept sketch” up there (As I’ve mentioned before, it was just her concept drawing, but I liked it as is). Somewhat magically, it has now become something Wally’s parents had, as Stu tells it. Wally showed a picture of the banner to Rhettie, but she was disappointingly reticent. Some of the words on it are ones that Rhettie’s mom developed suspicions about in college, so that lept out to Rhettie, since she’d talked to her mom a lot about college. That background might come up in next week’s conversations.
Another Meeting At Matches, After The Point
(Rhettie and Wally are meeting in the small red 8' x 8' conference room.)
Wally: Hashtag transparent and vulnerable. Can you handle that, Rhettie? Are you ready, Rhettie?
Rhettie: I guess that depends on what you’re gonna say. You can start at least.
Wally: Well, I felt pleased with myself, okay and pleased with you, okay maybe just pleased in general, when you sent those nice emojis back about my three ideas…about you and the egg and the point. There I said it. How was that? Can I say that?
Rhettie: You can say that. I guess I’m pleased that you’re pleased, hashtag transparent and vulnerable. Continuing on that hashtag though, or full disclosure or whatever, I could see this going further than I, or probably we, want it to. The transparency stuff. I’m just being transparent.
Wally: Selective transparency. Hmm, that could be deceptive, couldn’t it. Feigning, or like, lulling someone into thinking we’re being transparent when we’re not really. Doing it sometimes so they think they’re getting transparency all or most of the time. I’m just thinking out loud, not accusing you…or admitting anything about me. But it can be kind of a game, right? I wonder if it matters.
Rhettie: I kind of like how we start our meeting by talking about whether or not we’re gonna be honest and transparent about being honest and transparent, or if we even want to be. That’s not weird at all. And you started it.
Wally: But you’re the one who made it weird. Actually, I agree with everything we’ve said on this so far. Weird or not. We’re good, I think.
Rhettie: Okay, but can we go to normie mode now?
Wally: Listen, I’m our anchor to normie-land. That’s why I’m trying to get you to write your stuff a little more…appealingly — for a bigger audience. Immmpact.
Rhettie: Revvvvenue, normie-boy. That’s what you really mean, right? And that’s fine.
Wally: Well, it’s like this. Someone here said this to me once. They said “So do you have something important to say to an audience, or do you just want to be a reed swaying the wind?”
Know what I mean?
Rhettie: Uhh, no. Can’t say I do. Hashtag…
Wally: Okay. It’s from the bible.
Rhettie: All I know about the bible is that there are a couple of funny Monty Python movies about it. And there’s an ark in there somewhere. I’m joking. Somewhat. I don’t know what you mean though.
Wally: The guy who was talking to me was saying we’ve got to make our messages compelling, and we’ve got to draw people in. Like, they won’t go to the trouble of listening if we don’t make it simple and clear enough to be compelling. Not too mundane, and not too complicated, at least at first.
I’m not saying that’s what the bible verse meant. I think that had something to do with Jesus and John the Baptist in the wilderness by a river or something. It doesn’t matter if it’s that John or John Stuart Mill or John F. Kennedy.
Rhettie: Oh, that reminds me. “John” reminds me. I wanted to tell you more about how I got to The Point, I mean the story, the animation, from 1971. It fits here. I mean sort of. And I also added more to the poem I made about shells and cages. I did that because of you actually — what you said about making things simpler. I might have figured out how to do that. To be honest, I also changed some lines because of those three points you sent me. Those were like…good. Maybe I should hire you.
Wally: I don’t know what you’d hire me for. But okay, tell me about your journey to The Point or whatever. I remember it started with the cage thing. Your grandma’s saying about us not needing any more steel, but needing more collies.
Rhettie: Hey you remembered!
Wally: I don’t get the collies thing. But it’s weird so it sticks in my head.
Rhettie: This was just about the steel, which means cages too. So, I’m reading the lyrics and listening to “In the Cage” from…
Wally: Wait. Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. My parents talk about that too. I don’t know it, but I know of it. Just wanted you to know. They were both Genesis fans back in the day.
Rhettie: That song is weird. It does something to me that I don’t really get. That heartbeat thing or something. Anyway it’s not that song that’s important…I mean today. The song after it is “The Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging.” And you know about my bug dreams right, my beetle dreams? Stuard? Some of the voice effects in that song are kinda like what he sounds like, sometimes. Weird. And actually that gave me an idea, but I gotta finish this first thought first.
Towards the end of the song there’s a line “Brother John is stamped #9”.
Wally: The song “Parade of Lifeless Packaging”, right? That title makes me think of your Star Eyes and atom suits thing.
Rhettie: That song, right. We can’t talk about Star Eyes right now. I’ll never get through this all. I get the connection though. Remind me later.
Anyway, that was supposed to be a reference to John Lennon and “#9 Dream”, and I remember R.E.M. covered that song just when I started driving in high school, because it was for a big Darfur awareness and fundraising thing, which is kinda what got me started on the whole more-happiness-less-misery thing I’ve been on pretty much since. I mean, off and on.
Wally: I remember it. I was in college. It was a big deal, especially for kids listening to NPR. And R.E.M.’s cool, even though they were old. I grew up on R.E.M.
Rhettie: So did I. I don’t know which version I like best. R.E.M.’s version makes me cry, because they’re like, spanning through my whole childhood, and it came out when I was first driving, like I said last time. I mean I love it.
OK, and then Jose Gonzalez covered it during my senior year at Purdue, so 2014. And that was a hard year because that’s when I came back to the farm but I couldn’t get the teaching job I expected. And I kinda crashed. I didn’t cry much, but I really didn’t know what I should be doing. It hurt, but nobody hurt me. That was very strange. Everything had always worked out so well, and that biggest thing…didn’t.
Wally: Yeah, you told me how hard that was. I get it. I haven’t been in that situation, but I can imagine, maybe. I never got the impression my stuff ever worked out. But I can imagine if I did and then it didn’t. Especially in that…about biggest time of your life.
Rhettie: Yeah, I’m over that obviously. But this is like, bigger than that now all of a sudden. Wally, it’s like…here I am working on this, and the week before last I’m randomly looking at Mom and Dad’s old records and lyrics, well, not really randomly, but kind of out-of-the-blue comes this “#9 Dream” song again, and this is while I’ve thinking about this dream thing, with Bug Stu, and the Star Eyes, and the Stralfs, and okay you, and we’ve just figured out something big from The Point, and you’re getting it, I mean I’ve finally found someone who gets it, I think, that can help me, and it’s all kind of about a dream, at least the way I think I need to tell it. I mean…f-ck, this is like… Oh god my grandma would cry if she heard me say that. She doesn’t give in on that. Hey let’s listen to John Lennon’s version of it. I want you to listen to it with me. And read the lyrics. I mean it’s a dream, and there’s someone calling his name, and fear, and there’s “through the mirror”…
Wally: I’ve got it here. The Youtube one with lyrics and his face — I mean drawn. We doing earbuds or just play it like on an old transistor radio?
Rhettie: Earbuds. I’ve got it. Ready? Let the ad play then we’ll skip it and start at the same time. (5 second pause) Okay…go.
Wally and Rhettie listen together. Wally notices that Rhettie’s eyes “get shiny” again, but she’s smiling. The song is just under 5 minutes long.
Wally: And the song is still here. That’s what’s getting you, isn’t it. Hey, you’re eyes are shiny, like you say. I guess it’s not just the R.E.M. version that gets you. I get it. All those times. 2007 and R.E.M, then 2014 for you with Jose Gonzalez’s version, and now it’s 2021, and you just found The Point through that Genesis album, which is clearly huge. And on your way, there’s that song again, by John Lennon this time. 7, 14, 21. That’s a 7’s thing, and you’ve said Stu has a thing about that, in your dreams.
Rhettie: Even without the 7’s thing, but yeah. It keeps coming up, and there’s obviously this dream thing in this deal we’re talking about. I’m not a woo-woo girl. I don’t care about that. I have my reasons. Good reasons. Let’s forget about the woo-woo numbers thing. But yeah, it’s that it’s still here, the song, “#9 Dream”, again. Now.
Wally: You probably know one of Lennon’s big things was the number nine? Born on October 9th and all kinds of nine stuff. Even #9 Dream topped out at #9 on the charts, which I’m actually kind of suspicious of, but that’s how it shows in the books.
Rhettie: OK, listen…I can’t explain all of my reasoning about this, but it’d be OK with me if we do a numbers thing with Stu’s story, and 7 shows up a lot. It’s not me, cuz I’m not woo-woo, but it might be good if we stick to the 7 thing with Stu. No big deal on it, just a little thing. There’s some symbolism about the past and changes, but I gotta work on it.
Wally: I like it.
Rhettie: I’m sorry I got kinda…
Wally: It’s okay. Hashtag transparent and vulnerable, and I mean me, I kinda liked it. I don’t know if I should say that.
Rhettie: Yeah, shut up. Geez, I don’t know why that got to me so fast. I didn’t want to cry in front of you.
Wally: Hey, what about that poem? We’ll skip mine. Will you read yours?
Rhettie: Ewww, I don’t think I can read it right now. I mean, it’s not that it’s sappy or anything, but when things seem to be coming together after a long time I cry easy I guess. I’ve done enough of that today, right? It’s got all this stuff about a shell and cage and egg…so it’s gonna feel like it’s coming together too much. At least today.
Wally: It’s totally okay. I think we’re gonna get somewhere, and I think you’re feeling it, and it’s like a relief, and…I don’t know. But I kinda like that you don’t want to cry in front of me. I think I just like that it means there’s a…me relative to your you. Hmh. Maybe that’s weird, but like, more than just a somebody. Or something.
Well anyway, you don’t need to bring in the steel, right?
Rhettie: Hm-hmh, yeah.
Wally: And there’s a reason I’m trying to figure this out, in me, okay? This is like, a new area for me. I thought I understood this stuff pretty well. It’s part of the whole theater thing I used to do, and helping with pitches now. The story. But this feels different. Something about this is different.
Could you just give me a copy of that poem? Or send it?
Rhettie: Yeah. I’ll send it right now. And I put hypens in to make it read right — so I’d know where to mash words together fast, for the rhythm. That’ll work for you too. And you can tell me if I should change something. It’s kinda long. And goes from my usual complicated/wordy style, like you say, to very simple at the end. You’ll see why that happened. That’s what I discovered that helps me keep things simple, like I mentioned at the very start today. It’s fun to me.
Wally: So you and Stu take things from 9’s to 7’s. You think John Lennon would be okay with that?
Rhettie: (Eyes getting shiny again but smiling. Pauses.) Would you stop? I want to say yes. I’m saying he’s back to being a happy Star Eye now. Maybe Stu, or Allie, can tell me for sure.
Wally nods, not that she’s looking at him. She’s looking at her phone now. He waits a few seconds but she doesn’t look up, so he just lightly and kind of timidly squeezes her shoulder with his hand on the way out and says goodbye. He’s a little surprised by how’s she’s reacting, but he remembers that he doesn’t really know her very well in spite of their hours and hours of conversation on the project, because it’s always about The Project.
After Wally’s gone she nods and says, “That’s beyond the wall.”
Then, just lingering with her phone for a minute, thinking about replaying “#9 Dream”, she scrolls down and notices the album Walls and Bridges, which strikes her as funny because of what she just said. She clicks on show more and sees that “#9 Dream” is actually from Walls and Bridges, and that it’s the 7th song.
She shakes her head, closes Youtube, and turns off her screen. Then she makes some notes, packs up her things, sprays the table with disinfectant, pushes in the chairs, turns off the lights, and puts the door stop under the open door, the way she found it.
Next time: Wally’s Copernican Poem