Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Blue Boat Home

On yesterday's post, "William Alizio's links to other stories," I left this comment at 9:20 this morning:

The rainbow is another link to 42, since a rainbow has a radius of 42 degrees.

At 10:50, William Wright left this comment (quoted only in part here):

While in the process of playing hymn #172 "In Humility Our Savior", I suddenly realized that the hymnbook was green. Based on your dream, I became curious what the lettering on the spine was like. Sure enough, gold lettering "Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" running down the spine.

[. . .]

Lastly, blue does come into this as well. Hymn #172 is also the tune for a song that was my daughter's favorite for awhile - the song is called "Blue Boat Home" arranged by Peter Mayer (original by Rowland Pritchard back in the 1800s), which likens the Earth to a boat flying through space with all of us as passengers.

I looked up and listened to "Blue Boat Home," which is apparently a Unitarian Universalist hymn. (UUs have a thing for space. I remember them reciting some thing about "the womb of stars" the handful of times I attended their services in Columbus, Ohio.)

It's funny how the same melody can have a completely different feel when the lyrics and instrumentation are changed. "In Humility, Our Savior" is a "sacrament hymn" and thus brings back the smell of white bread and chlorine. Funny how chlorine -- not incense or whatever, but chlorine -- should be a "churchy" smell for me, but sacrament and baptisms were almost the only times I had any exposure to chlorinated water growing up. "Blue Boat Home" evokes no such memories, and I rather like it. Here's the first stanza:

Though below me, I feel no motion standing on these mountains and plains.
Far away from the rolling ocean still my dry land heart can say:
I’ve been sailing all my life now, never harbor or port have I known.
The wide universe is the ocean I travel and the earth is my blue boat home.

Googling the lyrics led me to a blog called Blue Boat Home, and one of the recent posts there caught my eye: "One Night in Cleveland," because of its first paragraph:

In 1996, my sister and her boyfriend had just moved into a new apartment in Pittsburgh, and they invited my family to join them for Christmas. I decided to take the bus there from my college in Grinnell, Iowa, which meant I had layovers in Des Moines, Chicago, and Cleveland. As I recall, the Cleveland layover was from roughly 11pm to 2am.

The year 1996 was an important year in my own life, and I was living in the Cleveland area at that time. (Seeing that year made me think "When will be the next 1996?" -- meaning the next year to have the same calendar. Next year, it turns out.) The mention of "college in Grinnell" also jumped out at me, as I did first grade at Grinnell Elementary School when I lived in New Hampshire.

The post is an anecdote. At the bus terminal in Cleveland, the author met a scruffy-looking man who gave him "a drinking glass that had clearly been stolen from a restaurant." Later, in Oakland, the author runs into a similar-looking person on the sidewalk:

It was a different guy but seemed cut from the same cloth. I opened my backpack and took out the drinking glass. I looked him straight in the eye and said, "I met a friend of yours this morning in Cleveland. He'd want you to have this." I gave him the glass and walked off.

That's the end of the story. I'm not sure what relevance it has, but I have a hunch that it will turn out to have some, so I'm documenting it for future reference. (Tim made Strieber drink something from a glass he had taken from the hotel bathroom, but that's a rather tenuous connection.)

Now for the real syncs.

Shortly after 4:00 this afternoon, I went out for early dinner, as I have classes from 6:00 to 9:30 with no breaks. The Alice Merton song "No Roots" was playing in the restaurant:

The chorus is "I've got no roots, but my home was never on the ground," repeated many times. Compare this to "Blue Boat Home": Although I feel as if I'm on solid ground, in fact "I’ve been sailing all my life now, never harbor or port have I known."

As soon as that song was over, the next song that came on was "Little Talks" by Of Monsters and Men:

In this song, the repeated line is "Though the truth may vary, this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore" -- a very strong sync with "Blue Boat Home," since both imply that it is only in death that we reach the shore.

I was not familiar with either of these songs before. I made a note of the lyrics I was hearing and looked them up later.

After I'd finished eating, I sat in the restaurant for a while reading The Philosopher's Pupil, by Iris (literally "Rainbow") Murdoch. I turned to page 172 and thought, "Hey, that's the hymn number William Wright mentioned," the hymn that has the same tune as "Blue Boat Home." This is what I read on that page:

His bath was a large boat-shaped affair made of white tiles with blunt ends. . . . the steaming water fell from the taps at a controlled temperature of forty-two degrees Centigrade.

The very first sentence on the next page, 173, is this:

He had not been there [the Methodist church in his hometown] for a long time and felt a weird shock when he recognised the numbers of the hymns.


WanderingGondola said...

If you didn't see this earlier comment, better read that first. I'll rattle off some other relevant Truman Show finds here.

The biggest difference between screenplay draft and movie is the setting: where the movie places Truman's life on a fictional island in Florida, the screenplay just uses New York City, and Truman's workplace is specifically in an officer tower in Lower Manhattan. Another change is that, while Truman is almost 30 in the movie, in the screenplay he's 34. One frustrated remark he makes to his best friend: "Tick-[f-ing]-tock. That's the [f-ing] problem, Marlon. I'm thirty-four. I'm older than Jesus Christ."

Some other changes concern Truman's love interest, Sylvia, the only person in his world whose care for him isn't based in work or money. She's introduced as an extra in the show -- named Lauren Garland in the movie, Lauren Powers in the script -- and attempts are made to keep her away from Truman in favour of the woman the show-runners want him to marry. After they finally get a little time together and Sylvia tells him his life is a lie, a man hastily cast as her father says they're moving to Fiji/Australia (movie/script) and takes her away, effectively removing her from the show. The synchy thing is both Garland and Powers appear in the Korman novel summary you included in an earlier post.

Now, why I'm posting all this here: For the climax of the movie, Truman's built up courage enough to elude his captors and audience for an unknown amount of time. When finally located, he's sailing a boat some distance from the shore -- a big turn for him, having been manipulated into fearing water his whole life. The boat isn't blue, but one could say Truman's seeking not just truth and love but a real home.

Furthermore, several shots are taken from the front of the boat, showing its prow is in the shape of an eagle's head; I think eagles were mentioned somewhere recently, but one place I remembered seeing them is on the Empire State Building. This video points out two more details, at 10:12 and 11:20 respectively: the boat is named the Santa Maria (after the ship Christopher Columbus used to reach the Americas), and its sails are marked with the number 139, referencing the Psalm.

One smaller thing. At 1:31, the movie trailer uses Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime", a version of which I linked a while ago in relation to the Half-Life games and their protagonist, Gordon Freeman. (Strangely, my RSS app is the only place I can find that comment now.)

And a non-Truman sync to finish off. A few hours after reading Mr. Wright's "Gordon Kor" post when it was new (also calling back to Freeman for me), while out in the city I had to double-take at some poster ads for a perfume. I'd passed it by several times before and noted the designer's first name (appearing again in syncs recently), but now the surname links too. Hm, looking at that page, the perfume's description has personal relevance as I'm currently considering travel. And I guess Kor also sounds much like a crow or raven call.

WanderingGondola said...

This is getting ridiculous. Out of boredom I checked out another Truman-related video by that same channel, and the 17th item in its countdown nearly made me fall off my chair. Truman's story was mostly inspired by Michael Jackson, whom had cameras on him for nearly his whole life. I've previously told you something of what he meant to me.

They are the Eggmen

In connection with my recent posts about Eleanor Cameron's Mushroom Planet  novels, both Wandering Gondola and William Wright have drawn...