Commentary 17: Wounded Kite At :17

We finally return to “present” time, allowing our hero to discover that things have changed…but not for the better. His homecoming focuses on the effects of extended time travel on the body as well as his ensuing confusion when things aren’t quite right. To make matters worse, this may no longer be a time travel story.

Other tidbits:

  • This is hands down my favorite chapter title. It’s also the one that prompted me to get out of bed to start my numeric title brainstorming list. The coincidental placement of this chapter works perfectly too, as the narrator is erratically jerked around like a wounded kite.
  • Requiring a traveler to retrace their blinks on their way back home was loosely inspired by the TV show Sliders featuring a group stuck “sliding” from parallel universe to parallel universe. (Not time travel, but similar in general concept.) It was originally set up that the alternate worlds went in a set order, but they later abandoned that aspect of the mythology. I stuck with it.
  • We have another nod to Quantum Leap when the narrator faces a mirror image that is not his own. His new look with “a wide goatee” alludes to the cover art of the book, though it’s not an exact match and thus intentionally ambiguous.
  • At one time there were lots of locations mentioned by name, but I eventually pared them all down under the overarching “no names” rule. But I just couldn’t take out the reference to Town Spa Pizza. I grew up on it, I love it, I send anyone who visits the greater Boston area there even though it’s well outside of the city, and besides the Red Sox it’s probably the only other thing I truly miss about the East Coast. (For the record, my pizza of choice is Pineapple, Broccoli, and Bacon. It’s not on the menu, but it should be…)
  • Back To The Future alert: “Mom, Mom is that you?”
  • For the record, I’m quite proud of my dissertation on sex ed as it applies to time travel. This is also where the earlier line about Nelson’s father “saving himself for marriage” pays off.
  • Having Nelson and the brother be in a relationship together wasn’t pre-planned. I actually didn’t even know what was going to be in the tree house until the narrator flipped open the trap door. But once he did, it seemed to be a very logical turn of events. It also opens up a thought provoking question about fate, destiny, cupid, soulmates, etc.
  • Note that the narrator acknowledges that if his older self exists at all, he’d still be in California.
  • The conversation with the brother in the kitchen is essentially an alternate version of the previously unseen “I can’t believe you want to marry this guy!” exchange.
  • It distracted from the narrative so I took it out, but the titles of the other Local Boy albums are abbreviated as “LBBS” (BarnStormer) and “LBCiQ” (Local Boy Calls It Quits). The “Quits” title is just a nickname, while the full title emulates the naming conventions of US-Only classic 1960s records like The Beatles’ Second Album or The Rolling Stones, Now!
  • The letter from Harry Chapin’s lawyer gives us a small peek into the impact of the stolen songs, while Local Boy’s pledge to “donate” the songs to up and coming artists illustrates both his guilt and how the timeline might resolve itself.
  • Coverville is a nod to my favorite podcast, and one I was proudly featured on recently.
  • I left the Guns ‘N Roses bit in as I’m still not holding my breath for Chinese Democracy to ever see the light of day. And even if it does, from the narrator’s perspective it’s only 2002.
  • The act of “giving Nelson’s Mom the Heisman” in reference to a break up is a brilliant Jon Mack-ism. When you look at the pose of the trophy, you really can’t create a better analogy.
  • “A Collection of Other People’s Songs” is borrowed from the title of a Carter USM covers compilation EP.
  • I painted myself into a bit of a corner with the removal of the neck bruise and the powers that it symbolized, but again it was something that just had to be done at this point in the story to keep the time travel logic on course.
  • There are 38 known musical references in this chapter.

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