Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 6

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 6

…You must be from China sister. That is clear down by the lake….

Once the Constance and Fanny retrieves their suitcases, they now must find their way to the University of Chicago. At least when traveling by train, the paths leading away from downtown Union Station are much easier to follow.

“I can see the skyscrapers from here, but this airport is out in the boonies,” laments the frustrated 3rd grade teacher.

As if on cue, a boxy yellow car pulls up alongside them.

“Where are you headed ladies?” yells the bold driver of a Checker automobile painted in striking yellow with a Taxi light affixed to the roof. “It’s mighty cold out and ain’t nowhere I can’t take you.”

“That’s a triple negative,” the librarian mentions.

Shush,” Constance pokes.

“We’re looking for the University of Chicago,” Fanny blurts “Is it nearby?”

You must be from China sister. That is clear down by the lake.

“We saw a thousand lakes on the way here, which one is it near?”

“Are you for real? Michigan, come-on, that big one over that way!” Eddie points.

“My friend was merely kidding sir; we know where the university is located. We just need a reliable way to get there.”

6137 South Kimbark

“My name is Eddie, not sir and Avondale Avenue will take us to Lakeshore Drive, bing-bam-boom.” Eddie Dombroski has been a cabby since his discharge from the Army at the end of the Second World War. “That’s unless the wind drifted that snow we got last night, then we could cut down State Street to 55th.”

“Splendid! 6137 Kimbark and don’t spare the horses.”

“Horses?”

“That is just a saying Eddie,” explains Constance. “Just get us there quickly.”

“I don’t speed on slick roads are Missy, but I do know all the shortcuts.”

“We have the utmost confidence in your driving.” They have no other alternatives, but just in case, that yellow taxi is built like a Sherman Tank.

“Let me introduce us: my name is Carolyn and this is Sara.” She points to Fanny, fending off an approaching elbow with a timely wink. “We are visiting a high school friend who has made it to the big time.”

“You mean like Benny Goodman, or maybe that Rita Hayworth? She ain’t got nothing on you, if I must say so myself.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 8

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 5

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 5

…“Chicago sure looks different from the air,” comments Constance in a moment  of rare wonderment…

1950 Chicago

The large two-propeller airplane from Florida approaches Chicago from the southeast and the terrain of some 15,000 feet below is changing radically as it descends; from the hills of Tennessee and Kentucky, the Ohio River Valley to the sprawling farm fields of the Midwestern Plain.

And then out of nowhere sprouts a cluster of buildings; one taller than the next, looking like they are daring the Great Lake called Michigan to wash them away.

“Chicago sure looks different from the air,” comments Constance in a moment of rare wonderment. She is well-traveled, some would say worldly, but she is accustomed to the perspective provided by a plodding train car or the rolling deck of a steamship.

“This is the view God has.” From Fanny’s perspective, that is exactly how she sees it.

Flight 12 from Tallahassee lands at Chicago Orchard, even though commercial air travel to and from Chicago is just revving up. The airfield had its beginnings as a Douglas Aircraft assembly plant, with close ties to the war effort. Just as World War II pulled up the United States by its bootstraps, out of the depths of the Great Depression, so did war-related industries create new venues for a growing nation.

Once the passengers walk down the stairs of the Pan American airplane, they are escorted to a newly built circular structure resembling giant spider; separate “legs” meant to serve the individual companies using the airport. Most of current air traffic moves cargo across the country, so the freight terminal, at the far end of the field, is actually busier.

After retrieving their suitcases, they now must find their way to the University of Chicago. At least when traveling by train, the paths leading away from downtown Union Station are much easier to follow.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 7

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 4

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 4

…Let’s get our winter clothes packed and hit the road…

 Fanny points out that A-Bomb was tested out in the American Southwest..

img004

Fanny Renwick

“Yes,” deep breath, “but the spy was traced back to the Manhattan Project at Argonne National Laboratory, which is out west of Chicago.”

Fallow Deer of Argonne

“I didn’t know where we were. It looked like out by Campbell Lake, all the trees and country roads and such, though I did get some great pictures of those Fallow Deer.” Fanny was fascinated with animals, like these white deer, even took color pictures of something white.

“We were tailing a suspected double agent, that German spy in Ally clothing, on his way out to his drop area, not sightseeing for local animals.”

Constance fully expects to bring things into focus most times for Fanny, who disarms people in ways that her boss cannot. That occasional blank stare takes the attention away from Connie’s intense presence.

“You make sure Betty (the upstairs neighbor) looks after Molly. And tell her it may be a while this time. Let’s get our winter clothes packed and hit the road!

         A Christmas adventure is calling.

Having had a clarifying conversation with their prospective client Mr. Kamen, there is no doubt as to CCI’s involvement in the case of the missing the missing scientist, Mr. Willard Libby. There seems to be some problem getting unbiased P.I.’s in that city of Al Capone.

Constance and Fanny wait to board a Pan American DC-3, Flight 12 non-stop from Tallahassee Commercial Airport, a one runway operation, to the newly named Chicago Orchard [Douglas] Airport. Their fellow fliers, gathered in nice straight line, are an interesting mix of snow birds (an new trend for those who are originally from the north, but live in the south during the winter months) and holiday travelers (who want to experience the fairy-tale world of Christmas at Marshall Fields department store, on the famed Michigan Avenue of Chicago).

Not that any one would recognize either one of the women. Constance has her hair in a bun, dressed in a lace-collared blouse and calf-length shirt, looking every bit the 3rd grade school teacher. Fanny is wearing black rimmed glasses, like she would be helping you find a library book. Perfect disguises, “Two frumps on a log,” is how Connie put it.

They will need to blend into the college scene they are about to enter. If biochemist Martin Kamen is being watched by anyone, the two Floridian women cannot stand out any more than they already do; at 5’8 apiece, Constance and Fanny loom over most their gender brethren.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 6

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 3

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 3

…Private investigation pays no mind to holidays, sleep or any other aspect normal life…

Fanny Renwick, walking tall and proud after being out for the morning, returns with her not-so-subtle Polaroid & its “electric eye” hanging from her neck and 5 crisp $100 bills (+ a $5 for interest) in her hot little hands.

“Our mister Simms saw me taking pictures and accused me of working for his ex-wife. Boy he sure is paranoid, perhaps a tinge of guilt no doubt about his overdue bill?  He couldn’t reach for his wallet fast enough and you should have seen the moths fly out!” As a rule, Fanny personifies unfettered child-like joy.

“But I told him I would have him castrated if he didn’t give us the money,” Unfettered joy meets Constance’s unforgiving reality.

“Ouch Connie, that’s hitting below the belt.”

“We have the dough, don’t we Fanny?” She often brings her friend down hard, just to balance out the woman’s default sweetness.

“While you were out, we got a telegram from Chicago, must have cost a small fortune, reads like a book… Somewhat cryptic, I must say. This guy wants us to come and look for a missing scientist.” The glazed strawberry blonde Caraway whisks her long hair back away from her face. “Here, what do you make of this.”

Dear Fanny, no really, dear Fanny looks at the half-crumpled paper, struggling to read the choppy text. “What is a.s.a.p.”

“Always say a prayer.” Not true. “That is short for RIGHT Damn NOW!”

“But it’s Christmas Eve Connie! Do we have to work?” Private investigation pays no mind to holidays, sleep or any other aspect normal life. “And that’s an awful long drive and the car is at Sam’s Garage.”

“We’ll fly to Chicago… they have Christmas too you know and maybe even real snow!”

“Oh snow, swell.” Fanny loves it. “Hey, isn’t Manhattan in New York, not Illinois?” Fanny points out upon reading the word ‘MANHATTAN in the wire from Chicago’.

“The atomic bombs that took out Japan, ending that stupid war, were developed by scientists working for the government; top secret stuff.” She proceeds to connect a few dots. “Manhattan Project, project, get it? Remember that spy case we were working at the end of the war?”

The light bulb goes on above Fanny’s scattered little brain, but still cannot connect the dots. “That was in New Mexico though,” she points out.

“Yes,” deep breath, “but the spy was traced back to the Manhattan Project at Argonne National Laboratory, which is out west of Chicago.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 5

Computer Generated Imagery… Not!

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Practical Effects

You Thought Were

Computer Generated

One of the most important aspects of the film-making is keeping the audience immersed in the world it’s being shown. Whether the characters are in a fantasy world or jumping out of a moving car, the audiences’ willingness to go along with the story is, in large part, due to the viewer’s willingness to suspend disbelief. The goal of a filmmaker is to keep the audience so entranced that it’s only afterward that they begin to question or wonder how some of the amazing feats were accomplished.

And because of the advancements in CGI, many audience members simply write off the incredible as ordinary. Many believe that the stunts are simply CGI when, in fact, some of the most powerful scenes in recent memory have been real, practical, extremely dangerous stunts.

10. The Dark Knight

Christopher Nolan is something of a realist. One of the best directors of his generation, he has resisted the switch to digital and has continued to shoot on film; it’s not surprising, then, that he’d do everything in his power to make CGI as limited as possible in his blockbuster works. A daring filmmaker who continues to tell stories in a unique narrative style and voice, Nolan was at the helm of the revitalization of the Batman franchise. In one of the most iconic scenes from The Dark Knight, Batman attempts to save Harvey Dent from the Joker, who is determined to blow up a police escort. In the well-known tunnel sequence, the Batmobile rams into a garbage truck. The scene left many scratching their heads, marveling about the realism of CGI. The truth is that it was real. Every bit.

Nolan and his team constructed a one-third scale model of the Batmobile, as well as the truck and that particularly part of Chicago’s lower Wacker Drive. Nolan’s stunt team placed both models on a guide and smashed them into each other to create the scene. The same strategy was used for the semi-trailer truck that flips on its head. All in all, the plan was executed brilliantly and viewer is left marveling at the world they created.

9. The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan was at it again in the final installment of his Batman trilogy. According to Nolan, one of his proudest moments was executing the opening scene, where Bane escapes from the CIA plane, mid-flight. It’s an exhilarating sequence, that – again – did not use CGI. The scene was filmed in Scotland, over the Cairngorm Mountains of the Scottish Highlands. It’s the highest mountain range in the UK and is described as incredibly cold, with incessant winds and an unforgiving climate. The CIA plane used in the film was a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, commissioned by the US military. It was a perfect fit for the stunt with a stall speed as low as 111 miles per hour. Nolan and his camera crew were able to follow the plane in a helicopter, recording the exterior action. The particulars are so difficult to describe in detail that when Nolan was asked about the stunt, he said “It was sort of an incredible coming together of lots and lots of planning by a lot of members of the team who worked for months rehearsing all these parachute jumps.”

The action inside the plane was much more straightforward. It was accomplished by building a simulator, where Nolan could rotate, shake and twist the fuselage, making the actors almost weightless inside the device. Put together, Nolan was able to add another jaw-dropping scene to his filmography.

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

One of the most highly anticipated films in recent memory, Star Wars: The Force Awakens made sure to capitalize off the hype, introducing several real props, creatures, and locations. Probably the most notable prop was the droid BB-8. JJ Abrams and crew made sure they had a BB-8 for whatever sequence they were filming. They constructed a BB-8 that could show emotion when held be actors, a BB-8 that could be thrown around and stay upright, a BB-8 controlled by rod puppeteers, and even a fully functioning droid that could roll around like a possessed bowling ball.

Abrams and crew didn’t phone it in with CGI when they really probably could have, either. Don’t get us wrong; there’s obviously a ton of CGI in a movie featuring literal spaceship battles. But even small effects like Rey’s food materializing was real. A sequence that was on screen for seconds took more than 3 months to develop and execute. And while it may not seem worth it, the smallest things can take a viewer out of a world, and The Force Awakens did a great job of refusing to allow the audience to easily fall astray.

7. Apollo 13

One of the best films depicting NASA astronauts is Ron Howard’s Apollo 13. Starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton, the film depicts the aborted 1970 lunar mission, which became a mission of survival. Instead of using CGI, Howard wanted to create an atmosphere or experience that allowed viewers to truly appreciate the fear and unease that the astronauts experienced. Howard utilized NASA’s “Vomit Comet” KC-135 airplane, designed for one purpose: creating a zero-G environment on Earth.

In order to accomplish such a feat, the KC-135 does a series of parabolic arcs at very fast speeds; this results in a window of weightlessness for the passengers. According to reports, it took more than 600 arcs for Howard to get the take he liked. It’s now clear that he knew what he was doing: the movie was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and grossed more than $355 million worldwide.

6. Skyfall

Good filmmakers certainly know how to catch an audience’s attention. The opening scene from Skyfall is no different. Every kick and punch thrown in the scene is actually performed by Daniel Craig and his counterpart on top of a speeding train. The only thing keeping them from falling is a wire that’s as thin as one’s finger. Bond films are notorious for real stunts that push the boundaries.

In Spectre, the follow-up installment in the Bond franchise, filmmakers set a Guinness record for stunts in a single production. So next time you’re watching a Bond film, make sure you take a second to appreciate the risks that some of these men and women are taking for our entertainment.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road

This is one of the most unique examples on our list because of its utilization of both CGI and real stunts to make compelling scenes. In that iconic scene where Tom Hardy is dangling perilously close to the ground, that’s completely real. All that was keeping Hardy from being roadkill was a thin cable. The sequence in question was also filmed while Hardy’s son was on set, too. Director George Miller, when asked what would happen if the cable snapped, remarked, “He’d probably go under the wheels.” Good one, George. Miller is known for pushing the limits of ordinary film practices. He hired “Cirque du Soleil performers to rock around on Chinese acrobat poles while a camera rig weaved through them at up to 100 mph.”

If that wasn’t enough, the film’s production also saw the invention of a new way to flip a car: a “nitrogen-powered metallic blade” was designed to pop down on the car, forcing it to make those ridiculous flips in the movie. Not bad for the director of Happy Feet and Babe: Pig in the City. That’ll do, George. That’ll do.

4. Mission: Impossible (Pretty Much the Whole Film Franchise)

Tom Cruise is notorious for doing most of his own stunts in his films. Shooting the upcoming installment in the Mission: Impossible series, Cruise even broke his ankle trying to jump to an adjacent rooftop. This wasn’t the first time Cruise has put himself into harm’s way. In the original, he dangled from a ceiling; in the sequel he hung off the side of a cliff. In Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, he scaled the side of Burj Khalifa. And in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, he clung to a side of a flying plane.

Each of these stunts was performed by Cruise, without the use of stuntmen. Talk about courage (or lunacy… or maybe a little bit of both). In Rogue Nation, Cruise only had wires attached to his body as he gripped the side of a flying plane. We suppose that’s why they pay him the big bucks.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man

One of the unique bits of the Spider-Man reboot was director Marc Webb’s decision to make the web-slinging aspects of the film real. In past Spider-Man movies, the web-slinging was mostly all CGI and it became apparent in scenes that took many viewers out of the movie. Instead, The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel relied mostly on stuntmen and Andrew Garfield himself, who was willing to participate in the action. Stunt coordinator Andy Armstrong described in an interview the difficult process of executing such a stunt. Through his research, he found that the difficulty in the execution was based, in part, on the past versions of Spider-Man depicting his downward swing as the same as his upward motion.

Armstrong and his team constructed “a track being pulled by a high-speed winch to help emulate Spidey’s web-swinging ways.” He’d go on to describe it as cracking a whip. A stuntman would “drop into the bottom of the pendulum, and as he reached the bottom of his arc, someone driving the winch would pull a dolly along to the next spot.” With a little digital effects to boot, The Amazing Spider-Man films created a whole new way of looking at one of our favorite superheroes.

2. The Matrix Reloaded

Don’t jump down our throats. We know The Matrix Reloaded relied on a heavy amount of CGI. However, it’d surprise most readers to know how many of the action sequences actually relied upon real stunts. One of the most memorable sequences in the entire trilogy, the Agents chasing Morpheus and Trinity on the highway, was no exception.

Although the Agent seen jumping from the hood of a vehicle was added later in post production, the chain reaction of car crashes and the actual implosion of the car was real. The Wachowskis managed to oversee the use of special rigs, cannons, and ramps to create the massively destructive sequence. The filmmakers choice to use real stunts and props is one of the major reasons The Matrix series has, for the most part, continued to stand the test of time.

1. Inception

Hey, we couldn’t end our list without another Christopher Nolan movie. The uncompromising auteur has managed to consistently create stunning visual sequences without relying on CGI. Probably the most memorable scene in Inception was Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page’s characters conversation at a coffee shop in Paris. Suddenly, an explosion sends debris, and broken glass into the air. All the while, DiCaprio and Page remain in the center of the storm.

The sequence was executed by production designer Chris Corbould, shooting a series of air cannons while director of photography Wally Pfister shot at 1,500 frames per second. It made for one of the most memorable parts of the movie, introducing the audience to the idea of Inception. Not to be outdone, later in the film there’s a fight scene featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a hotel room and hallway, in which the room continues to rotate, allowing the combatants to run up the walls and on the ceiling. As you’ve no doubt guessed by now, particularly if you watched the video up above, that was all done entirely with practical sets and stunts.


Computer Generated Imagery… Not! –

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 2

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Constance Caraway P.I.  Episode 2

…We are research scientists with previous ties to the MANHATTAN PROJECT and I suspect some sort of foul play…

“Thank you Miss Connie!”

Jimmy K. calls her by the shorter version of her name, the name she blames her mother for. It is told that Mom had morning sickness for much of the eight months she carried her baby; constantly ill, hence Constance. Mrs. Caraway insists that she is named after a great-aunt from her father’s side. A side trip to the National Archives, while doing some research on another case in Washington D.C., helped Constance disprove that bogus tale. Do not try to sneak something past her; you can’t hide from the prying eyes of a P.I.

Need Truth – Will Find is the tag line below the letters Constance Caraway Private Investigation painted on the opaque mottled glass on the massive front door; motto and credo.

She closes that door which seems to creak more and more these days. Behind the door she opens the telegram as if it were a gift from the coming Christmas morn… RriiippP!

W E S T E R N  UNION

NEWCOME CARLYON – PRESIDENT  J.C. WILLEVER – FIRST VICE-PRESIDENT

RECEIVED AT MAIN OFFICE 221-23 MONROE STREET- ALWAYS OPEN

To: CONSTANCE CARAWAY INVESTIGATION       TALLAHASSEE FLORIDA

24 December 1950

MESSAGE:

I am contacting you because of your previous work at Argonne National Laboratory DuPage County Illinois.

I cannot go into to great detail at this time. I believe that a colleague of mine at the UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO is in grave danger, as I have not heard from him several days.

We are research scientists with previous ties to the MANHATTAN PROJECT and I suspect some sort of foul play.

Please meet me at 6137 South Kimbark near the university campus a.s.a.p. Please call me at UOC-495-2101 between 12 PM and 4 PM to confirm.

MARTIN DAVID KAMEN

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Just as she re-reads the tantalizing-ly titillating telegram for the 10th time, her roomy Fanny Renwick, after being out for the morning, walking tall and proud after being out for the morning returns with her not-so-subtle Polaroid & its “electric eye” hanging from her neck and 5 crisp $100 bills (+ a fiver for interest) in her hot little hands.


Forever Mastadon ~ 

Episode 2


page 4

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 1

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CONSTANCE CARAWAY P.I.

Episode 1

 

Chapter One

 MANHATTAN MYSTERY

…Jimmy K. works for the neighborhood WESTERN UNION office, which encompasses a vital link to the outside world for CCPI…

‘Ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong’. Rapid repetition of this familiar noise tells the occupants of 455 East Tennessee Street that someone is at the front door and they may well have ants in their pants.

Molly

‘Ding-dong, ding-dong!’ There is an audible exclamation to the final two rings before the words, “I’m coming, for god’s sake! Do you want me to break my neck? Out of the way Molly!” Molly is an excitable yellow Labrador retriever, whose self-appointed duty is doorbell answerer. Almost a casualty of chaos, the 15 foot fresh-cut evergreen in the foyer, bedecked with colorful ornaments and light, rocks on its tripod base as they pass by.

The hurried woman comes from her upstairs office, home base for Constance Caraway Private Investigation. She had been on the phone with a fairly recent client, a guy named Simms, who has been ignoring her repeated mailed bill for work they had done on his messy divorce case. Five hundred dollars is $500 dollars and she was counting on the money for a little time away from “their” two-story building in downtown Tallahassee. And it is Christmas Eve to boot.

Henry JThe other person constituting the “their” portion and partner in the practice of legalized prying, Fanny Renwick, is out taking pictures of their debtor, a well-to-do retiree who owns the building adjacent to them. She captures him driving a brand new 1950 Henry J automobile, $2000 dollars at Cal’s Cars… and he can’t pay them for ridding the man of his gold digging floozy of a wife of six short months?

Constance grabs the huge door with brass handles, nearly dislocating her right shoulder, flinging it open.

Jimmy

“Oh—it’s you Jimmy.” The boy works for the neighborhood WESTERN UNION office, which encompasses a vital link to the outside world for CCPI. “Where is the fire, Jimmy? You nearly rang the bell off the wall.”

“My boss told me there would be a $1 bonus for me if I get this to you girls and back to the office in 5 minutes… down Molly, yes I’m happy to see you too.”

Constance orders Molly, who loves company and cannot help herself, to leave Jimmy alone. She backtracks to the banister, where her purse is hanging.

“Let me sign for that and here’s another dollar; I hope you bring some good news for a change.” Not every telegram bears a positive message, but she is a serial tipper regardless of the message.

“Thank you Miss Connie!”


~Forever Mastadon~

Episode 1


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