Thirteen days ago, June 20, 2015.
And so I turned towards home. But I had one more day in the Rockies, driving back down the Icefields Parkway, then west through yet another national park, so while I might have been headed back technically, there was still more than plenty to see.
For some reason I woke up at the crack of dawn, and was on the road by 7:30 in the morning. I wake up a lot earlier than I normally do when I’m traveling, but this was sort of ridiculous. On the bright side, because I was out so early, I got to see some elk alongside the road just south of Jasper townsite.
I’m sort of jaded about elk — I’ve seen so many of them in Yellowstone, and even had one bull in rut bugle under my hotel room window all night there once — but they’re still beautiful animals. I was less enamored of the tourons who were walking right up to them to take photos, but Darwin knows what to do with them.
I arrived at Athabaska Glacier by late morning, and stopped at the Icefields Centre, which I hadn’t done on the way up, just to see what was there. An unfinished (they were still working on the exhibits) big fancy building, mostly, but I did buy my fourth and last magnet of the trip in the gift shop there. I also took some photos from that new vantage point (up the slope on the other side of the valley from the glacier), and when I got home, discovered that among the slides I brought home in January from my mother’s house, there was one I’d taken (my Instamatic took square slides, so that’s how I know it was mine, not my father’s) of the same glacier from a similar viewpoint back in 1970. So here’s what a graphic example of global warming on a human timeline looks like:
Then it was down, down, down into the Bow Valley, with one brief stop to keep from running over another small group of bighorn sheep, to Lake Louise village, where I bought tea and then headed west on the Trans-Canada Highway toward Kicking Horse Pass, my last crossing of the Continental Divide, and Yoho National Park.
Kicking Horse Pass (so named because an early explorer got kicked in the head by his horse there) was a fascinating place. I’m not that much of a railroad buff, although I’ve ridden Amtrak cross-country several times, but I’d never seen a railroad do what this one does before. The grade is so steep that it was all but impossible for trains to make it over the pass. That is, until an engineer got the bright idea to build tunnels in a figure eight configuration, giving more room for the trains to climb more gradually, with the tracks crossing over themselves as they climbed. If the train is long enough, you can see the engines and first cars passing directly over the later cars below them. I was lucky enough to be there when a long train passed through, and actually got to see this happen. It was hard to get good photos, but here’s one.
After I finished marveling at the turn-of-the-last century engineering feat, I drove a bit further west and turned onto the Yoho Valley Road, which winds (including a couple of “I hope Kestrel doesn’t rear-end himself” switchbacks) up the Yoho Valley to Takakkaw Falls, the highest single-drop waterfall in Canada, at 850 feet. There’s a trail right up close enough to feel the mist, of course. It really reminded me of Yosemite Valley, only without the crowds. It was also a great place to picnic.
And I saw another bear on the way up there. My seventh and last of the trip. I’ve never seen that many bears on one trip before.
And more wildflowers, of course.
The visitor centre at the village of Field, back on the Trans-Canada Highway, was my next stop, with its little exhibit about the Burgess Shale, one of the most famous fossil beds in North America. Unfortunately, the site itself is only accessible by guided tour and a long, steep hike, but at least I got to see some of the fossils.
My last side trip of the day was the road to Emerald Lake and the natural bridge along the way. I was more impressed with the natural bridge (and its lovely waterfall) than I was with Emerald Lake. It was still pretty, though.
And another flower along the Trans-Canada Highway which I’d never seen before. Gorgeous red lilies.
Then it was on to the town of Golden, and my hostel for the night, run by a very friendly Scottish woman who fosters cats for the local humane society. First cat fix I’d had since I left home, and very pleasant. She also recommended a restaurant, the Wolf’s Den, which was part historic log cabin and part sports bar, serving an excellent hamburger, salad, and the best onion ring I’ve had since Burgerville perched on top of the burger. The TV was playing the U.S. Open golf tournament, playing this year at Chambers Bay, just down the road from where I live (and part of the reason I timed my trip as I did), which I found rather amusing.
And that was my last day in the Canadian Rockies. For this trip, anyway. I’d love to go back someday. I had a day and a half drive to get home, and a few more things to see along the way, though.
Mirrored from M.M. Justus -- adventures in the supernatural Old West.
The Castle of Cagliostro
But as interesting as Castle of Cagliostro is as a historical document, that's maybe not the best way to look at the film. Because even after all these years, the gags pop, the chases hum, and the characters leap off the screen. The Castle of Cagliostro is just a damn good adventure.
Anime News Network has a nice little Review of the New Blu-ray for Castle of Cagliostro.
I'm reading a book
That I took from my school.
Polonius comes in.
(He’s a pompous old fool,
But also my girlfriend
I’ll scare him away!
I’ll pretend to be mad!
He said, “Who am I?”
And I looked all about.
I said, “You’re the fellow
Who sold me a trout.
But have you a daughter?”
He said, “Just the one.”
“Be careful,” I said,
“If she walks in the sun
Where meat becomes maggots
And milk becomes curds.”
He asked what I’m reading.
I said, “Words…
“But what do they say?”
And I said, “I detect
Some satire, some slander,
Some lack of respect.
It says: when you’re old
Your eyesight gets hazy.
Your whiskers go grey.
You start to go crazy.
Your eyes fill with goop.
And yes, it’s all true
But seems a bit rude
To codgers like you.”
He hurried away.
But my uncle instead
Strode into the room
And called me and said:
“I will open the door!
I will show you a thing!
You will like what I show you!”
(Said Claudius King.)
“Your friends came to visit!
Come quickly and see!
Some friends, and I call them
Thing R and Thing G!
They came to the castle
To be a surprise!
They might cheer you up!
And they’re not at all spies!”
They said, “We’re in Denmark
To see how you are!
Would you like to shake hands
With Thing G and Thing R?”
The LEGO Batman Movie will reportedly acknowledge every era of the Caped Crusader on-screen—but before we take that stroll down memory lane in 2017, let’s turn our eyes to the Batmen that could have existed. 3D character artist Caleb Nefzen dreamed up what Batman would look like as a fearsome Viking warrior (above); on deviantART, DenisM79 reimagines the Dark Knight as a greaser punk; and even more artists have envisioned Batman in every era.
Meet Rockabilly Batman, with bonus hot rod Batmobile! (by DenisM79):
Batman of the Ottoman Empire (by Eren Arik):
The Iron Bat (by Boss Logic):
Underworld Batman (by fear-sAs):
“I AM THE NIGHT. I AM EVERY NIGHT. I AM LITERALLY EVERY ERA YOU CAN THINK OF.”
Check out more illustrations, including Revolutionary Batman (what’s up with that sword?), Steampunk Batman, and Nuclear War Batman.
This article was originally published December 8, 2014.
( Direct Links to Each Section )
( Multiple Fandoms (or, Fandom is My Fandom) )
( Avengers )
( Avengers/Daredevil )
( Avengers/Welcome to Night Vale (Twitter) )
( Avengers/Oblivion )
( Hannibal )
( Harry Potter )
( Inception )
( Journey (Game) )
( Jupiter Ascending )
( Kings )
( Leverage )
( Mad Max )
( Welcome to Night Vale )
( OMG Check Please! )
( Rivers of London )
( Spiderman )
( Stargate Atlantis )
( Star Trek )
( Teen Wolf )
( The Fast and the Furious )
( The Fast and the Furious/X-Men )
( Tolkien - The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings )
Bruises [641 Words] by PegasusWrites
Everyone knows that you’ve got a great fictional destiny if you were raised by animals or in the wild. It’s a one-two mythic punch, like the right foundation for a cathedral or the New York water in good pizza dough (it’s scientifically proven, folks). But who are our favorite feral children? Let’s look at ten of the best, from the classics right up through some unforgettable pop culture offerings.
Feral Kid (Mad Max 2)
Post-apocalyptic settings are the perfect backdrop for feral children. When it’s easy to lose friends and loved ones and civilization has nice big gaps in it, someone is bound to get lost in the wasteland. Mad Max befriended one of those, a boy with no name whom the script simply refers to as “Feral Kid.” It’s hard to tell if the boy simply grew up alone, or if there were some animals involved, though his growly way of communicating might indicate the latter. The little guy did sport a badass lethal boomerang, and who knows? Maybe that where Sokka’s boomerang in Avatar: The Last Airbender came from! Regardless, Max’s buddy did pretty well for himself, and we find out by the end that he grew up to become the leader of the Great Northern Tribe. Nice one.
Tarzan (Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels)
Though non-fictional feral children often have a difficult-to-entirely-impossible time integrating with modern society, one wonders how being raised by apes would actually affect a kid. Primates do seem to have an instinct to protect human children (if you’ve never heard about this incredible rescue of a toddler by a mother gorilla, I encourage you to take a peek), and perhaps Tarzan would have grown up just fine amidst the jungles of Africa. The likelihood that he would be teaching himself any language within days and adventuring all over the world on the other hand… well, that’s what books are for.
Though he was raised by apes, Tarzan grew into a traveling hero. According to Burroughs’ many novels, Tarzan was the son of a marooned British Lord, a man of great loyalty and bravery who was utterly smitten with his wife Jane and unimpressed with the hypocrisy of civilized men. He was literally too good, a paragon of raw masculinity, but also gentle, intelligent, and fair. He was the Gary Stu of early 20th century fiction. You have to love him for it. Also, without Tarzan there would be no George of the Jungle, which is the most tragic thing I can think of.
Romulus and Remus (Roman mythology)
Raised by wolves! If you find yourself in the middle of a tale with a wild child, majority chances are that kid was raised by wolves. And one of the first examples that comes to mind is Romulus and Remus, twin brothers who were responsible for a little city that you might have heard of called Rome. In fact, the brothers were not raised by a pack, but cared for as infants by one she-wolf. (They were also fed by a woodpecker, and why this poor bird never seems to get any credit is a mystery.)
Story goes that both brothers wanted to build a city, but they couldn’t agree on which hill would be the founding site. They fought about who had been favored in the augury to determine it, Remus was killed, and Rome was named for Romulus because he was clearly the most modest of fellows. It was popular for certain Emperors of Rome to claim ancestry dating back to Romulus himself, which is sort of akin to them adopting the Divine Right of Kings, particularly if they were on board with one version of the myth that made Aphrodite’s son Aeneas a distant ancestor of the brothers.
Hayy ibn Yaqdhan (The Improvement of Human Reason: Exhibited in the Life of Hai Ebn Yokdhan by Ibn Tufail)
Interestingly, this seminal work (also the first Arabic novel), is not about how civilization is bad for kids raised in the woods, but a story of enlightenment and philosophy. The protagonist is raised by a gazelle—just stop for a moment there because how cool would it be to have a gazelle for a mom?—who eventually dies. The boy dissects her to find out how she died, and once he achieves that knowledge, he sets out to learn about science and truth. His thoughts on civilization and religion’s reliance on material objects, and his use of reason to provoke these revelations on his travels, made this work very important in the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment periods.
Mowgli (The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling)
Rudyard Kipling’s man-cub served as the inspiration for many children of this persuasion, and he is perhaps the greatest example of a child caught between the wild world of nature and the civilized world of man. Mowgli can stare down any wolf in his pack, but he also goes to live with human parents for a time, who wonder if he might be their long lost son. One of his best friends—Bagheera the panther—understands the boy’s plight entirely, having been kept by humans in a cage as a cub, thereby gaining an understanding of both worlds himself. Different versions of the tale offer different outcomes to Mowgli’s journey, and occasionally it gets blended with elements of Tarzan’s story; the live-action film of the ’90s gave Mowgli his own version of Jane, and emphasized a rejection of imperialist culture.
Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie’s works)
Of course, the boy who wouldn’t grow up lands on this list simply due to his status as Prince of Neverland, but did you know that the original version of Peter Pan was also raised by animals? Peter Pan’s first introduction to the world was in Barrie’s novel The Little White Bird, a lengthy interlude in the midst of its main plot. There we meet Peter Pan, a boy who lived on the little island in the middle of the pond in Kensington Gardens after flying away from home (for all children are truly birds deep down and simply forget how to fly as they get older). There, he lived among birds. Then his mother gave up on him and had another baby, preventing him from ever being able to return home. Poor Peter.
Lots of Kids in Star Trek (All Over the Trek)
In science fiction, the furry or feathered chaperones are usually exchanged for alien ones or no parents at all. Star Trek has a colorful history where this is concerned, particularly in the Original Series. First we encountered Charlie, who had practically omnipotent powers, which he then used to sexually harass Yeoman Janice Rand because he was a teenager raised by aliens who probably didn’t put him through harassment workshops or teach him how to be a nice boy. Then we had children living on a world where everyone got sick and went crazy after hitting puberty in “Miri.” The children formed themselves into a rough little gang of misfits called “Onlies,” and only Kirk’s pleas to the older Miri end up saving the day in time.
We got kids being controlled by the alien entity named Gorgan, who killed their parents and then tried to take over the Enterprise in “And the Children Shall Lead.” Then there was the time-traveling episode of Deep Space Nine “Time’s Orphan,” where Molly O’Brien, the child of Keiko and Miles O’Brien, fell through a funny portal and ended up spending ten years living alone. (Though that episode used a helpful paradox to right the timeline and spare the kid such a depressing adolescence.) All in all, you just don’t want to be a kid on Star Trek—the batting average for becoming a creepy, isolated youth just isn’t worth the risk.
Claudette, Jeanette and Mirabella (“St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised By Wolves” by Karen Russell)
One of the questions that often isn’t lingered over is how ordinary people would go about rehabilitating children of this ilk. In Karen Russell’s short story, werewolf girls are put into a finishing school run by nuns in hopes of obtaining a better future than the ones their families face. Though the girls come to the school in a large group, the three we spend the most time with are Claudette, Jeanette, and Mirabella, who each develop quite differently as their training advances.
Jeanette adapts quickly, learning the new etiquette at a speed that puts distance between her and her sisters. Claudette comes into reading and language faster than the rest, but has moments of difficulty, where situations invite relapses into old wolfish behavior. The youngest of the group, Mirabella, cannot (or will not) conform to the new society, and is rejected not only by the nuns, but by her sisters as well. When set up as a matter of learning curves and cultural education, you can’t help but wonder which of these girls you would turn out to be if placed in the same situation.
San (Princess Mononoke)
Nevermind the wolves—Princess Mononoke was raised by a wolf goddess. (Okay, and some wolves.) San—that’s the princess’s real name—has perhaps a more straightforward path when choosing between man and nature, taking part in a battle between the people of Iron Town and the forest that surrounds it. Though San falls in love with a cursed prince named Ashitaka, she refuses to leave the forest after witnessing the gruesome things humans are willing to do to the land, the gods, and the spirits there. Though Miyazaki’s film is meant to inspire hope that humanity and nature do not have to continue on such a destructive path, there is no doubt that this is a cyclical fight, and one that we should be mindful of in our future.
The Penguin (Batman Returns)
In Tim Burton’s origin story of the Penguin, we are told the tale of an infant so ugly that his parents could not bear to look at him, eventually throwing his pram into a freezing river. (I would like to point out that this was a traumatizing thing to watch as a child… but so worth it.) Naturally, that boy was found and raised by penguins. While it might not be quite fair to call the Penguin “feral”—he’s fond of top hats and tuxedos, after all—his background provides a cutting remark on so-called evolved people preferring to hide or destroy the things that don’t conform to their homogenous expectations of beauty. Offering that background ultimately made the Penguin a much more sympathetic figure, and between him and Catwoman, it was sort of hard to root for the Bat this time around.
The Child of Omelas (Ursula K. Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas”)
Ursula K. Le Guin’s Hugo-winning story was revitalized in Doctor Who’s season 5 episode, “The Beast Below,” and proves that animals and aliens are not the only things that can turn a child savage—the brutality of neglect is an easy mentor as well. The people of Omelas live in a utopian society, but upon coming of age, they find out the price of their perfect existence: One child is kept in darkness filthy and alone. For those who cannot live with that decision—the ones who walk away from Omelas—they venture out of the city and are never seen again. No one knows what becomes of them.
I’m sure there are a few fabulous examples that got left behind, so weigh in—who’s your favorite among these ranks? And why do you think we keep coming back to these stories? Is it simply part of that man-vs.-nature plot we love so much, or could it be something deeper?
This post originally appeared on Tor.com on September 29, 2012.
Emily Asher-Perrin, if asked to pick a favorite from this list, will come down firmly on the Peter Pan side of things every time. You can bug her on Twitter and read more of her work here and elsewhere.
Last year’s Sony email hack revealed a treasure trove of Hollywood intel, including Ivan Reitman’s proposal for a Ghostbusters 3 that would reunite the original Ghostbusters as well as pave the way for the next generation. In a 2013 email to Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal, Reitman laid out the plot for what he called Ghostbusters: Alive Again. However, with Harold Ramis’ passing in 2014, this version was scrapped.
While it sounds like the strongest idea for a third installment, it’s definitely not the first. Ghostbusters 3 has stopped and started so many times since the 1990s, with at least five different versions rumored over the past 20 years. Read on for Dan Aykroyd’s multiple drafts, Reitman’s pitch, and what Ghostbusters 3 director Paul Feig is actually planning to do.
Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent
In the 1990s, Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd wrote a script for Ghostbusters 3: Hellbent, which would have seen the team transported to an alternate version of Manhattan called—wait for it—Manhellttan. Here’s what else we know:
- The Ghostbusters have become an actual corporation with a whole fleet of Ecto cars.
- Winston is now Dr. Zeddemore.
- Aykroyd described hell as not some distant dimension, but “right next door.” Essentially a flipped version of Manhattan.
- In Manhellton, everyone is basically their evil twin.
- Not surprisingly, the movie’s big bad would have been the devil himself—except he’s also a Donald Trump-like character named Luke Silfer.
- Aykroyd co-wrote the script with his The Coneheads writing partner Tom Davis, and it was one of the funnier takes on a Ghostbusters sequel out there.
Aykroyd later said in a 2012 interview that Manhellttan was not his idea for Ghostbusters 3, but rather for a fourth or fifth film once the franchise was back up and running.
Ghostbusters 3: New Blood
In 2011, Aykroyd was talking about a very different Ghostbusters 3 script, one that at the time seemed a bit more realistic:
- When asked about Bill Murray’s refusal to appear in the movie, Aykroyd stressed that the point of the movie is to figuratively and literally pass down the responsibilities of busting ghosts to new blood.
- Part of that reason, he explained, would be that the original Ghostbusters simply can’t hack it anymore:
My character, Ray, is now blind in one eye and can’t drive the Cadillac. He’s got a bad knee and can’t carry the packs. …Egon is too large to get into the harness. We need young blood and that’s the promise. We’re gonna hand it to a new generation.
- For casting, they would need “three guys and a young woman.” One of his suggestions was Criminal Minds star Matthew Gray Gubler.
Ghostbusters 3: The Best and the Brightest
Fast-forward to 2013, when Aykroyd told Larry King about a Ghostbusters 3 that would definitely hinge on the next generation, since they’re the only ones who can solve the movie’s big problem:
- The pressing issue here would be particle physics and how they affect our four dimensions:
It’s based on new research that’s being done in particle physics by the young men and women at Columbia University. …Basically, there’s research being done that I can say that the world or the dimension that we live in, our four planes of existence, length, height, width and time, become threatened by some of the research that’s being done. Ghostbusters—new Ghostbusters—have to come and solve the problem.
- The new Ghostbusters would start out as Columbia students, with a lot of the action taking place in the university’s neighborhood of Morningside Heights. (Two of the original Ghostbusters themselves started out as Columbia adjuncts.)
- That said, the movie would still bring back original characters, including Larry King, who cameoed in the first film.
- If Murray—who was still reluctant at the time—wanted to join the film, “there will be a hole for him.”
Ghostbusters 3: Electric Gozer-loo
In 2014, Chronicle screenwriter Max Landis, after being bugged by Twitter followers about how he would do Ghostbusters 3, proceeded to tweet out his own pitch. To be clear, he wasn’t commissioned to write a script; this was simply his (pretty great) idea:
- The movie starts off with Ivo Shandor, Gozer cult leader, murdering Slimer. Yes, Slimer.
- Again, the Ghostbusters have become a global franchise, but in Landis’ version they’ve branched off into various teams.
- The main Ghostbusters business is a parody of itself (catching only 12 ghosts a year, ouch) and is slowly going bankrupt.
- Hoping to ramp up business, one of the teams—who have been shut down, so that should tell you something—try to resurrect a minor ghost. Instead, they bring back Gozer.
- Landis had distinct ideas for the different teams’ dynamics, describing them as “a modern-comedy clique; a Parks/Rec team, a Rogen/Franco team, a Kroll/Key/Peele team.”
Ghostbusters: Alive Again
Ivan Reitman also envisioned a passing-the-baton film, but by the time of his 2013 email, he had actual characters in mind:
- The new Ghostbusters would feature Venkman’s son Chris—yes, Chris, not Dana Barrett’s son Oscar from Ghostbusters II. (Sigourney Weaver has said that her only condition for Ghostbusters 3 would be that her son gets to be a Ghostbuster.) We guess Oscar turned out to be too much of a smelly. He’s not attractive.
- Possible actors being considered for Chris at the time include Adam Pally (The Mindy Project), Charlie Day (Pacific Rim), and Jesse Eisenberg (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice).
- It seems that Chris would join the Ghostbusters team, led by Jeremy; the only potential actor mentioned at the time was Jonah Hill.
- Comic relief would come from a character named Dean, with Reitman eyeing Zach Galifianakis.
- The villain would be Gniewko, with Reitman and Pascal pulling for Sacha Baron Cohen and Will Ferrell, respectively.
- The two female characters mentioned were Ashley (Reitman had Rebel Wilson in mind) and Joni (Aubrey Plaza), though we know nothing about them. Similarly, there was a role called Jon, to be played by Aziz Ansari.
Ghostbusters 3: The Actual Movie
Finally, we come to Paul Feig’s vision for the all-female Ghostbusters 3 that has been confirmed. The plot details in that link come from one of the leaked Sony emails, and several have since been rendered moot by subsequent reports. Here’s what we know for sure:
- Feig cast Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon as the four lady Ghostbusters. Also, McKinnon in costume looks like everything we ever dreamed of.
- Emma Stone ultimately passed on joining up because of the commitment of joining a franchise.
- Here’s an unofficial synopsis! (We’re still waiting on the official one from the studio, but the Boston Herald got this intel.)
Wiig and McCarthy play a pair of unheralded authors who write a book positing that ghosts are real. Flash forward a few years and Wiig lands a prestigious teaching position at Columbia U. (Like the original, the story takes place in New York City, even though it’s being shot in Boston.) Which is pretty sweet, until her book resurfaces and she is laughed out of academia.
Wiig reunites with McCarthy and the other two proton pack-packing phantom wranglers, and she gets some sweet revenge when ghosts invade Manhattan and she and her team have to save the world.
- Feig has also shared photos of the new uniforms and proton packs.
- In the best news yet, Chris Hemsworth is playing the Ghostbusters’ receptionist.
With the news of Feig’s all-female movie came rumors that Sony was forming its own production company, Ghostcorps, to create an all-male “counterpart” film. But now it sounds like the project isn’t actually happening:
- According to Deadline, Ghostcorps intended to bring together directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), writer Drew Pearce (Iron Man 3), and producers Channing Tatum, Reid Carolin, and Peter Kiernan.
- Which would make sense for Tatum to star in the movie.
- Reitman also shared his plans to expand the Ghostbusters universe through television, film, merchandise, and other branding opportunities.
- However, judging from Carolin’s recent interview with ScreenRant, the movie may be dead:
We’re not doing that anymore…. No I don’t think so, I think it’s too complicated. There’s a lot of things going on with that brand and I just feel like it’s over-saturated.
So, there you have it. The long path that led us to an all-female Ghostbusters, set to be released July 22, 2016.
This post originally appeared on Tor.com on December 19, 2014.
I'm also looking at a bunch of wsip (well, in some cases that's too generous - in some cases it's "use this title" and some notes) to see if I can finish something for Steve's birthday tomorrow. There's like seven of them, so I'm overwhelmed by choices.
I don't know, sometimes I feel like all of these ideas are too big and I just need something that's one small scene that I can write in a day. I feel a lot more intimidated by writing now than I did five or even ten years ago, and it certainly makes writing harder.
Sometime in the late 1970s, I think, my family sublet a room in our house to a Hungarian math professor and his family. They gave us a gift from Hungary: a plastic toy cube with a different color on each of its rotating faces. We had no idea that within a couple of years, it would be one of the most popular toys in the world.i
At some point in the next couple of years, my father went down to Santa Cruz to take a math class there. I vaguely think the topic may've been functors. When he came home, he brought with him a few photocopied sheets of paper on which were described a solution to the Rubik's Cube, written by the professors who'd taught the class.
I'm not sure whether the Cube had become popular yet at that point, but I believe it was before the Simple Solution was published; it was certainly before I had seen a solution. Up to that point, I think I had been able to solve one face at a time, but I had never been able to solve the whole cube. So I practiced and memorized the solution, and got fairly fast at it, and went on to place second (iIrc) in my 8th-grade cube-solving competition. Being able to solve the Cube was also a good party trick; I did it for my family enough times that one of my uncles became convinced that I could solve it behind my back.
I remained vaguely interested in the world of cubing, but the mathy discussions of it were over my head (I still have the 1981 edition of David Singmaster's Notes on Rubik's Magic Cube, but I never read it all the way through), and most of the algorithms I saw were neither as fast nor as elegant as the ones I knew, so I mostly set cubing aside. And then a couple years ago, some of my friends' kids started getting interested. And I started trying to find the photocopied instructions that I had learned from, but even though I've seen those pages lying around my house dozens of times over the years, every search in the past year or two has been fruitless.
I was talking with a young friend about cubing a couple of weeks ago, and lamenting my inability to find those instructions—and it dawned on me that I could reconstruct them. And that's what I've now done.
I haven't yet taken the time to write up these notes as a completely detailed solution, and I haven't made the illustrations that would make them much easier to follow. But knowing me, if I wait to finalize and polish these notes, it'll take me years to post them. So I'm just gonna go ahead and publish what I've got. At some future time, if I do some more polishing, I may post a revised version.
I learned almost all of the move-sequences below from the Santa Cruz math professors who wrote the instructions I memorized. Unfortunately, I have no idea who they were. I spent some time looking around online to see if I could come up with any likely candidates, but couldn't find anyone.
So: if you're the author of these instructions, or if you know who is, drop me a note! I'll be happy to credit the authors, I just can't find their names.
And if I do find my copy of the instructions at some point, I'll update this post.
How to solve the 3x3x3 Rubik's Cube
According to a couple of UC Santa Cruz math professors, c. 1980, as filtered through Jed Hartman's memory in 2015.
There are plenty of other systems for solving a Rubik's Cube out there; some are faster than this, some easier. But I find this system to be reasonably elegant, and to provide a nice balance between reasonably high speed and reasonably low amount of stuff to memorize. The first layer is pretty straightforward; the second layer uses only one move-sequence (and its mirror image), and that sequence makes sense if you look at what it's doing, so memorizing it isn't hard; and the third layer relies primarily on two move-sequences (and small variations) that you can use repeatedly.
This is a draft document; at some point I may do some further polishing. Comments welcome.
I should start by saying a couple of things that may or may not be obvious:
- The six center pieces are fixed in place relative to each other.
- Thus, you can tell where each edge and corner piece is supposed to go, relative to the centers, by looking at the colors. For example, a blue/orange edge belongs between the blue center and the orange center.
- Instead of thinking in terms of faces of the cube, think in terms of the cube having three layers: top, middle, and bottom. Thinking in terms of layers is useful because solving only a face doesn't help if the cubies that make up that face are in the wrong positions. So instead of aiming to get all of the faces right, the goal is to get all of the edge and corner cubies into the right positions and orientations relative to the six centers; and the easiest way to do that is one layer at a time.
- Each step of the solution involves figuring out what you want to move or reorient, then doing a defined sequence of moves that carry cubies to new locations, or flip or rotate them.
- These days, a move sequence seems to generally be called an “algorithm.” In the original solution I'm reconstructing, a move sequence was called a “macro.” I sometimes just use the term “move sequence” or even “move.”
- After you've solved a given layer, all subsequent move sequences must end with that layer still solved. So, for example, after you solve the top layer, everything after that has to leave that solved layer alone. (Or rather, has to immediately undo any scrambling of that layer.)
I'm using what I think is pretty standard notation. There's a letter for each face: the initials of the words Up, Down, Left, Right, Front, and Back. The URF cubie is the one that's currently in the upper right corner closest to you. A face's letter in a move sequence indicates a clockwise quarter-turn of that face: F means “rotate the front face one quarter-turn clockwise.” A prime mark after a letter means counterclockwise: R' means “rotate the right face one quarter-turn counterclockwise.” A 2 after a letter means rotate a half-turn, so L2 means exactly the same thing as LL or L'L'.
General outline of solution
Here's the general outline, solving the Cube one layer at a time:
- Place and orient the four edges in the top layer.
- Place and orient the four corners in the top layer.
- Place and orient the four edges in the middle layer.
- Flip the cube over so what was the bottom layer is now the top layer.
- Place the final four corners.
- Place the final four edges.
- Orient the final four edges.
- Orient the final four corners.
I. Top layer edges
Pick any color to start with, and orient the cube so the center of that color is on top. The first step of solving the top layer is to put each of the top edges in the right place and orientation, without trying to make anything else right.
To do that, follow these instructions for each of the four top edges:
- Keeping the top color on top, pick a top-layer edge position to work on, and rotate the cube so that that edge position is the top front edge (the UF position).
- Find the edge piece that should be in that UF position. For example, if you chose white as your top color, and the center of the front face of the cube is red, then find the red/white edge piece.
- Move the edge piece to the bottom layer. (Should be pretty easy to figure out how to do that.) If getting the target piece to the bottom layer requires you to move any of the top-layer edges that you've got in place already, then move those edges back into place before continuing; in other words, don't lose progress that you've already made.
- Rotate the bottom layer until the edge you're moving is in the DF position (in either orientation).
- Move the edge to the top layer, in either of two ways, depending on its orientation:
- To move it from DF to UF (putting the D face on top):
- To move it from FD to UF (putting the F face on top:
- To move it from DF to UF (putting the D face on top):
- Special case: if the edge is already in the right place but it's flipped, you can flip it like this:
After you've placed all four top edges, the top face should show a cross, with all of the top edge pieces in the right places and orientations (and on the correct sides of the cube). (Other pieces may also happen to be in place at this point, but usually they won't be.)
II. Top layer corners
Now do the top corners, while preserving the top edges, but not trying to make anything else right.
To do that, follow these instructions for each of the four top corner pieces:
- Pick a corner position to work on, and rotate the cube to put that corner position at URF.
- Find the corner piece that's supposed to go in that URF corner position.
- If the corner piece isn't in the right place and orientation already, then move it to the bottom layer, and put it in the DRF position, directly below the URF position where you want it to end up.
- Move the corner to the top layer, in any of three ways, depending on its orientation:
- To move it from RDF to URF (that is, the color that's facing right should be up):
- To move it from FRD to URF (the color that's facing front should be up):
- To move it from DFR to URF (the color that's facing down should be up):
- To move it from RDF to URF (that is, the color that's facing right should be up):
- Special case: if it's already in URF and you want to rotate it:
- To rotate it clockwise:
- To rotate it counterclockwise:
- To rotate it clockwise:
After you've placed and oriented the top-layer corners, the top layer is now done, with all of the top-layer pieces in the right places and orientations.
III. Middle layer edges
Place and orient the four edges in the middle layer, without messing up the top layer.
To do that, follow these instructions for each of the four middle-layer edge pieces:
- Pick a middle-layer edge position to work on.
- Find the edge piece that belongs in that edge position.
- If the piece you need is already in the bottom layer, then rotate the bottom layer so that the edge piece's front face matches the front color. For example, if you want to place a red/blue edge, then rotate the bottom layer so that the red face of the edge is right below the red center on the front face, or the blue face of the edge is right below the blue center on the front face, whichever is feasible.
- Move the edge into place, in either of two ways, depending on its orientation:
- To move the DF cubie to LF (as if you were rotating the front face clockwise):
- To move the DF cube to RF (as if you were rotating the front face counterclockwise):
- To move the DF cubie to LF (as if you were rotating the front face clockwise):
- Special case: if the piece you need is already in the middle layer but in the wrong place, then replace it with the piece that should go in that place.
- Special case: if the piece you need is already in the right position, but is flipped, then replace it with any other edge; then put it back, by following the above instructions.
Now the top two layers are done, leaving only the bottom later.
IV-VIII. Last layer
Flip the cube over so the unfinished layer is on top. The idea for this layer is to get everything into the right places, then flip edges as needed, then rotate corners as needed.
(This is the layer that could most benefit from diagrams, but I haven't made any yet.)
Rotate the unfinished layer until at least two corners are in the right place, if possible. Don't worry about orientation yet.
The main algorithm for this layer is something I'll call “swapper” for convenience: it swaps a pair of corners with each other, and a pair of edges with each other. Specifically, it swaps URF and URB with each other, and swaps UF and LF with each other. Or you can do the mirror image of it to swap ULF and ULB, and UF and RF. It also rotates and flips pieces, but don't worry about that yet.
Here's swapper for the two right corners:
And here's the mirror image, for the two left corners:
You'll be doing these two sequences a lot, so it's worth learning them well. And swapper is the kind of algorithm where if you lose track of where you are halfway through, it's very hard to recover from; the cube's state halfway through the sequence looks scrambled. When I'm doing this sequence, I sometimes repeat it to myself under my breath as I go, which seems to help me keep track of it.
So I recommend starting with a solved cube, and doing right-corners swapper over and over, pausing after each time to look at what effects it has on placement. (Don't worry about orientation yet.) Doing it twice puts everything back in the original positions, but with some rotations and flips. Doing it twelve times in a row puts everything back in the original positions and orientations. Then do the same with left-corners swapper.
For this layer, I could write out all the possible arrangements of cubes and which combinations of right-corners swapper and left-corners swapper to use for each, but in practice it's easier to figure that out on the fly. Look at possible places where you could do a swapper to (a) leave all four corners in the right places, while (b) either also putting all four edges in the right places, or leaving three edges out of place. If all four edges are in the wrong places, or if only two of them (across from each other) are, you'll end up having to do swappers more times, so aim for either zero or three edges out of place after a swapper. (You can't have just one edge out of place, of course.)
After you have all four corners in the right positions, you can keep doing swappers; you can swap two corners, then turn the cube around and swap them back, which causes edges to move around but leaves all four corners where they were
In particular, if you have the corners placed correctly but you have three edges out of place, do the following:
To cycle among the three edges (that is, to move UF to UB, UB to UL, and UL to UF), first do right-swapper, then turn the cube around 180 degrees on its y axis (making the F face into the B face), then do left-swapper. In other words, swap UF and UL (and two corners), then turn the cube around and swap the new UF and UR (and unswap the two corners).
After you get all of the final-layer cubes in the right position, you flip any edges that need flipping.
To flip both UL and UF, while leaving UB and UR alone, do right-corners swapper twice in a row. This moves the edges and corners out of place, then returns them, with the edges flipped. Likewise, to flip both UR and UF, do left-corners swapper twice.
Now all the edges are in the right place with the right orientation, and all the corners are in the right place but might be rotated. So the last step is to rotate pairs of corners that need rotating.
For parity reasons, there can never be just one corner that needs rotating. There can be two (one that needs to be rotated clockwise, one counterclockwise), three (all three needing to be rotated clockwise, or all three counterclockwise), or four (in two pairs of clockwise/counterclockwise). Another way to put that: if you add up the number of clockwise degrees that all of the corners need to be rotated, it's always a multiple of 360.
So to rotate URF clockwise and URB counterclockwise, do this:
R'DRFDF' U FD'F'R'D'R U'
And similarly with rotating any corner clockwise and any other corner (in the same face) counterclockwise. In particular, to work with a different pair of corners, you can do U' or U2 in the middle there instead of U.
There's one more possible case: you may have three corners that are all rotated either clockwise or counter-clockwise. In that case, do that last corner-rotating move to rotate two of them; that gives the correct orientation to one of the three, leaving you with only two that need to be rotated, and you can do that last corner-rotating move one last time to get the two into place.
And you're done!
It's the Internet, which means there must be cute animal videos on this blog. But this one is different. Watch a mother rabbit beat up a snake to protect her children. It's impressive the way she keeps attacking the snake until it is far away from her nest, but I worry that she doesn't know enough to grab the snake by the neck. Maybe there just aren't any venomous snakes around those parts.