Kage Baker loved the old-fashioned Intermission ads you get in some movie theatres. Nowadays, they can include all manner of bells and whistles – enormous panning shots of Brobdingnagian candy counters, CGI roller coasters shooting you right into a bucket of popcorn, happy movie-goers being wafted off to bliss on tidal waves of soda.

She  liked one modern one that showed said moviegoers seated on giant mushrooms- Kage always complained amiably that she never found any magic mushrooms* in her Junior Mints … What she especially liked, though, were the old limited-animation ads with lots of anthropomorphic goodies cavorting around the lobby. Ice cream bars and boxes of Sweet Tarts, Hershey bars and buckets of popcorn – all marching gaily on their little leggies, caroling Let’s all go to the lobby …(

It was the promise of incredible feasts that drew Kage. It was all the frantic little limbs that cracked her up …

Her very favourite, though, was the utterly passive aggressive advert that showed only a featureless void in which roiling colours ran through the whole spectrum, like mutating clouds, to a background of organ music. It always played to something that sounded like the Jeopardy theme on drugs, and it convulsed Kage with laughter. I finally came to believe she was seeing something I could not – and really, Dear Readers, any of you who knew Kage up close and personal would agree that she often seemed to be seeing what the rest of us could not.

You know, there are some women (and only women) who have 4 colour-sensitive cones in their eyes, rather than the human-standard three – they see colours for which the rest of us have no names. She may have been like that. It’s estimated that tetrachromates make up as much as 12% of the female population, mostly from European genome lines; it might be a mutation arising from colour-blindness. It could explain Kage’s willingness to stare forever into kaleidoscopes, whirly-gigs and swirling maelstroms … and God only knows what she saw.

But she sure enjoyed those Intermission commercials.

Even without being entertained by the commercials (or the eldritch colours), everyone needs and enjoys an intermission from time to time. Intermission is not time off; it’s a whole different vibe, as we used to say. It’s time actually in productive use, as a spacer – like the metallic beads that separate pearls in a necklace. Intermission is time assigned to do something – buy a soda, eat your Dibs before they melt, go to the bathroom before the movie starts.

Or read something one has been anxiously anticipating, like the new Stephen King novel. Which is what I am doing, Dear Readers, except for this blog. It’s Pizza With Everything On It But Anchovies Day – yes, officially – so I have a nice garbage pizza to look forward to as I read this evening. Although King novels are famously humongously long, I am already half way through Revival and am anticipating finishing it tonight. Fun times.

Here’s a fun idea to try.  Next time you see one of those little adverts on the silver screen, Dear Readers, imagine Kage sitting next to you and chuckling sotto voce about something only she can see … or maybe some of my distaff readers are also tetrachromatics! ‘Fess up if you are, Ladies – no one here is gonna mind if you’re a mutant.

You can tell the rest of us what colour that dancing popcorn really is.


* Full disclosure, here: Kage Baker didn’t do recreational drugs. Intoxicants, yes: hallucinogens, no. She always wanted to, but never worked up the bravado. So she didn’t have a drug problem – she wanted a drug problem, but was too scared and too sensible to try it.



About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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2 Responses to Intermission!

  1. lughaid says:

    Interesting. I have a friend who sees at least another octave into the ultraviolet than the norm. She found out when taking an astronomy class, drawing spectral lines the professor could not see, but could validate with UV photography. I don’t know what she sees at movie intermissions, but she really hates the Blue white hi intensity headlights.


    • Kate says:

      That’s so interesting! There is a known, normal variety at the upper end of visible light in human beings – I’ve met 3 people in my life who could see further into the UV than most folks. Two of them were male, though, so It can’t be due to this particular testrachromatism. It must be something equally exotic and strange! All the people I know first became aware of it around TV remotes and the Aurora Borealis – neat, eh?


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