Monday, August 30, 2010

in bed with necks of red

What do i call blocking the construction of a mosque near the World Trade Center?

A damned good start?
Now, if we can just find a way to block the construction of all the other mosques, churches, and temples, we'll be on our way.
Well, SOMEBODY in New York has to give the bigots and xenophobes some love.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Galactica '03, season 1

-mini-series ****
I'm a diehard devotee of the original, but this one had me at hello. Humans create cylons, cylons attempt to exterminate humanity, survivors flee into space. The hat-tips to the classic are exciting, understated, and touching. Starbuck is a hard-drinking, rule-flaunting hellion - and a woman (katee sackhoff - RIDDICK, BIONIC WOMAN). As are boomer and the new president of the colonies (mary mcdonnell -DANCES WITH WOLVES, MUMFORD), whose featured presence gives the show a more realistic political reality than the original. The cylons now have models that look human, some of whom may be sleeper agents. Baltar is a young, amoral genius who is hoodwinked by his cylon lover into betraying humanity. As adama, edward james olmos (BLADE RUNNER, STAND AND DELIVER) finds the role he's been waiting all his life to play.
-33 ****
How do you follow up a stunning mini-series? With this searing crucible of a series debut. Any doubt i was going to watch every episode, is gone. The cylons locate the fleet every 33 minutes. No one has slept in days. Vipers are forced to destroy a colonial ship that reappears, after possibly having been captured. Are the 1300 passengers still aboard?
-Water ***
Sabotage wipes out 60% of the fleet's water reserves. Was it boomer? Does she even know?
-Bastille Day ***
The need to use the inmates of the prison ship into mining duty sets off a revolt. The leader? RICHARD HATCH! The new apollo (jamie bamber - LAW & ORDER: UK, BAND OF BROTHERS) and the old (as revolutionary tom zarek) face off. Zarek demands free elections. Deckhand cally (nicki clyne - SAVED!, JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE) bites off a rapist's ear.
-Act of Contrition ***
Starbuck trains viper recruits. The scenes between her and adama cement olmos' owning of the character. And who is that crusty, ciggy-smoking ship's doc?'s donnelly rhodes (SOAP, HILL STREET BLUES)! Hot damn, it's nice to see him. Doc cottle. Perfect.
-You Can't Go Home Again ****
Starbuck crashes on an uninhabited planet, and must figure out how to fly a downed raider. Grippingly, rippingly fantastic...this episode cements sackhoff's status as a fanboy dream.
-Litmus **
Whose negligence allowed cylon sabotage? A passable meditation on civil liberties.
-Six Degrees of Separation ***
Tricia helfer (TWO AND A HALF MEN, BEHIND THE CAMERA: THE UNAUTHORIZED STORY OF 'CHARLIE'S ANGELS') as number 6, the cylon ex-lover who lives in baltar's brain, demonstrates real acting skill, playing an ice-queen version of herself. Back on Caprica, marooned raptor pilot helo (tahmoh penikett - DOLLHOUSE, CONTINUUM) has been on the run with another copy of boomer (whom he thinks is the original), as part of a cylon experiment on human love. This plotline reaches a high point, as they have rainy forest sex! Whee!! What's all this fuss over identifying cylons? Testing everyone will take sixty years? Hey idiots, their spines light up when they hump! If you institute a fleet-wide copulatory test, you'd have those toasters sussed out within a month (and several demographics, particularly octogenarians, teenagers, and penniless writers, might get laid for the first time in years).
-Flesh and Bone **
Having starbuck, an unstable viper jock, assigned the task of cylon interrogation is a bit of a stretch. Roslin's tossing this cylon out the airlock is a nice piece of sanity, when weighed against the touchy-feely treatment over the next few seasons. In real life, even pacifists like myself wouldn't quibble with an "airlock first, questions later" policy.
-Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down ***
Col. tigh's wife (kate vernon - PRETTY IN PINK, MALCOLM X) appears. Is she a cylon? Would a cylon grab Apollo's ass? This episode is the most loosey goosey silly of the series. The cast show their acting chops in a puckishly different way.
-The Hand of God ***
The fleet is running out of tylium fuel. They find some on a cylon-controlled asteroid, and go on the offensive for the first time since the attack. With starbuck sidelined, apollo shines in battle like never before. The raid visuals are flat-out striking.
-Colonial Day **
The new Quorum of Twelve demands that a vice-president be elected. This one feels a bit out of left field, considering that genocidal robots are hot on their heels. But the dance scene is wonderful - and zarek's machinations leave roslin no choice but to have baltar (james callis - EUREKA, BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY) as the new veep.
-Kobol's Last Gleaming ***
They discover the home planet of the Colonies. The show's spiritual yammerings get a little tedious. Starbuck's one-afternoon stand with baltar gives you that queasy, joe jackson "is she really" feeling. At least it makes for nice tension with apollo. Can someone please make priestess elosha go away? Starbuck's religious defection with the raider is a bit of a stretch. Naked boomers and the boomer assassination attempt on adama are two of the most enduring images of the series. Plus a starbuck/6 knock-down drag-out? Stop the bus.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Blue Harvest"

How do i...
How dih...
Flummoxed. I've been rendered speechless by a cartoon. BLUE HARVEST, the animated spoof of STAR WARS, starring the cast of FAMILY GUY. Is it "good"? I hate to even try to think of a more appropriate adjective, any word i find will seem like hyperbole. To call this a spoof is wrong, too. Mel brooks made a spoof. This one's different, and could only have been made by one of those youngsters (creator seth macfarlane, you've been outed) who stared at STAR WARS wide-eyed, the kind of fan who might recognize the obscure title as the fake one lucas used during filming of JEDI, to mislead those who might have bothered the cast and crew.
This film is a gift of love, the details of which will fly over the heads of most. It's a tribute, every bit as much as spoof. A spoofbute. Is it funny? Most certainly. But there has to be so much more, for it to have blindsided me so. I've seen episodes and clips of FAMILY GUY. Though i was never inspired to watch it regularly, i knew full well that it's had moments of comedic brilliance that rival any comedy ever made. I knew this. Yet still, flummoxed i am.
The tribute half of this film is in the visuals. The quality of the animation is so jarringly perfect, that there are moments when you start to think they're splicing in footage from the actual film. Then you goose yourself, realizing it's still animation. Nor is this a twenty-minute treatment, it's an hour-long special.
The shining star is mr. herbert the octogenarian pedophile, as obi-wan. His "special" relationship with luke may bring a tear to your eye. Peter is lovely as han, chris is spot-on as luke, cleveland is hilarious as artoo, and stewie is righteous as vader. No one is miscast (especially not redd foxx). Macfarlane also outs himself as a devotee of AIRPLANE!, with not one, but two nods. Rush limbaugh lampoons himself. The griswolds show up. Is there a sequel spoofbute of EMPIRE? And are they working right now on one for JEDI, the only one that actually cried for a spoof? Yes indeedy yes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


A gentle welcome to our tenth follower, Ann Sapenglubenorosprechyifawenkenpittsthomas, whom i'd like to interview horizontally for an hour or three. That's no joke.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

presidential traverse

You reach up, pulling yourself to the next rock. As you pass tree line, your exposure to the wind increases. Nearing the summit, you lose whatever protection from the elements the lower stretches of the mountain afforded. You clamber on. The wind howls. You huddle behind a rock, putting on the extra clothing you've carried on your back. You stand up, a cloud enveloping you. Visibility diminishes to thirty feet. Twenty. Ten.
Welcome to Mt. Washington.
I just returned from hiking New Hampshire's Presidential Range. The Presidentials are the pinnacle of mountain hiking in the eastern U.S. If that sounds like a left-handed compliment, it ain't necessarily so. I'm told that most western mountain trails employ copious switchbacks, but in the Presidentials you can go straight up. The jewel is Washington, at 6288 feet. There are a smattering of 5000-footers, plus scads of 4000-footers. Washington long held the world record for highest earth surface wind (231 mph), a singular result of being at the confluence of three airstreams. Suck on that, Colorado and Kilimanjaro. In summer, you can go from Speedos at the bottom to long johns up top (or the other way round, if you crave attention). There are a few buildings up there, chained to the mountain. No Starbucks, but the visitor center does have a museum and gift shop. You can see astounding views all the way to the ocean, but you probably won't: 70mph winds inside a cloud are more likely. The summit is a tourist mini-mecca, thanks to the cog train and auto road, but i don't find this as depressing as most. Sure, it can be jarring to arrive up top having climbed thousands of feet through a hurricane, then suddenly spy a 500-lb. couple in flip-flops walk by...but i see opportunity for adventure there. The railway could break down, and passing UFOs could render autos undriveable. Then? A Darwinian day-o-reckonin'!
This year, my fellow hikers were my sister's family and my Dad. Wearing braces, i pounded away on my knees for four days, experiencing none of the tenderness or tightness that had plagued me in recent years. It's perhaps too soon to declare myself fully healed, but i know now that i can do as severe a climb as e'er i've done.
The gold-star days were Mt. Carrigain and the Presidential Traverse. Tweener nephew Aaron and his dad Steve were my companions for Carrigain, a 4700-footer on which we met only a handful of other hikers. The day was memorable because of the weather: 80-something degrees with 80% humidity. Sensible people would have rested for longer than thirty seconds, but for some perverse reason the three of us silently, relentlessly pounded our way up. I was feeling subhuman, my pulse banging my brain. At the top, there's a two-story observation platform. Ahhhhhhhh. Our original plan had been to go down the same way, but i'd looked at the map and decided that one possible title for this article was "I didn't come 400 miles to NOT go down Desolation Trail". It added a few miles to our trek, had the steepest grade we would face, and i was prepared to go it alone. But they joined me, and it was fantastic.
The second monumental day, we were joined by my nephew Isaac. Named the Mumbo hike by he and his big brother, it's a trek above tree line on the ridge of the highest mountains. You can grab the summits or not. I'd never done the Traverse, and we had 15 intense miles behind us when the day was done.
The Presidentials are a great family vacation, affordable to most if you tent. In recent years, my weenie family has rented a house (with, um, hot tub). Not that tenting is a perfect world...the last year we did so, sleep was hardly a given, with Dad snoring, Aaron talking in his sleep, Isaac doing his impression of a burrowing rodent, and unconfirmed rumors of excessive flatulence from some uncle. But we got through the nights, and had glorious days.
For me, a reliable benchmark of a "good" mountain hike is one where i have to use my hands. I also love boulder-strewn trails where one ping pongs forward, from rock to rock. And taking "runners" down a mountain wherever possible. My favorite summits so far are Eisenhower in good weather, and Washington in bad. The most transcendant trail i know is the King Ravine up Adams. It has ice caves at the bottom, followed by the steepest ascent in the Presidentials. Next year i'm looking forward to the Thirteen Waterfalls Trail, and the Great Gully up Adams.
If you're on the cog railroad, expect to be mooned.

Friday, August 20, 2010

dear R

Dear R,
Another note you'll never read, because of my "nobility" (or some such bullshit) in the face of the artifact that is monogamy.
Someone once said that people are onions. If so, the top layers are pure bullshit comprised of conceit and fear. Strip those away, and you're left with how people make each other feel. The top layers of our own onions made us fumble (me moreso than you...indeed there were times when you and i and the world would have been better served by me shutting the fuck up), but when the bullshit is gone, i'm left with the memory of how sweet it was to be with you. I cleaned out my mother's carriage house this week, and under fifty bags of trash i found the memory of the evening we spent there together. Even when we fumbled, it was a little beautiful. So here are my most resonant memories of us (in no particular order), in loving tribute...
1) The evening in my mother's carriage house, when we put aside words (but not, alas, uncertainties), and held each other in a halting dance of physical healing.
2) That first night we spent in each other's arms, caressing and loving without sex, as time stopped.
3) The time you hurt yourself at work, and i came to take you back to your home.
4) Holding you while giving you an unexpected orgasm. My heart tightens thinking about it.
5) The time i was massaging you, and misunderstood your instructions about taking your pants off. The most breathtakingly beautiful gluteus maximus i've ever touched (or seen).
6) The unbelievably yummy bread/hummus tray you treated me to at that Quotidian restaurant.
7) The night i gave you the set of non-verbal commands to use on me (cuddle/massage/sex), because words seemed to ever complicate our togetherness. We never got the commands right, but it was a sweet moment nonetheless.
8) The morning we came closer to penetration than any other time. You didn't even realize i wasn't entirely erectly prepared to give you what you so excruciatingly wanted...a sweet memory nonetheless.
9) The entire night referred to in #8...touching and kissing you was so excruciatingly (to borrow your emotional state of mind) intoxicating. You looked so jarringly beautiful and soft, as i realized it was possible to fall in love with someone, even though it might take a decade or more.
10) The night you sent me those two photos, dumbfounding me with your openness. Nobly, of course, i sent those photos to my trash file when you got engaged...but in a little dream, you find this note, and are naked with me (or failing that, send those damned photos) just one more time.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Previously, the Bible contained direct quotes from the mouth of God. In Deuteronomy, we now have God's word as Moses tells it. This is a curious and significant transition, and has much bearing upon reasonableness, for words from the mouth of a supreme being should perhaps be judged with a different set of standards than those spoken by fallible humans. One could reasonably counter-argue that every word of a "divinely-inspired" text must be subject to the same scrutiny, but i'll allow this new distinction nonetheless.
(WARNING: SARCASM) Previous protests notwithstanding, it is of course entirely reasonable that the Lord might be partial to a good tassel.
It seems strange to propose that the divine sanctification of a mating union would be contingent upon procedural particulars rather than spiritual dynamics. Also, these verses contain the suspect assertion that it is the male who is by nature the sexual aggressor. We all know that it's usually the case that males only THINK they are the sexual initiator. We do know that, don't we?
This is reasonable. It's interesting however, to note that it's a direct contradiction of the spirit of many of the Lord's earlier commands (the most recent a mere 39 verses past).
Logically then, if a man saw his wife engaged in a fight with another woman, and he intervened by grabbing the other woman's genitals, he would also then be required to have his hand cut off. Just thinking aloud here…
It is interesting that in this verse the Lord states that It has full knowledge of all that will ever be. Throughout the Bible thus far, there are instances of the Lord being surprised at human actions. Such instances are inconsistent with omniscience in general, and this verse in particular.
Many of the words I've spoken thus far have been a protest that the Lord of the Bible has simply NOT manifested the very righteous and just qualities described in this verse. In Its elevation of the Israelites, in Its inconsistent (see the Joshua 7:24-25 entry) punishments...
This seems a contradiction of the Lord's earlier unqualified command to honor thy mother and father.

good men, a few

-summer 1993
I went to visit my grandmother in Florida. I had taken a theater hiatus, because after thirty shows in seven years i was curious to know what kind of person i was when i wasn't acting. My grandfather had died the previous year, and it would be the first time i ever spent with just her. I stayed six months, discovering this wonderful person with so many memories, and an adult sense of humor. Checking out audition notices, I saw A FEW GOOD MEN, which was strange, because the hit movie was still playing. I went, a day late. There must have been a planetary alignment, because i was offered the lead on the spot. The director said that he'd had great auditions, and every role except mine had been filled. He was professional and enthusiastic, and told of how aggressively he had gone after the rights, and that ours would be the first Florida production of the play. Rehearsals began, and it was fantastic. We were to perform at the Kiwanis Hall in downtown Fort Myers. The Aaron Sorkin script was amazing. My lawyer buddy was played by Paul Conrad, a disc jockey by day. Our chemistry was beautiful. The same with our female lawyer, played by Stephanie Davis. She and i spent a lot of time working outside of rehearsal. Steven Hooper played the crazy colonel. A stroke had left Steve blind in one eye and without hand-eye coordination, but he worked so hard that the audience didn't know, and his performance was perfect. A lawyer named Greg played Lt. Kendrick, and his brutality was so right. Cpl. Dawson was played by a model named Tommy. Greg, Paul, Tommy, and i had a weekly beach volleyball game. The rest of the cast were spot-on too. A great set was built. Everything fell together, and it became another show that was so much better than it had any right to be. My favorite moment was when Paul and i were arguing, and i put my hand to his face in a "jibber-jabber" motion. The first time i did it, during a performance, his anger as he batted away my hand was entirely genuine. We found many moments like that. Paul and Steph sat through long court scenes, passing each other notes on their legal pads to amuse themselves. Stephanie was facing the audience in her marine skirt, and threatened to do a Sharon Stone leg-cross, just to alleviate her boredom. It was in this show that i was a disobedient actor for the first time. The director told me to deliver the last line of the play briskly. I felt it was too military. He gave me the same note again. I changed a bit, but not as much as he wanted, and that's how it stayed. One bit of ugliness came when Stephanie told Greg and i that the director had propositioned her, been rejected, then laid his hand on her breast. We debated confronting him, but didn't. There had been an attraction between Stephanie and i early on, but i didn't act on it, not wanting to risk cast drama. She then had an affair with Greg, and i second-guessed my decision a bit. Greg and i had a good relationship, but he was very alpha, so there was a muted head-butting between us. After they'd gotten together, Stephanie told me that Greg had nightmares about me being with her. The newspaper review was one of the best i'd ever read, saying how Nicholson and Cruise were forgotten. The responses from the audience were profound. To be a part of such a show is exhilarating and humbling. To be the last person onstage in the final moment…

Thursday, August 5, 2010


A fulsome welcome to our ninth follower, M. Bonnie (the "c" is silent) Cranmer! Bonnie hails from Port au Prince, Iowa, where she runs a bovine beauty salon. Last year she achieved her lifelong dream of a top five finish in the annual Ottumwa O'Reilly Lookalike Contest. She's been practicing meditation for a decade in the hopes of becoming a shapeshifter, so she can be Wynton Marsalis' horn.