Monday, May 30, 2011

burglar shadowdancing

I awoke the other night at 2:20 AM. Our house alarm battery is dead, but the inactive system starts beeping every few hours. My housemate is away in China. We generally don't use the alarm, but he's said recently that he wants to start turning it on when we're both away. I trundled upstairs to disarm it...and noticed that someone had lifted the screen on one of the front windows. They had obviously wanted to get in, but it seemed they hadn't. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. A stranger informed me that he had seen someone climb over our fence. I thanked him, and he left. I was a little suspicious, as there would be no need to climb our fence...both the alley and backyard gates have no lock. I gave the first floor a once-over, turned on lights in the frontmost and backmost rooms, and went downstairs. Deciding to stay up for a while, i turned on the TV. After a few minutes, i saw the backyard motion sensor light go on. It was a neighborhood cat. I realized that the back gate was open, something i hadn't checked. I closed the gate, noting that nothing had been disturbed. A few minutes later, i went back to the house's front room...and realized another break-in attempt had been made. This time the inner window had been pushed up six inches, until the pop-out anti-burglar tabs prevented further opening (i had thought it curious that the window had been unopened earlier...both regular latches have been broken for quite some time). I closed the window, and went outside. Nothing. How bizarre...that the perp would attempt another break-in knowing someone was home in a well-lit house.
I decided to maintain my vigil downstairs where i could see the backyard light come on, checking upstairs regularly. I got a stick, which i carried with me the rest of the night. The pacifist in me wasn't entirely happy with this...but i'm also an agnostic pragmatist, accepting of the overwhelming evidence that biological life dies, so i am DEARLY dedicated to avoiding that for as long as i can. I decided i wouldn't waste any Gandhi speeches on a would-be burglar who might be a strung-out junkie. I could live with that.
I started watching ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO, a film whose creators had done good work in the past. I'd never seen it, and wanted to like it. I quickly realized that wasn't going to happen. A little too saccharine, and maudlin with the whole mongamy issue.
When i went back upstairs, another break-in attempt had been made. This time a different screen had been raised, to a window which had fully-functioning latches. I realized the action was upstairs. I dressed fully, something i'd not done before, and sat in the front room with the lights on. After about ten minutes, i saw someone emerge from a parking lot across the street. He seemed fully intent on our house, walking straight at it. I think he then saw me, and took a sharp turn up the street.
He was young and slender, of average height or taller. He had short, dark hair and a big orange shirt. Perhaps Hispanic or Mediterranean. Was it the same fellow who had come to the door earlier? I can't say for sure. Even though our street is well-lit, i didn't have my glasses on, and he was at least forty feet away. You'd think i would recall whether a fellow at the door had a big orange shirt...
After a while, i returned to my vigil downstairs. I started watching a terrible porn-lite film...the kind on a channel dedicated to such fare, where you're not positive whether the sex is real or not, and the actors are bad but good enough that you wish they'd just go ahead and be comically awful, to make the film more watchable. Lots of makeup and fake boobs. But on a 4AM burglar vigil, watching naked people having sex is better (just barely) than a re-run of FRAZIER.
Dawn came sooner than expected. Confident my vigil was done, i masturbated and went to sleep.
It didn't occur to me to call the police. Perhaps we're a bit jaded in the city, but i didn't think a failed break-in merited any extravagent response. The next day, a neighbor told me she had seen an orange-shirted fellow trying to get into several houses. Having confirmation of his description, i did call the police. Little could be done, and i declined to file any report. The following night, i slept on the couch upstairs, stick nearby.
Anyone have an extra DJW612 battery, so i can get a full night's rest?
I love you all.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Do we attract specific realities with the power of our thoughts?
Does life send us messages?
Such musings are generally a haven for the feeble-minded. But there are moments...
Within one week of writing an article about all the brown-pigmented women who have ever been connected with me romantically or sexually (, i had a perfect storm of black women swirl into my life on the very same day. I have one close black female friend, whom i talk with perhaps once a month. In other words, days, weeks, and sometimes months go by when i have no intimate contact with a black woman at all.
And again, pardon my temporary diversion into pigment-awareness. I normally could write ten pages about a friend and leave you no clue as to their skin (or even gender). This skin is not who we are.
But black woman coincidence had a field day in my life, the very same week i spent hours writing about black women.
I had a rainy day morning moving job in Brooklyn. My partners were late, so for the better part of an hour i worked alone with the client. She was so adorable it almost hurt. Bright-eyed intelligence with a smile so warm and genuine. She had natural hair about two inches long...a quality that all by itself will have me following any such black woman around like a puppy. An instant comfort level in our connection made for more open talk than normal in a professional setting. Did she know that i found her adorable? Yup. Would we have flirted, had she not been newly-married? Throughout the move, whenever our team broke up, she and i were together.
After eight hours of sharing her energy, i went home and awaited my "date". I met that evening with a friend of a friend of a friend, an introductory meeting that had been set up with procreation in mind. This woman wanted very much to have a baby. She needed a father, not a daddy. She had tried IVF unsuccessfully, and was coming around to the idea that we "play god" with our bodies at our (and our offspring's) idea i happily reinforced, sharing with her all i had learned about the newest science of sexuality. She wanted natural conception, and was open to having me be as little or as much a part of this child's life as i might want. As i get closer to embracing the notion that raising children may not be a part of my life, opportunities such as this have been on my mind.
We talked for four hours. It was comfortable and easygoing, for the most part. She said so many of the right things. She's an educator from central Jersey, and fairly progressive. She's a member of a close group of friends who consider themselves family, a kind of organic family that is central to this country's future as the monogamous family unit fades away. I knew this child would have a nice support system.
The only hard part of our evening was at the end. She wanted to know whether i'd do it. She wanted to know right then. I hate rushing decisions, i wanted to spend more time with her. Perhaps the biggest thing holding me back was that there was no rush of hormonal attraction. I'm leery of anything that doesn't feel natural. She said our lack of animal attraction might be a plus for this situation. In another coincidence, i had just the previous day written an article about America, attraction, and fat...and she was indeed overweight. There were one or two other tiny elements. She did wear makeup, and her breath hit me wrong once or twice. I promised she'd have an answer within the week. The next day i wrote her saying that if she needed a definite answer, to assume that it wouldn't happen, but i left the door wide open for her to visit with me again. I sensed she would move on, which has proven to be so. In the days and nights since, i've wrestled with the spirituality of my choice. My impulse toward selflessness, my (admittedly immature) desire to spread my genes, my desire to act "naturally", my urge toward radical sharing, my testosterone screaming in my undersexed head as always...i'd be lying if i said that i haven't thought about writing her, and telling her to come to me.
Maybe the thing that held me back even more than simple attraction, was the thought that i might feel a post-coital loneliness more pronounced than non-coital loneliness.
I truly don't know.
And the third coincidental occurrence that landed on my head? Remember that friend who calls once every month or two? Guess who called, literally within one hundred seconds of my date's arrival?
Most of us are so overwhelmed by life's meaninglessness, we ascribe meaning where it never belongs. In the days that followed, i wondered...was my client's presence that day a reminder of what it should feel like when you make love? Was Penny's call a shout from the universe that she is supposed to be my first black lover...that i need to balance that account before i can engage in other transactions? Did i somehow summon her and my client that day? Plus another black woman i had powerful flirtations with on the subway a few days after?
Probably not, at least not in any mystical sense.
But just in case...beautifulprogressivesillyathleticasianwoman, beautifulprogressivesillyathleticnakedasianwoman, beautifulprogressivesillyathleticnakedasiantwins...
You'd better go. I might be at this a while.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Enterprise, season 2

-Shockwave, pt. 2 ***
Facing a shelving of their mission, archer sulks. But the accident was a suliban plot, as he's whisked into the future by daniels. Rich with TREK mythology-building...doing so without sacrificing freshness requires deftness. Deftly done.
-Carbon Creek ***
T'mir behind sheet...must...hump! T'pol tells a story of her grandmother and the actual vulcan/human first contact, over a century before FIRST CONTACT. J. paul boehmer (SKYLINE, EVERYONE'S DEPRESSED) touchingly falls for an earthling. Charming.
-Minefield ****
-written by john shiban
-directed by james a. contner
Enterprise flies into a cloaked minefield, and loses a piece of the saucer. A second mine attaches but doesn't detonate. When reed goes EVA to defuse it, his leg is impaled. Lovely character work, and nasty romulan ominousness.
-Dead Stop ***
Crippled by the mine's damage, Enterprise sends out a distress signal. Tellarites direct them to a repair station that seems too good to be true.
-A Night in Sickbay ***
The captain's dog contracts a pathogen and archer maintains a sickbay vigil, where he's witness to phlox's curious routines.
-Marauders ***
Enterprise visits a colony that should be able to trade them warp plasma, but something is amiss. Archer convinces them to fight back against predatory klingons.
-The Seventh **
Archer helps t'pol apprehend a fugitive who escaped her years ago. Despite a game turn by guest bruce davison (SHORT CUTS, X-MEN), things don't click.
-The Communicator **
While covertly observing a warring pre-warp culture, reed loses his communicator. Attempting to retrieve it, he and archer are captured and tortured. Travis and trip try to figure out how to use a captured cloak-ready suliban cell ship.
-Singularity **
Radiation from a black hole causes the crew to manifest obsessive behavior. T'pol is the only one unaffected, and when everyone else finally passes out, she must save the ship.
-Vanishing Point ***
An emergency forces the reluctant, paranoid hoshi to use the transporter. Her reality begins warping; phlox thinks it's psychological. She sees aliens planting a bomb.
-Precious Cargo ***
A charming slice of cathode ray diversion. Trip is caught in a lifepod with an alien monarch (padma lakshmi - GLITTER, GIRL MOST LIKELY) pursued by her enemies. They land on a marshy planet, and contentiousness gives way to canoodling.
-The Catwalk ***
A zippy ripper. The crew must take refuge from an irradiated shock wave, inside a warp nacelle. While riding the wave, they are boarded by aliens who try to commandeer the ship.
-Dawn ***
Trip's shuttle is shot down. He and his alien nemesis (gregg henry - INSURRECTION, HUNG) are stranded on an inhospitable moon, and must work together to survive. One of the better incarnations of an oft-recycled sci fi plot.
-Stigma ***
The A plot, an HIV allegory, never pops. The B plot, about one of phlox's wives (melinda page hamilton - DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, DEVIOUS MAIDS) making a pass at trip, is an all-too-rare TREK de-pantsing of monogamy. Wonderful.
-Cease Fire ***
Archer negotiates a cease fire between vulcans and andorians, plus...suzie plakson (THE NEXT GENERATION, MY STEPMOTHER IS AN ALIEN)!
-Future Tense ***
A ripper. Enterprise discovers a small craft adrift with no perceptible engines and a corpse which has human, vulcan, and other genomes. The craft matches the specs for one of daniels' 31st century ships, and has inner passages larger than the ship itself. Suddenly, suliban are in pursuit. Then tholians. Then suliban and tholians, attacking each other.
-Canamar ***
Accused of smuggling, trip and archer find themselves embroiled in a prison ship mutiny.
-The Crossing ***
A massive vessel swallows Enterprise. A being inhabits trip. Claiming to be explorers, the aliens offer non-corporeal experience to the entire crew.
-Judgment ***
Archer stands trial in the heart of the klingon Empire, for aiding subject refugees who had been abandoned. His advocate (the wonderful j.g. hertzler - DEEP SPACE NINE, SIX FEET UNDER) longs for the time when truth and honor stood proud.
-Horizon ***
Travis takes leave aboard the cargo ship where he grew up. His father has died, and his brother resents him. Tantalizing chemistry sparkles with an old shipmate played by nicole forester (BOSS, BEVERLY HILLS, 90120). Oh, that the series was cut short before her return appearance...
-The Breach ***
Enterprise must evacuate three cave-researching denobulan scientists who don't want to go. A patient refuses life-saving treatment from phlox, for political reasons.
-Cogenitor ***
The delightful andreas katsulas (THE NEXT GENERATION, MAX HEADROOM) is captain of an advanced alien ship. He and archer go exploring. Malcolm gets euphemismed! Trip befriends a gender-neutral member of this tri-gendered race, whom he teaches to read and aspire for more. Trip's friend asks for asylum, is refused, and commits suicide. Powerful.
-Regeneration ***
The remains of the borg sphere destroyed in FIRST CONTACT are discovered at the arctic circle. Several drones are thawed. They assimilate the scientists and take their transport. Enterprise pursues. Phlox is infected. Gripping.
-First Flight ***
Keith carradine (DEADWOOD, COWBOYS AND ALIENS) gives a bravura performance as a.g. robinson, who was the second choice for command of Enterprise. His death in a hiking accident prompts archer to tell t'pol tales of the warp trial program. Fantastic....for a moment or two you forget that it's TREK, which is not something the franchise did often.
-Bounty ***
Jordan lund (FLETCH LIVES, SPECIES) gives a flawless performance as a tellarite bounty hunter who abducts archer. One star lost for a tepid, inaccurate portrayal of klingons - escape pods, and ducking behind cover? Look for robert o'reilly (THE NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE NINE).
-The Expanse ***
An alien probe cuts a swath into Earth, killing millions (including trip's sister). Temporal agent daniels tells archer the xindi built the probe, and are planning to destroy Earth. Enterprise heads for their space, the Delphic Expanse, where the laws of physics change. T'pol is recalled by the High Command, and disobeys. Trip is pissy and vengeful. Another star lost for cautious klingons.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

36 greatest obscure songs

1) There'll Be Some Changes Made, Mark Knopfler & Chet Atkins
2) What the Hell Happened to Me?, Bruce Hornsby
3) Piece of Clay, Marvin Gaye
4) Innuendo, Queen
5) It's Just a Thought, Creedence Clearwater Revival
6) The Garden of Allah, Don Henley
7) Medical Love Song, Monty Python
8) Peace is Just a Word, Eurythmics
9) Murder by Numbers, The Police
10) This Is Where I Came In, The Bee Gees
11) So What the Fuss, Stevie Wonder
12) Six String Orchestra, Harry Chapin
13) The Cool, Cool River, Paul Simon
14) Start Me Up, The Folksmen
15) More Than One Way Home, Keb' Mo'
16) I am the Lion, Neil Diamond
17) Step Right Up, Tom Waits
18) Damn Right I've Got the Blues, Buddy Guy
19) Picasso's Last Words, Paul McCartney
20) Sleep Come Free Me, James Taylor
21) Mistress of Mine, Birtles Shorrock Goble
22) I've Got a Feeling, The Beatles
23) Railroad Worksong, Notting Hillbillies
24) While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Peter Frampton
25) Can You Feel It, The Jacksons
26) Boom Like That, Mark Knopfler
27) Come, Fleetwood Mac
28) Soft-Hearted Hana, George Harrison
29) Decades, Joe Walsh
30) Particle Man, They Might Be Giants
31) Cure for Love, Bonnie Raitt
32) I Lie Awake (and dream of you), Clover
33) None of the Above, Duran Duran
34) Fa Fa, Guster
35) The Longest Night, Men at Work
36) Burn You Up, Burn You Down, Peter Gabriel

Friday, May 13, 2011

Enterprise, season 1

-Broken Bow 1&2 ****

-written by rick berman, brannon braga
-directed by james l. conway
An understated pulse-pounder. Set 100 years before the classic, ENTERPRISE follows the crew of the first deep-space Starfleet vessel. Much to captain jonathan archer's chagrin, the Enterprise is assigned a vulcan first officer. At the launch, a recording is played by zephram cochrane (james cromwell - THE ARTIST, W.). Their first mission is to return home a wounded klingon (tiny lister - THE FIFTH ELEMENT, JACKIE BROWN - as spot-on as any klingon you'd care to name), after he crashes into an Oklahoma cornfield while being pursued by the suliban, who do the bidding of mysterious masters from the future. Everything clicks...visuals, humor, and a cast you care about. Even though the rescue they pull off strains credibility, you can get away with that when things go right. The closing credits instrumental version of the theme song is far better than the clunker they finally chose.
-Fight or Flight ***
It hits the perfect note. They find a ship whose murdered crew is being drained of their bodily chemicals. Hoshi freaks out and decides to return to Earth. What is archer's duty? Take Enterprise out of the path of danger...or something more idealistic? T'pol's argument has more merit than you might admit.
-Strange New World ***
Despite t'pol's misgivings, archer sends an away team to an unexplored planet. They become trapped in a cave during a storm, and experience pollen-induced paranoia.
-Unexpected ****
-written by rick berman, brannon braga
-directed by michael vejar
TREK wonderfulness. A cloaked alien ship is discovered piggy-backing in their warp field. Trip repairs their engines, and the realism of the world within the alien ship is awesome. He develops a friendship with their engineer (julianne christie - BOUNCE, THE NUTTY PROFESSOR), and is accidentally, unsuspectingly impregnated. When they track down the xyrillians again, they're piggy-backing on a klingon battlecruiser.
-Terra Nova **
Enterprise investigates a long-unsolved disaster on Earth's first deep-space colony. Survivors (including erick avari - STARGATE, STARGATE SG-1) exist as pre-industrial subterraneans, and no longer speak english.
-The Andorian Incident ***
At a vulcan sanctuary, archer, t'pol, and trip are captured by aggrieved andorians. The first of ten episodes for jeffrey combs (DEEP SPACE NINE, THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS) as the bristly commander shran.
-Breaking the Ice ***
An away team gets into trouble while exploring a comet. Beautiful visuals. The first time in TREK history a character says "poop".
-Civilization ***
Investigating unusual readings on a pre-industrial planet, archer becomes touchingly involved with a bright local (diane dilascio - ANGIE, DRIVEN). A delightful, classic TREK feel.
-Fortunate Son ***
Aliens attack a freighter. Their crew resists Enterprise's efforts to help, and take justice into their own hands. Charles lucia (THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, TANK GIRL) gives a wonderful, too-brief performance as a captain who must embrace the fact that his way of life is changing. So why won't archer have a goddamned drink with the man?
-Cold Front **
Alien guests are aboard to view a stellar phenomenon. An engine cataclysm is miraculously diverted, and a crewmember with an explanation claims to be from the future.
-Silent Enemy ***
Enterprise is repeatedly attacked by an unknown starship. Everything a four-star episode needs except that fourth star. Remember that drink that archer wouldn't have while on duty? Now he's passing out beers in the engine room.
-Dear Doctor ***
Trying to save a race threatened by disease, phlox discovers troubling truths about the "primitive" race who serve them.
-Shadows of P'Jem ***
T'pol is recalled by the vulcan High Command, because of the destruction of the P'Jem monastery. Investigating the andorian/vulcan conflict on Coridan, she and archer get kidnapped and hog-tied.
-Sleeping Dogs ***
Enterprise tries to rescue a damaged klingon ship sinking into a gas giant. Tight and dangerous, with brilliant visuals.
-Shuttlepod One ***
Tucker and reed are stranded in a damaged shuttlepod with no communications and two days of air, thinking Enterprise has been destroyed. Contentiousness creeps in. A seamless character drama.
-Fusion ***
Robert pine (CHiPs, INDEPENDENCE DAY) is captain of a ship of vulcans who embrace emotion. Sadly, his presence and a plotline involving an engineer (john bland - SPIN CITY, BLOW) whom trip befriends are short-changed, in favor of the main plot, wherein t'pol is mentally assaulted during her first mindmeld. We are NOT impressed with the message that people who stop denying emotion will become carnivores again. It's a shame this one doesn't gel, as there's almost limitless potential in the idea of emotionally-curious vulcans. The fact that there's not a single female vulcan is another dropped ball.
-Rogue Planet ***
Striking visuals for this tale of a sunless planet, where Enterprise meets aliens who may be hunting an advanced life form. Having abandoned hunting on Earth a century earlier while still showing humans eating meat, smacks of a writer wanting to have it both ways...
-Acquisition ***
A loaded lineup (clint howard - APOLLO 13, SPACE RANGERS, ethan philips - VOYAGER, BAD SANTA, and jeffrey combs - DEEP SPACE NINE, DOROTHY AND THE WITCHES OF OZ) very nearly breaks the ferengi lameness curse. They booby trap the crew into unconsciousness. Trip, in decon, is the only one left awake.
-Oasis ***
Tom bergeron (AFV)! Rene auberjonois (DEEP SPACE NINE, THE PATRIOT) is his usual superb self, as an engineer stranded with his daughter (the delightful annie wersching - 24, BRUCE ALMIGHTY) for twenty-two years. He has recreated their entire dead crew, out of holograms.
-Detained ***
Dean stockwell (GALACTICA, THE TONY DANZA SHOW) drops in for a QUANTUM LEAPalooza! He plays the commandant of an internment camp wherein travis and archer accidentally end up. Shades of george takei's childhood. A touch obvious, but a fine tale.
-Vox Sola ***
Visiting aliens leave in a mysterious huff. A gel-like lifeform accidentally left aboard grows and ensnares crew members, who begin to lose their individuality.
-Fallen Hero ***
A vulcan ambassador (fionulla flanagan - WAKING NED DEVINE, THE EWOK ADVENTURE) has been recalled in disgrace, and Enterprise escorts her home. Her enemies pursue, and an Earth ship achieves warp 5 for the first time. The tension is fantastically played out, plus some of the series' most touching archer/t'pol moments.
-Desert Crossing ***
After helping a shuttle in distress, archer and trip accept the planetside hospitality of its captain (clancy brown - HIGHLANDER, STARSHIP TROOPERS). A lacrosse-style game is funny and brilliant. They're suddenly asked to choose sides in a civil war, then face death in a desert.
-Two Days and Two Nights ****
A Risa free-for-all, directed by michael dorn! The crew get much-delayed shore leave, and how so much is packed into one episode is a head-scratcher. Travis contracts a serious infection, and phlox's hibernation cycle must be interrupted. Trip and malcolm pick up some bar hotties...who turn out to be shape-shifting muggers who leave them in their skivvies in a wine cellar (if i had a nickel for every time...). Archer has a tender romance with a woman (the wonderful dey young - FRANKIE AND JOHNNY, THE RUNNING MAN) hiding a malicious secret. Unaware of the mayhem, one crew member gets beautifully laid...our hoshi. Yay.
-Shockwave, pt. 1 ***
A gas explosion apparently caused by the ship's shuttle kills all the inhabitants of a mining colony. Enterprise is recalled in disgrace...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

working out working out

This week, i met a woman i was drawn to. She was bright and energetic. I wanted to touch her, and she seemed to like me. But as i watched her on the final day of an event we were both working, deciding whether to give her my card, my eyes kept tracking down. She carried maybe fifteen extra pounds on her posterior. I looked. I looked. I walked out of her life.
Let's talk about that.
To what extent do people work out for themselves? In addition to sporty activities and biking to get around, i do yoga/calisthenics nearly ever other day. Artists tell me i look good naked. To what extent does that motivate me? The memory of a woman seeing me naked for the first time and letting out a whispered "Wow" that a kind of reinforcement i can never get enough of?
Yet it's too easy to dismiss that (and the fact that i've almost never been attracted to a fat woman) as shallowness. Being in shape is part of a larger outlook on life...physical and mental, two sides of one coin. And i love physical activity so much, i want a lover who can experience it with me, not someone who has to turn back halfway up the mountain.
Don't think i don't know the sting of negative objectification, either. I've been called "too skinny". So if, for example, i have some injury that keeps me from my normal activities, i get a little self-conscious about losing weight. It's narcissism. But it's more. We live in a society where competition is everything...who gets the best job, the best mate, the best life. Every last one of us has had our self-worth crippled by the fear of what will happen if we fall behind, if we don't measure up.
If we aren't attractive.
Human beings were never born to live like that.
I never took to team sports, in those early teen years when my folks pushed me into one after another. I was skinny and undersized. Plus, i saw in sports the glorification of competitiveness my father embodied - another negative. I didn't bloom athletically until my late teens. Since then i've always taken great joy in physicality...biking, hiking, swimming, volleyball. Last night, in the quiet darkness while listening to Vince Gill, i worked out. A variation of which i've done uncounted thousands of times. Four sets of push-ups, totalling some 200. Yoga poses. 170 sit-ups and other ab crunches, including one i invented in a headstand position. Plus other stuff, including weightless curls and thigh "limbo" blasts. It took about an hour. With less stretching, i can do it in half the time. It averages out to thirty minutes a day. Not a lot. Some people are surprised i get such results for so little. Many people in this society have an intimidated attitude when it comes to exercise. They lack the willpower to start, or continue, or whatever. And yet each of us is so cripplingly self-conscious about our looks! It is one of the schizophrenic conundrums of history that America is the fattest country ever....and it's no accident that we lead the world in homicide and violent crime. We are a people screaming inside with the pain of existence.
Canadians are screaming too, of course. But we're a little louder. Goooooooo U.S.A.!
Is it unfair to say that something is out of balance in the life of the woman i met this week? Think about it, and give the world your answer. The simple balance of how much food we consume, relative to how many calories we burn. And yes, i understand that America's relationship to food is nothing short of pathological. Restaurants offer individual servings that are enough to feed two. Plus many of us equate food with love, psychologically. But all that aside...this isn't rocket science, it's a straightforward consuming/burning equation. We have a coddling, enabling attitude toward being overweight. We invent cutesy terms like "BBW" (and "overweight", for that matter) to obscure the truth and make us feel better about ourselves.
Perhaps this woman chooses to not care about how she looks? In this society, is that even possible? Or perhaps she rejects being in shape, as a way of rejecting American values? But even if that's true, something still feels out of balance.
I like working out. I love how it makes me feel. If i don't feel like doing it, i don't. But most of the time i'm happy to do it, and am fairly sure i'd feel the same even if we lived in a world where fat was the ideal of beauty.
So was i just a shallow fool, letting a potential romance pass by? Such assessments can be less black and white than we might like. For did i also sense that she was more invested in the wheel of materialism than myself? Did i intuit that she was too "white picket fence"?
I intended this article to be a simple glimpse into one corner of my life...the uncountable hours of decades worth of exercise.
Why did it become something else? If i didn't know better (and i do), i'd wonder whether i weren't just trying to avoid the appearance of narcissism, by turning this into a pseudo-polemic. Yes, that sounds like fun...avoid a charge of narcissism by inviting accusations of shallowness.
This topic can be very emotionally-charged. For every person offended by my acute awareness of that woman's ass, there's another accusing me of being a namby-pamby apologist.
Can we work this out?

Monday, May 9, 2011

sisters' sisters

How can i write this article? It's wrong, it's atrocious, it's...not me. I'm about to lump people together based upon nothing more than THE COLOR OF THEIR SKIN. And i don't mean "people" in the abstract, for some treatise on race relations. No, i'm going to categorize people i've personally known, based upon nothing more than pigmentation.
The would-be genderblind, colorblind crusader. The guy who chastises African-Americans for being overexcited about Obama. The guy who cries inside as 99.999% of black women on a romance website identify themselves by skin color before you've even opened their ad.
In my feeble defense, they did it first. I've been asked by women of color, "Have you ever been with a sister?" You can reject their premise (which i do) but at a certain point you have to acknowledge that virtually everyone in this society DOES identify themself by their skin. And the vast majority of those possible few who don't, were afforded the luxury of being born white.
Also in my defense, there is a certain extent to which skin differences are more than skin deep. Differing socializations. Differing body chemistrys. It would be fun to make a scratch n' sniff book that asks you to identify six scents corresponding to six different people (white/black/asian male, white/black/asian female) who have been laboring in 100 degree heat all day.
So, to risk further disillusioning the unwashed mass of crickets who follow me, the answer to the aforementioned question, my sisters, I, Captain Colorblind, have never been with a sister. Reverberations of shock may now pass through you.
But let's not make a thing out of this. I may have a lot more life in front of me than behind. That said, i will now reminisce about my black "almost were" lovers, for no other reason than the goofy coincidence that passed through my mind recently...just one of the million and three idiotic thoughts that pass through all our minds on a daily basis. That coincidence? Based on my life, when it comes to romance BLACK WOMEN ALWAYS COME IN PAIRS. Which is not to say that black women favor threesomes, but that every significant romantic black connection of my life has always had a second woman attached.
For the purposes of this article, i define "been with" as a relationship involving oral, anal, or vaginal pentration. My own definition is much broader, but i'll use this one today because it's relateable for most people. By this definition, i have remained on the outside of "been with" by only the teeniest margin. There was the woman i spent one amazing night with, our naked bodies and genitals rubbing and sliding against each other while we kissed in bliss. I lost that relationship by trying to slow things down. There was also the "mulatto" (yes, we actually have that word in our language - but the one that really kills me is "octoroon") i held while she brought herself to orgasm...another wonderful, wonderful memory.
But by strict definition, i ain't "been with".
The first pair was a mother and daughter i lived with. I saw the mother naked twice, and was affected enough to fantasize about her, even though we had NO spiritual compatibility. With absolutely no romantic preamble, one day she asked me whether i wanted a child. Her daughter was a youth in the full flush of first sexuality, who would look at me with such intensity there could be no denying her intent. I was drawn to her with a power that was nearly overwhelming. It's possible i may spare a little dream about her even on the day of my death. I imagine going back in time and saying yes to the mother's proposition, only to stay within the family's sphere, to ultimately be with the daughter (there's a reason why that book by Nabakov is one of the greatest ever).
The second pair were sisters. I shared a spiritual romance with the first one before we met. When we did meet, we became close physically. After a week of holding and sharing, she suddenly told me she was ready for me to be inside her. But i knew that our friendship wasn't yet on firm ground, and chemistry-wise her pheremones didn't feel quite right (which is more than a fancy way of saying that i wasn't crazy about her smell...but it includes that). The moment i met her sister, i felt a carnal pull that feeds my fantasies to this day, and i'm almost entirely sure i affected her the same way. We never had the chance to be alone together.
As i thought this week about these women, my friend P came to mind, and i relievedly realized i wouldn't be writing this silly article, because there was no other black woman making a triangle with P and i. But then i remembered her sister! P and i have been friends for a long time, for most of which she's carried a torch for me, an "elephant in the room" we've never acknowledged. I love her spirit, but was never strongly attracted physically, and knew that differences in our rhythms would make any attempt at conventional romance a disaster. But when someone carries an undying torch for you, your fantasies can't help but go there. One of the things that stays my tongue whenever i get one of my urges for complete honesty, is the memory of how instantly attracted to her sister i was, the one time we met. I'm pretty sure it wasn't one-way. Sibling relationships are almost always fraught with some bizarre competitiveness, and i'm sure it would mess with P's mind to know how i felt about her sister, no matter how much time goes by.
There you have it. Black women. Pairs. Anyone have a line on what's going on with that?
That was rhetorical.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

M*A*S*H, season 1

-Requiem for a Lightweight
Marcia Strassman (WELCOME BACK KOTTER, HONEY I SHRUNK THE KIDS) is a newly-arrived nurse whom Margaret transfers out. Hawk and Trap want her back. Henry's price? An inter-company boxing match against Gen. Barker's (Sorrell Booke, THE DUKES OF HAZZARD) bruiser. Trapper, with ethered gloves, gets the girl. William Christopher's debut.
-Yankee Doodle Doctor
Hawk and Trap subvert a rah-rah documentary being made about the unit. The first indelible moment of the series, and the first time the show strongly veers from comedy for a moment, when Hawkeye stops clowning and tells how awful the war is. His Groucho routine is a gem.
Hawk and Trap invent a heroic officer. A seamless slice of cathode ray perfection. James Sikking (HILL STREET BLUES) has a fun moment as payroll officer. Tuttle "dies" in a parachute accident.
-The Ringbanger
Pure wonderfulness as Leslie Nielsen plays a wounded gung-ho colonel who is anxious to get back to the front, where his troops suffer twice as many casualties as other units. Hawk and Trap mess with his mind, to keep him off the lines.
-Sometimes You Hear the Bullet
A little miracle happens here. This episode is so breathtaking, and so much seems to be happening, that it feels like a full-length film while you're in the middle of it. A goofball buddy of Hawkeye's (James T. Callahan, CHARLES IN CHARGE) has joined the infantry, to write a book entitled "You Never Hear the Bullet". Frank is in traction, Hawk's wooing of a willing nurse (Lynette Mettey) goes comically unconsummated, and Ronny Howard(!) plays an underage marine who joined up to get revenge on a girl who snubbed him. Hawkeye's friend is killed, and he turns young Howard in. When Henry tells Hawkeye about the two rules of war, it's one of M*A*S*H's most unforgettable moments.
-Dear Dad, Again
A show that has found its stride. Seamless wonderfulness. Hawkeye bets Trapper that he can eat in the mess tent naked, and no one will notice. A brilliant new surgeon, Captain Casey, has a secret.
-The Longjohn Flap
In the middle of a cold snap, Hawkeye has the only pair of thermal underwear in the camp. Trapper loses them in a poker game, then Radar gives the away for a lamb with jelly sauce, then the cook gives them to Frank as a bribe, then Frank...priceless.
-The Army-Navy Game
An unexploded bomb falls into the compound. Whose bomb? Can they defuse it? Who gets the short straw? Will Henry read the directions correctly?
-pilot ***
A little all over the place, but a gem. A different Father Mulcahy, an enlisted Bruno Kirby with no lines, and a fascinating extended opening credits sequence. Hawk and Trapper run a raffle to send Ho-Jon to college in America.
-To Market, to Market ***
The wonderful Jack Soo (BARNEY MILLER) stars as a black market kingpin whom Hawk and Trapper must get hydrocortisone from. The only thing he wants is Henry's antique oak desk.
-Chief Surgeon Who? ***
The debut of Klinger, and the first poker game of the series. We love Ugly John.
-The Moose ***
Hawk and Trap object to a sergeant's owning a Korean girl, a "moose". They win her away in a poker game, and try to teach her to be her own person. A luminous, delightful performance by Virginia Ann Lee.
-Cowboy **
Chopper pilot Cowboy tries to push Henry out of a helicopter, whom he blames for not being allowed to go home to patch up his shaky marriage. Some of the show's most memorable comedic moments ("A double dear John John!") are undercut by a painfully unenlightened attitude toward monogamy.
-Henry, Please Come Home ***
A captured moment in time, during the first season of a show that could have had no idea it was to be the greatest television show of all time. There was a freewheeling "hit or miss" quality in the early seasons. Later seasons were more technically perfect, but also more self-conscious. In this seamless episode, Henry is bumped up to a cushy job in Tokyo, and the Swamp rats scheme to get him back with a "sick" Radar. As they're crossing the compound with a too-soon gone Spearchucker and Ugly John, it would make a great "wild bunch/resevoir dogs" poster.
-Dear Dad ***
It's funny...history thinks of Alan Alda as the archetype of the post-feminist sensitive male. And of course people think Hawkeye when they think Alan. Yet through modern eyes, it's quite something to watch Hawk react to a bent-over nurse in the operating room with, "You ever thought of leaving your behind to science?" Watching him chopper into combat surgery as Santa (despite the fact that it doesn't sustain much scrutiny) is one of the most enduring images of the show. Plus William Katt (GREATEST AMERICAN HERO) in a foxhole!
-Edwina **
The nurses stage a sex embargo until one of the men dates Edwina. So bad that it's almost good.
-Ceasefire ***
It unrolls like a joyous parade (with an ending that shows how many sins a laugh track can cover), as word spreads about the end of the war. Hawkeye invents a fictitious wife, Henry can't tell Rader exactly when they'll get together after the war, and Margaret falls to pieces with Frank. Trapper is the only one who suspects the ceasefire is a phony.
-Showtime ***
A sweet finale, it captures the cynical unself-consciousness of the early years as Hawkeye and Trapper fall asleep watching a USO show.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Deep Space Nine, season 6

-A Time to Stand ****

-written by ira steven behr, hans beimler
-directed by allan kroeker
Well-seasoned with guest spots (martok, joseph sisko, garak, dukat). The new cardassian occupation of Bajor is relatively benign, while the Federation is losing the war. Sisko is given a captured jem'hadar ship to raid a ketracel depot. Jeffrey combs (ENTERPRISE, THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS) come into full bloom as weyoun, balancing heartless autocracy with unilateral obsequiousness. Tight and dangerous.
-Rocks and Shoals ****
-written by ronald d. moore
-directed by michael vejar one badass episode. Sisko's stolen raider is forced to crash onto a planet where a jem'hadar ship has crashed. The lone vorta (christopher shea - 'TIL DEATH, MR. SUNSHINE) knows that the ketracel-white will soon run out, at which point the jem'hadar will kill everyone and themselves. He offers sisko an easy chance to kill them. Just when you think the grim ending will be averted, they choose to die, knowing full well they've been sold out. The landscape is barren and beautiful. The acting and writing provide one punch after another. Phil morris (STAR TREK III, SEINFELD) is haunting as the jem'hadar leader. Meanwhile, kira is stunned by a suicidal protest into realizing she's become a collaborator.
-Sons and Daughters **
Serving with his son, worf finds their relationship strained (and that on a new series with a new actor, alexander episodes are still lame). Kira and dukat experience acrimony on the reoccupied station.
-Behind the Lines **
Ensorcled by a renewed experience with the Great Link, odo betrays the resistance on DS9. A promoted sisko relinquishes command of Defiant to dax, leading to perhaps the most mawkish, uncomfortable acting moment of terry farrell's career. She gives a gung-ho speech, and it rings excruciatingly false. Bad acting in a situation the creators never should have handed her.
-Favor the Bold ***
Sisko plans a daring recapture of DS9, while rom faces Dominion treason charges.
-Sacrifice of Angels ***
Breathtaking. The Federation sends a fleet to liberate the station, in hopes of keeping the minefield intact. They fail...until the wormhole aliens erase the thousand jem'hadar ships coming through. Dukat's moment of triumph dashed, he sees damar cut down a treasonous ziyal before his eyes. Odo repents, sisko returns, and a deranged dukat babbles...
-You are Cordially Invited... *
Funny, i feel more "colonically invaded". The wedding (and bachelor parties) of worf and jadzia, who is put through hell by her prospective mother-in-law. Even with jadzia's interest in the male party entertainment, this one won't stand any test of time. To actual people of the 24th (or even 22nd) century, these attitudes on marriage and monogamy will be chillingly barbaric.
-Resurrection **
Bareil is back from the dead! Or not. Kira takes this atheistic thief from the mirror universe into her bed anyway, blind to his real intent. Say what you will about Bajor's spiritual retardation (and i do), they at least have a more evolved sexuality, with far less hangups and possessiveness.
-Statistical Probabilities ***
Four genetically-enhanced, socially-maladjusted geniuses who have been institutionalized most of their lives are sent to the station. Julian is able to make their genius more accessible. A sweet episode made so by hyperactive tim ransom (DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, COURAGE UNDER FIRE), compulsive flirt hilary sheperd (ADDAMS FAMILY REUNION, THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN), personal space-ignorant michael keenan (DALLAS, PICKET FENCES), and cataleptic faith salie (ALIEN AVENGERS, WILD THINGS 2).
-The Magnificent Ferengi **
Quark's mother must be rescued from the Dominion! Adding leeta might have saved this one (well, maybe), and made their number seven, which would have justified the title, oh producer morons.
-Waltz ***
A scorching psychological drama between sisko and dukat. Escaping from an attacked ship that had been carrying them to a hearing, dukat rescues sisko, who has plasma burns and a broken arm. Stranded on a planetoid, they play cat and mouse. Dukat is deranged, and hears voices. One star lost for the decidedly non-TREK nonsense about "good and evil".
-Who Mourns for Morn? ***
A dead bar patron leaves everything to quark...including four scheming, dangerous associates who crawl out of the woodwork (or the mudbath). This one's done so well, you might laugh out loud. Let's raise a glass to mark allen shepard - 93 episodes as the same character (on three different series). Five or six hours a day getting in and out of makeup, every single time. He finally gets a storyline, but does he get an ACTUAL line?
-Far Beyond the Stars ***
Sisko has a vision of being a sci fi writer in 1950s California, struggling to publish a story about a black space captain. The only episode to show the entire cast as humans...which is wonderful, especially for a cast which is percentage-wise more hidden by alien makeup than any other TREK. It's particularly wonderful to see, after nine years, a non-klingon, non-dour michael dorn.
-One Little Ship ****
-written by david weddle, bradley thompson
-directed by allan kroeker
A lovely execution of a fantastic idea. A runabout enters an anomaly that shrinks it to a teeny fraction of its size. Outside the anomaly, the Defiant is captured. The shrunken runabout (with jadzia, julian, and o'brien aboard) must fly inside the Defiant to help liberate it. A rollicking good time with wonderful visuals - the only time a runabout has ever moved the excitement meter.
-Honor Among Thieves **
O'brien goes undercover in the Orion Syndicate. Even if you're willing to buy the premise of an engineer spy, and the ease with which he achieves his infiltration, the relationships play out falsely - an execution that feels contrived, and a friendship that feels too shallow to justify all that follows (including a non-execution that feels...contrived).
-Change of Heart ****
-written by ronald d. moore
-directed by david livingston
Worf and jadzia are assigned to retrieve a cardassian defector. They hike through 20 kilometers of jungle - the visuals are strikingly beautiful, and the couple have never been more natural and playful. After they're forced to ambush a jem'hadar patrol, jadzia is critically wounded. Worf can complete the mission, or save her. His choice results in a dead would-be defector, plus a loss of military intelligence that could have saved millions of lives. As a consequence, he'll likely never again being promoted - a realistic, messy character choice which rings true (and perhaps never would have been shown on TNG). Perhaps the deftest touch comes after sisko gives his reprimand. Ben says that had he been in the same situation, he would have done the same thing to save the woman he loved...and it's not kasidy he invokes, but jennifer (the writing staff was willing to tell the truth, on more than one level). And what does it say about how far we've come, that it's probably never occurred to you that this episode shows a black man and white woman cavorting in bed? The power of science fiction...
-Wrongs Darker than Death or Night **
Kira goes back in time to find out whether her mother was a collaborator. In some ways (seeing a youthful dukat in charge of the occupation), this tale is charming. The writers inject shades of grey into nerys's black and white world...but perhaps not quite enough to underscore the point that under brutal oppression, it's pollyannish bullshit to hold people up to any "normal" measure of moral accountability. The point should have been given to sisko at the end, perhaps by simply cutting kira off with "She saved her family." And then cutting her off with the same line once more.
-Inquisition **
Section 31 arrests bashir on suspicion of treason. An ambitious effort, trying to encapsulate the notion of moral ambiguity and the end justifying the means. It's a worthy argument. But despite some high points, one more rewrite was needed.
-In the Pale Moonlight ***
How bizarre. Two episodes in a row presenting an identical theme. It is too much to hope that the next one will be the four-star version? This one is darker, and more believable. To bring the romulans into the war and save the alpha quadrant, sisko violates the Federation's most basic principles. Garak is shown at his most efficiently, chillingly amoral. Again it's tempting to get drawn into the debate, as though morality has some meaning in war. One of the most pernicious and blinding of all conceits is the notion that there is a moral way to conduct immorality.
-His Way ***
The romance between odo and kira never quite no small part because their separate characters never pop. But this one's pretty damned sweet. He spends the episode being coached in love by 50s holodeck lounge singer vic fontaine (james darren - GIDGET, T.J. HOOKER). Cool cat vic will return for seven more episodes. After years of buildup, these crazy kids finally kiss.
-The Reckoning *
Sisko deals with disturbing prophecies, and bajorans who are uncomfortable with an alien emissary. I think the creators had to be concerned about the franchise losing its path (or its audience), because they rarely let DS9 get so nauseatingly religious as this. Perhaps they wanted to backpedal, but knew they couldn't entirely, and so loaded all their festering ovum into a few baskets.
-Valiant ***
A ripper...that could have been an all-time classic with one more rewrite. Jake and nog are chased by jem'hadar into Dominion territory. The Valiant, a defiant-class training starship trapped behind enemy lines, rescues them. Their officers dead, the cadets are running the ship. Nog becomes chief engineer, as they try to finish an impossible mission. But tensions are high, and questionable choices are made. The destruction sequence is molto impressivo.
-Profit and Lace **
Grand nagus zek becomes a feminist...and is deposed. Quark is surgically-altered to pose as a female (if you have nightmares, don't say i didn't warn you). Henry gibson (LAUGH-IN, THE BLUES BROTHERS) joins the fun, and this weak product ain't his fault.
-Time's Orphan **
Molly o'brien is caught in a time displacement, and returns much older, having grown up alone in the wild. This one very possibly claims the all-time TREK plot hole record - orifices of every ilk that almost beggar description. Saved from one-star land by a feral female asian teen in a bar fight, and a sweet child-rearing subplot with worf and jadzia.
-The Sound of Her Voice ***
Perhaps TREK didn't do often enough what this episode does - play upon the quieter end of the emotional spectrum. Take away the excitement and danger of exploration, and the concomitant moral dilemmas, and ask yourself - how often does TREK feel like a mirror for our own quiet, lonely humanity? Part of that is unavoidable, if you accept the notion of a healthier human future. If so, the average 24th-century earthling will be far less neurotic and damaged than us. How do we then use TREK as a mirror, as good drama must? Two ways - use aliens as substitute humans, and put humans in exceptional this case, a crew that has been at war for months, with no end in sight. The Defiant speeds to the rescue of a stranded officer (debra wilson - MADtv, AVATAR) slowly asphyxiating. Everyone takes turns talking to her. They arrive to discover that she's been dead for years, an atmospheric barrier having time-distorted their communications. They each face their own loneliness and mortality, and her death becomes a metaphor for something the war has killed in them all.
-Tears of the Prophets ***
Jadzia is killed by dukat as he frees a pah wraith, sealing the wormhole. It's moving, but terry farrell's death feels a little forced. A jam-packed season finale, with nearly every standout recurring actor. Stunning space battles. The symbiont lives...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ezekiel & Daniel

Ezekiel 36:1-15
According to these verses, the mountains of Israel possess life, life with consciousness and understanding which is humanlike (eastern Buddhism, anyone?). This is an astounding concept, with far-reaching implications. What sets human life apart from other life, such that humans allegedly so special to the Lord? Consciousness? Understanding? If the mountains are humanlike in these qualities, then it must be considered that mountains are just as divine as humans. If so, then the numerous times throughout the Bible that the Lord orders land to be allotted and distributed must be viewed in the same light as divinely-ordained human slavery.
Ezekiel 37:7-10
What happened to these beings after the lord put breath into them? Did they live out normal human lives, or did they return to their lifeless state, once the Lord's analogy/demonstration had been made? If they did live, were they the same people they were before their original deaths? It does not seem just that these people should be allotted a second earthly life.
Ezekiel 39:1-6
Oh, these poor saps from the "north"...first, they're summoned by the Lord (Jeremiah 10:22) through no will of their own, to carry destruction upon It's "chosen" people. Now they're "sent for", again through no will of their own, to once more attack them Israelites. This time, our unlucky travelers get the holy shit (pardon the expression) kicked out of them. The destruction of the people of the north (as well as the earlier, albeit nicer, kidnapping) is, if not ridiculous, at least ridiculously unjust...
Daniel 3:29
Suitable epitaph for Nebuchadnezzar, tyrant of considerable bluster: "Mama didn't raise no fool".

generic dinner theater murder mystery

-summer 1999
Michelle got me to do a one-time performance of a show she'd produced previously, to be performed at a rich retirement community. It was paid, so i agreed. I remember very little, not even the title. It was part scripted and part improv, and i played the smug, smooth murderer. It was notable only in that one of the performers was Shane Skolfield, an affable English chap who was to become a good friend.