Monday, July 25, 2011

Voyager, season 6

-Equinox, pt. 2 ***
A galloping resolution. Janeway chases captain ransom (john savage - DO THE RIGHT THING, MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE), determined to bring him to justice for exploitation and murder. Her brutal single-mindedness causes chakotay to disobey. The doctor finds himself trapped aboard Equinox, with his ethical subroutines deleted. The writers flirt with inauthentic human motivation with janeway, the Equinox's exec, and ransom's redemptive about-face...but it's still a corker.
-Survival Instinct **
A bustling trading post provides much-needed diversion. Seven is approached by a free man (vaughn armstrong - CINDERELLA 2000, FINDING AMANDA) whom she doesn't recognize as a former member of her matrix. Two others are also free, but the three of them are unable to unlink. In trying to help them, horrible moral choices arise. Interesting potential, flat effort.
-Barge of the Dead *
WOW...was that bad. Dipsy-wipsy spirituality plus violence-glorification. If i were to try to create an intentionally awful TREK, something along the lines of "Springtime for Hitler" or "Sub Rosa"...i honestly don't think i could do worse than this. B'elanna is comatose, and has visions of her mother suffering on the klingon barge of the dead. After being revived, she convinces janeway and the doctor to place her back in the coma, despite considerable danger. I'm sorry, but cultural tolerance is NOT a universal good. Honoring your heritage is NOT a universal good. B'elanna has spent a lifetime rejecting the warrior ethos...and she was right. There would have been one way to take this nauseating turd and turn it into something profoundly good...have her die on the table. Really dead, end of character, done. This would leave her survivors (and the viewers) to live always with the utter senselessness of her death.
-Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy ****
-written by joe menosky
-directed by john bruno
The doctor installs a daydream program. An alien raider taps into his matrix, and mistakes fantasy for reality. One might perhaps be disappointed that the doctor's fantasies center on power and sex...but chalk it up to his programs being a reflection of the flawed beings who created him (Except...these 24th-century humans aren't supposed to be so flawed!). This episode supposedly has seven's sexiest moment, as she poses nude for the dreaming doc, but her sly wink several scenes earlier actually has much more simmer (which is not to say i agree with those anti-feminists who think lingerie is sexier than nudity...the nude scene IS a bit prudishly done). Aside from the humorous richness of the fantasies (emergency command holoprogram!), the alien makeup is some of the most brilliantly-rendered ever...and one of them named phlox (jay leggett - IN LIVING COLOR, HERO) begins to feel such empathy for the doctor (and self-serving horror at his own mistakes), he helps Voyager escape. I laughed, i cheered, it became part of me.
-Alice **
Tom restores a junkyard racecraft, but the craft's AI integrates (and commandeers) his consciousness. On top of the standard paris flaccidity, they never explain the ship's motivation. A game turn by john fleck (ENTERPRISE, WEEDS) wasted.
-Riddles ***
How large is tim russ's talent? It can make a neelix-heavy episode a delicate delight. Tuvok has his brain scrambled by an alien weapon. As he slowly regains speech, his blank slate is emotional and caring and needy...a veritable child. He is drawn to jazz, dessert, and Risa, and develops talents his old self would have found frivolous. He must decide whether to undergo a procedure that will restore his former unemotional self. Russ's performance is a revelation, as rich as any TREK turn ever.
-Dragon's Teeth ***
Pulled into a space corridor, Voyager travels at transwarp speeds. They are ejected by a race who claim corridor ownership. They ally with some downtrodden aliens, but discover that their new partners once enslaved much of the quadrant. A tense, tight meditation on making a deal with the devil when you don't know the nature of the beast...which is the most realistic way to present such a dilemma.
-One Small Step ***
Voyager discovers an ancient subspace anomaly that intermittently emerges in different parts of the galaxy. The Delta Flyer finds the command module of a lost Mars exploration vessel, and listens to the final recordings of the astronaut (phil morris - TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES, LOVE BOAT: THE NEXT WAVE). Disaster strikes, and they have to use ancient technology to escape. Enchanting.
-The Voyager Conspiracy **
Assimilating too much data, seven develops conflicting paranoias that infect the crew. An alien claims to have a machine capable of sending them hundreds of light years in an instant. The acting and chemistry are three-star, but the script needed another pass.
-Pathfinder ***
Reg!! NEXT GEN's lt. barclay is back (and back on Earth), on a Starfleet project attempting to contact Voyager by creating a microwormhole. He created a holoprogram of the ship, but the crew (portrayed with nice touches, like having the maquis still in their old uniforms) became more real to him than real people. Deanna troi (marina sirtis) takes temporary leave to counsel him. The psychology of it is almost eerily credible - a social misfit becoming obsessed with a ship hopelessly lost. He disobeys orders and commandeers the lab, convinced he can make contact. Can obsession help a damaged individual make breakthroughs no one else would? It might just tighten your chest. Dwight schulz = lovely TREK.
-Fair Haven ***
During a storm, the crew takes respite in tom's holoprogram about a pre-industrial irish town. Janeway alters the pubkeeper's character (fintan mckeown - IMMORTAL BELOVED, WAKING NED DEVINE) to make him her romantic ideal...then decides that an entanglement with a holoprogram is inappropriate. The doctor steps in with sage advice, and the captain keeps an open mind (while simultaneously preventing herself from tweaking sullivan's program further). Does the captain finally get some "euphemism" after six years? Alas, kirk and gloria steinem are rolling over in their graves.
-Blink of an Eye ****
-written by joe menosky
-directed by gabrielle beaumont
Of all the four-star TREKs, this one is perhaps most conspicuous for its absence of an x factor (some transcendent humor, excitement, or character development). Voyager gets trapped above a planet where seconds in orbit translate to years on the surface. They watch a civilization develop, and respond to the presence of a permanent "skyship". The doctor is the only one able to beam down, and a technical glitch leaves him stranded for three years (during which time he becomes a father...his own "Inner Light" moment). Finally, a planetary rocket achieves orbit, and the surviving astronaut (daniel day kim - 24, LOST) is sent back to help them break free. This episode would tower in any collection of exemplary sci fi.
-Virtuoso ***
The doctor's long-suffered unappreciation finally bursts, when a snippish, superior alien race to whom music is unknown, heaps hero worship upon him. They invite him to become their world's musical genius, and he resigns his commission. The crew respond with consternation and hurt. He soon realizes he's only a passing fad however, and that the woman (kamala lopez - THE BURNING SEASON, I HEART HUCKABEES) he thought loved him, only loved his matrix - so she designed a "better" one. Alternately hysterical and poignant, as is often the case with picardo's work. All the short actors in Hollywood were hired to play the aliens (a nice touch, as the doctor towers over his fans). And the perfect cherry on top of this treat? Composer/singer paul williams (THE MUPPET MOVIE, THE DOORS) as the alien leader!
-Memorial **
An away team returns, and has traumatic hallucinations of being soldiers involved in an accidental massacre of their own civilians. They find a malfunctioning memorial of a civilization long gone, which sends neurogenic waves into space so that passersby will never forget what happened. The logic is shaky - are the writers contending that all the intentional massacres in war are somehow LESS of an atrocity than the unintentional ones? It's a good premise, but a better anti-war example could have been chosen
-Tsunkatse **
Seven and a wounded tuvok are kidnapped, and she is forced to compete as a gladiator. This deck is...stacked. So how does a tank-topped, ass-kicking seven, plus tuvok, plus jeffrey combs (DEEP SPACE NINE, ENTERPRISE) plus j.g. hertzler (DEEP SPACE NINE, ZORRO) plus dwayne johnson (BE COOL, TOOTH FAIRY) equal anything other than four stars? By asking us to believe that 24th-century humans think that people beating each other up is good fun. The wonderful hertzler doesn't quite ring true as hirogen, and dwayne's WWF eyebrow-raise is embarrassing.
-Collective ***
A matrix of borg children separated from the collective, the only survivors on a damaged cube, kidnap the crew of the Delta Flyer. Seven tries to reason with them, and Voyager acquires four new passengers. The delightful debut of manu intiraymi (ORANGE COUNTY, J.EDGAR) as icheb.
-Spirit Folk **
A return to Fair Haven has tom making the characters unprecendentedly realistic, but the townsfolk grow suspicious of the crew's witchlike powers.
-Ashes to Ashes ***
Killed three years earlier, lyndsey ballard (kim rhodes - SUPERNATURAL, BEETHOVEN'S CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE) returns, having been reanimated by an asexual race who reuse and genetically-realign corpses. She tries to reintegrate, and sparks a romance with harry. But the effort overwhelms her, and her new family comes looking.
-Child's Play ***
Seven has mixed feelings over icheb's birth family being found, then discovers that he was genetically engineered to be an anti-borg bioweapon, and that his mother and father (mark sheppard - GALACTICA, SUPERNATURAL) intend to sacrifice him again..
-Good Shepherd ***
Janeway takes three misfit crewmembers (a hypochondriac, a screw-up, and a brilliant misanthrope) on their first away mission. Harren (jay underwood - UNCLE BUCK, AND THE BEAT GOES ON: THE SONNY AND CHER STORY) is profoundly non-deferential, which is a refreshing burst of humanity. Disagreements among the regulars have less impact, because you know every problem will be ironed out by the end of the episode.
-Live Fast and Prosper **
A trio of con artists impersonate janeway and tuvok, in order to swindle the gullible. A game effort that looks good on paper, but doesn't quite take off. Too much neelix, perhaps.
-Muse **
A marooned torres is captured by a local from a bronze age culture, who demands she give him Voyager stories for his acting troupe. Kudos to the producers for their willingness to try something offbeat, but john schuck (M*A*S*H, STAR TREK IV,VI), tony amendola (BLOW, STARGATE SG-1), and kellie waymire (ENTERPRISE, SIX FEET UNDER) are largely wasted.
-Fury **
Kes returns, determined to seek vengeance for being abandoned. it morally acceptable to thwart the plans of someone who doesn't like you, by going back in time to enlist that person's help when they DID like you? It doesn't quite rise above the traditional kes flaccidity, but there are fascinating, fun moments. Plus a lil' more vaughn armstrong.
-Life Line ***
Pulsar technology allows Voyager monthly communication with Starfleet. When he discovers that his creator is terminally ill, the doctor becomes convinced he can be projected through the pulsar to save him. Barclay and deanna are waiting on the other side, but a less-than-warm reception awaits from the prickly dr. zimmerman. A bravura dual performance from transcendent as he is as a hologram, we're missing something not seeing more of him as flesh and blood. Tamara marie watson (ODYSSEY 5, COLD SQUAD) gives a touching performance as an unexpected hologram who accesses the prickly genius's humanity. And scientist richard dawkins gets a shuttle named after him.
-The Haunting of Deck Twelve **
Voyager goes on emergency-systems-only shutdown. Neelix is assigned the task of calming the borg children. He tells a ghost story...or is it?
-Unamatrix Zero, pt. 1 ***
Seven finds a virtual world where sleeping drones exist free of the collective, and discovers that she was an intimate part of their community for years. The borg queen (the hypnotizing suzanna thompson again) has discovered the unamatrix, and is planning its extermination. Janeway decides to send a strike force with a viral weapon into a borg cube, in an attempt to keep the unamatrix free. She, tuvok, and torres are assimilated...

Thursday, July 21, 2011


12:15PM - i masturbate prior to working out, a common practice. Inhibiting ejaculation makes me more energized after sex, not less so. I play the cd GREATEST by Duran Duran, starting at track 10. In the mildly air-conditioned basement entertainment room of my home, i stretch and dance.
-I do 97 push-ups.
I feel a pimple on my ass, and squeeze it unseen.
-I do 115 ab crunches + 45 horizontal knee-raise ab twists.
I scratch a piece of dry skin on my nose where a dark hair sometimes grows. Looking in the mirror i scratch the skin away, exposing no hair but leaving a red wound that may be obvious for days.
-I do 15 vertical kicks with each leg, swinging my foot as high as i can.
I notice a pain on my left big toe at the inner base of the nail. It is red; a possible infection from pulling the nail clippings out of their skin bedding. I heard once that such infections can be avoided by clipping around the imbedded bit of nail, a practice i did not adopt.
-I do 75 push-ups.
I imagine making love to a woman i met yesterday while walking the dog, shirtless. She scratched his ears and made a comment that could only be interpreted as an assertion of her desire for physical attention. I was attracted, but noticed her legs were a little chunky and that she had tattoos. I calculated the likelihood of a tattooed person being a "hard partier", and that combined with the legs kept me on my side of the door she opened.
-I do 45 partial handstand push-ups. I used to do them all the way, but that led to the equivalent of shin splints in my chest.
I start jotting notes for this article.
-I do 120 speed air punches.
I notice that the song "Skin Trade" is better than i've ever given it credit for.
-I do 40 push-ups.
I get the urge to look at myself naked in the mirror.
-I do 70 seconds of urdhva dhanurasana.
I look up yoga terms, assuming they describe the things i do.
-I do 17 kneeling limbo-thigh/buttock blasts.
My nose mark isn't as red as i feared.
-I do 50 push-ups.
More reps than the third set? That never happens.
-I do a headstand + 20 inverted leg lifts + a bhuja-headstand vrischikasana.
I run out of written inserts.
-I do 27 air curls. I can make my arms as veiny-bulging and leaden as anyone with dumbells.
I don't shower, as i may spend the rest of the day alone (and masturbate several more times).


The owner of a Florida restaurant i did storytelling and acting in, we knew each other for a few months. In her forties and raising children alone, she had been born and raised in Germany, and still had an accent. When we met, i turned to my friend Donna and said, "Now there’s a sexy woman". I meant it, but not in a smitten way. As time went by, i got signals that she was attracted. A few weeks before i was to move to New York, i invited her to spend time with me before i left. She accepted. She had given me admonitions that she didn’t have a typical female mindset and wasn't interested in monogamy, or certainly not jealousy. She described herself as more of a man, sexually. The first night she visited we talked awhile, then showered and went to bed. Naked and cuddling, it became sexual. I kept the brakes on, which didn’t suit her. She said she wasn’t attracted to a man very often, but didn’t like to waste time when she was. I told her that i favored a strong emotional connection before sex, but she said that sex was an avenue to love, not an end result. We fell asleep. She had to leave at 4:30AM to care for her children, and when we awoke, the cuddling became sexual again. Suddenly i was on top, and in her. I came within seconds, overcome with "what the hell am i doing" thoughts. Maybe a part of me had thought i could be the person she wanted, but i realized i couldn't. I pulled out, over her protests. She left. I visited her a couple nights later. A part of me was sympathetic to her point of view, but i said that i would be awful as a sexual partner to someone i barely knew. She said that for all my bravery in other areas, i was so fearful in this one. I already knew that i had exposed myself to possible infection, because although it had been five months since her last partner and she had been monogamous with him for years, she had had questions concerning his fidelity. She had been tested and come up negative, but it was my understanding that HIV had a dormancy of up to two years. I offered her cuddling and kissing. She accepted, and i stayed the night. Sometime that night, her head moved quickly down while she was kissing my torso, pulling me into her mouth. A part of me wanted her to do it. I’m not trying to rationalize my lack of control - it’s not like she was irresistible to me. The fact that i hadn’t had a partner in three or four years may have been a factor. She gave me oral sex for a few minutes. If i had felt myself coming, i would have stopped her. We fell asleep. I spoke with her a few more times before i moved, but said that our being physically close would only bring her frustration. She was easy to talk to, up to the end.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sexual Perversity in Chicago

-summer 2000
Even though HOOTERS had been a touch risque, it had actually been conservative compared with what was coming. Lee County was part of the southern Bible Belt - fairly quiet with many retirees, but striving to attract more and more tourists. Family-oriented, yet the most prevalent nighttime entertainment was alcohol. Most of our press was wonderful, but one of the shoddier moments in journalism came when one reporter/editor tried to get me to tone down our plays, saying that he and others had "soft-soaped" the coverage of our first show. And that was nothing compared to the acrimony our second show stirred up within the Orpheus itself. I had long been enamored of David Mamet, a Pulitzer Prize winner and one of America's premier playwrights for over two decades, who had never been produced in Lee County. I chose his most overtly funny play, which had been made into the lame Hollywood product ABOUT LAST NIGHT. It was a four-character piece about Dan and Deb, a young couple trying to stay together, often despite the efforts of their best friends, Joan and Bernie. Bernie is a misogynist blowhard, and Joan a man-hating ball-buster. I cast Amanda as Deb, and newcomer Leela Nolte as Joan. Leela had studied theater in Pittsburgh, and she made a wonderful impression. There wasn't a large turnout at auditions, but we got just exactly what we needed. A fellow named Michael Steen read for Bernie. He was a professional actor from Chicago who had come south to get his life together. Great talent and passion. Bernie had most of the funny lines, but i figured that i'd had 'em in the last show, so someone else could have them this time. And the chemistry was right for me to be Dan to Michael's Bern. Another auditioner was Derek Redd, a newspaper writer who had jumped out of his socks when he read that we would be doing Mamet. He was funny, and so enthusiastic that i had to find a place for him, so i created - Bob. Bob would be an office/drinking buddy of Dan and Bern's. I found a couple scenes where he could hang out with us. I shifted him a couple of Dan's lines, and had him take Dan's place altogether in the porno movie scene. It may have been just our particular group chemistry, but the fifth character added to the show immensely. I also did a good deal of splicing in lines and scenes from the movie. The play was better than the movie, and my composite was better than both. It took Derek and Amanda and Leela a while to grasp Mamet's use of language, as he writes the way people talk. When they finally got it, they were almost giddy at how good it felt. Things went wonderfully for a couple weeks, but then Michael didn't show up for a rehearsal, and i couldn't get him on the phone. This happened occasionally with Leela too, but i knew that she would always be at the next rehearsal, and would never miss a show, even if she were the last one to arrive (which she always was; if call was at 7:30, Leela would be there at 7:51). But with Michael, i had a feeling of dread. I knew he had been fighting manic-depressive demons. His next rehearsal arrived. No Michael. I let the other actors go, and later that night i replaced him. I thought i might have to take his place, as i'd had an easier time with the language than Derek and i judged that Bernie was the most important character. But i gave the part to him. If I kept playing Dan, it would be less disruptive for the girls, and truth be told, at that point i didn't want to give up Dan. I was falling in love with the character. Something told me that Derek would be fine, once it clicked. But i didn't want to lose Bob! So we cast Derek's roommate Will Graves. Michael had been more seasoned and maybe a little intimidating to some of the cast, but Derek quickly made us forget that anyone else had ever spoken Bernie's lines. He was less alpha than Michael, which made it easier to laugh at him. Will was a sweet addition, as talented as he needed be, and a good fit socially (he and Leela made a love connection). Amanda had always had a wounded quality, and during these months i fell in love with her in ways i had never experienced. We staged our bar scenes at the Orpheus bar. It was fun for the audience to not know where the next scene would come from. On our stage, we had many scenes to deal with (28) in many different locales, so i designed a minimalistic, fluid set. It became moreso as the play went on. The final scene was at the beach, and for the first week we used the burlap and blue sky from HOOTERS. We eventually realized that the audience didn't need the extra frills. When the show opened, it was like nothing i'd ever experienced. Everyone was so completely in love with what was going on. Not just with their own parts, but the whole thing. I've never done another show where all the actors backstage are CONSTANTLY mouthing and mimicking what's taking place onstage. Where the actors coming offstage are jumping up and down, trying to contain their jubilation...not just after opening, but after six weeks of production. Most actors go a lifetime without experiencing anything like it. The reviews were wonderful and the houses were full (we even squeezed in 45 one night, at $10 a head). VIPs came from professional theaters and the local college. A couple months later, the county's premier reviewer, Charles Runnells, asked me how i had achieved something so amazing. I told him that even with good people in a positive environment, group chemistry is a guessing game. But a lot of professional shows never achieve our level of excitement, as matters of "business" taint the dynamic. We didn't have separate dressing rooms, and i was proud of how relaxed the cast was with that. I chose not to do onstage nudity. Amanda wasn't ready as an actress, and i figured i'd wait a bit longer before springing that on the community. The show was more risque than HOOTERS, but i never heard a single negative audience comment. We almost never opened, however. It became clear early on that Tony was our champion, in the face of family opposition. They were old-world Greek, prone to emotional violence. Some of them were Orthodox, and the content of the play distressed them, particularly Tony's bother Timo and Timo's wife Dina. During tech week they threatened to shut us down, and did throw us out one night after Tony had gone home. After our final rehearsal, Tony and Timo came to blows. Opening night, we knew that Timo might try to stop us. I downplayed it to the actors, but didn't lie. The show went undisrupted, as did the rest of the run (except for the time a father with his kids stood up and shouted at us to stop using profanity). We extended the show two extra weekends, and the houses were just as buzzing our final weekend as they had been the first. One or two of the actors expected pay during the added two weeks, due to a miscommunication. Disappointing them pained me, and i learned a hard lesson about the need to make such matters precisely clear. In the third week, Will had a prior commitment, so we rehearsed a replacement Bob. I called on Jim Hawley, an auditioner. He was a jokester who fit right in. He performed three or four shows, and did much to add to his part...almost too much, the night he added a fart noise to his passed-out character. I told him it hadn't quite worked. In Jim's defense, it was the funniest moment of the run for stage manager Shane, but who can figure the humor of these Brits? Picking out specific moments is hard when every scene was a highlight. Every actor, every line, every gesture, just soared to a realm that was indescribable. Partly because Deb's anger came from a place Amanda knew maybe too well, she gave a performance that was years beyond her level of development. Derek was hysterical perfection, an absolute monster. We all were. I sensed that our performance was probably better than at least 90% of the professional SEXUAL PERVERSITY productions that had ever been staged. One night, a paper airplane i idly launch nosed through a ceiling chain, and stayed. We had an unscheduled appearance from actor the bedroom scenes, i wore boxers that had a button in the fly (this replaces one large opening with two smaller ones). One night, Amanda and i were doing a bed scene with her on top, and she looked down. I saw this brief look of startlement in her eyes, and suddenly knew why the stage had been feeling a bit breezy. She went right on, and in a few moments i was able to shift my contents back. The way Leela chowed down on Amanda's salad...Amanda's delivery of the line "You are a lousy fuck!"...Bernie and Bob's reactions when a canine appears in a porno film...the way Derek entertained us backstage with his Cosby and BRAVEHEART voices, riffing on elements of our pride and love for this group were beyond words.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Enterprise, season 3

-The Xindi ***
Dark, gritty. Expanse spatial anomalies defy the laws of physics. Searching for the xindi, archer and trip travel a river of feces, tracking down an inmate (richard lineback - NATURAL BORN KILLERS, RETURN TO MAYBERRY) of a subterranean prison. The debut of the wonderful stephen culp (THE WEST WING, THIRTEEN DAYS) as MACO major hayes. I don't hear angels sing when t'pol takes off her jammie top, but i do lose some coherent thought...almost enough to blind me to the realization that placing her hands over her breasts, thereby displaying twentieth-century human bodily shame, is painfully illogical.
-Anomaly ***
Attacked by pirates, Enterprise follows them to a mysterious sphere.
-Extinction **
On an alien planet, archer, reed, and hoshi are genetically transformed into once-extinct aliens.
-Rajiin ***
Enterprise helps free a sex slave (nikita ager - AUTO FOCUS, TOMCATS), unaware she is a xindi operative. Her pheremonic chemistry with everyone (t'pol included) simmers.
-Impulse ***
Zombie vulcans!! Responding to the distress call of a lost ship, they find the crew has been transformed into mindless killers by a neurotoxin. T'pol becomes infected.
-Exile ***
A telepathic alien living in exile offers Enterprise xindi exchange for hoshi. A lesser reviewer would jump at the chance to make a joke about asian mail order brides. You may breathe a sigh of relief that i'm not a lesser writer.
-The Shipment ***
Enterprise finds a xindi lab producing a key element in the weapon being built to destroy Earth. The lead researcher (john cothran - ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, BOYZ N THE HOOD) is unaware of the kemocite's intended use, and agrees to sabotage production.
-Twilight ****
-written by michael sussman
-directed by robert duncan mcneill
A brilliant swirl of tenderness and excitement. Long-term memory-negating parasites infest archer's brain, leading to a future in which Earth is destroyed. Twelve years later, phlox arrives with a treatment on Ceti Alpha V, where the 6000 human survivors live. Trip and malcolm are captains. T'pol has been jonathan's caretaker, and their relationship has "developed". Curiously, this episode inferentially stumbles upon the only solution to the problem of monogamy (other than embracing the fact that it's unnatural). For over a decade, archer and t'pol have probably made love most every day, and every time for him was the first! Sadly, marriage certificates don't currently come with memory-negating parasites.
-North Star ***
Enterprise discovers an unknown human colony living an Old West existence, and apparently suppressing an alien race.
-Similitude ****
-written by manny coto
-directed by levar burton
Trip is mortally wounded, and only brain tissue harvested from an alien clone injected with his DNA can save him. The clone has a fifteen-day lifespan, plus trip's memories. He falls in love with t'pol, and has a hellacious time trying to reconcile the sacrifice that is asked of him. Archer's darkest moment, in an episode that grips you by the chest. The only flaw is having t'pol and sim not make love.
-Carpenter Street ***
Archer and t'pol are sent back 150 years to Detroit, where they must try to stop xindi agents trying to destroy Earth.
-Chosen Realm ***
A group of religious fanatics commandeer Enterprise, for a holy war. This episode feels more like a lost episode of the classic series, than perhaps any offered up by any of the sequels.
-Proving Ground ***
Enterprise finds the xindi superweapon testing ground, and gets surprise help from shran in raiding it.
-Stratagem ***
Xindi mammalian degra (a ten-episode arc for randy oglesby - LIAR LIAR, THE ONION MOVIE) awakens in a shuttle with archer, who tells him they escaped from xindi insectoid prison. The scenario is a ruse to extract intelligence.
-Harbinger ***
A great (er, very good) little ride. The malcolm/hayes tension comes to a head. After a MACO smooches trip, t'pol initiates a sexual encounter (with him, not her). The first, and sadly last, appearance of corporal cole (noa tishby - BIG LOVE, THE ISLAND).
-Doctor's Orders ***
Traversing a trans-dimensional phenomenon lethal to humans, the crew is put into stasis while phlox pilots the ship. He begins having paranoid(?) delusions. When the phenomenon proves larger than expected, he must initiate the warp engines alone.
-Hatchery ***
Saving an abandoned xindi insectoid hatchery, archer becomes obsessed with the eggs' safety.
-Azati Prime ***
Archer plans to pilot a one-way shuttle mission to destroy the superweapon. Daniels begs him to not go.
-Damage ***
After a reptilian attack, Enterprise is stranded without warp drive. They meet friendly aliens who have a warp coil, but are unwilling to trade. Archer makes a dark decision.
-The Forgotten ***
Archer tries to convince the mammalian and arboreal xindi that the sphere-builders are using them as disposable pawns, to make the Expanse livable for them (and unlivable for others).
-E2 ***
Enterprise encounters a version of itself that was thrown back in time 117 years, and is crewed by the ship's descendants (plus an aged t'pol). The captain, a vulcan/human, is played with delicate nuance by david andrews (APOLLO 13, FIGHT CLUB). Delightful.
-The Council ***
Archer is heard before the xindi Council, trying to convince them they've been manipulated. His chief ally degra is murdered. The season's slow build pays off in this brisk and dangerous offering. Much credit goes to xindi actors oglesby, tucker smallwood (THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM, SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND), rick worthy (INSURRECTION, GALACTICA), and the ferocious scott macdonald (JARHEAD, THRESHOLD).
-Countdown ***
While the reptilians force hoshi to decipher a launch code, the arboreals, primates, and Enterprise ally themselves.
-Zero Hour ***
Archer races aboard degra's ship to stop Earth's destruction, while Enterprise tries to stop the sphere-builders. The day is won, then archer wakes up in a nazi field hospital. Ain't that always the way?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hosea, Zechariah, Malachi

Hosea 5:2
STAN: Well, Ollie, we're sure in a deep pit of Shittim now.
OLLIE: I can SEE that!
Zechariah 14:7
Is this verse saying that the Lord's perception of reality is not of night or day or of change at all, but is instead one single awareness of past, present, and future? While that would contradict the changeable nature the Lord of the Bible has exhibited heretofore, in itself this verse might be testimony to a truly "all"-knowing God.
Malachi 2:3
Putting aside any why-doesn't-this-happen-and-doesn't-that-make-the-Lord-a-liar protests, this verse is groaning with comedy. The term "shit-faced priest" will never be the same for me.

Friday, July 1, 2011


-spring 2000
Sometime that winter, i was sitting at the counter of the Orpheus Cafe, a new Greek/American restaurant near Times Square on Ft. Myers Beach. I had just met Tony Mallous, one of the brothers who owned the place, a gentle-speaking man with a quick smile. He was in his late fifties, and had much of the old world in his voice. He asked what i did, then asked whether i would be interested in starting a theater in the cafe. I said sure. For the first project, i chose a Ted Tally beach comedy. It seemed a natural choice, with the surf only sixty feet away. The show was funny, and a little risque. I wanted to avoid mainstream shows. Tony, who wanted the Orpheus to become a cultural center, supported this. There hadn't been live theater on the island for a few years. The show was about two buddies one year out of high school who go to Cape Cod for a wild weekend, and the two slightly older women they meet. I cast Drew Shaffer as Cheryl, the sex object who is engaged to a successful, boring man. I played Ricky, the cocky and brash one. I cast Josh Chapman as Clint, the sensitive one. Josh was a college theater student, as was his girlfriend Lisa Owens, whom i cast as Rhonda, Cheryl's best friend who is disgusted with men. The girls want to get away for a weekend, but the boys fall over themselves trying to impress Cheryl. Much to Rhonda's dismay, Cheryl encourages them. After a beach picnic, Clint ends up spending the night with Cheryl, while Rhonda and Ricky are left on the beach. They hate each other, but when the morning comes, they're the ones who actually overcome some walls. Drew wasn't over-talented, but with the right actors, we could make her look good. Lisa and Josh had talent, and were good to work with. I told my actors that there would be no pay until we were selling well enough to expand to more than three nights a week. In my first effort as producing artistic director, i was also director and designer. I supplied the money, and procured the set and props and costumes and lights and marketing…and it was wonderful. I threw myself into 8-12 hour days, seven days a week. I hit garage sales, and became quite adept at getting results for little money. My Mom was visiting from PA, and she and my Aunt Joyce did a lot of the sewing of our curtains. Mom also made us a Snoopy sweatshirt. There was a line where the boys refer to a "dumpy chick in the Snoopy sweatshirt". It seemed an obvious reference to Rhonda, but when i presented the shirt to Lisa, her vanity wouldn't allow her to wear it. We had rehearsals at my Grandmother's house, whom i was taking care of and living with. It was cute, shepherding Josh and Drew through their kissing scenes. They were nervous, but i kept the atmosphere light, and had them play intimacy games. My buddy Shane was our stage manager. We performed in a corner of the restaurant and made one entrance from outside, coming through the audience. I bought cloth backdrops to serve as night and blue sky and hotel walls. A 20'x15' piece of burlap was our sand. The set piece that meant the most to me was a hotel window, which hung by wires. On the day the window was finished and up…it was so beautiful, the illusion i was creating with my own hands. I stood there, filling with such happiness and pride over a window. We could seat forty, and played to crowds of fifteen to twenty-five. The restaurant staff were slow in understanding how to quietly work a show. Audiences and critics were delighted with the intimacy of it. My favorite scene was with Rhonda. I put a red gel over a floor light to simulate a beach fire, while we played out some sweet and poignant moments. My scenes with Josh were wonderful too. I had most of the funny lines, and it was a blast when the audience really started laughing. One of the things i instituted as a tradition was the absence of a curtain call. I had long been disenchanted with curtain calls, which i found obligatory and often insincere. I told the actors to do as they wished, once the show was done. We would usually acknowledge applause, or not. Sometimes we would just walk out to greet people we knew (that was what i commonly did). After our third week, Lisa hurt her leg at home, and decided that it was in her best interest to drop out. Somehow Josh got confused and thought that the show would be cancelled, and failed to show up to our final Thursday, which we then had to cancel. I had found a replacement actress and worked with her. We went up on Friday with Lucy Parnes as Rhonda, book in hand. She had been one of the original auditioners. She was nervous, but got through it okay. She couldn't do the Saturday show however, so i prepared Amanda Parke to play the part. Amanda was my buddy Jason's girlfriend when i had met her the preceding year. She had acted in her first show only the summer before. She was a little cuter than Rhonda ought be, but we roughed her up. Even with only one day of rehearsal, she and i made some nice moments. I had scheduled two encore performances, for a fifth week. But that week, long after she had confirmed being available, Drew said that she now had to work. My hands were tied and my heart broken, because i hold my promises so very sacred. I knew that i wouldn't be working with any of my three original actors again, at least not for a long time. So the Saturday show with Amanda became our final performance. Even with some self-destructing at the end, the run was delightful. I left it brimming with enthusiasm.