Sunday, June 23, 2013

laura

WOMEN 75
I came across a personal ad from someone “looking for a pirate”. Having swashed a few buckles (or is it buckled a few swashes?) in TREASURE ISLAND, i responded. She turned out to be cool and quirky, into fairies and sci fi and renaissance fairs and online video games, with an offbeat sense of humor and fashion (the few aspects of Weird Al’s “White N’ Nerdy” that i didn’t embody, she covered). She’d been in the city for a couple years, and worked as a vet tech in an animal research lab. We started dating almost immediately, and were together for a couple months. She had fun friends, and lived in Queens. We took things slow physically, as she had some intimacy issues, having been molested by a father and then a brother. She'd also had some destructive, dysfunctional grownup romances. I didn’t worry about that (though in the end i got a bit steamrolled). When we finally had vaginal intercourse, there was blood on my penis afterward, which she said was the result of an abortion that had gone wrong. She said it wasn’t anything to worry about, and didn’t want to talk about it. But i wasn’t going to continue having intercourse with her if it made her bleed, and also not until she was ready to talk about things more openly. She had a bisexual side she’d never explored, which i found perfectly cool. She asked whether i’d be willing to have a threesome with another girl, and i said yes, with the right person. Sadly, the relationship soured before we explored that. I liked her a whole lot, and didn’t care about minor differences and incompatibilities…i was open to growing with her as far as we could. But in the end, i was too open and too loving. One night, i told her i loved her (love, not “in love”), and she didn’t handle it well. Another night, i innocently told her that i’d found one of her best friends attractive. It’s understandable that she didn’t handle that well, but i was just trying to be wide open…and i also had her threesome desire in the back of my mind. The relationship destructed soon after. At one point, she called and asked me to give her number to my brother John, as she wanted to fuck him. I did so, but gave Johnny ample warning about her questionable motives. I tried to stay patient and loving as she blew us up. Early on, a silly moment of pirating on the subway, making “arrrrhs” which led to “Ohhhs” and “Uuuuus”, led me to write a play about a silly sea where pirate bands have different “letters” they say in conversation. I was finally able to read it with her months later, and was so happy we were able to share that, as she enjoyed it very much...which avoided having our last memory be about hurtfulness.
Postscript: this is the first time that posting these memoirs triggered contact from a lost friend...Laura just wrote to me about a couple more of her darknesses i'd forgotten (a then-recent sexual assault) or never knew (anti-depressant O.D.s). She was touchingly loving in her tone with me.

monologues & improv

FRIDAY NIGHT MONOLOGUES/SATURDAY NIGHT IMPROV
THEATER 70
-summer 2003
It had been two years since i’d turned directorship of the Orpheus Players over to Donna McDonald. I’d stayed in touch, had seen most of their plays, and even written a newspaper review of one. They continued to do good, often powerful, material. Their leadership tripod consisted of Donna, Amanda, and Mark List. In the months following the Red Curtain demise, Donna approached me regularly to come home. I demurred, feeling it would be a step backward. They’d moved to The Holmes House, a restaurant further down the beach, which had a separate performing space. Finally, Donna offered a project that caught my attention. She wanted to have a troupe do weekly comedy improv. I was beginning to make plans to move to New York - my brother John lived in Jersey City, and had invited me to stay. WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY? was one of my favorite shows ever though, and i had never really tested my improv chops. It seemed a minimal investment for hopefully a lot of fun and growth, so i joined, and also contributed to an evening of monologues. The troupe consisted of Donna, Mark, Amanda, Carrie Hill from BURIED CHILD, her husband Brad, and myself. Brad was great, we got along real well. He’d never done any acting, but after some initial stiffness, he blossomed. There were also occasional players, among them Tammy, Alexis, Robin, John, and Lucy Harris. Lucy was double-takingly good, and a delight to be around. Only eighteen, she already had much experience, including several of her own shows produced. The evening of monologues had Donna doing “Angry Vagina” from THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES, and the Wendy piece from GOD’S SPIES. Amanda did a Kevin Smith abortion piece, and one about learning to love her vagina (through the attentions of afficionado Bob). Mark did a SEINFELD compilation about dating, and a piece about a man who’d been an angry protestor until he’d been committed and electro-shocked. Sheryl Ruppert did pieces from CHICAGO and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. I was worried about chemistry with her, for she was bitterly angry with me after i’d turned down a role in a production of EXTREMITIES, because i didn’t agree with the casting. We talked, and began the healing process. Our final monologuist was Carrie, who played a very funny would-be socialite, and an out-of-work geisha coming to America to be an exotic dancer. For my pieces, i chose LETTERS FROM THE EARTH, by Mark Twain. I played Satan, writing home to the other archangels. I wanted to do the character as Twain wrote it – thoroughly erudite, and naked. Nudity, however, would have to wait until New York, and i bowed to the wishes of my troupe-mates with a more stereotypical Satan, with southern accent and the horns-and-tail bit. I adapted it myself, doing a compilation of the first three letters, and Letter 8 for my second piece. In full red/black face makeup, i got a lot of very nice feedback. The improv nights, which ran for a couple of months, were generally a hoot. We incorporated audience participation, and did games like “Party Quirks”, “Driving in a Car”, “Human Clay”, and “Group Therapy”. I was happy with my work, and surprised at how well the troupe did. Chris and John, professional stagehands, did our lights and sound, and they were great company. I was concerned with pre-show drinking among a few actors, but there was never any full-on train wreck. I was the only one to never miss a performance. We had fantastic audiences, and the show was rousingly received.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Charlie's Angels"

1976-1981
-created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts
Feminist watershed or regressive objectification of women?
How about both?
Love it or hate it (or again, both), it was hard to be ambivalent about the cultural phenomenon that was CHARLIE'S ANGELS. Single, employed, empowered women kicking butt in a man's world, in a profession that it would have been laughable to imagine any woman doing a generation before. The single ANGELS male regular? A clown. Who was almost never central to the plotline.
Indeed, the only other comparable bursts of prime time estrogen in television's first half-century were 1981's CAGNEY & LACEY, 1984's KATE & ALLIE, 1985's THE GOLDEN GIRLS, and 1986's DESIGNING WOMEN. Notice anything about the proximity of those dates to ANGELS? Over three decades later, women still trail men in percentage of television leads, by a large margin...but at least no one talks about HOT IN CLEVELAND as a "woman's" show.
A compelling case can be made for THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW as the first female-dominated show, but a majority of the regulars were male. Plus, studio execs wouldn't allow Mary to be divorced (unlike one Sabrina Duncan). Mary wasn't given duties commensurate with her talent (once freed from the sexist police force, no Angel ever took a backseat to any other detective). Unlike her male co-workers, Mary deferred to her boss as "Mr. Grant" (did you ever hear an Angel utter "Mr. Townsend"?).
Of course, the flip side to all that...
The ANGELS opening credits intro ("Once upon a time, there were three little girls") is arguably the most patronizing tagline in television history. They were perhaps reaching for irony, but still...
ANGELS reduced serious women to sex objects. No Angel would have been out of place on the catwalk. Sex was an overriding factor in the show's success, in a way that reinforced the notion that a woman's worth is measured by her beauty (though to be fair, they didn't use sex as gratuitously or obviously as other shows - i'm lookin' at you, T.J. HOOKER).
Too often, the Angels solved their problems in male ways. A lot of bad guys received angelic beatdowns. Not even a radical feminist could be happy about that.
And behind it all, there was a mystery male pulling the strings.
Still, argue about whether the bad outweighed the good, but you can't argue that there wasn't a lot of good going on. These women were nobody's fools, excelling in a male-dominated world...and that's something which can never be taken away from the millions of little girls (and boys) who watched. It would be intriguing to find out how much of that was intentional. Is it possible that "charlie" was Ivan and Ben's deal with the devil (and no, i don't mean Aaron Spelling, but don't tempt me)? Would "SARAH'S ANGELS" have even made the airwaves?
Aside from all that, if you managed to get past your reservations, the show was a hoot! The stars complained of a dearth of great scripts, and not without cause. But their sexy/silly adventures were a brilliant formula. Nor was it all mindless...most people don't remember, or never took the time to find out, but there were genuine forays into the darker side of life. And a lot of the best episodes were the ones that took character study seriously.
So here, a salute to all things (classically) ANGELS!
FIVE GREATEST EPISODES (season)
-Angels in Chains (1)
-Angels at Sea (1)
-Angels in Paradise (2)
-Fallen Angel (4)
-One Love...Two Angels (4)
JACLYN SMITH
-Kelly Garrett, 110 episodes
In many ways, the quiet heart of the show (as opposed to the brains of Sabrina, or the groins of Jill). Lurking in her character were an orphan's abandonment issues...underneath that sweetness, there might have been someone a little high-maintenance, or even occasionally unreasonable. But no other Angel put herself on the line to help others as much.
KEL-A-THON
-Target: Angels (1)
-To Kill an Angel (1)
-Unidentified Flying Angels (2)
-Avenging Angel (4)
-Angel's Child (4)
DAVID DOYLE
-Bosley, 110 episodes
How underappreciated are this man's contributions, this Bosley John Bosley? The subtle line of comic relief he had to walk? He never descended into caricature, and always made the people around him better. All three Angels were never strictly required, as the interplay between them was fairly interchangeable...CHARLIE'S ANGEL probably would have been a success. But thankfully, we never had to learn what a Bos-less episode would be like.
BOS-A-THON
-Magic Fire (2)
-Antique Angels (2)
-The Sand Castle Murders (2)
-Angels in Waiting (3)
JOHN FORSYTHE
-Charles Townsend, 109 episodes (voice)
Immaculate pipes, Mr. Forsythe. But even as a kid, i knew there was something not quite right about his playboy ways. Did Ben and Ivan make that aspect of the show intentionally cheesy, to undercut it? One might be tempted to regret the fact that the network never forked over the bucks John wanted to finally appear in an episode. But in the big picture, history should be thankful. His absence guaranteed that nothing would mar the show's belonging incontrovertibly to...the women.
CHERYL LADD
-Kris Munroe, 87 episodes
Replace Farrah? Have you taken leave of your sanity?? It can be argued that the show broke no new ground in its final four seasons, so Cheryl's quietly towering achievement is perhaps lessened...but that's a myopic view. How many more impressionable children were touched by ANGEL magic in those four seasons (and the syndication that resulted)? Everything about Cheryl's excellence will forever be a bit diminished by a certain shadow...but her understated charm and unimpeachable talent brought about an almost unforeseeable result. The show thrived, and lost no ratings steam at all.
KRIS-A-THON
-Caged Angel (4)
-Angel Baby (2)
-Angel on my Mind (3)
-One of Our Angels is Missing (4)
-Love Boat Angels (4)
KATE JACKSON
-Sabrina Duncan, 69 episodes
How dynamic was Kate? How coolly intelligent? If i hadn't been a male child living in a sexually repressed society, might my (and everyone's) favorite Angel have been Sabrina? It might be worth mentioning that the ratings drop-off that DIDN'T follow Farrah's departure, did follow Kate's. And the show never bounced back. None of that is enough to make me watch SCARECROW AND MRS. KING, though.
SABRINATHON
-Lady Killer (1)
-Circus of Terror (2)
-Angel in Love (2)
-Angels on the Air (2)
FARRAH FAWCETT
-Jill Munroe, 29 episodes
Sigh. See http://nakedmeadow.blogspot.com/2009/06/farrah.html.
FARRAHTHON
-Dirty Business (1)
-The Blue Angels (1)
-Angel Come Home (3)
-An Angel's Trail (4)
SHELLEY HACK
-Tiffany Welles, 25 episodes
Was she hampered by how tentatively the producers used her? Given more time, might she have come into her own? She was far from awful...which is a lot harder than it sounds.
TANYA ROBERTS
-Julie Rogers, 16 episodes
Awful. Just really awful. More wooden than Long John Silver with a stiffy. And it genuinely pains me to say that, as the loyalty inspired by BEASTMASTER is the forever kind. But completely out of her element here. Literally hundreds of people (producers, directors, writers, actors, technicians) tried to make her look good...and failed in every episode save one. For a look that is somehow both deeper and shallower, read http://nakedmeadow.blogspot.com/2011/01/tanya-roberts.html.
SOON-TEK OH
-Lt. Torres, 4 episodes
The answer to one of the greatest ANGELS trivia questions - who was the only non-regular, recurring character in show history? Soon-Tek was also M*A*S*H's all-time guest star M*V*P.
FOUR-STAR EPISODES
-pilot (1)
-Angels in Chains (1)
-Target: Angels (1)
-Dirty Business (1)
-Angels at Sea (1)
-The Blue Angels (1)
-Angels in Paradise (2)
-Angels on Ice (2)
-Angels on the Air (2)
-Angel Baby (2)
-Angels on Horseback (2)
-Angels in the Backfield (2)
-The Sand Castle Murders (2)
-Angel Come Home (3)
-Angels Ahoy (3)
-Angel on my Mind (3)
-Marathon Angels (3)
-Love Boat Angels (4)
-Fallen Angel (4)
-Angels on Skates (4)
-An Angel's Trail (4)
-One Love...Two Angels (4)
-Island Angels (5)
LEFTOVER-A-THON
-Angels on Ice (2)
-Terror on Skis (3)
-Marathon Angels (3)
-Angels Ahoy (3)
-Angels Remembered (3)
-Island Angels (5)

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Charlie's Angels, season 5

1) Angel in Hiding ***
For this two-part debut of Angel Julie Rogers (Tanya Roberts - THE BEASTMASTER, A VIEW TO A KILL), the writing is solidly middling. But the episode is elevated by the genuinely creepy performance of coke-bottle eyeglassed Jack Albertson (CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, CHICO AND THE MAN). Plus Christopher Lee! It's also in the running for the most "that guy"-heavy ANGEL episode ever. Shelley Hack's departure is given about one line (they might as well have just said "Yeahhhh...she's gotta go see a guy, about a...thing"). Tanya's backstory has juice - a fashion model raised on the mean streets. Whether we're ready to buy it, is another story. But anyway, the times they are a-changin'...at least a bit. Remember that "once upon a time there were three little girls" intro? The puke-inducingly patronizing one? In this final season, it's gone! Kind of. It's now "three beautiful girls". I'm sure the producers felt very progressive. Now if they had just stopped calling women "girls"...
2) To See an Angel Die **
The crew visit the newly-opened hawaiian branch of the Townsend Agency. Within minutes of arrival, Kris is kidnapped by a family who blame them for killing their runaway mother who committed suicide three years earlier after Kris arrested her for prostitution, then a psychic (Jane Wyman - THE LOST WEEKEND, FALCON CREST) appears and mysteriously leads them to Kris. Whew! Underneath a groaning premise, there's actually some hard-hitting stuff about family dysfunction and the abusive mind.
3) Angels of the Deep **
All the ingredients of an ANGEL feast. Angels in bikinis in paradise, plus...Sonny Bono! And Antonio "Huggy Bear" Fargas (STARSKY AND HUTCH)! Warhol muse Patty D'Arbanville (NEW YORK UNDERCOVER)! And Gary Lockwood (2001, STAR TREK "Where No Man has Gone Before")! Sadly however, the writing and directing? Hackneyed. Ah well. Also, the series debut of local police liaison Lt. Torres - the irrepressible, adorable Soon-Tek Oh (M*A*S*H's greatest serial guest star)!
4) Island Angels ****
Fears of a lame duck final season, begone! The Angels help the police I.D. and apprehend a terrorist assassin, whom they must suss out from amidst a package tour of...resort singles! Yes, absolutely yes. The writing is sharp enough that, even with the unfair advantage of knowing that the killer must be among the recognizable guest stars, most audience members will be chasing red herrings. And oh, what herrings! How about Lyle Waggoner (THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW, WONDER WOMAN) frolicking in the surf one day, then found floating tits up in it the next? Or Randolph Mantooth (EMERGENCY!) as a reclusive doctor? Toss in Barbi Benton (DEATHSTALKER) as the resort entertainment director, and Keye Luke, whose KUNG FU experience doesn't help him escape a hand-to-hand beatdown from Kel! Plus Carol Lynley (THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, eleven FANTASY ISLANDs), cracking an all-boys club with charm and grace. The ride goes on and on. If you're not careful, your laughter will too.
5) Waikiki Angels **
Angels and Oscar Goldman versus Grizzly Adams! Sadly, the reality falls far short. It's undercover lifeguard time, to stop a series of dune buggy attacks/kidnappings, including the obligatory senator's daughter. Either the writer was a full-blown alcoholic passing out of the "functional" stage, or his child finished the writing while Daddy was passed out. Dan Haggerty and Richard Anderson are wasted on a script that has Hell's Angels types dressing and acting more like Brady kids. Patrick (son of John) Wayne is here too. The only thing worth notice is the lifeguard trial. Who'd have thought that Kel would kick Kris and Julie's asses?
6) Hula Angels **
Kris and Julie go undercover in a hula nightclub, after the owner is kidnapped. If an hawaiian lounge singer repeatedly performing "The Beat Goes On" appeals to you, you've found your happy place. Joanna Cassidy (BLADE RUNNER) plays the heavy.
7) Moonshinin' Angels **
Undercover Angels with hillbilly accents? Check. Feudin' families with rival children secretly in love? Check. The greatest single non-verbal windup to a line of dialogue in television history, courtesy of actor Steve Hanks in his first scene? Check. However...are we happy we've left Hawaii? Sigh. We are not. Mid-season report on Tanya: they're giving her more to do than her predecessor...but we're not sure yet whether that's a good thing. In terms of eye candy, it's nice that she has a bit more muscle tone than any previous Angel. It's long overdue, considering that "detective" is an ostensibly physical profession. The Tammy Faye makeup doesn't help, however.
8) He Married an Angel ***
One of the more intricate ANGEL plots ever, as they attempt to convince a con man that Kris is a con woman, and the marriage they're arranging for him is fake (it's not...because his "mark" is actually in love with him, and the Angels decide that these crazy kids should be together for, y'know, life). The intended father-in-law has mob ties. David Hedison (VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, LIVE AND LET DIE) is his usual fine self.
9) Taxi Angels **
It looks good on paper, with Angels posing as driver, dispatcher, and roller-skating waitress, but it's one of the more listless moments in show history.
10) Angel on the Line *
A too-close inspection of agency security/investigative protocols might make one wonder how Charlie managed to stay in business...or how the Angels generally managed to not, y'know, die. Guest star Bruce Watson is given a plum dual role, but in the end the only message seems to be "transvestites are psychotic AND EVIL". The only merit in this one is historical curiosity, as the action centers around a singles club where every table has a phone that connects to any other table. Oh, those wacky 70s.
11) Chorus Line Angels ***
A little slice of fun, a Broadway revue posing as an ANGELS episode. As disappearances shroud a show preparing for a Vegas audition, Kelly joins the line. She's just as good as she needs to be, and the production numbers are charming enough to make you forget a few plot holes and uninspired moments. Why does the cast look like they're having more fun than any time since Hawaii? Perhaps it's the director...Mr. David Doyle, the only cast member to ever helm an episode. This one also qualifies as the third-most surreal episode ever (after that Bill Bixby LSD trip in season 1, and "Marathon Angels"). Why? Because they finish the big finale, then for no apparent reason...do it again! After a minute of questioning your sanity, you'll figure out that they probably came up a few minutes short in the editing room. Wild.
12) Stuntwomen Angels ***
The best ANGEL episodes were usually two things - silly and sexy. With those done right, any number of sins might be forgiven. In this one, a mysterious archer is shooting people at a movie studio. All three Angels become stuntwomen. It's a little out there, it's a little less than sharp, but it's all fun. Uber-"that guy" Denny Miller notches his third ANGEL appearance.
13) Attack Angels ***
It was a fine line the show walked, between silly and stupid. Often, the difference lay in the luck of chemistry. As Angels investigate high-level deaths in a rising corporation, Julie goes undercover for a company that's been feeding them efficiency experts...only to be hypnotized into becoming their newest assassin! The always deliciously-evil Eric Braeden (THE RAT PATROL, TITANIC) plays her tormentor, Dr. Joyce Brothers has a cameo, and sci fi luminary BarBara Luna plays a hypnosis victim. In Tanya's most shining ANGEL moment, framed within a plot that THE NAKED GUN would be happy to borrow from eight years later, the chemistry is good to her.
14) Angel on a Roll **
A Kris episode with loads of potential. She latches onto a bank thief heading to Vegas with a wrist calculator, but the chemistry never pops.
15) Mr. Galaxy **
Angels, meet beefcake! Beefcake, meet Angel toe! It's long past due that half-naked males get some screen time here. Angels investigate shady doings at a bodybuilding contest. Another episode written  by some grade school contest winner - much of the slick detective work seems to consist of breaking and entering in busy buildings in broad daylight...but deny this fun we cannot. And yes, Tanya gives a country full of sex-starved males the most heart-stopping glimpses of girly bits ill-concealed by wardrobe since Farrah and her national treasure chest. One star lost for Kris' convincing an ex-boxer pacifist that he's a sissy.
16) Let Our Angel Live **
OUT WITH A...well, a whimper, pretty much. How many other iconic shows ended with an, um, clip show? And it's not even a good one, as they barely clip the early seasons. It's a bedside hospital episode, with Kelly again shot in the head. What, did she have a tattoo on her scalp that read "AIM HERE"? The only two moments of real juice are after Kel is shot, and Bosley goes a little medieval on the shooter. Then at the hospital, Kris basically cries out "Where the FUCK is Charlie? His five-year employee was just SHOT in the head!" The choice of shooting victim is unfortunate on other levels, too. Why couldn't Kris or Bos take a turn? And not to be callous, but if Julie had been shot, the final show conversation (and the clips attached thereto) would have been richer, being shared with the three veterans, and we would have been spared having to listen to Tanya, um, speak. Ah well, it is what it is. And what it was, was a hell of a run.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

"BSG: Blood & Chrome"

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: BLOOD & CHROME ***
-created by michael taylor and david eich
2012
Set ten years after CAPRICA and forty before BSG, the story follows the first military mission of William Adama, in the first war against the cylons. As an over-achieving recruit, Adama is chagrined to be assigned a "milk run", far from the action. There are a myriad of secrets and misdirections about to be exposed, though. The film is visually breathtaking, and the action breakneck. Perhaps more attention to character might have been a good thing...with the exception of Adama, one doesn't care greatly about anyone. Eich was the co-creator of the BSG re-boot, but character may have been more the realm of his partner Ronald Moore. Or it may just be that the chemistry doesn't quite pop. The story itself is a winner - an overeager young pilot (Luke Pasqualino) partnered with a cynical veteran on his last mission (Ben Cotton), transporting a mysterious, alluring passenger (Lili Bordan). You can see Adama thinking with his little head, not the big one...but Lili comes off flat, like a brilliant foreign actress who is out of her element speaking english. Nonetheless, there's not a production flaw in this gem, and franchise fans will find great satisfaction. There are hat-tips to the classic: for that reason alone, an evening of this and RAZOR would be a lovely ride.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

"The Break-Up"

-directed by Peyton Reed
2006
This Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughn dramedy has a nice premise – instead of ending with boy and girl finally together, it dispenses with all that by the end of the opening titles, and proceeds to the falling apart. Bravo! Now, i’m about to knock this film hugely. I wouldn’t do that if i didn’t have a little respect for it - the creators are not idiots, and they genuinely tried to make a non-idiotic film. But future generations might hold this film up as a crystallization of how our society is so painfully, horrifically dysfunctional with sex and romance. The film's fatal flaw is taking the easy way out – instead of rendering the relationship in realistic shades of grey, they turn Vaughn into a clichĂ©. He’s so irredeemably selfish (and to his charming credit, he almost makes it believable), the only possible resolve is a transformation of his inability to open up to her – which isn’t ridiculous in and of itself, but it takes a complicated issue and turns it into cookie-cutter pop psychology. Beyond that, watching these two fall apart has an utter inevitability to it, when perceived with a clear eye on human nature. No two humans could endure these kinds of stresses without love turning into something like hate (in that respect, the film is quite realistic). The two of them live together - in scene after scene, the door shuts with them alone in their gilded cage. Their mutual isolation is almost visceral…and in an environment like that, OF COURSE the things that annoy each other get magnified a million times. OF COURSE they break up – anyone would, and that should be the message of the movie. In a society that had any sense, these two would never be allowed to have almost ALL of their self-worth defined by each other, with almost no escape from the presence of each other. But that’s who we are, that’s what we do. The only other thing worth mentioning is the luminous talent of John Michael Higgins (BEST IN SHOW, A MIGHTY WIND). The original ending was a performance of “The Rainbow Connection”, by his character’s a capella group. Higgins arranged it himself. It’s pure brilliance.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

floridyllic...

Sand, mangroves, water, warmth...
I must be on the Gulf of Mexico.
After a decade in the concrete jungle and a spiritual journey that left me too emotionally vulnerable for my own good, i come to Estero Island for healing. Battered, hypersensitive to my own pain and the loneliness, anger, and fear that emanates from all those around us...undertouched, underloved, and in a mild depression...i come to this familiar shore.
Before going to Nuevo York, i lived in these semi-tropical parts for eight years. I took care of my grandmother, became a working actor, and founded a couple edgy theaters.
By beautiful chance, i'm in the very same little apartment in which i last lived. On a canal, 150 feet from the beach. In the home of two dear friends who went north for the summer shortly after i arrived, i now keep company with a brimming host of fauna. On any given day, you might meet lizards, pelicans, ibis, heron, egret, seagulls, crows, and squirrels. Possibly a snake. A crab on the dock. The occasional periplaneta americana. A two-foot iguana. Or Norman, the baby osprey! He and his mother share a nest here...you should see him wiggle his head at me.
I trim trees. I eat the coconuts that thud startlingly to the ground. I spend more of my life naked, than not. The rainy season has arrived, and when the storms whip in, you might find me on top of the third floor roof. Most days, i walk out to the beach to drink in the lithium sunset.
Such beauty. Such peace.
In the interest of full disclosure, i should also mention that this island is, by any reasonable standard, "overdeveloped"...which is probably what anyone in this country not in the "1%" can expect. When's that non-violent revolution coming? Estero Island might also laughingly (and with truth) be named "Booze Beach"...the #1 local diversion is varying levels of self-medicating inebriation.
How is my new home different? In New York, i got called "young man" once or twice a year - here, once or twice a week. In Florida, they don't wear bike helmets or underwear. I embraced one of these changes the very first day, the other i still resist.
Not everything is perfect...the person i most dreamed of when i came here, with whom i imagined finally reaping the fruits of full friendship i'd been carefully sowing for over a decade, is in a spiritual shambles. Turning to alcohol to escape from the misery of hormonal love addiction modified by the jealous possessiveness our society attaches to romance, she's incapable of offering me even the most simple human compassion. That same darkness is keeping her ex, another with whom i'd hoped to share all the comforts of friendship, in anti-social squalor as well.
But i'm breathing. Alive.
On most days, i no longer feel the stress-related stomach unease that has been my companion for many months. In truth, a tiny part of me had wondered whether i were coming here to die. Whether the genie i had let out of the bottle could never be returned.
But even in the midst of crashing disappointment, i've learned something immeasurably important. Living with my zombie-like friend for a week, so close to hope i could touch it, my sleep became markedly restored from the interruption and insomnia of the past year.
Healing is possible...for me anyway.
I know the barrier that stands between anyone and true health, in this broken society. After food and shelter, our most basic needs are love, touch, and laughter. In this society, all you'll find are negotiation, personal space...and laughter.
That laughter will be lacking in quantity, however, and colored by our deprivations.
But desperate laughter is better than none at all.
Bad touch is better than none at all.
And the hope for love is almost as powerful as the real thing.
There is hope. For me, and for all of us.
Norman thinks so, too.

"Caprica"

2009-2010
This prequel to the 2004 reboot of BSG didn't survive into a second season. And it's understandable why - for a long stretch, the show loses its sharpness. Set fifty years prior, the main characters are daniel graystone (eric stoltz - MASK, PULP FICTION), a caprican scientist whose company invents the cylons, and joseph adama (esai morales - LA BAMBA, NYPD BLUE), a tauron lawyer, and father of william adama. The acting is fine, the visuals delightful. Genre fans will love the appearances by lesser BSG alum, plus teryl rothery (STARGATE SG-1), james marsters (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER), and christopher heyerdahl (STARGATE: ATLANTIS). The show finally pulls out of its mid-season mush with something approximating a vengeance - watching the first five and last five episodes might leave you irked at yet another bungling network axe job.