Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Credits Trek!

When i write film/TV reviews, i like to list a credit or two for actors i mention by name. I do this because i have genuine affection for them, and because it's fun. I often avoid the obvious credits - i choose based on hipness, genre, or the entertainment potential in the obscure. Who knew that so-and-so had a line in COCOON: THE REVENGE? It's not about snarking...i like actors, and they ply a cruel trade. Who am i to laugh because someone kept food on the table by playing a pizza gal in SAVED BY THE BELL - TRADE SCHOOL?
Well, okay, once in a blue moon a little snark never hurt anyone.
But never mean-spiritedly! And i never give a TV credit based on a single appearance. My benchmark is a minimum of three episodes as a recurring character.
In TV reviews however, i generally take the regulars for granted and only list credits for guest stars. I figure the regulars get enough attention. It's time though, to rectify that for the most copiously reviewed show on this site - STAR TREK! It's time to give the regulars from these five series their moment in the spotlight (or lowlight, or sidelight). For fun's sake, i'll go a little more obscure than normal, and suspend that three-episode minimum. Let the smiles, surprises, or salutes roll. If there's a little snarkery herein, it's hopefully the kind in which a little voice at the back of your mind says, "Okay...yeah, i kinda gotta see that."
STAR TREK
george takei* (TWILIGHT ZONE, MIAMI VICE)
william shatner (HOWDY DOODY, MORK & MINDY)
leonard nimoy (GET SMART, BANGLES GREATEST HITS)
nichelle nichols (PEYTON PLACE, TARZAN)
walter koenig (GIDGET, I SPY)
deforest kelley (GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL, THE DONNA REED SHOW)
james doohan** (BEWITCHED, MACGYVER)
THE NEXT GENERATION***
wil wheaton (THE LAST STARFIGHTER, FAMILY TIES)
patrick stewart (WILD GEESE II, BAMBI II)
brent spiner (HILL STREET BLUES, MAMA'S FAMILY)
marina sirtis (BLIND DATE, DEATH WISH 3)
diana muldaur (MOD SQUAD, KUNG FU)
gates mcfadden (THE MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER)
jonathan frakes (CHARLIE'S ANGELS, THE DUKES OF HAZZARD+)
michael dorn (ROCKY, PUNKY BREWSTER)
denise crosby (TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER, 48 HRS.)
levar burton (LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR, FANTASY ISLAND)
DEEP SPACE NINE
nana visitor (KNIGHT RIDER, DOOGIE HOWSER M.D.)
alexander siddig (KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, SYRIANA)
armin shimerman (WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW!, COP ROCK)
colm meaney (MOONLIGHTING, THE GAMBLER III)
cirroc lofton (BEETHOVEN, MOESHA)
terry farrell (THE COSBY SHOW, BACK TO SCHOOL)
nicole de boer (TEKWAR++, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S SENIOR TRIP)
avery brooks (A MAN CALLED HAWK, AMERICAN HISTORY X)
rene auberjonois (KING KONG, WONDER WOMAN)
VOYAGER
garrett wang (FLESH SUITCASE, THE AUTEUR THEORY)
tim russ (SPACEBALLS, 21 JUMP STREET)
jeri ryan (WHO'S THE BOSS?, BOSTON LEGAL+++)
robert picardo (SILVER SPOONS, AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON)
ethan philips (LEAN ON ME, JEFFREY)
kate mulgrew (REMO WILLIAMS: THE ADVENTURE BEGINS, CHEERS)
robert duncan mcneill (MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE, QUANTUM LEAP)
jennifer lien (THE LION KING 2, AMERICAN HISTORY X)
roxann dawson (A CHORUS LINE, BAYWATCH)
robert beltran (EATING RAOUL, BUGSY)
ENTERPRISE
connor trineer (TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL, TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES)
linda park (JURASSIC PARK III, CRASH)
anthony montgomery^ (I'M THROUGH WITH WHITE GIRLS, FRASIER)
dominic keating (JUNGLE 2 JUNGLE, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER)
jolene blalock (STARGATE SG-1, STARSHIP TROOPERS 3)
john billingsley (THE WEST WING, CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES)
scott bakula (MAJOR LEAGUE: BACK TO THE MINORS, AMERICAN BEAUTY)

* also appeared in the 1975 series KHAN!
** also played chief o'brien in the 1992 film DOUBLE TROUBLE
*** five cast members had roles on GARGOYLES (six if you count colm meaney, plus three TREK actors from other series)
+ boss hogg's son
++ yes, shatner
+++ yes, shatner
^ please don't tell me he was in ANTHONY AND CLEOPATRA?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

this week 1 (addendum)

Six months ago, i regaled you with reflections on a week in which (1) a teenager made a pass at me, (2) i got my first white hair, and (3) found out i had possibly contracted a social disease (unrelated to #1):
http://nakedmeadow.blogspot.com/2013/09/this-week.html
I must follow up, as it turns out that at least two of those things are untrue.
No, the teenager wasn't an undercover twentysomething cop...or WAS she? I wouldn't know, for to my discredit, i gave her none of the satisfaction she was seeking. That's no joke - the fact that our society provides no outlet for the natural sexual curiosity of youth, is certainly one of the top three causes of the myriad social ills we face.
No, rather, i do NOT have HPV - my little back blemishes are seborrheic keratoses, a benign, non-viral, non-communicable growth common to the non-young.
Except i DO have HPV! That is, inasmuch as i had one or two warts on my hand when i was young, which means that the virus (a non-genital strain) is still inside me, in its non-active state. Statistically, you have it too. Can one get multiple strains? Sure! I now know oooodles of stuff about HPV, which as much as 90% of everyone will get.
And, i do NOT have a white hair! Not any longer, anyway. No, that doesn't mean what it would mean coming from any other vain, ageist fool - i didn't pluck or dye.
It's just gone.
The white color, that is, not the hair itself. The hair just seems to have (poof) returned to its former hue.
Talk about embarrassing - i made a big deal out of my ascension to tribal elder! The keratosis is evidence that i've not started to age in reverse...
But then again, i have a pimple too! Wheeeee!
No, i'm sure this is just one of those curiosities of the human body. I'm sure it's happened to several of you, too?
Hmm...
Do ass pimples count as youthful?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

"24 Nights"

Eric Clapton
1991
If you're not a Clapton fan, if you've never been one, if you've always appreciated and respected him but have never been drawn in...
This is the one bit of music you must listen to. If this doesn't make you a fan, nothing will, and you can go merrily about your claptonless way. Perhaps your indifference has been justified. Perhaps for as brilliantly talented as Eric is, he's just a very celebrated example of the derivative music that began pouring out of England in the sixties, as snot-nosed white kids did their best impersonations of Muddy Waters or Howlin' Wolf. Perhaps you've even liked Clapton, but have always been a little uncomfortable with the idea of a blues legend who became a millionaire in his twenties. Perhaps you were turned off by the more pop-y stuff he's cranked out.
Yes yes yes yes yes...
I'm not saying this concert set will make you a slavering fan. Even the most ardent fan would be hard-pressed to argue that his lyrics are distinctive, either as poetry or point of view.
But...
Listen with an open mind, and you might be swept away.
Recorded over 24 nights at the Albert Hall in 1990 and 1991, it's broken down into four lineups. A 4-piece band, a blues band (Robert Cray, Johnnie Johnson, Richard Cousins, Jamie Oldaker, and Buddy effing Guy!), a 9-piece band, and finally, the fullest sound of all as the National Philharmonic Orchestra joins the previous lineup. The choice of songs is almost perfect (of the fifteen, the only one that feels even a little tedious or toothless is "Pretending"). The greatest cut of all is an original song, "Edge of Darkness", an orchestra piece co-written by the conductor, Michael Kamen. It's a hurricane of a song...it makes you feel like you're listening to the greatest guitar player in the world standing on top of a mountain as an angry storm levels everything around him.

Monday, March 10, 2014

punk sure!

(a guide for the minimally impaled)

puncture wound n. - A flesh tear deeper than it is wide.

Puncture wounds are rare (at least for those of us who haven't experienced war, prison, or mosh pit). Have YOU had one? In "comfortable" circles, maybe one in ten have.
A puncture wound on the bottom of the foot? Even more rare. Maybe one in a hundred will experience such. In the six months i've been healing just such a wound, i've only met one person who's been in my, er, feet.
On the off-chance you ever do experience one, here's what you're in for.
My wound came compliments of a 9-cm, upturned atlantic fig snail (a conch-y creature that lives inside a conspicuously rounded shell). Why this snail was lying on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico in 2.5 feet of water with its point sticking straight up, is a mystery. How did it even GET into that position? And doesn't it know it's supposed to be in the Atlantic?? But there it was, just waiting for my grownup human weight to step onto its tip.
It entered my heel. Even in the greenish, non-transparent waters of the Gulf, i knew immediately that something undesirable had happened. I was cut...i did not expect, however, that there would be an animal protruding from my body when i pulled my foot out of the water. If that doesn't sound impressive, it should - for a tiny creature, they cram a lot of weight inside those shells. But there it was, its point impaled in my heel. I pulled it out, and dropped it. I hobbled home and let the wound gently bleed for a few hours, thinking that would cleanse the gash. I knew the puncture was deep, but the shell had come out cleanly. The only concern was infection...do the Gulf waters feel as clean as they did before the BP oil spill? No, they do not. Two days later, a friend recommended epsom salt immersions, to draw out any infection. This friend had had an infected foot puncture. His entire leg turned red and swelled, one of the most painful experiences of his life.
I epsomed twice a day for a week.
No infection.
And so began my hobbled days. The wound was in the shape of a horseshoe, nearly as wide (1cm) as i estimated its depth to be. The epsom dissolved the red scabby material that had filled the wound those first two days. It felt fine, as long as i put no pressure on it. In other words, no walking for a while.
Or six months, as it turned out. 1/150th of a human life.
I could walk, actually, as long as my heel didn't touch the ground. For a month or so, i walked on my left toes, then i realized my muscles wouldn't benefit from further prolonged off-balance treatment, so i began walking toes-only on both feet. On those occasions when my bad heel accidentally touched ground, the pain was electrifying.
There is no quick heal for any puncture wound, but this must be most true of a heel wound. No other part of the body supports so much weight, so less load-bearing areas probably return to fairly normal use more quickly.
If you're healing a foot puncture, bring lots of patience. And be prepared for EVERYONE to suggest that the protracted heal time means that some fragment of the invading body must have broken off inside you, from whence it will need to be surgically removed. You may even start to believe it yourself...finger probes may suggest something buried. But have faith in your body-awareness. You were there the moment the invading implement was removed - if it never occurred to you that something was left behind, there's a good chance there wasn't.
Just relax, and heal.
After about four months, you'll be able to walk normally, in well-soled shoes. Normalish, anyway.
Two months later, i've returned to the beach for sunsets and a swim.
Did i mention i left my aqua socks at home the day of the puncture? Did i mention we should never do that?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Orlando in Love


STAGE/SCREEN 76
-summer 2006
I responded to an audition notice for a play produced by Teatromania, a company dedicated to producing authentic italian theater in New York. The director was Vittorio Capatorto, who’d had a distinguished career in Italy. His accent was thick, his personality in-your-face and supremely enthusiastic. He often had an interpreter with him. He was a little cagey about pay - at that point, i’d determined to not do any unpaid work…but his promises and probablys turned to nothing. He described the play as a cross between PRINCESS BRIDE and LORD OF THE RINGS - a Renaissance piece with knights and wizards and maidens and monsters. He wanted me to be the evil King Truffaldino. It was to be produced in Central Park. Not wanting to invest a huge chunk of my life in a possibly-payless venture, i expressed concern over the size of the part. He assumed i was worried it was too small, but i assured him the opposite. Despite uncertainty, there were many qualities that resonated, so i said yes. For perhaps the first time ever, i became one of the oldest members of a large cast. We rehearsed in classrooms at Columbia University. I got along well with everyone, and the chemistry was as good as you can expect out of thirty-some actors. The second female lead had a Parker Posey quality, and became my closest cast friend. We lost touch after the show because one of us was attracted and the other wasn’t (the attracted one may have been me). My other buddy was Bryce, one of the dancers, all of whom had been recruited from the performing arts school at Lincoln Center (where we also held our tech week rehearsals). Bryce was in her teens, smart and not stuck-up. I hoped that we would still be friends when she was grown up, because i knew how attracted i would be. Our performances were going to be at the Naumberg Bandshell, and something about the name stuck in my mind. Research revealed that it was where John Lennon’s vigil had been held in the days following his death. I felt a sense of connectedness when i learned that. Indeed, some of my nicest show memories came after the performances, when i would walk across the park (to Port Authority and home to Jersey City, or the subway to go out with the cast), passing through Strawberry Fields. One night, stopping there, i found myself singing Lennon songs with the homeless. One of the sweeter moments of my life. While we sang in the dark, a beetle actually landed on my hand. Vittorio’s style was more than a little frustrating for american actors, who are schooled to be responsible for the interpretation of their character. American directors NEVER do what Vittorio (and apparently, most italian directors) did almost every day – give line readings, performing your part for you with the precise intonations he wanted. We mentioned our discomfort, but to little avail. At a certain point, i became the only thirtysomething in the cast, when our “wizard” quit because of the pay that wasn’t materializing. I sympathized, but backing out wasn’t something i even considered. My time commitment actually increased - there were a number of sword fights, and as the weeks went by, we kept waiting for our promised fight choreographer to arrive. But he or she never did. Finally, i told Vittorio that i’d had stage combat training with B.H. Barry, and that i would teach the actors, and choreograph the fights. We never had proper swords, designed for stage use; one or two literally fell apart on us (including mine, which had been quite a beauty). But it was great fun, teaching others what i’d learned, and making them look good (with nary an injury). Come showtime, watching what i’d created was at least as much fun as the acting…which itself was fun enough, playing an overblown tyrant. Great death scene? Of course. Performances and audience response were uneven. One night the energy was abysmal, and the crowd comatose. Another night, the show hummed and the audience lapped it up. It was over the top, it was fun, and i added a beautiful memory to my life. After we closed, i became a bit of a cast pariah, when a gay friend of mine asked whether i had an actor friend who would like to be paid to pretend to be his date for some ceremony. Knowing how tight actor’s wallets are (and not expecting homophobia in NY), i sent an e-mail to the males in the show, and some responses were acidic. In talking to the actor who’d played Orlando, i pointed out the hypocrisy – would any of them have been insulted to be offered money to pretend to be a woman’s date? He agreed, and apologized.