Sunday, March 15, 2015

nimsy whimsy

leonard nimoy
Once, a child grew up in the 70s. His introverted eyes looked around at this competitive, greedy, violent, racist, sexist society, and he knew it had nothing to do with him. He was accepting and secure though, so he never rebelled (at least not on the outside). The first time in his life he experienced a moment of pure identification was when he heard the song "Being Green". Until then, he'd been content knowing he was alone in the world.
The second time he felt that feeling of identification, was watching a television show called STAR TREK.
And a character named spock.
Not being inclined to idolatry, his recognition with this half-alien character didn't change him greatly. He didn't ape spock's expressions or neck-pinch strangers, he just smiled at the wonder of it all. As with spock, the people around him seemed overemotional and lacking in critical thought. One day, he noticed that he also had two different ears...the right one normally-rounded, and the left one uncurled at the top. Kind of pointed. He noticed that he never seemed to get hurt on his left side, as though it were stronger (a few years later, he laughed at the illogic in that observation - being right-handed, of course he would have more right side injuries). While he never imagined himself to be literally non-human (or half-vulcan), he smiled at the thought. Though he sported no spock haircut or perpetual vulcan salute, an observer could have seen signs of his affection. A poster of kirk and spock adorned his wall for a few years. He had a couple of the 8-inch action figures, plus a communicator, phaser, and tricorder assembled from a model kit. The show fed his sense of play, as surely as it fed the spirit of the pacifistic, agnostic, vegan, feminist, non-racist, non-materialist adult he was to become.
That grown-up child now offers his thanks to an actor he never met.
Your contributions to the STAR TREK universe, leonard, and to one character in particular, went far beyond what's generally offered up in your profession. Your input to vulcan lore, and struggles to defend spock's integrity, are at the heart of TREK mythology.
We live in a world where viewers develop intense feelings for television characters. It's partially a survival mechanism - in our culture of crippling alienation, TV "friends" give us a sense of comfort and acceptance that's impossible to duplicate in real life. Science has come to understand that subconsciously, our brains often don't know the difference between fantasy and reality. In that light, TV characters can be as "real" to us as any living person. Out of sad necessity, some take these relationships too far. TV characters never disappoint. They never betray. But it's illogical to stop trying to love, and be loved, by real people.
It's tempting. Perhaps even sensible...but illogical.
If my brain is studied post-mortem, scientists may learn that some of my closest friends were named hawkeye, seaborn, and spock. That's not a bad thing. At its best, TV can show humanity where we're going.
By that measure (and most others), STAR TREK was television's greatest show ever.
Thank you, leonard.
Eighty classic episodes. Twenty-two animated. One NEXT GEN. Six movies (of which he also directed two, including THE VOYAGE HOME, plus story credits for 4 and 6, and a one-film tenure as franchise executive producer). One TWILIGHT ZONE, three OUTER LIMITS, forty-nine MISSION: IMPOSSIBLEs, one-hundred forty-six IN SEARCH OFs..., INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, one COLUMBO, two T.J. HOOKERs, THREE MEN AND A BABY, THE PAGEMASTER, two SIMPSONS, one DUCKMAN, a BECKER, eleven FRINGEs, and the son of sarek swan song - one brilliant BIG BANG THEORY.
Director. Writer. Photographer.
Do we forgive his dalliances in the abrams re-boots? Of course. You were in your eighth decade, leonard - you can be forgiven for losing artistic focus, or even just grabbing a paycheck (we trust you spent it wisely). We accept your refusal to be a part of GENERATIONS, and we're ready to embrace the thought that that was the right choice for the franchise, and possibly the movie too (even if those weren't your primary motivations).
You lived long, leonard.
And we prospered.
-The Galileo Seven
-Amok Time
-Journey to Babel
-This Side of Paradise
-All Our Yesterdays
-the death scene from THE WRATH OF KHAN
-the sarek scene from THE VOYAGE HOME
-Unification TNG

harve bennett
In the 1982 TV movie A WOMAN CALLED GOLDA, ingrid bergman played her final role - and leonard played her husband. This biopic about israeli prime minister golda meir was produced by harve bennett. Later that year, he would produce STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, and take over as franchise executive producer. His seven-year tenure coincided with nimoy's most prolific contributions. After bob justman, harve is probably the most unappreciated contributor to STAR TREK's history. He was a producer/writer (THE MOD SQUAD, THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN, THE BIONIC WOMAN, TIME TRAX) who replaced roddenberry when the studio lost faith in gene after STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE. Had KHAN not been big, the franchise might have folded. Aside from producing TREKs 2-5, he created the stories for 2, 4, and 5, and wrote both 3 and 4. To equate him with roddenberry is misleading, inasmuch as gene himself was never solely responsible for the show; from the beginning, TREK was a collective. Was bennett's take on the TREK vision flawed? Yes - he saw humanity's future as one where our nature remains constant, as opposed to the roddenberry vision wherein humanity has evolved. But harve was clearly the right person at the right time, and on TREK's Rushmore, is well-deserving of a spot alongside roddenberry, coon, justman, nimoy, meyer, berman, and frakes (shatner, stewart, and dorn, you're under consideration).

Saturday, March 7, 2015

good people leftovers

(a follow-up to

"Whispers" would be a more resonant title.
I'll avoid that, because i don't want to overendow negativity...or overestimate my esteem for this kind of piece. If public-speaking potential is the growing benchmark by which i measure my scribbles, this one's a detour to a dead end. Serious navel-gazing, rather unadorned by wit or frill.
But i can't leave this stone unturned, because the parent piece left a gaping question unanswered, and i made a vow to the universe that i would write nakedly about any facet of my existence. Not that i haven't turned this stone over already. I have:
If you find it within you to villainize me after reading that, i can promise you there are any number of people in your life whom you smilingly embrace, and whom have done infinitely "worse".
So this piece is perhaps then a meditation on how whispers can persist. I say perhaps because i'm going out on a limb, assuming the treatment i've received has anything to do with events that happened some fifteen years past. Perhaps margie's barely-concealed loathing had nothing (or little) to do with me. Crazier things have happened.
But how telling is it that i sent notes to four of my co-creators after the show closed, seeking some glimmer of compassion or understanding of what had happened...and got a response from only one? Considering how mindfucked i was when i wrote those four notes, they were stunningly classy and tactful. The only response came from the person i least expected to answer - margie. Addressing me with icy formality and employing the language one directs at a stalker, she instructed me to contact her no more.
No explanation.
I was tempted to contact a couple of the others once more, just to know whether their seeming coldness might be unintentional. I decided to let it be. It's not my nature to defend myself when attacked. People believe what they want, and it takes a special kind of idiot to fly in the face of that. One day i'll contact mike again, as my affection for him is considerable, and if anyone is going to be honest with me, it's he.
Plus, i was so damaged by what had happened, that to keep on engaging the situation was to play roulette with my life. I'd been savaged by the stress. Past experience tells me it will take months to recover. My stomach feels better, but it's still weak and hollow. Only now, two weeks on, is the burbling noise starting to fade. One night, my head began spinning in a way that felt like i'd fall if i tried to stand. It wasn't lightheadedness...more like what i imagine vertigo to be. If i wanted to live, i needed to put this behind me. A human body under stress literally shuts down...systemic paralysis leading to illness and worse. Watching jeff daniels get a bleeding ulcer on "The Newsroom", i knew that was where this road led, if i couldn't pull away.
Even now, i do myself some damage by writing this. Please believe that comes from devotion to you, and not a deathwish.
Yet too, suicidal thoughts have swirled in me these past weeks. I don't apologize for that, and expect few to understand fully how rational a response suicide is to this world. Fortunately (or not), my quixote complex and fear of death mean that you probably won't be rid of me so easily. But how unbearable to feel this way. Tried, convicted, and sentenced, without being allowed into the courtroom. Literally sickened. I don't know why i'd never considered hanging before, as a tidy and fairly foolproof method. That's the problem with suicide though - it's hard to be classy. After self-immolation, i suppose alcoholism and smoking are the only socially acceptable ways. If that's classy, i ain't got a classy bone in me. It's a shame Earth isn't flat. Walking off the edge might be the only way to go. Never to see this world again, and almost certainly to die...but with the romance of the unknown. Was the jumper despondent, or just the bravest fool in the world? Wheeeeeeeee...
But back to the whispers...had margie heard them? One can only imagine the form they might take, fifteen years removed, and filtered through the innumerable minds and mouths of the world that nurtured Salem and mccarthyism. If that's what happened, i don't judge her harshly. I want to have every faith in her good intent.
Nor have these whispers ever been brave enough to come to me openly. They've been so removed, that i've only been mostly sure they even exist at all. But they would explain a mystery or two...most notably why one of the most cherished actors in the most beloved theater company i once ran, one day disappeared from my life with a totality that smacks of shun. Wherever you are, derek, i love you.
Beyond whisper persistence though, this piece is also about my sensitivity to the energy around me. Steph never acted overtly cold to me during this play, it's only something i felt...and only in the context of unspoken mistrust did it make sense. I've long been hesitant to fully embrace this kind of "intuition", because we're talking about a world beyond the five senses, which even if it exists, most people couldn't even begin to access with any clarity, because we're all too damaged, our heads way too far up our asses.
But my final contact with any cast member made me wonder why i haven't chosen to let these instincts guide me completely. The actor who no longer seemed to find me charming the final week, had offered me much kindness prior to that. Not having a car, i'd been biking the 11.5 miles to and from rehearsal. Once the show opened, she offered me a lift partway. I offered to treat her to dinner after closing, and she happily accepted. We shared congenial conversations on our rides. She often drove me all the way home. The only imbalance was my sense that she was attracted, and my incomplete feeling of reciprocity. Then that final week, i felt something cold and hard in her. I know that's how things often go, when people realize (or suspect) that someone they fancy doesn't feel the same way. But this felt like more. This felt darker. Had she heard a whisper? I sent her a note after closing, and was surprised she didn't beg off our dinner date. My instability alarm blared. When we met a few days later, it took only thirty seconds for her to lay a sweeping, brutal condemnation on me. Simply because i employed the words "virgin" and "slut" (and showing no interest in my context), she slammed shut our initial line of conversation, and asked me to nevermore pretend i was a feminist. Ironically, she was snap-judging me because she thought i was guilty of snap-judging women. I reeled inside, like i'd been stomped in the stomach. I'm surprised i was able to not walk away, and amazed i was able to get down any food.
A well-intended but baseless brutalizing, from which my intuition ought have spared me?
And what does all this mean, in the larger context of my life? What does it say that three weeks of unrelenting stress was so debilitating? In a world of poverty, sexism, racism, and domestic abuse, my experience was closer to normal than not. Have i "resensitized" myself to the point that i can no longer function in regular society? Have i so successfully lowered my emotional walls, to better understand the natural human condition, that i can never build them up again?
I'm not sure. I'd like to hope that this chapter was exceptional. But do i even want to become better able to withstand such inhumanity again?
Who's your villain? What does it say about us that we feel comfortable villainizing anyone? I'll be your villain, if that's what you need. But i hope you'll be human enough to base it on something i say or do, and not...
I love you all.

(for the follow-up's follow-up, see

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

naked nurse 4


Dear naked nurse,
Why do we fall for people who are totally, totally, TOTALLY wrong for us? Why???
bothered in Buffalo

Dear bothered,
If you understood the first four words of your question, you wouldn't have bothered with the other ten. You're clinging to the notion that attraction is in some way cognitive. The brain is our biggest sexual organ? That sounds like the kind of trope spun by one who's never had a proper shag. Don't get me wrong - intellectual inclinations can enhance sexual interactions enormously. But they are neither a sufficient (nor even necessary) part of the process. I was once dewy-eyed and (endearingly, i hope) naive enough to think that it was impossible to have great sex in a one-night stand. Poppycock! Why do i pine for a decades-gone affair...with a born-again christian? Why did i once offer to impregnate a narrow-minded champion of monogamy and materialism? What, am i just stupid? Well no, not just. In the last case it had something to do with the fact that hugging her felt more mind-melting than any other hug i'd ever had. In the first case, she tasted better than anyone i've ever tasted. Sexual attraction is physiological, hormonal, and chemical. In humanity's current ignorance and self-loathing, our bodies are infinitely more aggrieved than uplifted by our brains. Impose your intellectual agenda on your reproductive system, at your peril. These bodies be far smarter than we - science is beginning (but only beginning) to catch up with what they understand...things like which potential mate would give us the healthiest offspring, and such. The more our bodies approve of a potential mate, the more feel-good feelings we feel. So LISTEN to those loins! I know it can be frustrating. What to do when a PETA-loving tree-hugger gives you the trembling thigh sweats? What to do when a Tea Party cutie puts you in a barry white moody? Sorry, you're on your own. But your body is infinitely brighter than thou (and bloody tired of your moronic meddling).
care-free conjugations,
the naked nurse

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