Word of the Day: desuperpollicate

About 30 minutes ago I had an idea for tonight’s story, but, couldn’t quite get it written up. So, I’m saving it for next week, and reaching way back into the re-run well for this gem, which came to me in a dream, just over a decade ago.

Today’s Word:


As in:

It was December 19th, 2001. The friends had bought the tickets weeks before, and had waited in line for hours with strangers sharing a common passion. These strangers shortly became friends, unified by their wait, and the depth of their admiration.

Their conversations were filled with anxiety. A few couldn’t wait to see the much-anticipated Moria scene. Several were concerned that the movie would severely misinterpret and modify the narrative, and were present despite severe protestations that they didn’t want to see “sacrilege in action,” much less give money to the “untalented, greedy and misguided executors of Tolkien’s estate.” Others simply talked about the books, describing their favorite parts, debating the literary merit of the trilogy, discussing the reasons for the stories’ success, and impressing strangers with their vast recollection of the details of all of Tolkien’s works and mastery of each language of Middle Earth. A few talked about the rumors circulating the Internet that, in order to be more politically correct, Ringwraiths were going to be referred to as “Riders of
Color,” and that the character of Arwen would not only be given dialog, but that there would be kissing.

The crowd continued to be absorbed in these activities. Soon, the usher came, and led the group towards the theater. The patrons hardly noticed.

Seats were filled, and conversations continued, while the trailers zoomed past. The title flashed on the screen, and a shout from somewhere in the theater was heard. But, the conversations did not cease, and the audience didn’t even look at the screen, oblivious to the fact that the object of so much anticipation was unfolding before their eyes.

And so passed three hours. The credits played, and soon, the house lights came up.

The crowd, shocked by the sudden change in the room, was jolted out of the intensity of their conversations. The ushers were indicating that they should exit, but, the crowd was irate. They had come to see the movie, and none would leave until it had been seen. The manager came out to tell them the movie was over, and they should leave. The fans, unwilling to be convinced that the movie had played without their knowledge, became angry, and demanded a screening, but in vain.

Eventually, in exhaustion, the crowd dispersed and proceeded to the box office to buy new tickets.

In the confusion of missing the film, several were inclined to leave the theater in frustration and disdain. The situation forced the frustrated to desuperpollicate the whole experience, and to tell others to avoid the movie at all costs.

By the way, in the dream, I was a member of the audience. Does it make this story more interesting to know that it was as a member of the audience that I
turned to my companions to tell them this would make a good Word of
the Day story?

desuperpollicate / DE – sewp – er – POLL – eh – kate / to give a ‘thumbs down’

Nerd Do Well, Simon Pegg’s Autobiography

I finished reading Simon Pegg’s autobiography earlier this week, and it brought out my stylish melancholy with a sidecar of thoughtful baggage.

The book traces Pegg’s nerdly influences growing up, and how they’ve cycled back  in his adult life to making things which are themselves a tribute to those inspirations, and then even to working with those heroes who had an impact on his life and imagination.

I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between his childhood and mine. Sure, he’s a few years older than me, and a boy, and from Gloucestershire,  but, there’s a cozy familiarity in the geekly media that was influence to the young geek in training.

Like the young comedian/writer/actor, I had a number of early brushes with theater. My first press clipping came from the Winter Park Manifest when I was all of five years old. (I still have a copy, if you’d like to see my cute little five year old self declaiming said dialog.)  I was the only kindergartner with a speaking part. Never mind the fact that I earned the part solely on the basis that my teacher figured I was the only girl who’d be able to remember the lines.

In the small communities I grew up in we didn’t really have a community theater. Well, unless you count the one that started up a few months before we moved. We all were encouraged by the organizers to go to auditions, which included a round of improv. I got cast in the musical with a speaking part, but, wasn’t allowed to take the part because we wouldn’t be there for the performances.  I’ve clearly been stewing on that one for a few decades.

We moved to Pueblo, which was a parade of huge shifts in my world, and I didn’t have a clue how to fit into this place. It was there that I spent some time being “That Kid.”

I, too, have vivid memories of those Gen-X geek rites of passage , seeing Star Wars, and its sequels, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., and Star Trek, and Dr. Who. I remember the first time I auditioned for a part in a Shakespeare play (The Tempest), and the thrill of getting to speak those glorious words with some pretty accomplished adults, who jumped at the chance to do the scene with me. So what if I didn’t get the part? The director complimented me on my understanding of the Bard, in front of everyone, and no one else got such praise. Of course, I also didn’t get the part, so, I took what I could get.

What my lovely, neurotic brain also noticed while reading this book, was there were similar points in my life to Pegg’s life, and the ones in my life came out very differently. Things that kept him on the path that would take him to making geeky love letters in film-form to his childhood inspirations didn’t end up taking me down that same path.

Not that I’m saying I had any real ambition to be a professional performer. I can’t say that I was in the same league as Mr Pegg, nor do I begrudge him his success.

I could be bitter, but, I’m not.

Instead, I’m just more confused than anything. Is it simply hindsight that allows us to interpret our choices in life as all culminating in a a clear singular direction? Is that just the way people decide to interpret things to support the choices they make?

The familiarity of the experience in Pegg’s life made me think about all of these things in a different light, and I wondered how it was that I had ended up where I am.

There were opportunities that I didn’t take, for reasons that seem perfectly reasonable at the time, like the unpaid screenwriting internship I turned down the summer before my senior year in college. Did I screw up my true fate? Should I have taken it? It was not fear of the job that held me back, but, fear of not having money, transportation or a place to live.  Seems like such a minuscule problem in retrospect. Though, I do like food, and not being homeless.

I had decided to read the book because I thought it would be funny, and I like Simon Pegg, and I wanted something light to read. Instead, I’m onto my latest existential crisis, and trying to again figure out if I’m putting my efforts into the things that somehow matter or are going to make the world a better place. Is that so much to ask?

There are still things I’m processing from this book I mistook for a light-hearted romp. Oh sure, for some people it probably was. It has funny moments. And, if it had not felt so much like my own biography, well, it might’ve been a hoot. Instead, well, it’s made my brain ponder serious thoughts, and it never needs any encouragement to do that.


My take on the 2011 shows

We’ve hit mid-season, which means, I suspect, that my friends are waiting to hear which of the new fall shows I’ve really enjoyed, which ones stink, etc.

Of course, I probably should’ve done this weeks ago, because your viewing habits have already been set for the season.

At the beginning of the fall, I mentioned the shows I was most interested in: Terra Nova, Once Upon A Time, Grimm, Pan Am and Ringer.

Which ones do I still care about?

The only one I look forward to every week is Once Upon a Time. I’m rooting for this little town of curses fairy tale characters, and well, it’s got Jane Espenson, and I tend to root for her, too. Emma Caulfield is going to be on it in a few weeks, so, we can check in with her.  It’s charming, and I really want to know how it all works out.

I’m still limping along with Terra Nova and Ringer, but, without much enthusiasm. Terra Nova had an ok pilot, but I remained unconvinced. At this point, it feels mostly tedious to me, and I’m finding it hard to swallow my disbelief. They were sent into the past to save the future? But, the future is still sucking, so, why do they keep sending people? Don’t they (the future) know it pretty much already failed? Dumb.

Ringer is convoluted and is much more soapy than I’d like. The supposedly dead twin is increasingly unlikable, and I’m not entirely sure I care about any of them any more.

Pan Am was, well, boring. Sure, there’s espionage going on, and people are having affairs, but, somehow, I wasn’t compelled to watch after the first episode. Grimm was much the same, even if, admittedly, I like the pilot better than the Pan Am pilot. It might be a show I check out again later. I think it has some identity issues, and it’s trying to be a blend of humor, pathos and horror like Buffy was, but, it’s not managing the tonal shifts with nearly the Buffy’s deftness. Which is disappointing, since David Greenwalt is there, and he was a longtime Buffy writer, and co-creator on Angel.

Strangely, a show I hadn’t heard too much about has also earned my interest. I should’ve paid more attention earlier, because it’s Tim Minear’s new show, American Horror Story.  It’s about a family who unknowingly moves into a house with more ghosts than the Stanley Hotel. It’s creepy, and it’s hard to know what is and isn’t real. Several of the people introduced from the beginning aren’t even alive. We only anticipated a few of those, and it’s just gotten weirder. Don’t watch this if you aren’t a fan of scary movies. It’s pretty warped. The best news, if you’re a Tim Minear fan?  The ratings have been on a steady growth pattern, and it’s already gotten a full season order. Maybe his “curse” has been lifted with the show about a cursed house.

I’ve also peeked in at Unforgettable, Blue Bloods, Person of Interest, with Michael Emerson, and Revenge.  Unforgettable is ok, but too reliant on its gimmick. Blue Bloods struck me as a very typical cop show, and I don’t care too much about ordinary cop shows. Person of Interest is the best of this bunch, and has a J.J. Abrams pedigree, which, for me, could be an asset or a detriment. It’s watchable, but, seems largely unremarkable. Except, of course, that I just remarked on it.

At any rate, that’s my take on the new fall shows. I’m looking forward still to the River, to premiere in January.

The End of the Relationship

I’ve finally broken up with Chuck.

No, not a fellow with whom I’ve had a romantic relationship, but rather that show on NBC.

It was likely bound to happen. The Buy More is a large part of this rift, it’s been a sore spot since the beginning, because I’ve always hated his non-spy coworkers. They were never funny; just awkward and pointless.  Mostly, they made my flesh crawl every time they showed up on screen. I kept hoping the writers would get a clue and kill them or maim them or simply forget about them and stop writing reasons for them to show up, but, no. They just keep on appearing.

And, while Chuck’s best pal Morgan started off being as horribly annoying as those two schleps whose names will not sully my mind or my blog, he started to redeem himself somewhat when he started growing up and having something more interesting to do besides harass Chuck.

Except that, just about the time they’d given him a likeability makeover, they made him the new Chuck. I tied to give them a chance, I dutifully watched the season premier, to see how all the game-changing, season-ending developments were handled, and find out what their “new normal” would be for the last season, but, it turns out, I hated it. Morgan has never had the sweet vulnerability that made the title character compelling. He lacks Zachary Levi’s charm, and given that they started the character of Morgan as a selfish, childish, jerk, now that he has been given the MacGuffin-spy power mojo, he just feels like an unsympathetic guy who just got everything he ever wanted, but, he didn’t, in any way, earn it. Chuck the character was set up with some native talent, and was established from the pilot as being a kind guy, who’s worked hard, but hadn’t managed to do more than find a “pay the bills” job at the Buy More.  Morgan always just looks like he’s a hair’s breath from an unseemly shout of  “Yahoo! I’m finally a superhero! I so deserve this!”

And then there’s the ridiculous situation of having money, and then not, and then no longer being agents of the government, and all of them deciding to “stay together as a team and fight the bad guys.”  Really? John Casey has been largely wishing he could get out of this assignment for the whole show. And now, he’s voluntarily staying with them, just because? Yeah. There’s really only so much disbelief I’m willing to suspend.

All of this adds up to a show I was no longer enjoying even a little. It had become a painful way to spend time, and a relief to just stop and pull the plug. So, I made a clean break of it, and I broke up with Chuck. I don’t even miss him. It is a weight from my conscience, and decent fodder for a blog post. Yahoo!

Battlestar Galactica’s Last Stand

Tonight is the ending of what has become one of my all-time favorite television shows. For the last few years, Battlestar Galactica has been consistently one of the best shows on television, and it is with mixed emotions that I wait for the 2-hour finale.

What’s even more surprising to me is that I almost missed the boat entirely. I’m still doing penance for doubting that it would even be worth watching.

To understand this, you have to take a trip in the way back machine. Come along, won’t you? It won’t hurt a bit.

It’s 1989. My favorite show was Star Trek:The Next Generation. I was in high school, and, I’m geek enough to admit, a member of the Official Star Trek Fan Club. (Shhh. I was young and geeky. Now I’m just geeky.) The fan magazine told of the unique opportunity for writers that the show represented. It was the only show where would-be writers could submit unsolicited spec scripts, even without agent representation. Michael Piller, the late, great, executive producer, was the guardian of this program, and he discovered some fantastic writers. Several of these are among my favorite writers working today.

The first writer I’d heard about who got a staff position through this program, was Ronald D. Moore. I remember thinking how cool it was that a fan could get a job on the show, even though I was not considering being a television writer (that idea came to me much later). I also imagined how much competition there must be, and felt a bit sorry for the people who read these spec scripts. I wondered how much crap they had to wade through to find someone whose script was even remotely produce-able.  At that moment, Ronald D. Moore became the first television writer whose name I recognized, and to whom I paid any attention.

But, the bad news is that I only seemed to notice when the episode was not my cup of tea. I started to associate him with all the “Klingon episodes” he wrote, and that was it. You know the ones, “Sins of the Father,” “Reunion,” “Redemption,” and “Rightful Heir.” I really disliked them, bordering on actual hatred. They bored me, and always seemed pretty one-note. The Klingons, with the exception of our “hero” Klingon, Lt. Worf, were idiots. I started to cringe every time I saw his name in the “written by” credits. Inwardly, I thought “Grrrrreat. Klingon episode.” and mentally marked it as a waste of an episode, and checked out. I figured that someone who could only write Klingon episodes wouldn’t amount to much once there was no longer any Star Trek in production. I stopped paying attention to him.

Fast forward to fall 2003.

Carnivale had just premiered, and I went over to a friend’s house to watch the first few episodes of the new series. It looked interesting. We watched the first episode, I really enjoyed it, and settled in to watch the second, when I noticed a name in the credits. Executive Producer, Ronald D. Moore. The cringe came back involuntarily. And yet, I’d <i>liked</i> the first episode. Surely, this wasn’t the same guy.

About that time, I learned that the Battlestar Galactica miniseries is in the works. I had fond memories of the original show, but, by now I’d seen it as an adult, and knew it really was a terrible show. Why would they try and resurrect it? And there were all these rumors. Starbuck is a woman. So is Boomer. Sounded sketchy. Helming the show? None other than Ronald D. Moore. The Klingon guy. I was no longer even remotely interested.

Then the miniseries aired. I didn’t have cable, and, I wasn’t really interested, so I didn’t watch it. But, the reviews were surprisingly good. And Edward James Olmos was on the show. There were rumors that it was going to be a series.

When it aired as a series, again, I didn’t tune in, no cable. Some friends had it on tape, however, and set the miniseries and the first half season in my hands. Semi-reluctantly, out of obligation, I sat down to watch it.

It was riveting. I was hooked. I wanted more. This was exceptional TV.

I still couldn’t believe this was the same guy, so, I IMDB’d him.

Yup. Same guy. But, this was a chance for me to see the whole picture, which I’d missed. He hadn’t *just* written Klingon episodes. there was “Tapestry,” one I quite liked. And “Data’s Day,” which was also good. Plus, several others were “non-Klingon,” and certainly above average.

Which meant I was very, very shamed, and it was time to eat a whole bunch of crow. And to get cable.

I really, really, really loved this Ronald D. Moore guy. His “re-imagining” of Battlestar Galactica capitalized on the things from the original series that I had always wanted to know more about, but were never really more than “flavor” in the original series. I’m really going to miss being on this journey. Thank goodness for DVDs. Bring on Caprica. So say we all.

Thank you, Mr. Moore. I’m sorry for being a stupid kid, and for thinking uncharitable thoughts.