Long Live Spock

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  But unlike most folks online, I’m not fond of sharing every last detail right down to pictures of my food.  If I’m going to blog my crap, I need a reason.

I’ve had lots of reasons of late.  But it was all grief and loss.  It got overwhelming, so I left it offline.

Now I feel compelled to post.  And it’s given me a rather striking revelation.   About love.   Love is harder to express — or even experience — when the object means so much, so many things, than a relationship on the surface is very specific.

So I couldn’t write about my father.  I tried.  For his eulogy, I spoke off the top of my head, checking my watch to keep myself from rambling.  I couldn’t write it all down.  He had done so much, been so much to me.

But I can write about Leonard Nimoy.

Now people are going to deplore, rightly so, that he was more Mister Spock.  Actor.  Writer.  Poet.  Musician.  Photographer.  Jew.  Science advocate.  Filmmaker.  Producer.  Family man.  A man with a dry, wicked sense of humor.

But that one character and Nimoy’s performance — that’s the basis of any relationship he had with the world at large.  He created the role on the original Star Trek.  Even when that was over, he was defined by it (admittedly the bane of any character actor) so much to the point that he wrote a book insisting “I Am Not Spock.”

And then many years later, as the benefits finally began to outweigh the negatives for him, he reconciled himself to the worldwide attention on this one job he had and declared “I Am Spock.”

As a kid, I marveled when I saw him on “Mission: Impossible.”  Relished his narration on “In Search Of.”  Whined, begged, and agonized when I couldn’t see his one-man show “Vincent.”  Stunned while watching him play the baddie in a Marco Polo mini-series.  Darkly amused and a little shocked when he punched the Shatner in the face during a guest stint on “TJ Hooker.”

And if there is one role where Leonard Nimoy blew me away, it was holocaust survivor Mel Mermelstein in the cable tv-movie “Never Forget.”  He delivered a subtle, warm, and conflicted performance as an ordinary man caught up in extraordinary events, tasked by history with a heartbreaking legacy, who must bear public witness to the Holocaust even in the face of skeptics and deniers.  I loved that movie.  I loved him in it.  He moved me.

But to me, he set an example as Spock.

Spock was an outsider, caught between two worlds, mocked and judged for it.  And for all the conflicting drives inside him, his intellect won out.

That spoke volumes to a kid like me — a brainy nerd, a Chicano kid who spoke and wrote American English better than some native-born Anglos.  I wasn’t Mexican.  I wasn’t white.  I wasn’t a jock.  I was into weird stuff.   Science, computers, space, the future.  I didn’t fit in anywhere, not even at home.

But Spock was cool, in every sense of the word.  Willpower.  Logic.  Knowledge.  But he wasn’t some cold scientist.  He was slick.  Dude had a Vulcan nerve pinch.  He got the ladies, just not as much as Captain Kirk.  And when push came to shove, his friends stood by him.  Even in death.

Neither “Star Trek” nor Spock taught me to think.  But they showed me that it was cool to think.  And as I was growing up, that Vulcan aplomb and insistence on logic got me through a tumultuous adolescence and my first truly dark bout of depression.

And as flawed as the Trek movies often were, by expanding the character of Spock even further, I got some much needed guidance when all that cutting off of my emotions left me feeling empty.  Logic and knowledge are not enough.  I had to reconnect with humanity.

Spock is my connection to Leonard Nimoy.  A personal connection.  It means a lot for me.

So forgive me when I remember Spock above everything else Leonard Nimoy has done.  That is the extent of my memory — because I never knew him as a person.

I knew his face.  I knew his voice.  I knew his art.  And he did a great many works.

But he touched us first as Spock.  His legacy will be that, a character of deep and private emotions in conflict with an inhospitable universe, who won over dear friends and staunch allies with integrity, wit, and courage.

May Spock live long and prosper.  And may the memory of Leonard Nimoy live eternal.

Update: “Proteus Rising”

An update and a few statements.

The last time you humored me and checked out this cyberwordspace, I was imploring the cosmos at large for a home.  Not for me, but for a story.

I didn’t do it for myself, not at first.  I did it for a friend.  Then I was abandoned.  Not cool or perfect enough.  That friendship, that trust, is gone.

All I’ve got left… is a story.  And dreams, like people, should belong somewhere.

I didn’t think it would happen.  But I found a place.

McMinnville, Oregon.  In the heart of Oregon’s wine country.

Saturday May 14th at 2pm, the Willamette Radio Workshop will perform “Proteus Rising” live on stage at the McMenamins Hotel Oregon, as part of the 12th Annual McMinnville UFO Festival.

I don’t have the words to describe how great this show is going to be.  Talented professionals with experience in stage, screen, and sound are the backbone of WRW.  I work with them often and, well, basically they’re all friends of mine.  At the very least, they don’t burst out laughing at the first sight of me.  So to be fair, personal bias could inform my appraisal.  But the sizes of their audiences and the cross-generational appeal removes all doubt.

But on top of all that, many of them are fans — many more than I expected.  An impetuous, tongue-in-cheek query over pre-Super Bowl brunch has regenerated into another draft of the script and reports of enthusiasm from the group.

They can do it.  They know how to do it.  And they don’t merely want to — they’re freakin’ out.  Or so they’re telling me!

Now here’s the real point.  Hope.  The point of this story.  Of writing.  Of blogging.  Of voicing your thoughts and sharing links in cyberspace.  It’s all self-expression.  You have to share it.   So out it comes.

It’s also communication.  You don’t know who you’re talking to.  Not really.  Therefore you never know what response you’re going to get in return.  Maybe someone lays down a snark or a cheap shot.  Maybe someone accuses you of preaching to the choir.   You can’t affect any real change doing what you’re doing.

But the real value of writing, of any art, comes when someone else really needed that thought — that voice — to come from you.  This world can be a long, hard ride.  And it’s not always easy to clear one’s mind of the many loud voices all slagging you, criticizing you, telling you lies.  So when you write something or post something, and someone else gets it, suddenly you’re connected.  You’re not alone.  You needed that little bit of reinforcement, of validation.

We shouldn’t have to fit in.  We should belong.

Conformity, making oneself less so the collective can become more, is not belonging.  It’s neither improving, maturing, strengthening, or nurturing.  It’s using perfection as a blunt instrument, pounding the vulnerable and the unique into a convenient shape, something easy for the weak-minded to absorb.  It’s breaking a runner’s legs to keep everyone in lock-step.  And of course ee cummings said it better and it’s a cliche now, but the truth remains.  It’s a bitch to be yourself.  And even when you master it, the collective breaks you the first chance it gets and forces you to start over.

That’s the point.  The point of “Proteus Rising.”  Of writing.  Of anything we do that says, “This is me.”  You’re using your voice.  Testing the waters.  Putting yourself out there.

We take the dive with ever changing mixtures of courage and false bravado.  Even the so-called experts.  Even Olivier puked his guts out before every show.  So when someone busts your chops — I mean, knocks you down hard — knowing that someone else relates to you, knowing they like the way you transmit things to them and that they want you to, sometimes it’s the only thing helping you pick yourself off the ground.

For much of my life, I’ve been asked why I write.  I write to keep sane.  To stay myself.  But now I see:  Maybe I’m helping someone else stay sane, to retain his or her own identity.  Something I said resonated.  And that was enough to make the soul-killing lies of a false world ring hollow again.  When you preach to the choir, it can be forgiven — if you make the church bells of the world ring properly once again.

But that won’t happen if you give in to the silence.  If you submit to despair.

It’s not easy.  I fight despair all the time.  I take meds for it.  I seek inspiration and encouragement constantly.  Doctor Who is one of those inspirations, one of those encouragements.

All my life, people have told me not to write. To give up on my talents or my beliefs.  To be less smart or more smart.  To be less ugly, to be more rich.  To be perfect.  To be a drone like everyone else.  To be seen instead of heard, to give in and join the silence.

Now the silence swallows me up like a whale.  Some days, I barely speak.  So I write.  I blog.  I post links.  I preach to the choir.

And somewhere out there, the lies ring hollow for someone other than myself.

And one day soon, for an hour, someone else will hear the groan of ancient engines.

True, we’ll be surrounded by folks in tinfoil.  But I won’t be alone.  And neither will they.

Script: “Proteus Rising”

This could well be the end of our wretched fanboy saga.  The script is complete.

Technically, the first draft.  But I’ve made so many edits and major plot revisions while writing it that it feels more like a third draft.  Every time I took a significant detour from the treatment, I saved it to a new file.  Three detours.  Three files.  The third time’s the charm, they say.

I was aiming for a 45-page script.  The plot as outlined would’ve been longer, maybe twice as long.  Scenes were combined, condensed even more beyond the treatment stage, or simply cut.  And after all that, this completed draft is roughly 60 pages.

But it’s all a moot point.  Unless someone actually performs it.

So if anyone — anyoneanyone out there is reading my nonsense, speak out.  I’m attaching an Abode Acrobat file (PDF) of the Proteus Rising audio script. If you read it, I’d like constructive feedback.

And nicely.  Spambots, trolls, and other defective brain cases need not apply.  Causing trouble will only provide me with a data trail.  And some of my friends don’t wear white hats.

And of course, yet another disclaimer for writers, producers, and anybody working with the BBC.  We’re talking about an unproduced Doctor Who story.  This isn’t for your eyes.

And obviously, I’d love to hear from anyone interested in actually performing this thing.

I mean, c’mon.  Say hi.  Or  “cool!”  Or even the perennial “I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me.

Because that’s what I was shooting for.