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.

Kill The Senate Health Care Bill?

Bamf. Materializing here on the blog. Why away so long? I’ll explain later.

Here’s one reason. Facebook. It’s been a fun little timesink. And buggy as hell.

One major plus to Facebook has been the opportunity to share news items with many people — covering a lot of social ground, through different demographics, cliques, and gaggles of online folk — with just a click.

But the news story of health care reform is so big, so crucial, and today so unpredictable that sharing one link isn’t enough.

Case in point: Howard Dean, a major booster for health care reform and the US Senate’s efforts, has come out against the Senate bill in draft now.

There’s plenty of news coverage on the politics of it, the great and superficially entertaining bruhaha around it. But very little about what it means.

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com best summarizes the pro side: that it will help some folks now and you’d be crazy not to.

Howard Dean’s complaints boil down to, “It will do more harm than good.” He claims:

  • Under this bill, patients with pre-existing conditions can get health care, but at three times the cost. Health insurance companies can’t deny them care. They can simply price gouge, especially if they’re older.
  • People will be forced to buy health care insurance or they will be fined.
  • 27 percent of that money goes to health care CEO’s, not to the cost of health care.
  • A small percentage of the US will qualify for this coverage.
  • The coverage under this bill would last for only a few years — until 2014.

A private sector solution. No controls on the market. No universal coverage. With price hikes aimed at the old and the vulnerable.

Is Howard Dean correct? If he was, I’d hate this bill too.

So now I’m posting this to my personal blog and setting Facebook to import it. Please read. Think it over. Keep everyone talking.

A Victim of Internet Memes: 25 Random Things

Recently I’ve been tagged with one of those get-to-know-you gags online. The rules read as follows:

“Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.”

Tag. I’m it. I got stuck with a smaller version of this when I got a mild cold during a snowstorm. I got the 25-random-things version while recovering a nasty cold. If I wait for a bigger list, I fully expect to be struck down with an Ebola virus.

But I’m not tagging anybody. I might be a wuss, but I’m not a rat.

Here I go. I suggest you start running now.

  1. I never learned how to drive. Car insurance in California was too expensive. And my wife always has the car (bah-dump-bump CHING.)
  2. I once shattered a malfunctioning typewriter out of sheer frustration. It was a cheap, creaking piece of crap anyway.
  3. Halloween is my favorite holiday because it feels more positive than all the others so far.
  4. I know how to make a few dishes (chicken in marsala seems the most popular, but I don’t think I’m much of a cook.
  5. I once had a black cat called Lilith. I still miss her.
  6. My father was a US Marine at the Battle of Iwo Jima.
  7. I still dream of writing and directing feature films.
  8. I have nervous tremors in my face and hands. I do my best to conceal them in public.
  9. The first thing I ever saw on a television screen was the laser room scene in “Goldfinger.”
  10. I’m a Christian who supports the theory of evolution and despises creationism. (Hey, I thought it was a sin to tell a lie….)
  11. To speed up the process, I used polyhedral dice to figure out which items went on the list.
  12. Black isn’t my favorite color. But for some reason, it has a relaxing effect on me.
  13. The streak of silver in my hair started as a big spot when I was 23.
  14. For some reason, I rarely recognize actors in person, no matter how famous or distinctive they are… even when they’re friends of mine.
  15. I’m rather shy. I was brought up to be seen, not heard. The fact that I’ve dealt with a lot of really screwed-up people didn’t help.
  16. I based my penmanship on those of my father and JRR Tolkien’s Elvish lettering.
  17. I got chicken pox when I was a teenager. I’ve had dry skin problems ever since.
  18. The backs of my hands still bear scars I gave myself from high school.
  19. I’m learning how to shave with a straight razor. Rather nice, actually.
  20. I once suffered with insomnia for four weeks straight because of nightmares.
  21. My ankle has been sprained at least six times.
  22. I don’t tell my mother what I do for a living. She thinks I’m going to Hell as it is.
  23. I’m Hispanic, a Mexican-American born and raised in Silicon Valley. I’ve been erroneously labeled white, Arabic, Filipino, and God knows what else.
  24. My cognitive memory started when I was about seven months old.
  25. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever worked on.