Sunday, October 30, 2011


I unashamedly adore Patrick Stewart.

When I was a kid, my dad and brother watched Star Trek Next G on a regular basis, and I remember being altogether bored with whatever was going on, mostly because if it didn't tell stories accompanied by a rousing singable melody, I didn't follow it. The exception to this was anything that involved Sir Patrick. I not only loved his voice--the patterns it made as he acted, the timbre, the range, content--but also thought that he was really cute.

Part of this reaction was some crazy movie watching code I strictly held to as a kid, one whole section of which was that you loved the good guy and hated the bad guy. However, I soon out that the voice put me in a difficult position on the love/hate scale, because if an actor had a good voice, I couldn't truly hate them as a bad guy, and I automatically loved them as a good guy. Patrick Stewart obviously falling on the good guy scale at the top--Capt. Picard being the comforting leader character with all the answers delivered in a delightfully dignified way. Alan Rickman in Quigley Down Under falling on the complete bad guy side. I knew I was supposed to hate him according to my code that was totally made up and of mysterious kid-type origins, but because his voice was... his voice, I couldn't hate him, and it gave me no end of identity crises.

Watching movies is serious business in our family. But I digress.

The other reason for the adoration of Patrick Stewart as a kid is that he was so cute. I remember thinking that if this is what men look like as they grow older, why on Earth do they complain about going bald? Seriously. It wasn't flattery, and I was confused for a number of years about it until I confronted my dad about it, who took it all in stride and gave a straight answer. God bless him. I have no conscious memory of this, but as a gangly 10-11ish year old looking around at equally gangly 10-11 year old, it doesn't seem that surprising to me that I thought Patrick Stewart so much cuter than boys my age.

Enough memory lane. I have recently been looking up Mr. Stewart, the internet being particularly handy for this, and I am even more impressed with him than I was as a kid. It's kind of fascinating, because seriously, who or what else can you say that you liked as a kid that is equally cool and impressive as an adult? And, yes, I still think he's really cute. In fact, that part's a little creepy, because, (it's not just me on this one), he looks almost unchanged since Next G. Check it out:

c. 1990


Weird, right? Anyway, as an adult that can separate such things, I actually am more impressed with him as an actor than I was with him as a character. In every interview I see him in, or quote that I find of him, in every way he embodies dignity, grace, humility, and all those potentially ingratiating terms until you see him give it. Here's what he has to say about playing Picard:

"[I had a letter] from a Las Vegas police sergeant. He wasn't asking for anything, he just wrote and said how much the show meant to him, and that he loved his work but there were many times when it made him very low and very despairing about society. When that happens, I go home and watch The Next Generation and it restores my belief that the world will get better."*

also, unbelievably:
"When it first started, I didn't think that I would survive beyond the pilot. I did not unpack; I didn't see the point. I thought the producers would come to their senses and realize they'd made a grave error in casting me. I was certain that I'd be on my way back to London...Eventually, it became clear to me that not only wasn't I going to go away, the series wasn't going to go away. I stayed, and have relished every moment."*

Similar to this, in the "Star Trek: Captain's Summit," Stewart tells both these stories and explains how little he understood the Star Trek following when he took the role, but has been grateful for his inclusion in the club since then. Here's a clip:

Also, look at his list of movies he's been involved with:

On that list? just in the last few years: Family Guy, Lego Universe, Gnomio and Juliet for crying out loud, TNMT, X-men, Bambi (a sequel, no less), Chicken Little--I mean, that an actor of this quality would agree to take roles like this at his age and fame, and even with his preference for theater, I can't help but be more impressed.

Ok, I will leave you on one last quote about having taken roles of both Star Trek's Picard and X-Men's Prof. Xavier:

"Having played many roles of scientific intellect I do have an empathy for that world. It's been hard on me because flying the Enterprise for seven years in Star Trek and sitting in Cerebro in X-men has led people to believe that I know what I'm talking about. But I'm still trying to work out how to operate the air conditioning unit on my car."*

How could you not love that?
(By the way, I'm watching Star Trek as I'm writing this. My inner geek is very happy.)

*all quotes from

Monday, February 21, 2011

In Remembrance: Love and Grief

A very good friend of mine died this weekend. A great man, husband, father, grandfather, and friend. I was not there, and I will not be able to go to the funeral to say goodbye, or to give the family my support. For me, there is no heavier loss than that. This is grief.

You know, I've noticed that this country does not allow for mourning anymore. To cry, to grieve, to mourn are seen as indecent behavior in our society. In fact, we almost don't even know what it is anymore to grieve, or how important it is. I noticed it when my grandparents died. When I mentioned it, people were embarrassed and hastened to change subjects away from people I loved and lost. Or worse, they would act as though death was an instantaneous act of letting go: "I'm sorry for your loss. Let them go, now, and move on."

The fact they are referred to as "lost" was always confusing to me: they aren't lost; I know exactly where they are, and the problem is that it's not here. Grieving is part of loving. It's not indecent and shouldn't be treated as such. The more you capacity you have to love, the more grief it produces in letting go. Someone I loved is referred to in past tense, and it rips my heart in pieces. You don't stop loving, but it's part of the process, and to shortchange it is disrespectful to those who now exist in memory.

My friend Bill was one of the most amazing people I ever had the honor to meet. I actually knew him better than I knew his sons that are my age. We talked, joked, laughed, attended the same church, participated in all sorts of town events, and I think of his family as an extension of my own. He was one of the few that embodied what it means to follow my religion, and only in knowing him better did I learn what it meant for me. I grieve for the inevitable heartache left behind in his absence; we are very selfish about death, you know. If I could have changed places with him, I would in a heartbeat. Then I wouldn't hurt this much. But it doesn't work like that, and he is not hurting anymore. What a relief that must be to experience. I know there is really nothing one can say or do to make the process easier, but at least to his family: know that you are not alone and many, many hearts/minds/prayers are with you today and forever.

"Goodnight, Mr. Bueermann--wherever you are."

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Crooked Sensibilities;" The First

The first tune I ever wrote I heard one night and after digging it out of my ears, gave to my friend and teacher for his birthday--which is today as well, oddly enough. Weird. Anyway, I had thought to let him title it (since he's really good at it, and I'm terrible at it), but on his insistence, I started working out something that might hint at wit or at least not embarrass him...

Ahem, anyhow, what we landed on was "Richard's Ride," and it has a back story. It refers to the legend of an ancestor that was granted all the land he cross in a day while on the back of a bull. I'll save the crux of the story for himself, since he tells it better, but you get you get the idea. It seemed to fit since I was already giggling at the "crookedness" of the tune that I tried so hard to write squarely and evenly.

To my teacher on his birthday, and hopefully so he can get a kick out of it while en route to far away places: