All Good Things…

I have a problem.  It’s not necessarily a big deal problem, it’s just a problem.  I get bored.  I get bored pretty easily.  I don’t have ADD or ADHD or AED or any other acronym you might think of.  I can sit on my ass for hours watching TV or movies.  If I’m reading, I’ll stop because I can’t keep my eyes open before I stop because I’m bored.  It’s other stuff.

Those of you who visit this blog with any regularity have surely noticed that the posts have tapered off.  It’s because I’m bored.  Well, maybe bored isn’t the right term.  I’m… dissatisfied.

I started blogging last June.  I started my first blog here on WordPress two days before my 33rd birthday and had big plans.  I called the blog “Started Living” because I wanted to get out there and start living my life, something I hadn’t really been doing previously.  I created the blog on somewhat of a whim because I had something I wanted to say and I needed to get it out there.  I searched for a title that said what I wanted to convey and that hadn’t already been taken.  It’s amazing how I’m always behind the times on certain things.  I searched for “Life Starts Now”.  Somebody had it.  They hadn’t updated it in a long time, but they owned it.  I searched for “Starting Life Now”.  Same story.  “Starting Life”, “Starting Living”, “Life Starting”?  Second verse, same as the first!  Finally, I punched in “Started Living” and I got the glorious “this title is available” message.  I ran with it.

“Started Living” didn’t feel especially catchy to me.  I was frustrated with the lack of cleverness or even any real meaning behind it.  In the early days I reported some big events.  Part of my motivation behind the blog was to live more openly about my sexuality and to have a focal point and a reason to get out and start living.  I came out to a few people and I documented it on the blog.  I attended a smattering of events that happened to be taking place outside the four walls of my own apartment.  But all in all, I did not Start Living and so I started feeling unauthentic with the blog title.  I published my final post on “Started Living” on November 6, 2008.  At that point I had posted 81 articles and had 32 comments.  I’d had over 3000 hits.  But I didn’t like the direction the blog was going and I wasn’t happy with the name and so with my November 6, 2008 post “Started Living Didn’t, Finds a new Home”, I said good-bye to my unauthentic existence as a guy who hadn’t started living and hello to my truly unauthentic existence as “A Drunk in a Hard Place.”

“A Drunk in a Hard Place” was a tongue in cheek, unfunny reference to my life.  The reality is I’m not an alcoholic.  I do drink and like so many other people, I occasionally drink more than perhaps I should.  On one particular occasion, I drank much more than I should have and paid a very high price for that poor judgment.  But as a matter of course, I don’t drink a great deal and it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.  For a time I was reading a blog called “The Drunken Housewife” and I found her writing humorous.  So “A Drunk in a Hard Place” was meant to be a humorous reference to the fact that I do drink, sometimes a lot; the fact that at times my life is really hard (isn’t everyone’s?); and, I hoped obviously, a play on “A Rock and a Hard Place”.  It was meant as a joke, and I think for the most part, it was taken that way, but I became uncomfortable with it.  I left things alone for six months because I hadn’t thought of anything better.  Then one day, finally, inspiration struck!

I spent the last almost three years in therapy, only having taken a hiatus in the last four months to try and get my finances under better control.  I am not, by any means, “done” with therapy.  Insightful Therapist said, “you’re in the middle” during our last (I was going to say “final”, but I hope it wasn’t) session, and I think she’s right, which is why it’s important for me to get back as soon as I can.  Anyway, I have come a long way in the time I have been in therapy and I’m a much happier, better person now.  I feel like I’ve benefited a lot from therapy and I feel like I’ve got something I can share with others and so I’ve started something new.

From today, those of you who read my blog with regularity and desire to deliberately follow me can find my writing at http://riggledo.wordpress.com.  I will not delete this blog and cannot say I will never post here again, but from this moment my focus and my energy will be put into Riggledo.  So, let me tell you about it!

The title is a play on my own name.  I hope it’s something that will be catchy.  In my wildest dreams I hope it’ll become something of a household name, so to speak, along the lines of “Dooce” or “Amalah“.  I’m neither a woman or a mommy so I don’t expect to fall into their league, but it is my hope, that at some point, I will have a following of readers who are as committed as these ladies have and that “Riggledo” will be as much of a “household name” as these ladies.  Perhaps that will never happen but I can certainly give it a shot!

Riggledo is a conglomeration of my last name, Riggs, and what is part of the focus of the blog, to help my readers to remember that they’re “OK” just the way they are.  In other words, my name is Kevin Riggs, and I’ll do just fine just the way I am!  Riggledo (and so will you.)

OK.  End of the shameless self promotion!  And I hope this is not a “good-bye”, but rather a “follow me”.  I’m headed over to Riggledo and I hope you’ll come along!  See you there!

Decisions, Decisions (Who Needs Decisions)

Yesterday was the first of two whole (and I use that term loosely) days this week I get to spend with she, who has previously been known as “Eve”, but is now to be known as “Her Royal Awesomeness”.  We will be spending Friday together at The Tech Museum, in San Jose, however due to another familial obligation Her Royal Awesomeness will have to cut the day short at dinner time.

We had big plans, which, to quote Her Royal Awesomeness, “consisted of lots of eating and indecision”  HRA and I are, the two least decisive individuals known to man, which makes us either the perfect pair who enjoy spending hours on end together, or two people who waste an inordinate amount of time trying to figure the other one out… I prefer the first answer.

It’s been raining – I was going to say, “raining up a storm” but I guess that’s a bit redundant – here in Northern California and my 40+ mile drive from my house in Oakland to Her Royal Awesomeness’s Grandparents house in San Jose, took a little longer than usual due to the worsened conditions.

I arrived in one piece and we headed out for our strategically planned day.  I asked her, “So!  What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know.  What do you want to do?”

See?  Now that’s what I call Strategery!  We have not an original bone between us and we did the same thing we almost always do:  lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, shopping at Target, wandering aimlessly around the mall, and a movie (He’s Just Not that Into You.)  Mostly it’s just about spending time together and getting to talk.  Something that doesn’t happen nearly enough for my taste.

By the time I was driving home, at 10:00 at night, the rain was coming down in buckets.  I drove home, wipers at full blast, eye’s wide open and knuckles white with tension.  Highway 880 isn’t the best lit (or striped) highway in the bay area and with the rain and the dark the drive was pretty tense.  I pulled into my garage and pried my fingers loose from the  steering wheel.

But you know what?  I’d do it all over again without a moments hesitation.  That’s how important this friend is to me.

So what about you?  What torment have you put yourself through for the sake of a friend?  Would you do it again?

It’s Just Emotions Taking Me Over

big-edenLast night I watched another gay themed movie I recorded to my DVR, off the Logo Network, Big Eden.  I didn’t really know anything about it other than what I’d read in the very brief description on my DirecTV programming guide.

henry

Henry, Big Eden

sampa1

Sam, Big Eden

Big Eden is the story of Henry Hart an out artist living in New York City who is about to have a gallery opening when he receives a call from a friend in his hometown informing him that his Grandfather who raised him had suffered a stroke.  Henry abandons his opening to go back to see Sam, who he calls “Sampa”.

dean

Dean, Big Eden

Not long after arriving back in Big Eden Henry finds out that his childhood friend – and unrequited love – Dean has moved back to Big Eden after his divorce, with his two young sons so that his parents can help him raise his children.

pike

Pike, Big Eden

grace

Grace, Big Eden

Henry is introduced to Pike a Native American man who operates the local general store.  Pike is known to be very shy, but Grace, the friend who notified Henry of Sam’s stroke asks Pike to assist Sam and Henry by picking up meals from the local busy body widow and bringing them to Sam’s house for the men (apparently Henry can’t cook).

The movie has a rather predictable element to it; a love triangle between Dean, Henry and Pike and an unsurprising outcome with Henry and Pike falling in love.

There were several things about this movie that I was surprised at how I felt and reacted to them.  To start with, Henry has never told “Sampa” that he’s gay.  It’s never really explained why this is, it’s just clear that Henry is afraid.  It seems as if everyone knows the truth except for Sam, or does he?

Henry is asked at one point, “Do you really think he never figured it out?”  And that question is answered in a scene late in the film when Sam confronts Henry about what his plans are.  Henry came back to Big Eden to check on Sam after his stroke, and stayed for a year.  Sam tells Henry, he’ll be “joining” Henry’s Grandmother soon and he’ll need to know what to tell her.  After Henry attempts to avoid the conversation, Sam says to him, “You won’t tell me who you really are.  Why?  Is it shame?  Did I teach you to be ashamed?  ‘Cause if I did, I did a terrible thing.”  Henry responds by bursting into tears and laying his head in his grandfather’s lap, allowing the older man to comfort him.  After Sam dies, Henry says to Grace, “I never told him.” to which Grace replies, “Well.  He knows now.”  I was a little confused and maybe slightly annoyed that no one pointed out that clearly Sam already knew.

It is clear from the beginning that Pike is attracted to Henry and wants a relationship with him, but Pike has always been a very stoic and quiet man, easily rattled and embarrassed, unable to adequately express his thoughts and feelings.  For a time he seems almost to dislike Henry as he avoids contact.  Day after day, Sam and Henry invite Pike to join them in the meals that he brings and he declines.  Then one night, Henry is out and Sam invites Pike to stay.  Finally, Pike accepts.

After just a few days of delivering meals to the men which have been prepared by a local widow, it becomes clear that the meals are not very pleasant tasting.  Pike takes a book entitled “The Joy of Cooking” from his lending library and studies it.  The next day Pike prepares a delicious meal and delivers it to the men.  The regular invitations are extended, the usual declination given and Pike returns home where he himself eats the unenjoyable meal provided by the widow.

As the movie progresses it becomes clear that Pike has feelings for Henry which he does not know how to express.  Many of the peripheral characters begin to see what’s happening and attempt to help.  Eventually, Pike comes by with a meal for the men but Sam is asleep.  Henry invites Pike to join him and after a few attempts to escape, Pike finally agrees.  They have a very pleasant conversation and a friendship grows.  Naturally, as must happen in such a story, Henry does not see what’s happening.  Henry is learning more and seeing more of Pike but does not understand Pike’s feelings.

Midway through the movie, Sam has a medical episode and has to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance.  Henry spends the night at the hospital with Sam, awake all night.  In the morning, Dean comes and takes Henry home.  It’s been clear that there is a relationship developing between the two but it’s slow and awkward.  Until this moment, you’re not really sure what is going on with Dean.  After returning to Sam’s house from the hospital, Dean offers to cook some eggs for Henry and while he is cooking there is a moment of vulnerability and tenderness when Henry places a hand and then his head on Dean’s shoulder and places his other arm around Dean.

dh-kissDean pushes the pan aside and turns toward Henry.  The two embrace and there is a brief kiss before Dean turns his face away and they hug.

“I can’t,” Dean says.

“I know,” is Henry’s reply.

“I want to.  I just can’t,” Dean repeats.

“I know,” Henry says again.

There are a few things about this movie that affected me.  The first is the relationship between Henry and his “Sampa”.  It is so clear to the viewer and to everyone else in Big Eden that Sam knows Henry is gay.  There’s even a scene when Henry is away at a town picnic so Pike stays and shares dinner with Sam.  After they eat, the two men go out by the lake outside Sam’s house to watch the fireworks.  They’re still outside when they hear Dean’s truck pull up to drop Henry off.  Pike and Sam observe what might be construed as a tender moment between Henry and Dean but but is in actuality more a push-me-pull-me exchange about the nature of their relationship.  Sam looks at Pike and says, “I’m sorry, son.”  He knows that Pike has feelings for Henry but they both assume there’s something there between Henry and Dean.

I struggle on an almost daily basis with the idea of what it would be like to tell my family that I’m gay.  The situations are different.  Henry was just afraid with no real explanation as to the reason why.  I come from an extremely conservative fundamentalist Christian family which believes that homosexuality is a sin and to be gay is to be damned.  I do not share in their sentiments and do not have any guilt about my orientation, but being able to tell them the truth and to explain my beliefs to them is a far more difficult proposition with very unpredictable outcomes.  I watched this movie, and particularly the exchange between Sam and Henry about seeing “Grandma” and I thought, “Just tell him!  It’s clear he already knows and it’s obvious he will accept you!  What have you got to be afraid of?  Do you know what a precious gift this is?!?

I imagined what it would be like to be in a position of knowing that what I have to tell would be graciously and lovingly received without any judgment or condemnation, to know that I could be open and completely truthful about myself and my life with the people who are supposed to matter the most.  Unfortunately, I live with the knowledge that very much the opposite is true.

The real irony is that I suspect that most if not all of my family knows, or at least suspects that I am gay, so it would not come as a surprise to them, yet I’m certain they’re also hoping that I’ll never accept it, that I’ll never act on these feelings.  I’m sure they think that as long as I never act on the feelings and I never say “I’m gay” to anyone (including myself – too late), then it won’t really be true and I won’t be damned.

The second thing about this movie that affected me was the general existence of the character, Pike.  I could relate to him, in a lot of ways.  In the real world, I also tend to be very shy and socially awkward.  I don’t really know how to talk to people I don’t know very well.  I’m very awkward with my feelings and don’t really know how to communicate them effectively or productively.

The third thing about this movie that affected me, which actually relates to the second, is the scene I described between Dean and Henry.  When it’s finally clear to everyone that there is an attraction and feelings between the two, when they finally kiss, and then Dean backs away, saying, “I can’t,” a part of me screamed, “Why not!?!  What are you so afraid of?  Do you know how lucky you are to be loved?  Why be so afraid of your feelings?

And then I began to think about myself.  I began to think how I can’t relate to him after all.  I can’t think of a time when I have felt a powerful attraction to a person.  I can’t think of a time when I was just so overcome by passion that I wanted to rip our clothes off and make love, right then and there.  I can’t think of a time when I was so distraught, or was with someone else who was so distraught and in need of comfort, that the most logical course of action seemed to be sex.  I can’t think of a time when physicality was —

Well… I can’t think of a time when physicality was not a terrifying prospect.  I can imagine that, assuming I somehow found myself in a situation like Dean did, that I’d react very much the same way he did, assuming we even got as far as a kiss.  I can imagine I’d be just as afraid to act on my feelings.  And it makes me angry.  Why should I be so afraid to act on my feelings.

But the thing is, I’m inclined to say I don’t have feelings.  I’ve only been “in love” once and it turned out not to be real.  It fell apart at the first sign of trouble.  And I haven’t dated much in the 15 years since.  I’ve thought a bit lately about the relationships in my life and how I’d feel if they ended.  With the exception of my friend Eve, I don’t really imagine being terribly upset about the end of a relationship and I already know that relationship is going to end so I have time to prepare myself… I hope.

I’ve thought about what my reaction would be if one of my parents died.  I don’t think I’d have much of one.  I don’t think I’d be terribly upset.  I think I’d be relieved in a lot of ways.  I’ve thought how I’d feel if one of my siblings died.  I don’t expect I’d feel much differently.  I’d be a little more upset if CPA Sis died because she’s the only one I’m really all that close to.  But if Ex Con Older Brother died, I wouldn’t even feel like I’d lost anything.

What I’ve determined is that I don’t feel strongly enough about anyone, or anything, to have a strong reaction.  “I don’t feel anything” I thought.  “But wait.  I can be very emotional and passionate when I feel like I’m being mistreated or abused… So I’m only capable of experiencing negative emotions strongly?  That sucks.  And it doesn’t help my case any.  I’d like to date.  I’d like to fall in love and share my life with someone.  How do I do that if I don’t feel positive emotions?

You know, I was beginning to wonder how I was going to bring this post back around and this is it:

I don’t feel positive emotions.  I don’t feel attraction or affection and certainly not love.  So if I somehow found myself in a situation where I was so affected by and attracted to a person (male or female) as Dean was in this movie…  I’d have to be all over it.  I hope that I would not let that moment pass by.

Prayers for A Drunk

Today has been a bit of a mixed bag of feelings and somehow I don’t think it’s done yet.

As a part of my efforts to reclaim control of my life I made the conscious decision to go to bed at “a reasonable time” (is 11:30 a reasonable time?) last night so that I could get up at “a reasonable time” (is 7:30 a reasonable time?) this morning.  My routine tardiness at work has not gone unnoticed and has gotten quite a bit worse in recent months as my general motivation to attend has been dismal at best.  Part of the problem, I realized is that I have a hard time getting up early enough in the mornings.  So I thought it wise to attempt to adhere to the recommendations of so many “experts” and try stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends.  Now, I’ll grant you that sleeping from 11:30 to 7:30 is probably not the best sleep schedule to have when you work a theoretically 8-5 job, but since I’ve been getting out of bed between 7:30 and 8:00 for the last few weeks it seems wise to start rolling that schedule back at a gradual pace.

At any rate, I was feeling pretty good about myself and my decision to work on my sleep schedule and when my second alarm, on the other side of the room went off at 7:00 this morning, I only snoozed it three separate times before I forced myself not to get back in bed when I turned it off.  I put on my robe, (it’s much too cold for my not at all uncommon state of undress that often meets my mornings) and went for my morning pee, after which I went into the kitchen to feed a very demanding Scared Kitty.  He still had a bit of food in his bowl from last night but if you ever needed a lesson in how to act as if you’re starving, Scared Kitty would be an excellent coach. grand-marnier After feeding his royal highness, I went on to make myself a pot of coffee and sort out breakfast.  I finally decided on the Gladware bowl of orange segments I had in the refrigerator.  The segments are lefter over after using the peels to start my own batch of homemade Grand Marnier last weekend, for which I found a recipe a few weeks back.  It takes seven weeks and I’m not really all that optimistic about the outcome but I thought it would be fun to give it a shot,  you should pardon the pun.

I brought my carafe of coffee and my bowl of orange pieces into the living room, sat down in my recliner, threw a blanket over my legs and propped my feet up to watch some television.  My DVR tends to build up during the week and I try to clear it back out on the weekends so I don’t get too far behind.  Three episodes of the much maligned and barely watched General Hospital, one episode of Ghost Whisperer, five episodes of The Click List: Best in Short Film, and a misnamed movie all awaited my attention.

Natalia Livingston

Natalia Livingston

Tyler Christopher

Tyler Christopher

I actually just started recording General Hospital again this week after many months of freedom because Green M&M told me there’s some weird event happening at the beginning of each episode that I wanted to investigate and because I read that Natalia Livingston, who played Emily Quartermaine for several years until she was murdered about a year ago in a “very dramatic” story line, has returned to the show but supposedly not as Emily Quartermaine.  Her character has not really been explained yet, but whoever she is, she does seem to have a considerable fascination with Nikolas Cassadine, played by Tyler Christopher, not that I can blame her.

Since I’m on the subject, while looking for a good picture of Tyler to include here, I happened across this rather unexpected gem:

tyler-christopher-nekked-02

Anyway, I don’t watch very much of General Hospital because I’m really not all that interested in most of the characters and I don’t want to get sucked back in, therefore I was able to watch all three episodes pretty quickly.

Jennifeir Love Hewitt

Jennifer Love Hewitt

Then it was on to Ghost Whisperer.  I enjoy this show and I have been a fan of Jennifer Love Big Tits– er, Hewitt since she first showed up on Party of Five.  I’m a bit tired of the current, on-going story line, since they killed Jim off and his spirit is now inhabiting the body of another man who died and crossed over.  But I’m still watching… for now.

The Click List: Best in Short Film doesn’t show episode descriptions in the on-screen guide and I think I may have seen all of the current shorts, but I record it anyway, just in case something new comes across.  I “watch” that on four times fast forward and there was nothing new so I was done with that in five minutes.  And that left me with just the misnamed movie.

The play list in my DVR said the movie was called “The Killer Condom”, but the movie that was actually aired in that time slot turned out to be “Dead Serious.”  If you haven’t seen it, I strongly encourage you not to.  It’s about vampires and it’s lame as all get out, but had a sexy hero so I watched it anyway.  Two hours of my life I’ll never get back.

When the movie was over it was only 11:00 and I decided to go out and get my shopping done early.  I made a list of things I needed and wanted from Target and the grocery.  I also needed cat food and gasoline.  With my list made, I hopped in the shower and then got dressed to head out.  I decided to take a second look at my finances before I left and it’s a good thing I did.  I just got paid yesterday but I have to pay my rent and car insurance and after those things happen I only have about $185.00 for the next two weeks.

So much for my positive feelings about myself and my new leaf of better money management.  Yes, I’m essentially up to date with my bills and my rent and car insurance are important, but I was starting to feel like I had things more under control and I wasn’t gong to be hurting for money and then this realization.  I went back over the list and eliminated everything I didn’t need and pared my trip down to just the grocery store.  I forgot about the gas station and the cat food and now those will have to wait for another day, but I spent $90.00 at the grocery and put $40.00 walking around money in my pocket (I only had $5.00 before that.)

I also sent a text message to Green M&M and canceled our plans to go into San Francisco tomorrow.  Wheeler Dealer Landlady lives in The Haight and I have a couple pieces of mail for her so I thought I’d go in and drop those off along with my February rent check and then we could go and play after.  Now I realize I do not have any money for that and it reminds me that I’m not really so well off after all.  Now I’m going to have to spend the next two weeks trying not to spend any money.  I’ve got $50.00 left in the bank that isn’t already spent on paper, and I have to get food for Scared Kitty and gas for the vehicle with that.  I may have to use a credit card (which I’m trying to pay off) for one or both of those things and I hate that idea, but I guess it’s better than having my account overdrawn again.

As soon as I hit publish on this post, I’m going to put the computer down and watch the Lifetime movie Prayers for Bobby.  I made up my mind to watch this movie after I read an article about it in the most recent issue of The Advocate, however, I suspect, unfortunately, that this movie will be difficult for me to watch as, from what I already know about it, I would expect to be able to relate to it pretty closely.  I too, am the son of a “devout” woman who is convinced that to be gay is to be damned.  It’s an issue that is very difficult for me and it wouldn’t really surprise me to find that the movie is a hard pill to swallow.  I guess it’s time to find out.

Who Needs You, Baby

im-ignoring-you

Scared Kitty

A few months back, we had a little health scare with Scared Kitty.  He turned out to be ok, but the doctor recommended that I switch him from dry food to canned food.  An idea which Scared Kitty was only too happy to go along with.

The first week or so, I used regular spoons out of my silver wear drawer to scoop out and chop up the food I was feeding him, but I decided that I needed to get some spoons specifically for this purpose so I wouldn’t be using up my human spoons supply on the cat food endeavor, so I  bought a six pack of toddler spoons at Target just for this purpose.

Today I was at Target again and I stopped in the baby section to look for more spoons, not sure if I really needed to buy more of them (I did not), and for a moment, while looking at all the baby supplies, bottles, sippy cups, bibs, utencils, etc., the thought crossed my mine, “Awww…  maybe I want a baby.”

Ten minutes later, I was in the video section and walked down what I liked to call the, “Kill Me Now” aisle.  You know the one.  It’s the aisle where on one side are all the Disney movies ever made, each for sale for $19.99 a piece, never to go on sale because they know that you’ll make the mistake of taking your child down that aisle and the child will see, “Disney’s Princesses on Crystal Meth” and your own little princess (who may or may not someday be on Crystal Meth) will grab the DVD case and beg you, “Daddy, Daddy, can I have the Crystal Meth Movie?  Can I Daddy?  Can I, please, Please?  PPPPLLLLLEEEEAAAASSSSSEEEEEUH?” and they know that the only way to get your precious little future crack head to shut up is if you agree to buy the movie, no matter what the cost.

And on the other side of the aisle is all the educational type videos.  Little Einstein, and Elmo and (God forbid) Barney.  The “Kill me now” aisle, otherwise known as the “Birth Control Aisle”, not because you buy Condoms and spermicidal jellies there, but because one trip down this aisle reminds you that you never want to procreate, ever, EVER in your life.

Yes, I looked at the babby aisle and thought, “Awww….  maybe I want a baby.”  And then I walked down the “Kill Me Now” aisle, took one look at a Hannah Montanna video cover and said, “Nope!  No!  I don’t!  No baby for me, thank you!”

When Something Ends Something Begins, But Now It’s Just the End of the Road

Lawaxana Troi as played by Majel Barrett Roddenberry

Lwaxana Troi died yesterday.

Majel Barrett Roddenberry and Gene Roddenberry

Majel Barrett who played Lwaxana Troi, on Star Trek: The Next Generation (ST: TNG),  died yesterday at the age of 76, from Leukemia.  If you care, and you want to read up on it, I’m sure you can find any number of stories about her and about her death (not to mention her life) on the internet today.  But what really bothers me, aside from the obvious sadness that goes with any loss of human life, is what this means for Star Trek.

The wife of Gene Roddenberry, who created Star Trek, Barrettt is one of the few actors who has been in every version of Star Trek ever to exist.  Most notably, she has provided the voice of the Federation Computer systems in every show (except Enterprise – I think) since the first Star Trek movie.  She is a Star Trek icon and things will never be the same.

Star Trek: The Original Series

I remember being a young boy in the ’80s, lying on my mother’s bed on Saturday afternoons, watching the original Star Trek series.  I remember thinking that this show must have been on forever.  I knew it wasn’t a current production but I honestly didn’t know the history behind it.  I didn’t know that the show was only on for three seasons.  I didn’t know that NBC canceled it after the first season and that it was brought back, only because of the outpouring of viewer objection and a letter writing campaign.  I just knew it was a fun show to watch and I liked Captain Kirk.  It’s funny how things change because in later years while watching The Next Generation, I remember reflecting on the original series as not being that great and thinking that the acting and the stories were lame and not liking Captain Kirk all that much.  For years, I have reflected on the original series as being hokey, and William Shatner as being a ridiculous caricature of a man.  His speech patterns and over-acting leave a lot to be desired, even now.  As Denny Crane on Boston Legal, he could only be laughed at for being such a buffoon.  But not long ago I watched a few digitized episodes of Star Trek:  The Original Series (ST: TOS), on HD Net.  I was quite surprised to see that I actually found Captain Kirk quite attractive, in his youth.

I have loved Star Trek for as long as I can remember.  Even when I did not like it, I loved it.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

After those original series episodes became harder to find, I forgot, to some extent that Star Trek existed, outside of the movies and then one day my family was visiting another family and the kids were watching this new Star Trek series, “Star Trek: The Next Generation“.  I was roughly 12 years old and I thought it was really dumb.  More importantly, I thought it would never work, “There can’t be a Klingon on a Starfleet ship” we said.  And honestly, if you watch that first season or two, you’ll see that it was pretty hokey.  But then the show caught on and, I’m sure, got more money and it started really improving until it became one of my favorites and a can’t miss show.

About five years in, a new series was introduced, Star Trek: Deep Space 9 (ST: DS9).  Being the natural born skeptic that I am I had a hard time imagining how a show about a space station could fit the Star Trek mold, but they made it work and ST: DS9 was another favorite, not to be missed show.  When ST: TNG went off the air two seasons later, I was disappointed.  It was, and remains to be, my personal favorite incarnation of the Star Trek Universe.  My disappointment that the show was ending, as All Good Things… must, was tempered only by the immediate announcement that there would be a ST: TNG movie coming out the following year.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9

Voyager

Star Trek: Voyager

ST: TNG ended in May, 1994 and in January, 1995 the third, and to date, final “Next Generation” series, Star Trek: Voyager (ST: V) premiered.  Again, I was skeptical.  The ship was flung to the far side of the galaxy which means, none of the usual alien species would appear.  The hoke potential was considerably higher as a result, however, it turned out to be really well done.  This series debuted at a time in my life when things were really rough and I was very unhappy in my circumstances.  ST: V provided me with just a little taste of what “normal” was like for me, a taste of my life before I moved to Dead Beat Dad’s house and before my fiancé cheated on, and then broke up with me.  ST: DS9 ended in 1999 and then ST: V ended in May, 2001.

Enterprise

Star Trek: Enterprise

When I heard that there would be a new Star Trek series in September 2001, I was happy.  As far as I was concerned (and still am) there should always be a Star Trek series in production.  And then I heard that Enterprise (later known as Star Trek: Enterprise) (ST: E) was going to be a prequel.  That it was going to take place before the time of ST: TOS and I was really disappointed.  ST: TOS was created in the 1960s and the technology was far inferior to what we have today.  I felt that taking us back in time was a bad idea.  After we became accustomed to all the “modern technology” of that futuristic existence, how could they expect us to be interested in a show with switches and dials (instead of the touch screens of the TNG era) and how could they expect us to believe a “prehistoric” iteration of the show if it used the touch screen technology to which we were accustomed.  But it was a Star Trek series and of course I watched it.

I found ST: E disappointing.  They made some valiant attempts to keep the fans engaged.  The set designs and the technology of the times were actually successful, in my mind, though not as interesting because they weren’t so advanced as the serieses (seri?) that took place a couple hundred years later.  The show was fine for what it was, but it wasn’t a great Star Trek series.  Eventually, there was another television show that I wanted to watch that was opposite ST: E and I chose the other show.   (I wasn’t a proud owner of a TiVo or DVR yet.)

Enterprise ended in May, 2005 and for the first time in 18 years there would be no new Star Trek on television.  That is a void which still has yet to be filled in my heart.  Heroes makes an effort.  It’s an excellent SciFi show (though it’s quality is waning) and they keep bringing in actors from the Star Trek Universe (although it’s been original series actors only until this weeks episode with Michael Dorn) but it is no substitute.

Enterprise

Conner Trinneer, Commander Charles (Trip) Tucker III, on Star Trek: Enterprise

Recently I re-watched Enterprise on HD Net.  I had the opportunity to watch the entire series from beginning to end and was surprised to find that I liked it quite a bit.  I don’t know if I was just nostalgic for the good ole days of yore, of if the show really was that good and I just didn’t see it then, but I found the show very interesting and compelling and the two characters that once annoyed me, Hoshi and T’Pol, were now far more intriguing and appealing.  Of course with my new found certainty in my sexuality, I wasn’t afraid to admit that Trip (Conner Trinneer) was pretty fine to look at, as well.

The death of Majel Barrett, to me, solidifies the end of an era.  The Star Trek Universe has been slowly imploding ever since the 1991 death of creator Gene Roddenberry, when Rick Berman took over as head Trekker.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have loved the vast majority of the Star Trek Universe, but I have noticed on several occasions that Berman has not held true to Roddenberry’s concept.

It seems to me that Gene Roddenberry envisioned a show that would parallel the real world…the times we lived in, but with an optimistic, positive spin.  The Original Series so closely represented our nation in the time of the cold war, while simultaneously offering hope of a brighter tomorrow.  In my opinion, Star Trek was about hope, and faith, and peace.  Captain Kirk was a very physical man and often came to fisticuffs with the alien species du jur, but he was never the aggressor.  Violence was never the solution, it was the last resort.  Before Star Trek: Generations was released in theaters there was much discussion of the different temperaments between Captain Kirk and Captain Piccard.  Some speculation suggested there would be a physical altercation between the two men and whether Captain Piccard, he of the peaceful nature, could hold his own against, Captain Kirk.  In the end I think we saw that when pushed, Captain Piccard can hold his own against a good number of people.  But first and foremost these were both peaceful men.

Voyager

Species 8472 from Star Trek: Voyager

Gene Roddenberry once stated that all the aliens in the Star Trek universe would be humanoid, bi-peds.  Of course, this was at least in part due to technological constraints regarding special effects.  In the 1960s it would have been much more difficult and much more costly, not to have the aliens played by actors in costumes and make-up and certainly in the 1990s and 2000s sufficient advancements had been made to make it possible for producers of the shows to use CGI technology to include other types of aliens besides humanoid bi-peds.  Nonetheless, Gene Roddenberry, made the declaration that aliens in the Star Trek universe would always be bi-pedal, humanoids.  So when, in ST: V they introduced “Species 8472”, I was bothered by the disregard for his preference.  Fortunately, Species 8472 had very few appearances on this show and therefore didn’t impact the entire thing.

Star Trek:  Enterprise, started out innocuously enough.  It was “just another” Star Trek series and I enjoyed it for what it was, but many viewers lost interest fairly quickly, and by the end of the second season, there was talk of cancellation.  I guess Paramount, who owns the Star Trek Franchise, and UPN, the now defunct network that aired it, wanted to give it one more shot.  The final episode of the second season, starts with an alien probe dropping out of subspace in orbit of earth and firing on the planet cutting a swath from Florida to Venezuela and in the process killing seven million humans, among them the younger sister of Commander Charles (Trip) Tucker , Chief Engineer.

In that moment the entire series changed and grew dark.  The ship and her crew were no longer on a mission of exploration and diplomacy.  They were out to find the bastards who attacked earth and stop them before they returned.

Enterprise

Xindi, Aquatic Species, from Star Trek: Enterprise

Enterprise

Xindi, Insectoid Species, from Star Trek: Enterprise

The weapon that had fired on earth was but a test, and the next one, would destroy the planet.  The race responsible for the attack was called the Xindi (pronounced ZEN-dee) and they were made up of five species.  Three of those species were traditional, bi-pedal, humanoids.  Two of them were not.  The Aquatics and the Insectoids were CGI and made semi-regular appearances on the show. For me, this detracted greatly as it seemed a blatant slap in the face of Gene Roddenberry’s original intent.

Star Trek:  Enterprise also had very little to offer in the way of positivity and optimism.  Captain Archer became dark and volatile after the attack on Earth (not that I don’t think that a reasonable response.)  As I’m writing this I’m realizing that the story then more closely paralleled our times with the attacks of September 11, 2001, and our desire to see the attackers brought to justice, but where the original series paralleled something that was an on-going (I imagine, though I’m too young to know) threat with no real result, September 11th was a very real attack, with real destruction and real death, and in my opinion, it was very uncomfortable to watch this sort of parallelism.

With the exception of the occasional nod in the TNG films, the other TNG series, DS9 and Voyager, were not deemed film worthy.  Yes, The Doctor from ST: V makes an appearance in Star Trek:  First Contact, and a post-Voyager “Admiral” Janeway, gives Captain Piccard his marching orders in Star Trek: Nemesis, but beyond that those other series might well have never existed as far as the Star Trek Film culture is concerned.

The presumed final Next Generation feature film, Star Trek: Nemesis came out in December, 2002 and while this film included, what appeared to be a lot of finality:  Will and Deana finally got married; Will finally accepted a promotion and his own command, leaving the USS Enterprise; and of course the sacrificial death of Lt. Commander Data, we are left slightly hopeful by the idea that Data’s predecessor, the “cleverly” named B-4, shows signs of being able to learn and make use of Data’s downloaded memory engrams.

Six years later, I’m less hopeful of an additional installment.

Cast of the new Star Trek Movie, due out May, 2009

Cast of the new Star Trek Movie, due out May, 2009

There is another Star Trek movie on the horizon, and while it doesn’t go back as far in history as Star Trek:  Enterprise did, it is still what you’d call a prequel and I’m not really sure why we’re doing it.  This movie will be about James Kirk and his crew in their younger, academy or possibly immediately post-academy days.  I watched a trailer for it the other day and I must say that, as an incarnation of Star Trek, I’m not impressed.  It’s dark and ominous and it doesn’t visually fit the Star Trek motif.  And with the comparatively dismal performance of the last attempt at a prequel, I’m really not sure what we’re hoping for here.  Are they expecting a resurgence of interest with the hopes of starting a whole new theatrical franchise or are they trying to squeeze one final drop of monetary blood out of a dying targ?  If this film flops will this be the end of the Star Trek legacy?  And if it doesn’t flop, then what?

It’s a Star Trek movie, and I will go see it, but a part of me can’t help wondering, shouldn’t we leave well enough alone?  If it must eventually end, and it must eventually end, can’t we let it end with dignity?  Do we have to squeeze and squeeze until we’ve gotten all the quality material out and then keep squeezing to get all the junk out too?  Might we be better off leaving well enough alone?

Earlier this year, Star Trek: The Experience, an all Star Trek themed exhibit at the Las Vegas Hilton ended its nearly eleven year run, an event which made me very sad at it’s closing and, simultaneously happy that I got the opportunity to see it myself.

The Experience, Las Vegas Hilton

Star Trek: The Experience, Las Vegas Hilton

I was never particularly fond of Lwaxana Troi, and I don’t know anything of Majel Barrett besides her Star Trek work.  As for the computer, she was just the voice and of course that’s easily explained away, if not merely replicated.  And yet some how, I have been truly moved by this.  I’m surprised by how sad this makes me, but it does.

With Gene Roddenberry’s death in 1991 the helm changed hands and things started changing.  Today with the announcement of the death of Majel Barrett, I just feel like, on some level, Star Trek has died with her.  Gene Roddenberry is gone.  Scotty is dead.  Dr. McCoy is dead.  William Shatner doesn’t want to play anymore.  Data is dead.  Will and Deana have jumped ship, so to speak.  Star Trek:  The Experience is gone.  And now, the voice of the computer is gone as well.

Lwaxana Troi died yesterday.  And, I think maybe, Star Trek died too.