Since it is “truth” that nature abhors a vacuum it is not unreasonable that “unsuspecting reader” might, on occasion, return to these Twitter and Facebook pages seeking to dredge from moldy musings and rusty reflections 140 characters of sophistry, prurience and titillation vindictively interpreted to showcase the least noble sentiments of those who have gone before us. (I know, it sounds like bullshit).
However, not everyone sucks. There are those among the “unsuspecting reader” whose search is for human dignity, compassion and beneficence. The search is for a phrase or two that will cauterize the wounds of acrimony and disillusionment and by so doing enrich their own lives, purify others and spread love to those who had otherwise ruminated malignantly.
I have just under sixty seven thousand followers on Twitter and a much smaller number than that on Facebook. Both my figures vastly under represent the allegiance of fans to other Star Trek personalities I have been told. Nevertheless, such an impoverishment of number seems like a lot to me and I feel a bit embarrassed to have received even that much support in an exchange that is so blatantly one sided.
I have, therefore, determined to relate here -for the year 2014 – a few triumphs, catastrophes and other thoughts which by generating a smile or two will hopefully be perceived as a gesture of gratitude on my part. If I was a more assiduous journalist I would have been writing several times a week and not with the piddling infrequency I have managed over a full year Guessing that only about 300 followers wade through Walter Koenig prose annually I am disposed to extrapolate another explanation for my modest contribution to social media and the tepid engagement of the unsuspecting reader to me. But then self-flagellation is such a bore.
I. I WAS IN RHODE ISLAND. I stepped into a hotel elevator on the sixteenth floor. The laughter of its two robust African American occupants quieted down a bit by my unexpected appearance.. It was a cue I couldn’t resist. I affected my best (worst?) silent movie melodramatic expression. Horror and terror were drowning my face. A Tsunami of monumental proportions was sinking me twenty thousand leagues. My companions, witnessing the grotesquely charted fear the saturation of my soul endured, (did someone say “purple prose?”) conceded our doom and began the plunge hip to hip at my side.. On the other hand, If they had room to spring-board a back flip I’m sure these men would have dived through the faux leather wall of the small compartment and disappeared. Instead, it was me who retreated towards the sliding door at the fore aperture (“fore” aperture”?) while manically pushing the bounds of facial distortion into human contortion of massive proportion which segued into bone drenching and curdling screams loud enough to cause leaky pants as well as leaky walls
. . “No – NO – N0! Stay – away – from – me!”,from me to them. And then, ” Hey, I’m walking here!” groaned a crooked dozen of Dustin Hoffman’s Undead who I imagined had mysteriously appeared and kept bumping hilariously into each other.
My left heel was out the door when I suddenly stopped, shrugged my shoulders and very casually said “Ah, fuck it!” I stepped back into the elevator rubbing elbows with my husky companions who immediately got the joke and started to crack up. (Can’t say the same for the zombies) The three of us laughed all the way down. I mean, that’s all we did was laugh. We spoke not a word to each other. Just giggle, giggle giggle. It was a glorious feeling. Words weren’t necessary. Laughter was the universal language. We got it, we got each other. The doors opened in the lobby and we went our separate ways.
2. MY WIFE AND I went to collect a rescue dog from an enclosed yard. There were Chihuahua’s and Pekinese and Lhaso Apsos, (oh my.) There was also the object of our quest, a very lovely apricot standard poodle . Like all standard poodles the letters DNA speak not only to it’s genetic structure but to its emotional balance. In the case of “Peter Quince” (I named him) it also means Do Not Anguish. The caution is not because it’s high strung and aggressive but because, on the contrary, it is a canine disdainful of most humans and, well, frankly it’s probably not going to pay any attention to any coaxing or cajoling..
Okay, now envision a camera sweep across the room moving parallel to the prancing poodle when for a very brief moment another dog is seen in the shadow standing very still. In still another moment the poodle has left frame and the camera has hurried to catch up. Wait a second! Did I…was there….?The camera dollies back tracking its movement. Yes, there it is! I’m not crazy after all! There is another dog and it is staring…staring, without a moving muscle, directly at me in the old pine chair I have appropriated.
I look for the sloppy salivating tongue for I know the tricks of the trade and am sure there is a handler nearby coaching the dog’s performance with a cleverly obscured ginger snap cookie. I Can’t see either but now all the pooches are dancing about in slow motion as Fellini’s morbidly obese ballet dancer and the garish clown organ grinder plays that which is both the “”Rite of Spring” and “Here comes Dracula Da-Dum Da-Dum”. The dog begins to move toward me. I recognize it immediately. I’m not sure of its proper name – Thor, El Diablo , minatore – but I do know the breed.and I can smell the baby blood on its teeth. Like an erupting volcano it slowly raises one front paw to my knee and then it raises the other. It leans forward , unlocks its jaws and exposes a hundred and fifty pounds of bone crushing muscle tissue. Its eyes crinkle and it whispers in my ear: “Hello, have we met? I’m “Mr Bull, Mr. Pit Bull, that is” .
From across the room a voice chimes, “Nancy. Nancy leave that nice man alone.” My god, I have a pit bull named Nancy curled up between my legs and taken possession of my lap. Sort of like the nineteenth century territory rush that claimed a good part of the mid-western part of the continent. “Me likes you” says Nancy and hunkers down forever. it’s incredibly touching. She’s holding on for dear life . She knows her reputation and she knows that’s not who she really is. It’s a classic story of conflict. The world knows you as Vlad and you’re really just a sweet misunderstood girl named Nancy. How do you change all that? I guess you just hold on to Walter’s lap as tight as you can and hope he gets the word out.
We took home the pretentious poodle. The penitent pit suffering the slings and slurs it did not deserve may still be there.
3. JUDY AND I are late to the movies. There are two chairs one behind the other but not side by side. She takes the forward one and I slip into the one in the row behind her. I’m immediately aware I’ve sat down on a purse. I lift up and place it on the arm rest on my right side. Before I can resume the seat it’s under me again. This happens a third time but now the woman to my right pushes at me when I try to return her belongings. This is followed by a splash of cola over my shirt from the can she holds. I’m furious but I know I must not touch her. I announce instead that I’m going to call the manager. As I rise a man to her right reaches over and grabs my arm. I pull away forcefully and march back into the lobby. My wife is beside me pleading that we go home. I approach a nineteen year old attendant who looks like a marionette but who tells me she is in charge.
When I explain the situation someone cuts the wires holding her head up and it flops over, her eyes now trained on her clunky shoes. No matter what I say she is determined to stare at her toes. A staff member comes by. The situation is explained and he escorts us all (including the woman who had sat on my left and is also awash in carbonation) back to our seats. My wife, of course, keeps repeating that we should go home. The employee invites the woman who is trying to cast off her sin- laden purse and the arm-grabbing husband to her right out of the theater. It’s not over, however, because I’m invited to join them. Can-cradling-crazy lady and husband confront me in the lobby. Not only does husband have the biggest blackest moustache born to beast and bad guys but he has no nose. That is, he once had a nose but the bridge has been so totally flattened that all that’s left is a marble at the tip so small and insignificant that you should launch it from a slingshot at the lamp post.
I see now he outweighs me by fifty pounds and , most assuredly, had once been a prize fighter. The lady is screaming that I’m rude and that it wasn’t a can but a bottle’s contents she pitched at me. She is doing this as she waves a red labeled can close to my head
Neither the usher nor the usherette appear able to formulate a plan.
No Nose Moustache Man fills the void by saying he’s going to break both my legs. I know I will not survive this altercation but I once allowed a football player in college( during a pick up game of basketball) to punch me in the face without reprisal . It’s in my bio and it’s tormented me all the years since. I swore that I’d never let that happen again. I step up so close to Hirsute Harry that are noses touch, or would have, had he had one, and prepare to die. Doing my best Clint Eastwood whispered challenge I say “You first”. The death row march to the executioner’s chamber is shorter. And then finally – pick a god of your favorite religion – he…blinks. He blinks once and then again and then takes a step backward. I was told as a youngster to watch out for the smallest kid from the other gang when he’s dug his jaw into your chest because if he’s that small and still thinks he can beat you he probably can. Miraculously, he was doing a Ginger Rogers to my Fred Astaire . He was dancing backwards and I was tap dancing forward trying to get into striking distance. Of course, the whole time I was hoping someone would step between us and prevent the bridge of my nose from becoming a trench as had his. Before anyone could intervene he just turned away and headed for the door. I couldn’t see his face but I like to think that panic ran rampant there. Of course, he might also have been laughing hysterically.
4. THIS STORY ACTUALLY began in 2012 but was only an anecdote then. Two and a half years ago someone “frisbee’d a copy of my novel “Buck Alice and the Actor-Robot” across a signing table at a convention I was attending. It came with the jock salutation that it was “the worst piece of crap he had ever read”. This was before receiving a book in the mail in 2014 which was intended to be a primer using Star Trek for it’s material. Instead of something like
“See the Vulcan pee. Pee Vulcan, pee” It was more along the lines of “Watch the Red Shirt Guy bend his elbow. Bend , elbow guy, bend! The secret for selling a beginner’s reading book to children is to make sure the adult choosing it can find it interesting too.. Elbow bending red shirt guy has no humor, inquisitiveness , irony or any more tension than molasses dripping toward a table’s edge. In short, the very worse book I have ever read. At least the equal to the one that the jock itch over there had so proclaimed of my novel. This is where the “Buck Alice” anecdote becomes a lesson in moral imperativeness. See, I had forgotten that story and now announced that the Star Trek primer was the worst literary effort I had ever read. Wouldn’t you know it, the guy asking me to sign it was the author. Everyone knows when a tree falls in the forest and when an eight layer cake plops but no one has ever seen the crestfallen expression on this poor chap’s face when I said these awful words. I was beyond humiliated, beyond self-loathing I felt utterly destroyed. It was then that the second man behind the writer passed on to me that the author was of clinically stunted intellectual growth. I was looking for one more “fall” to complete the rectangle – say, a sword to fall on maybe – but ended up trying to puncture a vein with a blunt marker.
So that’s how 2014 went for me except for the five low budget films I worked in: Star Trek, Renegades”, “Unbelievable” “Cowboys and Engines” “Nobility” and “Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time”. All had merit but the last one was particularly enjoyable. In January of 2015 I was involved in a concert reading of H.G. Wells “War of the Worlds” with a brilliant cast of former Star Trek series actors and I have in my hand at this moment a new script with a budget that tops out below the poverty line.
I’ll let you know how it goes in 2016.