Thursday, December 29, 2016

Why I felt like I knew Carrie Fisher

I started off to make a video of personal reflections triggered by Carrie Fisher's death. Ended up making two. Neither one of them really said it, so I am probably going to post both of them eventually. I don't script these things at all, so sometimes I leave out the most important thing. But I don't treat Carrie Fisher's idea as a joke. 

People tend to cringe when they think of "crazy" people, casually writing them off as whack jobs, nutbars, etc. (Sorry, but this is what I hear every day of my life.) This conveniently makes them less than human, which reminds me of another human practice that used to be OK and even "good business": back when one human being could own another, and force their will upon their property.

A great many people were incredulous that anything could be wrong with that. It was simply an aspect of mainstream society. If you were kind to your slaves, after all. . . But even after their chattel were set free, they were vilified by nasty, denigrating names and physical segregation.

That doesn't happen any more. Does it? Can you think of another (large) group of people being referred to as things, such as "jobs", with no one objecting because the injustice is so invisible?

What? You mean there's a problem? Aren't those people sort of oblivious to what goes on anyway, so does it really matter what we say?

We all need a good cleansing, perhaps an enema, and then we need to begin again. The thought of "pride" in a crazy person seems pretty much unthinkable, but pride in a gay person used to be an aberration, and perhaps a sign of mental illness. We have come a long way, and yet, not far enough.

P. S. I use some language here, one word in particular, that might shock people. It's not used lightly. In fact, it is meant to demonstrate just how devastating it is for a human being to be casually vilified, verbally punished and denigrated. It's not meant to hurt anyone, that's not why I'm doing it. It's a parallel, an example. This is what it feels like. I want to shake people up with it. Wake them up. Because as it stands, it's not OK to call gay people by nasty names - it never should have been - but "whack job" slips casually out of people's mouths, and no one turns a hair.

Bentley meets Darth Vader!

What is this fat, macho tabby doing in the back yard?

Why does he look so much like Bentley?

Has our Jedi Master met his (fat, macho) father at last?

Does this mean that Princess Meow-a, the nice fluffy tortie who comes in through the hole in the fence, is really his sister? Probably not, but it's a nice story. 

I had to voice the part of Darth Vader in this scenario, as the cat was too far away to be heard. Bentley does NOT like me using weird-sounding voices, nor does he like me whistling. He comes up to me, looking anxious. The whites of his eyes show, always a bad sign. 

Humans are supposed to behave in a certain way, and I repeatedly break those rules. And yet, he still loves me. At least, I think he loves me: here he looks merely alarmed.

Separated at birth: Rudolph Valentino and William Shatner

AFTERNOTES. I was going to run this with no text at all, but now I feel moved to Say Something. Anyone who follows this blog (me, maybe?) knows that I am nuts about The Shatman. To be 85 years old and have that kind of energy and passion is phenomenal. (And the horses, don't get me started!) But I am also finding out more about Shatner's roots. I found a very poignant story about his professional beginnings in Stratford, Ontario (a place I've been to many times) as a Shakespearean actor. I have seen clips on YouTube from Hamlet and Julius Caesar, and this so-called-over-the-top actor gives, if anything, restrained performances. The article - God, where did it go? I should've bookmarked it - talks about how insecure he was as a young man, and how much of a loner he was. Loner? Insecure? None of these match with the energetic dynamo-of-85, the Shatner of a thousand interests and enterprises (ch-ch-ch-ch - dry ironic chuckle). And yet, and yet.

I'm also finding all these things he did when he was much younger. The segment on the boxer was breathtaking, for he has the body of an Adonis. He is ripped. This powerful, grounded physicality is the foundation for his phenomenal longevity and vitality in his 80s: if you wreck your body when you're young, you're toast by age 60 (sorry, Carrie, I'm afraid it's true). 

As for Rudolph Valentino, he was perhaps my first movie star crush. As a kid, I saw pictures of him in a book we had lying around, a big coffee table book called The Movies. (I thought I imagined it, until I was able to buy a used copy from Amazon.) When I was ten years old I wrote short stories about him, set in the 1920s. Maybe these foreshadowed my completely obscure, mostly-unread novel about Harold Lloyd. Who knows. But I was fascinated with him. 

I am not saying these two are "alike", but is there not something - an elusive something, perhaps, in the exoticism of their eyes, the sensuous bow-shaped lips, the incredible facial structure with cheekbones to die for - is there not something almost Mongolian about Shatner's slightly slanted eyes, something Moroccan about Valentino's inscrutable gaze? 
He was, of course, a Latino from Spain, but Shatner is not the waspy, white-bread leading man people assume he is. He is a Jewish boy from Montreal, and no doubt carried that label and responsibility with a degree of pain.

The pain you can see in those incredible, unfathomable brown eyes.