Eccentricities and Privileges: Playing Picard

I just discovered an absolute gem [via Reddit, of course] and had to share some thoughts. It’s a letter written by Patrick Stewart to Gene Roddenberry, dated 27th October 1988. Within, Stewart “recapitulates” a conversation he recently had with Roddenberry on the direction and development of the character of Jean Luc Picard.

Picard stands to this day as my favorite captain, as well as something of a personal mentor and role model. To a significant degree, my morals and values were shaped by my experiences with science fiction as a child, and none had a greater impact than Picard’s Next Generation. I’ve always believed that science fiction, the best science fiction, exists to say something about the human condition. These stories absolutely SHOULD teach us something, and that we should be better for having experienced them.

What stood out to me most within this letter was how much care Stewart brought to the character, how much hope, how much love, and how much humanity. This is an impassioned plea for Picard to rise above the shallow plots, reactionary tropes, and lack of development, to become the man Stewart was already playing him as, the man that the work deserved.

Even in these early days [we’re still in the first half of season 2 here] Stewart has the measure of Picard:

Picard is leader, negotiator, peace-maker, ombudsman. He thinks, he talks, he assesses, he bluffs (for all which qualities I love him, as I am the one who has said again and again that this Captain is a diplomat and an ambassador).

In knowing his character, he uniquely perceives what Picard needs to show the audience, and how he needs to grow:

In the writers guide you say that Picard ‘…enjoys the privileges that go with his rank and vessel – also the eccentricities permitted.’ Our stories have furnished little in the way of permitted eccentricities or the enjoyment of privileges.

He also knows how critical character relationships are to developing the Captain into a multi-dimensional character. IN talking about these relationships, he says:

Relationships. I feel they have been generalised and unspecific. That special relationship with Number One has not moved forward, nor been utilised. Picard is fascinated by Data, amused and intrigued. He should use him more imaginatively. Guinan was Picard’s personal appointment. There was a reason and I assume that suggests a history. Please, let us not use up Whoopi’s quota without examining that.

And:

Personal relationships. Private, intimate, call them what you will. They are at zero level so far this season. I know there is a school of thought that a Picard/Crusher relationship never existed but I am a little puzzled by this as I spent hours in front of the camera last season assuming – and acting – that it did.

And who else could just imagine the smile lighting up Wil Wheaton’s face when he read this:

I have yet to play a scene with Wil that was not a delight. (Have I ever told you what a fan I am of that young man?) I hope that I am not going to entirely lose him to Geordie, Riker and Guinan.

It was great to see Picard grow with these characters and in this space through the following episodes and seasons and to allow his backstory inform his reactions in a way that was visible to the audience. I’ll never forget the scene in the final episode where Picard finally takes the chair that’s always been open to him at the senior staff poker game. It took him seven years to sit down, but we saw it happen, the character growth was clever and sure and leading perfectly to that moment.

In the end, I share the viewpoint of Redditor u/AustralianPartyKid: “I had no idea it could be possible for me to believe Mr. Stewart was a bigger class act than I already thought. Then I read this.”

 

 

Duck Debacle?

Freedom of Speech is exactly that, the freedom to speak. It is not a guarantee that you’ll be heard.

I can’t resist commenting on this particular current event, because I feel like there’s a point to be made that I haven’t seen come out:

Absolutely yes, Phil from Duck Dynasty has the right to say whatever he likes, especially to express a view that’s wholly in line with all the other views he’s expressed on his show. No one should be shocked at how this man feels. Whether we agree or not, we should respect his right to say it.

That right, however, does not extend to forcing A&E to provide him with a national pulpit upon which to exercise his right to free speech. (Now, they’re idiots if they didn’t think he would ever make a comment like this, or they don’t watch their own show, but that’s irrelevant to the argument.)

A&E is firmly within their rights to decide what is and is not appropriate for their channel, and react in kind. When I want to make a statement, I don’t expect it to be carried by a national cable network… that’s not part of my right to free speech. He exercised his right, and now A&E is exercising theirs. NEITHER is in the wrong, in my opinion (again, regardless of my beliefs about the actual content of his statement).

The really cool next step is that we all get to live by our own personal freedoms, which allow us to respond to this whole debacle by either watching, or not watching A&E… thus giving voice to our own opinions.

What do you think?

Our Wedding Ceremony

wedding 7One of the questions I’ve been asked the most since my wedding in July has been how did I come up with my wedding ceremony. Well, it wasn’t super hard, I have to say. My primary reference was The Wedding Ceremony Planner, by Judith Johnson. I had the 2005 version, but there’s a new version out this year, which is what I linked to. It was indispensable for understanding the organizational paradigm of a wedding ceremony. I also took some of the excerpts that I liked best from their samples and rewrote them to work for Alex and I.

We each selected our own readings, mine was a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit which is my favorite childhood storybook. Alex picked a section of Douglas Adams’ So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, which I sort of laughed at at first, but then realized how quintessentially him it really is.

So, without further ado, here’s our ceremony. Feel free to use any parts of it that speak to you on your special day!

Our Ceremony

Processional

Gathering Words

Officiant: Love has gathered us here today. We are here to celebrate the love that Lindsay and Alex have for one another, as well as the love that all of you have shared with them throughout their lives. As their family and friends, you have shown them the best of what love can build, and taught them how to build that love in their own lives.

Each of us here today knows that a marriage is not created by a law or a ceremony; rather that it occurs in the hearts of two human beings. It grows out of loving, caring, and sharing ourselves with one another. You have shown them the blessings that come from a life lived in love, and inspired them to connect their hearts and souls, one to the other.

So, in witnessing this ceremony today, we are all observing only an outward sign of an inward union that already exists between Lindsay and Alex.

Hello, and welcome to the celebration of Lindsay and Alex.

Declaration of Support

Officiant: This beautiful couple didn’t get here all by themselves. They have been loved and cared for by you, their families, depending on you for sustenance, knowledge, guidance, and love. Without you, this day would not be possible. From this day forward, they will likely need your support in different ways, but they will still depend on that support.

With this in mind, I ask [Bride’s Parents], as representatives of your family: Will you take Alex into your family and into your hearts?

Bride’s Parents: We will

Officiant: [Groom’s Parents], as representatives of your families: will you take Lindsay into your families and into your hearts?

Groom’s Parents: We will.

Officiant: May the blessing of their marriage extend throughout your families from this day forward.

Readings

Officiant: Lindsay has asked her aunt and godmother, [name], to read a passage from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, [name]?

Bride’s Aunt: {My Aunt said something brief here about how happy she was to be a part of our day.}

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but Really loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get all loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“I suppose you are real?” said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

“The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”

Officiant: Thank you. Alex has asked his cousin and godmother, [name] to read a passage from So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, by Douglas Adams, [name]?

Groom’s Cousin:

They looked at each other for a moment.

The moment became a longer moment, and suddenly it was a very long moment, so long one could hardly tell where all the time was coming from.

For Arthur, who could usually contrive to feel self-conscious if left alone for long enough with a Swiss Cheese plant, the moment was one of sustained revelation. He felt on the sudden like a cramped and zoo-born animal who awakes one morning to find the door to his cage hanging quietly open and the savannah stretching grey and pink to the distant rising sun, while all around new sounds are waking.

He wondered what the new sounds were as he gazed at her openly wondering face and her eyes that smiled with a shared surprise.

He hadn’t realized that life speaks with a voice to you, a voice that brings you answers to the questions you continually ask of it, had never consciously detected it or recognized its tones till it now said something it had never said to him before, which was “Yes.”

Officiant: Thank you.

Marriage Address

Officiant: You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way.

All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or on the couch while trying to decide on a movie to watch — all those sentences that began with “When we’re married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will”- those late night conversations that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe”- and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we’ve promised and hoped and dreamed? Well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another- acquaintance, friend, companion, teammate, partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same again.

After these vows, you will say to the world, this is my husband, this is my wife.

Vows & Ring Exchange

Officiant: Lindsay, please repeat after me: I, Lindsay, take you, Alex

To be none other than yourself.

I promise to stand by your side. To encourage you, and be open and honest with you;

To laugh with you, and cry with you. To always love and honor you.

Both freed and bound by our love,

For as long as we both shall live.” (places ring)

Alex, please repeat after me: I, Alex, take you, Lindsay

To be none other than yourself.

I promise to stand by your side. To encourage you, and be open and honest with you;

To laugh with you, and cry with you. To always love and honor you.

Both freed and bound by our love,

For as long as we both shall live.” (places ring)

Pronouncement

Officiant: Lindsay and Alex, we have heard your promise to share your lives in marriage. We recognize and respect the vows you have made here this day before each one of us as a witness.

In the honesty and sincerity of what you have said and done here today, and in accordance with the laws of the state of Ohio it is my honor and delight to declare you henceforth to be husband and wife you may seal your vows with a kiss.

Final Blessing & Announcements/Instructions

Officiant: Now, may the love that has brought you together continue to grow and enrich your lives. May you meet with courage the problems that arise to challenge you, and may your relationship always be one of love and trust.

May the happiness you share today be with you always, and may every word you have pledged here be a living truth in your lives.

Music starts, recessional

Supposed To Be Writing… (does this count?)

Sooooo… It’s Nov. 16, aka Day 16 of NaNoWriMo 2013, and I’m sitting at a whopping 17,825. My goal was to have a 5k day today, in an attempt to catch up with my writing. So far all I’ve gotten down have been these 36 words. W00t w00t!

I suppose I’ll never get anything done if I keep wasting time over here blogging… so off I go!

Happy Writing!

start writing

Geography and Opportunity

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Easier said than done!

The fiancé and I have been in discussion over the last 48 hours or so, about where we are and where we’re going. I’m slowly coming to realize that as much as I would prefer to remain in Ohio, near my family, in this place that I’ve always called home, that that’s probably not actually possible, as far as his career is concerned.

Alex is about to graduate (in June) with an associate’s degree in Digital Media. His overall career goal is to find work in 3D animation, either for TV, film, or video games, in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Kinda specific, right? We both feel pretty strongly that, given these overall goals, it will be important for him to start out in the world on the right foot. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many opportunities for him here as I’d like, and we’ve been forced to consider locations outside the tri-county area I’ve lived in my whole life.

This will be good for me.

That’s what I’m telling myself anyway. For any of a myriad of reasons, all of which I can’t really dive into too deeply, this isn’t a bad choice for me either. Moving westward that is. That’s what we’re really talking about here. Packing up everything we own, plus the four cats and the dog, and moving to the other side of the country, to the land of creative employment, rampant liberalism, no family, amazing friends, warmth (or rain), and opportunity. Opportunity. That’s become the current buzzword of my life. It scares me though. Opportunity offers no promise of success or happiness… just the chance for both. It’s a huge step into the unknown. My own personal time to boldly go. It never seemed this hard for Picard… but then, he got to take everyone he cared about, and the familiar environment he called home, boldly with him.

Did I mention that the ocean will be on the wrong side?

There are a MILLION questions swirling in my head. Alex is focusing his job search on Las Vegas, NV; San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; and Seattle, WA. All of these cities are 30+ hours away from where I’m sitting right now. I have the immediate concerns of driving that far cross country with all the critters. Depending on where we move, we could potentially be taking two cars with us, which would necessitate friends to share trip. I have nightmares about cats getting loose in the desert and never being seen again. Then, once we get there, who watches them all over the holidays when we travel home to family? Do we bring the dog with us, on a plane for the first time in her life, when she already has a tendency toward anxiety?

How do we meet people, especially if we end up in Portland or Seattle, where I know virtually no one? Alex will likely have a full time job to go to, and the inherent social structure that comes with that, but what about little old me who works from home? What about, in a few years when I want to have kids, and our families are a world away? I’ve never even imagined experiencing that without the support of the people who raised me.

Oh, and money. Money stresses me out and we’re just not going to say anything else about that.

I know these are problems that have been faced and overcome by probably billions of people before me, but they’re real for me now. I’d love any feedback all of you have, if you’ve lived this kind of move personally, or are local to one of the areas we’re looking at. Heck, I’ll take any reassuring words at the moment! Logically I know that this will all work out. That Alex and I are grown-ups who can handle a simple thing like a relocation, but emotionally the prospect remains daunting.

I suppose that, until there’s an actual job offer in hand, all of this is theoretical anyway. I kind of feel like I’m holding my breath for that moment, for the decision to just be fucking made already, so I can move on with concrete planning, rather than useless worrying.

Did I mention that throughout this whole graduation, job hunt, decision making situation we find ourselves in, we’re also planning a wedding? It’s gonna be a heck of a summer!

Courage in the Face of the Storm – New DH Blog!

This week in my 20 Seconds of Courage post for Delivering Happiness I focused on the courage of the first responders in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and the courage of their families and the ordinary citizens who pulled together for their neighbors:

20 Seconds of Courage – Standing Against the Wind

We’ve all followed the news, especially the amazing stories coming out of New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last week, and as you can probably imagine I had no trouble finding content for this week’s edition of 20 Seconds of Courage. In actuality, the trouble I’ve had has been in narrowing the list of potential topics down into something that can be saliently covered in 500 words or less, quite a task, I can assure you! [read more here]

I Voted… Did You?

Here’s the thing… I truly DON’T CARE who you voted for. I mean, I’d like to hope that we all voted for the same guy and will be able to live happily together for the next four years secure that we elected the best man for the job, but I’m a realist. All the polls have shown us that pretty much half of our country is going to be unhappy tomorrow, no matter which way this thing goes. We’ll survive, we’ll go on, and our country is stronger for the decision you made today. The decision to vote.

I’m happy you voted. I’m happy we have a process in place that allows us to choose between the lesser of two evils. I wish we’d had better choices today, but at least we had choices!

New DH Blog: Finding Joy in the Journey

I wrote this blog post before Hurricane Sandy had a chance to hit, so while the temperatures are still quite fall-like in Cleveland, there’s not a leaf left to be seen on any of our trees. I think that Sandy can serve as another kind of reminder for us all, that sometimes when things end with a bang, and life looks bleak and wintery, new goodness is just being given a chance to shine through. There have been some amazing stories of courage coming out of New York in the aftermath of Sandy, and while lives have been destroyed, maybe for some folks, a new day can dawn more brightly. Anyway, here’s my take on embracing the joy of the journey, and the change Fall represents:

Reasons for Living: Finding Joy in the Journey

For all of us in the northeastern US, fall has now officially arrived, and with it come pumpkins, the trees set aflame by their changing leaves and a crisp chill in the air that turns everyone’s thoughts toward hunkering down for the winter, Life begins to slow down in the fall. It’s my favorite season, and fall, specifically a true northeastern fall, will always be one of my Reasons for Living. [read the rest here]