“BOMBSHELL” (1933) Review

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“BOMBSHELL” (1933) Review

In one of Hollywood’s ironic twists, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released “BOMBSHELL”, a 1933 comedy about the trials and tribulations of a movie starlet. To this day, many believe that the movie was supposed to be a satire on the life of silent film goddess, Clara Bow. But looking at the movie today, it could have easily been a take on the life of the film’s leading lady, Jean Harlow.

Based upon an unproduced play by Caroline Francke and Mack Crane, and directed by Victor Fleming; “BOMBSHELL” begins with movie star Lola Burns being fed up with the machinations of her studio’s publicity chief, E.J. “Space” Hanlon, who continuously feeds the press with endless fake scandals about her. Lola also has to put up with her drunken father who tries to manager her career, and an obnoxious brother; who both sponge from her. She also has to deal with a private secretary that takes advantage of her at every opportunity. Unaware of Space’s feelings for her, Lola is also torn between a fortune hunting European nobleman and gigolo and a brash Hollywood director. Lola decides to put her life in order by adopting a baby. But when Space and her family sabotages her efforts, Lola turns her back on Hollywood and flees to a desert resort.

What can I say? Not only is “BOMBSHELL” one of my favorite movies from the old Hollywood studio system, but one of my favorite comedies of all time. Screenwriters John Lee Mahin, Jules Furthman and Norman Krasna created a hilarious tale about the chaotic and surreal life of a Hollywood starlet. “BOMBSHELL” featured a rather funny interview between Lola and a writer from a Hollywood gossip rag. While Lola and her father provide the journalist with pretentious tidbits about their lives, the camera gives a view of the journalist’s more realistic take on their answers. Another hilarious scene featured a fist fight between Lola’s sponging Maquis boyfriend, Marquis Di Pisa Di Pisa and the volatile director, Jim Brogan. During the movie’s last half hour, Lola meets and becomes romantically involved with an East Coast blue blood named Gifford Middleton and his family. This relationship allowed Gifford to quote one of the most cringe-worthy and hilarious lines in film history:

“Your hair is like a field of silver daisies. I’d like to run barefoot through your hair!”

However, Space’s response to Gifford’s uh . . . compliment, had me on the floor laughing:

“He looks like an athlete. I wouldn’t want him puttin’ his foot through my scalp.”

But not only is “BOMBSHELL” funny, it also gave moviegoers a glimpse (and I mean that literally) into life as an actress during Hollywood’s studio era. The movie’s first twenty minutes revealed Lola being prepared for a day of shooting and the type of people that worked at a studio. The only unrealistic moment during this sequence was a scene featuring the studio’s boss, who was portrayed as a benign leader concerned for both his studio and the well-being of performers like Lola Burns under contract. But the egoism, back-stabbing and borderline insanity is all there.

I have always been a fan of Jean Harlow as an actress for as long as I can remember. But I believe that Lola Burns was one of the best roles in her career. Her comedic talent seemed to be at its height in this movie. She conveyed all of the best . . . and worst of Lola Burns. Harlow made it obvious that Lola is a victim of the studio system and her bloodsucking family. But she also skillfully conveyed Lola’s egotism, temper and penchant for illusions. Someone once commented that Lola’s character and situation never changed for the better or worst by the film’s last reel. I cannot quite agree with this assessment. I got the feeling that Harlow’s Lola spent most of the movie indulging in illusions of a possible “normal life”. These illusions led her to pursue relationships with men like the Marquis Di Pisa Di Pisa and Gifford Middleton and make an attempt to adopt a baby. While proclaiming that she had enough of Hollywood, Lola expressed signs of jealousy when Space informed her that another contract player might get a role that she had previously coveted. It is not that surprising that when faced with the end of her illusions, Lola returned to Hollywood.

Lee Tracy was equally funny as studio publicist E.J. “Space” Hanlon. His Space was sardonic, manipulative and quick with his tongue. Best of all, Tracy had a great screen chemistry with Harlow. It is a pity that they never worked with each other – before or after. Both had appeared in “DINNER AT EIGHT”, but did not share any scenes together. Pity. The movie also benefited from other supporting performers such as Frank Morgan, who radiated both bluster and charm as Lola’s deadbeat father; Pat O’Brien, who was very sexy as Lola’s former beau, director Jim Grogan; Franchot Tone, as Lola’s new beau, who gave one of the most memorable lines in the movie; and a sharp-tongued Una Merkel as Lola’s bloodsucking secretary, Mac. Louise Beavers, who portrayed Lola’s maid Loretta, had two delicious moments in the movie, despite being saddled with a racially cliched role. I especially love the scene featuring her clash with Merkel’s Mac, when the latter threatened to have her fired. It gave her the opportunity to speak another one of the movie’s more memorable lines. The only cast member I had a problem with was Ted Healey. His Junior Burns seemed like a mindless thug that lacked the charm of Lola and Mr. Burns. I found it hard to believe that he came from the same family.

If you want a peek into life at a Hollywood studio during the early 1930s, then “BOMBSHELL” is your movie. If you want a hilarious movie that starred Jean Harlow in one of her best roles, then “BOMBSHELL” is definitely your movie. Not only did the benefitted from the talents of Harlow and co-star Lee Tracy; but also from the directorial skills of Victor Fleming and a first-rate script written by John Lee Mahin, Jules Furthman and Norman Krasna.

 

Bakewell Pudding

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Below is an article about the dessert known as Bakewell Pudding:

BAKEWELL PUDDING

While reading various articles on the Internet about the cuisine of the Victorian Age, every once in a while I would come across one about a dessert known as Bakewell Pudding. The origin of this dish seemed to be a very confusing matter. Most people associate it with the nineteenth century. Yet, some believe this dish actually originated as far back as the medieval era.

Bakewell pudding was originally referred to as a “tart”. The dessert does not date back to the medieval era, but it is the descendant – more or less – of the egg enriched custards of that period. In short, the dessert consists of a flaky pastry base with a layer of sieved jam. It is topped with a filling made of egg and almond paste. Originally the almonds, which is a hallmark of the dessert, were introduced in the form of a few drips of almond essence in the overlaying sugar, egg, and butter mixture, but gradually it became the custom to use ground almonds, thereby radically altering the nature and consistency of the topping.

The pudding originated in the Derbyshire town of Bakewell, England. And yes, it is named after the town. No one is really certain about the dessert’s year of origin. It is believed that Mrs. Greaves had created it at the White Horse Inn in 1820 or 1860. Actually, it was the Inn’s cook who created it . . . thanks to Mrs. Greaves’ instructions. The latter, who was the inn’s landlady, left instructions for the cook to make a jam tart. While making the tart, the cook layered the pastry base with jam and spread the egg and almond paste mixture on top, instead of mixing it into the pastry. When cooked, the egg and almond paste set like an egg custard and the result was successful enough for it to become a popular dish at the inn.

There are a few problems with this origin tale. One, the White Horse Inn was demolished in 1803 for the development of Rutland Square and the construction of the Rutland Arms Hotel. Which means some believe that the pudding was created in the Rutland Arms Hotel kitchen and not the White Horse Inn. Also, a family called Greaves operated the hotel. But a Mrs. Greaves of the White Horse Inn did not exist. And two, English food writer Eliza Acton had written and published a recipe for the pudding in her 1845 cookbook, “Modern Cookery for Private Families”, making the 1860 origin date impossible. However, Acton was not the first to include a recipe for Bakewell Pudding in a cookbook. Historian Alan Davidson claimed that a food writer named Magaret Dobs had included the recipe for the dessert in her 1826 cookbook, “The Cook and Housewife’s Manual”. As it turned out . . . this is not true. However, a recipe for Bakewell Pudding did appear in the 1847 edition of Dobs’ book. One of the earliest published accounts of the dessert can be found in the 1836 issue of The Magazine of Domestic Economy.

As for the true origin of the Bakewell Pudding . . . who knows? However, below is the recipe for Bakewell Pudding from the All Recipies (U.K. Edition) website:

Bakewell Pudding

Ingredients

Puff Pastries sheets (store bought or homemade)
2 Whole Eggs
4 Extra Yolks
180g Butter
180g Castor Sugar
100g Ground Almonds
1tsp Almond Essence
2tbs Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
6-8 Tbs Raspberry Jam or Preserve

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
Then separate 4 yolks into a bowl and add two more whole eggs. Beat slightly.
Add the melted butter and caster sugar and mix well.
Finally, stir in the ground almonds, almond essence, lemon juice and spices.
Line a dish about 9″ X 7″ with a sheet of puff pastry.
Spread in the bottom of the pastry a layer of preserve about 1/8″ thick.
Pour the mixture over the preserve into the pastry lined dish.
Put into the preheated oven on a middle shelf for 40 – 45 minutes.
When cooked and browned on top, remove from oven, sprinkle over some extra sugar to give it a glaze and allow to cool.

The dessert can be enjoyed with custard or cream.

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“Glimpses of the Future” [R] – 2/2

Here is the second half of my STAR TREK VOYAGER story called, “Glimpses of the Future”:

“GLIMPSES OF THE FUTURE”

Part 2

“Hey Maquis!” Ensign Harry Kim cheerfully greeted B’Elanna inside the Mess Hall, the following morning. She placed her breakfast tray on Harry’s table and sat down on the chair, opposite her friend.

B’Elanna yawned and reached for her coffee cup. Harry frowned. “Wow! You really look tired! Did you get any sleep, last night?”

“Plenty,” B’Elanna croaked. Then she took a sip of her coffee. There was nothing like a great cup of raktijino – freshly replicated.

Harry continued to question B’Elanna. “Exactly how much is ‘plenty’? Seven hours? One?”

“What are you getting at, Starfleet?”

Heaving an exasperated sigh, the young ensign shot back, “Have you taken a good look in the mirror, B’Elanna? You look as if you’ve spent the last few days in hell.” He paused. “And the odd thing is that you’ve been on leave for the past fifteen hours.” Harry’s dark eyes bored into B’Elanna’s. “Are you having trouble sleeping?”

“Okay, so I couldn’t sleep last night,” B’Elanna grudgingly admitted. “Is it a crime?”

One of Harry’s brows quirked upward. “No. Are you having problems? Nightmares?”

“No, I . . .” B’Elanna hesitated. Should she tell him? About the Hotak device? The knowledge of her new discovery weighed heavily on her mind. Perhaps confiding to a friend would help lighten that burden. B’Elanna took a deep breath. “Harry, how would you feel if you were able to see the future?”

Confusion whirled in the dark eyes. “What do you mean? Are you trying to tell me that . . . you’re able to receive visions of the future?”

After an uneasy glance around the Mess Hall, B’Elanna continued, “Of course not! I’m not precognitive or anything like that. You see it all began three days ago. On Hotak.”

“What about Hotak?” a third voice asked. Both B’Elanna and Harry glanced up. A smiling Tom Paris loomed above them, holding a tray. “Is there something special about that place?”

Fearful that the Chief Helmsman had overheard most of their conversation, B’Elanna snapped at him. “Dammit, Paris! Are you in the habit of eavesdropping on other people’s conversation?”

“What are you talking about?” the pilot protested. His blue eyes radiated innocence. “I just happened to hear you mention Hotak to Harry.”

B’Elanna struggled to keep her irritation in check. Ever since the Vidiians had held her and Paris captive, their hostile regard toward each other had vanished. Along with their mutual dislike and competition for Harry’s friendship. However, B’Elanna still found it difficult to consider the pilot as a close friend. The problem with Tom Paris, she decided, seemed to be his cocky and somewhat shallow personality. He might be a good friend – at least to Harry – but he seemed to lack a moral center that B’Elanna found uncomfortable.

“Harry and I were having a private conversation,” B’Elanna coolly replied. Her mood ruined by Paris’ appearance, she sighed. “Never mind. I think I’ll go back to bed. I’m still feeling a little tired.”

Harry’s face expressed concern. “Listen Maquis, if you still want to talk, I’ll come by your quarters, later.”

“Thanks, Starfleet.” B’Elanna gave her friend a bright smile. “Maybe I’ll see you later.” She spared Paris a cool nod and quickly left the Mess Hall.

* * * *

B’Elanna strode into her quarters and flopped down on the sofa. She heaved a frustrated sigh. Kahless! She felt so tired! Despite the fifteen hours of leave already taken, her exhaustion seemed to have increased. B’Elanna began to wonder if the Hotak device had anything to do with her physical condition. If so, maybe she should pay a visit to Sick Bay.

A visit to Sick Bay, she realized, would mean revelation of the device in her possession. It would also mean facing Captain Janeway’s wrath. And after the humiliation of being in the Captain’s doghouse, nearly five months ago, B’Elanna had no desire to face that situation again. The Hotak device, B’Elanna decided, would have to remain her secret. A secret she would no longer meddle with. At least until she regained her strength.

Having made a decision, B’Elanna decided to spend her time on other activities. She tried a small nap. Didn’t work. After twenty minutes, she remained awake. Then she tried returning to her old Engineering report. Didn’t work. Nor did her Klingon romance novel. No big surprise, there. In the end, B’Elanna knew what she really wanted to do – use the Hotak device. And if that meant more exhaustion, so be it. Perhaps another glimpse into the future would be worth the price.

With great effort, B’Elanna climbed off the sofa and retrieved the device from the desk. She returned to the sofa and sat down. Breathless with anticipation, she slowly opened the case. The now familiar light filled the room . . .

* * * *

Calypso music filled the interior of Holodeck One. B’Elanna sighed with satisfaction, as she made her way across the tiled terrace. Without a doubt, Neelix’s Talaxian resort had to be her favorite holoprogram. Not only did she love the sub-tropical setting and the color, she especially reveled the warm sun that shined above.

Clutching the towel around her neck, B’Elanna made her way toward one of the patios. She paused and ordered the computer to summon her favorite holocharacter – a muscular beach boy she had dubbed Ricardo. Unfortunately, Ricardo failed to materialize. B’Elanna frowned. Now what the hell?

“Computer,” she barked, “include holocharacter, Ricardo.”

The computer’s voice coolly replied, “Request denied. The holocharacter, Ricardo, has been deleted from the program.”

“WHAT?”

“Unable to respond. Please restate the . . .”

Her anger now threatening to erupt, B’Elanna snarled, “Computer off!” She sighed, closed her eyes and took a deep breath.” Oh well. She did not need Ricardo to enjoy her time in the holodeck. She still had the resort. And the glorious sun. B’Elanna spotted an empty deck chair and sat down. Ricardo or no Ricardo, she was determined to enjoy herself and relax.

“Mind if I join you?” A soft, masculine voice took B’Elanna by surprise. She glanced up. Her heart fluttered at the sight of one Thomas Eugene Paris, standing above her. He also wore casual clothes – deep blue beach shorts that revealed long and steady legs, and a purple T-shirt that stretched over a broad, muscular chest.

B’Elanna tried to keep her voice steady. “Wish I could say yes, but I seem to be occupying the only chair in this spot.”

“Well then, I’ll just share yours.” Tom plopped down on an empty spot on the deck chair. B’Elanna opened her mouth to protest, but her raging hormones intervened. To be honest, she really did not mind sharing the chair. Especially with Tom. She rather enjoyed the feel of the muscular thigh that brushed against her leg. And the warmth that his skin radi . . .

‘Stop it!’ B’Elanna took a deep breath. She could not believe this. All Tom Paris had to do was sit down next to her for a few minutes, and already she felt excited. One part of B’Elanna’s brain found the idea of her being attracted to Voyager’s chief pilot, humiliating. And disturbing. Off all the men to develop an attraction toward – Tom Paris. One-time loser and Voyager’s resident Lothario.

“You know,” Tom began, cutting into her thoughts, “you look absolutely delicious in that swim suit.” Blue eyes expressed overt admiration. “Good enough to eat.”

‘So do you’ was B’Elanna’s immediate response. Fortunately, she kept her thought to herself. Instead, she commented, “Well . . . thank you. I thought you were going to use the word, stunning. Isn’t that what you told me, three days ago? At the luau? And I didn’t realize you were into cannibalism.”

Tom stared at her with a mixture of seductive charm and desire. B’Elanna shivered. “Actually, I didn’t have cannibalism in mind,” he replied softly. “I was thinking of something a lot more pleasant. And private.” He whispered the last two words.

B’Elanna realized that she should get up and leave. Right now. Before she ended up throwing herself into the pilot’s arms and ravaging him at that . . . Another deep breath followed. B’Elanna managed to cut short the impulsive thought with her usual ruthlessness. “That,” she said in a husky voice, “will have to wait for another day.”

Blue eyes twinkled deliciously. “You mean there’s hope for us both?”

A retort hung on B’Elanna’s lips, but she decided to keep her mouth shut. What exactly could she say to Tom? That there was no hope? Or that she had no intention of becoming his latest conquest? B’Elanna decided to nip this attraction in the bud. Fast. Before something happened that they both might regret. Or even worse, enjoy. She heaved an inward sigh and retorted, “I have no idea on what you’re talking about!” Kahless, she sounded so unconvincing!

Tom smiled. “Whatever you say, B’Elanna.” His eyes fell upon her tote bag on the floor, below. “Say, where’s your little companion, Roberto? Isn’t he usually around to give you a massage or something?”

Realization hit B’Elanna. She pointed an accusing finger at the helmsman. “It was you, wasn’t it?” she growled.

“What are you talking about?”

“Cut the crap, Paris!” B’Elanna shot back. “It was you! You’re the one who deleted Ricardo from the program! And his name is Ricardo, by the way! Not Roberto!”

Innocence reigned in those vivid blue eyes. “I have no idea on what you’re talking about.”

“You have no . . .” B’Elanna took a deep breath. Then she asked, “Computer, who deleted the character, Ricardo, from this program?”

The computer replied, “Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres.”

“WHAT?”

“Please restate the . . .”

Interrupting the dry voice once again, B’Elanna growled, “Computer off!”

“You see? I told you that I had nothing to do with whatshisname.” Tom leaned forward, his face merely an inch or two away from B’Elanna’s. “If you need someone to give a massage that badly, I’d be willing to volunteer.” His eyes now twinkled with promise.

B’Elanna inhaled deeply. Tom’s scent filled her nostrils, forcing her to suppress a shiver. She wanted to say yes. The idea of the pilot’s long fingers on her bare skin filled her with desire. But fear of being another notch on Tom Paris’ bedpost prevented . . .

* * * *

Back in the present, B’Elanna let out a gasp and fell back on the couch. The device slipped out of her hand.

Disbelief flooded every nerve in her body. Tom Paris? B’Elanna could not believe it. Her mind refused to accept the possibility that she would develop an attraction toward Tom Paris! That pig! B’Elanna took a deep breath. Okay, perhaps the man was not a pig. He could be quite decent, as his behavior toward her in the Vidiian mines had attested. But the Chief Helmsman, in her opinion, was the last man in the universe with whom she would strike a romance. Tom Paris??

Had she become so desperate for a love life that she became attracted to Paris? Had a possible romance with Chakotay become so futile that she ended up considering just anyone?

While her dizziness lingered, B’Elanna heaved a large sigh. These dizzy spells seemed to be remaining longer, each time she used the device. B’Elanna tried taking a few more deep breaths to rid herself of them. Or meditation. But neither methods seemed to help very much. And closing her eyes for meditation only seemed to conjure unwanted memories of her and Tom Paris inside the holodeck. Maybe what she had witnessed will turn out to be a fluke. A momentary attraction that will eventually . . .

The ship’s communication system beeped. “Paris to Torres.”

Speak of the devil. Barely suppressing her annoyance, B’Elanna snapped, “Torres here! What do you want?”

A pause followed. Then, “B’Elanna?”

“What the hell do you want, Paris?”

A sarcastic voice responded, “So what happened to Tom and B’Elanna?”

“Okay! Tom! Now what do you want?” Another wave of dizziness hit B’Elanna.

Paris replied, “I’m looking for Harry. We were supposed to meet at Sandrine’s. Have you seen him?”

“No!” The word left B’Elanna’s mouth with the speed and precision of a phaser blast.

Another pause. “Okay! I guess I caught you at a bad time. Someone could sure use a few hours on the holodeck, tonight.”

“Yeah, just not with you! Torres out!” B’Elanna quickly ended the conversation before the pilot could respond. Then she sighed. Her taste in men must have really sunk low, in the future. Tom Paris. She shook her head. It could not have lasted very long. Not a relationship between her and that . . . that pig!

Her eyes fell upon the device on the floor. B’Elanna frowned. Should she use it, again? Learn what will happen between her and Paris? If that seemed possible. Past experience with the Hotak device had already taught B’Elanna that it only gave random visions. Besides . . . Another wave of dizziness struck her. These damn spells seemed to be getting worse B’Elanna decided that what she really needed was a trip to Sick Bay.

B’Elanna slowly eased into a sitting position on the sofa. Instead of preparing herself to stand up, she reached for the Hotak device and opened the case . . .

* * * *

The two figures lay entwined on the floor of the Delta Flyer. Their bodies moved perfectly together, as they engaged in passionate love. Finally, heartfelt cries echoed throughout the shuttle, indicating the couple’s climatic pleasure. Cries immediately became sighs and heavy breathing. Feeling boneless and slightly out of breath, B’Elanna collapsed on top of her new husband’s damp body.

“Hmmm.” The sound came out of her mouth as a low growl. B’Elanna glanced at the wide chest beneath her. She noticed the teeth marks that circled Tom’s left nipple and giggled. “Ooops!” she said, poking at the mark. “Did I do that?”

A lazy grin stretched Tom’s mouth. “You mean that after two years, ten months and ten days of dating, and three hours of marriage, you don’t recognize a Torres love bite when you see one? I’m appalled.”

“Oh you!” B’Elanna gave her husband an affectionate slap on the forearm. “I should punish you for that remark.”

Blue eyes sparkled mischeviously. “Punish me? Hmm, I can’t wait to see what you have in mind.” Tom waggled his eyebrows suggestively. Inducing another fit of giggles from B’Elanna. Tom joined in the laughter.

Once the laughter inside the shuttle subsided, silence reigned. The newly wedded couple stared at each other with eyes that reflected love, desire and wonder. B’Elanna closed her in anticipation, as Tom captured her mouth for a kiss. His tongue explored the inner wetness and grazed her teeth. Finally, Tom’s mouth reluctantly parted from hers and gently nipped an earlobe. B’Elanna shivered with delight.

Encouraged by Tom’s kisses, B’Elanna responded by caressing his broad shoulders. Her hands strayed toward his thighs and began to massage them. She could feel him stir below. “Hmmm,” she murmured, “looks like someone still has a bit of energy left.” Her hands slipped between his legs. “More than a bit. Is that you, Tom Torres?”

Never did B’Elanna imagine she would find herself married to Tom Paris, of all people. And she could not have been happier. “That sounds just fine to me,” she purred.

“And to me,” Tom added in a whisper. He lowered his mouth upon B’Elanna’s . . .

* * * *

The familiar light blinded B’Elanna. She let out a gasp and her eyes flew open. The half-Klingon woman struggled to rise from the sofa. Only the dizziness made it impossible for her to sit up. After a minute or two of struggle, B’Elanna gave up and surrendered to darkness.

* * * *

Her eyes fluttered open. Above hovered three faces. Two belonged to Chakotay and Captain Janeway, and both looked very worried. The third belonged to a grim-faced medical hologram. B’Elanna licked her dry lips and took a deep breath. “What’s going on?” she muttered.

“That is what we would like to know, Lieutenant,” the Captain replied. “How are you feeling?”

B’Elanna closed her eyes for a brief moment. No dizziness, thank goodness. And yet, her limbs felt like lead. She murmured, “A little tired. Exhausted, actually. Wha . . . what happened?”

“I just finished operating on you, Lieutenant,” the Doctor coolly replied. “To repair your damaged neural pathways.”

Janeway added, “Ensign Kim and Lieutenant Paris found you inside your quarters, unconscious. After they were unable to awaken you, they beamed you here to Sick Bay.”

Oh.” B’Elanna tried to sit up.

The Doctor added, “Don’t bother, Lieutenant. I gave you a depressant, following the operation. You needed the sleep.”

Taking another deep breath, B’Elanna continued, “Can’t I do that in my own quarters? I don’t . . .”

Chakotay added, “I’m sorry, but the Doctor needs to keep you here under observation. He and Kes can look after you.”

B’Elanna sighed with defeat. If only she had never come across that damn device. Speaking of which, she wondered if anyone had found . . .

“Looking for this?” The Captain held up the leather box. B’Elanna’s heart sank. “Lieutenant Paris found this in your quarters. Apparently, seconds after he opened it, he found himself in another time frame. Possibly in the future.” B’Elanna found herself wilting under the gray-eyed stare of the Captain’s. “Once you’re released from Sick Bay, you and I are going to have a long talk.” After giving the Chief Engineer a firm nod, she turned on her heels and left. Chakotay followed, but only after he shot B’Elanna a sympathetic glance.

* * * *

The following afternoon, the EMH finally released B’Elanna from Sick Bay. The latter immediately headed straight to the Captain’s Ready Room and revealed how she found the Hotak device. And her experiences in the future. Of course, B’Elanna did leave out certain details – like her flirtation with Tom in the Holodeck, and their subsequent honeymoon.

For her actions, the Captain revoked B’Elanna’s holodeck priviledges for a week. The auburn-haired captain added that she had ordered Voyager back to Hotak in order to return the device to its previous location. B’Elanna received one last lecture on responsible behavior befitting a Starfleet officer before being dismissed.

Her cheeks flaming with embarrassment, B’Elanna left the Captain’s Ready Room through the second door and entered Deck One’s corridor. She had never felt so humiliated since the incident over the Sikiris transporter. One good thing came out of her use of the Hotak device – she saw a future that seemed destined to end in disaster. Marriage to Tom Paris? Inconceivable. Hell, she could say the same about a romance with the erratic helmsman. B’Elanna simply could not see someone like Paris remaining in a relationship with a Human/Klingon hybrid, let alone a Human female. Any marriage to him seemed bound to meet the same fate as her parents’. With her driving Tom away.

B’Elanna knew what she had to do. Make sure that a relationship between her and Paris would never happen. She had no desire to get involved with a man who would only disappoint her in the end. Resolved by her decision, B’Elanna marched toward the turbolift.

* * * *

Five years and seven months later . . .

“Good grief, Harry! You’re not going to eat Neelix’s apple pie again, are you? Don’t you remember what happened the last time? You ended up in Sick Bay, getting your stomach pumped.”

B’Elanna and Harry sat inside Voyager’s Mess Hall, finishing the last of their lunch. The Chief Engineer had planned to immediately return to Deck Eleven, when she spotted the slice of “apple pie” on the ensign’s plate. If one could call it apple pie. It looked more like a banana cream pie – with the filling dyed green and no whip cream topping.

Annoyance flashed across Harry’s face. “I won’t get sick. Besides, Neelix and the Doctor found the ingredient that made me ill. And Neelix swore that he left it out, this time.”

“Yeah, right,” B’Elanna grumbled.

“What’s wrong with you anyway, Maquis? Got up on the wrong side of the bed, this morning?”

B’Elanna sighed. “It’s nothing. We’re still working on the damaged deflector dish, thanks to Chakotay. He allows the damn thing to shorten out and won’t even tell me why he did it. I don’t think even the Captain knows. Something about the Temporal Directive.”

A frown creased Harry’s forehead. “You still haven’t fixed the deflector dish? It’s been a week since that incident. What’s the problem?”

“I don’t know. Gremlins, perhaps?” B’Elanna said with a shrug. “Even worse, Sue Nicoletti passed out, this morning. Just fainted dead away. And the one thing I don’t need right now is to have one of my best engineers ill.”

Harry smiled. “Oh, I have a pretty good idea on what’s wrong with Sue. Haven’t you heard? She’s . . .”

The doors to the Mess Hall opened, interrupting Harry. Tom Paris strode inside and many of the crewmen burst into cheers, whistles and applause. Then to B’Elanna’s further confusion, Neelix walked up to Tom and offered his congratulations. Why, B’Elanna had no idea. She turned to Harry. “What the hell is going on?”

Harry did not answer. Instead, he waited until the pilot appeared beside their table, stood up and enveloped the older man with a bear hug. “Hey Tom! Congratulations!” he crowed. “It’s not every day a man becomes a father.”

A father? The moment those words left Harry’s mouth, B’Elanna became ill. She felt as if a photon torpedo had made impact with her stomach. Tom Paris, a father. That could only mean that Sue Nicoletti was pregnant. B’Elanna dreaded this moment since the day her subordinate married Tom. Keeping her jealousy in check, she reacted with an enthusiasm that she did not feel. “A new father! You mean to say that Sue fainted, because she was pregnant?”

Tom smiled, causing B’Elanna’s heart to skip. “Yep. She’s due in another six-and-a-half months.”

“Just in time for the New Year,” Harry added.

B’Elanna inhaled before flashing the pilot a brilliant smile. “That’s great, Tom! I’m happy for both you and Sue.” Then she returned her attention to her breakfast tray, unable to say anything further.

While Tom and Harry continued to discuss the upcoming pregnancy, B’Elanna’s thoughts wallowed in misery. And regret. Where did it all go wrong? She has asked herself this question so many times during the past six years. Yet, she knew the answer. Her stubbornness. Her fears. She had the bad misfortune to catch a glimpse of a possible paradise. And instead of anticipating the future, she allowed her fears to get the best of her. Push away a chance of happiness before it could begin.

After her glimpse of a future with Tom Paris, B’Elanna had done everything possible to ensure that the relationship would go no further than distant friendship. It had been simple during Voyager’s first two years in the Delta Quadrant. Tom was first preoccupied with a crush on Kes, the ship’s former nurse, and later, pursuit of Sue Nicoletti. That third year, however, proved to be difficult. Tom suddenly developed an interest in B’Elanna. She did her best to ignore him by ignoring his flirtations and invitations to dinner. She had even ignored Tom and Harry’s offer to escort her to a luau being held inside Neelix’s old Resort holoprogram. Once B’Elanna made it apparent that she harbored no interest in a relationship with the Chief Helmsman, he stopped pursuing her. And two months later, he returned his attention to Sue Nicoletti.

At first, it seemed that Tom would have no better luck with Sue than he did the previous year. However, matters came to a head on possibly one of the worst days in B’Elanna’s life – her personal Day of Honor. One, a failed experiment with creating a transwarp conduit ended with the ejection of the warp core. The Captain ordered the core to be retrieved – only she ordered B’Elanna to send another member of the Engineering team. B’Elanna did. She sent Sue Nicoletti, who ended up accompanied by Tom Paris. B’Elanna had no idea what occurred between the pair on that mission. But four days later, Tom and Sue became a couple. Their three-year romance ended with an impromptu wedding, following an intergalactic race. Since of their romance, B’Elanna found herself regretting her decision to change the future. Dreams of that alternate honeymoon aboard the Delta Flyer have haunted her, ever since.

“. . . have any idea why Chakotay destroyed the deflector?” Harry was saying. Apparently, both men had lost interest in Sue’s pregnancy.

Tom shook his head. “I’ve heard rumors of something about him invoking the Temporal Directive. Whatever that means.”

“Speaking of temporal anomalies,” Harry continued, “do you remember that device you found on Hotak some five or six years ago, B’Elanna? You know, the one that allows you to see the future?”

Dread numbed every nerve in B’Elanna’s body. Of course she remembered. There was not a single damn day when she forgot. “Yeah, I remembered,” she mumbled.

Harry continued, “Now, I remember you telling me that you saw Kurt Bendara’s death, a future game of hoverball between you and the Commander, and even Neelix’s resort program.” His attention switched to the pilot. “But Tom, you also used the device and you never told me what you saw.”

Tom hesitated. His gaze dropped to the food on his tray. “It was nothing, Harry. In fact, it never happened.”

“C’mon, Tom! Everything B’Elanna had witnessed came true. Right?”

Memories of that passionate moment inside the Delta Flyer flashed in B’Elanna’s mind. “Right,” she replied in a choked voice.

Harry continued, “So, tell us. C’mon Tom, what did you see?”

The pilot took a deep breath. “Okay. I was inside a cave . . . with . . . with someone.” His blue eyes briefly rested upon B’Elanna. “From Engineering.”

‘He knows!’ B’Elanna felt a surge of panic. Judging from Tom’s brief glance, she felt sure that he knew about their life together, in that alternate timeline. She struggled to maintain a calm façade.

Harry frowned. “What cave?”

“On Sakaris IV,” Tom replied. B’Elanna winced. The sight of her infamous bout with pon far. Voyager had come across a supply of gallacite and B’Elanna was ordered to form an Away team to retrieve the mineral. She had knew about Tom’s talent as a rock climber, but decided to exclude him from the Away mission. But not before an emotional unbalanced Vulcan engineer infected her with pon far. B’Elanna spent her entire time on Sakaris IV longing for Tom, while rejecting any offers of help from Harry, Tuvok and Chakotay.

His frown deepening, Harry shot back, “But you only spent one hour on Sakaris IV. With Carl Ashmore and me. When we helped the Sakarians avoid further detection by the Borg.”

“That’s right, Harry,” Tom replied. “But in my vision, I was there for several hours.” Again, his eyes shot a glance at B’Elanna. “With Sue.”

Harry shook his head and murmured, “Now, that’s strange. Sue never made it to the surface. I guess time must have been changed.”

“I guess,” Tom echoed. For the third time, he glanced at B’Elanna.

“You know,” Harry continued, “this reminds me of something the Captain once told me. She said that our trip to Earth’s past made her realize how much temporal mechanics gave her a headache. I think she might have something, there. Right, B’Elanna?”

The Chief Engineer did not reply. Unaware of her friend’s last words, she stared into space, devastated and filled with regret.

“B’Elanna?”

THE END

“GEORGE WASHINGTON” (1984) Review

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“GEORGE WASHINGTON” (1984) Review

Twenty-four years before the award-winning HBO miniseries “JOHN ADAMS” aired, the CBS network aired a miniseries about the first U.S. President, George Washington. Simply titled “GEORGE WASHINGTON”, this three-part miniseries was based upon two biographies written by James Thomas Flexner – 1965’s “George Washington, the Forge of Experience, 1732–1775” and 1968’s “George Washington in the American Revolution, 1775–1783”.

“GEORGE WASHINGTON” spanned at least forty years in the life of the first president – from 1743, when his father Augustine Washington died from a sudden illness; to 1783, when Washington bid good-bye to the officers who had served under him during the American Revolutionary War. The miniseries covered some of the major events of Washington’s life:

*His training and profession as a surveyor of Western lands
*His experiences as an officer of the Virginia militia during the Seven Years War
*His friendship with neighbors George William and Sally Cary Fairfax between the 1750s and the 1770s
*The romantic feelings between him and Sally Fairfax
*His marriage to widow Martha Dandridge Custis and his role as stepfather to her two children
*His life as a Virginia planter
*His role as a member of Virginia’s House of Burgesses
*His growing disenchantment with the British Parliament
*His brief experiences as a representative of the Second Continental Congress
*And his experiences as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army

Actually, one half of the miniseries covered Washington’s life from his childhood to his years as a Virginia planter. The other half covered his experiences during the American Revolution. Glancing at the list above, I realized that “GEORGE WASHINGTON” covered a great deal in Washington’s life. More importantly, Jon Boothe and Richard Fielder did a first-rate job by delving into the many aspects of the man’s life and his relationships with great details and depth. This was especially apparent in Washington’s relationships with his controlling mother, Mary Ball Washington; his friendship with George William Fairfax; his light romance with Sally Fairfax; his relationships with his military aides during the American Revolution and especially his marriage to Martha Custis.

I found it interesting that the miniseries managed to convey how difficult and controlling Mary Washington was as a parent. However, I found it slightly disappointing that the miniseries did not further explore Washington’s relationship with his mother, once he became swept up into the Seven Year’s War – especially since she had survived long enough to witness him become the first U.S. president.

Washington’s relationship with George William “Will” Fairfax proved to be a complex matter for two reasons. One, Will Fairfax had remained loyal to the British Crown throughout his life. During the decade leading to the outbreak of the American Revolution, that relationship threatened to fall apart due to the two friends’ different political belief – something I was happy to see that the miniseries had conveyed. Another aspect that posed a threat to Washington’s friendship with Fairfax was his romantic feelings for the man’s wife, Sally Fairfax . . . and her feelings for him. There have been rumors that Washington’s relationship with Sally had led to physical adultery, but no proof. But there is proof that they had strong feelings for one another and the miniseries; due to Fiedler and Boothe’s screenplay, along with the performances of Barry Bostwick and Jaclyn Smith; did an excellent job of conveying the pair’s emotional regard for each other in a subtle and elegant manner. What I found even more amazing was the miniseries’ portrayal of Washington’s courtship of and his marriage to Martha Custis. I was surprised that Boothe and Fiedler had portrayed Washington’s feelings toward her with such ambiguity. This left me wondering if he had married her for love . . . or for her fortune. By the last half hour or so of the miniseries, Washington finally admitted to Martha that he did love her. However, the manner in which Bostwick portrayed that scene, I found myself wondering if Washington was himself amazed by how much his feelings for Martha had grown.

I do not know what to say about the miniseries’ portrayal of Washington’s relationships with his military aides during the American Revolution. I do not doubt that his aides were loyal to him or probably even worship him. But I must admit that it seemed the miniseries’ portrayal of this relationship seemed to make Washington’s character just a touch too ideal for my tastes. In fact, one of the miniseries’ main problems seemed to be its idealistic portrayal of the main character. Aside from Washington’s bouts of quick temper, his ambiguous affections for his wife Martha, and his cold relationship with his less than ideal stepson, John “Jacky” Parke Custis; the miniseries made very little effort to portray Washington in any negative light. In fact, Washington’s demand for higher rank within the Virginia militia and British Army during the Seven Years War is portrayed as justified, thanks to Fiedler and Boothe’s screenplay. Personally, I found his demand rather arrogant, considering his young age (early to mid-20s) and limited training and experience as a military officer at the time. Not only did I found his demand arrogant, but also rather astounding. What I found even more astounding was the miniseries’ attitude that television viewers were supposed to automatically sympathize with Washington’s demands.

The miniseries’ portrayal of Washington in the second half – the period that covered the American Revolution – nearly portrayed the planter-turned-commander as a demigod. Honestly. Aside from his occasional bursts of temper, General George Washington of the Continental Army – at least in this miniseries – was a man who could do no wrong. And at times, I found this rather boring. I cannot recall any moment during the miniseries’ second half that questioned Washington’s decisions or behavior. Most of his military failures were blamed on either military rivals or limited support from the Continental Congress.

And then . . . there was the matter of black soldiers serving in the Continental Army. According to “GEORGE WASHINGTON”, Southern representative in Congress wanted blacks – whether they were former slaves or freemen – banned from serving in the army. It was Washington who demanded that Congress allow black men to fight alongside white men in the country’s rebellion against the British Empire. By the way . . . this was a complete lie. Despite black men fighting in the Massachusetts militias during the Battles at Lexington and Concord and the Battle of Bunker Hill, Washington signed an order forbidding them to become part of the Continental Army when the white New England militiamen did. Come to think of it, when it came to racism and slavery, “GEORGE WASHINGTON” presented a completely whitewashed portrait of the future president. The miniseries even featured a pre-war scene in which Washington prevented his overseer from breaking apart slave families at Mount Vernon by selling some of the slaves for needed funds for the plantation. In reality, Washington was not above selling off slaves or breaking up families for the sake of profit or punishing a slave. At a time when historians and many factions of the American public were willing to view the Founding Fathers in a more ambiguous light; Fiedler and co-producers Buzz Kulik and David Gerber lacked the guts to portray Washington with a bit more honestly . . . especially in regard to race and slavery. If they had been more honest, they could have portrayed Washington’s growing unease over slavery and race, following Congress’ decision to allow them within the ranks of the Continental Army in 1777. Unfortunately, putting Washington on a pedestal seemed more important than allowing him some semblance of character development.

Production wise, “GEORGE WASHINGTON” struck me as first-rate. The miniseries had been shot in locales in Virginia and Southern Pennsylvania, adding to the production’s 18th century Colonial America atmosphere. I cannot say whether Harry Stradling Jr.’s cinematography also contributed to the miniseries’ setting. If I must be honest, I did not find his photography that memorable. But I was impressed by Alfred Sweeney’s production designs, along with Sig Tingloff’s art direction and Arthur Jeph Parker’s set decorations. However, I had a problem with the costume choices selected by a costume team supervised by Michael W. Hoffman. To be honest, I did not have much trouble with the costumes for the men. The women’s costumes proved to be another man. A good deal of the story is set among the colonial Virginia gentry. I hate to say this, but I found a good deal of the women’s costumes less than impressive. They looked as if they came straight from a costume warehouse in the middle of Hollywood. I especially had a problem with Jaclyn Smith’s wardrobe as Sally Fairfax. I realize that she is supposed to be an 18th century version of a Southern belle. But there were one or two costumes that seemed to be some confusing mixture of mid 18th and mid 19th centuries. Yikes.

I certainly had no problem with the performances featured in the 1984 miniseries. The latter featured solid performances from legendary actors like Lloyd Bridges, Jose Ferrer, Trevor Howard, Jeremy Kemp, Clive Revill, Anthony Zerbe, Robert Stack and Hal Holbrook. However, I really enjoyed James Mason’s energetic portrayal of the doomed General Edward Braddock; Rosemary Murphy’s skillful performance as the future president’s demanding mother, Mary Ball Washington; Richard Kiley’s emotional portrayal of Washington’s neighbor, planter George Mason; and John Glover’s ambiguous performance as the ambitious Revolutionary officer, Charles Lee. I was also impressed by Stephen Macht’s performance as the ambitious and volatile Benedict Arnold. I could also say the same about Megan Gallagher’s portrayal of Arnold’s wife, Peggy Shippen. Ron Canada provided a good deal of depth in his limited appearances as Washington’s slave valet, Billy Lee. Philip Casnoff, who was a year away from his stint in the “NORTH AND SOUTH” miniseries, gave a very charming and humorous performance as Washington’s French-born aide and close friend, the Marquis de Lafayette. And Leo Burmester gave an excellent performance as Eban Krutch, the New England born Continental soldier, who served as the viewers’ eyes of both Washington and the war throughout the miniseries’ second half.

I really enjoyed David Dukes’ performance as Washington’s neighbor, mentor and close friend, Will Fairfax. I found it quite energetic and charming. And he managed to develop a first-rate chemistry with Barry Bostwick. Come to think of it, so did Jaclyn Smith, who portrayed Fairfax’s wife and the object of Washington’s desire, Sally Fairfax. I also found Smith’s performance rather complex as she had to convey her character’s feelings for Washington in a subtle manner. At first, I found Patty Duke’s portrayal of the future First Lady, Martha Washington, solid but not particularly interesting. Thankfully, the last quarter of the miniseries allowed Duke to prove what a first-rate actress she could be, as it explored Mrs. Washington’s reaction to the privations suffered by the Continental Army’s rank-and-file. Her performance led to an Emmy nomination. And finally, I come to the man of the hour himself, Barry Bostwick. Despite the miniseries being guilty of whitewashing some of Washington’s character, I cannot deny that Bostwick gave a superb performance. The actor skillfully conveyed Washington’s character from the callow youth who was dominated by his mother and his ambition to the weary, yet iconic military general who carried the rebellion and the birth of a country on his shoulders. It is a pity that he did not receive any award nominations for his performance.

I may have my complaints about “GEORGE WASHINGTON”. Despite its detailed account of the first president’s life, I believe it went out of its way to protect his reputation with occasional whitewashing. And some of the miniseries’ production values – namely the women’s costumes – struck me as a bit underwhelming. But despite its flaws, “GEORGE WASHINGTON” proved to be a first-rate miniseries that delved into the history of the United States during the mid-and-late 18th century, via the life of one man. It also benefited from excellent direction from Buzz Kulik and superb performances led by the talented Barry Bostwick. Not surprisingly, the miniseries managed to earn at least six Emmy nominations.

“MAD MEN” Observations: (3.07) “Seven Twenty-Three”

After a recent re-watch of the “MAD MEN” Season Three episode, (3.07) “Seven Twenty-Three”, I found myself compelled to post several observations about it:

 

“MAD MEN” OBSERVATIONS: (3.07) “Seven Twenty-Three”

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*Don Draper

In “Seven Twenty-Three”, famous hotelier Conrad Hilton, whom advertisement executive Don Draper had first met in (3.03) “My Old Kentucky Home”, paid a visit to the latter’s office and revealed his intent to hire Sterling Cooper to handle the promotion of his New York hotels. This piece of good news turned sour when Lane Pryce, Roger Sterling and Bert Cooper revealed that Hilton’s attorneys refused to go ahead with the deal unless Don sign an official contract with his employers. Naturally, Don was reluctant to sign one. He had been living under an assumed name for the past thirteen years, when he switched identities with his Army commanding officer (the real Don Draper). Nor did he want to be bound or obliged to anyone without having the power and opportunity to walk away whenever the opportunity might arise. After Don had a confrontation with wife Betty over his refusal to sign a contract, he left the house to go joyriding in the countryside. There, he picked up a young couple, who claimed they were on their way to get married at Niagara Falls. As it turned out, they were a pair of scam artists who fed Don some pills, took him to a cheap motel, knocked him out and stole his money.

I never understood this need of the series’ fans to divide the main character into two personas. There was only one Dick Whitman, after all. He was both the rural-born offspring of a dead prostitute and a crude farmer . . . and the brilliant creative advertising executive. The reason why Dick (or should I say Don) could emotionally connect with some people and barely at all with others may have been due to the fact that he had assumed another man’s name by fraudulent means. It is not surprising that he has only been willing to reveal some of his true nature to those he believe he may never see again – or in the case of Rachel Mencken and schoolteacher Suzanne Farrell – someone with whom he thought he could connect. It also seemed natural to me that Don had never bothered to sign an official contract with Sterling Cooper. No contract had allowed him to be a free agent even though he has decided to remain at Sterling Cooper. It also meant that Don would be able to bolt without any legal redress, if needed. Well, Don’s years as a free agent at Sterling Cooper ended in ”Seven Twenty-Three”. Especially since by the end of the season, he became one of the owners of a new firm – Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce (SCDP).

Oddly enough, Don’s encounter with another self-made man – Conrad Hilton – had led him to being finally bound to a contract. This led to a temporary breach with his boss and future partner, Roger Sterling. It also temporarily damaged his close relationship with copywriter and protégée Peggy Olson. The new contract made Don realize – and not for the last time – that wife Betty might be a lot more formidable than he had probably imagined. Don’s argument with Betty led him to commit one of his more destructive maneuvers when things got rough . . . he took off. Unlike his trip to California in Season Two, Don did not go very far. Instead, he picked up a hitchhiking couple claiming to be on their way to Niagara Falls in order to elope. But instead of eloping, they fed Don some pills and later clocked and robbed him inside a cheap motel. As his dad, Archie Whitman, had indicated in his hallucination, Don had become slightly soft. This seemed even more apparent when senior partner Bert Cooper blackmailed him into finally signing a contract.

When Cooper had dismissed Pete Campbell’s exposure of Don as a fraud and identity thief back in Season One’s (1.12) “Nixon vs. Kennedy”, I bet Don never thought the old man would eventually use those allegations against him. And yet . . . while signing that contract, Don demanded that Roger Sterling stay away from him. How interesting. Roger tried to use Betty to coerce him into signing the contract. Cooper sunk even lower and used Don’s secrets to blackmail him and succeed. Perhaps Don realized that Roger (given his questionable standing in the firm with the British owners) made an easier target for his wrath than two powerful men like Conrad Hilton and Bert Cooper. If so, it did not say very much about Don.

Some fans had believed that Don’s new contract was a sign of his eventual downfall. I cannot say that I agree with this. In fact, this downfall never really materialized. Every time Don faced a personal crisis in the past – Pete Campbell and Bert Cooper’s discovery of his secret in Season One, his late Season Two estrangement from Betty, and Duck’s takeover plans – he managed to survive or come on top, as the formation of SCDP proved.

 

*Betty Draper

The episode also featured a subplot for Betty Draper. After joining the Tarrytown, New York chapter of Junior League, she received a request to find someone with political ties to prevent the construction of a giant water tank that they feared would ruin the scenic view. Betty contacted Henry Francis, one of Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s aides that she had first met in “My Old Kentucky Home”. The two met at a local bakery in Ossing for drinks and pastries. And although Francis hinted that he might not be able to help the Junior League prevent the water tank’s construction, he made it obvious that he was just as attracted to Betty, as she was to him. Francis had also pointed out a chaise lounge that Betty later purchased for her living room. A chaise lounge that her decorator obviously disliked.

Betty’s story arc did not provide any jaw dropping moments for me. But I did notice a few things. One, she must have been seriously attracted to Henry Francis. I never realized it when Season Three first aired. I found it interesting that not only did she remember Henry from Roger’s Kentucky Derby garden party, she also seemed to be in a slight state of heat whenever she around him. This especially seemed obvious when Henry shielded her eyes from the sun during an eclipse. But more importantly, she went ahead and purchased the Victorian chaise lounge that Henry had earlier pointed out to her when they passed an antique store. Many saw the chaise lounge as an example of Betty’s desire to be some “helpless damsel in distress” that occasionally fainted. I found that image hard to accept. Despite the ladylike persona that Betty tended to project, she never struck me as that kind of woman. However, I had noticed how she caressed her body in a suggestive manner – especially in the very spot where Henry had touched her, when she was still pregnant with Eugene. So . . . yeah, she was very attracted to him. In fact, Henry ended up becoming her second husband. I should have known.

I also noticed that by Season Three, Betty had become more assertive in her attitude toward Don. After all, audiences first received a whiff of this trait back in Season Two’s (2.04) “Three Sundays”, when she ordered Don to take Sally to work with him during their son Bobby’s small medical emergency. Yet, Betty’s assertiveness became increasingly obvious in Season Three. This was certainly apparent in her refusal to cave in to Don’s disapproval over their new son’s name in (3.06) “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency”; and in their confrontation over Don’s refusal to sign a contract with Sterling Cooper. I had always suspected that underneath the girlish and shallow exterior lurked a formidable woman. This was verified when Betty finally learned about Don’s true identity later in the season.

 

*Peggy Olson

Peggy Olson’s storyline in this episode began in (3.05) “The Fog”, in which she was contacted by former Sterling Cooper employee, Duck Phillips. In that episode, he had tried to recruit both Peggy and accounts executive Pete Campbell to the agency he now works for – Gray. Peggy had contemplated his offer, but refused. When Peggy asked Don for a raise in the same episode, the latter refused her request. In “Seven Twenty-Three”, Duck continued his wooing of Peggy and Pete with gifts. When Pete pointed out that Duck’s wooing might be an attempt for the older man to get back at Don for snowballing him in the Season Two finale, (2.13) “Mediations in an Emergency”, Peggy became determined to return the gift. Which she did after leaving work. However, her visit to Duck’s hotel suite also led to an evening of some very enjoyable sex for them both.

I found it interesting that Peggy thought she knew a lot about Don. She knew that he was an adulterer, thanks to her rescue of both him and Bobbie Barrett in Season Two’s (2.05) “The New Girl”. In “Seven Twenty-Three”, she first discovered that he could be incredibly cruel. And it would not be the last time. Season Three had not been particularly kind to Peggy. Following her revelation to Peter Campbell about their illegitimate child, he became hostile toward her. And despite being the first copywriter to acquire a private office following Freddie Rumsen’s departure, the respect that she deserved continued to evade her. Don had ignored her misgivings about the Patio commercial in (3.02) “Love Among the Ruins”. In (3.05) “The Fog”, Peggy asked for a raise after discovering that she was the firm’s lowest paid copywriter and Don rejected her request. And when she asked to work on the Hilton account, Don (who was already in a foul mood after learning that Sterling Cooper wants him to sign a contract) rejected her request in the cruelest manner possible. He accused Peggy of using his coattails to rise in Sterling Cooper’s Creative ranks. His accusation and manner left Peggy shocked and speechless.

When Peggy appeared at Duck’s hotel room to return his gift, I doubt that she had any intention of having sex with him. Did Duck plan to sexually seduce Peggy? I do not know. And since I have no idea of Duck’s intention, I am not going to pretend that I do or speculate. I do have to wonder if the prevalent negative attitude toward Duck has led many fans to believe that he had intended to seduce her. I do recall Peggy complimenting Duck’s turtleneck sweater when they first met in “The Fog”. I also noticed something else. Once Peggy and Duck were in bed together, they seemed turned on by each other.

A good number of viewers had expressed disgust at Peggy’s sexual tryst with Duck, using their 20-something age difference as an excuse. But Joan Harris and Roger Sterling were (and still are) roughly fifteen years apart in age during their affair. Even back then, Joan was slightly older and more experienced during her affair with Roger. But Peggy is not some blushing virgin. She was already sexually experienced and had given birth to Pete’s son in (1.13) “The Wheel”. She even managed to seduce some college kid in “Love Among the Ruins” as a test of her sexuality. Yet, many fans expressed disgust at her tryst with Duck. Even worse, they labeled her as some sexually naïve woman who found herself seduced and manipulated by an older man. I must be honest. I found that perception of Peggy rather offensive. At age 24, Peggy was young and probably upset over Don’s outburst. But as I had stated earlier, she was not naïve by this time in the series. I suspect that Peggy had simply used Duck’s offer of great sex to derive some kind of pleasure following her disastrous meeting with Don. Many fans had also predicted disastrous consequences from Peggy and Duck’s tryst. Not really. Peggy had quietly distanced herself from Duck by Season Four, despite his drunken reaction at the time. But I do believe that she paid an emotional consequence for rejecting Duck’s offer at Gray’s. At least for a few years.

 

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Five Favorite Episodes of “ARROW” Season One (2012-2013)

Below is a list of my five favorite episodes from Season One of the CW series, “ARROW”. Created by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg; the series stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen aka the Arrow:

 

FIVE FAVORITE EPISODES OF “ARROW” SEASON ONE (2012-2013)

1 - 1.23 Sacrifice

1. (1.23) “Sacrifice” – In the season finale, Oliver Queen aka the Arrow and his friends struggle to stop Malcolm Merlyn’s plans to destroy Starling City’s working-class neighborhood, the Glades.

 

2 - 1.16 Dead to Rights

2. (1.16) “Dead to Rights” – The Queen and Merlyn families become embroiled in Floyd Lawton aka Deadshot’s attempt to kill Malcolm, after Moira Queen had hired the hitman to kill her business partner and prevent his plans for the Glades.

 

3 - 1.01 Pilot

3. (1.01) “Pilot” – After being regarded dead for five years, Oliver returns to Starling City to begin his vigilante activities as the “Hood” (the Arrow). He also has to reconnect with his family and face his ex-girlfriend, Laurel Lance, whom he had cheated on before his fateful journey.

 

4 - 1.17 The Huntress Returns

4. (1.17) “The Huntress Returns” – Oliver’s former lover, Helena Bertinelli aka the Huntress, returns to Starling City to continue her vendetta against her mobster father for the death of her fiance. She tries to exploit Oliver’s friendships with John Diggle and Felicity Smoak to coerce him into helping her.

 

5 - 1.09 Years End

5. (1.09) “Year’s End” – Oliver attempts to track down a mysterious copycat vigilante, who is killing people on the list given to the former by his father five years ago.

 

HM - 1.20 Home Invasion

Honorable Mention: (1.20) “Home Invasion” – Oliver risks Diggle’s wrath by postponing his offer to help the latter track down Deadshot, in order to help Laurel and boyfriend Tommy Merlyn protect a young boy, who had witnessed the murder of his parents at the hands of a hit man.

 

 

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“VALKYRIE” (2008) Review

“VALKYRIE” (2008) Review

When I had first learned that ”VALKYRIE”, a movie about the final assassination attempt upon Adolf Hitler, would be released in 2008 . . . I was surprised. Honestly.  And my response had nothing to do any opinion I have about the film. Let me explain.

One has to understand that ”VALKYRIE” had gone through a great deal of turmoil to get made. Whatever problems the movie’s production had encountered, its biggest obstacle turned out to be the casting of Tom Cruise in the lead role of Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the architect of this last assassination attempt that occurred on July 20, 1944. Many German politicians protested against the idea of a practicing Scientologist like Cruise portraying someone who has become regarded as a hero for his opposition against Hitler. Even members of von Stauffenberg’s family joined in the protest. The filmmakers of ”VALKYRIE” initially had difficulty setting up filming locations in Germany due to the controversy, but they were later given leeway to film in locations pertaining to the film’s story, such as Berlin’s historic Bendlerblock. Also, Cruise’s popularity with the American public had sunk during those years between 2005 and 2008. Considering that many of the negative comments about the actor had stemmed from his Scientology beliefs, it seemed to me that religious bigotry had played a large role in the hard feelings against him.

Early in 2008, MGM/United Artists had released trailers of ”VALKYRIE”. Personally, I found them impressive and was happy to learn that the movie was scheduled for a June 2008 theater release. But due to the poor response to the trailers and MGM/United Artists’s initial marketing campaign, the studio executives moved the movie’s release date from June 2008 to February 2009. I was also surprised to learn that ”VALKYRIE” had another black mark against it – namely director Bryan Singer. He had built a reputation as a first-rate director with movies such as ”THE USUAL SUSPECTS” and the first two films from the ”X-MEN” franchise. Unfortunately, his reputation hit a snag when the 2006 release of the over-budgeted ”SUPERMAN RETURNS” failed to impress the critics and make a profit for Warner Brothers Studios. I figured that MGM/United Artists was simply going to allow ”VALKYRIE” languish in the theaters during the off season following Christmas, never to be heard of until its DVD release. Thankfully, MGM/United Artists proved me wrong. Eventually, the studio executives announced that ”VALKYRIE” would be released on Christmas Day for the 2008 movies holiday season. When the film was finally released, I rushed out to see it as soon as I possibly could.

As I had earlier stated, ”VALKYRIE” told the story of the July 20, 1944 plot by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Ever since the years before World War II, there had been a growing number of dissidents that viewed Hitler as the wrong man to be Germany’s leader. This opposition – which included German officers like Ludwig Beck, Henning von Tresckow and Claus von Stauffenberg – led to a series of assassination attempts on Hitler, including one plotted by von Tresckow in March 1943. By September 1943, one of the dissidents, General Friedrich Olbricht, recruited Lieutenant-Colonel von Stauffenberg into their ranks. It was his plan – code name ”Valkyrie” – that led to the last attempt to kill Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944. Directed by Bryan Singer, the movie stars Tom Cruise as Claus von Stauffenberg. The cast also includes Bill Nighy, Terence Stamp, Kenneth Branagh, Jamie Parker, Eddie Izzard, Christian Berkel, David Schofield, Kevin McNally, Thomas Kretschmann and Tom Wilkinson. Christopher McQuarrie and Nathan Alexander wrote the screenplay.

I might as well get around to it and reveal my opinion of ”VALKYRIE”. In a nutshell . . . I loved it. Which surprised me a great deal. I had expected to like ”VALKYRIE”, considering the cast, the director and the subject matter. Or at least find it interesting. I had no idea that I would end up experiencing a gauntlet of emotions while watching it. Mere curiosity was the only emotion I had felt, while the movie introduced the main characters and revealed the incidents that led to von Stauffenberg’s decision to join the conspiracy against Hitler. By the time the movie focused upon the assassination attempt and the coup against the S.S., I felt myself growing tense with anxiety and anticipation. By the time the conspirators’ plot began to unravel, the tension I felt had been replaced by dread. And when von Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators were being captured and executed, I watched the scenes unfold with tears in my eyes. Curious, especially since I knew how the story would end.

The excellent performances by the cast turned out to be one of the reasons why ”VALKYRIE” struck such an emotional chord within me. This is also one of the reasons why I like Bryan Singer as a director. He knows how to utilize his cast – whether each performer has a major role or not. And Singer made the best of what proved to be a first-rate cast. I could go into details about every actor or actress in the cast, but I must admit that a handful managed to catch my attention. One member of the cast turned out to be Thomas Kretschmann, who portrayed Major Otto Ernst Remer, head of a Reserve Army battalion. The actor’s sardonic portrayal of Remer amused me to no end. Tom Wilkinson gave a top-notch performance as General Friedrich Fromm, head of Germany’s Reserve Army in Berlin. Wilkinson did an excellent job of portraying the treacherous general with a slight touch of sympathy. Another actor that caught my attention was Jamie Parker. He portrayed Lieutenant Werner von Haeften, an adjutant to von Stauffenberg who helped the latter carry out the plot. Parker did a great job in portraying von Haeften’s intense loyalty to von Stauffenberg. In fact, he and Cruise managed to create a strong screen chemistry together. Terence Stamp was excellent as the reserved, yet strong-willed Ludwig Beck, a former Army general whose opposition against Hitler began in the late 1930s and served as the conspirators’ figurehead. Bill Nighy portrayed General Friedrich Olbricht, Chief of the Armed Forces Replacement Office (Wehrersatzamt) at the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and the original architect of the plan, Operation Valkyrie. It was Olbricht who recruited von Stauffenberg into the conspiracy. For the past five to six years, I have always regarded Nighy as some kind of chameleon. And with his performance, he did an excellent job of revealing at both the vacillating and stalwart sides of Olbricht’s nature.

But the true focus of ”VALKYRIE” was Claus von Stauffenberg and it was Tom Cruise’s job to make this man believable to the audience. Some critics have complained that Cruise had failed to capture the essence of von Stauffenberg’s character as an aristocrat. Many of them blamed this on the actor’s American accent. Personally, I find this criticism to be a load of crap. After all, the 1988 version of ”DANGEROUS LIAISONS” featured American actors portraying French aristocrats . . . with American accents. And I do not recall any complaints about their performances. I especially find the criticisms against Cruise ludicrous, considering that most of the cast featured British actors – using accents from all over the British Isles. What was my view of Cruise’s performance as Claus von Stauffenberg? I thought he was excellent. His portrayal of the German Army officer was that of a hero – and a very stalwart one at that. On the other hand, Cruise also did a first-rate job of capturing von Stauffenberg’s arrogance – a trait that was probably a by-product of his aristocratic background and upbringing. This trait also managed to get the officer into a great deal of trouble even before his participation in the assassination attempt. But . . . most of the critics were too busy being distracted by Cruise’s American accent, while paying scant attention to the British accents of many of the other actors. Go figure.

Anyone familiar with Claus von Stauffenberg or the July 20, 1944 plot to kill Adolf Hitler would have known the outcome of the movie’s story. I certainly did. But despite my knowledge of the outcome, I found myself being caught up in the suspense of the story, thanks to Bryan Singer’s direction and the screenplay written by Christopher MacQuarrie and Nathan Alexander. I had assumed that most of the story would center on the conspirators’ plotting and set up of the assassination attempt. I had no idea there was more to the story surrounding the incident – namely the coup perpetrated by von Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators against Hitler and the S.S. Nor did I have any idea that knowing how the story would end, I would find myself rooting . . . hoping that the conspirators would succeed in their plans. Or escape Hitler’s wrath. The only hiccup in the movie – at least for me – was the introduction of Major General Erich Fellgiebel (Eddie Izzard) into the story. I found it confusing. Was he already part of the conspiracy when von Stauffenberg first approached? Or what? For me, it was only misstep in an otherwise superb script.

With a first-rate cast led by Tom Cruise, along with Christopher MacQuarrie and Nathan Alexander’s script, Bryan Singer directed an exciting and suspenseful tale that managed to tap into a great deal of emotions for me. From my personal view, I believe that ”VALKYRIE” proved to be one of the better movies of 2008.

 

1930s Costumes in Movies and Television

Below are images of fashion from the decade of the 1930s, found in movies and television productions over the years:

 

1930s COSTUMES IN MOVIES AND TELEVISION

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“Chinatown” (1974)

 

 

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“Billy Bathgate” (1991)

 

 

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“Gosford Park” (2001)

 

 

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“The Aviator” (2004)

 

 

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“Mrs. Henderson Presents” (2005)

 

 

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“Mildred Pierce” (2011)

 

 

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“W.E.” (2011)

 

 

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“The Last Tycoon” (2016-2017)

 

“Glimpses of the Future” [R] – 1/2

Here is a STAR TREK VOYAGER story I had written, called “Glimpses of the Future”. In it, B’Elanna Torres discovers a device that enables her to see the future. The story is set during Seasons 1, 7 and in between:

“GLIMPSES OF THE FUTURE”

DISCLAIMER: B’Elanna Torres, Tom Paris and all other characters related to Star Trek Voyager belong to Paramount, Viacom and the usual Trek Powers to Be.

Part 1

“I must say,” Neelix commented reflectively, “this is a beautiful-looking planet. But then, Hotak was always a popular place to visit. Especially during its heyday.”

Lieutenant B’Elanna Torres glanced at her surroundings and grunted. She had to agree with Neelix about the planet’s appearance. It did look beautiful. The green trees, sloping hills and the river nearby reminded her of Earth. At least certain parts of Earth. But the abandoned structures and crumbling ruins gave the planet’s surface a desolate air. “What happened here?” she asked.

Neelix adopted a mournful expression. “War. About forty years ago, the two major inhabitants became involved in some kind of civil war. They literally wiped out each other. I recall hearing details about it, while I was a boy.”

“How tragic,” B’Elanna commented. She glanced at a one-story building, still scarred by scorch marks.

The Talaxian continued, “Legend has it that a holy man had premonitions of the upcoming war. Unfortunately, no one bothered to listen to him. He was among the first to die.”

B’Elanna shivered. Her eyes remained fixed on the structure, nearby. For some reason, it reminded her of a religious temple. Or a shrine. She pointed at the building. “Did the holy man resided there?”

Neelix shook his head. He had no idea. “I don’t know, Lieutenant. However, I believe we should continue helping the others search for that gallicite.” Presently, the U.S.S. Voyager orbited over Hotak, a Class-M planet that the ship’s sensors had detected, two days ago. The sensors had also detected signs of gallicite on the planet’s surface. And Voyager needed the mineral badly to repair its eroding warp coils. B’Elanna found it frustrating that after six months in the Delta Quadrant, the ship was in danger of breaking apart.

The Chief Engineer heaved a sigh, as she and Neelix joined the remaining Away team on its search for gallicite. Two hours later, their search proved fruitful. B’Elanna figured they had collected enough gallicite to keep the warp coils in top condition for the next year or two.

While the other members of the Away team beamed back to Voyager with the gallicite, B’Elanna decided to indulge in some last minute sight seeing. Namely, the one-story building she had spotted earlier. B’Elanna approached the building and slowly entered. The dim light made it difficult to see. However, she was able to make out the remnants of what looked like an altar. It seemed that her first perception of this building being a temple had been correct.

Before she turned away, B’Elanna spotted an object on the altar. She picked it up. It was a small, rectangular-shaped box. A case made of dark-brown leather. Curious, B’Elanna unhooked the silver latch and opened the case. A blinding light flashed in front of her eyes . . .

* * * *

Three officers stood before the ship’s warp core, as it shimmered with a brilliant blue. Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay grinned happily, while B’Elanna stared at the core with intense satisfaction.

“She is quite lovely, isn’t she?” the Captain drawled.

B’Elanna frowned at the auburn-haired starship captain. “She?”

“Sorry. Figure of speech. I meant the warp core.”

Chakotay added, “Discovering that gallicite on Hotak turned out to be a blessing. I understand the Away team managed to collect enough gallicite to keep the warp coils in condition for at least a year.”

“Two years,” B’Elanna corrected. “However, I do think it would be a good idea to collect more gallicite along the way. You know, to make sure that we don’t find ourselves in this situation, again.”

Janeway smiled approvingly. “An excellent idea, Lieutenant. In fact, I would like to commend you and your staff for a job well . . .”

* * * *

Once more, a bright flash blinded B’Elanna. She let out a gasp and immediately closed the case. It took her over a minute to realize that she had not left the ruined temple on Hotak.

“Lieutenant Torres? Are you okay?” Neelix poked his head inside the temple’s doorway.

Breathing heavily, B’Elanna nodded. She immediately hid the case from the Talaxian’s view. “I’m . . . I’m fine, Neelix. Just a little . . . the air is so dense in here. I’m having a little difficulty breathing. That’s all.”

As Neelix led her out of the temple, B’Elanna wondered why she had lied. And hid the device from Neelix. It would have been much easier to tell the truth. That she had stumbled across a device that allowed a person to view the future. Yet, B’Elanna knew that if she had revealed the device to Neelix, he would eventually inform the Captain. And Janeway would have insisted upon the device remaining on the planet’s surface – where she had found it. The device had piqued B’Elanna’s curiosity and she was not ready to relinquish her new discovery. At least not yet.

* * * *

Not long after the Away team’s return to Voyager, B’Elanna’s staff commenced upon refitting the warp coils. The half-Klingon spent the next two days supervising the task, while Voyager resumed its long journey to the Alpha Quadrant. On the third day, B’Elanna announced the completion of the job during a Senior staff meeting. Captain Janeway and Chakotay paid a visit to Engineering, four hours later. And the next moments unfolded just as B’Elanna had envisioned.

“. . . your staff for a job well done,” Janeway said, repeating the very words B’Elanna had heard in her vision. The Captain peered closely at the younger woman with blue-gray eyes. “However, you do seem a bit exhausted, Lieutenant. I suggest that you get some rest. What would you recommend, Commander? A day off? Maybe two?”

B’Elanna felt slightly affronted. Granted, she did feel tired, but she still had enough energy to sustain her for the rest of the day. “I’m fine, Captain,” she replied. “Besides, there are other matters to attend to. Those irregular fluctuation readings in the sensor power couplings . . .”

Chakotay spoke up. “Minor repairs that your staff can deal with. As of now, you’re on a forty-eight hour leave. That’s an order, Lieutenant.”

Her first instinct was to protest even further. Yet, B’Elanna noticed the adamant gleam in both Janeway and Chakotay’s eyes. She had been outflanked and there was nothing she could do about that. B’Elanna heaved a silent sigh. What the hell could she do for a day? Harry will be on duty until this evening. And there was no one else, aside from Chakotay, with whom she could spend some free time. Including the ex-Maquis crew.

Then B’Elanna remembered her little souvenir from Hotak. Perhaps this leave would give her the opportunity for further examination of the device. And more glimpses of the future. Feigning defeat, B’Elanna gave a little shrug of her shoulders. “Oh well. I guess I know when I’m licked.” Both the Captain and the First Officer smiled.

* * * *

The moment B’Elanna entered her quarters, she headed straight for her desk and opened the drawer. She sighed with relief. The Hotak device had remained where she had left it. After removing the case, she strode toward the sofa. After her last experience on Hotak, B’Elanna felt it would be more prudent to sit or lay on something in case she suffered another dizzy spell. Or passed out.

B’Elanna took a deep breath. Anticipation tingled with every nerve in her body. Then she opened the case. A familiar light blinded her eyes and once again, B’Elanna found herself in the future . . .

* * * *

Red klaxon lights permeated the Engineering section. Chakotay’s voice announced over the Comm system, “All hands to battle stations!” The inhabitants inside Engineering, rushed to their posts. Their chief engineer barked out orders to check the engines and every system to make sure they were operating at a hundred percent. Seconds later, the attack commenced.

Voyager rocked from the enemy’s first blow. One of the consoles near the warp core exploded in a shower of sparks. B’Elanna muttered angrily, “Damn Kazons!” A second blow followed, minutes later. One panel near the anti-matter chamber exploded. Sparks flew into the face of one of the engineers. “Ashmore!” B’Elanna rushed toward the injured man.

Chakotay’s voice barked over the Comm system, again. “B’Elanna! Reroute power to the shields!”

“I can’t! We need all available power to keep the war engines functioning! And one of the . . .”

Another blast rocked Voyager. More explosions followed. B’Elanna curtly ordered the computer to transport Ashmore over to Sick Bay. Then she turned her attention to another injured crewman, Lindsay Ballard. Just as she was about to attend the injured woman, the Captain’s voice cried out, “Lieutenant! We need that extra power! Now!”

B’Elanna emitted a growl, before she transported Ballard to Sick Bay. Then she barked at one of her engineers. “Kurt! Reroute at least 50% of the warp plasma power to the shields!”

Kurt Bendara, another former Maquis, who now served under B’Elanna, reached for the nearest console and began entering data. Before the engineer could finish his task, and explosion blew up the console and sent him flying to floor. B’Elanna rushed to her friend’s side. Kurt’s face resembled a mass of molten flesh and blood. By some miracle, he had remained alive. “Computer!” B’Elanna barked. “Lock on to Crewman Bandera’s combadge and initiate emergency transport to Sick Bay!”

Seconds later, Kurt’s body disappeared from the floor. B’Elanna rushed over to another console to complete his . . .

* * * *

The bright light flashed once more, ending B’Elanna’s vision. A surge of dizziness took hold of her and she fell back against the sofa. Seconds passed before the dizziness abated. B’Elanna took a deep breath.

Kahless! Kurt! Had she just witnessed Kurt’s death? Or did he survive the attack? B’Elanna wished the vision had not ended so abruptly. If she knew more details, perhaps she could warn him in time. Not only was Kurt Bendara a fellow ex-Maquis, but also a close friend. He had once saved B’Elanna during an incident near the Cardassian border. And had met Chakotay at a bar on Telfas Prime. B’Elanna could imagine how the former Maquis captain would react to Kurt’s death. The two men were like brothers.

B’Elanna glanced at the chronometer on the wall. The time read 17:03 hours. Which meant that Neelix had begun serving dinner. With the ship’s power fully restored, B’Elanna considered replicating a meal in her quarters. But thinking about what she had just witnessed, she needed to see Kurt. Reassure her mind that he was still alive and well. Without further thought, B’Elanna donned a loose, pullover blouse, kept her uniform pants on and left her quarters for the Mess Hall.

At first, she could not find Kurt. Or Chakotay. Many crewmen filled the Mess Hall and most of the tables seemed occupied. Then B’Elanna spotted both men sitting at a table located in the left far corner of the room. Relief overcame her, as she strode toward their table.

“Kurt! You’re here!” The words came out of B’Elanna’s mouth before she could stop herself. The two men stared at her with surprise. Okay, perhaps she had sounded a bit too relieved.

Chakotay’s dark eyes expressed concern. “B’Elanna? Is there something wrong?”

“I . . . uh, I was looking for Kurt,” B’Elanna replied rather feebly. “I wanted to ask him about the warp coil. If there had been any setbacks, after the refit.”

The concern in the First Officer’s eyes gave way to a rebuke. “Pardon me, Lieutenant, but I seemed to recall that you were ordered to take leave.”

“Of course I’m taking leave!” B’Elanna retorted flippantly. “I just . . .”

Kurt flashed a knowing smile. “You might as well give up, Chakotay. You can take the engineer out of Engineering, but you can’t take engineering out of the engineer.” He shook his head. “If you must know, B’Elanna, the warp engines are doing fine. You have nothing to worry about.”

“That’s what you think,” B’Elanna muttered. Her slip of the tongue brought forth more stares from Chakotay and Kurt. Kahless! She really must tired. “I guess I better returned to my quarters. I must be more tired than I thought.”

Chakotay added, “You do look a little exhausted.”

B’Elanna mumbled a quick, “Yeah, yeah.” Then she turned away and left the Mess Hall.

* * * *

The remaining evening passed uneventful for B’Elanna. But the image of a severely wounded Kurt Bandera refused to leave her thoughts. She tried everything to vanquish the image – going over old Engineering reports, and reading one of the two Klingon romance novels she had brought with her from the Liberty. B’Elanna even tried a trip to Sandrine’s in the hope she would encounter her close friend, Harry Kim. Her hopes ended in disappointment after a quick trip to Holodeck One. Harry was no where to be found. And so, B’Elanna found herself back inside her quarters. Alone.

Her eyes fell upon the small leather case on the sofa. The Hotak device. Kurt Bendara flashed in her mind once more. She had to find out what happened to Kurt. She had to know if he had survived the Kazon attack.

B’Elanna plopped herself on the sofa and snatched up the case. She closed her eyes for a second. Maybe if she asked a question, the device would allow her to witness the answer. Taking a deep breath, she murmured quietly, “What happened to Kurt Bendara, after the Kazon attack?” B’Elanna slowly opened the case. The familiar light consumed her . . .

* * * *

The two senior officers inside Holodeck Two swatted a ball against the hoverball court’s wall. At least B’Elanna continued to swat the ball. Her opponent, Commander Chakotay, seemed to be having less success. After B’Elanna returned his serve, he reached out to hit the ball and missed it entirely. Panting heavily, Chakotay’s legs crumbled underneath him, as he fell to the floor.

A concerned B’Elanna stared at him. “What’s going on, Chakotay?” she demanded. “I seemed to be beating you a lot easier than usual.”

“Nothing . . . I’m fine,” the First Officer said in between intakes of breath. “I guess . . . I’m out . . . of shape.”

A mild smirk curved B’Elanna’s lips. “Out of shape? After a three-month camping trip? You should be in perfect shape.”

“Perhaps.”

The morose tone in Chakotay’s voice captured B’Elanna’s attention. She glanced sharply at him. “Okay, now I know there is something wrong. Did something happened on that planet, between you and the Captain?” B’Elanna hoped that her friend had not heard the waver in her voice.

Apparently, Chakotay had not. He still seemed to be brooding over his problem. “Look B’Elanna, can we discuss something else? Nothing happened on New Earth that would make interesting conversation. Trust me.”

“New Earth?”

A sigh left Chakotay’s mouth. “Kathryn and I . . . I mean, the Captain and I named the planet, New Earth. Especially since as Humans, we were the only humanoids on the planet.”

B’Elanna murmured, “How convenient.”

“Yes, it was. And also very pleasant.” Chakotay took a deep breath. “For the first time I . . . well, I got to know Kathryn very well.” B’Elanna noticed that her friend had stopped referring to Voyager’s commanding officer by her position.

B’Elanna quirked an eyebrow. “Really? So, you two became close?”

“Get your mind out of the gutter, Torres!” Chakotay retorted. “We weren’t as ‘close’ as you might think.” He paused. “Although . . . I wish we had. Listen, can you keep a secret?”

A small, mirthless laugh left B’Elanna’s mouth. “If you’re talking about how you feel about the Captain, I already know.” She heaved a small sigh. “In fact, I’ve known for quite some time. And so have other members of the crew. You’re not ‘that’ good at hiding your feelings, Chakotay.”

A heavy silence filled the holodeck. B’Elanna gave her friend a sad look. Poor Chakotay. Nine months ago, she would have been devastated by his revelation. Nine months ago, B’Elanna had harbored a deep love toward the First Officer. Until she realized that what she had really felt was infatuation, fed by her gratitude toward him giving her a new lease on life, over two years ago.

“Wow!” Chakotay said, breaking the silence. “I . . . I had no idea that you knew . . .”

B’Elanna chirped in, “You don’t have to say anything, Chakotay. As far as we’re concerned, it’s an open secret. Does, uh . . . does the Captain . . . feel the same way about you?”

Chakotay’s shoulders sagged. “To be honest, I don’t know,” he murmured. “I think she might be attrac . . .”

* * * *

The blinding light ended B’Elanna trip into the future. The familiar wave of dizziness followed. Only this time, it took her a little longer to overcome the dizziness. After several minutes, B’Elanna’s eyes flickered open. She heaved a shuddering sigh.

Recovering from use of the device seemed to be getting more difficult. But that did not disturb B’Elanna as much as what she had witnessed. Despite her efforts, the device had failed to give her an answer on Kurt Bendara’s fate. Instead, it confirmed a suspicion she has harbored for the past three months.

Chakotay was in love with Kathryn Janeway. The realization hit B’Elanna with the force of a tsunami. She still remembered that moment when she first harbored suspicions about her mentor’s feelings toward Voyager’s captain. It happened three months ago – during the incident with that living organism they had mistaken for a nebula. Upon visiting Chakotay’s quarters, she found him inside with the Captain, teaching the latter how to use his medicine wheel. It had been a startling moment for B’Elanna, finding the man she love being cozy with another woman. Granted, no sex had been involved. But there seemed to be an intimate aura between the two that made B’Elanna feel very uneasy.

Another thing B’Elanna remembered from her vision – the future Chakotay had seemed uneasy about Kathryn Janeway’s feelings toward him. That alone gave B’Elanna hope that she still had a chance for a different kind of relationship with her mentor.

B’Elanna felt tempted to use the Hotak device again. To learn more about a possible future with Chakotay. But since the device never responded to her question regarding Kurt Bendara, she suspected that it would be hopeless to use it in order to automatically receive another vision about Chakotay – if asked. And to be honest, her last use of the device had left her feeling exhausted. B’Elanna realized that she would, instead, benefit from a good night’s sleep. She returned the device to her desk and made her way to the bedroom.

End of Part 1

“TWILIGHT” (2008) Review

”TWILIGHT” (2008) Review

When I first saw the previews for the 2008 adaptation of Stephanie Meyer’s 2005 novel about teenage love and vampires, I had no idea that I had glimpsed into an adolescent literary phenomenon. About a week before the movie’s U.S. release, I finally realized what ”TWILIGHT” was all about when I read about the book series in several articles on the Internet.

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, ”TWILIGHT” is about seventeen-year-old Isabella “Bella” Swan, who moves to the small town of Forks, Washington in order to live with her divorced father, Charlie Swan, who is the town’s chief of police. There, she finds herself drawn to a mysterious classmate, Edward Cullen, who is revealed to be a 108-year-old vampire, despite being physically seventeen. Although Edward discourages the romance at first, they eventually fall deeply in love. The arrival of three nomadic vampires, James, Laurent, and Victoria, puts Bella’s life in danger. Edward and his family – Alice, Carlisle, Esme, Jasper, Emmett and Rosalie – put their lives at stake to save her.

I am trying to fight off the inevitable – namely give my opinion of the movie – but I might as well get it over with. I wish I could say that I loved ”TWILIGHT”. After all, the premise reminded me of the first three seasons of a favorite television series of mine, ”BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER” (1997-2003). But I barely liked the movie. “TWILIGHT” not only moved at a ridiculously low pace, but I barely found it original. Who am I kidding? Aside from the portrayal of vampires as one-dimensional good guys whose skin glistens in the sunlight, the story lacked any semblance of originality.

I found myself watching scenes that strongly resembled certain episodes from ”BUFFY”, including one that featured Edward feeding from Bella’s blood. Not only do Edward and Bella reminded me of Buffy and Angel, with less bite or complexity, but they also reminded me of the two leads from ”BEAUTY AND THE BEAST” (1987-1990) – Catherine and Vincent. By the way, I was never a fan of the Buffy and Angel relationship. I found it barely tolerable, which is why I preferred Buffy’s more complex and messier relationship with Spike, the series’ other major vampire character. As for ”BEAUTY AND THE BEAST”, I never became a fan. I found it a big yawn fest. But I was willing to give ”TWILIGHT” a chance. Unfortunately, Melissa Rosenberg’s script barely kept me awake. The dark and wet Pacific Northwest setting did not help.

The cast for ”TWILIGHT” seemed solid. Somewhat. Both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, as Bella Swan and Edward Cullen, managed to generate chemistry. Somewhat. Mind you, I found nothing electrifying about their screen chemistry or performances. I also feel that Pattinson managed to create a more memorable performance than the rest of the cast. Unfortunately, there were moments when he seemed in danger of overdoing it with the Byronic hero persona. Poor Stewart seemed to be stuck with a role that bordered on being dangerously passive for a female lead. Is it any wonder that I found their relationship somewhat disturbing? As for the rest of the cast, I found nothing memorable about them – including Billy Burke, who portrayed Bella’s father or Cam Gigande (James), who came off as an early Spike wannabe. The teen roles in this movie annoyed me to no end. I realize that many years have passed since I was in high school, but I could have sworn that my fellow schoolmates had sounded more intelligent . . . and interesting than Bella and her school friends.

I wish I could say more about ”TWILIGHT”, but I cannot. I simply was not that impressed with the film. It was not a bad film. It had some good moments, which included a showdown between Edward and James at Bella’s old dance school in Phoenix. But it certainly was not a good one. Between Hardwicke’s lethargic direction, Rosenberg’s screenplay and the mildly interesting performances by the cast, I failed to become a fan of this movie.