A photograph of future fashions from television past. Space: 1999 costumes, on display at the July, 1995 Command Conference Convention, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.. Symbolic of this part of my life are these immobile mannequins, emphasising the rigidly unyielding disposition of Space: 1999 fans and of the president of the Space: 1999 fan club in which I wasted so much time in this era; also, the unmoving mannequins represent stasis in my life in 1992-7.
I have already outlined the distinguishing characteristics of Era 6. My life more or less at an occupational stand-still. Much wasted time trying to foster favourable adjustment of attitude in Space: 1999 fandom. My returns to the Miramichi region of New Brunswick tailing to at most one annual visit. Possibly only just for one night. Maybe even only a "day trip". New friendships near home in Fredericton that were to flounder due to decade of age difference and, it would seem, insufficient affinity for me, and my occasional lapses in quality of sociability being received with far less tolerance than before. Glacial but eventually quite progressive movement toward better social integration.
Though in and of itself, this era is rather a static, by times frustrating unit of time, I do note its grandiose event, a trek in 1995 across the North American continent. A journey which, despite being unavailing in a quest for validation, did portend an overdue revelation, in person and not through mail correspondence or telephone conversations, of how unresponsive to intelligently written persuasion and how negative-opinion-as-fact, absolute-posturing, blinkered, and locked-tight-minded that the fans of Space: 1999 are. Sufficient to begin my long-overdue pull-back from fandom. And by the end of this era, after a "false start" or two, I will have found a job path that would in the 2000s lead me to full-time employment.
Also, although decreasing in most cases into non-existence sometime within this era, my association with friends of the 1980s in Fredericton did for the most part become distinctly pleasant, leaving a sense of, I suppose, satisfactory closure. I was not to see most of those people again.
Before I proceed with chronicling of the events and examining the effect of this era, I propose first to go back to what has been said in my detailing of previous eras and to qualify- or further qualify- some previous statements which may be disconcerting to friends who could be reading this autobiography.
I have, yes, been candid in identifying best friends in the different life eras. But such status given to certain friends is not meant to downplay the importance or the esteem of the other friends who were part of my life. As I have said, each friend was an essential part, filling a vital function, in a way of things that was to have fondly remembered and yearned-for quality. In Douglastown and Era 2, Michael was, yes, the friend who lived nearest to me, who was with me more often and in longer amounts of time than others, who telephoned or visited with me most often, and whose range of activity with me was widest. He was one of two friends who, on separate times, travelled with me to my grandparents' house in Fredericton and stayed there with me for a few days. And in addition to that were some sleep-overs at my place and at his. In terms of sheer amount of time together and variety of what was done together, plus his resolve and initiative to stay in contact with me after I moved from Douglastown to Fredericton, Michael was definitively a buddy of first rank. Other friends may have matched Michael in some of these capacities or matched or even exceeded him in some respects not here mentioned, and each of those friends may have been my best friend under different circumstances. But all things considered altogether, Michael does rather come in the lead. But that is not to say that he by himself would have been enough for Era 2 to be such a successful and desirable period of time. And in some specific areas, other friends did in fact have an "edge".
Michael and Ev were both willing to acknowledge and share in my attachments to entertainments, though Ev could be more versed than Michael in the discussion of technical details of a production or aspects of a world or universe depicted in a production. Michael would marvel with me at the overall look of an entertainment, in addition to partaking with me in the fun that was to be enjoyed, in playing scenarios of such entertainment, or making things that we saw in the entertainment. Ev and I played Planet of the Apes in 1974, but for the most part we talked about the particulars of entertainments, their fictional universes and how they were made, while Ev and I talked in Ev's backyard. Ev had a wide range of interests, and it helped to keep my perspective on entertainment as broad as possible, preventing me from concentrating my attention on certain entertainments to the exclusion of numerous others in which my peers at school might be interested. Though their socialising with me with regard to entertainments was different in focus, I appreciated both of them for their association with me in matters of entertainment and in my responses to works of entertainment.
David F. was more fascinated with the artistic aspects of something of shared interest than was Ev or Michael. He was perhaps closest to me in how I responded to a work of entertainment and in what sorts of entertainment to which we were most receptive. Having someone like him close to me at school was a definite asset. And he was sometimes concerned about how excessive I might occasionally be in, for example, my emulating of cartoon characters and so forth. But it was my own good about which he was concerned.
Johnny and Rob's presence in the summers was key in distinguishing summer from the other seasons of each year. Their enthusiasm and their from-away (i.e. Ontario) viewpoints on matters of entertainment and life in general, indeed merits acclaim, and whatever might have been happening to my relationship with Johnny toward the end of my Douglastown years, I owe both of them, together with Michael, an enormous debt in helping me to emerge as much as I did from my shyness that had defined Era 1. And I owe same to Kevin MacD., the friend whose success at popular socialising and friend-making and whose outgoing nature captured my admiration and my determination to impress and to make some progress out of my "shell", as it were, at school.
These people were all integral and necessary in the magnificence to Era 2. They were superb friends on their individual part, in addition to forming a collective whole. If I do now envision a less than satisfying extension to my life in Douglastown had I stayed there past 1977, that is a projected future coming about due to the collective whole being broken by Michael's leaving (which would have happened whether I stayed or not) and by some unfavourable (to me) change in the size of learning establishment and the circumstances, the social patterns of later schooling, a change to which I would have responded negatively, sullenly, as was typical of me. And my friends at school would have been disconcerted by that, and we would have diverged. This by no means clouds my appreciation and yearning for repatriation with that era of my life and with all of the friends who had been part of it.
And in Fredericton, in Era 4, I specify Joey as my best friend per the amount of time he spent with me, the number of visits at my place and his, his telephone calls, and the many times that he came to my defence and support and listened sympathetically and encouragingly to me, plus his willingness to join me in my interests in television, movies, and so forth, provided that he was not "turned off" by the connection, in a particular entertainment interest, with another friend or by how I approached the matter of assistance in videotape showings of a work of entertainment. The others had roles of significance, too, in the opportunities to copy videocassette recordings, in the talking-about of the television programmes, theatrical films, etc. about which I was enthused, and in the playing of baseball and other games which were fun and fulfilling more often than not. I miss all of those people. It was my fault first and foremost, that my friendships with Joey and the others did not stay on their desired course. And my responsibility that the mistakes that I made permitted rivals for the time and attention of those friends to gain umbrage.
Era 2 and Era 4 together form the basis of my ideals. Ideals for friendship. Ideals for how friends in association with myself respond to television programmes and so forth. Ideals for happily (in the main) existing in a neighbourhood and wider world. And my personality, refined though it would be, flourishes most in the memory of Eras 2 and 4, and in the belief in the integral role that I and my favourite productions had in the social fabric of the places in which I lived in those times. I derive virtually all of my humanity from my happy days in those eras, from the relationships that I had then, and from the imaginative entertainments that were of shared interest amongst myself and friends. And every, and I mean every, friend in those eras is a vital component to the overall positive nature of the 1972-7 and 1982-7 time periods. Subsequent loss of what I had in those eras forms part of my psyche, too. Countervailing, negative tendencies in me, tendencies toward pessimism, self-defeatism, being prone to a wary, moping, brooding, cynical introversion when frustrated and to inadvertent faux-pas on some social occasions, and perhaps self-fulfilling prophecies for current friendships are all the yield of such devastating loss and of what I went through during the years post-Era 2 and post-Era 4. Tendencies all of which need to be fought and which need to be understood in their context by friends of old and friends new. Old friends can detect these less appealing character traits, the baggage that I accumulated in my interpersonally poorer times of life, and they might find themselves recoiling from me as a result. I must endeavour constantly to emphasise and to show the better aspects of my personality. But being human, I can sometimes fail.
So, of my self, the ennobling and baleful units are, respectively, attributable to my positive life eras and to the loss of what I prized in those. I can also be provoked to my negative inclinations when the television shows or other items of significance to me in those cherished eras come under massed assault by arrogant people who declare them utterly worthless, comparing them to garbage or feces, and thereby cheapening if not debasing my experience with them and the nostalgic and aesthetic appreciation that I have for them. Especially when these disagreeable opinions are touted as factual and acknowledged as the legitimate ones. And in outright dismissal and even ridicule of my, what ought to be compelling, defences, along artistic "lines", of the imaginative works concerned.
Unfortunately, I would succumb routinely to my less agreeable tendencies for as long as I was subjected to the derogatorily contrary remarks of such people as Space: 1999 fans or, as I would encounter in later years on the Internet, the invalidations of similarly slanted and blinkered fans, in sizable "same-think" majority, of cartoons. Epithets by passer-by persons in my neighbourhood environs faulting me for being alone, certainly cannot help. Snubbing of me for my occasional stumbles as I tried to put into effective use the instructions that I was receiving from self-improvement books, could be somewhat taxing on me, too. I would need to control my inclinations toward negativity and sulky introversion if I was to have any hope of building new, lasting relationships. And with a galvanised capacity for empathy, for identifying with and understanding others. Alas, even an occasional lapse could have devastating consequences for new friendships formed in Era 6 and in years thereafter.
I am a Wednesday's child. And Wednesday's children are full of woe, so my mother has often proclaimed. I am also an only-child. Perhaps I was predetermined to be in the state in which I have existed for most of my life. Teetering on the edge of depressing loneliness and oftentimes falling over that edge, only being kept from descending deep into the abyss by present social connections or pleasant memories of friendships past, be they those of Era 2 or of Era 4, and the entertainments that my friends followed and enjoyed with me.
I cannot dispute that this autobiography at times, and most especially in my writing of the conditions in Era 5, possibly- or probably- can seem to a reader to be a litany of woe-is-me laments and even of melodramatic, "over-the-top" self-pity. I may have appeared to cross the boundary to excessiveness in my telling about the collapse of the way of things of Era 4 and in my detailing of my reactions to the changes at the time as compared to my viewpoint now on those changes and their causes. But it was a time of upheaval and tribulation in my life which affected my style of living- and how I reacted to my style of living- for many, many years to follow. I do need to be thorough in defining how the Era-4-to-Era-5 transition impacted me in order to understand how I proceeded to conduct myself in the years thereafter and why I reacted as I did to particular changes in the quality of my life. Also, I have also been told, by some decidedly non-objective persons, granted, that I write poorly when I am trying to express my less than positive feelings about an untoward event or events or a way of things that affects me unfavourably. To use an oft-utilised colloquial adjective, I come across as "bitchy" in my writing when I am expressing myself in the written word on matters about which I have dismay or am rather less than fully agreeable. My negativity seems much too excessive. And sometimes I am interpreted as being deliberately abrasive when I am trying to constructively express concern about a direction in which a relationship is moving.
However, the fact is that, in this autobiography, I have been critical of myself far, far more than I have been of anyone else in my life, and for good reason as I must hold myself accountable for my errors that did push friendships into rather turbulent seas, either for a short while or for much longer. And I judge myself guilty for failing to look at the ensuing situations from the perspective of my friends and for instead assessing the situations from entirely the wrong angles or premises. An occasional observation, almost always meant with constructive hindsight, about a friend's reaction to me, to my own perhaps perplexing action or lack of actions, is not meant to criticise or denigrate him. It just is essential in my initiative to better understand the entire chain of events that led to our being apart.
Further, there is not any intended slighting at any time in my descriptive introductions, within autobiographical recall of the Eras 2, 3, and 4, of my friends. The lion's share of my recounting of many of my friends' quite memorable childhood traits, habits, or ways, is meant with a smile in fond reminiscence. Even some of the disconcerting tendencies that I may mention of friends (e.g. Tony's somewhat finicky approach to judging people appropriate for associating with him, or some of the less amenable, to me then, personality factors in the people with whom I was friends early in Era 3) are remembered only as to put into context how it was for me in interacting with those friends on occasion or over a period of time. I do hope that these persons of yesteryear acquaintance and friendship to me, if they should happen to come upon this Internet-uploaded story of my life, will not judge me harshly for such honest remembering of our sporadically, or in some cases regularly, shaky relationship back then. I certainly also hope that my not shrinking from self-criticism would help to neutralise any feeling of offence in the present for my friends of yesteryear. None is intended.
Additionally, I acknowledge that we (myself included, of course) were all children then, in the process of learning and developing. We should not be "bearing crosses" in adulthood over how we acted sometimes as children. I should emphasise that this acknowledgement applies to friends. My enemies, my rivals, my detractors at school, people who taunted and berated me on the baseball field; these are rather difficult to assimilate into such a beneficent mindset. Doubtless, some of them likely still look upon me rather less than favourably. Yes, it is a Christian, in addition to a psychologically healthy, virtue to forgive, and even if those people who impacted my life negatively do not feel penitent, I should at least try to "cut them some slack". But it is difficult. Very difficult. Exceedingly difficult. I love my friends, and I did deplore and detest my enemies. Such is being frank, and there is no reason that I can see now, today, for not being frank. Even with the awareness that I was anything but a perfect friend, neighbourhood co-habitant, and so forth, it still is quite a daunting challenge to "let go" of some of my own disagreeable feelings toward those who undeniably were antagonists in the story of my life. As for fans of Space: 1999 and other entertainments, persons who in my adulthood subjected me to quite displeasing and sometimes despicable circumstances, they are even more problematic when it comes to forgiveness.
But returning to the subject of my friends- the people who I wish to forgive me for my failings, if I do extrapolate a difficult or insurmountable transition, from elementary school to junior high school, in relationship with a friend or friends had I stayed in Douglastown, this comes more from my probable "off-putting" behaviours at the time than from doubt of the "lasting power" of a friend's fidelity to me under changing and reduced opportunities for social connection. Unquestionably, my friends in childhood and very early adulthood were far, far more forgiving than were my friends of later times. And my relationships with them far more resilient than were my associations with friends met post-1987. But even those earlier friendships did have a "breaking point", though perhaps not of a permanent "breakage". I must not "cut any corners" in examining the factors, most especially my own errs, of course, in what brought a friend and I to a "breaking point". In the case of new friendships in Era 6, the "breaking points" were more numerous despite by and large successful effort by me toward self-improvement. And they were more numerous because the new friends evidently lacked the affinity for me and the understanding of me that comes of knowing me in my years of upbringing. If I said anything at all imprecise in a rushed conversation or my mood was to any extent less than fully cheery causing words to sound somewhat less than fully genial or fully enthused, those friends would greet me with a cold shoulder, a snub, on our next encounter, while they were fully attentive, and acted definitely partial, to the people with them. They would snub me as they walked past me with friends of theirs accompanying them (very difficult, it is, for me to not be myself offended by such an action, my impulse in consequence being to withdraw and stew). And then, rather than come to me thereafter, motivated toward full restoration of amiable relations and spirit of friendship, they would distance themselves, requiring me on the street to call to them by their name and start conversation. They would not be receptive to talking about what caused the temporary breach in our rapport, and we would simply continue onward from there, until the next unintentionally contentious words came forth from my mouth. Time and time again, this was how it went. If I had been the shy one that I was earlier in life and did not approach my new friends in these unpleasant circumstances, they, I suppose, were prepared to dispense, for all time, with me. And all over some unfortunate glitch in my communication in some less than ideal moment. They snubbed me in front of their other friends, and I was the one among us who was tasked to make amends, time and time again.
I know that I am guilty of doing rather the same thing post-1987 with Joey, although in that case it was because I did not feel wanted in Joey's social life. It was not because of words spoken and misunderstood.
In most instances in my life of a friendship entering tempestuous passage, it has been due to some misunderstanding. And misunderstandings were most frequent with post-1987 friends. And not just as a result of actions misinterpreted (though I grant that such still happened sometimes), but also of misinterpreted words. Friends misinterpreting my words, or me mistaking theirs, seldom, if ever, occurred, as far as I am aware, within relationships with all persons of prized presence in my life prior to the end of Era 4. When I did "snap" at Joey in 1986 or early 1987, he did interpret correctly what the problem was and soon was committing himself to correcting it. Friendships formed post-1987 would not be graced by so motivated, knowing, and generous an initiative on the part of the other person. I would need to recover from my immediate inclination to withdraw and stew, and myself do or say what was required to restore good relations.
Why the difference with regard to misunderstandings of words spoken, pre- and post-1987? Why practically none to speak of, prior to the late 1980s and a slew of them with friends made in the years after 1987? I cannot claim to have been anything close to a perfect communicator during pre-1987 eras, though I was, with my friends then, rather more comfortable with being myself than I would admittedly be later, in the 1990s, during my endeavour to adapt myself to what self-improvement books were advising. I will grant that the upgraded personality, including expressing interest in other people's pastimes, tastes, and day-to-day lives and being a more outgoing person, which I was adapting unto myself, did not always immunise me from sometimes feeling down-spirited when alone for long periods of time and especially when I was experiencing more and more irritation, provocation, and alienation in my continued involvement in the Space: 1999 fan organisation. Or when I was subjected to passer-by gibes from people while on my solitary walks (Frederictonians love to holler derogatory remarks at solitary walkers when in cars passing those walkers). I could lapse from my bettered manner and to new friends lacking context in which to place such a lapse, it may have been quite disaffecting indeed. There was also something of a superficiality in those new friendships, and by that I felt inhibited, kept from comfortably talking about whatever was putting me in less upbeat, less responsive, less amenable mood. They would not interpret my being depressed over loneliness or over some, to us, extraneous circumstance, as having such causes. Rather, to their thinking, I was being apathetic to them, or I was being wilfully obtuse, and icily, snootily forfeiting their friendly inclinations to me.
And I cannot dismiss the possibility of some remnants of my angry disposition of the late 1980s manifesting themselves within what I intended to be innocuous conversation with friends who had had no knowledge of me in those years. They would detect lingering anger or displeasure, mainly or wholly then rooted in my unconscious, and not trace these things to their origins. They would think such to be directed, unjustifiably, at them and thus be offended. I must consider this to have probably been part of the reason for latter-day friendships floundering in the gate or shortly after emerging from the gate. But I would say that it was not the sole reason. My friends of Eras 2, 3, 4 were, I believe, more willing than those first met later in life, to give to me the benefit of the doubt with regard to words spoken. If I did perhaps botch something that I was trying to say, and my gaffe sounded potentially troubling, irksome, or upsetting, they would ask me immediately to explain what I meant. They would request clarification. They would not say, "See ya," to me at the end of our day's time together and then when next we encountered one another, treat me as persona non grata. Certainly not over something misspoken by me. And it was not that I was never angry, uptight, or troubled in those days by some incident or circumstance arising from outside of the interaction in a particular friendship.
I think that a newspaper article read recently during my writing of this part of my autobiography may yield an answer to this. Old friends are the most stalwart friends. Old friends who knew me as I was going from childhood to adulthood and who had experienced with me several of the events or entertainments or whatever, that contributed to defining my personality, have a much more robust and more generous capacity for understanding, forgiving, and doing their part in the making of amends after our friendship has hit rough tides, even when causing such was mostly or wholly my fault. I cannot dispute the premise of the newspaper article; my experience has been in tandem with what the article says.
I am not saying that it is impossible for a new friend to be a best friend, but it requires a degree of gregariousness, a capacity for empathy and understanding in hearing about and imagining a friend's past experiences, a willingness to give benefit of the doubt at all times, an amount of patience and forgiveness, an extent of dedication, and a resoluteness in initiative, that has been proved in my experience to be rare, very rare. Especially in Fredericton. Some people may possess a number of these qualities, but few people have all of them. And all of them are needed for a successful, everlasting best friendship with someone met after my eighteenth birthday. Old friends who understand me through shared past experience in formative years, do have a distinct "edge" in the matter of best friendship. New friends need all of these qualities to match that "edge".
All of this having been said, I do concede that by 1992, I was not quite the same as I had been in the early-to-mid-1980s. I had spent vast amounts of time alone. Brooding. Stewing. Indulging usually plaintive reveries. Reminiscing longingly about the past, i.e. Era 2. Wishing that I had not come to Fredericton. Permitting myself to think very negatively about Fredericton and its people for quite some time. I had been through some considerable turmoil with fans of Space: 1999, and with more of that to come. Fellow New Brunswick Space: 1999 fan and aesthete Dean's exceedingly grim analysis of me in 1990 still had me in rather a dither, punctuated by anxiety attacks and mood swings, though by 1992 I was making tentative, conscious progress out of it. My mother helped me very much in this regard, and there were self-improvement books to which I was attentive and responsive. The conscious mind is one thing. The unconscous mind is another. And for me problematic, in my efforts to put behind me ill feelings over the end of Era 4 and my self-doubt after my botched association with Dean and the adverse effects of any manifestation of any of that upon my social existence.
In 1992, I had what I then termed friend contacts within Space: 1999 fandom. Friend contacts. Pen pals. Or sometimes, more simply put, friends. The Calgarian running the Space: 1999 fan club was still in my life, and I had also made contact with a young man of Regina, Saskatchewan with keen interest in Space: 1999. The Reginan and I started writing letters to each other in 1991. He was collecting the laser videodiscs of Space: 1999 and was sharing impressions of them with me, along with some copies of them on VHS videotape that he provided to me. Those VHS videotape copies of his laser videodiscs included episodes that were in some way deficient in their YTV showings, because of cuts to the episodes, or time-compression, or old film elements of poor quality, and some episodes not on YTV at all, plus a few others. Episodes such as "Breakaway", "Another Time, Another Place", "The Last Sunset", "End of Eternity", "War Games", "The Last Enemy", "The Infernal Machine", "Mission of the Darians", "Dragon's Domain", "The Metamorph", "The Exiles", "Space Warp", "The Lambda Factor", and "The Immunity Syndrome". The episodes transferred to VHS videotape from laser videodisc looked better than ever in my experience. Short of having the laser videodiscs themselves, which I would desire to become a reality, this was the best possible audio-visual experience of Space: 1999 in the 1990s. Sadly, the laser videodiscs suffered from shoddy manufacture and would all fall victim to "laser rot". They had their pressings done at the infamous Philips and DuPont Optical production facility in the U.K., which used water-based glue as its adhesive. More on this later.
Though having a preference for Season 1 of Space: 1999 over Space: 1999's Season 2, my Regina friend contact seemed to be a very humble and thoroughly agreeable person. And he and I both were enthusiasts of many of the same things. Not only Space: 1999 but several other works of science fiction/fantasy. And collecting our favourite entertainments on home video formats. Before long, we were also talking on the telephone. I had an additional two Space: 1999 fan contacts, one in eastern Ontario, and another in Florida. I did not receive correspondence from them as often as I did from the pen pal in Regina and the club president in Calgary. Events of 1995 near the middle of this life era would bring all of this to an end. I will come to that.
I must add that my contact in Calgary, the fan club president, was also pen pals with the young man in Regina. They had been in contact with each other before the Reginan and I were writing letters to each other. In 1994, the Calgarian would delegate the printing of the fan club newsletter to the Reginian, who had computer software for "desktop publishing". By that time, the Calgarian had fallen behind schedule in newsletter printing and distribution. The periods of time between newsletters had been widening in 1993 and 1994, and there did not seem to be a solution to the problem other than the president relinquishing the newsletter printing responsibilities, "turning them over" to someone else (while still exercising right of approval of everything in the newsletter before publication). The Calgarian was reluctant to do this, the lateness of the newsletters increased, and I became so concerned with the longer and longer wait for the next newsletter (and with no end in sight to the increasingly long delays in newsletter printing) that I did write a letter to the Calgarian with a somewhat stern reminder of the right of the club members to receive newsletters that their dues are paying for, and a reminder also that I supported him in the past on several promises that he had made, one of them being no late newsletters. Definitely not chronically late newsletters. I was also critical of increasing bias against Season 2 Space: 1999 within the newsletter and in other fan club output. The Calgarian finally conceded to someone else doing the newsletter printing, and for that the Reginan was a choice of which I expressed hearty approval. More on this later.
Fredericton-residing new friends that I was to have in this life era were younger than me by as much as close to a decade. I had new friends through the College and Career Group at my grandmother's church, and later some new friends in university film courses, and, in the earlier half of this life era, some younger friends in my neighbourhood who I would often see on my walks and who would talk with me, usually initiating conversation with me.
As regards the last set of friends mentioned in the paragraph before this one, what can I say? It was the 1990s, and I was in my twenties. I would never form friendships like those today. I would not have so much as a brief conversation on the street with someone younger than I, or with anyone else, for that matter. I talk sometimes with my nearest neighbours of a generation older than mine, and that is the limit of my social connection in my neighbourhood. Back then, I thought differently. Differently and, I would now say, unwisely.
Although those much younger friends of my neighbourhood were happy to socialise, usually initiating conversation, whenever our paths did cross in the Nashwaaksis Fulton Heights area, and sometimes talking with me for an appreciable length of time (though usually not for much more than a few minutes), I still was without companionship for a bulk of the summers- and for most of the other seasons too. Summers continued to be very demoralising as I languished in loneliness for days or weeks at a time, acutely aware of what I continued to be missing in what had earlier in life been the best of the four seasons. It follows that I could be rather less than cheerful, despite my resolve to appear cheerful, during some such periods of time. With low morale can come lapsing toward self-defeatism, sulkiness, cynicism. And ignorant remark(s) by passer(s)-by can accentuate my displeasure. My gloom would not fully lift immediately if random chance had at last brought myself and one of my new friends together. And unlike Joey, they would not lend an ear to me for saying how I felt and why; they just jumped to conclusions, unfavourable conclusions, about my sometimes less than sunny manner.
Furthermore, having been an only-child in my family and almost never having been present when a friend injured himself, if any friends ever did, I was scarcely experienced in administering First Aid, or even in witnessing another person in distress after an injury in which skin was broken and blood was spilling. Not even in seeing someone besides myself having a bloody nose; even that had been outside of the events that did comprise my past. Movies and television shows are not exactly admissible in this matter, for those are works of fiction. But in regard to those even, I could shudder or become upset at gruesome, graphic depictions. What a time to discover that I was squeamish about real-life incidents of "body horror", of quite deep bodily injury and rather copious blood spillage, than in 1992 when a new friend's younger brother had a serious accident!
It was Saturday, June 13, 1992. Yes, it seems that it is not only Fridays the thirteenth on which rotten luck can be manifest. Unfortunately, I sensed no portents of misfortune as I embarked upon a mid-afternoon stroll, which by then had come to include the Nashwaaksis streets of Melvin and Broad, reached via Longwood Drive and then Woodmount Drive followed by Epworth Circle and what was known as Epworth Park. Epworth Park was an area of a some trees, a few bushes, an expanse of lawn, and at that time a slide and a set of swings, and was situated between northeasternmost Epworth Circle and the north end of Melvin Street. In Epworth Park that entirely cloudy Saturday, chance brought me into contact with a new, young friend and one of his friends who were in the park. My new friend's younger brother was also with them, and they were indulging in some mischief with a few firecrackers. What misgivings I had about their activity I chose not to express as I conversed with my new friend for a few minutes. When one of their firecrackers sounded in its characteristically loud and sudden way, my budding friend's brother reeled backward and fell against a decrepit, partially uprooted tree stump. Protruding wood from the stump ruptured the boy's lower back right leg inches above the ankle. The gash was deep, almost to the bone, and large. And he was wearing shorts, which meant that his leg was exposed to the full thrusting force of wood in his fall. The sight of the injury upset me to an extent previously outside of my experience. I felt queasy. My spine felt a revolted chill. I froze. Far from having no empathy, I could feel the pain and the panic of my friend's brother. I shuddered. And I was aghast at the sight of the deep wound and the blood and could not bear to look at such for anything more than a few seconds before I had to turn around. And I was frustrated that I could not bring myself to spring into emergency action or say much of anything. Finally, my new friend's plea of, "Help us!" spurred me to run with them to his and his brother's house on Melvin Street. Thank goodness that their parents were at home as I was flustered, dumbfounded, quite useless in the situation! Within less than a minute, the parents had their injured son in their car for transportation to Fredericton's Doctor Everett Chalmers Hospital, and my new friend and his buddy joined them for the hurried car-drive to the hospital. During the crisis as my friend's parents were deciding what to do, I responded to my friend's friend's suggestion of telephoning 911 by thinking aloud about the worst possible outcome of the emergency and whether a 911 telephone call would bring help in sufficient time. These were undeniably indelicate things for me to verbalise in front of my friend and his friend, but there was no intent that I know of, to hurt or instill profounder state of panic. Not that I am aware. Granted, I had a couple of days earlier been rebuffed in my latest effort to reconstruct full functional friendship with Joey, a rebuff that I can now perceive as being a result of insufficiently considered action on my part and what must have seemed to him to be inconsistency between some of my words and acts. At that time, though, I was reacting rather angrily to Joey's rejection of my most recent overture to him. And also, I was under no illusions as to my new friend's brother's regard for me, which was rather less than amiable. Unconsciously, maybe some of these items did influence my verbalisations during the time of crisis. But I was totally un-cognisant of what I had said and confused about why my new friend was looking at me in the perplexed way that he did, as he was leaving for the hospital with his brother, his friend, and his parents in the family car. But I was in fact rather more mentally occupied with concern for the life and health of my friend's sibling.
And a couple of days later, on another overcast afternoon, I encountered my new friend, his friend, and a few others in the same park and asked as to the condition of my friend's brother. I was spoken to quite harshly by my friend's friend, told how careless and ostensibly heartless my words two days earlier had been and how damaging they were to my new friendship and to my image in the eyes of my new friend's family. Astonished at what I was hearing being conveyed at me in accusatory manner, I could not find any words to express how regretful that I felt and how at a loss I was to sufficiently explain what had "come over me" to have spoken so indelicately. Panic, perhaps? Frustration at how I had been responding to the crisis, maybe? I just did not know. Much contemplation would be required to arrive at the answer or answers. "Thinking quickly on my feet" when under challenge to defend my integrity or when being "pressed" for answers about my recent words or deeds, is not a particular skill of mine. I doubt that many introverts have such skill. In my case, another unfortunate result of a sheltered early childhood and of there having been little or no need to develop a specific social ability in further years in my upbringing. It staggered me, it "blew my mind", that I could have said what I did- even unwittingly, and that I could have so stupidly "put skids" upon what had appeared to be a promising new social connection, albeit one with a person nearly a decade younger than myself. Especially after the strife, the distress, the anguish over an earlier inadvertent mistake of substantial proportion, with Dean in 1989-90. Many days of soul-searching followed this encounter with my new friend and his quite outspoken compadre. Yet further proof this did seem of how detrimental my Fredericton solitariness and my preoccupations with the past had been, and of how necessary that it was for me to change my ways, and pronto.
Alas, such is easier said than done. Particularly when I was struggling to "make inroads" with an old best friend and when my self-esteem kept collapsing like a pile of wooden blocks losing essential foundation, due to my dismal failures in such a yearned-for regard and also because of my woebegone aims within a Space: 1999 fan club- to say nothing of Dean's judgments of me in 1990. And, as I was now also discovering, my evident ineptitude in the building of new friendships. I still did not really comprehend why I was continuing to lapse into my 1987-90 modes of in-Fredericton, in-Nashwaaksis conduct, despite my fervent wishes that I may successfully coopt the sage counsel in self-improvement books. Indeed, my impulse, "second-nature" by then, to not return amicable gesture when I was passed by Joey while he was in the company of his buddies and I was alone, was proving very difficult to overcome. Summer and autumn of 1992 were gloomy times for my relations with Joey. I was to blame my anger over losing his friendship for my affronting demeanour in my relationship with my new associates and friends. While some of this may have been true, there was much, much more by way of explanation; the state of my personality by 1992 was an effect of rather more complex and sundry causes, a number of which were intrinsic to me and to my development.
Nonetheless, during that time, late 1992, I thought my displeasure over what seemed perpetual separation from my Era 4 best friend, and from others of same era, to be something needing expression in order for me to be free of it. I regret to say that I, pessimistically, judged my friendship with Joey to then, in 1992, be irreparable, and I sought to expunge from myself my anger by stating it to him, perhaps the first time that I cogently told him of how really upset, how emotionally hurt that I had been by the events, as I had been seeing them, of our friendship's sinking in 1987 and 1988 and of certain later events, situations, conditions. Actually, I can now perceive that outpouring of displeasure as actually having been quite beneficial in how it helped Joey to understand my "side of the story", as it were, and to perceive that my snubbing of him had come from hurt-feeling rather than from snobbery. But I then meant the anger that I was expressing to be part of a "giving up", a resigning of myself to defeat in a "good-bye-and-good-luck" statement. I did not know that, eventually, what I was saying would help Joey and I to arrive at something of a lasting reconciliation.
Arguably the incorrect path of action in which for me to go was to pull back from more attempts at repatriation with Joey and other Era 4 friends and associates, and to put most all social attention and initiative into my relations with still younger associates who had no knowledge of my upbringing, of the circumstances, happenings, entertainment preferences, etc. that, to positive effect or no, had shaped my character, my personality. Those friendships were on shaky ground for the age difference alone. And some of them were on-the-street friendships of a most casual nature. And that was all that those friendships ever could be, really. I only saw those people on my walks. Their regular presence with me and their attention and their friendliness to me was most welcome, of course. Like water to a man dying of thirst on a desert. When I left home for one of my walks, the chances were good that I would encounter one or more of them. Conversely, my chances of seeing and talking with old friends during my walks were very slim. I occasionally saw an old friend during a walk, but it was unusual. As I stepped outside to begin a walk, I looked forward to encounters with my new friends, and on most of those encounters they were outgoing toward me and interested in talking with me. But it was not a practical situation, and the years of this life era would constitute a social cul-de-sac. I had hope that as my new friends of neighbourhood became older that friendship with me would flourish, but that hope was unrealistic. "Coming of age" for them meant driving their own cars and eliminating their time spent on foot on the streets of the neighbourhood, and they had no inclination to include me in their social life beyond the on-the-street talks that we used to have. Their early adulthood was to be spent going across Fredericton to house parties and frequenting drinking establishments with their peers. I would only see them at the controls to their automobiles as they passed me on the street at fifty kilometres per hour. Sometimes they would wave to me, and sometimes not.
I do often wish that I had not gone for a walk on the afternoon of Saturday, June 13, 1992. Then, I would not have been there when the aforementioned accident involving a new friend's brother's leg occurred and would therefore not have blundered foot in mouth like I did so disgracefully. I was useless anyway when it came to helping in that situation. And I only hurt the cause of my impression upon my new friend and persons close to him. But would it have made much of a difference, if any, in the future of my friendship with that person? I now doubt it. He did appear to forgive me, and we continued for quite some time to be friends on the street. Quite cordial together on many days. Some days he would call out my name and even call me buddy as he passed me while he was seated in the back of a motor vehicle with his friends. And that warmed my heart very, very much. But sometimes something I said did not "come out all right", my bearing on a given day was, conscious or unconscious, lacking in positive thought, or the intent in something that I said was not as clear as it should have been, and I would receive a "cold shoulder" when next we encountered each other. My friendship with him was something of a rollercoaster ride. Ups and downs.
Much as I wish I had not present that day in that park, my faux-pas of June 13 was much-needed cogent evidence of the unhealthy condition in which I had lived for several years. It emphasised further how vital, how necessary it was for me to reorient myself as much as possible from past to present, to give more attention and forethought in conscience to what I was saying or doing, to put aside the animosity that I had been feeling toward Fredericton, to rid myself somehow of the anger and resentment fueling my anti-Fredericton disposition and being a likely cause of my unconscious foot-in-mouth problem, and to rediscover fully and empower the capacity for empathy and for understanding others' perspectives, that I had slowly been developing in the first twenty-one years of my life, through socialising often, daily, in the present. Difficult did this seem to be, with uncertainty on any given day of pleasant social connection, and with certain other concerns, e.g. relations and status with Space: 1999 fans, weighing upon my frame of mind. I could certainly have benefited from more enlightened ways of looking at the end of Era 4 and the causes thereof, than what I had until then cogitated. But such still had not yet really come about.
What I will say is that however limited, however tenuous, however transitory, my relationships with new friends of my neighbourhood were, those friends, and especially one in particular, my friend on Melvin Street, did help me. Helped me to realign my priorities away from mourning the loss of past situation and to "try out" some of the modification recommended in self-improvement books which I was reading in the early 1990s. And the occasional "cold-shouldering" I received from him did help me to develop an ability to regard my words and actions from viewpoints other than that which I initially will have as my own. It was most unfortunate that I was having problems with unconscious lapses in my sociability and spoken communication that were "off-putting", perplexing, or offencive to him. But I was at least aware of the problems, and soon arrived at a recognition of what was at the root of them. This was an important component in my developing ability to see my words and actions and outcomes of them things from more than one angle.
That ability developed over time in the 1990s and early 2000s. In 1992, though, I did have a "long way to go" yet. But I was making progress in second half of 1992 and early 1993 in consciously aligning myself away from nostalgic reverie and resentment-fuelled rumination and toward living determinedly and optimistically, sprightfully in the present. But my subconscious was stubborn. It was not readily "letting go" of the past, and my cadence or my tone of voice when conversing was not always as congenial and gentle as I wanted such to be, or my choice of words under a momentary subconsious influence would be indelicate.
On Good Friday in April of 1993, I was walking to home from a store on Main Street and encountered my friend from Melvin Street and his friend. We were walking in the same direction up Moss Avenue and talked for the duration of our parallel perambulation. At some point of time in the conversation, I said to my friend, "You see. You're not as bad at Math as you think you are." I was ignored by him when next there was a chance meeting by us, and after I recovered from the immediate dismay and hurt from the snubbing, I surmised that it was that particular statement by me to which he had umbrage, him evidently thinking about it after we had parted on Easter Friday (there was no indication of any offence when I left him and his friend as our paths diverged that day) and considering it to be offencive. It had to be that, I reckoned. He never told me what I had said to cause him to spurn me on our next encounter. I had to guess, and guess correctly. I should have said, "You're better with Math than you think you are." The word, bad, should not have been used. And yes, my cadence or my tone of voice when I made the statement should not have sounded brusque and "off-the-cuff", as I guessed that it did. Somehow, my stubborn subconscious and its "hang-ups" over resentments of past spurnings by friends, were influencing the quality of my conversation.
There would be more unfortunate foot-in-mouth instances like that one, followed by the snub. Our relationship was not constantly that, I hasten to add. He and I were very cordial with each other on most of our encounters. Cordial and sometimes quite convivial. But not enough to stabilise our rapport as friends and fortify it for future challenges to its adaptability and durability. Being snubbed always hurt, of course, and I acknowledge that I did offend him with my poor word choices and involuntary, untoward fluctuations in my voice. I believed, however, that knowing as I then did what my problem was meant that I would be able to counter it or eliminate it completely by being all the more attentive to conditions or circumstances that may cause it and doing a "conscious intervention", being all the more careful about modulating my voice and selecting with improved consideration and precision the words that I spoke. But I underestimated the power of the subconscious, and there would be some hurried conversation in which I did not have the time to be at my most consciously efficient in ord choices, or a day when I was in the midst of a mood swing caused by something extraneous to our friendship or when I was gradually coming out of a prolonged depressive state caused by social isolation, and I would have yet another incident of foot-in-mouth. And the time did come when our encounters in neighbourhood started to become fewer and farther between, and the length of time for us to pass through and emerge from one of these transitory glitches in friendship, became longer, the feeling of offence or of hurt being protracted and corrosive to our affinity for one another. The proverbial writing on the wall would then be plain to see. I became depressed in consequence, my tendency to inadvertently offend would manifest itself again, and so it went. Eventually, he was going everywhere by car, was no longer in the neighbourhood past the foot of his driveway. Sometimes he would wave to me as he passed me. Sometimes, he did not. By then, I was so glum and, from his point of view, apparently uninterested in him that I think that I completely and for all time lost his good will.
I do, I hasten to say, have fond recall of him and the other friends of my neighbourhood of this era. I do still appreciate them. But I doubt that for those 1992-7 friends the feeling is particularly mutual, and I must accept some of the responsibility for that. Perhaps the larger percentage of the responsibility. All things considered, though, there is something to be said for the durability and strength of friendships formed during one's pre-adulthood relative to those made later.
On the day, June 13, 1992, of my new friend's brother cutting his leg open, I remember the first half of the Doctor Who story, "The War Games", being shown that evening on MPBN. Two weeks later was "Spearhead From Space", the final Doctor Who serial in Omnibus "movie" format on MPBN and the last glimpse of the eccentric time traveler on same televiser for many years. In the weeks leading to the cancellation of Doctor Who on Maine's Public Broadcasting System (PBS) television station, a second complete run of all available Doctor Who stories had come to an end, and then there had been a string of reruns of stories involving Cybermen followed by a copious serving of Dalek-oriented Doctor Who starting with "The Daleks" and finishing with "Remembrance of the Daleks". And these had inexplicably been followed by parts one and two of "The War Games" and then "Spearhead From Space" before the Doctor and TARDIS teleported into limbo on MPBN.
As a result of the fading of the Doctor from the televisual airwaves of MPBN, the recovered-in-1992 Doctor Who story, "The Tomb of the Cybermen", from 1967, was not to be seen on that longtime broadcaster of the time-and-space-travelling alien, his companions, and their encounters with a myriad of phenomena. Fortunately, WTVS, a situated-in-Detroit Public Broadcasting Systems (PBS) television station, was available in 1992 to Fredericton cable television subscribers and was running Doctor Who late Saturday nights for some time beyond MPBN's cessation of Doctor Who telecast. And I saw "The Tomb of the Cybermen" on WTVS on a Saturday night in August of 1992. I saw it and videotape-recorded it. It was shown during a WTVS pledge drive, with interruptions in television programming for the spiels of the people asking for donations of money to keep WTVS afloat. Shown with it that night was another Doctor Who, story, "The Rescue", and something called Resistance is Useless. All Doctor Who stories on WTVS were in Omnibus "movie" versions.
And just two weeks after MPBN terminated its long association, dating back to 1984, with Doctor Who, on Saturday, July 4, YTV ceased its transmissions of Space: 1999, the final telecast being, aptly enough, of the last Space: 1999 episode, "The Dorcons". For the remainder of the television broadcast year, YTV filled Space: 1999's time slot with back-to-back episodes of a British situation-comedy television series, Bad Boyes, about a mischievous, havoc-wreaking teenaged boy, Boyes being his surname.
And so had come the end of science fiction/fantasy, or at least works of that which were to my liking, on television on Saturdays after supper. In fact, apart from Bugs Bunny and the Warner Brothers cartoons, autumn of 1992 onward looked to be something of a wasteland on television where I was concerned. WTVS' Doctor Who broadcasts were not to be seen in Fredericton for very much longer past the summer months of 1992, WTVS being dropped from the Fredericton cable television service not long after WTVS showed Doctor Who "The Tomb of the Cybermen". I cared little for YTV's autumn of 1992 slate of programming, which included Thunderbirds and Stingray, Space: 1999 producer Gerry Anderson's earlier efforts at technological future imagining, with puppets instead of people in the character roles and rather more down-to-Earth and much less stimulating settings for fantastic encounter and action. MPBN replaced Doctor Who with finance discussion television and eventually with Lawrence Welk. And YTV, which had itself been televising Doctor Who in half-hour episodic format since 1989, had, in 1992, opted to move the Time Lord's travels to late-night times of broadcast before banishing the Doctor forever from YTV transmission.
I was rather quiescent about these television programming changes, though. I had been granted what I had requested, a screening of Space: 1999 on a cable television station available in New Brunswick and in much of the Canadian nation's homes. And through this, I had been able to achieve an assemblage of Space: 1999 episodes on videocassette that far exceeded in terms of picture quality (top-notch audio from YTV was problematic) what I had previously accumulated. And my friend contact in Regina had provided me with numerous videotape copies of episodes on his Space: 1999 laser videodiscs. My primary interest then, 1992 onward, was in burnishing and completing my collection of post-1948 Warner Brothers cartoons by way of their telecasts on The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends and, when I had access thereto, Looney Tunes On Nickelodeon, in addition to commercial videocassette releases of the cartoons, including some such in 1992 (SYLVESTER & TWEETY- THE BEST YEOWS OF OUR LIVES, BUGS BUNNY- TRUTH OR HARE, THE ROAD RUNNER & WILE E. COYOTE- THE SCRAPES OF WRATH, etc.) first discovered by me in the K-Mart department store on Fredericton South's Smythe Street. ATV and its "sister" television station, ASN, were almost done with one full-year run of Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends, with each of the sixty-five installments thereof being telecast four times from September, 1991 through to September, 1992. In summer of 1992, that television series of Warner Brothers cartoon compilations was being shown by ASN weekdays at 5 P.M., and I was striving to improve upon my videotapings of the preceding autumn's early morning telecasts of same on ATV, in that ASN had a superior video signal. And I was now in possession of a SONY VHS-Hi-Fi videocassette recorder of ostensibly superior performance to that of what I had possessed previously (pre-1992).
Come autumn of 1992, ASN opted out of further televising of Merrie Melodies, and ATV reprised said television program, again in an early morning airtime. There remained a few cartoon shorts of which I desired better video or audio quality, on those Merrie Melodies installments, which had been assembled in 1990 and were to be retired in 1992 (though ATV evidently did not need to comply with that requirement; such must only have applied to U.S. television markets). So, in autumn of 1992, I still "kept tabs on" ATV's Merrie Melodies broadcasts, in addition to my appreciation and videotaping of a new season of Bugs Bunny & Tweety on ABC and ATV and several cartoons included therein which had not been seen for many years, if at all, by me and which had not been previously videotape-recorded by me for my videocassette collection. I was most particularly pleased to find on Bugs & Tweety a couple of Road Runner cartoons, "Sugar and Spies", "Rushing Roulette", that had eluded me until then (autumn of 1992) in my quest for videotape record of them, along with such cartoon shorts as "Mixed Master" (I had only before ever seen that one in French) and "Cat's Paw" (I had only ever seen clips thereof in the 26 years of my life prior to 1992). Road Runner cartoons had been absent on Bugs Bunny & Tweety for four years before their return to that television series in September of 1992. There were thirteen Road Runner cartoons in the offering for the seventh season, airing September, 1992 to March, 1993, of The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show. Some of them had been in instalments of Merrie Melodies, and several of them had been with the Nickelodeon television channel for many years before their premiere on, or triumphant return to Saturday morning American network television in 1992. "Sugar and Spies" and "Rushing Roulette" had been in the cartoon package at Nickelodeon, as, too, had been "Freeze Frame", "Scrambled Aches", "There They Go-Go-Go!", "Going! Going! Gosh!", "Hairied and Hurried", and "Guided Muscle", before they were seen in autumn of 1992 on Bugs Bunny & Tweety. Most of them I had not had a opportunity to see in my limited experience of Looney Tunes On Nickelodeon in 1991.
MITV was still showing Spiderman and Rocket Robin Hood, though by 1992 only once weekly (early Saturday mornings), and that, too, was to come to a full stop early in 1993.
So, while I was in favour and then out of favour and then in favour again with my new, young friends in the neighbourhood of Nashwaaksis within the streets near to the Maple Street and Fulton Avenue axis and the Maple Street and Douglas Avenue axis, I was attentive to and kept my videocassette recorder(s) active in the enregistering of magnetic audio-visual signals of the cartoons of Bugs Bunny, Tweety, Sylvester, the Road Runner, etc.. I was also purchasing the James Bond movies in their 1992 re-issues on VHS-Hi-Fi videotape with upgraded picture quality, "Remastered Collector's Editions", they were labeled (I especially was impressed with the colour and detail in the then new MGM/UA Home Entertainment's "remastered" VHS videotape of Diamonds Are Forever), along with the Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau movies and a few other entertainments of interest.
On a rainy Saturday evening in October of 1992, I bought on videotape (from the K-Mart store in Fredericton North's Brookside Mall) and at home watched for the first time the 1956 movie, Forbidden Planet, which impressed me for its concepts and otherworld visuals. In addition to these was a new videotape of Star Wars with improved quality of audio and sound. Indeed, in the summer and autumn of 1992 and in the winter that followed, I walked often to the Brookside Mall of Fredericton North and to the K-Mart and Zellers department stores thereat, to peruse the shelves of pre-recorded videocassettes.
Also in 1992, I started subscribing to the Columbia House STAR TREK- THE COLLECTOR'S EDITION series of two-episode videotapes, each of which arrived at my house by mail at 6-week intervals. I quite liked how Columbia House arranged the Star Trek episodes on videotapes by "stardate" as opposed to going by broadcast date or production order, and this was the first time that I would acquire pre-recorded videotapes of most of the Star Trek episodes. In many of these cases, though, I was doing what is pejoratively called by today's consumers as a "double-dip", or "triple-dip" or "quadruple-dip" as the case may be. For improved picture quality, for Hi-Fi sound, and even sometimes mainly for "spiffier" videocassette boxes.
As time would tell, it was rather a blind alley in my search of nirvana for a collector of favourite entertainment on audio-visual media. As too could be described much of what is remembered in this era of my life. New, young friends to whom my image pivoted unstably, with whom the terms of relationship did tend even at the best of times to be quite superficial, and from whom understanding of the sort which is much more apt to be found from friends from childhood, was not in abundance. Blind alley? Yes. Involvement in a fan organization in which I was hopelessly against the whooshing tide of sweepingly and smugly and condescendingly espoused majority opinion. Again, yes, a blind alley. Wariness about entering into the profession for which my most recent university programme had prepared and qualified me and then when finally going ahead and doing some supply-teaching work, discovering that the profession was not what I had been "cut out" to pursue. Blind alley, again.
If I could have foreseen the abbreviated life of those new friendships, envisaged the terminal condition of the VHS videocassette as a medium for collecting cherished entertainments, perceived correctly how impossible it would be to co-exist in Space: 1999 fandom with the hoards of increasingly rancorous, preeminent detractors of my beloved Season 2 of said television series, and been sufficiently aware of how not for me teaching in school was- and is, I would have led my substantially less nostalgic, more present-day-focused, and self-improvement-motivated way of living post-1992 into rather more long-term-availing directions.
With regard to friendship, I could have, and should have, increased, expanded, and upgraded my efforts to restore affiliations with old Fredericton friends, especially as some of them were rather amiable and sociable with me in 1992 and 1993. Improve those efforts by being distinctly more capable of and agreeable to looking at loss of their presence from different angles than from the egocentric, introverted ones with which I had initially and for a long time tenaciously regarded the losses. And had I predated my eventual entry into the television production and broadcast industry by more than three years, maybe my timing for career opportunities could have been better, with much faster attaining of employment and job advancement. And as for Space: 1999 fandom, like I have stated before in this autobiography, quietly opting out of the fan club helmed by the less than humbly beneficent Calgarian, ought to have been what I did, instead of the exercise in futility in which I engaged myself for all too many years. And VHS videocassette? It would "give way" to the far, far superior digital videodisc (DVD) in five to six years, and every videocassette in my possession was sure to be superseded eventually by more durable, more visually pleasing DVD; buying "remastered" VHS Hi-Fi videotapes of several of my favoured imaginative productions was a waste of money, and of time in purchasing them and then in examining them for video-picture glitches.
Should have. Could have. Would have. I should now desist with the ruminations on what might have been, and concentrate on what was. On my life as it was in this era stemming in no small part from decisions that I made in those years. Decisions that I regret in many cases. The stasis in my life in this era need not have happened if I had made different decisions early in this era, or in Era 5, or even in Era 4. But it did happen, and I have to recount this life era as it was.
Third and fourth quarters of 1992 continued a cooler and wetter than normal trend in weather that had been set in late spring and early summer. In a way, this was a blessing in that there were few mosquitoes and also less need for air conditioning and fan apparatuses at home. And, bucking the trend for awhile, there were some rather pleasantly warm mid-autumn days during which I raked leaves and delivered telephone directories to earn some spending dollars and also leisurely walked the streets of Nashwaaksis while humming the music to "Sugar and Spies", a certain Road Runner cartoon of childhood affection which I had not had occasion to see and hear for quite a few years prior to its autumn of 1992 appearance on The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, and which I had finally been able to add to my cache of videotapes through its October 17 airing on Bugs & Tweety.
My grandmother was living with us (my parents and I), in a "granny-suite" in our basement and in what had been our garage, as of August, 1991. In 1992, she was still quite mobile, and I usually accompanied her and helped in her grocery shopping expeditions, which tended to be at the Tingley's Save-Easy on Dundonald Street in Fredericton South where my grandmother was accustomed to purchasing foodstuffs and other needed household items. At that grocery store, I would be greeted by my old friend Steven, Tony's younger brother, who was working there in stocking shelves and attending to customers. In the early 1990s, Steven had become very personable, very friendly. Kind, cordial and accepting, he never hesitated to say hello to me and open communication. He was in the early 1990s inclined to initiate talk with me and of me to be inclusive, for short time periods mostly. He had come quite a grand way in his development since 1984, when our relationship had been perhaps in its dimmest hours. And he was much more generous with his time and attention to me, in 1992, than was his brother or most of his friends. By then, however, I was dubious of a substantive restoration of friendship with any of my comrades in fun of the 1980s; thus, I did not inquire about possibly playing some baseball or coming together for an evening of watching my videocassette recordings of some old favourite television series episodes or some movies on pre-recorded videotape. Something beyond casual conversation when our paths crossed. The fact was that after Tony's wedding in December, 1991, my already much reduced connections with the many people with whom I played, copied or watched videotapes, etc., were in a process of very rapid dissolution. Tony had little to do with me after he "tied the knot", and I really did not expect otherwise. Vestiges of comradeship between Tony and myself, kept at minimum since the mid-1980s, were, for all intents and purposes, expiring. And after an encounter with Steven in front of Blockbuster Video on Priestman Street in Fredericton South on a summer, 1993 evening, except for greetings by hand-waving in one or two passes-by in his car, I would not see him again.
It was a mistake not to try to build upon those encounters. Oh, I know how caustic some of the Era 4 baseball games became when Steven and others turned against me. Yes, I have not forgotten that. They did abandon me as Era 4 approached its end. Yes, that they did. My frustration with my slump may have had something to do with such. Or probably did. But they could have been more patient, more tolerant, with me than they were. That, I do concede. But they were older now. We all were older. They were adults. If a potential, any at all, might yet have existed for having them in my life again as a regular, or semi-regular, presence at my side, then I ought to have persevered in trying to regain that foothold to a, to some degree, enduring existence of my social life of Era 4.
As it was, 1993 was something of a time of last rites for what remained of nearly all of my 1980s relationships, even though some of my old friends were really very friendly to me on those last, chance occasions on which we were together.
I saw Ray on a pair of spring, 1992 days when he was raking the front lawn of his Woodmount Drive yard and as I was on one of my neighbourhood walks, and the two of us talked for about twenty minutes on those two encounters, some of the subjects in our conversation including YTV's Space: 1999 broadcasts which Ray said he watched from time to time, and the Incredible Hulk "reunion" movies that had been produced for television in 1988, 1989, 1990. After the second of those meetings, I did not see Ray again until the very late 1990s at Tim Horton's Donuts, King Street, Fredericton. Or at least I thought that it might be him, accompanied by a group of, to me, strangers. Several years had passed, and I had never before seen him with his head completely shaven as it was then, and we did not speak to one another as he, or the person whom I thought was he, showed no recognition of me. The early years of the decade of the 1990s, i.e. 1991, 1992, 1993, would also contain the final times, as of the writing of this autobiography, that I saw and/or spoke with Steven's friend, Robbie, neighbourhood baseball gamester Craig, that persistent rival for Joey's attention and best friendship, Andrew- and in his case I think it was probably fair fate that we nevermore saw one another, and quite a few other people of 1980s acquaintance and/or friendship. Even my enemy since 1979, Andre, would eventually depart from my life, as his family moved out of the house near mine and out of Fredericton. Andre being an exception, of course, I do indeed miss nearly all of these persons and wonder often what became of them.
Sadly, in 1993, I did not think that keeping in contact (beyond chance encounters) and being together to share fun times was what these fellows of better days of old did in fact want. With regard to me, anyway. Or indeed if it was in my best interests to try to maintain some appreciable amount of relations and communication with them if my dedication to maintaining a presence in their lives was not to be precisely or near precisely matched by them (they were, after all, in the midst of a different phase of their lives). I could scarcely afford the frustration of a rebuff, even if only in perceiving myself to be rebuffed, by old friends were I to venture an invitation to them to visit or for us to "go out on the town". Not if I was to purge myself of negative-mindedness and outdated if not totally mistaken unconscious resentments and prevent further inadvertent errors while associating with new friends. New friends with whom, despite discouraging setbacks happening all too often, I was still committed to socialising and building steadfast rapport.
It ultimately was not to my benefit or credit that I allowed my relationships with these people of past times to lapse in the years of Era 6. Particularly as I would have much, much appreciated having them to join me in conversation about life's twists and turns or for a pleasant, rejuvenating game of baseball, badminton, or tennis, or a watching of a movie, when one of more of my new friendships was in doubt as was all too often the case. And it does rather give to my groans of being alone rather a hollow sound, my not moving in this era to build upon pleasant encounters with old friends. However, as those friends of bygone days were motivated then, in the early 1990s, with the usual aims of early adulthood (I do not think that I need to list those) and were more demonstrably preferential than ever then to being with persons of their age bracket, it was difficult to envisage much significantly different conditions between myself and them. Particularly as I still had not arrived at a true understanding of the end of Era 4. Invitations to me to visit with them were not forthcoming, even after we had happened to meet on the street or around their yards or wherever and the talk between us in the meeting was upbeat, affable, our conversation easily flow. I just assumed that they were not interested in socialising more with me than that. To spare myself further frustration and the effect of that, I limited very much my expectations.
I was definitely in the early stages of practicing those social traits adapted from the advice of self-improvement books. I did not lament my old friends' lack of invitation; rather, I simply parted on friendliest terms with them and was hence responsive if they waved their hand to me as they passed me in their cars.
Incidentally, I encountered my Era 3 erstwhile friend, David B., a few times on the streets of my neighbourhood in late 1996 and early-to-mid 1997. On the first of those, I was riding my new black bicycle (riding bicycle was an activity of olden times that I was revisiting in this era, but bicycling alone being not very gratifying, and needing by regulation to wear an uncomfortable helmet, I soon retired my bicycle to storage, my parents eventually giving it away to one of my mother's friends). David was by 1996 married and living in a house on the corner of Longwood Drive and Lilac Crescent and working for the Fredericton Police Department. The conversations with David were quite pleasant as we talked about certain Space: 1999 episodes of his fancy or about Star Wars- The Special Edition (1997). Although our friendship back in the late 1970s was not long for the world due, I would say, to interpersonal incompatibilities, there was, happily, a friendly adulthood rapport between us, when our paths crossed in the 1990s. But as was the case with my old friends of the 1980s, occasions for seeing one another were eventually to disappear.
And although I continued visiting in Douglastown with people of Era 2, I did that in Era 6 only once per year or once per two years. From 1992 onward, I dedicated very substantial amounts of time, attention, initiative toward my new associates, who included- in addition to younger folk of the Fulton Heights, Nashwaaksis area- some university- and college-aged people met through my grandmother's church, a medium for socialising that I was urged by her and by my mother to try. And I did befriend, and was befriended by, via the College and Career Group at Brunswick Street Baptist Church, a couple of very congenial young men and did have an opportunity in August, 1992 to participate in a game of baseball with their social group at the Prospect Street baseball field. But with the onset of autumn and the constant condition of flux, in terms of learning establishment attended, community of residence, amount of study time needed, relationships with a "significant other", in the lives of young men, these friendships were quite short-lived. And as with the younger persons of my Fredericton North surroundings whom I had recently met and with whom I was associating, there was no connection through past experiences during my pre-adulthood, and we diverged.
Tentative acceptance by people nearly a decade my junior in Nashwaaksis in the early-to-mid-1990s, did nevertheless give to me a newfound feeling of being appreciated as a regular part of other people's lives. During those times when I was in their good graces. I was in no way going to deliberately jeopardise these contacts, and I perceived any move on my part toward continuing a teaching career as potentially clashing with sensibilities of my young friends. Besides, I had doubts about my capability to teach, in that my teaching internship at Fredericton High School in 1991 had been problematical. Oh, I passed it. But my evaluation noted a difficulty in being fully responsive to students, due to lingering memories of fellow students' unpleasantness in my school years. And maintaining classroom discipline had sometimes been exceedingly difficult. I was also still in the throes of self-doubting reaction to Dean's denunciations of me in 1990. To spare myself possible, if not probable, rejection, I chose for quite awhile in the early-to-mid-1990s to forego teaching. I was also unenthusiastic about returning to university for another degree. Therefore, I allowed my student's status at the University of New Brunswick to lapse. Hence, conditions were prime for a time period of occupational and educational stasis.
"Life on hold" was not atypical in the 1990s for people born after 1965. Economic downturn, recession, or whatever one wishes to call it, was the plague of the twentieth century's last decade, and Generation X, of which I was a member, was most adversely affected by the decline in consumer confidence, business failures, and widespread unemployment. My situation, however, was complicated further by self-doubt and by my teaching degree, which retail private sector employers perceived as disqualifying me from consideration for clerking, shelf-stocking, etc., when I did apply to work in such capacities.
I could not regain my bookstore job after completing my teaching degree. Hiring was not in 1992 an option for the King's Place Coles Bookstore, which, by 1993, was closed and replaced by a Coles franchise in Fredericton North's Brookside Mall, for which my application for a position never yielded an interview. In this life era, wherever I went to apply for work, the competition was intense, and I was never near the top of employers' lists of prospective job-winners. I applied for work at a movie theatre, and the manager in front of me shoved my resume into a drawer, never to gaze upon it, most definitely.
So, I continued living with my parents, devoting much of my time, in addition to the collecting of videotape, to writing. I was to invest indeed very substantial time and effort in writing for the Space: 1999 fan club headquartered in Calgary, Alberta. Indeed, my output of print at this time was quite extensive, yet rarely appreciated by the audience for whom it was intended.
Many people mistakenly overestimate the role of will power and think that nothing can happen to their minds that they do not decide or intend.
And I was not only writing. I read Man and His Symbols by Dr. Carl Jung, a book mentioned by Dean. It provided a credible basis for the incidence of unintended exquisite symbolism in works of fiction. Said basis being the idea of "collective subconscious" postulated by Jung. This could have been how Season 2 of Space: 1999 came to have within its philosophising-eschewing action-adventure formula coherent patterns in subject matter across its episodes organised in chronological sequence, allusions in its names for planets and characters or in its settings and its props and other hand-held or hand-manipulated items, to sophisticated concepts of works of earlier centuries, and philosophical import in its aesthetically compelling components of story and depiction. The fascination that I had also with "Hyde and Hare", a cartoon not acknowledged as having come about through any extensive deliberation, seemed also to be "spoken to" by the "collective subconscious" Jung postulate. Indeed, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is referenced in Man and His Symbols. It did not seem to be at all a prepostrous notion, Jung's postulate. It is accepted by a quite large plurality of the human population that ideas can come to people through dream or through some sudden flash of inspiration from some corner of the brain of which the conscious mind is not aware. Indeed, Robert Louis Stevenson's ideas for "The Strange Case of Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" did "come to him" through dream. There could be a reservoir of symbols embedded in everyone's unconscious mind, common among people of all nationalities, cultures, and creeds, and manifesting themselves through creative writing, film-making, and dreaming during R.E.M. sleep. What Dean was gleaning so intricately, so elaborately, from Season 2 Space: 1999, and what I was seeing in "Journey to Where" and other episodes, appeared to give much credence to Jung. At the very least, the notion is not something that should be dismissed "out of hand" and sneered-at by a herd of quasi-intellectuals who believe unwaveringly that all human creativity of any worth has to have been deliberate.
Tony Verdeschi's beer and metamorph Maya's likening of it to Hyde formula through her transformation into Hyde after drinking some of the beer. The mutability of people and things, planets transmuting, losing their life-giving, life-sustaining qualities and becoming inhospitable, ugliness or sickness being associated with evil, progressive versus regressive tendencies in the human spirit, a higher celestial plane of existence versus a baser terrestrial existence (philosphical underpinnings, most of these, of the Jekyll-and-Hyde story that had, through its manifestations in animated cartoons, unsettled and fascinated me since pre-school), and so forth. All of this was but seminal impression, very seminal impression, for me in those early months of my experience with Space: 1999. Dean's work brought validation to it, enabled it to grow and to flourish, after I had fully embraced his sensibilities for looking at the subject matter of Season 2 Space: 1999. And so does the postulate of Jung give to it validation. I believe Jung to be right in his "collective subconscious" postulate. And as a noted, accomplished thinker, he has more authority, one supposes, than some "dude" from the "have-not" Canadian province of New Brunswick.
The impressions that I "picked up" from Space: 1999 from my earliest viewings of it, impressions that were in no small part foundational to my fascination with the space science fiction/fantasy opus that I was beholding in the final four months of 1976 and much of 1977, that were part of the appeal of Space: 1999 to me over many years of withdrawal from it as predicated by television broadcasters, and that developed over the years of my association with Dean, should not be dismissed as worthless drivel. I rail against any effort by people to do so, for such cheapens, debases, my attachment to the Space: 1999 television series from the very beginnings of my long experience with it. There was a meaning, and a purpose, to my long-lived attachment to Space: 1999, and that to other entertainments, also. One of a considerable import. One that should not be chapened or debased by a bunch of "know-it-all" Space: 1999 fans, all of them of the same persuasion as each other.
Of course, I, like many a youngster whose life was touched by Space: 1999, loved the guns, the communicators, the Eagle spaceships, and the uniforms. Yes, of course. And the visceral thrills of the episodes. It would be pretentious of me not to emphasise this fact. I fancied Space: 1999 rather like many another boy of ten or eleven years did. I was not some highfallutin intellectual snob looking down nose at what other people were enjoying about the television show. It is not just impression leading to asesthetic interpretation and philosophical rumination, upon which my love for Space: 1999 was rooted. Yes, this is true. The impressions that I had that were of a richly meaningful import, I carried with me undeveloped as I marvelled at the technological gadgetry and coveted such as toys, collected Space: 1999 episodes on audio and video media, and even preferred Season 1 for some of its readily recognisable merits. Season 2 eventually became resurgent in my mind, as nostalgia became more and more of a force in my life, and then I met Dean and from his conveyed insights my long-held impressions did at last grow and flourish. Jekyll-and-Hyde symbolism was one of those. For me through my years of life experience, the one of largest significance.
In this life era, I was retaining my retrospective and aesthetic awareness of and dedication to enthralling entertainments of yesteryear, not just Space: 1999 but all of them, for their significance in my life and for my perception of their artistic qualities. And I was writing quite exuberantly about them. But as in Era 4, I sought to continue affiliation to those imaginative works while concentrating my attention largely upon the present. On present routines. On present happenings. On present social connections. Rather more difficult this was with my new friends of my neighbourhood as they had practically no familiarity or interest whatsoever in the television, movies, cartoons, etc. of decades preceding the 1990s. Poor souls. But I did not have the option of acquainting them with such personally revered entertainments because our socialising was of necessity (due to age difference) limited to outdoor conversation, and mere talk of those productions was insufficient to cogently convey impressions in any way similar to mine- even if my new associates would have possibly been receptive to them. Unfortunately, they were "coming of age" on a regimen of cynical satire in The Simpsons and Seinfeld, equally cynical "reality" television (in the early 1990s in the form of television movies and miniseries "based on true stories"), plus increasingly staid, dreary, and raucously smutty theatrical motion pictures. And they had no inclination to consider entertainment merit in the rather more wholesomely imaginative, vividly colourful works of television and movie production in the past. I could not interest them in talk of entertainment of yesteryear.
Under such un-uplifting circumstances, such friendships should naturally be quite terminal, though I did manage to sustain them for two years or more just by orienting nearly all conversation around my new friends' lives, interests, activities. Our talk was rarely about me, unless it pertained to how I responded to situations or events similar or identical to what they were experiencing. Such was definitely helpful, of course, in my modification toward being less egocentric, more attentive to others and more engaged in identifying with others. I did show some photographs of me from when I was teenaged or younger, to my Era 6 friends, and they were evidently quite amused to see what I had looked like. I was quite flattered when my Melvin Street friend remarked that I looked better in my twenties than I did in my teens. I do not wish to portray times with those friends in an always disaffirming manner. Indeed, there were in fact some quite lengthy periods of time in 1993 and 1994 when our relationships did not go askew from misconstrued statement or whatever, or from insufficient mutual tastes or interests, and we were on very pleasant terms as we came into presence with one another in our neighbourhood, as they smiled and greeted me with affectionate tone of voice. And I can think very fondly of those friends by focusing my remembrance on solely those agreeable temporal units. Yet, our friendships came into less than satisfying condition at an average rate of about once monthly. That is twelve times per year, a whopping increase from three or four, at most, in a given year in Era 4 with my friends then. And almost always, it happened because something I said was interpreted as being derisive, and rather than being asked within seconds to clarify myself, I was judged guilty in absentia (after we had parted on apparently amicable terms following our latest encounter) and then penalised with snubbing when next we saw each other. While I will grant that my subconscious may have, perhaps, been affecting what and how I spoke at certain moments, I tend to think that the lack of benefit of the doubt allocated to me, and refraining from approaching me after they snubbed me, leaving initiative for fence-mending entirely to me, was due to their affinity for me being rather deficient, probably because we had not known each other when I was on the younger side of age 18. And I do believe that at any time, they were prepared to dispense with me if I did not humble myself after I was snubbed, deliberately by them in retaliation for their misinterpretation of my words, and approach them.
There would seem to be not enough affinity for me in them to reach out to me after the snubbing. I had to do that reaching-out, swallowing all of my pride and my hurt feelings from the snub and initiating communication with them in our next encounter. If I had not done so, I guess that friendship for us would have been "done for". Kaput. Such was not exactly a very encouraging consideration, as regards the present and the future for those friendships. But I was committed to them, and therefore did what I had to do to restore full amity after an apparent case of inadvertent faux-pas on my part. Yes. Even if they were determined to "hold their ground" and do and say nothing after subjecting me to a snub. Never were the reasons for the snub ever addressed in conversation. I was not comfortable broaching the subject, and my intuition was telling to me that my friends would back away from me if I were to try doing so. They never spoke of my foot-in-mouth incident, either. We just put the time period of estrangement aside, and proceeded onward as friends until the next foot-in-mouth incident from me in my confounded propensity for verbal bumbling, post-Era 5.
I was unconfident of having what might be termed as "difficult conversations" with people, because my only-child condition had put me at yet another disadvantage. I did not have regular conflicts with siblings that needed to be resolved through conversation. Disputes with friends did happen in my formative years, but they were not an everyday occurrence. When they happened, friends and I would part, with one or both of us in a state of pique. And the next day, they would approach me most amicably, and I would respond accordingly, and we would "leave aside" whatever it was that had caused the fractiousness of the preceding day. Nothing was said about it, then or henceforth. This had been the norm in Douglastown. In Fredericton, estrangements came about less through quarreling (though sometimes that did happen) and more were the outcome of sudden, insufficiently explained lashings-out at me, or a frosty avoidance. And then, like the friends in Douglastown, they returned to me some little time later, fully amiable, everything about their earlier unfavourable disposition toward me kept unsaid.
I just did not have experience at having "difficult conversations". And a lack of experience does not build confidence. And so, I avoided such conversations. I suspect that most people who grow to adulthood as only-children have the same problem. But nothing is absolute. Some only-children, with coaching by their parents, may develop a competence in "conflict management". But, alas, my parents taught me nothing about that. In fact, I think that my mother had the same difficulty that I had. She would often imagine aloud, as she sat at home smoking a cigarette, the conversations that she should have had with fractious colleagues but had not. I do not think that this difficulty is the exclusive domain of the only-child. My mother certainly was not an only-child. I think that it may be quite common in the general population. So much so, that a majority of people might have it. Sadly, I did not come upon any books on the subject, and a Dale Carnegie course in which I would partake in 1996, did not address it either.
All that I could do, then, was to hope for the best with my conversation, with a resolving with all of my willpower not to "foul up" again, and intuit correctly what my confounded mistake had been if a friend of this era were to suddenly turn cold toward me. And then not be so offended by their snubbing of me as to be subsequently standoffish toward them. It was not easy. Definitely not. But for some time, this was what I did. For as long as further conversational encounters with these friends, with not long to wait for them, were guaranteed. Alas, this would tend not to be the case when they had automobiles to drive.
In hindsight, I perceive now that it was, I have to say, futile to persist in associating with those new friends. But even woeful eventualities can themselves yield unexpectedly beneficial results. If there was a silver lining to this particular grey cloud layer, it was that I had become more practiced and capable than ever before in examining my words (and actions) for divergent interpretation and alternate angles for regarding and comprehending a friend's recoil from me. I was at last becoming aware of Joey's possible or probable perspective on the events of 1987 and on my behaviour thereafter. I now knew first-hand what it was like to be snubbed by someone while I am endeavouring honestly to express affinity and be congenial, how difficult it is to tell the difference between a snub out of displeasure for something occurring previously and snubbing out of not liking a person anymore. I knew how unpleasant it felt in any case to be on the receiving end of an out and out snub from someone whom I really liked. And I could feel Joey's dismay and likely hurt feelings at my behaviour in Era 5 and for some time in Era 6. My disposition concerning Joey was definitely much mellowed by the mid-1990s, rather more so than it had been in spring of 1990, but a chance encounter with Joey while he was in the company of someone else, and most especially Andrew, still would effect a regrettable reversal of the mellowing process for a time. I was also advancing in my initiative toward improving interpersonal social skills; though such skills did not prevent new friendships of this life era from deteriorating, I was becoming better practiced in adapting those skills to my personality and utilising them efficiently, for the most part.
After I joined the College and Career Group, I attended a number of church functions and befriended and was befriended by, a couple of young men. One of them was with me for most of the time at those church functions. He and I became rather good friends. In August of 1992, as I have mentioned, I partook in a baseball game with members of his social group, at Prospect Street baseball field, and he and I were players in the game. Then, there was a long lull in College and Career Group activity over the 1992-3 college year. I was invited in 1993 to a house party by a member of the group. I went to it, and there was no one there known to me from the summer before. I never saw my new friend again. Or the other young man. I was not comfortable reaching out to either of them on the telephone. We had not been friends long enough to be telephoning each other. I had no rapport with any of the people active post-1993 in the group, and my membership in it would lapse. And that would be that.
Through second half of 1992 onward to 1995, as my new friendships were in the conditions above described, I was continuing, while at home, to replace collected VHS monaural videotape recordings with VHS Hi-Fi versions of same, whether they be bought-from-store pre-recorded or videotape-recorded from television broadcast. I was occasionally still acquiring some videotaped movies for the first time, such as the already mentioned Forbidden Planet in autumn of 1992, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959), a Christmas present from my mother in 1992, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), both purchased from Blockbuster Video, Priestman Street in 1993, and from Movies Unlimited, a Pennsylvania-based vendor of pre-recorded media (videocassette and laser videodisc) for which items were purchased over the telephone with credit card number, Journey to the Far Side of the Sun and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (the 1968 videotape-recorded-for-television movie with Jack Palance in the title role(s)), both bought in autumn, 1993. I remember The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde arriving at my door on the cloudy morning after an unsatisfactory outcome to a Canadian federal election in October, and Journey to the Far Side of the Sun was delivered to my house in November, on another cloudy day, and I watched it as I was in discomfort due to a canker sore on a side of my tongue, for which I would need antibiotics and an oral rinse prescribed by a doctor at the walk-in clinic on Brookside Drive.
Also acquired through Movies Unlimited were improved VHS Hi-Fi videotapes of Earthquake and Battlestar Galactica to replace the much deteriorated videocassettes thereof that I had bought back in 1982, plus first-time purchases of BUGS & DAFFY: THE WARTIME CARTOONS, Bugs Bunny: Superstar (a documentary, hosted by cartoon director Robert Clampett, on the production of the Warner Brothers cartoons), YOSEMITE SAM- THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE ORNERY, and MGM/UA Home Entertainment's pair of Inspector cartoon compilation videotapes. In January, 1994, I bought from Movies Unlimited all three volumes of television's Martian Chronicles miniseries, that I had not seen since it was televised a few times the early 1980s, and I watched the received videotapes of those during a string of very, very cold days that January.
I had economised on a stay in Newcastle-Douglastown-Chatham in July, 1993 and had retained enough dollars from that journey funded by my mother from money provided by my grandmother to pay for my videocassette purchases for a number of months. Volumes 1, 2, 3 of The Martian Chronicles were bought with my birthday money from my parents and grandmother. My chauffeuring my grandmother to her hairdresser was also rewarded with some spending money. She also generously paid me for mowing our lawn and for raking the leaves in our yard. Monies which helped further to defray the costs of my videocassette purchases in the early 1990s when I was otherwise without work.
My grandmother's presence, post-1991, in the basement and former garage part of our home was quite the adjustment for me. My television room and bedroom were a floor above her bedroom and kitchen and dining area, and I was required to keep the volume to my television at rather reduced level. Also, I could, of course, no longer go downstairs to the basement or garage to walk around and contemplate, which had been rather routine procedure by me in the 1980s. And there had been oh, so many memories of the fun that Joey and I, or Tony and I, or other friends and I had enjoyed downstairs in our heydays as friends. Further, my parents both retired from their jobs in the early 1990s, my mother doing so in 1991 so that she could provide daytime care for my grandmother, and my father departing his employment in 1993, in has case for health reasons as he was then having esophagus problems caused by intense stomach acid reflux diagnosed as being due to stress and the poor sleep patterns that he had developed in his many years of evening and nightly work shifts. Thus, with Era 6, there had come considerable change in my life at home, both parents there nearly all the time, my grandmother downstairs, and even my cat was a new one, Twinkles in lieu of Frosty. And entrenching a lamented norm that had begun to manifest years previous, no visits whatsoever to my place by friends.
One day in, I think, 1992, during a telephone conversation with me, my contact in Calgary, the Space: 1999 fan club president, was telling to me that he was contemplating doing an article for the fan club newsletter, one that would lambaste Season 2 as being "tainted" with "the sin of instant gratification". Those were his words, the ones that I quote here. Precisely those words. Yes, he did in fact say this to me in conversation, with full knowledge of my enthusiasm for Season 2, with full knowledge of his promise to me in 1990 that both seasons would be treated with respect in the fan club that he was going to be stewarding. I was at once thrown through a proverbial loop at his indelicacy and the temerity of his brazenly and ignorantly expressed bias, to say nothing of the offenciveness to me of there even being a possibility of something like that said in the newsletter by the club's president, in contravention of the pledge that won my support of his fan club founding initiative. And, yes, he did print those exact words. I am not sure of exactly where I read them, whether it was in the newsletter or elsewhere, but I do remember reading them in published print. And oh, did it inflame me. Needless to say, the words, taint and sin, have very, very negative connotations, one of them implying being poisoned and the other denoting a wilful condescension to evil and a path to damnation. It is bellicose and extremely harsh terminology to be applying to what is supposed to be to be one's favourite television programme, regardless of whether or not it is one's preferred season thereof. It is a garbage argument, anyway, and unfair to say the least to be brandishing it against only Season 2.
Entertainment is experienced and enjoyed by people "in the moment". As they are seated in a cinema or in a stage theatre or in front of a television set. That is the nature of entertainment. And has been since the beginnings of human civilisation. Unlike the broadcasting of professional sports, there is a creativity in putting together a work of fictional entertainment for viewing by the public, even if it may be an often-used trope dramatised using a unique set of characters in a particular premise. Recognition and enjoyment of creativity in a pacey story along with aural and visual sense stimulation constitutes people's engagement with filmed works of imagination of other persons, and such is meant to be gratifying as one is in the process of experiencing it. What is there that is depraved, immoral, or corrupt in that? Within reason, of course. If a person never exercises and spends all of his or her time in front of a screen, abandons everything else in life just to watch movies, then, yes, there is a sin that may be said to be connected with that. But one hour each week in front of a television screen watching Season 2 Space: 1999 and enjoying for that hour its action, its dynamic characters in far-fetched and imagination-stretching situations, is scarcely tainting or sinful. And for some viewers who were not blinkered toward it (a minority though they may be), the concepts and the depictions did indeed spark a thinking about them after the closing credits finished. If an opus of space science fiction/fantasy expands a viewer's imagination during the experiencing of it and ignites a thoughtful consideration of the concepts in that opus, whether or not there is comment about them by characters in the opus, this is value.
There are viscerally appealing components to a successful entertainment. There has to be. Star Wars had that in bucketloads, and was and still is highly acclaimed as an artistic work. Even Season 1 Space: 1999 went many times for the sensational elements of a viewing experience. "Eye candy" (be it flashy explosions or Valerie Leon's chest or Joan Collins' legs), fight scenes like the ones in episodes of first season, and that season's scares and frights, were there to stimulate the senses and/or to foster a viewer's emotional immersion "in the moment". Some people might have given thought to the episodes in the minutes, hours, days, or years after that initial viewing, and some may not have done so. Ditto, the episodes of Season 2. Such a way of things is not a taint. It is a fact of life. This billious attitude toward Season 2 as being a product of iniquity and devoid of worth, is balderdash. It was gaining momentum in the Calgarian's club. And doing so at his behest with such a statement as this one that he spewed onto one of his pages. The fact that he had the gall to say it to me in telephone conversation ought to have indicated an urge to instigate conflict with me. But naive young me still thought that the Season 1 "camp" could be reasoned-with, could be worked-with. Even as I was becoming increasingly exasperated with attitudes like his as the years, 1992, 1993, 1994, did proceed and then pass into the "rearview".
Fortunately, I did have other interests besides Space: 1999. The Bugs Bunny cartoon, "Hyde and Hare", with its re-emergence into my life in 1989, was, in the early 1990s, powering my thoughts about aestheics and nuance and potential meanings in entertainment even more than was Space: 1999. In 1992, I undertook to write an essay comprising all of the aesthetic impressions and recognitions of artistic import that I was having from my viewings of that cartoon, to go along with several drawings of it that I did. My drawings were amazingly quite accurate. I still had a talent for art that had not perished over the years of being in the classrooms of uninspiring Fredericton schoolteachers. I coloured the drawings using colouring pencils. My essay on "Hyde and Hare" was predicated on my belief that there were subtle "touches" to the cartoon that had eluded the keen eyes of cartoon aficionados and passed under the radar of awareness of book-writing experts on the subject of the Warner Brothers cartoons. I kept putting work into it as 1992 came to its end and transitioned into early 1993. I remember many a day that winter of 1992-3 walking through the rooms of the house and giving consideration to the notions that I was increasingly receiving from the cartoon, and then hurrying to my notepad to put them into writing. Progress versus regress. Purity versus depravity (the white birds and the concoction yielding the Hyde transformation and all of the wilful depavity and outright evil that it entails). The animalistic connection with the Earth versus aspirations to transcendence of the spirit. The anthropormorphism of Bugs and its consequences for his own "baser" reflexes and condescensions to them, one of the most salient condescensions being in "Hyde and Hare". Imagery and symbolism and foreshadowing became apparent to me in the cartoon as I watched and contemplated it and draw pictures of it. I became increasingly convinced that there was a compelling argument to be made for "Hyde and Hare" to be a masterpiece of hitherto overlooked subtle expressiveness.
In spring of 1993, my essay on "Hyde and Hare" reached a preliminary state of completion. Looking at that original draft today causes me sometimes to wince. Mainly at the way that I wrote certain impressions or ideas. But back then, the essay seemed to be of sufficient quality of composition for me to distribute it. The first logical people to whom to send it were the creators of the cartoons. I packaged a copy of the essay with a letter of explanation and the several drawings that I had sketched and coloured, plus an envelope on the outside of which were more cartoon renderings from my hand, and mailed the package to Friz Freleng and/or Chuck Jones care of Warner Brothers in Hollywood. In August that year (1993), I found a packet in the mail from Chuck Jones Enterprises! The essay that I had sent had been forwarded to Mr. Jones, and his assistant wrote a letter to me, stating that Mr. Jones had read my letter. And he kept my essay! Wow! Though "Hyde and Hare" was Friz Freleng's cartoon, Mr. Jones expressed his sincere appreciation for my interest in his work and that of his fellow directors. My drawings were returned in the packet, along with a card from Mr. Jones depicting Bugs Bunny in a characteristic pose. It was a real thrill receiving this letter from the assistant of Chuck Jones and an honor knowing that Mr. Jones had seen and read my work! I do not know if Friz Freleng received a copy of my letter and essay before his death in 1995. I like to think that he did!
The day that I received the communication from Chuck Jones Enterprises was outstanding in this life era, and would be so in any other such. It is a pity, though, that I had no friends then to whom I could bring my prized correspondence from Mr. Jones and with whom to share the thrill of the day in the immediate afterhours. My mother thought it was really something for me have made myself known to Chuck Jones, though she was at a loss to understand the worth in my appreciative and interpretive angle regarding cartoons or anything else. Pragmatic as ever, she asked time and time again how my writing on aesthetic interests stood to benefit me occupationally. That sunny day on which mail had come for me from Chuck Jones Enterprises, had me beaming as I walked- solitarily, of course- in my neighbourhood and in Fredericton Mall's Zellers to which I went in the afternoon- and in which I found a set of newly released videotapes of Warner Brothers cartoons, comprising SYLVESTER & TWEETY'S TALE FEATHERS, BUGS BUNNY'S HARE-BRAINED HITS, THE ROAD RUNNER & WILE E. COYOTE: CRASH COURSE, YOSEMITE SAM'S YELLER FEVER, and ELMER FUDD'S SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS, in a cardboard display set-up on the floor of the department store's electronics section, then (in 1993) located at the easternmost end of the store and the mall. I bought the Sylvester and Tweety videotape and planned a few days hence to purchase the others. At home, as I watched such cartoons as "Muzzle Tough", "A Street Cat Named Sylvester", and "Dr. Jerkyl's Hide" (first time ever that I saw its original theatrical title sequence), I felt exceedingly edified about having successfully signified my existence and that of my particular viewpoint, to a veteran director (or maybe directors) of cartoons with which I had long been fascinated. It does rile me to read people on the Internet casting aspersions upon the quality of work or the character of those directors, in a bid to elevate the esteem accorded to another director or directors, the cartoons of whom having not substantially affected me in my upbringing or years thereafter. But this is subject for chronicling of an era to come.
Since 1993, I refined the essay on "Hyde and Hare" several times, rendering it supposedly more persuasive and what I hoped to be more agreeable to mainstream readers. In 1996, I sent copies of it to animation historians Steve Schneider and Joe Adamson but never received a reply.
My writing on the cartoons continued in 1995 with an essay of the Tweety and Sylvester series of cartoons and the notions which I was gaining from those as regards the order in which they had been produced, and also from them in the sequence of their inclusion in episodes of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. While reaction from people to my writings regarding Warner Brothers cartoons was for a time encouraging, for quite awhile decidedly less disapproving or indifferent than had been such from Space: 1999 fandom in response to what I was scribing about Space: 1999's two production blocks, it still did fall short, very short, of positive reappraisal of and appreciation for the cartoons which I was lauding in my essays (or articles), that I had hoped would be forthcoming. Among cartoon aficionados, certainly. But people can be stubborn. If they do not like something, no amount of elucidating to the contrary will sway them away from the purported wisdom of their rather insufficiently informed but to-them-definitive initial reaction to the item concerned. Fans in particular can be most proprietorial over their claim to supreme knowledge about what is good and what is not good, in the corpus of work about which they have chosen to be pundits in affiliation with others of the same persuasion. If they do not esteem something, then that something, whatever it be, must for all time be worthless and anyone attesting to hitherto unseen merit in it, is patently wrong, worthy of ostracism and ridicule if he or she does not choose to passively and quietly submit to the constantly expressed point of view of the oh, so enlightened majority. When I am confronted, as I all too often am, with such an immovable object, my dander does tend to go up, and I can become just as resolute, and blinkers can come on in me as they do in my opponents- though I must emphasise that in my case it is an effect, a reaction to a repeated slighting- not a cause or pre-emptive instigation into conflict. I was willing, quite, to accept and appreciate the worth of the cartoons of a time of production before that of those cartoons that delighted and appealed to me, or the worth of the first Space: 1999 season or its episodes or whatever, of those who are of different standing in the field of appreciation for the particular entertainment. It was only after the adherents to the "other side of the coin", as it were, declined to give any open-minded consideration to merit in what I had to say and after they persisted in, nay, intensified, with all the more relish, their "put-downs" of what I was extolling in salient detail, did I become strident in my protests and churlish and sullen. And exceedingly displeased when having to "stand down" as the usual loner with whom nobody present and accounted-for wants to be seen as in sympathy or agreement.
And this brings me to the deplorable days of Space: 1999 fandom. In this era, such was specifically when my false friend in Calgary who was president of the, in 1993, 1994, 1995, only extant Space: 1999 fan club in North America, acted very cleverly, I must admit, by giving to me rope with which for me to hang myself, rope in the form of a newsletter column, while simultaneously bombarding the newsletter with reprinted articles from other publications (TV Zone magazine, for instance). Articles that were scathing in their stance against the very Space: 1999 season whose episodes and subject matter for which I was advocating aesthetic and symbological interest. It was, I must concede, a very deft way of invalidating me without being seen to be directly doing so. His initially stated intention to counterpoint the hostility toward Space: 1999 in other publications or in other media had evidently been suspended for a time- after he had been so incensed yet so very eloquent (I will grant him this much) in typewriting his objections to critics' yawps, reprinted in the first few issues of the club newsletter, on Season 1. His rebuttals, if there were any rebuttals at all (in the case of the TV Zone article reprints, the avowed antipathy in those toward Season 2 was portrayed as factual; no countervailing arguments), to scathing anti-Season-Two remarks that he was reprinting were practically themselves back-handed slaps. A to-me-now-shallow yet cunning pretense of defending the material of Season 2 while at the same time wilily demeaning it. An "Ultimate Guidebook" that he enticed me into collaborating in writing with him, became a series of verbal toxins from him upon the episodes of the Space: 1999 second season, with remarks like sticking hot daggers in his eyes being preferable to watching an episode. His sometimes negative comments on Season 1 would be softened with adverbs, or framed in such a way as to be inconsequential, while those upon Season 2 were raw in their antipathy. He even wrote in the newsletter that he found some of the attacks upon Season 2 in reprinted literature to be quite witty and amusing. No such "light" comment by him about glibly worded statements slamming anything in Season 1, though. And regular contributions from other fans could always be depended upon to be anti-Season-2. There was even a Space: 1999 "embarrassingly bad" dialogue list of which the majority of cited character statements hailed from second season. All of this was in contravention of Mr. Calgary's promise to me in 1990 that the club that he would steward, would not go down the same passage into which the former club, based in Ohio, had evidently opted (post-1988, anyway) to position itself. The, to me, undesirable passage being almost all praise for Season 1 as the prevailing prejudice sanctioned by the leadership, with fringe status, at best, allocated to anything approaching intelligent, positive discussion regarding Season 2.
Mr. Calgary's promise and apparent start toward fulfillment of the promise in his opening statements in issue one of the newsletter, had been a ruse to gain my confidence, and as fellow New Brunswicker and Space: 1999 aesthete Dean had so accurately predicted, Mr. Calgary would soon become impressed with his appointed power as leader and allow his bias, his slant toward Season 1 and against Season 2, to become club policy. There had in fact been a letter to the newsletter in 1992 from a fan in Australia expressing misgivings about Mr. Calgary's increasingly imperious, slanted attitude, and I did find myself more in agreement than in disagreement with that letter when it did appear, in truncated form, in a 1992 issue of the newsletter. While the Calgarian did allow a Kevin McCorry column in the newsletter, on the pretense of graciousness and fairness (once I somehow had felt sufficiently comfortable about proceeding with a newsletter column a couple of years after the 1990 "falling-out" with Dean), the Calgarian had detected a sensitive area, a weakness, in me and exploited it, provoking me through a building invalidation, in the newsletter and elsewhere, of the point of view and insights and conjectures that I was putting forward for consideration. His ultimate intent may have been to provoke me to eventual, in 1994, churlish recklessness such that I would lash out at the incessant bile spewed at Season 2 by "giving like I got", listing a series of items in first season that might be seen to be lacking or in error. He then could berate me as the troublemaker, expecting me to abjectly, sheepishly apologise, withdraw from further writings of any aesthetic or interpretive nature, and submit to whatever anti-Season-2 commentary would be henceforth printed, commentary which he and many others would augment with gusto. Maybe I surprised him by quitting the club. Even by 1995, he may have thought that to be improbable. But it was an overdue, way overdue, decision. I ought to have discontinued involvement with Space: 1999 fandom in 1990, or 1991 at the latest.
There had been still a quantity of naivete in me. Naivete that had amazingly not been eradicated in the bombardments of berating judgement of 1990. I did still have hope for improved conditions in the fan club. The quashing of those hopes was disillusioning, to be sure, but even after that, after 1995, I persisted in clinging to hopes of some measure of improvement in fan attitude, by way of the Internet. I really ought to have learned my lesson in the intense animosity of 1990, in going through a barrage of unpleasantness to which I had not before been conditioned- not even by the unpleasant treatment I received in Fredericton schools or by instances of verbal accosting of me as I departed from a neighbourhood baseball game turned quite disagreeable.
Were I able to go back in time and effect change, my involvement in Space: 1999 fandom, after 1990, certainly, would be one of the first things that I would nullify. A few material gains aside (episodes on videotape, mainly) and those quantum advances in aesthetic insight in connection with Dean, my connection to fandom as an organisation and to fans was one of the more foolhardy choices in my life. The fans and the effect upon me of their attitudes, did become a blight in my existence for a sizable number of years. I even started to rue that fateful moment in 1976 when I first heard of Space: 1999. Potentially the best thing I ever did was to leave Space: 1999 fandom's ranks. Why I did not do so much, much sooner was idealistic folly. My continued contribution to Space: 1999 fandom into the 1990s was not only a waste of time, and not only did it divert my time and attention from potentially more socially profitable endeavours, but it put me in position of being the lone subject of brickbatting, browbeating, spin-doctoring (everything that I say being twisted for use against me), thoroughly libelous allegations of being dangerously dogmatic, mentally unstable, the sorts of denunciations that not even peers in junior high school would have been so hateful and cruel to spew.
I will concede that I have faults, which is more than I can say for those people, who think themselves perfect examples of the mature, astute, discerning, infallible human being. Apologising to them for being in error is something that one must never do, if one is to retain dignity. An apology to them would be received with utmost condescension and a nose-drag through mud of a sort that I never before experienced. Leaving the Calgarian's club in 1995 was really the only sensible option open to me, though I did not arrive at the decision for some days after a disastrous visit with him in summer of that year.
In every time and culture, there are pressures to conform to the prevailing prejudices. But there are also, in every place and epoch, those who value the truth. Who record the evidence faithfully. Future generations are in their debt.
If anything good did come of this era of stagnation, it was that I finally did break with the fan club, with its leader, with its membership. With people for whom first season is perfection and Season 2 is garbage, feces, etc.- those legions to whom the Calgarian was pandering and with whom he was in agreement, beneath a facade of fairness for Season 2 in an occasional half-hearted retort to negative statement. However, to my shame in admitting, I remained in contact with Space: 1999 fans via the Internet until 2001, on the mistaken belief that there may be some potential adherents to a favourable approach to looking at Season 2, people who had been in a minority, wilfully not printed, or discouraged from submitting their writing for printing, and who had been sympathetic to me during my tribulations in the fan club helmed by Mr. Calgary. If there were such people, they were prepared to stand far back and allow Season 2 to receive its lumps ad infinitum, and not say anything in my favour when the Space: 1999-is-Season-1-only wolves swarmed me on a Space: 1999 Internet "mailing list" in 1997 and 2000. Indeed, experience with fans on the Internet was to eclipse, in its viciousness directed at me, what I had gone through in my false friend's club. The whole unpleasant facet to my connection with Space: 1999 fandom had started in 1990 and rather than abating, it grew worse and worse until I effected the long overdue, full disconnection.
Why do I care so much, anyway? Enough to put myself in the proverbial line of relentless fire so many times. Good question, to be sure. Not to want to beg the question, but I think the answer is just that I do care. So very much. Entertainments such as Space: 1999 and my experiences with them are so much part of who I am. Massed assault upon them is personally felt, deeply so. And with Space: 1999, I would be left with emotional scars, nay, emotional wounds, of a degree unknown to most people. If only I had extricated myself sooner! Much sooner!
Imaginative works helped me through many lonely times in my life; for one of them to now be tainted with so much animosity, personal distress, and the funk of failure and guilt (guilt as regards my relationship with Dean) rather thwarted my ability to rely further on that particular entertainment, on my interest in and love for it, to keep a sustainable morale in socially dismal times. What solace it provided to me earlier in life, e.g. the last four months of 1977, could no longer be had in the present day. With psychosomatic illness in 1990 and 1991 came an awareness that innocence and fun were forever lost, that illness' main sources being my wracking feelings over being wrong in the cause of Space: 1999, the grim diagnosis by Dean of my failings and of my unsatisfactory response to his conflict with our Calgarian associate. Years to follow would intensify my estrangement from my beloved Space: 1999, no thanks to the fans, their antipathy toward the entire second production block and their tendency to go "full tilt" in attack mode if I were to protest or contest their smugly stated "group-think" disdain. I did, however, have the Warner Brothers cartoons, Spiderman, and other productions to somewhat bolster my morale in times of adversity or isolation. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour was one television show of a happier life-era that surely would not fall afoul of prevailing opinion. Un-tarnishable, I thought. And even though I suspected that Spiderman's second and third season episodes had substantially less than universal plaudit, both Spidey and Rocket Robin had long received sentimental attention by some amount of people of the public in their frequent telecasts in Canada.
It does seem endemic to Space: 1999 fandom, this quarrelsome, "to arms, to arms" demeanour. Yes, a consensus does exist that the second season must be maligned. But despite that unifying hatred, there is always something about which to feud, and feud vociferously. The fans do tend to appear to be a people for whom the idea of "getting along" is impracticable. Not to want to appear to be an armchair psychoanalyst myself. But I do, being the victim of their combined animosity, have some license, I would think, to try to make sense of their rigorous verbal accosting of the "enemy within", i.e. me. And being as I am somewhat like them, much as it distresses me to admit (and as I will explain), I should have some freedom to examine the similarities and (thankful) differences. I would say that their disposition is many multiples of what my self-centred and temperamental, i.e. slightable, nature is. They are an extension of me, what I might be were I not blessed (yes, blessed) with some substantial degree of self-awareness. And self-doubt. Indeed, like them, I can be egocentric and insufficiently mindful of other people's perspectives or feelings (hopefully not perpetually so). They constitute perhaps a distillation of the aspects to me that are unappealing and problematical, shorn of countervailing qualities such as sentimentality, fondness for the past and for people of my past, etc..
To articulate how similar I am to them, and yet, thankfully, different, here goes. Egocentricity. Check. Difficulty putting myself in other people's places and in understanding others. Check. Possibility of becoming quite upset if I perceive myself as slighted. Check. My added propensity toward defeatism (rooted in, or stemming from, my self-doubt, I guess) and a sullenness after accepting defeat is, however, something that they do not have. Strip away my self-doubt and replace it with overweening self-confidence, purge any willingness- even years later- to self-criticise, or to consider merit in another half of something esteemed, and delete the humanity which comes from my nostalgia and my love for friends of olden days. For the sentimentality that I have for my past, substitute an ostensibly logical, relentless, unmitigated quasi-intellectualism- the mindset of a narrow-thinking, superficially perceptive, rather sardonic film or drama critic. Much, much more overweening than what comes across in my admittedly rather portentous writing style. Put this hybrid version of myself in a majority position from which arrogant self-confidence is shared, drawn upon by members of the herd, and spewed in bullying fashion upon any person who poses a challenge to the collective "wisdom", and tending even to turn against persons of the same "mind" when so-inclined, and the product is... an average Space: 1999 fan. Involuntary- as Dean would have it- or calculating, their disagreeable manner has perplexed, aggrieved, offended, and galled me when targeted at what I fancy and- if I protested- at me personally- and it would (a hundred exasperated sighs) find its ultimate expression on the World Wide Web later in the 1990s and in 2000.
However shabbily Season 2 may have been treated in the late 1980s, that had been peanuts compared to how much and how often the second season was accosted in the newsletter of the new, post-1990 grouping of fans, which was in turn to be proven mild relative to how severely contempt was heaped onto Season 2 in the age of the Internet "chat room", "message board", "mailing list", etc.. This was to be a case of a popular antipathy becoming accepted as "true opinion". An established fact, to which anybody who disagreed had to abjectly self-deprecate and apologise for their wrong-headedness, before saying anything in favour of their "guilty pleasure" (how I hate that expression!). When I speak of Season 2 being destroyed, this is not hyperbole. It is indeed possible to discredit something by a negative assessment stated often and by enough people, and by systematically subjecting every, every part of the item to debasing scrutiny, to find fault with everything from the first images of the opening sequence to first episode to the last credit of the final episode. Even if the negative judgment is based on the most external appearances only, regards some things out of proper context or fails to rationalise story elements meant to be rationalised, and is wilfully ignorant of any contrary, less superficial observations, this matters not. The disdaining opinion being held by so many fans, becomes, as far as source books regarding the genre of science fiction/fantasy or television in general are concerned, a "truth" that cannot be denied except by people who are either stupid (mindless is the term most used) or deluded.
The proprietorial attitude that they, as fans, have about "their show" extends to their bias and their animosity for what they do not like. How dare anyone allege that they, in their infinite wisdom, do not already know all there is to know or that their negative opinions need not be all that can be formed about the content of Space: 1999's second season! As a group of same-thinkers who proudly affirm that their preferred Space: 1999 season is the adult one, they can be like a bunch of children "picking on" the person who will not "give in" to their dictate for acceptability. Yes, they, in their twenties, thirties, and even their forties, have all of the humanity of a preeminent schoolyard peer group. When Season 2 producer Fred Freiberger died in 2003, some of them were asking, "Does this mean we can't make fun of him anymore?" "Make fun," indeed. One would think that, outside of, perhaps, politics (or maybe including politics), "making fun" of someone is conduct of a bratty juvenile. But when it is done by a group of posturing intellectuals (or quasi-intellectuals) in the cause of trumpeting the virtues of one season of a television series over the alleged wretchedness of another, it is purported to be permissible, even respectable, to behave in such a way. The behaviour of an oh, so mature group whose opinion is worthy of acknowledgement in books on the science fiction/fantasy genre as the factual and definitive "take" on the subject of Space: 1999.
It should come as no surprise, then, that I should bemoan this era, Era 6, as so much of it was spent trying to appeal, through the fan club helmed by what ultimately proved to be a false friend, to a people such as this. Waste of time, utterly.
First, it was, or seemed to be, incumbent upon me (as nobody else was bothering to do it) to call attention to some of the special effects and set design triumphs and commendable acting in the episodes of Season 2. That was countered, in the newsletter columns of others, by allegations of silliness and insufficiently explained or supposedly contradictory story elements, or by "blooper" lists or by what were claimed to be "unbelievably bad lines" (of dialogue). The club president in Calgary kept urging me to go ahead and submit my symbological study of the "Journey to Where" episode and some other writings of a similar sensibility, to have a column for those types of episode examinations, in the fan club newsletter. Dean was, the Calgarian said, "out of line" to forbid me from ever arguing in favour of artistic merit in the episodes of Season 2, particularly as Dean had himself retreated completely from fandom. Curiously, when I, in 1992, opted to test the waters, and the limits then of my conscience, with a number of newsletter submissions of aesthetic interest, the Calgarian re-typed my "Journey to Where" article sent for the newsletter. He put no spaces between paragraphs. Not even a shift to another line when a paragraph ended. The article appeared as one humungous, run-on mess that would have been discouraging to even the most willing reader, much less to an assemblage of persons to whom an interpretive approach to an episode of the second season would be an unwelcome proposition. Other submissions scribed by me fared a bit better. At least they appeared in the newsletter as I had written them. Most of them refrained from arguing for any definite strand of symbolism, or at least not conclusively, instead merely stating observations about some similarity between episodes or between visualisations, motif, nuance- and being, at most, speculative about a possible interpretation. But as Dean had predicted, my style of delivery was such that the "fan mob" rejected outright the whole kit and caboodle. If indeed any alternative style of presenting my notions, perhaps one of being an apologist and kowtowing to the egos of my reluctant readership, would have had any different effect, I do not know. To be sure, even Dean's work submitted for consideration by fandom had been ultimately dismissed by the hoard.
For example, supposing I was to call to the attention of the fans that the two-part second season episode, "The Bringers of Wonder", and the episode, "Dorzak", following it in given chronology, both had people, friends, from Alphans' past arriving on Alpha only to be revealed to be "monsters" rather insidious and capable of telepathic control, in the case of "The Bringers of Wonder", the friends being rescuers from Earth who are really mind-manipulating alien invaders intent on destroying the Moon, and in "Dorzak" the eventually-proved-dastardly visitor being someone from Moonbase Alphan resident alien Maya's history on planet Psychon, one who became a devious, mind-subverting, mind-controlling criminal. Such interesting similarity in these two episodes, rather than be embraced like a long-undiscovered relative, would be met by the fans with utter dismissal. Whereas I would have thought that something like this would be an observation of some tangible worth and aesthetic acuity (not a mere opinion), the fan reaction to it, if any at all, would be, "But the episodes are rubbish, anyway. You're overanalysing." And on they would go, unfettered by any doubt, with their belittling of the second season. If I protested their closed-minded response, I would be lectured that their opinion is as valid as mine, presumably more so because it is far more common, that their negative opinion not only equals in weight but always trumps a positive, insightful approach to the Season 2 subject matter. Further "arguing the point" would inevitably bring an alleging of obsessiveness and "flakiness", or of not being sufficiently "grown up" to discern the truly artistic (Season 1) from the indefensible drivel (Season 1). There is a condescending, downright hypocritical counsel to, "Broaden your mind. Rethink your hostility to Season One". Portrayal of me as at best being passionate and inordinately sentimental rather than considered and rational. And that is despite the very lucidly written-about, aptly detected correspondences between episodes, for instance.
But they won. Their opinion prevails. That which they revile is regarded in "common knowledge" to be thoroughly contemptible and anyone contesting their view in anything other than from a "guilty pleasure" angle, is branded objectively wrong and delusional. The only way that one is permitted to appreciate the "generally less acclaimed" half of the television series is to do so with abject groveling, "putting oneself down" so as to not to offend the sensibilities of the preeminent majority whose proclivity of mobilising to proclaim in chorus against someone of a different, unapologetic, non-self-deprecating perspective on Space: 1999 knows no boundaries, heedless of that person's sensitivity. This total inability on the part of that vaunted majority, to empathise with and understand the nature of an individual's differently inclined interest in Space: 1999 and his hurt feelings when that interest is denigrated, berated, debased, has, in years hence, rather taxed my patience beyond its limits; so, I can imagine how unappealing my less than very empathetic behaviour must have been to my buddies of yesteryear. Tempered though it was with affinity and allegiance to them as friends.
The more that I was ignored or downplayed or condescended-to while in the fan club in the early-to-mid-1990s, and other columnists stepped up their attacks on Season 2, to the approval of the fan community, the more agitated I became. And it definitely exacerbated my agitation to see Dean ostensibly proven correct about the Space: 1999 fans; him being right about that increased the likelihood of his judgement of me being right, also. And even the possibility of that gnawed at me, at my belief in myself- even in my attempted renovated self. Concurrent to friendships close to home in this era ready at any time, it seemed, to expire, the lack of amenable regard and proper consideration accorded to me in fandom was indeed very taxing on my fortitude, to say nothing of the effect upon my belief, dubious though it had been since 1990, in my contact in Calgary who was the man in charge of the fan club. An upset-born, frustration-born faux-pas was inevitable. And these are people to whom any weakness, any error, is supremely definitive grounds for rejecting all that one has said or will ever say on the subject of "the show" or in defence of oneself as a person of quality or respectablilty. For silencing one, once and for all. And if one does not stay quiet, as I did not on the Internet, the verbal knives and arrows will be wielded.
I had in fact capitulated once, in 1990 regarding my criticism (which was shared by Dean and by Mr. Calgary but which in their case had not been printed) of the Ohio-based fan club whose presidents were livid at my comments. I had apologised- mostly in order to put a stop to the extreme negativity sent to me and to the new club's newsletter in reaction to my criticism. One apology was quite enough for me to never-wrong, perpetually non-empathetic, and always insufficiently understanding people. They would not receive another, not after the alienation in me, and of me, that had been building through the early 1990s. If I had made a further mistake, provoked though it was, I would sooner walk away and let the persons hostile to me rant and rave to my back as my detractors on the baseball diamond used to sometimes do, than to allow them to pull me by my ear through a series of condescending lectures, me henceforth being the still-present verbal punching bag, the idiot of the fan club, bombarded with all the more vigorous slurs against the second season and told that it was all my fault that those had intensified.
But admittedly, I do owe the presidents of the fan club in the 1980s a sincere apology. Knowing as I now do how much arrogant hostility there is, and must always had been, toward Season 2 amongst the fans, I am in fact thankful at what work they must have done to keep the animosity from reaching such proportions that have become quite the norm on the Internet. They may have thought it wise to refrain from printing most of my pro-Season 2 writings and to not do much to highlight Dean's, in the interest of not stirring a hornet's nest.
Still, Dean had done the honours- and then I had put forward some favourable studies of Season 2 episodes or phenomena. Delineate the corresponding aspects to consecutive or bundled chronologically ordered episodes or the artistically compelling visualisations, the symbolism, or whatever, present it in full to them, and what is the reaction? No budging whatsoever in the reviling of Season 2. They do not refute the observations being presented to them. They cannot. So, they dismiss the whole thing. Outright. And reaffirm their antipathy, their opinion to which they are entitled, and demand that I yield to that opinion, respect it whenever it is so confidently and tactlessly stated to the approving response of the majority. A refusal by me on this and a move toward "evening the score" would be met with rigorous ad hominem assault.
I preempted the profoundly negative, morale-plummeting effect upon me of experiencing such an outcome by quitting the club in 1995 before the animus toward me could gather steam for the newsletter issue coming after my list of first season "nitpicks". Just the hostile reaction of the Calgarian who told me that he intended next issue of the newsletter to "make an example" of me, as it were, was testimonial enough to the verity of what I am saying. How dare anyone, even out of years of provocation, call attention to anything in the first season that could be cited as erratum!
My bitterness about the bandwagon against Season 2 building momentum. Whence comes that?
A caveat before I respond to the question. Perhaps "building momentum" is an incorrect statement. Maybe the anti-Season-2 juggernaut always existed but just became more manifest post-1990 because there was nobody then keeping it in check; indeed, fandom's leadership was now quite willing to give to it a routine platform. Whatever the case, the onslaught of the juggernaut was happening. Happening at the same time in the early-to-mid-1990s as I was expounding some of the compelling aesthetic aspects to the second season. I pleaded in the newsletter (oh, yes, I did!) for a cessation in the hostilities against Season 2, and for respect for both seasons. The reaction to that was, if not sheer ignoring of it, open disagreement with it and patent, perhaps even spiteful, defiance of it. Indeed, it was though I had just fuelled the fire.
It was a most frustrating contrary tide, and compounding it was an invalidation, sometimes direct, sometimes implicit, and a sheer and unanimous rejection, of my writing and of my process of thought, as lacking any semblance of quality. Along with a besmirching of my experiences with the Space: 1999 television show over the years, from which I had derived much solace, as being illegitimate. I had grown to love Space: 1999 through my viewings of its second season during my final year in Douglastown, and on the strength of that love and my natural curiosity about the earlier season that CBC Television was showing after I moved to Fredericton, I was able to endure being a loner, a pariah, in my new habitat for weeks, months. I would not have been so keenly dedicated to watching Space: 1999 each Saturday in Fredericton if Season 2 had not "won me over" and made me a fan in the first place (Douglastown) of my acquaintance of the television show. And my love for Space: 1999 was, as I have said, founded on it, Space: 1999, being a culmination of everything that fascinated and interested me in my life up to that time. Jekyll and Hyde. Space. Celestial bodies vividly depicted. Alien environments and their life forms. Changeability of things on a personal and planetary, even cosmic scale. I did not back then comprehend all of what it was about Space: 1999 that appealed to me, but appeal to me it did so very much, and nostalgia would become an essential component to my steadfast adherence to the for many years (1979-83) elusive television series. Dean coming into my life in 1988 "turbo-charged" my comprehension. And what did I then find but a wasteland of kindred spirits to whom to convey my new enlightenment. Not only that, but an increasingly preeminent and arrogant herd of people with antipathy or hostility toward my way of thinking. Indeed, fandom was on an entirely contrary trajectory from me. And the more that I argued in Season 2's favour on aesthetics and potential meanings and protested the attitudes that I was having to behold increasingly on newsletter pages, the worse that the contrariousness did become. And all in contravention to the club president's pledge to me in 1989 and 1990 for fair treatment of both seasons and respect for my point of view. It was so confoundedly galling. It gave to my involvement with fandom a feeling of unbelonging and unpleasantness not unlike that of my days in junior high school, and a demoralising sense of abject failure and uselessness, in addition to indignation over an unjust situation for half of the television series whose presence in my life during a critical time of transition had no small part on forming my personality, my identity. Flawed though it is, in need of some improvement though it was, my identity is my own, and it is the most essential continuity of my life from my earliest remembered experiences in Era 1 to the day that I write these memoirs to my final seconds of drawn breath whenever that may be.
Yes. My identity is my own. Ultimately, it will be all that I leave this world with, when my day of release from this mortal coil, comes. It came into being and developed over years of formative experiences in which imaginative entertainments such as Space: 1999 and my affection for them, were an integral part. The benificent environment of Douglastown, the chilly milieus of Fredericton, my steadfast adherence to Space: 1999 as something engaging and exciting that bridged the gap between two very different life eras (Era 2 and Era 3) and to which nostalgia for the earlier of the two eras is inextricably conjoined. My identity is shaped by this, and also is in no small part formed in people's regard for me. Indeed, when people think of me, they think of Space: 1999. Other things, too. Bugs Bunny. Spiderman. James Bond. Etcetera. Fancies of mine that either grew into or grew out of my love for Space: 1999. And when people think of Space: 1999, when they see it mentioned in whatever the context, they think of me. People who have known me and have opinion of me. Favourable or otherwise. Why should I care what people think of me? Because I do. Except for complete and utter hermits who enjoy being hermits, everyone cares what other people think of them. Except for hermits, no one is an island. No one with an identity can be an island. As is said in a certain first season Space: 1999 episode, "None of us exists except in relation to others. Alone, we cease to have personalities." Of course, I care for what my friends' regard for me is, far more than I care for the opinions of me of total strangers. The opinion of my enemies matters to me only in as much as they might have some influence over my friends. And my enemies have had that influence in past eras of my life, as I have outlined. Yes. Even though I, with my insufficiently developed capacity for empathy and multi-contextualising my actions and those of others, was all too often an agent, and on numerous occasions the main agent, in my tribulation in friendship, the fact remains that friends had been influenced by others to change, to reduce, their esteem for me. To be unwilling to make allowances for me when I had erred. To overlook good things that I had done and suspend what affinity that they had for me. Temporarily or permanently. It happened. Yes, it did.
My interest in James Bond, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. grew out of my ardent enthusiasm for Space: 1999, and my love for Space: 1999 grew out of that for Bugs Bunny, Spiderman, Rocket Robin Hood, Planet of the Apes, etc.. Yes, even my interest in Star Wars was rooted in my love for Space: 1999, whose spectacular visualisations of alien worlds, depictions of alien life forms, and spaceship battles captured my imagination and made that imagination receptive to such things in other opuses, including Star Wars. Space: 1999 was a catalyst in my connection with David B. and through him my meeting of Tony, whose enthusiasm for Star Wars would very much foster mine. And there are actors from Space: 1999 in the Star Wars movies, in The Empire Strikes Back, mostly, and such contributed to my enjoyment of the Star Wars universe. If some preeminent group of outspoken people is to, either directly or indirectly, judge my affection for Space: 1999 to be illegitimate, why not go an extra step and declare all that grew into and out of that love to be illegitimate also? And why stop there? Why not go even further and proclaim my entire life experience with imaginative entertainment and indeed my whole life and me to be illegitimate? It should not be unfathomable why I object so much to such a posturing on the part of these fans. And other people, also. Why I find the constant and proliferating sniping at everything in Season 2 Space: 1999 with sweeping denunciations of it as being the entertainment equivalent of the yield of a bowel movement (this would be the case in my experience on the Internet), to be so offencive to the very core of my being. Of who I am as a person. And I have no doubt that there are people in my life over the years who would be happy to be hearing or reading such a condemnation of something from which my identity did grow. They would be grinning from ear to ear and nodding most approvingly at the condemnation. From my personal version of Iago who loved to whisper "Kevin-is-rotten" into my best friend Joey's ear, to my friend Steven's best pal who revelled at deriding or mocking anything of my esteem that I happened to be watching, talking about, or showing to people, to my peers in Fredericton schools whose scorn and reproval for me and what I liked had me fearful of opening my mouth or of having any profile at all at school. All would be overjoyed to see their opinion of me validated. To see my illegitimacy stated by others with the utmost display of confidence. And this chafes at me. Chafes at me so very, very much.
And it chafes at me to have to experience the disparagement of my interests in adulthood after hoping to have left invalidation behind me when my school years were finished. And to see Dean proved right yet again in his assessments of people. He told me that the fans would act exactly as they were acting. Such adds to the insult of having a branding of illegitimacy, in the fandom of my favourite television show.
Never confuse truth with the latest public opinion poll.
Of course, it is not true. I know that it is not true. Demonstrably not true. The nuances, the symbolisms, the exquisite patternings, are there. Much as the fans choose to ignore them and to resume their normal activities in the slurring of Season 2, these merits exist as a fact, even if only a small, small number of people acknowledge that they do. But since when has truth, the objective, fact-based truth, mattered to people? Since when has truth been the be-all-and-end-all? As long as most people believe something, that is what matters to people of sway in this unfair world. The opinion of the majority. It is what decides elections. The Zeitgeist is powered by majority opinion. It does not matter if the opinion rests upon a premise that is nothing but objectively groundless presupposition, like ugly, men-in-suit monsters being indicative of meaningless, worthless, "brainless" science fiction/fantasy just because monsters are spoken-of as "bad sci-fi" by people supposedly "in the know". An entertainment with a bipedal, two-eyed monster in it cannot possibly be meaningful or of any artistic worth. The "experts" say so, most people revering, without question, those "experts", tend to think so, and this is, sadly, the judgement to which most other people defer. To hell with me. The people who matter to me will see these sorties against my taste and could be influenced by them to think less of me. This is upsetting. Anyone with a normal amount of empathy would understand that. Of course, the fans are empathy-deficient, and they do not identify with me at all. I do not belong with them, and therefore in their eyes and in the eyes of anyone giving credence to them I must be illegitimate. A loathsome being of no consequence.
Even if I were to forsake Space: 1999 and everything else that I have fancied, and to dismiss decades of experience as being inconsequential, there is no escaping the connection of all of it to me in the minds of people who know me. My fidelity to these works of entertainment through my youth and decades of adulthood and the acknowledgement of that in people's regard for me, is inescapable. And it is unjust what is heing heaped upon a beautiful work such as second season Space: 1999, and my intense disapproval, my indignation, over that cannot be wished away. Or stifled.
And truly, the Internet has unleashed the dogs of war for opponents of all Space: 1999 episodes produced after end of Season 1. No longer constrained by cautious pragmatism of newsletter editors (in the 1980s club, at least) or the lengthy process of inscribing, putting into an envelope, stamping, mailing, and waiting months for their writing to appear before the eyes of their fellows, they could "pound out" epithets most glibly abrasive on their computer keyboard, click a computer mouse over an Internet Hyperlink, and see the instant gratification of their disseminated words- and the swift answers of approval for their hate for Season 2 from their peers, thus permitting an instantaneous and vicious swarming attack of a lone protester (myself). And thereafter, they promptly went ahead and started attacking each other over an entirely unrelated matter.
Errors of continuity are to be found in any production, theatrical motion picture or television series episode, if one wishes to scrutinise the production with intent to find such errors. Indeed, if one is determined to find fault with something, anything, one will. Case-in-point: the Internet Movie Database has "goofs" lists for all of the James Bond films, Star Wars and sequels, indeed all blockbuster movies. Also, The Nitpicker's Guide to Trek is jam-packed with observations on all sorts of mistakes in filming, editing, writing, etc. in perhaps the most esteemed deep-space opus of human imagination. Man is imperfect, and groups of men and women even more so as the individual capacity for imperfection is multiplied by number of persons. This plus being under constraints of time, in the filming of an opus involving a future, off-the-Earth setting, means that there are bound to be lapses in depiction and story. But there is an undeniable skew in the awareness of Space: 1999 fans for shortcomings, be they only purported or demonstrable as incontrovertible, of their favourite television series. They will subject second season episodes to the most rigorous search possible for errors of continuity or "plot holes", in many cases interpreting things out of context or failing to formulate the most elementary rationalisations that are expected of a viewer. The principle, if it can be called that, being, I suppose, that the more that can be found- or said- to be wrong about Season 2, the more that its detractors can assert righteousness in their anti-Season-2, anti-Fred-Freiberger sorties. And all the while giving Season 1 a cursory glance, if even that, for errata. Anything they do find to be wrong with Season 1 is immediately forgiven, anyway- as long as it is stated by someone who is regarded as placing the first season on the loftiest pedestal- and of course provided that such errors are regarded as very infrequent. In the early 1990s and most particularly 1995, I quite adroitly stated my observation of there being a distinct slant in the "blooper"-quest of the fan base and pondered why such is so. Anybody with an ounce of "fair play" would concede that I had at least tangible semblance of valid position. Especially as there are some rather glaring errors of production in episodes of the first season.
My membership was due for its annual renewal in autumn, 1995, meaning that, were I to not pay my dues for another twelve months, no further newsletters would be sent to me after the one with my particularly highly inflammatory contribution. Hence, I did not witness the backlash first-hand but was informed of it a few years after. Yes, I was jeered-at as being spurious, to say nothing of being branded a Season 2 "fanatic", and such a person equates with someone afflicted with every disease imaginable, in addition to being mentally unfit. I had opted, in sheer frustration, to point toward some less than perfect construction of scenes and premises in Season 1, and the response, as Mr. Calgary had predicted, was vitriolic, to say the least. "How dare you allege any faults in our precious Season 1?" "Kevin the Destroyer!" It was rather like the person who retaliates under duress after heavy bombardment being accused of having started a war. One person even said unto me, "Kevin, you should rethink your obvious hostility toward first season because you are clearly incapable of seeing any flaw in Season 2," the implication being that such, which was an inaccurate assessment of me in any case, means that I have zero credibility. Well, Mr. Pot, do meet Mr. Kettle. I would call it specious for anyone to entertain thought that I do not appreciate Season 1, after the pleasure that I have expressed in these very memoirs at acquiring first season Space: 1999 episodes in 1983 in Era 4. I had certainly not refrained from communicating my high regard for Season 1 while I was participating in fandom from 1984 through to the 1990s. And they portray me as having ignorance capable of filling a black hole (which was another of the retorts fired in my direction during one of the flare-ups of strife during my involvement with fandom).
My appreciation for the first season granted as fact, I am, however, indignant at the treatment that its pundits administered to the second season, at their attitude in all of its smugly complacent herd mentality, its proud intransigence toward any pleas for consideration of a more positive way of regarding Season 2. There is no possibility of any understanding of me by them, because those people utterly lack the capacity for such. That a television series that counsels open-mindedness could attract such pigheadedness, is an absurdity, I should think. "How dare you posit that there be anything in the subject matter of our show that we do not already know?" Indeed! It is, alas, a fan mentality that does rather transcend television show or genre lines, as I would discover on the Internet in years to come. Ah, the Internet! The logical extension, with unlimited and instantaneously delivered speech, for the intolerantly berating conglomerate of the closed-minded. Dean maintained that, at least with regard to Space: 1999, it was involuntary on the fans' part, that the collective subconscious was instilling in them a refusal to acknowledge or accept the artistically intriguing facets to Season 2 and to go on the attack upon anyone who would not "stand down" from appreciating those facets, and who would not adhere to their oh, so definitive viewpoint against Season 2. Whether this was right or not, the behaviour of those people was and is deplorable, and they are a lost cause. The revelation, beyond any possible doubt, of the condition of the fan movement as steered by my false friend, was certainly the most cogent product of my trek across North America in 1995, which I shall now recollect.
Winter and spring of 1995 had for me been a time of unhappiness. Not that such a condition is unusual. Certainly not after 1987. But I felt it very acutely in 1995, for I more and more was aware by then that fandom was for me like hydrochloric acid poured upon my once vibrant flower of enthusiasm for and zeal to share my esteem, my love, for Space: 1999, and yet I was persisting to stay the dedicated and textually contributing, however evidently beleaguered and frustrated, member of the Calgarian's fan club. And I was also in the upsetting role as the evidently expendable, utterly spurned friend in the environs of Nashwaaksis. I was indeed feeling an aggrieving sense of total loss of friendship, such as it was, with my younger associates of this life era in Fredericton North. My Melvin Street friend rebuffed me several times in the winter and early spring months of 1995. I never saw him on the street for three long months in the previous autumn. And from that was for me a sense of disposibility that was all to familiar for me after the friend losses of Era 4. My lamentable tendency toward being unintentionally verbally "off-putting" did increase in consequence of that, I have to say, and that resulted in more snubbing of me. And so it went. And the recognisable collapse of Era 6 friendships did wreak havoc on my mood, which swung back and forth, usually forth- from a tentative optimism (after some increasingly rare cordial response on the part of Era 6 friends, to seeing me) to despondency.
I was yet again hemorrhaging friends, I was jobless, I was fraught with frustration in my involvement with an assemblage of Space: 1999 fans (though there were some indications in April and May, 1995, of possible turnaround in my relationship with my contact in Calgary, and pen pal correspondence with another western Canadian Space: 1999 fan, the aforementioned young man in Regina, Saskatchewan, appeared to be in improving condition after a two-year lapse), and, Bugs Bunny Show on MITV or Bugs Bunny & Tweety on ATV and ABC notwithstanding, I was miserable. My parents could see this, certainly. They had come into some money (I do not recall from where they came into it) and were preparing to have some renovation done to our house, and to my living area mostly, having already (in April) removed the wall separating my bedroom and television viewing room to create something very spacious indeed in which for me to sleep, to watch television, to collect videotapes, and eventually, to surf the Internet. The plan for the summer was to paint all of the walls or my single, extra-large living area, a task which would be facilitated were I to be away from home. This consideration plus a much-needed boosting of my abysmally low spirits prompted my mother to offer to fund an excursion by me to visit my fan contacts in Canada's western provinces- in addition to going to a Space: 1999 convention scheduled for mid-July in Los Angeles, the first time ever for me to attend such an event.
Naive to the bitter end, I thought that going to see the club president in Calgary would be ideal for putting to right what had been going wrong for me in his club; in a telephone conversation with him that April, he did sound quite conciliatory toward reaching some way of accommodating my concerns about the direction in which the fan movement seemed to be intent upon going. Both he and my fan contact in Regina were pleased that I was considering coming to see them, and offers of hospitality were extended. I was very excited about attending the convention in Los Angeles, too, for the guests scheduled to appear at that convention included Space: 1999 thespians Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Barry Morse, and Nick Tate.
The planning of my journey was, as one would expect, meticulous. Initial intention to travel by train to Saskatchewan and Alberta was abandoned when I learned that VIA Rail no longer stopped in Regina or Calgary; it opted for a route to the north of those cities, going instead to Saskatoon and Edmonton (and there was also a two-day stop in Toronto). Plans were modified. My itinerary would be the same, i.e. Regina, then Calgary, then Los Angeles and then those destinations in reverse order, but aeroplane would be my mode of transportation from Fredericton to Regina and Calgary to Los Angeles and Los Angeles to Calgary, Regina to Fredericton, with conveyance by road between Regina and Calgary, Calgary and Regina. I had never traveled such a distance before. I had only once before flown on an aeroplane but had been too young to remember it.
On Saturday, July 15, 1995, very early in the morning, I boarded a westbound Air Canada jet for the first leg of my trans-North-American expedition. Experiencing flight left me light-headed and slightly "butterflied" in stomach, but the aircraft landed in Toronto in very little time at all. At Pearson Airport, I transferred to a much larger Air Canada aeroplane for conveyance to Regina, the experience on that jet being smoother though distinctly longer, more monotonous. I was very pleased to put my feet on the ground in Regina. My post-1991 pen pal there met me at Regina International Airport and brought me to his home, a modest-sized, two-floor abode in an old residential sector of Saskatchewan's capital city. He shared the premises and the expenses of it with a friend.
He and I had lunch at a place called Fuddruckers that specialised in gourmet hamburgers, and he showed to me a large shopping complex at which there was a electronics store called Future Shop. It had every grade and length of blank videocassette, and I bought some SONY Hi-Fi T-120 videotapes onto which to record copies of some of my host's Space: 1999 laser videodiscs, which he generously permitted me to do with the use of his videocassette recorder conneted to his laser videodisc player.
I must say that my fellow Space: 1999 fan in Regina seemed quite atypical of what was proving to be the norm for aficionados of the Gerry Anderson-produced, mid-1970s television show. He made an impression upon me as being kind, empathetic, fairly open-minded. That was my impression. And he was infallibly accommodating, offering his bed to me while he slept on the living room floor, sparing no visit to grocery store and no expense to please my admittedly not the most expansive palate- and when circumstances did not permit him to go with me in his car to Calgary as had originally been planned, he paid the Greyhound Bus fare for me from Regina to Calgary. The apparent affirmation of friendship between him and myself, even with my flights of interpretive fancy by times regarding Space: 1999 while we were together, constutued what seemed to be a positive outcome, one of a very few positive outcomes, of my summer, 1995 travel. He was very un-judging of me in the jetlagged condition that I was in for almost the full duration of my stay with him on the outward part of my long journey. I slept very little, was consequently not at my best conversationally, lacked appetite, and my bodily processes became irregular. I was only starting to adjust to having voyaged by jet across time zones and to the unaccustomed circumstance of being so far from home, when the time came to "press onward" to Calgary. The bus ride was longer than any such had by me before, and the scenery of prairie flatlands was almost unremitting as the bus sped west to Calgary. I spent over ten hours on that bus, and by the time it reached the Calgary bus depot, I was weary of the Regina-to-Calgary scenery tedium of the day and eager to converse with the Calgarian and to see the Calgarian's place and possessions. My Calgary contact met me at the depot. And from there we went in his car into Calgary centre.
I do not relish, really I do not, going comprehensively into a critique of him as my host within his condominium. He, however, has seen fit to declare me, in recounting to others the specifics of my visit, to be "the houseguest from hell". I shall endeavour to counter that description for the hyperbole that it is while at least trying here to rise above his level of pettiness. Trying while maybe not succeeding. If so, then so be it. My side of the story has to be told. Thoroughly.
It is true that in the wake of my 1995 cross-continental venture I was critical of him during private conversations with my family (I was, naturally, quite indignant about how I had been received, and rightly so, after having travelled so far and at such expense to meet him) and with my fan contacts in Ontario and Florida. And I shall, as dispassionately now as is possible, here, in this dissemenated vehicle, counter his hyperbole. Why? Because it does quite beg to be refuted. And I shall use instances of Barney being insufferable guest to Fred in episodes of The Flintstones to serve as a something of a yardstick against which to compare my allegedly deplorable manners as a guest.
During my stay in Calgary with that person, I did not insist on use of his bed and thus oblige him to sleep on a pair of chairs, a sofa, or the floor; I happily slept on the floor in his living room, and he slept in his bed in his bedroom. I did not eat a whole pizza pie or entirety of whatever meal in his refrigerator that he had planned for the two of us; rather, after another conveyance from place to place (Regina to Calgary), my appetite was once more reduced- at least it was on my outward journey as I was in Calgary. If anything, during the less than two weeks in which I was traveling to and from Los Angeles, I mainly ate less than I usually do. Yes, it is true that I can be a fussy eater by times, but not much more so than most people nowadays, actually. Moving onward...
I did not gargle in the middle of the night, did not wear "loud" pyjamas, and did not snore (to my knowledge). I broke none of his prized possessions. I refrained from any direct criticism of him as a host for as long as I stayed with him. Further, I required only one use of his washing machine to clean clothing that was certainly not substantially sullied with grime. I did not clog his toilet requiring summons of a plumber, and I used his bathroom facilities whenever possible while he was out on errands. And I was as cordial as could be with him even when he used the "upper hand" that he had over me as my host and as "head honcho" of the fan club to subject me to a verbal grilling lasting way past midnight, on the night of the day when I flew back into Calgary from Los Angeles. A grilling in which he expressed his dislike for my newsletter column when it considered potential artistic aspects to Season 2 (first time that he told me so on this score), him wishing instead for it to be not much more than a fluff column on characterisation, etc., if it dealt with Season 2 at all. He lambasted me for my provoked "nitpicking" of Season 1, said how objectionable that it was- while TV Zone article reprints and so forth attacking Season 2 evidently were not. And he promised in next newsletter to "put me in my place", as it were.
In fairness, I credit him for serving as tour guide, bringing me via his car to the Drumheller Royal Tyrrell Museum and to Banff and Lake Louise in the Rocky Mountains, though his attitude on those "day trips", one of them to Drumheller on July 20, one of them to "the Rockies" on July 25, was rather that of someone doing such on sufferance, out of obligation as an Albertan to show to the "hick" from "down east" the sights of Canada's probably most visually resplendent province. I do have him to thank for the photographs that I have of myself amidst the Alberta Badlands, the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the Rocky Mountains, and Lake Louise, the only photographic record that I have of my having been in those places, though the snapshooting of a dozen or so photographs scarcely requires much in the way of strain or stress, despite my, I suppose, rather less than photogenic physiognomy. The aloofness with which the Calgarian undertook to transport me to the above-mentioned Alberta locales and guide me through them was par for the course for a visit in which my deportment was only to be tolerable if I agreed at last to "stand down" my aesthetic and intellectual-impressionistic reverence for Space: 1999- Season 2 (he had less contention, I would guess, with the nostalgic aspect of my affection for Space: 1999's second season as long as it meant that I would always henceforth be self-belittlingly submissive to the "put-downs" of it by the quasi-intellectuals in his club), and "come over" to his ever so more considered "side" of Season-1-versus-Season-2. My refusal to surrender to his insistent favouritism toward all things first season and to his criticism of several of my contributions to the club newsletter, contributions which he did not like solely because they were aesthetically and cogitatively pro-Season 2, guaranteed my intolerability as his guest no matter how much I declined to verbally criticise or argue with him. I liked, nay, appreciated that which he judged to be contemptible (or "tainted" and "sinful"), and for that and for my refusal to utterly concede to his assessment of the item (Space: 1999's second season), I was impossible to happily abide for a handful of days in his home. Even if I do lack some social graces and might occasionally be an awkward houseguest (which is something that I am willing to accept as a postulate), there are, objectively, worse, far, far worse potential examples of houseguest than I. "Houseguest from hell", indeed.
Had my position on the issue of Space: 1999's two seasons and relative merit between them been same as his, I have no doubt that my bearability as a guest would have been better by leaps and bounds. I would have been much, much less a representative of Satan's realm in the Calgarian's condominium, at least for awhile, perhaps for the full amount of days that I was guest. Longer than that, and something else would have invoked the disdain or ire of my host, Space: 1999 fans being as prone to conflict as they are. Yes, even with persons of same persuasion on Season-1-versus-Season-1.
Granted, I did have a nosebleed when we came back to Calgary from the day's excursion to the Rocky Mountains, and I was very tired that day and did wish to retire early as it had followed our previous early-morning conference. And I was retiring to bed, or rather makeshift floor sleeping unit, when he walked into his place with a female guest and a bottle of wine, no prior discussion with me as to his exact plans that evening in his condominium. I did not disturb them but was too tired, really, to join them. I do not drink alcohol, in any case. Scarcely irredeemable indictments against me. And while he conveyed me in his car to Regina as arranged on Wednesday, July 26, for the three of us, him, my Regina pen pal, and myself to meet in Regina, he was snootier than anyone anywhere has ever been to me- and after my having lived in Fredericton for multiple decades, this is really saying something!
That eight-or-nine-hour road journey was made all the more long by my not having a noontime lunch (he had seemed content with the cold fried chicken he bought for himself in Calgary in the morning and cared not one whit about me being nourished for the duration of the morning and afternoon on the road). I did urge stopping for a hot lunch, but not until nearly 3 P.M., at which time I was famished. And he sniped at me for my lack of consideration as regards the timing of our arrival in Regina. Yes, my lack of consideration. After he failed to consider my needs on the long day on the road, he had the temerity to accuse me of lacking consideration. Well, even with our stop for me to have something to eat, we still arrived in Regina quite some time before the Reginan was ready to join us. Mr. Calgary's conduct in Regina was quite obnoxious, but I shall, before recollecting any of that, remember visiting the ultimate destination of the trek, that being Los Angeles.
My uncle Fenton who in 1995 lived in Fullerton, a Los Angeles suburb south of Los Angeles-proper, met me at Los Angeles International Airport, at which I arrived on aircraft from Calgary on Friday, July 21. It felt so very gratifying to see a familiar and friendly face so very far from home! Fenton had lunch with me in a restaurant en route to Norwalk, the Los Angeles suburb where the Space: 1999 convention was to occur, and then stayed with me as I "checked in" at the Sheraton Norwalk Hotel, location of the July 22-23, 1995 Command Conference Convention. In fairness, I will say that the convention organisers were quite amiable young ladies. And they were reasonably welcoming to me. Although I was astounded to learn that only one of the invited guests, Nick Tate, was likely to come to the event, Martin Landau being busy in the filming of Pinocchio, a vehicle for then-popular child actor Jonathan Taylor-Thomas, in Italy, Barry Morse being unavailable as his wife was very ill, and Barbara Bain for some reason not having confirmed her interest in attending the convention, I found it difficult to blame the two organisers, one of whom resided in Texas and had to plan the convention from many hundreds of miles away. Yet, I cannot say that I was not profoundly disappointed. Nick Tate did graciously join the event, though he did so for only a couple of hours on the afternoon of Saturday, July 22, and for most of that time he spoke at a podium about non-Space: 1999 subjects, his mention of the television show for which the fans had congregated being punctuated occasionally with repudiation of Season 2 and its producer, Fred Freiberger, garnering rounds of applause from the crowd in the hotel convention room seats as I sat there the utter, unmitigated misfit. Further, at an auction on the Sunday afternoon in the same convention room, the auctioneer a few times when showing a Season-2-related item to the crowd ever so matter-of-factly said disparaging things about it, such as a photograph from "The Metamorph" episode potentially serving as a good dartboard. Whoops and laughs ensued from the people present.
All through the two days, I overheard fans avowing their respect only for Space: 1999- Season 1 or prior Gerry Anderson television programmes such as UFO or the ones with puppets. It was in fact quite a cosy group of about fifty people, at most, and I had lunch and dinner with clusters of fans at nearby restaurants (I feared going anywhere by myself, mindful as I was of crime in Los Angeles as how it is reported to be- and because no other fans were going to tour Hollywood, and as my uncle was too busy to accompany me on that, I did not see the primary Los Angeles attractions). For the most part, at lunches and dinners, the fans talked very little about the television series which the convention was supposed to be celebrating, and when they did it was about which were the worst episodes, those of Season 2 always mentioned in this regard, of course. Never once during that entire weekend did they ever think that their anti-Season-2 opinion was possibly not unanimous and that their presumptuous, derisive barbs might be insulting, as indeed such should be; after all, who wants one's favourite television show used to belittle one's taste in entertainment, aesthetics, interpretive sensibilities, life experiences, or whatever? I felt distinctly out of place at the event, and although I did meet Nick Tate, shook hands with him, and had him autograph a few pictures, him standing before the crowd and rousing and validating their loathing and contempt for Space: 1999's second season, put quite a damper on my privilege of at long last meeting one of the actors of Space: 1999. I cannot expect the fans to understand how I felt, for they evidently lack any of the capacity for empathy needed to understand. Still, the two young ladies who organised the event were quite pleasant. To this day, I cannot comment very crabbily about the officiary of Command Conference Convention, 1995. But the convention as it was just was not my function. Not my "cup of tea". I just do not accord with the fans in the way that they are enamoured with Space: 1999, i.e. in approach or in incline and manner of predilection. I am not a fan in a "conventional" sense, I guess. Pun be pardoned.
And not meeting Martin Landau was a major, major disappointment, for sure. Of course, knowing as I now do his antipathy for Season 2, his star has dropped by several parsecs in my eyes, and no-thanks first of all to my Calgary contact who since 1990 had spared very little anti-Season-2 reportage in his telephone talks with me, I had in 1995 already been made aware that Mr. Landau was, to say the least, quite prickly, on the subject of Space: 1999- Season 2. Perhaps it was for the best that he did not "make it" to the 1995 Space: 1999 convention in Los Angeles. Both him and Nick Tate standing at the podium and speaking unfavourably about the twenty-four episodes of the second Space: 1999 season would have aggrieved me severely. The fans know that Landau's disregard for, if not ostensible loathing of, Season 2, thereby buttressing the Season-2-hating fans' stand, does indeed hurt me- and I can be easily trounced in an argument by having Mr. Landau's disdain for the second season "thrown in my face" by inimical groups of fans, my becoming upset furnishing to them all that more the advantage (as though their numbers do not sufficiently give them that) in trouncing me on those occasions where I would deem enough to be enough and would protest the otherwise unchallenged, arrogant attitude of the anti-Season-2 pundits of Season 1.
Actually, I do comprehend the rationale of Landau, Tate, indeed the entirety of the portion of the cast of Space: 1999 who spanned the divide between Seasons One and Two, as regards the Space: 1999 second season. I can empathise with their dismay on their return to Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire to start making Season 2, to find so much that had been characteristic of the look and the storytelling style of Season 1, to be gone, jettisoned because the New York City office of ITC Entertainment wanted an alternative, "livened up" rendition of Space: 1999. Indeed, much of their inclination not to think kindly of the scripts and the depictions of Season 2 was promulgated, I think, on the changes to the style of the television show. Mandatory changes that they all felt were unnecessary. In Nick Tate's case, the Alan Carter character which he played seemed to him to be reduced in importance among the television series' personages, and I can see the basis for him thinking thus, Carter in some episodes appearing very sparsely if at all. But I would maintain that where Alan was a presence at time's length in episodes, his role tended to be more visible, and often also more integral, in the particular episode, examples including "Journey to Where", "The Mark of Archanon", "The AB Chrysalis", "Space Warp", "Dorzak", "The Immunity Syndrome", than it had been in the lion's share of Season 1's episodes. And the writers had moved away from the tiresome confrontations of Carter with Koenig. But I can see Nick Tate's problem with the episodes of Season 2 in which Alan was nowhere to be seen.
Being the professionals that they are, Landau and Tate still delivered excellent performances. Their dislike of the way of things with Season 2 ought, one would think, to have softened over the years- and they ought to be receptive to favourable assessments of Season 2 when such do come, rather than rebuffing, indeed denying the legitimate existence of, the Season 2 aficionado, as the Season 1 "camp" delights in hearing from them at the conventions. They ought to be considerate of the portion of the audience who do see merit in the episodes of Season 2 and not ascribe to the same supposition of the fans that only one "true opinion" exists, and that any other persons of a different, more constructive mind as regards Season 2, are wrong. Their endorsement of the prevailing prejudice, all the more affirming to the arrogance of the Season-2-hating fans, distresses me profoundly. And it galls me, too, that the pundits exclusively of Season 1, including the one in Calgary, tend to curry privilege based on the fact that Space: 1999 production luminaries share their outlook.
Late Sunday, July 23, I was met at the Sheraton Norwalk by my uncle, and I "checked out" of the hotel. I stayed with my uncle at his Fullerton home on the night of July 23-24. In my uncle's living room, I had a telephone conversation with my mother, in which I informed her that my host in Calgary had been rather aloof toward me during my stay with him on the outward portion of my journey. She suggested the name of someone known to our family, someone living in Calgary, and gave to me that person's telephone number. And recommended that I contact that person and arrange to stay with him until I could board a bus to Regina. It was not a solution that I favoured, as I had left some of my luggage with the Calgarian before I went to Los Angeles. And anyway, I had not yet received the most disagreeable treatment from Mr. Calgary and thought that my stay with him on the return journey might be better. I had agreed to represent the fan club at the convention and to give to convention guests copies of the newsletter. And he had seemed to warm to me somewhat before I left Calgary for Los Angeles on the previous Friday. What a fool that I was!
I slept rather restlessly that night in my uncle's guest bedroom, knowing that I had ahead of me a long journey to home.
On the morning of Monday, July 24, I had breakfast with my uncle at a restaurant, and was brought by my uncle to the airport. He was required to report to work; so, I stayed at the airport by myself until the aeroplane flying to Calgary was ready for boarding early in the afternoon. Arrival of the aircraft in Calgary was not until late in the afternoon, around dinnertime. I felt a distinct feeling of comfort at being back on Canadian soil- and the Canadian customs officials were certainly more pleasant than their U.S. counterparts. My faux ami in Calgary was not there at the airport to meet me, even though the aeroplane's landing was somewhat later than scheduled. Here was where I committed an error of judgement which I would regret for years to follow. I ought to have acted swiftly to make different arrangements for accommodations for the couple of days I would be in Calgary before proceeding to Regina on the return half of my North American trek. I should have telephoned the person whose telephone number my mother had given to me. And if I was unable to reach him, I should have gone to a hotel.
In fact, I learned a few years later that my old friend Kevin MacD. had moved to Calgary and was living there in 1995. If only I had known this and had his contact information, I could have "looked him up" if I was not able to make contact with that person suggested by my mother. Or perhaps even before trying to contact that other person. I might have stayed with Kevin on the next couple of days and had an infinitely more enjoyable time. And it would have been so much better for me to have paid bus fare to Regina instead of going to the Saskatchewan capital city in the Calgary Space: 1999 fan club president's car. However, as I have said, I had left some of my luggage with him before going onward to Los Angeles; I would still have needed to collect that luggage at his (the Space: 1999 fan club president's) place before I could visit with my old friend, Kevin. That is assuming, of course, that I would have been successful in contacting Kevin on the telephone. Even had I not been successful, I could- and should- have gone to a hotel.
But I did as originally intended, opting to stay another pair of days with the Space: 1999 fan club president when he did eventually appear at the airport. And that evening, once we were back at his condominium after a dinner at a mall food court's Kentucky Fried Chicken, on came the deluge of what he does not like about this and what he dislikes about that, in terms of my contributions to "his club". At long last, his stance on Space: 1999- Season 2 and aesthetic and connotational and symbological coverage pertaining to it, was clear as mud.
As I say, the journey of the Calgarian and I to Regina was very long, and a sizable percentage of it was a hungry one for me. It was obvious that I was in a vehicle with someone who clearly thought so little of me as to ask if I was in need of a midday meal. And I received pugnaciousness from him when I did finally ask for a stoppage of our trek so that I could nourish myself. Once we reached Regina, once I was no longer in any sense his guest, the Calgarian removed the "kid gloves" and delivered with relish his disdain for me, with plenty of spoken taunts, non-verbal snootiness, and intimations to our mutual Regina pen pal that I am defective, deserving of all of the verbal bullets about to be let loose in my direction in the newsletter.
We stopped at a licenced restaurant on Regina's "main drag", and he telephoned the Reginan to inform the Reginan of our having arrived and where we were. The Reginan would not be joining us for some time yet. So, we waited outside the restaurant for him to arrive there. And the barrage of disagreements expressed in a most clipped manner began.
I said that it looked like it was going to rain. "No, it isn't." I said that I thought the meal prices on the restaurant's menus seemed a tad expensive. "No, they're not." After the Reginan joined us for dinner at the restaurant, I was recounting all that had transpired at the convention and how disappointed that I was with the fan attitudes there. And the Calgarian, utterly lacking in empathy for my unpleasant experiences, professed with his infinite wisdom and clear contravention of his pledge to me in 1990 that there was to be respect for both seasons in the fan club led by him, that there was nothing objectionable about those attitudes and that I am the faulty quantity, precious and even paranoid. The Reginan could see that there was friction, tension, between his two dinner partners. He gave to me a perplexed look as if to say, "What the hell is going on here?" And so it went.
Mr. Calgary was trying to provoke me into an argument with him in front of the Reginan, and kept on doing so after we three were at the Reginan's place. An argument that, he reckoned, he would win effortlessly because he was more conversationally confident, more conversationally able, particularly with being both glib and sweepingly demeaning in the words that flew off of his self-important tongue. He had had an upbringing in a large family with ample training in the smoothly caustic rejoinder. I was an only-child, not honed in verbally sparring with people through some vast experience therewith in my first eighteen years of life. He would "have me for breakfast" in a quarrel of spoken words, and he knew it. He also had that newsletter column that he could use as a brickbat. He was confident that he was "in the driver's seat". Indeed, even if I did not "take bait" and would not be goaded into fighting with him, he could, with tacit threat of a fight, simply assume the dominant position in a conversation and "cut me down" whenever I said anything, which he did. Sometimes just with a feigned cough, an affected and suggestive cough, to suggest to the Reginian that I am not right in the head and should be forsaken. Like after I declined to order an alcoholic beverage with my meal at the restaurant. Oh, there must surely be something insufferably and irredeemably bad about me because I do not drink alcohol. Sure. Sure. Sure. Or when I declined to swim. Not firing a salvo of hostile noise back at him and quietly coping with the loathsome situation as best I could, enabled him to portray me as a sullen, sulky, withdrawn "wuss", in addition to being delusional in aesthetically fancying Season 2 and undeserving of any credence or respect. That was how the overly greased wheels in his head were turning, I have no doubt. This is not paranoia. It is just a logical conclusion from the observable fact of his behaviour and his probable bearing based on the umbrage that he had with me. I would not capitulate to him, publically excoriate myself for the newsletter column and abjectly "take my lumps", and then repudiate my aesthetic interest in Season 2 and only write "fluff pieces" henceforth. And he had me in a "classic double-bind". One of the sneakiest tricks of the invalidator. There was no way for me to win. And he knew it.
Even so, it now seems almost comical the desperation in his effort that he was undertaking to portray me as mentally deficient to my Regina pen pal. We three were at a Regina convenience store to buy some items, and as I locked the car door while preparing to join them to go into the store, Mr. Calgary, right in front of me, said to my Regina pen pal, "Is this standard procedure for him, or what?" He was implying, I suppose, that in locking the car door I was being concerned, unduly, about thefts and therefore supposedly of unsound mind. I was rightly concerned, for I had my belongings in the car- as my pen pal replied to Mr. Calgary. Good for him for "setting the record straight". I must express my gratitude for that. It had been the "cheapest" of the Calgarian's "shots", and the Reginan was not going to allow that one to go unchallenged.
Once the three of us were convened at my Regina friend contact's house for the evening, the conversation was all about the Calgary Space: 1999 fan, his opinions, his intentions, his wants, with derisive comments made by times about Season 2, intended undoubtedly to provoke me, as we watched one of its episodes, "The Seance Spectre". We also watched the first season's episodes, "War Games" and "Guardian of Piri". And it was all positivity in the Reginan's living room for those. I "kept my cool", eventually retiring to bed, tired as I was after a long day's travel in the car of someone who was far from amiable. After my retiring to bed, as I was told later by the Reginan, the conversation had included talk of me and of how unsatisfactory my visit in Calgary had been to my ever so endearing Space: 1999 "pal" in the condominium in the Albertan city. The following day, as the three of us visited my Regina pen pal's parents, it was a series of further attempts by the Calgarian to portray me as anything other than an acceptable fellow Space: 1999 fan or admissible specimen of human, him implying thus using a cornucopia of cues, some of them verbal, some of them non-verbal. My declining to join them in a swimming pool was met with a suggestive coughing by Calgary to the effect, I presume, that I am finicky to the extent of paranoia, where mingling in fun activity with other people is concerned. We were scarcely on speaking terms by then, needless to say.
I was tired after the many days of my long trek. The jetlag. The Calgarian's haughtiness on my stay with him on my outward journey. His confrontation with me on my first night with him on my return journey. The convention. All of the travelling. Yes, I was very tired. Tired and homesick. And the last thing that I wanted was to contend with this jerk at this late stage in my odyssey. By this point in time, I just wanted for the "whole thing" to be "over with". I counted the minutes before the Calgarian's departure that day for his home city. It could not happen too soon for me.
As to whether my Regina contact "bought" the wretched branding of me being mongered to him, it did seem to me then not to be so. After the Calgarian left for his journey to his home and my Regina contact and I were alone, my Regina friend contact appeared not swayed by the Calgarian's ever so creative Kevin McCorry portraiture brush-strokes (Mr. Calgary is in fact an artist by profession). From his conversation with me, it seemed that he did not "buy" what was being peddled to him by the master-painter. But little time passed following my return home before I lost all contact with the fellow in Regina. My letters went unanswered. My telephone calls, ditto. The last communique from Regina was that the Calgarian had arranged an excursion for the two of them. It is not paranoia to infer that Mr. Calgary persisted in tarnishing me when they two met for their excursion, and that either he was eventually successful at talking my Regina pen pal into believing that I am deranged and "bad news", or my Regina pen pal became so exasperated with the ugly mess that he opted to cut all ties to the fan club leader in Calgary and to me. But he did not cut ties with Mr. Calgary. They are friends to this day. I have learned that much. So, which of these inferences is correct? I would guess the former.
To this day, I do not know exactly what was said and done against me by the Calgarian during their excursion. But the outcome of it was that my Regina stops on my summer, 1995 journey had ultimately proved to be as unavailing to me in the quest for kindred spirit, for mutual understanding, for improved fan relations, as had been the balance of the expedition. The only benefit that the trek would have for me (and it very probably was the best one realistically possible) was that I saw first-hand, with my own eyes, and heard not just through a telephone receiver, how closed-minded and proudly uncomprehending the president of the fan club is of perspectives on Space: 1999 other than his own- to say nothing of the behaviour that I saw from fans at the convention. Unfortunately, I would hew to a notion that there may indeed be some agreeable individuals who were enthusiastic toward both production blocks of the television show called Space: 1999, just not in organised fandom. What a series of mistakes that I would yet make on this incorrect assumption! For the time being, late 1995, however, I was spent of optimism on the matter of Space: 1999 and its fandom. My decision to leave the club came very quickly indeed after I arrived back at home.
On Friday, July 28, I completed my return to home with two aeroplane flights. In the morning, the Reginan accompanied me to the airport of that city, and we said farewell there to each other before he had to proceed from there to his workplace. I did not expect that that would be the last time that I would see him. And that after another couple of telephone conversations I would not hear his voice again. But the Calgarian was determined to undermine that friendship between me and the Reginan. Undermine it. Destroy it. And I have to say that subverting and nullifying my relationship with the Reginan did prove to be an adept, and very probably not very straining or time-consuming, procedure for the Calgarian. In my time with the Reginan after the Calgarian left us and went back to Calgary, when he, his co-inhabitant of his home, and I were together and they were giving to me a tour of Regina's beauteous places, including the Saskatchewan Legislature Building and a large park alongside a canal, and then having a quiet, relaxed dinner together, there did not appear to be any damage inflicted by the Calgarian's handiwork. But he would work more of his dark machinations later. When I was not present. When I was back at home thousands of miles away.
I flew from Regina to Toronto, and I stayed close to the boarding gate at Pearson Airport for the Fredericton-bound aeroplane, with thoughts of going home and being with my parents being uppermost in my mind as I perambulated around the Toronto airport, never straying very far from my belongings. Belongings that included all of the videotapes that I had accumulated in Regina and some of the items that I had won at the auction at the convention, among them a laser videodisc of the Space: 1999 episodes, "The Exiles" and "Journey to Where", that had been autographed by Nick Tate. I did not have a laser videodisc player, and I did not know then that every Space: 1999 laser videodisc in Image Entertainment's range of them, was doomed to succumb to "laser rot". That laser videodisc was highly prized by me, and I thought that someday I would acquire all of its fellow Space: 1999 laser videodiscs, together with a laser videodisc machine on which to play them. I also had, through winning bids at the same auction, an issue of TV Zone magazine with a decidedly uncomplimentary review of the Space: 1999 second season episode, "The Immunity Syndrome", a Space: 1999 comic book (third issue of the Charlton Comics colour Space: 1999 comic book series), and two of the Space: 1999 Power Records vinyl platters (I had possessed units of those particular vinyl records back in the 1970s).
While in the Los Angeles area, I was aware of a book that I was desiring to acquire, UFO and Space: 1999 by Chris Drake, being for sale at a bookstore there. But the store was closed for business when I went there. It was Sunday. I told my uncle about the book, and he bought it for me and brought it with him to Fredericton when he was coming to our place for a visit a month or so later. I was so happy to have that book, and so grateful to my uncle for acquiring it for me. He said that it was a gift and that I owed him no money for it. I loved the colour and black-and-white photographs in it and the episode synopses and the author's commentary. There was no bias against Season 2 Space: 1999 that I could see, in that book. No animus toward Season 2. That would be an exceedingly rare thing. I had discovered the book on the Calgarian's shelf. He had it but was not an enthusiast for it. The Calgarian also had newsletters of the Fanderson club, including one that had a listing of deceased Space: 1999 actors. Some of the names came as a surprise to me. Guy Rolfe. Jill Townsend. I was remarking about this to the Calgarian, who was uninterested about the subject. I would later discover that Guy Rolfe was very much alive. So was Jill Townsend. The newsletter's information was in error about them (thank goodness!) as it was about Godfrey James, whose notation in that newsletter of being deceased was challenged in a subsequent newletter and was retracted. To this day, he is alive, as is Jill Townsend. Thank goodness!
Back to my return to home. The aeroplane flight from Toronto to Fredericton was pleasant. An older man and I had a conversation for most of that flight, and as the aeroplane moved closer and closer to Fredericton, a warm homecoming feeling filled my heart. I could not wait to see my parents again. I felt so very comforted by my feeling of homecoming as the Fredericton Airport was viewable from the aeroplane window.
The sun was shining in the late afternoon of that Friday as my aeroplane came to landing at the Fredericton Airport and as I was met by my mother and father at the terminal gate. It was so good to see them, and to sit in our car's back seat as my father drove the car through the Fredericton suburb of Lincoln, into Fredericton South, and then to Fredericton North and home. I sighed rather like Snoopy does at the end of He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown, when the beagle has come back to Charlie Brown and to his red dog house, as I walked into the door of our domicile and as I laid down on my bed in my newly painted, large room, its furniture differently arranged, its floor immaculately vacuumed. My cat, Twinkles, resting on my the bed in my parents' room, was not certain who I was as I patted her head. I had been away for just under two weeks but it seemed to me and to my cat also, I think, to have been for substantially longer than that. I watched some of the videotapes that I had purchased on my travel across the continent, before going to bed. In my own bed in my own room.
My mother was appalled at what she heard happened on my travels, but she said, and I concurred, that it was for the best, really. It was now time to continue onward with my life, focusing my time, energies, and initiative on rather more practical causes than a television programme's resolutely blinkered fan followers, one or some of them so rabid in nature as to want to do unto me what the Calgarian had deigned to do. All in aid of one, ever so superior, preferred, sacrosanct season of a television programme.
Proving this had not been the purpose of my parents in funding my summer, 1995 trek. The inertia in my life in the early-to-mid-1990s had not been lost on my parents. They sympathised with my plight. They had been seeing that my mood was undergoing drastic changes. That, in 1995, my feeling of rejection by friends in my Nashwaaksis vicinity was having a severe impact on my morale. I was again in communication with Dean (more on this below) and we were appearing (only appearing) to resolve differences of some years previous, but Dean was not exactly within distance of a leisurely afternoon's car drive. Contact with Chuck Jones aside, my writing efforts were being largely ignored or dismissed. I needed a boost. A vacation, at least- an opportunity to travel, to "get away", far away, from my rut at home. So, in 1995, my parents paid for the trek for me across North America. My mother and father's primary motive was to enable me to see different parts of the world. Travel broadens the mind, after all. They hoped that by affording to me a glimpse of the way of life in more prosperous and populated centres in Canada and the United States, I would perhaps develop a liking for one of these cities and be agreeable to living there should opportunities for work arise. As it happened, no such liking came to be. But the effect of that journey upon me was indeed to my benefit, my parents thought- and so did I.
The trek had had a twofold effect upon my view of the world and of my place in it. First, it showed to me just how small New Brunswick is in the world- and how much that New Brunswick is my home. Douglastown and Fredericton both. This was clear in the comforting feeling that I had as the aeroplane descended to the Fredericton airport, as I was transported to home by my parents after a near two-week absence and saw the Fredericton surroundings that I had lived in for most of my life. I was more at peace then with Fredericton and my life there than I had been in a long time. It had been my area for living for eighteen years. It, together with the Miramichi region of New Brunswick, was my home place in life, the ground on which I was at ease. More at ease than I was at anyplace else. It was home, be it ever so humble. And second, my meetings with several Space: 1999 enthusiasts at the convention and in Calgary and Regina, had proved without shred of doubt that I was not a fan in the ordinary sense. My appreciation for the television series that had caught my imagination nearly twenty years before was of an entirely different order than that of most fans. Rather more serious and interpretive. And certainly not as cosily disposed toward the idea that one of the seasons is all and the other is nothing. I was now aware that there was clearly no place for me in the organised fan movement. It was not an arrogant decision to quit fandom. The browbeating and the repeated insinuating slurs of the person I visited in Calgary, the president of the fan movement to which I had been loyal since 1990, had made it abundantly clear that further involvement was impossible. To paraphrase Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, my destiny lies along a different path from that of the others whom I had met.
Time needed to pass before I could have a sense of being peaceably removed from rather immediate memory of mission: trans-North-America and the conduct of certain persons met during it. I was rather indignant for several weeks about the Calgarian, and my feelings did not dissipate with the certain knowledge that he was working on writing a reproval of me for the coming newsletter. Losing contact with my pen pal in Regina was a further unpleasant development. And my efforts to retain a vestige of rapport with my junior Nashwaaksis friends of this life era, were repudiated. September and October, 1995 almost entirely constituted, for me, yet another nadir in social existence, even with me feeling better than in a long time about my home Canadian province and the places therein where I lived.
Happily, Douglastown, my old home place, did again provide some very, very welcome relief from a nadir of social existence. Douglastown and other places in the Miramichi region of New Brunswick. My father and I went to the Miramichi-area towns and villages for a day in late September, 1995. I visited with my old friend, Sandy, for about fifteen minutes (while my father was waiting for me in our car), and I showed to him some of what I had acquired at the Space: 1999 convention. A resin stun gun. The laser videodisc. The vinyl records. I was reticent about going into detail about the convention itself and the happenings of my travels thereto and therefrom. I said that I met Nick Tate and spent some time with the Space: 1999 fans who were there. And I said that I found the experience disappointing because of the attitudes of the fans and would not be staying in the fan club that I had joined. I think that Sandy approved of my decision. My father and I also visited Johnny and Rob's grandparents and my sitter, Mrs. Walsh, and her family. And then, it was back to Fredericton. Fredericton where I solitarily walked the streets and could not help but think of my ordeal of an odyssey, my decision to quit the fan club, and what was to happen next. My foe in Calgary was not going to be sitting on his hands. I was leaving his club after having supported it and after having travelled thousands of miles to visit him. I had to be branded the villain of the saga. And matters were to grow worse, much worse, for Season 2 in the years to come. I had failed utterly in my five years in the Calgarian's club to bring better days for the second season. And I was now on the outside of the fan movement. Jeered behind my back as I walked out the proverbial door.
It is, one should think, quite natural for me to feel bitter about how my involvement with Space: 1999 fandom ended, and especially how outrageous it is for the opinion espoused by my false friend in imperious charge of the Calgary-based fan club and by other persons even more obnoxious (whom I would yet encounter on the Internet) to become consolidated as the definitive one as regards Space: 1999. When I say that Season 2 has been destroyed, I do not exaggerate. Nobody expressing any semblance of high-minded esteem for Season 2 today can be seen as having any credibility as an aesthete or an intellectual or even a mentally competent person. One is delusional if one does not disparage Space: 1999's second season whenever it is mentioned. Even its broadcast on television or in book format must nowadays be introduced with commentary on it being utterly devoid of worth and undeserving of respect. That those arrogantly dismissive people won the battle, with persons like myself and Dean in state of exile, spoken about with mocking disdain if, heaven forbid, we were to protest the conceited belching of derisive opinion, is deeply offencive to me. It is very rare for me to be able to watch an episode of Season 2 without thinking about the unpleasantness surrounding it and my fidelity to it.
Granted, I did commit a mistake in listing faults in Season 1 (yes, I do concede that it was a mistake), but it was a provoked mistake, and it did in any case serve to underscore the hypocrisy in the Space: 1999 fan movement, which is: berate Season 2 all that one wants, nobody liking or appreciating it deserving any consideration, and permit newsletter columns that routinely attack Season 2 and re-print magazine articles of unfavourable slant regarding the second season with zero rebuttal by fan club official, but keep the critical eye off of Season 1, not even to redress a semblance of balance. Still, my final contribution to the newsletter was not in keeping with my already avowed principle of positive-mindedness toward both seasons of Space: 1999. But never, ever will I give to the Calgarian and other fans of his ilk the satisfaction of receiving an apology or an unqualified statement of error. I can apologise- and have apologised to people- to whom I feel at peace in confessing to having been wrong, and who will not condescend to me in response. Arrogant people must never be apologised-to, for it only fuels their swagger, their overbearing pride. And their reaction to an apology is most assuredly one of sickeningly smug condescension, at best. Goodness knows, those preeminent people in Space: 1999 fandom are feeling pleased enough about themselves as it is, what with all of the publications that validate their opinion, not to mention the stance of Gerry Anderson and his production team and nearly all of Space: 1999's actors and actresses. Those Space: 1999 fans are incapable of humbling themselves to self-criticise like I have done many a time in this autobiography. They cannot even consider that they are capable ever of being mistaken, of being flawed as individuals or as a group, and the inability of them to understand someone who sees merit in that which they do not, is a flaw.
Lest someone accuse me of hypocrisy, I had better qualify my position of opinion on science fiction television of the likes of Star Trek- The Next Generation. Nobody has really pointed me toward merit in Star Trek- the Next Generation outside of its highly calculated and oftentimes very unsubtle, delivered-almost-by-sledgehammer morality stories and its admittedly efficient story arcs concentrating on characters' interpersonal concerns or issues. I can concede to such episodes being competently done, but it is not my interest or taste as regards the genre of space science fiction/fantasy. My reaction to Star Trek- The Next Generation is an instance of my being unimpressed by an entertainment restricting itself to stories that do not propose much imagination-stretching or belief-suspending, kowtowing instead to the people who disapprove of the depiction of exceedingly otherworldly phenomena in television shows of space science fiction/fantasy. But it is not that I am unwilling to respect any cogent impressionistic observations or symbological conjectures proposed regarding Star Trek- The Next Generation. None have been forthcoming. Dean in 1988 did speak of Star Trek- The Next Generation as being too calculated, too polished. And I found myself in agreement with that. Plus, whenever I see an entertainment that wilfully narrows its imaginative scope, I tend to rail against it. Also, I must unfortunately acknowledge the arrogance of fans of Star Trek which is almost as galling to me as that of the Space: 1999- Season 1 "camp", a magazine published in the 1990s called Sci-Fi Universe being the most notable expression of Star Trek fan hauteur.
And lest anyone accuse me of being as narrow-minded as regards Space: 1999- Season 1 as the fans of that are of Season 2, it is a fact, verifiable in print in fan newsletters, that I have been very complimentary indeed of episodes of Season One, acknowledging and sometimes lauding the metaphysical "Mysterious Unknown Force" of which first season aficionados like to boast, them having been the people to notice and pontificate on it several years previous. I had not detected it in the first season episodes, perhaps because the CBC always edited a certain scene of Professor Bergman and Commander Koenig speculating about the influence of God or some high power in the Moon's odyssey, out of the "Black Sun" episode. Though I had failed in 1977, 1978, and 1983 to realise the import of the "Mysterious Unknown Force" from the storyline of "Black Sun" as applied to other episodes, I appreciated it when it was cogently postulated with such scope, what few contentions (e.g. the apparently contradictory high death toll in Season 1) I may still have had with it notwithstanding.
I coopted several of their ideas into my conception of a chronology for Space: 1999. They, however, flatly refused to consider anything that I observed, contemplated, or theorised regarding the subject matter of Season 2. And they condemn me for what should have been my understandable indignation over their contrarily "stepped-up" assault upon anything and everything Season 2. I conceded to them; they would not concede to me. Such is the "bottom line".
I refer to them as quasi-intellectuals, people who purport themselves to be intellectual while overlooking one, fundamental characteristic of a real intellectual: an open mind. When something perceptibly very wonderful lending itself to philosophical interpretation is "pointed out" to them, they ought to embrace such as a further ennobling aspect to an overall item, i.e. Space: 1999 as a whole. Rather than rejecting it out of hand and reprising the same old sweepingly dismissive, glib catchwords or catchphrases. Abjectly blinkered thinking is not the practice of a true intellectual. In my case, at least, if I do harbour negative views about something (and I have done so), it is either in the absence of observations attesting to aesthetic or subtly symbological beauty and/or a reactionary response to the pundits of that particular work refusing to acknowledge and be inclusive of my observations and insights on my preferred item(s) and instead continuing to lambaste such as being beneath contempt, indefensible, etc.. And to brand me unfavourably too. It is very difficult for me to assimilate positive assessments of others when they are not equally as obliging. And when they act arrogant or condescending, that is strike two. When they subsequently berate me for my objecting to their attitude, that is strike three. My emotional mind reacting unfavourably indeed to them and to their approach to looking at the particular item, I can still come to respect, perhaps even love, that which they do admire about something, but this requires far more humility, empathy, and tact from them about the things that I admire, than they can possibly possess.
Yes, that newsletter column with the "nitpicking" of Season 1 episodes was a mistake. But it was an understandable mistake. Understandable, that is, to anyone with a capacity for "putting themselves in another person's shoes", and for being fully comprehending of another person's perspective and feelings. It was the result of a building frustration with how Season 2 was being treated in the club through the early-to-mid-1990s and the bias of the president against it, him using such harsh words as "taint" and "sin", or saying that sticking hot pokers into the eyes is not as tortuous as watching a second season episode. And another columnist in the newsletter going "full-tilt" in condemnations of second season episodes, attacking the concepts and the story development of them, with misconstruing of story details and blinkered outlooks on what constitutes laudable and execrable science fiction/fantasy, calling characters silly, etc.. My affinity for Season 2, both nostalgic and aesthetic, was already a matter of record. Anyone with a modicum of empathy would know that this routine contempt for Season 2 was a thorn in my side being jabbed into me again and again. I hated the direction in which things were going, and of course an urge to counter that was inevitably going to lead to what I did. It was a mistake, but so, what? One mistake, one understandable mistake, should not send relationships crashing into flames. Nor should it be used to try to bully someone into compliance with a directive that is anathema to him and his sensibilities. And nor should the bullying be condoned or approved-of by other people. But these are not people for whom empathy is in much, if any, supply. They are my empathy deficit "on steroids", for, unlike me, they lack self-awareness and self-criticism. And a majority of them are invalidator personalities with an undying hatred for Fred Freiberger.
Mr. Calgary told to me bluntly on the telephone in 1993 or 1994 that Martin Landau hates Season 2. What he told to me has since then become common knowledge to be true. It pains me to say it. Calgary knew that Martin Landau was my favourite actor, and that Koenig was my favourite character. He said it and he said it in the way that he did, to hurt. It was salt in the wound by that thorn in my side. One might wonder if he was doing this on purpose, to provoke me into doing something injudicious that could be used to censure me. I am not sure that such was the case, and it would be paranoid to proclaim without any doubt, that it was. But was Mr. Calgary being a good friend to me? No. One wonders why I thought that travelling to see him was a good idea. Even if he and I did appear to be having fairly good rapport in the early-to-mid-1995.
If you wanna find out who's a true friend, screw up or go through a challenging time... then see who sticks around.
My erstwhile pen pal in Regina was a profound disappointment. I cannot praise him enough for the quality of his hospitality. It was without parallel. Second to none. His parents had raised him to be an exceptionally good host. It would be unfair of me not to acknowledge this. I did appreciate his hospitality, and I thanked him for it. But the quality of friendship that he had for me, was rather less than impressive. And this is to state it mildly. I would say that he was the most disappointing friend that I have ever had. He should have recognised the hectoring, invalidating behaviour of the Calgarian for what it was. It was plain to see when the three of us were together. And that plus what I told him of my stay in Calgary with Mr. Wonderful and the long journey with Mr. Congeniality to Regina, ought to have rallied him to my side. On principle alone. He had himself experienced the behaviour of a hectoring invalidator from a friend (or, rather, "frenemy") of his in Regina. He had told me of that in 1991, and I had given to him moral support and advice for extricating himself from the toxic relationship. Yet, right in front of him, the Calgarian was being obnoxious toward me (and such ought to have given credibility to my account of the Calgarian's earlier behaviour in Calgary and during the transference by car to Regina), and he did not stand by me. He did not "have my back". Not only should he not have gone on that excursion with Mr. Calgary, knowing as he should have known what it was going to amount to (i.e. a series of ruthless anti-Kevin calumnies laced with spin-doctorings of me as some blithering, mentally unfit piece of human garbage; the ultimate "bad-mouthing" exercise), but he should have been with me in my departure from the club. As a friend and as a truly empathetic person. His siding with the Calgarian and his repudiation of me is the worst betrayal that I have ever experienced. It is true that I had doubted his commitment to me during the long lapse in his communication in 1993 and 1994, but he was apologetic for that, he said that the long time period of no communication from him was not in any way a judgement of me, and he had done everything that he could do to make my stay with him a throughly enjoyable experience. I had expected so much more of him than the proverbial blade to the back that I received. Perhaps I should not have expected anything else but a betrayal, because, when all is said and done, he and Mr. Calgary both prefer Season 1 over Season 2. That is a commonality that would appear to trump all else. Oh, I know that the Reginan was the ideal host, but he would have been that for anyone who travelled thousands of miles to visit him, I should think. When it "came to the crunch" and loyalties were to be tested, he "fell in line" with his compatriot in the belittle-Season-Two "camp", regardless of that compatriot's behaviour as the imperious invalidator, the sort of person that the Reginan had claimed to deplore. And to hell with Kevin and his "sick" aesthetic appreciation of that "awful" season. For loving what the preeminent people deem to be unlovable and not sheepishly "taking my lumps", I am the contemptible one.
I do have to ask why the indendiary "nitpicking" column was printed, being as Mr. Calgary found it to be so very objectionable. Again, it could be that censure of me was his goal, i.e. that he intended to use it and backlash from it as "rope" to "hang me". Or maybe he just did not know about it until it was printed, that he was not "on top of things" as president, that he did not peruse the first draught of each newsletter because doing that did not interest him, now that he had used "his" club to build a name for himself in fandom and curry favour with people involved in Space: 1999's production. I think the latter of these to be the more likely explanation, though I would not "put past him" the former one. Oh, I would not "put anything past him".
I wish that I could say that this constitutes the conclusion of my displeasing connection with the fans of Space: 1999, but it, alas, does not, as my memoirs of the late 1990s leading to 2000 will delineate. I contend that those people should receive little more in the way of attention or textual reference. Goodness knows, I have indeed wasted enough of my life on them as it is. But this being said, there can be no avoiding the long-term effect of these people and their behaviour upon me. In no small part, the memory of it, my indignation over it, would fuel the severity of my response to the consensus-seeking bearing of pre-1948-cartoons-favouring fans of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. It has contributed very much to forming a rigidly stalwart wariness, with no countervailing idealism, over investing my time and my trust in people through almost all of my adult years. It powered a belief that there is a mental block in people on the subject of imaginative entertainment, a mental block that is impervious to even the most considered, the most articulate arguments for what should be universally recognisable truths. It was one of my worst life experiences, that time in the company of my haughty host, the imperious president of a slanted fan club, in his condominium, in his car, and at places in Regina. But I did not succumb to it by "caving in" to the president's decrees and forefitting integrity. I stayed true to myself. The person who came from Douglastown an enthusiast for Space: 1999 largely from his experience, in the 1976-7 television season, of Season 2, who had kept body and soul together in Fredericton with his love of Space: 1999 being paramount in maintaining a fanciful spirit amongst profane, sneering, imagination-eshewing peers, who grew to adulthood with an aesthetic eye nurtured in no small degree, by his persisting appreciation of the visual and conceptual beauty of the episodes of Space; 1999, and primed for the revelations offered by Dean in 1988 and thereafter.
I maintained my intellectual honesty while "under fire". Throwing to the wind Season 2 and the observations and insights on it conveyed to me by Dean or springing from my mind, was not what I was going to do. I would not be cowed, cajoled, or publically mortified into doing that. No way would I kowtow to the president and neuter my column. Even when Dean and I were at odds or out of communication after an acrimonious "falling-out", I would not jettison from my consciousness or my conversation any of those observations or insights. I will not be quiet while people disrespect me in expressed contempt for what I venerate, for what inspires my thoughts, thoughts that very much contribute to the basis of my personality. I am not willing to pay my money to a fan group that abhors and berates that what I appreciate and from which I find intellectual stimulus. I "took a stand" in my own way, my own way as an only-child who is not quick of glib tongue. I was bullied or threatened with bullying in school in Fredericton and had to stifle myself. I would be damned if I was going to acquiesce to being stifled throughout my adulthood. Not in a club that I helped to build. Not at the expense of my money.
There was never a feeling of comfort in me with sharing with my new Fredericton friends my adherence to and fancy for imaginative entertaiments of many, many years of connection to me. This goes for the new friends in my neighbourhood and also the new friends that I had through the College and Career Group. And it would be the norm, I have to say, for friends made in later years also. I would never dare to express my love for that television series of the 1970s name of Space: 1999. My new friends probably would not know what it was (I doubt that they watched it on YTV), or, if they did have knowledge of it, such would be from unfavourable word of mouth (from older siblings, older cousins, or parents) and they would think me to be more than a little bit foolish to be "carrying a torch" for it, much less having a lofty regard for it as art. My appreciation of Bugs Bunny would not be regarded with much, if any, esteem either, even though Bugs was a regular presence on television in the 1990s. Certainly not my writing of essays on the subject of Bugs and other characters of the Warner Brothers cartoons. I do not think my doing that would be a popular subject among my friends of previous eras. Their acceptance or tolerance of my love for certain imaginative works of my earlier life, did have its limits. And neither was there likely to be any respect from my new friends for me continuing to watch and delight in the old Spiderman television show. Or anything cartoon-animated, actually. As my old friend Michael did say, I ought to, "...put away the cartoons and stuff and grow up." Me being an older person, the expectation among all of the new people in my life probably was that I would be not at all an aficionado of animated cartoons and decades-old "space stuff", but someone who watches acclaimed police and courtroom dramas and barroom comedies on television and goes to movie theatres to see cynical Hollywood product about rule-breaking anti-heroes on a mission to expose corruption, or whatever, amongst the powers-that-be. The typical mainstream twenty-something of the 1990s. Being myself, marching to the beat of my own drum, etc. was as unlikely to be accepted by them as it was by my peers in my Fredericton school years. For me to say that I treasure those entertainments of my fancy as being aesthetically compelling in their depictions, attractive to me in their concepts and in certain subjects for consideration stemming from the concepts, and captivating in their motifs, their connections between their episodes, and interpretations that they yield, would be to invite strident or quiet rebuff and rejection. I doubt that even James Bond would have been a popular choice of my new friends for pulse-pounding action-adventure set on Earth. In the early 1990s, James Bond movies were on a long hiatus and were probably considred then to be quaint, stodgy, past their "coolness" factor.
It is possible that there was some resentment in my unconscious over my new friends not being entirely accepting of me. Over my having to be somewhat less than my genuine self with them (genuine, apart from some personality adjustments on the advice of self-improvement books). Over my having to accept the loss of friends of Era 4 who were accepting of me to rather a significant degree in my enjoyment of my beloved entertainments and settle for friends who would have no time for me whatsoever if I were to express a stalwart appreciation for any of my favourite works of the imagination, if I were to really be myself and wear on my sleeve as it were, my love for Space: 1999, the Warner Brothers cartoons, 1967-70 Spiderman, Rocket Robin Hood (oh, Lord have mercy on me for that!), The Pink Panther Show, etc.. Some of my foot-in-mouth problem may have been fuelled by this. Yes, it is a distinct possibility. I said very little about the purposes of my trek across North America to any of these new friends. I rarely saw them by then, anyway. And I certainly did not have them at my side to console me after my return to home from the ordeal that I had experienced.
In 1995, I did not have anyone in my city with whom to watch my favourite productions and talk side-by-side in my home, or in their home, about them. Indeed, enjoyment of opuses of the imagination had become a thoroughly solitary experience for me in my home, in my neighbourhood, in my city of residence. The end of Era 4 had "ushered in" this distressing reality. And the world at large seemed, from my North America trek, to be also quite unavailing in like-minded company for me. I had Dean, with whom I was again in contact after 1994 (I will say more on this), but for how much longer? How much longer until we had our next "falling-out"?
A diminished, a depleted Fredericton social existence was the situation to which I returned from my trek across North America. Still, I was so happy to be back at home, back to the routines, such as they were, of my life. Walking the sidewalks and streets of my neighbourhood. Walking to the Brookside Mall in Nashwaaksis to peruse or purchase products in K-Mart, Zellers, and Book Mart. Routinely browsing through the latest magazines on the Book Mart shelves, sometimes buying one of them. Walking across the Westmorland Street Bridge to the Fredericton downtown and looking at Doctor Who paperback books at Westminster Books and having some fleeting looks (those were all that was allowed) at science fiction/fantasy magazines in Mazucca's Variety Store. Walking and thinking to myself, and sometimes talking aloud to myself (people who are loners do tend to do that). Continuing to collect videotapes. For awhile, I was deliriously happy to be back to all of this. And as I say, I was, on my return from my trek, more at peace with living in Fredericton than I had been in a long time.
It was a humble happiness over some of the most simple pleasures of one's day-to-day life. But circumstance did still slap me on occasion to remind me of the capriciousness of life, and to try to quell happiness that I may feel.
On one of those days that I walked across the bridge to downtown Fredericton, I did not expect the sky to "open up" and for there to be a downpour. I was not dressed for rain. I was wearing a T-shirt and a baseball cap. As I was embarking upon my homeward walk, I did see some portents in the sky of a rain event, but it did seem to be far enough away for me to reach home before it struck Fredericton. No. It was minutes away. And as I was half of the way across the bridge, down the rain poured. There was no shelter for me there on the bridge. All that I could to was to hurry my pace to cross the bridge as fast as I could. I started hyperventilating like I did at that swimming pool in Chatham back in 1975. I felt like I was drowning as that rainwater impacted my face as I ran. It was a frightening situation, that. But I "cleared" the bridge and found shelter in a walkway tunnel until the worst of the rainfall seemed to have ended. Soaking wet and shivering, I walked briskly the remaining distance to home and told to my parents what had happened.
Adding to the feeling of stagnation to this life era was what I watched while preparing dinner. I had started watching General Hospital in 1981 and would drift away from it and then back to it over the years thereafter. I did not watch it at all between late 1981 and autumn of 1983 during which time Spiderman was my television programme of choice at 4:30 P.M. on weekdays and General Hospital was televised, as it usually was through the 1980s and 1990s, in the hour of 4 P.M. to 5 P.M.. And I became totally unimmersed in its scenarios and stopped watching it for for awhile in early 1986 and in the summer of 1988. But it being on television during my meal preparation time period meant that I would watch it if there was nothing else of interest to me on television while I was stirring Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni or kneeding Chef Boyardee Pizza dough or placing Chef Boyardee Lasagna Dinner noodles and sauce into a retangular casserole dish. Oh, how I miss all of those meals!. I always craved some aural-visual stimuli while I was labouring with preparing my meal in the McCorry kitchen, where a television was situated. And for that I would tend to gravitate toward watching General Hospital. In the 1990s, General Hospital had become tediously repetitive. It was as if it was caught in a looping of time. Over and over again, Luke Spencer was fighting organised crime in Port Charles, the underworld character, Sonny Corinthos, was spreading his seamy tentacles and adversely affecting the lives of numerous other characters, and the Felicia character was being terrorised by the psychotic Dr. Ryan Chamberlain, who managed again and again to escape a maximum-security insane asylum. And what was Sean Donely doing being Police Commissioner and lecturing Luke on not doing anything outside of the Law? His criminal actvity in the Aztec treasure "storyline" of 1984 and 1985 ought to have disqualified him from being a patrol constable much less a high official of the Port Charles Police Department. And he repeatedly failed as Police Commissioner to keep Felicia safe from Chamberlain, requiring Mac Scorpio to come to Felicia's rescue. It was so tedious watching the same scenarios over and over again. When my work schedule late in the 1990s meant that I was not at home on most weekdays between 4 and 5 P.M., I finally "broke myself free" from General Hospital. And around that time, I was disgusted with the writing of certain characters (especially a tryst between Luke and Felicia) and rolling my eyes at the overturning of an on-screen death of a villain, Stavros Cassadine, of more than a decade before.
In September of 1994, it finally happened. New Brunswick, the one Canadian province without a CBC-owned-and-operated English-language television station, was permitted at last to have such, as the CBC bought CHSJ-TV and all of its transmitters and New Brunswick's CBC-affiliated CHSJ-TV became CBAT. Whereas CHSJ had been based in the city of Saint John, most of CBAT's operations would be concentrated in the Fredericton region of the province. I remember how much I enjoyed the novelty of having a broadcaster of the full CBC programming schedule in those first days and weeks of CBAT's existence. And I remember how gratifying that it was for New Brunswick to have a CBC Television station like CBHT and CBCT. There was, I recall, a drama called Bordertown Cafe starring Nicholas Campbell (of Space: 1999's "A Matter of Balance" episode) as a trucker, that received a considerable amount of promotion during advertisement intervals in the CBC programming that I was watching in CBAT's early days. But there was not much to see on CBC Television that was of interest to me then. Indeed, the advent of CBAT was, for me, late by ten years and more. Oh, how delirously happy I would have been if there had been a CBC Television station like CBHT in my home province in 1983, showing Space: 1999 on Sundays as CBHT, CBIT and CBCT were doing! And to have a total CBC Television station in 1977 and 1978 would have meant missing no CBC broadcasts of Space: 1999 in those years, and no CHSJ commercial insertions into episodes of Space: 1999 that were available to New Brunswickers. In 1994, there was no Space: 1999 on CBC Television, and there would never again be a presence of Space: 1999 at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Space: 1999 was not alone in being eschewed by the CBC. By 1994, the CBC had purged foreign television from its prime-time schedule and was only airing in daytime hours or late at night running programming from the U.S. and from other shores. Foreign television programming in daytime would mostly consist of television series from the 1990s or the very late 1980s. The Simpsons would have a long run on CBC Television at 5 P.M. on weekdays. Vintage television was scarce on CBC in 1994. I think that there were some vestigial remnants of a running of WKRP in Cincinnati, a running of that American comedy of the late 1970s and early 1980s that, already banished to late at night on weekdays, was soon to end. I seem to recall that truncated episodes of Star Trek were still in the offering on Saturdays, but Star Trek's life on CBC was very, very close to its expiration. The CBC, by my reckoning, would never again be as good as it had been during my upbringing.
And much as I did bemoan CHSJ-TV not hewing fully to the CBC schedule, I would come to miss old CHSJ. CHSJ, I have to say, did have some "good things going for it". In my estimation, at least. It gave to Spiderman a life in New Brunswick in the 1980s, and although the telecined film elements all too often left much to be desired and the episodes were broadcast out of order, I loved watching and videotape-recording Spiderman from CHSJ. It was a treasured part of my weekday routine in most of my best Fredericton years. And I am grateful to CHSJ for it having provided Spidey to New Brunswick's viewers of television. And Rocket Robin Hood and The Marvel Superheroes too. CHSJ had in fact been showing The Marvel Superheroes as late as the summer of 1992. I remember watching the Incredible Hulk Marvel Superheroes episode, "Within the Monster Dwells a Man!", while in a hotel room in Newcastle on an overnight visit to the Miramichi region, my one visit thereto that summer, on a Saturday morning in August of that year. Spiderman and Rocket Robin Hood had migrated to MITV (Maritime Independent Television) in 1988.
When the CBC purchased CHSJ, all of the television programming produced by CHSJ itself, including some children's fare and current affairs television shows, transferred to MITV, which, a couple of years after 1994, would become affiliated with Global Television and drop the MITV mantle. MITV in 1994 aired The Bugs Bunny Show on Saturday mornings at 8 A.M. and in 1995 acquired the rights to The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show, ATV having relinquished those rights at the end of the 1994-5 television season. And there was a surprise in the offering on MITV in the autumn of 1995.
At around 8:15 one morning in September, 1995, I was channel-hopping on my television in my then combination bedroom and television viewing room when I happened upon Sylvester the Cat and his less-than-enthused son hunting, amid spacious suburban environs in autumn season, a little, blue bird named Spike, who, much to Sylvester's chagrin, is Sylvester Junior's best friend. A scenario known to me as that of the cartoon, "Birds of a Father", which had been one of many of the memorable cartoon selections in episodes of The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour. Now, in 1995, "Birds of a Father" was being shown on MITV and, as I would within a few minutes discover, was part of a new Warner Brothers cartoon compilation television series originating on fledgling television network WB in the United States and being syndicated to Canadian broadcasters of which MITV was one. Although bearing one of the flourishes of the former Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends, that being a "Hip Clip" in most episodes heralded by the Tasmanian Devil spewing from his big mouth the letters to the words, hip and clip, the new, weekday cartoon compilation vehicle for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies was called That's Warner Bros.!, and as I would discover at the beginning of the next instalment thereof, which I was ready and raring to watch and to videotape-record, it sported a dynamic opening with Bugs rushing to a Warner Brothers television studio stage and en route thereto encountering various characters. Early episodes of That's Warner Bros.! on MITV were marred with a WB Network logo for the first minute or so of each cartoon short, but by week three, the logos were gone (though MITV would sometimes vex me by imposing its own television station identification logo upon cartoons in That's Warner Bros.! for several seconds.
I was, however, overjoyed to find in the sixty-five episodes of That's Warner Bros.! many cartoons that I had not before obtained on videotape or seen for many, many years, if at all, in English or in English or French, and others that had only been shown on Bugs & Tweety in edited form and without original cartoon titles, in several previous annui. Through That's Warner Bros.! in its autumn, 1995 episodes, I had occasion to see and videotape such for-long-not-experienced cartoons as "Daffy's Inn Trouble", "Aqua Duck", "Road to Andalay", and "Ducking the Devil" (first time for me to see and hear the latter two of these in English), and "Tease For Two"; amongst many cartoons of which, by way of MITV and That's Warner Bros.!, I improved upon videotape-record (the only videotape copies I had been previously able to acquire of them via other collectors had been unsatisfactory due to severe video and/or audio interference, colour banding, or some other disagreeable defect) were "A Kiddies Kitty", "Mouse Mazurka", "Bartholomew Versus the Wheel", "Each Dawn I Crow", and "It's Hummer Time" (all in pristine order and nearly if not entirely complete). Included in the first-time-I-viewed cartoons were "The Stupor Salesman", "Easy Peckins", and "Fox Terror". And I had quite the pleasant surprise to, possibly for the first time ever (I do not remember seeing its cartoon title on its broadcast in 1972), savour the original cartoon titles to "Hyde and Hare" (airing on MITV on Friday, October 27, 1995 at start the three-cartoon installment number 35 of That's Warner Bros.!). I had seen "Hyde and Hare" on Bugs & Tweety between 1990 and 1994 with but the then-standard format of Bugs & Tweety Show cartoon titling. I quite fancied the original title to "Hyde and Hare", with Bugs casting a looming shadow of himself behind his back, and the sinister tone to the music over the I. Freleng director credit before a transitioning to the opening scene of pigeons flying above a park, city buildings in background. Many other cartoons on That's Warner Bros.! that were of revelation too, after years of only being on Bugs & Tweety, included "Canary Row", "Weasel Stop", "From Hare to Heir", "No Barking", and "A Bone For a Bone" (with one lengthy, previously-edited-on-Bugs & Tweety scene restored). And I was at last able to complete my videotape catalog of post-1948 Bugs Bunny cartoons with "Now, Hare This", and I had a complete "Cheese it, the Cat!" after coping since 1991 with an edited version thereof from Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends.
In fact, by end of 1995, I had every Warner Brothers cartoon from 1948 to 1964 on videotape, plus several from before and after that time frame. That's Warner Bros.! was definitely a boon to me in 1995, logo-related frustrations aside. And for awhile in autumn of 1995, ATV continued to show Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends, very early-morning, 6:30 A.M., though ATV had relinquished the broadcast rights to Bugs Bunny & Tweety in September of that year, with MITV promptly procuring the same. From 1995 onward, it would be MITV, not ATV, that aired the cartoons of Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies "gang" of characters, on Saturdays. Merrie Melodies: Starring Bugs Bunny and Friends was gone from ATV by early 1996, and by then MITV was already very much the eastern Canadian Maritimes satellite to the WB Network, not only in terms of airing That's Warner Bros.! but also with regard to such present-day productions as The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain and Freakazoid, WB Network fare, all. In addition to ABC's The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show.
Saturday mornings were, thus, somewhat of interest to for me in 1995-6 outside of the hour allocated for Bugs & Tweety on MITV (and ABC). I did watch The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries quite faithfully on MITV (it tended to air on MITV right before Bugs Bunny & Tweety), although I found much of the lampooning references to then-current celebrities or events to be pandering if not cloying to 1990s audiences and unnecessary, while the Granny-as-elderly-sleuth-Jessica-Fletcher (of television's Murder, She Wrote (1984-96)) shtick was rather tiresome much of the time. And in addition to not warming to the voice characterisations of Sylvester and Tweety provided by Joe Alaskey (Mel Blanc, rest his soul, was one of a kind), I found the portrayal of Tweety rather divergent from that which I had come to know through director Friz Freleng's 1946-63 cartoons. The yellow, bulbous-headed canary of the guilded cage flew much too often and without difficulty, seldom ever running, in The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries and tended to be rather too "hip", too smart-alecky, also, in his quips. But I did appreciate the routine "guest" appearances of other Warner Brothers cartoon personalities, and there could by times be some wit to the proceedings. "Hyde and Go Tweet" was remade and extended as "London Broiled" in Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries- Season 2, this time not a Sylvester nightmare but happening in actual cartoony reality, though in a pub's storerooms and not in Dr. Jekyll's laboratory or adjacent thereto rooms or buildings. I felt gratified by the effort in this case by the Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries production team, although, as ever, there were aspects to the new version of the putty tat and the birdie that did not sit entirely comfortably with me. Still, producer Tom Minton did begin every closing credit sequence with a tribute to Freleng, who had died just four months before seeing the revival of his cat and bird duo in The Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, and I was always pleased to see the tribute.
I was rather less committed to watching Animaniacs, which was shown on MITV before That's Warner Bros.! on weekday mornings in 1995-6, it at 7:30 and That's Warner Bros.! at 8 o'clock. Animanics was a 1990s revival of the style of cartoon prevalent in the so-called Golden Age of the Warner Brothers cartoons, but with different characters (three sprightly and inky imps named Yakko, Wakko, and Dot) purported to have existed during the days in which Bugs and Daffy went about the "back lot" of the Warner Brothers film entertainment production factory in between the making of some of their cartoon shorts. There were ancillary segments in episodes of Animaniacs, the most notable of which introduced to the viewing public a pair of laboratory mice, in a "double act" similar to Hubie and Bertie of Chuck Jones-directed cartoons pitting two mischievous rodents against a very nervy Claude Cat. The duo of scheming mice in these here-mentioned concomitant sections of Animaniacs episodes were Pinky and the Brain, Brain being a genius, or to perhaps more accurately describe, a self-professed genius, and Pinky the doltish accomplice whose ineptitude routinely thwarts Brain's megalomaniacal machinations, so that Brain would contemplate Pinky's after-life and moving Pinky closer to such. The Brain and his faithful but besotted and hopeless assistant were always intent on world domination and left their laboratory cage(s) with the Brain's latest plan for procuring the brass ring being put into operation and inevitably succumbing to Pinky's dearth of artifice or competence and/or to some other unforeseen flaw in Brain's strategy. This mouse pair promptly attained their own television show on the WB Network and MITV.
I found some, not many, of the Pinky and the Brain portions of Animaniacs, to be not only watchable but bestowing unto me a smile or chuckle, and even causing an approving nod of the head, the most remarkable of the last of these reactions being from my discovery of a Pinky and the Brain Animaniacs segment entitled, "Brain Meets Brawn". In "Brain Meets Brawn", the rodent duo are situated in the laboratory of Dr. Jekyll, witness Jekyll's imbibing of potion and transmogrification into the odious Mr. Hyde (Jekyll and Hyde both looking like amalgams of versions of them in "Hyde and Go Tweet" and "Hyde and Hare"), watch as Hyde is apprehended, kicking and growling, by police, and proceed to use some of Jekyll's Hyde formula to change Brain into a brutish giant capable of stopping Big Ben from chiming and thus put a stop to tea time, thereby enabling Brain to usurp political power in Great Britain while officials are luxuriating in excess time with tea and crumpet. Quite an audacious premise, I thought. And I watched this in the episode of Animaniacs airing on MITV before rerun number three of installment 35 of That's Warner Bros.! containing "Hyde and Hare", the date being Friday, July 26, 1996. A very apt combination, I reckoned. And although Brain's transformations were portrayed more like those of the Incredible Hulk, triggered by anger or rage, i.e. due to Pinky's bumbling, than by random chemical reactions or by a variety of intense emotions, I appreciated "Brain Meets Brawn" very much. It made effective use of, was rather a nifty homage to, the cartoon renderings of Jekyll and Hyde by the late, great Friz Freleng.
And so too was Spider-Man (1994-8) calling for my attention. A much-hyped animated cartoon revival of quite probably my favourite super-hero prospectus. I could never decline an opportunity to see Spidey in action again, though the producer, John Semper, of the 1995-8 Spider-Man did not endear himself to me by disparaging, in a magazine (Comics Scene, I seem to recall) interview with him, the 1967-70 Spidey television series as being "badly made" (I think that those were his exact words). Airing on YTV on Friday evenings and on the FOX television network newly added to Fredericton's cable television basic package, Spider-Man (1994-8) was very slick, very glossy. Fault was difficult to find in its writing or its cartoon animation or in its voice talent which included such irresistible casting as Ed Asner (his most definitive character role being gruff newsman Lou Grant in the television series, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant) as J. Jonah Jameson, Roscoe Lee Browne (Box in the Logan's Run movie) as Doctor Octopus, and Martin Landau as the Scorpion. But there were demerits in the new iteration of Spidey, to my thinking. Too much emphasis on story arcs, such that Spider-Man quickly became a continuing drama not unlike daytime soap operas (not that I have anything against a good "soap", but not when it comes to super-heroes, and Spidey in particular), far too many regular characters and relationships vying for story time, tediously complex backstories on villains and their origins, too many villains with whom I had no prior experience or much, if any, interest, incidental music and combat animation sequences not really distinguishable from the usual mid-1990s action and/or super-hero cartoon fare, Spidey not having a deeper voice than Peter, everyone, criminals and police alike, firing laser pistols instead of bullet guns despite the television series occurring in the present day, and those laser pistols not evidently being anything close to lethal, backgrounds of the cityscapes being computer generated (never of aesthetic appeal to me, that), and a much too suave and ubiquitous Kingpin. And the writers committed the cardinal mistake of marrying Peter Parker to Mary Jane; marriage tends, I feel, to much remove the gravitas, the "edge" if I may say, from characters in genres like super-heroes or science fiction. Widowed or divorced, I judge to be okay. But currently and happily married, no.
All of this said, I thought that the Venom three-part episode was quite absorbing, pun intended. And whenever villains known to me through 1967-70 Spidey did appear in episodes, my interest was maintained, though as I say the overemphasis on villain backstory was rather a strain on my patience. I still infinitely preferred the 1967-70 Spiderman, in spite of all of its faults (and as my Spiderman Page reveals, I am certainly quite aware of those faults).
In the second half of 1995, my new, post-1992 friendships in Fulton Heights, Nashwaaksis were quite moribund, and I had returned that summer to Fredericton from Los Angeles and two places between, feeling so disheartened, so very disenchanted with fandom, the attitudes of fans at the Space: 1999 convention being a major issue with me and my sensibility, and my meetings with my contacts in Calgary and Regina ultimately proving a dismal failure and in the case of Mr. Calgary being, to put it mildly, an utterly disillusioning ordeal. I had returned to a Fredericton where the amities which I had most recently cultivated had become parched in quite a dismally short time. Each snub that was received, each dispiriting encounter that was had, in the months of 1995 with those friends of Era 6 served to reinforce the sense of futility in persisting in trying to preserve positive relations with those friends. And snubs were by then not to be followed in short order by opportunities to effect reconciliation. The effect of the snub lasted a long time.
With delivery at my door of the 1995-6 NB-Tel telephone directory, I looked as usual for telephone numbers of old friends, Joey first and foremost, and found that Joey now had his own telephone number and his own place of residence on a Hill Street. One weekday afternoon in November, 1995, whilst my parents were out of the house on a shopping expedition, I mustered the courage to telephone Joey at his new "digs". I had prepared myself for rejection (goodness knows that I was quite used to such a thing by that time), for possible verbal bombshells (such as news that he was married), for just about anything. After a deep, invigorating breath, I tapped the required numbers on my telephone, and after a few rings, Joey answered. And within less than twenty seconds, the two of us were talking very comfortably, any unease that I may have expected in our connection dissipating with the friendly tones in Joey's voice as we exchanged the usual preliminary small-talk. There were no shocking revelations from his side of the conversation, a conversation which flowed effortlessly as it moved from his descriptions of his new mobile-home abode in the Tamarack Trailer Park in Lincoln just outside of Fredericton to some recounting by me of my travel to Los Angeles in the previous summer (I opted not to say much as yet of the Space: 1999 convention, believing the subject of Space: 1999 to still be rather a dicey one with Joey) to sharing of our impressions of the new Spider-Man television series, to the two of us talking about the upcoming James Bond movie, Goldeneye, and the casting of Pierce Brosnan as Agent 007, to some discussion on That's Warner Bros.! and Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Warner Brothers cartoons in general, and to talk of personal job situations and finances. It had been so very long that I had enjoyed so smooth and so very comfortable a talk with anyone. Doubtless, none of my communication, oral or written, with fan contacts had ever been as at ease, balanced, and pleasurable. Certainly not in the preceding summer during my cross-continental trek. And with my new friends of the 1990s, I was definitely never as comfortable. When the time came for the telephone talk to end, I used the shorter version of Joey's name with a very gracious and soothing tone of voice. It spontaneously came from my lips as though it had been standard practice for me all along. But it had not been so, I regret to say. Now, it had become so, and I could sense that Joey was profoundly surprised and affected by such.
The conversation with Joey that day in November, 1995, in its ease, its fluidity, its affability, its inclusion of many subjects of interest to both of us, includng James Bond and the Warner Brothers cartoons on That's Warner Bros.!, actually rivalled any such that we two had had on my front step or in my basement in the best years, 1982-4, of our friendship. It was testimonial to the bond of friendship that Joey and I share. Despite all of the estrangement and the for some time seeming paucity or absence of hope, to which it had been subjected, it had endured. In a state of stasis or dormancy for long time periods, yes. But it never died. Not even after all of the intense negativity with which I reacted to events of 1987 and 1988, the wanton snubbing that I did, the most grievingly regrettable written ultimatum of 1990, my giving-up statement in 1992, all of the copious vinegar interspersed with what must have to him seemed contradictory pourings of honey. Our friendship never died. And this was because, I think, we truly love one another as real, real friends do. We only ever became angry with each other because of that love, because of our caring and how distressed we had been at not, for whatever reason or reasons, readily seeing our care proportionally reciprocated by each other. We had nevertheless kept together through a substantial number of years with scarcely much- if any- support of our friendship anywhere in our neighbourhood, and I committed some errors very far beyond the good-intentioned but imprecise words that had wrecked my relations with newer friends. I had early in our relationship conceded to Tony's urging to turn away Joey, I had by times through Era 4 when Joey was my closest, best friend, opted for Tony in certain regards without giving adequate account of my actions, I had, without the proper consideration, left him behind or declined to go somewhere with him on a number of occasions, and my reaction to losing his company was quite less than constructive, to say the least. And still, after all of that and what came in the years after 1987, Joey and I could still talk to each other and within less than half a minute we could be back in the same highly congenial conversation mode. Unfortunately, after our conversations or a few of them, our friendship would slip back into stasis until some later date when chance or successful initiative on my part would reestablish communication between us. I could not regain a foothold in Joey's social life after so many years had passed with us apart (and, granted, I still had not entirely arrived at a correct way of looking upon the events of 1987 from his perspective and an accurate understanding of what had happened back then, to share with him), and while I handled my frustration rather better than had been so for me in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, I still found myself reeling at my failures and glumly conceding defeat. Joey's other friends and his girl-friend and the amounts of time that they required of him seemed to form an impenetrable barrier for me. Also, Joey was reluctant as yet to entirely trust me- and I did not and do not blame him. I just could not regain that foothold.
On the Saturday after my November of 1995 telephone conversation with Joey, YTV showed a 1990 movie of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Treasure Island, that starred Charlton Heston as the roguish Long John Silver, Christian Bale as young Jim Hawkins, and a number of veteran British thespians, many of whom with Space: 1999 to their names, as other characters. Christopher Lee was Blind Pew. Julian Glover was Dr. Livesey. Julian Glover's wife, Isla Blair, played Jim Hawkins' mother. Richard Johnson was Squire Trelawney. And Michael Halsey was Israel Hands. All of these people had been in Space: 1999. That YTV telecast of the 1990 Treasure Island that Saturday, from 9 P.M. to 11:30 P.M., afforded to me my first viewing of it, and I loved it from start to finish. Heston's portrayal of Silver was bravura, and Bale was always convincing as the dependable, personable youth who found himself in a life-or-death struggle with vicious pirates on a lee shore. All of the talent of an illustrious (for me, at least) Space: 1999 history were magnificent in their roles. It was so unusual to see Julian Glover as one of the heroes (I had always known him as the villain, whether that be in Space: 1999 or The Empire Strikes Back or James Bond or Doctor Who), and he was brilliant in the role of the good doctor. Christopher Lee was almost unrecognisable in face and voice, as Blind Pew. But he conveyed his trademark menace as an evil quantity, with his usual most effective intensity. It was so very nice to see Richard Johnson, an actor whose work outside of his portrayal of Space: 1999's Lee Russell, had been almost totally unknown to me, was very likable as the refined, effusive, though occasionally peppery, English noble. My parents watched the movie with me that night on the television set in our dining room, and it felt rather like times of old, when we watched as a family Space: 1999 and The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour on Saturdays. And I was thinking of Joey and my convrsation with him earlier that week as I was watching the movie.
In the mid-1990s, I saw several other movies on television. Two other movies, Moby Dick (1956) and Mutiny On the Bounty (1962), about seagoing adventures, and King of Kings (1961), a Biblical epic with Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus, among them. Moby Dick was another Saturday night offering on YTV. Like Treasure Island (1990), I watched it with my parents on our dining room television. Mutiny On the Bounty, I saw on a Saturday's early-to-mid-afternoon on, I think, The Arts and Entertainment Network (A & E). King of Kings, I saw on TBS on the afternoon of Easter Sunday in 1995 as Easter turkey dinner was being prepared by my mother. Guy Rolfe, later to play the part of Magus in Space: 1999's "New Adam, New Eve" episode, was Caiaphas in King of Kings.
After our excellent telephone talk in November, 1995, I hesitated to dial Joey's telephone number again too soon (I did not want to antagonise him by "coming on too strong" and being a bother) but finally did so after a few weeks, and we had a brief chat as he was in a hurry to go somewhere, and further telephone exchanges spreading into first quarter of 1996 were indeed very agreeable but abbreviated, and I could not persuade Joey to see me. He was apologetic, but the outcome was not what I wanted. I backed away from him for a time. And subsequently, I would find only a dial-tone or a busy signal on my attempts to establish contact with him some months later in 1996, an abysmal year for me in so many ways. Toward the end of that year (1996), Joey moved out of his mobile home and out of Fredericton for awhile, and we did not talk again until an encounter in 1997 reawakened our dormant friendship once more. I shall return later to this.
As relations with Joey went back to a condition of hiatus, and as my all-too-short-lived new friendships were evidently beyond salvage- and as my ties with Space: 1999 fandom were turning to dust (and it was about time, to say the least, for that), I focused attention on my videocassette collection and the upgrading of it as much as possible to VHS Hi-Fi. By late 1995, I was very close to completion of my assemblage of Columbia House Star Trek videotapes and I had begun buying pre-recorded videocassettes of Doctor Who, of which serials were at that time (the mid-1990s) sold in North America through Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment. I could not afford to purchase very many Doctor Who pre-recorded videotapes in any given year due to the need always to order them through mail (local videotape dealers almost never had them in stock, the only exception to this being A Collector's Dream, which charged astronomically high prices for them), and the list price for them even through mail-order companies like Movies Unlimited tended to put them above the threshold for Customs Canada to charge import tariffs, taxes, and handling fees. A contact in Florida purchased and mailed to me several Doctor Who videotapes in late 1992, among them THE TROUGHTON YEARS, "The Three Doctors", "The Caves of Androzani", "Death to the Daleks", and "The Ark in Space". On my travel with my father to Bangor , Maine in 1994, I bought a sizable number of Doctor Who videotapes from Suncoast Video in the Bangor Mall, and among those were "The Seeds of Death", "Shada", and DALEKS: THE EARLY YEARS. And purchased through mail-order from Movies Unlimited and other U.S.-based vendors were "The Five Doctors", "The Daemons" (re-colourised), and, most memorably, in summer of 1995, "The Invasion", "Doctor Who and the Silurians" (re-colourised), "Terror of the Autons" (also re-colourised), and then, later in 1995, "Inferno". The re-colourised serials were those with Jon Pertwee as the Doctor. Only black-and-white film prints of them had existed for syndication from the 1980s onward, plus multi-generational (far from broadcast quality) videotape recordings from videophiles of telecasts in the 1970s of them in colour. BBC technicians had found a means of combining the colour signals from those multi-generational recordings to overlay on crisp-resolution black-and-white film, the result being what was then a state-of-the-art full-colour restoration.
In Calgary in the summer of 1995, I found a large videotape-selling outlet from which I bought such Doctor Who serials as "The Keeper of Traken", "Logopolis", and "The War Games" (which I mailed to myself from Calgary to Fredericton to avoid needing to carry the videotapes with me while I was "on the move". And I bought yet more Doctor Who videotapes in the final four months of 1995, including the videocassette release of the long-missing story, "The Tomb of the Cybermen", that had been found in 1992 in Hong Kong. That videotape replaced my videocassette-recording of "The Tomb of the Cybermen" from the Detroit PBS television station, WTVS, late one Saturday night in 1992. I continued to add pre-recorded Doctor Who videotapes to my collection until 1998, when a frustrating inability to acquire top-quality (for the VHS format, anyway) merchandise in the Doctor Who videotape range became one of several reasons for abandoning videotape for optical disc, i.e. laser videodisc and its stupendously superior successor, the digital videodisc (DVD). Here again, though, in this life era, was a prolonged endeavour that was to be proved a dead end, for VHS videotape would eventually be a moribund format, fit only for landfill.
And as already stated, I spent, nay, wasted, time in this era watching the currently made television programmes above mentioned (i.e. Spider-Man (1994-8), Sylvester & Tweety Mysteries, etc.), none of which really having a substantial and lasting impression on me, aesthetically. They could be very slick, highly polished, dynamically paced, and quite intricately written, and yet, to me, charmless, their look and their music and their sensibilities not distinguishable from the usual purportedly humorous or action-oriented fare of the decade. I felt no compulsion at all to watch them again, which was probably for the best, as I squandered enough time as it was in this era in front of the television watching them. Nor did I have much in the way of happy memory to associate with my viewing of newly made television of the mid-1990s. Apart from those very pleasant and gratifying telephone conversations with Joey and a few, scattered other occasions to interact positively with people, 1995 and 1996 were dire, dire years for me socially, although some improvement was around the corner in terms of work, or the potential for work, of gainful nature.
I found television to be less and less engaging for me, aesthetically, as the 1990s progressed. Increasingly, I found that I was on a contrary tide to the surf of popular culture, the culture of my fellow Generation Xers. None of what was said or pictured to be defining of them, was defining of me. Toward the end of the 1980s, present-day television series and television movies, and also the way that broadcasters promoted themselves and their programming, current and vintage, were hewing themselves to what I shall term the in-vogue "post-modern" dystopia mindset. A mindset that apparently conflates jaded Baby Boomers' lack of enthusiasm for things to come with the cynical Generation X for whom early adulthood was greeted with economic recession, job market shrinkage in university-or-college-trained professional fields of employment, and inability to score the same rapid success in attaining self-sufficiency as prior generations had done. Generation X embraced moral decay and lackadaisical attitudes toward the works of imagination offered to it by its parents' contemporaries. Everything had to be dour, dour and dingy and smutty, to represent the dreary reality. Television programmes, and theatrical motion pictures, too, became replete with downbeat characters, grim acting performances, profanity aplenty, human vice and depravity on display as the norm, bland, rather less than stunningly colourful visuals, and impressions galore of a future with mankind relegating itself more and more into the gutter or into a kind of Roman arena. Far from being a future that was fantastic, the 1990s were defined by a popular culture of "giving up", retreating to the bedroom, to the barroom, to the office cubicle (if gainful employment was to be found), or to "reality television" or broadband Internet.
Any technological advancements, be it the Internet, the cellular telephone, or whatever, were to be used for the gratification of, or the furthering of gratification of, frivolous, avaricious, and/or carnal inclinations. A dark, dim, smutty world, that of post-1990 would be. A world of no higher purpose than perpetuating itself. And children's entertainment was characterised by an embracing of "trash culture" promulgated in an ever-more-proliferating attitude of care-not rebelliousness in young people (unlike hippies of the 1960s who were rallying against war, pollution, etc.), teenagers and even juveniles talking "dirtier" than ever before, boys wearing their clothes as loosely, as baggily as possible, so as to signify their "opting out" of the traditional, prim and proper male image and the accompanying responsibilities, and girls dressing in ever-tighter-fitting jeans. Such was the prevailing sense of fashion disseminated from the late 1990s onward in television and movies. And rap music, a particular bane of post-1990 culture, was symptomatic of the "new order", an eschewing of traditional manners, an eschewing of grace, of an eschewing of subtlety. In favour of saucy, disrespectful, even profane lyrics belched to a most simple, unchanging rhythm and deploring every facet of civilised, cognitively productive society of many decades and centuries.
Yes, there was some hippie bilge in the 1970s which suggested attitudes of a nature somewhat comparable to the aforementioned, and I had found such to be indeed displeasing when I encountered it in junior high school, but for all of the wilfully proud low-brow imitators of the Fonz (to whom being studious and not libidinous and not dressing with clothes in a "hang-about" look, was to be "nerdy") and John Travolta's lame-of-brain Barbarino character on Welcome Back, Kotter, in the corridors of Nashwaaksis Junior High School between 1978 and 1981, that was nothing compared to how the "burn-out" teenager stereotype had become standard and indeed essential fare (essential if one was to be at all "with it" and popular), post-1990.
Television and cinema screens have been flooded with rancid "post-modernism" since the early 1990s, or even the late 1980s, and I remember feeling uncomfortable and alienated by what I judged to be an untoward change in the James Bond movies, starting with 1989's Licence to Kill with, I might say, overkill in the violence department, Bond brandishing automatic weapons and without qualm or aplomb opening rapid fire of those weapons, and villains and henchmen being way too demonstrably vicious, their evil deeds including pressure tank explosion of a person's head, cutting a heart out of a living man, shark-bite mutilation and the victim thereof delivered to home in body bag. In a zeal to "push the envelope", the James Bond film-makers even featured a female assassin who derived explicit sexual pleasure from suffocating her victims with her thighs. More and more lewd innuendo was injected into dialogue in a vain effort to appear nudge-nudge clever. And Bond was told by his boss through a cringe-worthy double-entendre to commit adultery, if necessary, to obtain information. I was also perplexed by the last two Incredible Hulk television movies, The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989) and Death of the Incredible Hulk (1990), and at how dankly and depressingly that their milieus and situations were portrayed. Overcast, rainy weather by day, if many of the events happened in daytime; most did not, as sizable portions of action, including story climaxes of both of those movies, happened at night. Abundant evidence of moral and infrastructural neglect in the big city. Even David Banner appeared to be on an extreme "downer", in one of those movies having grown a beard and speaking as a man in most forlorn spirits, if he spoke at all. He looked really at end of a proverbial tether as he walked from a farm to a city and through a neglected, seediest of the seedy apartment building. Banner had always been exceedingly humane, his hulking transformations triggered usually by good-intentioned frustration, at not being able to help other persons in a world where there was, yes, much animosity, impropriety, and crime, but still some examples of humanity in the persons whom he befriended, and cause for optimism in the enduring of that humanity.
The Fugitive (1963-7), ancestral relation to television's The Incredible Hulk, was structured somewhat similarly as regards the main character's necessity for transient existence and the sorts of situations that he came upon while meeting and interacting with people in small-town and urban America. Dr. Richard Kimble's plight was, yes, shown to be the result of a miscarriage of justice (I know, a prime subject for nihilistic "post-modernists") of which the authorities and most notably Kimble's pursuer, Lieutenant Gerard, were disinclined to express a consideration (definitely a downbeat portrayal of the U.S.A. in stark contrast to notions of Uncle Sam and Apple Pie)- and there were several people who were prepared to "turn Kimble in" to the police. But there were also many examples of individuals willing to give to Richard Kimble continued freedom to prove his innocence. David Janssen played the part of Kimble, and in the role of Lieutenant Gerard was Barry Morse, who would later be Professor Victor Bergman in Space: 1999. A theatrical film version of The Fugitive with Harrison Ford in the leading role, produced in the early 1990s, had very little, if any, positive interaction between its on-the-run title character and people of American heartland and hinterland. The movie did not pause for any of that, preferring the by then all too characteristic over-intensity of pulse-pounding chase scenes and last-second escapes from calamity or capture, with frantic camera moves and film edits, and generic action music that "hit all the beats" but was not distinguishable from that of other movies made in the same year, 1993. There was however an obligatory pause for Kimble remembering a sexual situation with his wife, plus instances of loudly, vulgarly proclaiming, uncouth male criminals in Kimble's company during a bus-and-train wreck, and some bedraggled intercity dwellings on display, the people in them shown, as usual, in the process of having sex when they are interrupted.
All of this said, I do not dislike the movie version of The Fugitive. I saw it with my mother and father at the Nashwaaksis Twin Cinemas on a summer's evening in 1993 and thrilled to all of the action which was quite impeccably arranged and filmed. Ford, talented actor that he is, delivered a bravura performance as Kimble. Tommy Lee Jones played Marshal Sam Gerard, who chased Kimble from one place to another. And I would say that for a television series of more than a hundred episodes (nearly all of which I watched via the A & E television station run of the 1960s television series weekdays in early 1990) being condensed into a movie of two or more hours, the result in this case was more than satisfactory, in terms of story development and characterisation. The Fugitive provided a certainly more satisfying experience for me in a movie theatre than did The Firm and Falling Down (both 1993), which my father and I saw at the Plaza Cinemas to pass a few hours on a couple of evenings whilst my mother at home entertained her former colleagues in the Victorian Order of Nurses. Tom Cruise and Michael Douglas are not actors whom I would very highly rate, and the nefarious doings at a law firm or man going homicidally berserk story content, respectively, of those two movies was more befitting of a television movie of the week typical of the late 1980s or the 1990s than of a widescreen theatrical feature film. Still, Falling Down did contain some astute observations and comment on the sad, decaying condition of "post-modern" Western society.
Apart from live-action visualisations of a "modern Stone Age", I found little to hold my interest in The Flintstones movie (1994), an animated-cartoon-television-show-turned-theatrical-"blockbuster"-with-actors-and-special-effects, seen by my father and I in spring of 1994 at the Plaza Cinemas. And we two also bought movie tickets to view the third and last of the The Naked Gun movies; the comedic spark in those had more or less been reduced to a dull, faint current by the third entry in the series of initially admittedly quite funny film satires of television police dramas.
And in early 1996, my mother and I went to a cinema to see a movie. My mother and I, just the two of us, going to a movie theatre was a rarity in my life's experience. If a single parent accompanied me to see a movie at a theatre, it was almost always my father. My mother did come with Tony and I to see Outland at the Plaza Cinema 1 in spring of 1981. And that, my mother being with me and a friend at a cinema, was unusual, too. And for that matter, so was my father going with me and a friend to a theatre see a movie. In fact, that never happened. In our outing to the movie theatre in early 1996, my mother and I saw Mary Reilly, which was an iteration of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", boasting a novelty that the happnings of the story are revealed to the viewers from the perspective of the Jekyll housemaid, who is the movie's main character, its title character. My mother was interested in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" because it had unsettled and fascinated me, and she, I think, liked Julia Roberts, who played the Mary Reilly character. So, she asked if we could go together to see it. She had my father watch over my grandmother for the hours of the evening whereupon we, my mother and I, saw Mary Reilly on one of the smaller screens at the Plaza Cinemas. Cinema 3 or 4. It was unprecedented for me to be seeing "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" on a movie theatre screen. I acknowledged that fact to myself with some palpable awe as the movie was starting. There were few people there besides my mother and myself. Maybe a dozen. I was aware of Mary Reilly's troubled production (it had been passed from one director to another, with numerous script re-writes), and I was not enthusiastic about the maid's-perspective idea for the movie. She was in love with both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both of whom had an attraction to her, and it did become more a love story than a horror movie. Only one transformation was shown, and it was close to the end of the movie. And only the aftermath of Hyde's violence was shown. John Malkovich did not provide much of a contrast between his Dr. Jekyll and his Mr. Hyde. There as scant indication in Malkovich's performance that Jekyll was remorseful for what his alter-ego had done. The movie chose to have Jekyll as a bearded man of middle age or somewhat past that, and Hyde as a young, clean-shaven, comely, lecherous psychopath, and this was not original. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starring David Hemmings that I had seen on PBS' Mystery! in 1982, had done same with the story. And I was not in agreement with such as an effective way of depicting the horror of the Jekyll transformation into Hyde. Mary Reilly was leaden in its pacing. And it looked very grey, which was rather typical for cinema for the time. I do not think that my mother was impressed by the movie. I certainly was not. Julia Roberts did not have gravitas as the leading character, and Malkovich's performance in the dual role was uncompelling, lacklustre. Still, it was a pleasant experience going with my mother to see a movie.
By and large, I have been both frustrated by and dismissive of the output of movie and television production companies ever since the mid-1980s, actually. Hollywood decision-makers post-1990 have, I think, persistently, routinely, with remarkable tenacity, clung to the making of choices that I would judge to be asinine. Race-swapping or gender-swapping iconic roles just for the sake of doing it. Or stunt-casting "hip-hop" celebrities as characters previously played by highly distinguished, serious actors. To say nothing of altering the aesthetic of revived or remade works, to make them grimy and bleak. Some television shows were remade as movies for the purpose of "poking fun" at them. The ransacking of the vaults of television shows or classic movies for story elements for present-day "blockbuster" feature films, usually with intent to sensationalise or even satirise the source material of its original iteration, went full-tilt in the 1990s. A number of these television shows or movies were cynically depicted in the "remakes" with emphasis on how out of place, or out of time, the mores of yesterday are in the ever so superior 1990s- and in the twenty-first century, too.
Occasionally in the 1990s a new television show with a catchy title would be suggested to me as potentially offering some imaginative escapism with Space: 1999-like future flair and aesthetic qualities, only to be found to be yet another depressing dystopia of the future scarcely distinguishable from the mundane present. A future with smut everywhere and no higher essence or purpose to living except sexuality and aggression, depicted with too polished visual effects achieved mainly through computer compositing or computer generation. Space: Above and Beyond was a case-in-point; I saw in its premier episode young, smart-alecky space cadets liquoring themselves in a bar no different from the "watering holes" shown in movies set in present-day times, lustfully eyeing females, and having brawls over jealousies in lecherousness or typical taunting of one another over issues related to manhood or competency in performance of duty. How typical of present-day Hollywood, I thought to myself, and channel-surfed elsewhere. Watching people venturing into space with no appreciable improvement in spirit, psychology, values, is not something for which I would gladly tune my television set each week.
And oranges, beiges, lime greens, sly blues, light browns, crimson reds of my favourite television shows of my childhood had been superseded by greys, copious blacks, and traces of dark greens and dull reds and blues, and in the case of The Simpsons a shade of bright yellow (the only colour whose light grading tends to repulse me if used to excess).
"True-story" television movies were "all the rage" in the 1990s, showing an appalling amount of poor taste in the rush to dramatise tragedies. Viewers were given rather voyeuristic occasion to witness the sequence of sordid events leading to loss of life, physical or aggrievingly emotional injury, or some other deplorable occurrence, be it the fiery end to a Branch Davidian cult of Waco, Texas, the attack on figure-skater Nancy Kerrigan orchestrated by a rival, or the bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City. And the tendency to ever more and more transgression of decency and of morally adjudged taste would reach banal proportion on the Internet.
Situation comedies like Seinfeld reveled in opportunity to orient episodes around masturbation or techniques of sexual action, or to show a character lost in a parking garage looking for somewhere in which to urinate- and thinking these things to be funny. Perhaps they are, but in the least dignified, most perverse way. Far, far away from the humor derived from the hysterical reactions of characters in desperate predicaments, like Mel Sharples in Alice finding his restaurant in frequent conditions of wreckage, or a customer dying while dining there, or Mel's relationship with a celebrity being put in jeopardy because his waitresses sliced, for eatery menu, the celebrity's prized fishing catch. I admit to finding Three's Company rather less than edifying or laugh-worthy nowadays, when I watch it, and Happy Days, too, but those did, also, for the most part, use character reactions to untoward happenings as basis for comedy, rather than un-euphemised talk of sexual practice or need to relieve oneself in a public place- and innuendos where they were spoken were rather tame in comparison to what can be heard in television situation comedies post-1990.
Daytime talk television also prospered post-1990, whilst game television shows except for The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy were in retreat, as people with all sorts of disagreeable life situation or predilection to perverse or kinky activities were rendered public spectacle.
The 1990s were where this slide into crass negativity gone rampant really "took root", it grieves me to say. I was not impressed even with YTV Canada's switch in 1991 away from a refined yet straightforward, perhaps somewhat diffident but nonetheless artful and functional logo toward one of rather fatuous, "hip-hop" style, and to images of children throwing paint around, acting raucous, and indulging in graffiti. With Space: 1999 leaving the YTV programme schedule in 1992, my interest in YTV sank fast, anyway, but when I did from time to time have a look at YTV post-1992, I found that it had an ever more "in-one's-face" way of presenting itself, its advertisements for upcoming television shows, and its "programme jockies", in addition to an increasing use of intrusive logos during television shows-proper. Even the commercials on many television stations had become less sophisticated, less genuinely amusing, less musically rousing, and less soul-stirring in a positive sense. That was if any effort was invested at all into the means of promoting product, beyond use of talking heads. YTV did in fact air Spiderman (1967-70) and its 1994-7 television series counterpart in the mid-1990s, but YTV logos were pervasive. Those logos marring telecast of Spiderman on YTV included YTV call letters printed on a bouncing basketball or on a purple lizard wagging tail, or on spinning globes. And this was before the phenomenon of the continuous "bug" (television station identification logo) became exceedingly prolific around the mid-to-late-1990s.
I was mostly only tuned to television in the 1990s for Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. 1994 saw a further juggling of cartoon shorts between broadcasting packages, and Bugs & Tweety received a transfusion of cartoons never seen in its instalments before then and of other cartoon shorts that had been absent from Bugs & Tweety in the 1992 or 1990 refreshing of the body of cartoons available for network television broadcast. In 1994, this infusion of some different cartoon offerings did not happen instantaneously with the start of the new, 1994-5 season of Bugs Bunny & Tweety. It was not until the fifth episode therein, airing on October 8, that new-to-Bugs-&-Tweety or unseen-for-awhile-on-Bugs & Tweety cartoons began appearing, among them "His Hare-Raising Tale", "Mouse-Warming", and "Birds Anonymous". In the weeks thereafter, were "A Bear For Punishment" (the first time that a Three Bears cartoon was shown on Bugs & Tweety- albeit substantially edited for violence), "Hook, Line, and Stinker", "Cracked Quack", "Box Office Bunny" (first time for me to view this produced-in-1990, rather shorter than normal Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd cartoon, the location for which was a movie theatre complex built above Bugs' rabbit hole), and, surprise, surprise, on October 29, "Tweety's Circus", its premiere on Bugs Bunny & Tweety after eight seasons of absence- and its first time on Saturday morning network television since the CBS days of Warner Brothers cartoon telecast before autumn, 1985. I could scarcely believe my eyes when the title of "Tweety's Circus" was there against the gold film beside the blinking, top-hatted, inside-concentric-circles Bugs Bunny. In fact, I was in a state of shock for the remainder of the day. I had already acquired "Tweety's Circus" through another collector of videotape, one who lived in Connecticut, U.S.A. and who had procured said cartoon, and others, from overseas contacts. And the cartoon as transmitted on ABC and on ATV in my part of Canada, was edited to remove Sylvester swallowing fire. Still, it was a thrill to at last see "Tweety's Circus" on Bugs Bunny & Tweety, although its reunion with "Hyde and Go Tweet" and other Tweety and Sylvester cartoons of its close, past association was to be short-lived as those other cartoon shorts were to mysteriously disappear from Bugs & Tweety for much of the mid-to-late 1990s.
Also in autumn of 1994, MITV telecast on Saturday mornings at 8 A.M. third season episodes, all twenty-six of them, of The Bugs Bunny Show. Yes, the Bugs Bunny Show with stage scenes between cartoon shorts, a television show not seen in eastern Maritime Canada or in most- if not all- other places for nearly two decades. At first, I did not know what was meant in all television guide listings for Bugs Bunny, and for two weeks was more than a little dismayed when MITV aired episodes of Darkwing Duck instead of the mysterious Bugs Bunny printed in all television show listings. And then, on the fourth Saturday in September, 1994, The Bugs Bunny Show began its 26-week engagement on the airwaves of MITV. For two weeks over the Christmas and New Year's holidays time period, The Bugs Bunny Show was not shown, giving to me cause for concern, though it resumed its run a couple of weeks into January. I was most insistent on attaining the Sylvester cartoon, "Kit For Cat", which had eluded me, in English language version, for as long as I had been compiling videotape record of the Warner Brothers cartoons. And I secured that coveted cartoon, albeit without titles, on the episode of The Bugs Bunny Show airing on YTV on the morning of February 11, 1995. It then finally surfaced, in edited form, on Bugs & Tweety in an episode thereof airing late that same year, on December 9, 1995. Prior to my being able to achieve a videotape-recording of it in February, it had not been so very elusive! It had not been in the collections of anyone with whom I had been in correspondence. The final episode of The Bugs Bunny Show televised on MITV, on April 8, 1995, contained a lecture by Bugs about man, leading into the also much sought-after, by me, cartoon short, "There Auto Be a Law" (containing gags about automobiles).
And I would add that while in Calgary in July of 1995, I discovered, at a laser videodisc rental outlet, a laser videodisc of Sylvester and Tweety cartoons, SYLVESTER & TWEETY'S BAD OL' PUTTY TAT BLUES, and on it, as noted in its back cover's list of contents, was "Kit For Cat". "Kit For Cat", complete with its main titles that were stripped from it for its inclusion on The Bugs Bunny Show. "Kit For Cat" in the vastly-superior-to-VHS-videotape laser videodisc audio and video format. I was so delighted at this discovery. At that time, I did not have an information source for what Warner Brothers cartoons were available on laser videodisc, or how many laser videodiscs that there were with those cartoons on them, or what the titles were to those laser videodiscs. I was interested in someday having a player of laser videodiscs and growing a collection of them, including the Image Entertainment Space: 1999 laser videodiscs, that had impressed me very, very much when I was casting my eyes over them at my Regina host's place. He had all twenty-three volumes in the Space: 1999 laser videodisc range, all of them by 1995 out-of-print for some four years. I did not then know that they all were doomed to succumb to "laser rot" and desired to have all of them. In Calgary, at the same laser videodisc rental outlet that had in its shelving unit SYLVESTER & TWEETY'S BAD OL' PUTTY TAT BLUES, I found two of the Space: 1999 laser videodiscs. The second volume thereof, that contained Space: 1999's episodes, "Dragon's Domain" and "Force of Life", and VOLUME 3, with Space: 1999 episodes "Collision Course" and "Black Sun". The manager of that laser videodisc rental outlet would not agree to sell any of these laser videodiscs as used units. I asked him, and he said no. I remember being especially keen to acquire SPACE: 1999 VOLUME 2.
The Calgarian was not impressed at all at my interest in the Sylvester and Tweety laser videodisc. I struggle to summon any doubt that he branded my taste in the cartoons as childish as he was berating me to the Reginan during their "excursion". I do have no doubt of what he would say to my adherence to Spiderman. He hated Spiderman. During a "channel surf" that I was doing on the Calgarian's television set, I came upon a YTV broadcast of the Spiderman episode, "Neptune's Nose Cone", and watched its final few minutes before Mr. Calgary regaled me with his ever so enlightened opinion on Spiderman. He hated it. He had no favourable regard for any component to it. In addition to thinking everything about the Spiderman television series to be execrable, he had no respect for comic books and characters in comic books. In fact, he once famously proclaimed in the Space: 1999 fan club newsletter that, "Batman is a comic book, and the characters are unimportant."
Nothing about me interested him. He did not care how my unique personal experience with Space: 1999 had shaped my outlook on it. He never once asked about that. Nor was he curious about how my taste in other entertainments, like the cartoons of Warner Brothers or Spiderman, had primed me for responding to Space: 1999 as I did in my first viewings of its episodes, and with the bulk of my initial year's immersion in Space: 1999 being with the episodes of Season 2. He just did not care about any of this. I suspect that the same was true for the Reginan. I sat and listened with interest to their recounting of their seminal Space: 1999 experiences. But were they willing to try to understand "where I was coming from"? Hell, no. The fans at the convention would be just as uninterested, I am sure.
What sort of a person would hate Spiderman? A colourful cartoon television series about a super-hero who vows never to shirk his responsibility. And who finds himself in some of the most wildly bizarre or outlandish situations, with lavish and highly stylised design art for villains and backgrounds. And with the most exquisite music! Alas, a percentage of the population does dislike it. My peers in high school did not speak flatteringly about it, though they at least did watch it. And Tony told me about the banter of his peers about it being disparaging. Of course, my peers at Fredericton schools were not my favourite people. Nothing more needs saying about them, and nor should anything more need saying about my new adversary in Calgary.
With the reduction that YTV had done to its vintage television programming quotient over the early 1990s, it is amazing that Spiderman (1967-70) was receiving a televising at all on that broadcaster, as a companion to the more polished 1994-8 Spider-Man. There was very little on YTV in 1995 that hailed from the 1960s and 1970s. I could be wrong, but I think that Spiderman was the only representative of those decades on YTV's schedule of transmitted television series in the mid-1990s. I think that the works of Gerry Anderson Productions were gone from YTV by then. Bugs Bunny would have a home at YTV for awhile in the late 1990s. And Huckleberry Hound, too. After that, YTV was shorn of vintage material. A new television channel, Teletoon, in 1997 would offer televisual life to Spiderman for awhile, and The Road Runner Show, before it, too, banished television programming older than the 1970s from its roster. Entertainment predating 1980 was receding on television through the 1990s and into the 2000s, even as the amount of cable television channels was increasing.
Further, the 1990s were when commercial intervals on television started expanding and increasing in number to a degree very trying indeed on one's patience and tolerance. In September of 1992, for example, Bugs Bunny & Tweety, previously having five pauses for clusters of commercials, would begin to have seven stoppages of cartoon presentation for commercials. Except for the transition between cartoons one and two in an installment, there were now commercials between each of the cartoon shorts on Bugs Bunny & Tweety, plus one commercial "bed" after the opening sequence and yet another one before the end credits, though both of those had been the norm for as long as Bugs Bunny & Tweety had existed. And with an ever increasing amount of advertisement in the commercial intervals, time per hour for the television show-proper reduced from 45 minutes (Bugs & Tweety's standard length excluding commercials from 1988 to 1992) to 42 minutes in 1992 and thence to something close to 38 minutes in 1996 (with there then only being six cartoon shorts per episode instead of the seven cartoons per instalment which had been known as routine since The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour began televising in 1968! I would state further that shuffling of cartoons between broadcasters of the Warner Brothers cartoons did not occur in 1996. Given that such procedure had been done in 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1994, it being at two-year intervals had already been noted by me, and I was perplexed and annoyed that it did not occur in 1996, and indeed would not transpire until early 1998! The same cartoons being recycled in yet another Bugs & Tweety season, that of 1996-7, resulted in my diminished interest in watching and videotaping the television programme, and the unwelcome appearance of the continuous ABC logo in lower-right screen corner and the reduction of number of installment cartoons to six were further disincentive to enthuse myself in the ABC (and at that time MITV) telecasts of The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show.
Nostalgia being no longer the most compelling force in my life in Era 6, visits to Douglastown became few post-1992. I did not visit Newcastle-Douglastown-Chatham once in 1994, and one-day, September jaunts thereto with my father in 1995 and 1996 were my only contact with my old neighbourhood through the mid-1990s. Because my grandmother had moved into our basement, with a renovated "granny-suite", in 1991 and required my mother's care, my mother seldom traveled, and my father and I usually went to places without her. He and I went to Bangor, Maine, in August, 1994 and to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in July, 1997.
While in Bangor with my father in August, 1994, I raided the Suncoast store in the Bangor Mall, a vendor of pre-recorded videocassettes from which I had purchased some very prized videotapes in 1991, and from Suncoast, Bangor, in 1994 I bought several videotapes of Doctor Who and the Warner Brothers cartoons plus one book, That's All Folks! The Art of Warner Brothers Animation, cartoon historian Steve Schneider's outstanding tome on Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, jam-packed with colourful photographs and enlightening facts and considered impressions on the Warner Brothers cartoons through the decades of their production. The journey to Bangor in 1994 had been intended to cheer me after several depressingly lonely and idle summer weeks, and it did have such an effect, for awhile.
And as I say, my visits to Douglastown did continue, but at reduced rate. I had gone to there in May and August, 1990 for several days, walking through the old school (now a museum), going inside what were once the classrooms in which I learned to read, write, add, subtract, multiply, and divide, and seeing at Douglastown's new, modern school my teachers from Grades 3, 4, and 5 (Mrs. Jardine, Mr. Wood, and Mr. Donahue). Using my new 35-milimetre camera, I had obtained dozens of photographs of the village, most dazzlingly capturing the Miramichi River and the nature trails in which I used to stroll, nature trails that would be destroyed in 1996 for a subdivision. In 1991, I had visited Douglastown again during the same two months. And in 1992, I went to the townships and villages communities along the lower Miramichi River in March with my parents and in August by myself. During the March visit to Newcastle-Douglastown-Chatham, whilst my parents and I were staying at the Journey's End Hotel, I went to the hotel lobby as Space: 1999's second season episode, "The Taybor", was being shown on YTV, and the television in the lobby and lounge was tuned to that very telecast which a few people were watching intently, and without scornful looks on their faces. There never was scorn for Space: 1999's second season among the inhabitants known to me of New Brunswick's Miramichi region during Space: 1999's heyday. My favourable discovery in that hotel lobby and lounge was perhaps one small victory for a television show's season that was elsewhere in the process of, more or less, being destroyed.
In 1993, I only went once to the Miramichi area, and for the first- and, to date, the only- time, I stayed at Governor's Mansion in Nelson, across the river from Newcastle. It was a magnificent bed-and-breakfast inn managed by an elderly gentleman, a retired priest, whose guests had included a Prime Minister and a Governor General. My host talked with me for hours about the woeful political situation in New Brunswick, how one political party was monopolising the political process, how one outspoken ethnic group's incessant demands were overshadowing the rights of the others, and how a grassroots political movement, which had come from nowhere to become Official Opposition to the government, was floundering under inept leadership and a caucus of crotchety egotists with the eloquence and charisma of a rusty doorstop. I became interested in seeing the new political party refine itself into a dignified movement for change that could appeal to New Brunswickers of different ages and backgrounds, but the party's contingent of stubborn louts, who had seized control of its executive and would not listen to the more sensible members, stonewalled the leadership review process with allegations of illegal voting. The party's internal squabbling became a farce, and New Brunswickers soundly trounced the whole kit and caboodle in the next election (1995).
During my visit to Newcastle-Douglastown-Chatham in 1993, a new bridge was being built across the Miramichi River. A large hospital was also under construction. So too was a second mall in Douglastown to add to the one that had opened in 1979.
My journeys to Miramichi communities in 1995 and 1996 did not bring me into the presence and into in-person communication with my old friends, Ev and Kevin MacD.. As previously said, Kevin MacD. was residing in Calgary, Alberta, while Ev, though still living in Douglastown, was working at CFAN Radio by night and was asleep by day, a schedule incompatible with my waking hours. The last time that Ev and I saw and spoke to each other was in August, 1992, and I have not seen Kevin since 1988. In 1995 and 1996, one-day excursions with my father to Douglastown did result in successful visits with my childhood sitter, Mrs. Walsh, and her family and with some of our Douglastown neighbours, including Mrs. Matchett, who still lived in the house next to our former domicile, and my friends Johnny and Rob's grandparents. For the first time since 1977, my father and I were in our old Douglastown house again as the current owners of it, they who purchased the house in 1977, agreed to showing us through it. The house interior was remarkably still the same though rather noticeably subject in many places to the ravages of time. This happened during the 1996 one-day Douglastown visit.
Agreeable social contact in Fredericton, however, was sparse indeed for me in 1995 after my friendships with Fulton-Heights-Nashwaaksis persons my junior, friendships commenced in this era, had decayed severely and distressingly within just a couple of years of their beginnings, despite sincere and outgoing efforts by me to salvage the then somewhat un-entropic portions of them and hopefully revitalise their other sections. My Melvin Street friend was working at an automotive service station in 1995, surrounded by co-workers who I did not know. I was less than comfortable coming thereto to see him, though I did so numerous times. Sometimes to a frosty response from him, sometimes to what appeared to be traces of warmth. Alas, our other opportunities for meeting had ended. He drove his new car everywhere that he went and never stopped to talk. Memories of rebuffs by younger friends in the 1980s could not be brushed aside in my mind, and, with thoughts that such was happening again, I could not intuitively determine whether he was angry at me for something during his frosty responses to me, or whether he did not like me anymore and was giving to me the "get lost" signal. I had to observe that he was, for whatever reason, pulling away from me, and that without a clear sign that he would like for us to be friends again, I was more likely to be "brushed off" than to be welcomed back into his life.
While the friendships in my neighbourhood in this era had been of short-term benefit, helping me to come out of my somber state of Era 5 and to be rather upbeat and friendly again, giving to me occasion to practice some of the self-improvement counsel that I was reading in books, and again making me feel positively like an older brother, rejection by them as they "came of age", hastened all the more by the ways that occasional imprecise statements by me were interpreted and responded-to, was the sad outcome.
In 1994, another association that had seemed irretrievably broken was being mended, however not permanently. The rift had been traumatic. In 1990, Dean and I parted due to differences over the revealing of interpretations of Space: 1999's second season. We had been the only two active Space: 1999 fans in New Brunswick, and in 1994, he was still the only other fan whom I had met. It was a rift that had caused severe swelling of my self-doubt, manifest in psychosomatic illness. And though I was rather uneasy when he contacted me in February, 1994, his stated willingness to be understanding and to mend fences instead of passing judgment over past events quickly led to a reconciliation, and we started occasionally meeting again. But events leading to another relationship meltdown in July, 2001 would bring this renewed relationship to a rather bitter end. The reconciliation was proven to have been yet another in a series of blind alleys in this life era.
With my new perspective, post-my-sad-Regina-Calgary-Los-Angeles-fiasco-of-a-journey, as regards the world and a refreshed spirit of belonging in the New Brunswick capital city in which I lived, I decided to "branch out", to volunteer in something that had always fascinated me: television. Television broadcasting and television production. The community television channel under the auspices of the Fredericton cable television provider, it being in 1995 Fundy Cable, had for many years appealed to the public for volunteer support in the production of programming, and indeed, as early as 1993, I had been entertaining thoughts of offering some of my time and initiative to Fredericton area community television, Channel 10 on the Fundy Cable dial. I was entertaining those thoughts- but I procrastinated. I was unemployed and idle in 1993, 1994, 1995, and volunteering in community television did offer benefits ranging from having something to do to learning of potentially employable skill or skills to having additional work experience to put on my resume, plus potential new opportunities for social contact. Yet, my diffidence was restraining me. That and my apprehensiveness about trying new activities and possibly struggling to succeed in them. And my pursuits of this era, ultimately barren of appreciable result, did still seem for a time to be worthy of the lion's share of my attention. It was not until late 1995 when those pursuits altogether appeared to be in vain, gainless, hopeless, that I regarded community television volunteerism with rather more resolve and initiative than I did before. But I still dawdled for much of the autumn of 1995 before some prodding by my mother and mention by me on telephone to my friend, Joey, of my interest in volunteering for Channel 10 prompted me to go to the York Street office of Fundy Community Television and talk to the Volunteer Coordinator. For me to not proceed in so-doing would be to convey to my old friend an image of faint-heartedness; in telling Joey that I was thinking of being a Channel 10 volunteer, I was indeed committing myself to that.
In early December, 1995, I was on the Channel 10 volunteer roster, my first assigned duty being as camera operator for a live television show entitled Point of You, which involved timely and/or controversial topics with studio guests and public telephone callers. It was a Point of You episode remembering the 1989 Montreal Massacre of young women at the Ecole Polytechnique, the three guests including two representatives from women's groups and a gun enthusiast attorney. A memorable Point of You installment, to be sure. I was invited to the Channel 10 studio again that December to operate camera for a rather more placid videotaped talk television show with the host, a retired law enforcement officer, interviewing community leaders or social activists or religious persons or rather less than flamboyantly interesting personalities in public service or public entertainment in Fredericton. In early 1996, I worked on my first television mobile, i.e. outside of studio and on event site, production, that being a couple of basketball games at the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium on Fredericton's University of New Brunswick campus. I struggled with the camera at which I was assigned, to rapidly attain the camera perspectives of basketball players or of ball going into net that the Mobile Producer was requesting, but it was my first time at pointing a camera toward the rapid action of a sporting event like basketball.
But as I improved in my work in camera operation and as the producer of Point of You one evening permitted me to operate the video switcher in studio control room in response to his directions to cut or dissolve live, on-air, from one camera's moving image to that of another camera, I found that I truly liked what I was doing, and the satisfaction that I felt when I contributed to a slickly produced, professional-looking television show, was palpable. This, I thought to myself, was the sort of work that I could enjoy doing for a living. Unlike teaching school, which although my having a university degree and certification for doing, did not appear to be my calling at all.
Yet, I needed money if I was going to continue to fund continued videotape collecting, which in 1996, I was determined to do. With my friendships of this life era with people much my junior no longer in situ, I was more comfortable in 1996 with the idea of supply-teaching. And so, I registered my name. I supply-tought at Fredericton High School for one day and at Stanley High School for a handful of days. I was not trained to teach younger grades of school, I felt very much disinclined to want to contend with junior high school student misbehaviour, and I knew that an unmarried man such as myself might be regarded as less than fully trustworthy with juveniles. It was therefore high school or nothing for me, as regards supply-teaching. Most of my summons to supply-teach came from Stanley High School. Stanley is a village some 30 miles north of Fredericton. I supply-taught a day's worth of Art classes at Stanley High, but was little more than a glorified sitter for often irreverent groups of Grade 10 and Grade 11 teenagers, pacing around the classroom and straining to keep them to task designated by the teacher for whom I was substituting. The Grade 10 class was, as expected, more of a problem to keep in some semblance of control. Speaking in normal tone of voice was seldom possible if I was to be heard.
It was winter, and the car drive en route to Stanley was a long 45 minutes even in best of weather conditions for the season. If I received a telephone call very early in the morning requesting my services in Stanley, I needed to be on the road before 7:15. So, every night, I would need to go to bed rather early and be prepared for possible 7 A.M. (or earlier) telephone calls. On my second supply-teaching stint in Stanley, to my dismay, I was put before a series of Grade 7 Mathematics and Language Arts classes. Assignments had been provided for me to give to the high-spirited adolescents, but I struggled like never before during my practicum to keep order in the classroom, and by day's end as I drove car back to Fredericton, my throat was raspy and I had quite a headache. A further summons to teach the same classes on the subsequent day needed to be rejected as I did not feel sufficiently robust to repeat the exceedingly difficult task. I was soon back at Stanley High School to teach Grade 11 Chemistry for a day, again doing little more than staying with the school classes and trying my best to maintain order. In fact, at no time did I really teach at all, in contrast to my practicum in 1991 at Fredericton High School. I found such a condition to be quite disheartening, though it certainly not had been unexpected. Rarely did a supply-teacher ever actually teach during my post-elementary-school years. While I was delighted to receive a paycheque for each of those early 1996 supply-teaching jobs, the lack of occasion for doing actual teaching combined with the dictate of needing to be rested, psychologically primed, and ready on any morning to go on the road at very early hour in who knows what weather conditions, to Stanley, was inevitably going to wear heavily upon my sense of resolve. If other circumstances did not hasten the decision, I think that I probably would have forsaken school-teaching by the autumn of 1996.
Although my mother had remarked on its inaugural day that 1996 was designated the Year of the Capricorn, this annum of the 1990s would prove to be undoubtedly the worst of my life. Unfathomably rotten luck would be with me for almost the entirety of the 1996 12 months. The significance of the year amongst the fictional universes of my television series fancies was not lost upon me, and absolutely is not so now with hindsight. Tony Cellini in Space: 1999's "Dragon's Domain" episode met with a ghastly horror of an octopod alien creature in a spaceship graveyard as he commanded a 1996 deep-space mission to planet Ultra. While my problem with ill fate of 1996 was not as horrendous and life-ending as his, thank goodness, it is a coincidence that seemingly petitions for itself to be noted.
En route one morning to Stanley High School, I was turning a corner and was startled by a dog that suddenly ran onto the road and that stopped in the road's centre. I could not avoid hitting the unfortunate canine all of a sudden there in front of me, and did so at a 70 kilometres-per-hour speed. It was early in the morning, and the road to Stanley was seldom busy. I did not want to leave the dog on the road, but I could not afford to be late for work. I went to the home from which the dog seemed to have come and knocked on the door. No answer. So, I left there a note apologising for the accident and asking for the dog's owner to contact me later that day. No telephone call was ever received. Then, I continued my car-drive to Stanley, quite shaken for having probably killed the dog. I could not banish the image of it from my mind for the remainder of the day, and I was not at my best in my teaching duties. It was only my fifth day of work as a supply-teacher in Stanley. And I utterly floundered, was not effective at all. Not that I was thus to any extent on the prior four days either, but at least on those days I did not have a problematic journey to a school. What incredibly bad luck it was for me to have been going around a corner precisely when a dog was crossing the street in that very spot on the road! Just a second or two later, and the dog would have safely crossed the pavement. My un-resilient, dire performance in supply-teaching that day underscored my lack of real aptitude for the job of teaching school, despite my having jumped through the required hoops to attain my Bachelor's degree. Maybe it had also been simply too long since my internship for me to have only just started setting foot as teacher into classrooms. I was ill-at-ease, students clearly saw this, and they exploited it to waste their time on the Internet (on the basis said they of their teacher usually allowing such) or to laze around at their desks and socialise with one another. I lumbered through those days without any unprofessional moments, but classroom discipline was usually a strain to achieve. Also, my being an unmarried 30-year-old who had had considerably younger associates, both recently in this life era and in Era 4 a decade or so earlier, prompted some people in my neighbourhood to question my suitability as a teacher- or so I was led to believe by some of what was heard through the grapevine by my mother and by myself. Best I thought to call my teaching degree a professional loss and to concentrate on endeavours that did not bring potential judgment upon me for my not having married, my having not limited my social contact in past to persons above the age of majority, and my staying for a full third decade of life in my parents' nest. Sensible tenets of my then-completed Dale Carnegie training (see below) helped me in arriving at this decision.
I dedicated yet more and more of my time to my volunteerism with Fundy Community Television, viewing job prospects there as some of the staff there then had been volunteers before they were hired. But in 1996, and for quite a number of years to come, the employee situation at Channel 10 was gridlocked, and even among the volunteers, advancing from entry-level camera operation to duties in control room or inside mobile vehicle was very slow as long-established volunteers were not inclined to readily conceding their crew positions to newcomers such as I, except on those occasions in which they were not available to participate in production.
Bad luck continued to follow me, and in some ways worse so than it did television's Bradys on their stay in Hawaii. I always seemed to choose the productions fraught with unforeseen delays of sometimes outrageous proportion, deficient volunteer crew turn-out, or an exceedingly long sports score tie-breaker. And I tended often to receive "the worst of it" on the crew position to which I was assigned. Arguably the most nightmarish Fundy Community Television effort with which I was associated was a videotaped episode of Friday Night Rocks for which the scheduled band of musicians did stall, stall, stall start of production as they fussily tuned their guitars and amplifiers, etc.. Hour after hour after hour. And as the volunteering audio operator tinkered seemingly with no end in sight, with an audio mixer apparatus supplied for the production. What had been expected to be a Sunday afternoon's "shoot" in the studio finishing at around 6 P.M., did not finally begin until after 9 o'clock that evening, and even after that, there were pauses in the videotaping as the musicians insisted on going outdoors to smoke their cigarettes. No food was provided for production crew, and we could not go home in that perhaps videotaping would commence at any time and we needed to be present in the studio. While we were languishing away the hours in waiting for start of production and as supper hour passed, the musicians ignorantly feasted on Greco pizza in front of us and "snapped" at me for looking at them for rather too protracted a number of seconds.
A mobile production that same day, expected to last longer than studio videotaping of Friday Night Rocks, ended and the volunteers for it arrived back at the Fundy building and went home before 7 o'clock- as I and the other volunteers for Friday Night Rocks were still in wait of start of the in-studio spectacle to be lensed. I finally left the studio for home after midnight, having eaten no more than a bag of potato chips since lunchtime and having been unable to go somewhere to obtain food without appearing flighty and undependable (I had little money with me in any case). And at midnight, the videotaped television programme of intended 90-minute length was still not half of the way toward completion. Two other volunteers had already left, and I had felt obligated to remain, for the departure of a further crew member would be very problematic. And the producer's temper was understandably short as it was. He did, however, concede to my needing to leave. I was more than a little peeved by what had transpired that day, and I duly complained about it to the Volunteer Coordinator come sunrise on the morrow. Not that I wished to undermine the impression of fortitude and quiet perseverance that I was striving to convey, but a production slated to be done around 6 P.M. going until 2 A.M. (as I was told that it did) was unacceptable. And everyone was in agreement with me. The musicians that day were not invited to return for a further episode of Friday Night Rocks, and the rule henceforth was that if a production has not even started by the projected end time, volunteers should go home.
Other Fundy Community Television programming on which I worked in the first eighteen months of my participation therein and which did not go as untroubled or finish as promptly as had been expected included a beauty pageant in the town of Oromocto 15 miles south of Fredericton that was poorly organised, sluggishly mobilised, and lasting more than an hour longer than the agreed-upon duration, and my father with whom I had arranged transportation home from the Fundy building, waited there for me for as long beyond the appointed time. Mother's Day, 1996 was memorable for a day's worth of videotape-recording of volleyball at the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium, whereas I had been informed and had understood it to be for the morning and very early afternoon only. As it happened, crew was skeletal, consisting only of the most junior producer on staff, the office secretary (said junior producer's girl-friend), and myself. The producer manned "the rack" containing video switcher and video monitors, audio mixer, and character-generator on-screen graphics (if there were any), while the secretary and I operated cameras on the sides of the volleyball court. There was no play-by-play camera at centre-court. Not only did we need to operate cameras with view of the ball at all times and not only did we have no relief crew in the event of becoming tired, but the junior producer agreed to produce television coverage of four games of volleyball, two with females, two with males, instead of the two games that I had been designated for us to videotape. There was no stoppage of our work, not for lunch nor even for a snack. From 10 A.M. through to late afternoon, the secretary and I operated cameras, and we were not fully "torn down" and out of the gymnasium and back at the Fundy building until nearly 5 P.M.. I was famished, exhausted, and more than a little irked. Once again, my father was aghast at the much longer than expected end time for these television "gigs". At home, dinner was Kentucky Fried Chicken eaten with my grandmother in her downstairs apartment, and I devoured the chicken pieces allocated to me and was still hungry. I later learned that Channel 10 management disliked the volleyball game coverage and chose not to telecast it.
Then there was the baseball game on a Sunday in August which was to be done by 6 P.M. but which went into extra innings. Every time that the tied score was broken in the top of an inning, the opposing team re-tied the score in the bottom of same inning, and the game kept going and going until past sunset. There were no spare volunteers for purposes of relief, and I was assigned to camera atop the Channel 10 mobile van for the whole game, the sun in my face for most of it in the afternoon and early evening, impairing my view of my camera viewfinder. My perturbed producer said that I needed to improve my camera work lest I be declared incompetent and replaced (by whom, I do not know, as we had no reserves of crew). I baked in the afternoon sun and then shivered as the sun was setting, another volunteer needing to bring my jacket to me which I did then loan to the other camera operator with me atop the mobile vehicle, that camera operator being younger (a teenager) and wearing a short-sleeved shirt while I was wearing a full-sleeved jersey. Upon return at last to home, I found that I was sunburned on the face and hands. A mid-December, 1996 basketball game at Fredericton High School gymnasium for which I was operating play-by-play camera was, like the baseball game described in this paragraph, pushed into ever more overtime as the score kept being tied at the end of each overtime segment (there were no "sudden-death" overtimes, for some reason), and I was not at home from that production until after midnight. For another basketball game in that same mid-December tournament if I remember correctly, our cameras and mobile vehicle were all in place and videotape-recording was minutes from starting when one of the more flamboyant players during basketball-hooping practice smashed the backstop of one of the nets, requiring a change in venue to the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium in less than 45 minutes. We needed to pull all of our equipment and connector cables out of the high school building, hasten to the Lady Beaverbrook Gymnasium, and "set up" everything again- which we did, as testimonial to teamwork and teeth-gritting determination of the Channel 10 crew on that day. And I was still rather tender in the left leg and left shoulder from another incident, three weeks prior, in my spate of bad luck in 1996.
I do not like hockey. I never had much use for it in my childhood and never came close to mastering the playing of it on street or gymnasium floor, much less on rink ice. I enjoyed following hockey action on a camera viewfinder even less than playing it on the street (as I had been asked a few times by Craig to do in the 1980s) or watching it on television. But I did want to maximise my potential for employment by Fundy Community Television by being willing to work just about any production, even those I did not particularly like. So, in 1996, I volunteered to participate in production of Channel 10 television coverage of hockey games, in addition to basketball and football, none of which were close to being my favourite sport. It was the hockey games, and most especially those located at the Lady Beaverbrook Rink on University Avenue in Fredericton, that I liked least to work toward televising. Accursed barn of a place, that hockey game venue. Definitely not constructed with consideration of deployment of television cameras. Replete with hazards for a novice volunteer for Fundy Community Television as I would discover, in arguably my most abysmally unlucky phase of life, that of 1996 leading into early 1997.
I would come disturbingly close to being electrocuted there in 1997, but I will defer further mention of that for later. Already not being an ardent admirer of the place after on a previous occasion there accidentally jamming another volunteer's finger in retractable scaffolding pipes, I was on one Friday evening in late November of 1996 hurrying to find a rink official to grant for our crew access to the back doors of the building, and having been less than successful in locating such a person, I was hastening to the Channel 10 mobile vehicle behind the rink edifice when just past the very rear doors to which we wished to have access, I slipped on hard ice, and down I went. My left arm on reflex extended to break my fall, my shoulder receiving most of the force of impact and my left hip and upper left leg striking the hard ice of which an upwards protruding portion cut somewhat into my hip. Two volunteers saw me go down and ran to my aid. They lifted me as I felt quite intense pain in my shoulder, and my leg hurt as I walked with the two volunteers supporting me to the Channel 10 mobile vehicle (I shall henceforth just call it the mobile). The producer offered to excuse me from the production but I soldiered onward, accepting an assigned seated crew position as character-generator graphics operator, one of my first times working in that capacity for a hockey broadcast. I abstained from "tear down" procedure after the hockey game concluded, needless to say, and did return home rather worse for wear, requiring Absorbine Junior on my shoulder before retiring to bed.
I had volunteered to work on Channel 10 coverage of the next day's Santa Claus Parade on Queen Street, in Fredericton South, and although being less than one-hundred-percent recovered from my fall on the previous evening, I was on site for broadcasting of the parade and acted as camera grip (following the operator of a hand-held camera and ensuring that the camera cable behind him does not become tangled or encumbered, or does not trip him or anyone else. I had in fact done same task for Channel 10's telecast of one of the Harvest Jazz and Blues Festival concerts in September of that year, and had been visible in the wide perspectives of the main, centre camera perched at back of the festival tent. Not the most prestigious crew position, but being a beginner at anything seldom puts one at the top of the chain, as it were, in terms of assigned duty. At least not on a routine basis. Those few times when I did operate video switcher were very gratifying indeed! But for the most part, I have no nostalgia for the first eighteen months in which I was a Channel 10 volunteer, having endured the "newbie"'s assignments and the mishaps that do perhaps go with being novice- and with, I would say, being in a run of particularly bad luck. Bad luck that seemed to spread to the Channel 10 staff who were tasked to produce the programming on which I was a crew member. Further examples of untoward happenings: the videotape-recording of a half-hour long television show in the studio for which I operated camera, needing to be redone because the Betacam-SP videotape on which it was recorded was found to have clogged the videotape recorder heads part of the way through production (something that never was to happen again on any production involving me after 1997), and a live telephone-call-in television show regarding politics one evening having to be canceled because the host for some reason did not come to the Channel 10 studio at the appointed hour (which, too, was something that never happened again, not while I was present, anyway, after 1997).
While it is true that I gained some savvy in terms of choosing what productions for which to volunteer, I did not always limit myself accordingly in later years. Still, the proportion of what I will term nightmare (or day-mare) "gigs" in succeeding years compared to what I experienced in 1996 and early 1997 was very, very much lower.
It is probably just a facet of my life that I go through periods of time in which it is as though I am living under a tremendous four-leaf clover (in 1983, for instance) and endure spans of weeks, months, or even years in which it was as though I had six hundred and sixty-six broken mirrors in my room and had walked under thirteen ladders. While I will concede that 1996 was not total hell for me, some Channel 10 productions such as coverage of the Red 'n Black Revue at the Fredericton Playhouse and some in-studio television programmes having been indeed quite pleasant, even fun, I would not wish to relive that particular year. For productions like coverage of Canada Day and the Labatt 24-Hour Relay, I just stood for hours behind a camera with little more than a stationary "wide shot", with maybe one or two brief cuts to my camera through the course of an afternoon. It was a tremendous relief after my volunteer work shift was done at the 24-Hour Relay, to join my parents and to go to the Ponderosa Steak House for supper. They collected me outside the Relay's venue, the Fredericton Exhibition Race Track, at close to dinnertime, my quitting time at the television production, and from there we went to the Ponderosa, where I had a steak and baked potato. And delicious A.1. Sauce. I think that that was the last time that we ate at the Ponderosa before its sad closure some years later.
I was happy to finally find an opening in character-generator graphics when the two established volunteers in that crew assignment left Channel 10 in mid-1997. Whenever possible thereafter, I chose not to expose myself to outdoor or indoor (i.e. in hockey rink) elements on camera, choosing the crew position of Character Generator, even on productions where an almost impossible amount of alacrity with the computer keyboard and computer mouse was essential. Not that the potential for tied scores and protracted overtimes did not still exist, or injurious or just embarrassing mishaps during the set-up procedure on mobiles, not to mention contrariness in the often temperamental computers which I was operating for on-screen graphics. But these did seem to reduce in their frequency of occurrence as I logged more and more months of service to Fundy Community Television in wait of job opportunity.
I plunged myself headlong into work for Channel 10 and also into attending New Brunswick Film Cooperative workshops (on the advice of a friend of my mother's) and additionally into returning to university for a couple of film study courses in 1996-7 for reasons of wishing to acquire a job by way of an ever improving resume, but also because it limited the time that I might have at and around home to lament about the dire condition of my social existence there, the sad loss of new friends, the apprehension that I felt about people in my environs around home being judgmental of me for my having associated with those friends and for my not being married, my still living with my parents, and so forth. In addition to these, in 1996, I had seen my latest attempt to effect a permanent reconnect with Joey seem to "fizzle", and I was also ill for more than a week in June- an unusual month for me to become afflicted with influenza. There was a sense of malaise in my life of the sort of which I would be very acutely and debilitatingly aware had I not had some other things on which to focus attention- and camera. It was written in one of the Space: 1999 episode novelisation books that work was the universal anodyne. And that is true. Rotten luck aside, I remained quite resilient in spirit in 1996, not succumbing to the deep depression that one would tend to connect with loss of friendship and a feeling of being disapproved-of by who knows how many persons residing in my neighbourhood.
I did in 1996 have a new JVC videocassette recorder with which to videotape television programmes, mostly those compiling Warner Brothers cartoon shorts. I did, after more than twenty years, have occasion to view and videotape The Projected Man by way of a surprising telecast of that 1967 movie on ASN on a Sunday afternoon in February of 1996. The film print used for the broadcast was faded, and I later discovered how much footage was edited for commercial time, but it was gratifying to be able to once more experience the horror movie that had unsettled me so one afternoon in 1974 at my sitter Mrs. Walsh's house in Douglastown. That day, it had been an ATV Midday Matinee offering.
In mid-1996, I also saw, for the first time ever, two Charlton Heston vehicles of the early 1970s, movies in which Heston's character lived in a future in which the world is ravaged by bacteriological war or environmental degradation. The Omega Man (1971), airing on cable television station TBS out of Atlanta one summer afternoon in 1996, had Heston portraying the last man on Earth, stalked by a cult of nocturnal mutant humans who wish to destroy him and his scientific-technological knowledge which the fanatical mutant leader deems responsible for the pandemic plague of bacteria released in a war. Heston's character, Dr. Robert Neville, was able to inject himself with a serum immunising him against the germs but was too late to prevent cataclysmic end of all remaining humans bar himself and, as he would later discover, a group of children with diminishing resistance to the bacteria. Movies depicting an Apocalypse had seldom been of interest to me but this one did resonate with my sensibilities. I definitely identified with Neville as he, early in the film, went all alone about deserted city streets, talking to imagined companions. I related to his feelings of desolation. And to his vexation at the contrary hoards routinely gathering outside of his place, his world, wishing to demoralise and expunge him and the knowledge that he possesses. I liked everything about The Omega Man from its visualisations to its music to Heston's characteristic intensity of characterisation, to the Christian symbolism in the movie's final scene. Its style was very 1970s, which was certainly a key factor in the movie's appeal to me. Indeed, I could imagine myself watching it on television station CKCD at my sitter's house one afternoon in the mid-1970s if it could have been available then for viewing on television. The other movie with Charlton Heston that was seen by me in 1996 was Soylent Green. In that, Heston, rather than being last man on Earth, was contending with living and working in an overpopulated society. He played a policeman investigating a murder of a government official whose luxurious life had included today's readily available foodstuffs, amenities, etc. which overpopulation and pollution had rendered uncommon and expensive. And as in The Omega Man, Heston's character, Thorn in Soylent Green, had knowledge that the antagonists wanted eliminated. Of particular note was the melancholic portrayal of a former way of life lost through neglect, through apathy, through a failure to curb the adverse aspects of industrialism and urbanisation, among them population growth and ecological devastation. Yes, in this respect Soylent Green had, too, struck a chord with me. Albeit a different one, for I had seen in my own life how cherished places, things- and, yes, people, also- of my past can be lost.
My JVC videocassette recorder enabled me to improve on flawed videotapings from my former SONY and Mitsubishi mechanisms, those former videotape-recordings having been effected on improperly aligned video heads resulting in audio-visual noise at bottom of screen on many of the videotapes recorded using my SONY videocassette decks; the Mitsubishi had not been much better, as I discovered. The JVC machine received from my parents in Christmas of 1995 proved very dependable as I upgraded many of my videotape-recordings of Warner Brothers cartoons.
And there were some new pre-recorded videotapes of the Warner Brothers cartoons to be had, in a new range of videotape called STARS OF SPACEJAM. I came upon them one day at the K-Mart store in the Brookside Mall and on that occasion bought the STARS OF SPACEJAM- BUGS BUNNY videotape, returning thereto promptly to buy STARS OF SPACEJAM- SYLVESTER AND TWEETY. And not long after that, I purchased from the same K-Mart store the other three such videocassttes, those with Daffy Duck, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, and the Tasmanian Devil. This was in November and early December, 1996. Around the time of my fall behind the Lady Beaverbrook Rink.
In 1996, I enrolled in a Dale Carnegie self-improvement course concurrent with my involvement with Fundy Community Television and with the supply-teaching for which I had finally applied. The Dale Carnegie course involved seminars at the Keddy's Motor Inn every Monday evening for three months, and at which myself and about 30 other people studied and reported on our putting into practice several of the tenets of the Dale Carnegie philosophy, among them how to stop worrying and start living and how to make friends and influence people. One of the self-improvement books that I had perused in the early 1990s had indeed been written by Dale Carnegie, and it had been from that book that I received advice on using people's names as much as possible, among other things. I credit my Dale Carnegie training with helping me through the very difficult year that was 1996, and through many of the already above specified events and tribulations of those months. I decided, with the moral support of my fellow "Carnegians" that school-teaching and the attendant stress and frustration of being evidently gossip-mongered, was not worth the money that I would earn, and that I should follow a different career path, one that is more amenable to me being my own person, with potential detractors in my Nashwaaksis environs not holding the power of disparaging hearsay, over my job prospects.
Not that I had an easy time in 1996 adjusting to the knowledge that being my own person must necessarily subject me to disparagement by fellow citizens of Fredericton. I had hoped that I had advanced beyond possibility of such unpleasant conditions after graduating school. But people are always going to disapprove of me for not adhering to what a collective deems acceptable. That was my experience and would be my experience for some time yet, in the Space: 1999 community. The collective, the majority of fans who are Season 1 pundits who look down their raised noses at Season 2 and, by extension, anyone who appreciates it, expects only to see Season One praised and Season 2 reviled. Refusal to "go along" with that is to invite reproach or worse, from "the mob" and its imperious leader, Mr. Congenality in Calgary. It follows that Canada's Bravo! cable specialty television channel's autumn, 1996 telecast of The Prisoner television series captured my interest in no small part because of the conflict of individual against the dictates of the group which was one of the more salient concepts in the multi-faceted and fascinating 17-episode television series. It also helped its appeal to me that the guest cast in its episodes often included familiar actors from Space: 1999, and indeed, The Prisoner was produced and distributed by the same company, ITC Entertainment, as was Space: 1999. Some of the aesthetic of The Prisoner was reminiscent of that of Season 2 Space: 1999. And the Rover balloon sphere's roar sounded rather like that of a certain monster in a Space: 1999 episode. Compelling for me was such visualisation as living human chess pieces, and audacious episodes including a Wild Western variation on the Prisoner's predicament. And a final episode that concludes with, among other things, a rocket launching into space.
On many Saturdays through 1996, I was attending New Brunswick Film-Makers Cooperative workshops at the Film Cooperative offices, conference room, and production facilities on the second floor of a building on the corner of Queen and York Streets in Fredericton South (I had by then capitalised on what cartoon shorts that The Bugs Bunny & Tweety Show had to offer after 1994 and felt more at liberty to leave my television and videocassette recorder on Saturdays). For the most part, the Film Cooperative workshop programme was informative though not particularly interactive and quite dusty in the delivery of instruction. The apparent difference between what I call "film types" from the people in the television industry centres upon the team approach which is more of an always preferred inner circle, formed along a slide-rule that shifted very little in the film-makers' groups; no matter what type of film is to be made, certain contributors are integral, with others peripheral- though albeit not unimportant. The planning stage is far, far longer, and during production, downtime during the production phase is incredibly protracted and tedious (though still nothing like during production of that certain Friday Night Rocks episode described above). And while collaboration by all is encouraged, most consideration tended to be given to the more outspoken and more seasoned people in the group, which can become quite cliquish indeed with those particular people dominating. Workshops tended to be a "loose association" of people all preoccupied with their own personal ambitions for film-making, and I did find conversations that I had with many of them to be rather one-sided, to their direction. Even with my improvements in active participation in social situations along Dale Carnegian guidelines, I found myself very much on the outside of decision power of the group (and indeed on my first actual "film shoot" I was the crowd control person on the fringe of the production site). I nonetheless stayed with the Film-Makers Cooperative for three years approximately, working in various functional capacities on a number of short films made on different locations. I did suggest an idea for an abstract animated cartoon short film which received no votes other than from me during one of the brainstorming sessions in 1997 for the annual primary Cooperative project.
It was my involvement with television production at Channel 10 that would eventually prove to be my "ticket out" of the early-to-mid-1990s rut. What my participation in the Film-Makers Cooperative did do was to expand my resume and to on a rare occasion lead to a day's paid work on a project by some visiting production concern. For purpose of an improved social life, however, the Film Cooperative was not a boon to me, and with the ever revolving door that was the Channel 10 volunteer contingent, forming lasting friendships through the Fundy Community Television studio and mobile was my by this time very predictable exercise in social frustration- and never can I seem to discount the usual process by which I have tended to lose friends, which still was a factor, I must concede, in my failures not so much in friendship-making but in friendship-sustaining. Yes, even with my Dale Carnegie training and my resolve toward self-improvement, I do still carry with me substantial baggage from years of isolation in Fredericton and from being subject to the quite unedifying effect of being in Space: 1999 fandom.
And not that I was immune, by way of Dale Carnegie training, to occasionally feeling downbeat, even irritable. I was not in a very keenly positive frame of mind when I saw Independence Day with my parents on Saturday, July 6, 1996. Being required to sit in one of the front row seats nearest the left wall of the almost filled to capacity Plaza Cinema 1, my neck needing to tilt 50 degrees right to view the screen from my way too close distance to it, did not help my mood, and quite possibly the first time in a movie theatre not having popcorn to eat (due to an overcrowded lobby of the Plaza Cinemas that evening) exacerbated my feeling of displeasure. But I would not have much enjoyed the filmed sights and story that evening no matter where I might have sat or no matter what I had to eat. The only pleasure I had from Independence Day was in watching those idiots on the building-tops blasted to kingdom come by the alien spaceships. Will Smith as the leading character "kicking E.T.'s ass" was particularly not to my liking. Martin Landau, he definitely is not. Nor is he Lorne Greene, Tom Baker, or even Harrison Ford or Gil Gerard. Not even can he be likened to William Shatner post-Season-1-Star Trek. He is Will Smith of television's The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air epitomising the "hip-hop", rude, intellect-eschewing culture. As a hero of gravitas and intellect in a "space opera", he falls abysmally short. Though with Hollywood's predilection to dubious casting decisions, this came as little surprise. Independence Day, or ID4 as it was called by teenagers in the Plaza Cinemas lobby and by fellow volunteers at Channel 10 with whom I conversed about the movie a day after my having seen it, was Battlestar Galactica on Earth and Return of the Jedi in low Earth orbit. A Star Wars for a generation limited in imaginative scope (or lack thereof) to Earth and space closest to Earth. And with a rap musician as Earth's champion. Him and Jeff Goldblum as a techno-whiz whose manufactured computer viruses have capabilities that are truly out of this world. For once at least, I found myself in agreement with the movie critics. Independence Day was an overblown dud. I am prepared to be convinced otherwise.
However, the bottom line is, and was, as I have already at some length above commented, that I intensely dislike the popular culture of the 1990s, and Will Smith and all too many of the people, depictions, and situations in ID4 were so very 1990s. I have no nostalgia for the 1990s. And I do not envision this changing. I have no desire, really, to relive my experiences in the 1990s, in contrast to how I yearn, pine, ache to be able to be back in the 1980s and 1970s. Of course, such is more to do with relationships and my particular personal history than with popular culture, but even with the hype during the 1970s surrounding the unlearned "slacker" stereotypes of the Fonz and John Travolta, I still judge the 1970s to be more inspiring a decade than the 1990s. As for the 1980s, I am more inclined to look favourably upon the popular culture of the decade because for a number of years in the early 1980s times for me were good, even if much of what was current did not much or at all "speak" to me.
Independence Day would be the final movie that I was to see at the Plaza Cinemas. In 1997, the Plaza Cinemas closed their doors for the last time, and an Empire Theatres cineplex opened at Fredericton's Regent Mall. The new cineplex had ten movie theatre screens. The second movie, second to Star Wars- The Special Edition, that I saw there was Contact in July, 1997. A movie based on a novel by Carl Sagan about radio telecsope communication with an alien civilisation in the vicinity of the star Vega. I saw that movie with my parents one memorable evening. My mother loved Carl Sagan and enjoyed the movie as much as I did. She especially liked the scene wherein people with various amusing notions about alien life were gathered outside of a radio telescope array, and she remembered the Space: 1999 "Dragon's Domain" episode to me as the song, "Purple People Eater", was heard being played on an audio recording and playback medium by some people in the group. Dr. Sagan had died in 1996. Damn, was that an unlucky year! I remember sitting in our car with my father one Saturday in the parking lot of Fredericton High School (where I was going to be on a Fundy Community Television crew for an afternoon basketball game) and listening to an interview with Dr. Sagan transmitted on CBC Radio a day or two after his death. That was in December, 1996 not long before Christmas.
My luck was in 1996 just refusing to change. I tried bowling for awhile as part of a league of teams at the Kingswood Bowling Lanes in early-to-mid 1996. And I was inexplicably terrible at the sport at which in the early 1980s I had proven quite adapt. I remember defeating an incredulous Craig in bowling strings one afternoon at the Bowl-a-Drome in 1982 and in fact bowling a strike on my first ever hurl of a ball down an alley lane, back in 1978 at the Bowl-A-Drome. What could have happened to turn me into a chronic gutter ball thrower, skimming outer pins at best? Perplexing indeed was this severe downturn, which put me at the very bottom of the list of player pin-fell averages before I bowed out of further involvement in the bowling teams at Kingswood. It may somehow be connected with the baseball slump in which I was mired in the mid-to-late 1980s. Some drastic loss of eye-hand coordination. Or body rhythms gone out of kilter. Or maybe it is just a certain something, a je-ne-sais-quoi, that I had possessed for a time but lost part of the way through Era 4. Or maybe bad luck just envelops me post-1984 whenever I attempt to play baseball, bowl, or apply myself to any sporting endeavour.
Doubtless, my fall on the ice in November of 1996 cannot have helped matters- even if it was after I had "given up" on my bowling "comeback". For many weeks, I was in discomfort as I hobbled around on my walks around Nashwaaksis, and my doctor informed me that I would probably always have a weakness in my left leg as a result of my fall. My left shoulder seemed to fully recover, though.
I was hobbling about the house, contending with weakness in my left leg most especially when standing up, and feeling discomfort while sitting down, during the 1996 Christmas, a Christmas of videotape acquisitions such as the entire televison miniseries, The Last Place On Earth, from 1985, each of its episodes on a separate videocassette in a newly released box set, and the movies, Nicholas and Alexandra (which had in it many a Space: 1999 guest star playing citizens of Czarist Russia, and Tom Baker of Doctor Who as Rasputin), The Omega Man, and The Birds. Nicholas and Alexandra was spread across two pre-recorded videocassettes; one videotape would have been insufficent to comprise it at Standard Play (SP) at its length of nearly three hours. The Omega Man and The Birds each were on single pre-recorded videocassettes. Nicholas and Alexandra, The Omega Man and The Birds all were new additions to my videotape collection in 1996; I had never before owned them. My parents watched Nicholas and Alexandra and all episodes of The Last Place On Earth with me in the days after that Christmas, while I was continuing to convelesce from the effects of my fall of nearly a month earlier.
In 1996-7, I spent time, again to no avail socially (and forming new, substantive and affirming associations was a central motivation, along, then, with possibility of gainful employment, in whatever I undertook to do beyond the four walls of my house), in a couple of university courses concerning analysis of film, one of them concentrating on science fiction cinema, in the University of New Brunswick's 1996-7 academic year. I was then, what one would call, a mature student, in as much as I was considerably older than nearly everyone else in those film study classes. But this hitherto unaccustomed attribute for me at university did give to me rather a feeling of confidence in doing something from which I had tended to shrink when I had been a student of typical scholar age bracket in the 1980s: being vocal in the auditorium-classroom, such that, in the science fiction film study class, I was quite possibly the most noted, acknowledged person in the aisles of seats. I developed rapport with a few of my classmates and was on first-name terms with my professor.
For the autumn, 1996 semester, I was in a general film study class, something of a primer for what would follow in winter-spring in science fiction film study. On Monday evenings from September through December, a currently produced movie would be screened in the Tilley Hall theatre, Room 102, and our class would receive instruction on it and discuss it on the same week's Tuesday and Thursday. Most of the movies were serious or semi-serious dramas in rather peculiar places with quirky script-writing and/or cinematography and/or film editing. First was Fargo (an offbeat crime movie about nefarious "doin's" in yokel small-town Minnesota, notable mostly for some bizarre camera perspectives and indulgent inclusion of scenes totally extraneous to the main storyline), then Dead Man (rather surrealistic film-noir lensed in black and white with Johnny Depp playing a fugitive in the American West fleeing a posse and slowly dying from a bullet wound), Kansas City (a humdrum "period piece" about kidnapping amid gangsters and jazz in Kansas City of the 1930s), Angels and Insects (a stylish and impressionistic British drama regarding incestuous relations in an aristocratic family into which an entomologist, the leading character, marries), and a slew of other very deliberately "arty" films (I Shot Andy Warhol, Cold Comfort Farm, Flirting With Disaster, etc.). None of them were really my kind of movie, in terms of genre or story structure, though I did appreciate seeing actors from episodes of Space: 1999 in Angels and Insects and Cold Comfort Farm, i.e. Jeremy Kemp and Freddie Jones, respectively. I became acquainted with theories and approaches for gauging flourish, flair, and merit in consciously "artful" or idiosyncratic film-making techniques. Interesting, certainly, although how scenes are camera-framed or juxtaposed in editing or how movies open and end with same effect (epanalepsis), etc. are of much less importance in my appreciation of filmed- or videotaped- and cinema-screened and/or televised works of the imagination than are suggestive visualisations, symbolism, etc.. The Jungian way that I chose to delve into Angels and Insects in the first of my two "term papers" was not to my professor's understanding or liking, and I received a B-. The second of my "term papers", written about Dead Man, followed rather more conventional bearing, i.e. the tangent of film study being advocated in the university course, and I received an A grade for that. I likewise was graded an A for my "take-home", "open-book" examination in December, finishing with A- average for the course.
During winter and spring (January to April inclusive) of 1997, the science fiction film class convened twice weekly (Tuesday and Thursday mornings) for lecture and discussion and short presentations of movie or television works of science fiction or documentaries on the genre, and once weekly (again, Monday nights) for the film screenings, all in the same Carleton Hall auditorium wherein Arts 1000 and Anthropology 1000 had been taught to me in 1985-6 and 1986-7, respectively. I often found myself thinking back to the mid-1980s when I was a freshman at that same university, and missing my way of life at and around home back then, my friends of back then, my best friend of back then. I remember one evening in particular on which I arrived quite early for the movie screening. Carleton Hall was deserted apart from myself, and dimly lit and silent. I walked into what had been the originally selected classroom for my Astronomy course in 1985-6, and the memories of that first day of the 1985 autumn semester at Fredericton's foremost university were very vivid and affecting, as I channelled more-than-a-decade-old impressions of what it had been like to know that friends, and Joey especially, were going to be there for me around home in the afternoon and days ahead. In early 1997, relations between myself and Joey had been in process of receding after a distinctly optimistic time frame of chatty and chummy communication via telephone in late 1995 and early 1996 had not progressed into meeting in person. I subsequently became unable to reach him by telephone, though he was still residing in Fredericton for the remainder of 1996. In early 1997, I later learned, he was not living in Fredericton but rather in Vancouver, British Columbia for awhile.
But my thoughts were with Joey on many a day in 1996. It is in times of adversity or ill fortune that I miss my friends most, Joey especially. And indeed, with the "fizzling" or collapse of every relationship formed in this era and of most of those originating in the one previous to it, the more I felt the longing to be with old friends, of Era 4 or earlier, again. After my return to university had proven, though an academic success, an ultimate social failure, I was again very much nostalgic, as I had been in Era 5, though this time mostly oriented retrospectively to Era 4.
Our science fiction film study professor, Dr. Cameron, had also presided over the general film study course of the previous semester. Dr. Cameron had a sizable laser videodisc collection, and it was he who instilled into me much of my late-1990s pessimism about the VHS videocassette format, the problems that I had been having with it being not at all uncommon, in fact mild, compared to what he and others of his acquaintance had experienced. Videotape corrupts far too easily, he told me, and in any event lacks the video resolution and audio range that optical media like laser videodisc and the then, in 1997, much-talked-about, upcoming digital videodisc (DVD) have. The movies, all from his collection, were shown to us by him by way of a laser videodisc player connected to a wide theatre screen in the Carleton Hall auditorium. Though a tad dark, the film presentations by way of Dr. Cameron's theatre system tended to impress. The science fiction films screened were Blade Runner (1982), Alien (1979), The Terminator (1984), 2001- A Space Odyssey (1968), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Quiet Earth (1985), Forbidden Planet (1956), Strange Days and Twelve Monkeys (both 1995), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Metropolis (1927). Fahrenheit 451 (1966), though originally on list for screening, was pulled from showing by Dr. Cameron, who said that most young people in the 1990s find it to be insufferably twee. All in all, a somewhat eclectic selection of motion pictures, the gist of the course being how the future is portrayed on a scale of immaculate technological wonderland ranging to utter dystopia, how technology is used and how people's lifestyle is affected by it, and how "the other", i.e. alien, is diversely portrayed in science fiction, along with the notation on peculiar film-making techniques. The course was probably the most interesting one in which I had ever been enrolled (and this statement includes university and public school), even if I did not enjoy or even like all of the movies screened. The more dystopic or even Apocalyptic that a movie's- or television show's- "vision" is, the less that I tend to like it. There are some exceptions to this, as in the Ralph Bakshi-produced seasons of Spiderman and Rocket Robin Hood or in Alien (in Alien, dystopia had been an interesting novelty that quickly became wearisome in constant repetition with subsequent films). I quite intensely, vociferously hated Strange Days, with its depiction of near-future use of virtual reality computer images for carnal, even bestial, pleasures and its profanity and extreme violence. The young adults in the class who had "come of age" with the exceedingly grungy culture of the "post-modern" 1990s conversely, and perhaps I might also say perversely, found it the most appealing of "the lot". And as regards Blade Runner, comments from people in the class were that it was gratifying to see so much smut and depravity in a future world. I could only sit and quietly sigh as I heard that.
Dr. Cameron was very keen about the laser videodisc format as being preferable to collectors wishing not only the best picture quality possible for the reproduction of film images on home video media but the most robust and durable software. Laser videodisc does not corrupt as easily as videotape, Dr. Cameron said. And videotape corruption, I could attest-to, having recently lost my Superman videotape bought in 1992, to videotape breakage, and having seen the edges of spans videotape being damaged by a SONY videotape recorder's poorly aligned video recording and playback heads. But on Dr. Cameron's laser videodisc of Blade Runner was moving video noise that Dr. Cameron identified as "laser rot". That was the first time that I heard that nomenclature. It was denoting of a chemical reaction inside of a laser videodisc that was compromsing its quality of playback and becoming worse over a period of time. Caused either by impurities in what was supposed to be chemically inert adhesive material or, as I would later discover, physical separation of the two sides of the laser videodisc allowing air to enter into the rift and oxidise the laser videodisc's aluminum substrate. I had seen similar video noise, and more of it, in the videotape-recordings from my erstwhile Regina friend's Space: 1999 laser videodiscs. Dr. Cameron was certain that it was a rare phenomenon. Doubtless, the laser videodisc industry wanted people to believe that to be so. And all of the other laser videodiscs shown to us by Dr. Cameron did not have any noticeable traces of the same problem. At that time, then, it was reasonable to suppose that "laser rot" was not endemic to the laser videodisc format. And not to laser videodisc's then-anticipated successor, the digital videodisc (DVD), of which Dr. Cameron spoke optimistically.
Dr. Cameron also showed to us a documentary hosted by William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy, Dean Cain (of television's Lois and Clark- The New Adventures of Superman), and others, regarding science fiction/fantasy on television. When in the documentary there was mention of Space: 1999 accompanied by the "This Episode" montage in the opening credit sequence to episode "Breakaway", laughter erupted from all corners of the auditorium-classroom. So much, I said to myself, for the Season One fans' contention that their preferred Space: 1999 has withstood test of time and retained an infallibly reverence-commanding quality while Season 2 has not. But I did not feel particularly vindicated for my years of defences of Season 2 as I sat hearing the contemptuous laughs at the rapid film cutting and guitar music, for the opening title sequence to Season One of Space: 1999 had for some two decades been one of my very favourite introductions to a television show. I squirmed in my seat as I heard the laughs. A couple of quick excerpts from Season 2's "A Matter of Balance" episode were also included in the documentary, but those passed without incident. Curiouser and curiouser...
I cultivated a friendship of sorts with a few of my classmates in the science fiction film study course. We tended to sit together for the evening film screenings. I even invited them to my place for a screening hosted by me of something from my videotape stacks, and they settled on watching episode one of The Prisoner videotaped by me from Bravo! in 1996. I offered to show the Space: 1999 episode, "The Metamorph", but nobody was "game" for that, though I did even present to them the opening titles. At least they did not laugh at those like they did in class at the excerpt from the title sequence to "Breakaway". But I was still disappointed. And it must also be said that they at the appointed time were not exactly keen and eager to come to my videotape showing. Some persuading was needed. It was on same evening after Dr. Cameron showed to us Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), the short running time of that movie compared to the length of most of the others making the evening in question the likeliest one for my own screening of science fiction/fantasy.
I remember talking with my new friends after several of Dr. Cameron's movie screenings, and they were not impressed with 2001- A Space Odyssey and thought Forbidden Planet to be corny, The Day the Earth Stood Still to be expressive, if risible, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers to be disappointing. Metropolis was not received agreeably at all, the negative reaction to it exacerbated by the very repetitive and tedious music accompanying the action in that work of silent cinema.
We had a written examination at end of course, during a morning in late April, 1997. The many years that had passed since I had written an examination under time constraint put me at rather a disadvantage as I did much labour to write effectively worded essays on the examination questions in the three hours allocated. But I managed to complete the examination at the last possible minute and left the examination room in Tilley Hall, my friends having some time earlier finished the examination and left the building and presumably the campus that sunny spring day. I never saw them or heard or received any word from them again. My final grade for the course, comprising the final examination and two "term papers", one on Alien, the other on The Day the Earth Stood Still, was A. Dr. Cameron was very impressed with my "term paper" on The Day the Earth Stood Still, which addressed allegory in that movie to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and associated such allegory with later works that had in their story concepts motifs and symbolisms suggestive of tenets of Christian doctrine. Once those film courses were done, to use rather a ho-hum but apropos phrase, that was that. Social connection, what it was, disintegrated immediately, and, as ever post-1987, it was back to the proverbial drawing board in search of social life and friendship. By then (1997), I was part of the volunteer programme at Channel 10, but advancement there from being a rather incognito beginner had been slow and was not going to quicken very much for some while yet. I was, however, at least finding an opening in the crew position of Character Generator. More on this later.
1997 was definitely an improvement over 1996. I recovered slowly but surely from my fall behind the Lady Beaverbrook Rink, my leg only very occasionally feeling twinges of pain or numbness that impaired my walking ability. I was walking rather more than in 1996, feeling somewhat less self-conscious about being visible on the streets near home after having heard through the grapevine in 1996 that my local social connections of this life era had not met the approval of some observers. I did on the whole enjoy the science fiction film study course, even if the people I met and befriended there did not choose to maintain rapport or communication with me. And at Christmas, 1996, I received from my parents an Internet-capable computer. At that time, dial-up link through the telephone line was the only available means of accessing the World Wide Web. "Sluggish-speed Internet" was the way of things, then. And my computer was not exactly endowed with copious amounts of random access memory. But I knew nothing different at the time where use of the Internet was concerned, and I did "hit the ground running". I started adding to the mega-mega-megabytes of knowledge on the World Wide Web by supplying data to the Internet Movie Database, sharing memories of the many television compilations of classic Warner Brothers cartoons, and creating Web pages dedicated to some of the television shows and movies that most influenced me in my upbringing.
One of my first contacts on the Internet was Jon Cooke, who ran his own Website on Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies, and the two of us for awhile exchanged electronic-mail (e-mail) several times daily, sharing impressions and favourites among the hundreds of cartoon shorts made by Warner Brothers and also our memories and notions about the televising of the cartoons then and in preceding years. I sent to Jon my essay on Sylvester and Tweety cartoons, and he said that he liked it very much. I had found a real kindred spirit! Could the Internet be my ideal place of assured acceptance post-1987 for which I had so long been in quest? There was rather a giddy feeling in the determined and soon very purposeful correspondence between Jon and myself during the early months of 1997. Indeed, it was profoundly refreshing, after all of the contrariness, all of the contentiousness, all of the much too often ad hominem sniping, all of the extreme negativity of Space: 1999 fandom, to find that one of my keen interests for most of my life looked assured of being an enclave of peace and kindred outlook, building on the solace that my following of the cartoons had indeed been in the unpleasantness and distress of the 1990s. For all of the violence in the Warner Brothers cartoons, they seemed to be my anchor for harmony with others, and a means of at last seeing my perspectives and insights on an entertainment go before a receptive, sympathetic audience.
By spring of 1997, Jon and I were collaborating on a Looney Tunes On Television part of his Website, and I was summoning all of my memories of televised compilations of the Warner Brothers cartoons going as far back as The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour as I had seen it on CBC Television in the early 1970s!
Once Jon and I had established our first iteration of Looney Tunes On Television, which would be updated very substantially, very often in the late 1990s, I was yet feeling profoundly motivated, urging to put my objective knowledge and aesthetic impressions and memories of television programmes and so forth, on the Internet. When I was informed, by Jon, I think, that Geocities was offering free Web space, I leapt at the opportunity to create my own Website, and it was the creation of that Website, in combination with what Jon and I had put together on his Website and with what I had also been uploading to the Internet Movie Database, that demarcated the beginning of a distinctly different in my life. That plus a resurgence, though under some rather insistent restraint, of my nostalgia, this time for Era 4, primarily.
But there was further change in my approach to life by which an eras transition was designate.
It may seem quite remarkable conceit to analyse the eras of my life and to claim any coherent pattern, as though there was a rhyme or reason for everything. But in 1997, I noted a curious tendency. Era 1 was 6 years long, but Eras 2, 3, 4, and 5 all lasted 5 years. And not that I planned it, but Era 6 also happened to have lasted five years.
The division between Eras 1 and 2 is very precise, marked both by a move from trailer to house, from Newcastle to Douglastown, and by starting school. Likewise, the transition between Eras 2 and 3 is extremely sharp, the move from Douglastown to Fredericton being the critical event. The change from Era 3 to Era 4 may not be as striking to an onlooker. There may not be a differential as easily described as those above, but I did obtain my first videocassette recorder in May, 1982. Friendship with Joey really started to grow in the summer of 1982. I also in that same year started playing badminton and street baseball with a new group (Craig and company). Perhaps the best determinant of an era change is a contrast of the lively summer of 1982 with the rather turgid July and August of 1981.
1987 was an indisputably decisive reversal of social fortune, a crashing end to a fun-filled time, a year in which I was plunged into an abyss of loneliness that threw me backward one decade, yielding a nostalgia rush that I would ride for the next five years, clinging for dear life to the surfboard of my past for belonging and peace of mind. 1992 brought to an end a five-year, intensive preoccupation with past. My visits to Douglastown, as much as 3 or even 4 times annually, tailed to an average of once a year after 1992. My alienation and loathing of Fredericton eased, and new friendships starting in 1992 were key in finally and fully helping me, or perhaps I should say shocking me out of my gloomy, self-absorbed state. 1992-7 was a time of stasis in seeking a niche in the world of work followed by a slow, gradual "kick-starting" of my occupational and social existence by involvement in television and film production and my contributions to the Internet.
Summer of 1997 constituted an ending point to Era 6 in how my view of things altered. And one decisive event was the bout of bronchitis which I experienced in a Halifax, Nova Scotia hotel in July. I probably contracted the severe bout of bronchitis during work on a Film Cooperative project in Saint John, New Brunswick a couple of days earlier. On that "film shoot", I had been assigned as Assistant Director to effect crowd control; I may have caught the illness from someone in my duties thusly, or it may have been lurking in a foul-smelling dumpster behind the museum building, the location of the filming, in Saint John. A dumpster into which I and others were depositing refuse at end of day's work. Or it could have come from one of the people who whom I traveled to and from Saint John. Whatever or whoever the source of infection, after one day in Halifax with my father, I was quite ill.
I can affirm with certainty that it is not at all pleasant to become ill several hours away from home while staying in a hotel. I finally recovered after returning home, after some weeks of antibiotic treatment. This experience was quite reminiscent of a journey by my mother and myself to Toronto in November, 1984. I became sick during our return to home by train.
I had usually been healthy during summer. A 24-hour influenza in 1974 and a paint-fumes-induced sore throat sometime in the late 1980s the exceptions, illness in summer had been quite uncommon for me. It must necessarily have been a jolt to be afflicted with a serious respiratory infection during the balmy season. I never had bronchitis before, and to contract it when I was a five-hour car drive away from the place, home, where I usually recuperated, was a very upsetting development. Finally, the fragility of my health was all too evident. Nothing could be "taken for granted" anymore. It may sound like the irrational foreboding of a hypochondriac, but I actually thought, lying in a strange bed in a hotel, with a 102-degree fever and my father not renowned for a bedside manner, and with such usual remedies as nourishing, hot soup and a range of medicines not easily provided, that maybe I was not going to recover. I had a strange sensation in my troubled sleep that I was rising out of my body, and I suppose that it was only a dream. But I never had one like it before.
Obviously, I did recover from the sickly ordeal, after returning home and undergoing a prescription of antibiotic lasting two to three weeks, but my faith in my body's patterns and power to recover from illness without need of prescribed medicines, was shaken. I was mortal. I was no longer a young man whose resilient body could withstand any bug.
Moreover, early in the autumn of 1997, while I was working at that same hockey rink whereat I had fallen on outdoor ice in 1996, I nearly electrocuted myself. I tried to "shrug off" the accident involving a wooden scaffolding beam that I was carrying hitting and shattering a high-voltage light in a low-ceiling storage tunnel. But in the hours that followed, I realised just how close to death that I had come. Doubtless, that particular rink and I just did not mix, and participation in further television broadcasts of hockey games there required vigilance perhaps beyond my ability to anticipate every possible accident. But I had come close to death on two instances just a few months apart. Youth was no longer a guarantee of life. Princess Diana died in August in a horrible car crash, and she was the epitome of youth and grace.
I also heard from Dean, fellow Space: 1999 aesthete and fan and in 1997 still quite amiably in written, telephoned, and occasional in-person contact with me following our reconciliation of 1994, that someone whom he had met in Toronto in 1989, had been killed in a traffic accident, and she was from Douglastown, having lived there at the same time that I did! I never knew her but could not help feeling an association. I also learned that she had gone through the same difficulties as I in adjusting to city life.
Since having been telephoned by Dean in February, 1994 after more than three years had passed since the disaccord of 1990, I did believe (wrongly, as future events would prove) that the difficulties where affiliating with Dean were concerned had been effectively overcome. His approach to me in 1994 had been a humble one, even apologetic, and goodness knows I was pleased at apparently being able, in reestablished contact with him, to effect mending of the rift of 1990 which had caused me so much grief- including psychosomatic illness, and to have someone to whom to vent my mounting frustration and vexation with the Calgarian and his fan club about whom and about which Dean had indeed been proven correct. As long as Dean did not broaden acknowledgement of his excellent "track record" to include those exceedingly negative assessments of me in 1990, I saw no potential angst or distress in conceding that he had been right about Mr. Calgary and about the intransigent animosity of the majority of the Space: 1999 fan base, as regards Season 2. As Dean had predicted, the fans would become ever more rank in their avowed disdain for the accursed second season and its producer, Fred Freiberger, and they would outright reject anything aesthetically salient that I would say in defense of Season 2, while the fan club president who is biased and thinks in tandem with those people, would inevitably show his true colours, turn imperious, curry favour with Season 2-haters, break his 1990 promise to me, disappoint me, frustrate me, and eventually betray me, making everything gone wrong look to be my fault because of how I was reacting. Dean had been absolutely "spot-on" in his assessment of the oh, so venerable fan club leader in Calgary.
In 1994 and 1995, certainly in the aftermath of my July, 1995 journey, I valued having Dean with whom to share my feelings of alienation and indignation concerning the fan club that I had foolishly supported for several years post-1990. However, there was still quite a volatility to relations with Dean, because, after all, he is still an aficionado of Space: 1999, and his more agreeable stand on the issue of Space: 1999-season-versus-Space: 1999-season notwithstanding, he does, like the others, have inclination to be quarrelsome and to be intensely unpleasant (several orders of magnitude above my disagreeable tendencies, for he is not particularly insecure and self-doubting), when dander raises over a perceived slighting. The reconciliation with Dean ultimately failed, though in 1997 it was one of the very few interpersonal items coming into being in this era, to endure for some while into the next.
There can be no question of this era's many dead ends. And no doubt can be had, really, of potential missed in not severing ties to fandom in 1990 or shortly thereafter, in not instead persevering from 1990 onward toward successfully reestablishing social connections with Joey and others near to home, and doing so patiently, without resorting to ultimatum or other pushy and counter-productive methods, and in not jumping at the opportunity to gain quite substantially and meaningfully from favourable chance encounters, the last such in many cases, with old friends. Quite. By the end of this largely unavailing five-year unit of my lifetime, there was scant any friendship originating in it that remained. All had gone extinct. Friends met through College and Career Group at my grandmother's church, the Nashwaaksis young people to whom I was friend, the people befriended at university in science fiction film study class, all had fallen by the wayside by the last days of Era 6, in many cases long before those final days. This while Space: 1999 fans like the ones in Regina and Calgary and the overall fan movement steered by the Calgarian proved to be lost causes upon whom/which I had wasted time, effort, money. Some of the relationships fell away due to such unfortunate circumstance as end of university semester, or start of one (as regards persons met in College and Career group). My quite cogent strides at self-improving in this era had as yet availed me not, really. Perhaps I had made some important progress in adapting those improvements unto my personality, and for this reason alone, Era 6 may not have been a total loss. It is, however, difficult not to feel very disappointed at an era of my life in which so much of my initiative in bettering myself and so much time had evidently proven to be without harvest.
I would yet continue in the late 1990s and in the 2000s to establish friendship with persons who, like those of Era 6, would apparently have no inclination to be as accepting as my old friends had long been, or to be as allowing of room for error or weakness, turning away from me after but a couple of years at the most- and frequent-misunderstanding-fraught years at that- even after I had gone to a concerted effort at self-improvement (though perhaps pessimism about the ultimate, terminal direction of friendships with younger people could perhaps have countered any progress I may have achieved toward being rather more outgoing than I had been pre-1987- I accept that as a likely possibility).
Granted, junior friends of later years, including those of Era 6, did not have the knowledge of me in my younger days. And also, it would seem, they lacked the amount and range of experience with me from which affinity, affection, and loyalty can develop. They thus may have been much, much less inclined to be flexible, to make allowances, in their assessment of me.
After 1997, I occasionally saw my Melvin Street friend, and chatted and shook hands with him in front of his yard on a Saturday in April, 1998. He was raking his lawn that day. But from a distance, I perceived that he was happy, with a developing career and a girl-friend- and no place for me in his life. My presence would only be a complication, even if he wanted it, which I doubted. It is possible that I was wrong about that. As I have come to learn in my improved awareness of multiple angles for regarding the rift between Joey and myself that opened in the late 1980s, I cannot be absolutely certain where interpersonal relations with my friends are concerned.
I find myself hesitating to use the word, friend, for persons with whom I had routine association in this life era. Understandable, I should think, considering that that routine association became erstwhile in all too short a time. Ultimately, after all that was or would be said and done, I cannot count any of my Space: 1999 fan contacts as genuine, steadfast, loyal friends. Because they were not, as events did prove. Even the nomenclature of pen pal for one of them, the young man in Regina, is difficult for me to assign to him, though he did fit the definition of such for a time. But a pal, he ultimately did not "turn out" to be. I can say, with some reservation, that he was a pal for a time. And ultimately an erstwhile one. For a time seemingly erstwhile, and then eventually very much so. There was a long lapse in his contact with me in 1993 and 1994. I thought that I had lost him then, but he was back in communication with me for some months leading to my visiting him in 1995. And then, good-bye, Kevin.
Perhaps my Era 6 friend of Melvin Street did have substantial affinity for me, and maybe he did miss me post-1995. Possibly the process of estrangement that ailed our friendship all too often and the snubbing that he did in reaction to imprecise and potentially affronting things that I had said, was as regretted by him as I regret my own snubbing actions toward Joey.
Yes. Perhaps. But I do have to acknowledge that the probability was that he was happy to see me distant from him, effectively gone from his day-to-day life. And I cannot say that I blame him. I had cast my foot into my mouth way, way too many times. And being friends with him was a terminal arrangement, as it was with the others with whom I had friendship in this life era. Terminal. Impractical. It is exceedingly difficult to build a friendship with hurried conversation on a street, and the opportunities for that would inevitably diminish once a friend had a car. As did become the case. And anyway, I am not sure that he really, really did forgive me for my response and my words during the emergency of his brother's injury in 1992. In an ideal world, I would not have been there at the time of the accident. I would not have been without my Era 4 friends in the 1990s, and, in all probability, I would not have met or had any rapport with my Era 6 friend from Melvin Street, or with any other of the friends whom I had come to know in Fredericton in Era 6.
Do I regard those friendships as a mistake? Yes, I have to say. I ought to have continued trying to retain a foothold in my old friends' lives. I should have concentrated my attention and efforts on that. I ought to have looked at the ending of Era 4 from more angles than just the one that was my point of vantage for a long time. I might have been able to preserve my friendship with Joey post-1987. And if that had been the case, I would not have turned anti-Fredericton in 1987 and 1988. The errs that I subsquently made, errs with Dean, errs with my friends of Era 6, would probably never have happened.
I do not wish to appear categorically ungrateful or dismissive toward my friend on Melvin Street. Indeed, there had been times when he and I were quite "in tune" with each other and conversed comfortably and amiably, a talk that we had one day in July, 1994 while walking a path between Melvin and Broad Streets and then while walking along Broad Street being particularly edifying and memorable. And I do credit him for his vital role in establishing our friendship, most especially on a day late in 1991 on which I was walking my cat, Twinkles, on Woodmount Drive when he approached me, spoke to me, and initiated conversation. If his regard for me was not on steady ground, vacillated, and was all too easily changed by my less than optimum choice in communication during hastened conversation or perhaps by a lapse in my agreeable conduct caused by a preoccupying occurrence in my life, this does not utterly nullify my appreciation of the pleasant times that there were between us. There were such pleasant times. More of them than unpleasant times. And the unpleasant times were precipitated by me and my imprecise words or my sometimes rather less than ebullient demeanour. I am sorry for all of that, and I am most profoundly sorry for my slowness to help and my wrong, poorly chosen words during the crisis with his brother's leg injury in 1992.
All of this said, it still was a mistake. A mistake where regard for me in the neighbourhood was concerned. And I do think that his life would not have been any different if I had not been in it. I doubt that I was of much help to him in the two years approximate of our being routinely in the presence of one another. I do not think that my encouragement was of pivotal importance in whether or not he succeeded in the quitting of smoking. And while it is true that my capacity for looking at my words and actions from multiple angles did have its beginnings in my associations with him and other friends of this life era, a good self-improvement book of the kind that I was reading circa 1991 might, all by itself, have "moved me along" in my development in this vital component for the understanding of others. And done so without and infliction of emotional pain upon me in a reaction to a perceived slighting. It always hurts to be "cold-shouldered" or snubbed. I might have spared myself that hurt in the 1990s by not befriending my Melvin Street friend and the other neighbourhood friends that I had in this life era.
The illness-marred Halifax excursion with my father in July, 1997 was of immense benefit to me in one respect. To my delight, at a comic book store in Halifax's downtown was a boxed videotape set of the first season of Star Blazers, a late-1970s, Japanese-animated, dubbed-in-English science fiction television epic about twenty-second century space travelers on a mission to rescue Earth from irradiated extinction. The boxed set cost close to two hundred dollars, but it was such a rare find that I had to buy it! I had already purchased some Star Blazers videotapes, with only two Star Blazers episodes on each of them, but had been far, far away from attaining a complete set of such videocassettes. The first season box set had the entire first season across only six videotapes, with four or five episodes on each of those videocassettes. A much, much better way to own the television series, I thought. Less need to change videotapes in my machine when viewing several episodes. And a savings of storage space.
Curious that I had a fever when I watched some of the Star Blazers episodes from those videotapes on my handy-dandy videocassette machine that I had brought with me to Halifax. Why curious? Perhaps because the Earth in Star Blazers' first season is itself quite sick, as are many of its inhabitants, and so too is Captain Avatar, leader of the travelers, for most of their trek. Plus, I remember having bouts of influenza during the run of Star Blazers in 1979-80 on WVII-TV.
Also bought by me from that comic book store was the videotape of the Doctor Who serial, "Snakedance". I vividly remember watching that Doctor Who serial by way of the playing of my newly purchased commercial videotape of it while in our hotel room in Halifax.
I was also in the latter half of 1997 reacquainting myself with the wanderings of a canine savior, The Littlest Hobo, an unpretentious, charming late-1970s and early-1980s television series which was then (in 1997) broadcast Monday to Friday inclusive, on two channels, the Showcase specialty cable television channel and ATV. Showcase's morning telecasts only went to just beyond the start of Season 3, whereas ATV aired all 114 Littlest Hobo episodes in the 1:30 P.M. programming slot given to the wandering dog. Watched fairly often by me in 1979-81 when it preceded Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Thursday evenings on CTV and its 1960s forebear of same title having been a regular Saturday offering on ATV in the mid-1970s, this television series was tender and wholesome, which was something good for being "in touch" with my "mellower side". Nostalgia was asserting itself within me again. There may be something about years ending in 7 that has such effect upon me. I was in 1997 having profoundly fond flashbacks to the early 1980s (Era 4).
No denial is possible of a change that was coming over my outlook. Though I was continuing to collect videotapes, I was doing so with rather less materialistic zeal. Yes, Dr. Cameron's grim assessment of the videotape medium and the oncoming digital videodisc (DVD) revolution that he expected had instilled in me wariness about buying very many more VHS videocassettes. But it is also true that I was becoming much more interested in putting articles on the Internet for countless hundreds or thousands of persons to read, and reaching out to fellow appreciators of the films, television shows, and cartoons that touched me in my first thirty years, not just to those of Space: 1999, sharing my knowledge and insight with others in this transitive world while I was still alive and healthy. The geographical distance that had always put me out of reach of show business, that had always marginalised me from discussion on the topics of my favourite entertainments, was erased with the instant communication of e-mail and swift uploading of articles to my own Website, visited daily and in some cases by the hour, by people all over the world.
McCorry's Memoirs continue with McCorry's Memoirs Era 7: Spins a Website, Any Size (1997-2009).