“They make-a me a prisoner inside-a my home,”my elderly neighbor Tony informed me this morning. Needless to say I was surprised, not so much by the implication that he was being held captive and had somehow managed to escape in order to tend to his tomato plants, but the fact that he was actually engaging me in conversation. Prior to this sudden and inexplicable conversational outburst, our neighborly banter had been limited to his parroting my friendly observations. “Nice day,”I’d say. “Nice-a day,”he’d agree. “Hey, working in the garden,”I’d remark. “Hey-a, working in-a the garden,”he’d confirm. “Looks like it’s going to rain,”I’d note. “Looks like-a rain,”he’d concur. I suspect that if I’d hollered “Woozle wozzle ding dong!”, he’d have chimed back with: “Woozle-a wozzle-a ding-a dong-a!”. His wife, Rosa, on the other hand, always hung back and never uttered a word – until she learned that I not only understood Italian, but spoke it. Since then, she’s been incredibly chatty, flagging me down with some cover story about passing along some beans, plums, or tomatoes from their garden and then launching into a lengthy discourse on everything from local politics to the insufficiencies of her extended family.
This morning, however, it was Tony doing the talking – moreover, the complaining. Apparently, he failed his compulsory senior’s driving exam and, faster than you can say “farmer’s market”, had his license yanked. Now, he has to make the 15 block trip to the supermarket and back on foot. I lent a sympathetic ear, offered to give them a lift whenever the need arose but, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t really muster much in the way of commiserative indignation. I mean, sure, I felt badly for the guy and wished he was still driving – but not at the risk of ending up a hood ornament on a vintage Ford LTD.
Of course, before you accuse me of ageism, allow me to point out that I hold young drivers to the same rigid standards. As a matter of fact, I don’t think anyone should be granted a motor vehicle license unless they own enough shit to make suing them worthwhile. And a scooter and Shakira’s complete discography aint gonna cut it. I’m talking flat screen t.v.’s, top-of-the-line sound systems, or one of those rare white tigers.
Hey, one of the many, many great things about Stargate: Universe (besides the catering and the fact that my parking spot is only steps away from the entrance to the production offices) is the unbelievable depth of our cast. Our leads are fantastic, but then so is everyone else. In fact, I dare say that all of our supporting players are lead-quality talents. Take Patrick Gilmore for instance. Patrick plays Dr. Dale Volker, one of the many innocents fate has drafted to crew Destiny.
When the show first went into prep, Dale Volker was, like most others, simply a name on a page. But over the course of the season, Patrick has helped fashion him into an interesting, likable, and, above all else, wholly believable character. He’s taken what we’ve written and brought it to life, giving Volker his own spin – and we have responded by taking that spin and adding a little more depth to the character in subsequent scripts – and he has responded in kind. It’s a little like tag-team painting in which, quite often, it’s not the big picture additions that make one take notice (the river, the tree, the bear in the lederhosen) but the small touches (the subtle shading, the gentle cresting of waves, a parakeet trying to remember where he put his keys) that make everyone take notice and, more importantly, say “We’ve got to write him in more.”
I bring Patrick up because we were watching the Day 2 Mix of Life today and there’s a performance he gives that, despite repeated viewings, has never failed to delight. Check it out. When it airs. Oh, and check out Patrick’s twitter account here: http://twitter.com/patrickgilmore