Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tandava's Guide to the Zone--2013-14--Part II: New Year's Day--Midnight to 7pm

And the Zone goes on!!

We continue from yesterday's entry (8am to Midnight), keeping with the tradition of airing the superb "Midnight Sun" at the stroke of the New Year.

And so what follows is the short list of my favorites, followed by the complete list of Twilight Zone episodes to be aired on SyFy from midnight New Year's Day through 7pm, with comments and mini-reviews, so you can sift the wheat from the crap.

Fortunately, although there are only two from the Time Top 10, they are two of the best: "Walking Distance" (which J.J. Abrams considers the series' best episode, and I am inclined to agree) at 12:30 AM, and the iconic "It's a Good Life" at 1:00 PM (listed in red below) -- and there are quite a few gems!

A third entry will follow covering 7pm through 9:00am Thursday morning, Jan 2nd.

So, the other two categories are:

(1)  My Personal Favorite Episodes – These are underrated gems with strong scripts and beautiful performances – in green.

(2) Episodes Worth Watching – These have flawed scripts or execution, but often have strong performances and/or ideas – in blue.


My Favorites  Short List
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)

12:00 AM  The Midnight Sun
12:30 AM –  Walking Distance
1:00 AM  The Lonely
1:30 AM  Judgement Night
2:30 AM – The Last Flight
4:30 AM  The After Hours
8:00 AM  A Thing About Machines
9:00 AM  The Silence
10:00 AM  Death's-Head Revisited
12:00 PM  In Praise Of Pip
1:00 PM  It's A Good Life
1:30 PM  Five Characters In Search Of An Exit
5:00 PM  Number Twelve Looks Just Like You

Full List  With Descriptions

12:00 AM – The Midnight Sun – Earth has been knocked off its orbit and is gradually approaching the sun. Thermometers pop, a painting melts off its canvas (this is actually a painted wax tablet on a hot plate!), but this apocalyptic tale is most interesting for its relationships – an excellent script, beautifully acted. Note: They played this one at NYE midnight last year too... coincidence? Um... no.

12:30 AM –  Walking Distance – I LOVE this episode, a classic (#2 on the Time list) about a frustrated exec who, longing for his boyhood days, visits his hometown – only to find himself a grown-up amidst his own childhood. Insightful lesson about valuing the present and not romanticizing the past.

1:00 AM  The Lonely – Convict Jack Warden spends lonely days on an asteroid until his supply ship pal brings him a realistic robot – in the ethereally beautiful form of a young Jean Marsh (best known as Rose from Upstairs, Downstairs). A touching, romantic story. Features Ted Knight as an obnoxious crew member.

1:30 AM  Judgement Night – Nehemiah Persoff just knows a nearby U-boat will blast his passenger steamer. But no one one board will believe him! (And exactly how does he know anyway...?) Excellent performances, great ending and a sweet cameo by The Avengers' Patrick MacNee

2:00 AM – The Four Of Us Are Dying – Guy who can change his face learns he can’t change his scumbag nature.

2:30 AM – The Last Flight – During a hopeless dogfight, a World War I pilot abandons his best friend by flying into a cloud–and 42 years into the future, landing at a modern airfield. A touching, beautifully acted tale of cowardice, duty, and heroism at the last minute. A rarely-aired gem. And check out the vintage 1918 biplane!

3:00 AM – The Purple Testament – Mediocre tale of a WWII soldier who sees a portentous "light" on his comrades' faces. Basically an anti-war story which offers only the resigned observation that in war, people die and you can't save them (or yourself); title is from Richard III: "He has come to open the purple testament of bleeding war." Notable only for a good performance by a pre-Bewitched Dick York.

5:00 AM – Nightmare As A Child – Freaky, annoying brat spooks schoolteacher. Or does the marm have more to fear? Find out, if you can stay awake through this snoozer. Features TZ's second-favorite child actor Suzanne Cupito (aka Dallas' Morgan Brittany); also featured in "Caesar and Me" (6:30 PM 1/1).

4:00 AM – Mr. Bevis – Loser gets all he desires (money, nice apartment, fancy car & chauffer), only to learn he can’t be his true whackadoo self and keep up appearances. Moral: Enjoying who you are is worth more than anything money can buy -- or money itself. A worthy message that deserved stronger delivery.

4:30 AM  The After Hours – Stunning Anne Francis finds herself wandering the non-existent floors of a creepy department store. (Wait... is that mannequin watching me??)

**** Paid Programming! GAHHH!!! ****

9:30 AM  A Thing About Machines – One of my all-time faves about a guy who beats up on his machines – which, in 1960, included his typewriter, electric razor, TV and car –  and they gang up to have their revenge. The dawn of Skynet... ("Now, why don’t you get out of here, Finchley!!")

8:30 AM – The Prime Mover – Compulsive gambler cajoles his telekinetically-enabled pal (an enjoyable Buddy Ebsen) into to helping him cheat Vegas. Doesn't work out too well, but could be worse. Moral: Be happy with what you have; know when to quit.

9:00 AM  The Silence – Tense, beautifully acted study in interpersonal dynamics and irony. Based loosely on Chekhov's The Bet, there is no supernatural hocus-pocus in this one. And there is no need for any. (And no Doctor Who jokes please... :-> )

9:30 AM – The Arrival –  Mystery plane lands itself at airport. The flight inspector "with a perfect record of solving cases" brings in a team to investigate. Everyone sees different registration numbers, seat cushion colors, then all but the investigator disappear. Could it all just be the investigator's guilty conscience hallucinating? Ummm... maybe... Sigh.

10:00 AM  Death's-Head Revisited – Former Nazi captain's trot down memory lane via Dachau brings him to some unexpected denizens. Top-notch performances by Joseph Schildkraut and Oscar Beregi Jr.

10:30 AM – A Piano In The House – Enchanted ivories reveal uncomfortable secrets; akin to "What's in the Box" (6:00 PM 1/1) and "A Most Unusual Camera" (4:00 PM 12/31 -- be glad you missed it), and slightly better than either. But only slightly.

11:00 AM – The Last Rights Of Jeff Myrtlebank – Small-town good ol' boy James Best wakes up at his own funeral, and seems much improved by the experience! Cute, folksy tale.

11:30 AM – Hocus-Pocus and Frisby – A braggart gas station attendant's tales of prowess are believed by some seriously gullible aliens who want to take him home as a specimen of Earth's finest.

12:00 PM  In Praise Of Pip – I LOVE this episode. I REALLY love this episode (and did I mention I love this episode?). Jack Klugman (RIP to a beloved actor) delivers a top-notch, tragic performance as a dying no-good trying to do right by his serviceman son, Pip (a much less fearsome Billy Mumy). Sweet, sad magical ending.

12:30 PM – Uncle Simon –  Two despicable people in a screeching, unredeemable story. Sadistic eponymous Uncle berates greedy, gold-digging niece caretaker into an "accidental" (and fatal) lapse in care. Twist ending? Yeah, but who cares. By the time it's over you'll want to twist off your head. Geeks may get a kick out of the brief cameo of Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot; the ambulatory prop also appears on "The Brain Center at Whipple's" and in miniature in "One for the Angels" (8:00 AM 12/31).

1:00 PM  It's A Good Life – One of the most famous episodes (#3 on the Time list) featuring little Billy Mumy as a terrifying child who can create and destroy at will. The brilliant Cloris Leachman is his petrified mother. ("That’s a good thing you did… A real good thing… Now please wish it into the cornfield!").

1:30 PM  Five Characters In Search Of An Exit – A soldier, a clown, a tramp, a bagpiper, and a ballerina wake to find themselves in a doorless empty room. Well-played and engaging.

2:00 PM – The Hunt – This mediocre folksy tale by The Waltons creator Earl Hamner Jr. has been recycled as internet glurge. Guy and dog have died and are walking along the road to heaven. Guy at pearly gate says, “No dogs allowed.” Guy says, “I ain’t going nowhere without my hound…” Sheesh. (This one has also been recycled as Internet glurge.

2:30 PM – Little Girl Lost –  Little girl has slipped into another dimension. Can her parents and their conveniently present physicist pal rescue her before the portal closes forever? Decent script but bland acting. Tune in for the final 10 minutes for all you need to know.

3:00 PM – The Little People – Ego and physical relativity clash in this memorable (though mediocre) episode, which has been lampooned  in The Simpsons, South Park, and Futurama. Good performance by Claude Akins.

3:30 PM – A Kind Of Stopwatch – Blabbering bore gets comeuppance via magical timepiece. Even The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything was better than this turkey.

4:00 PM – Probe 7 Over and Out – Stranded astronaut Richard Basehart, meets hostile alien female on deserted planet. She hurls rocks at him. Or maybe it's just foreplay. Now, what shall we call this place...? (Appropriately rhymes with "dearth.") The same story is better told in "Two" (1:00 AM 1/2).

4:30 PM  The 7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms – Spooked National Guard tank crew gets drafted into Custer's 7th Cavalry. Big whoop.

05:00 PM  Number Twelve Looks Just Like You – Dystopic utopia where everyone is beautifully identical and lifts their pretty mugs with a glass of Instant Smile. (Perhaps an inspiration for Scott Westerfeld's excellent Uglies series -- where a "beautiful world" has a particularly nasty underpinning?) Mediocre script saved by Collin Wilcox's terrific performance.

5:30 PM  Black Leather Jackets – Evil leather-clad alien (dressed this way to "blend") falls for local Earth girl in this poor man's Avatar.

6:00 PM – What's In The Box – Lame and ridiculous episode about a couple’s bickering leading to accidental murder and capital punishment. Freaky TV predicts it all. There, now you don’t have to watch it and aren’t you glad?

6:30 PM – Caesar and Me – Satan-spawn dummy drives hapless ventriloquist Jackie Cooper to a life of crime – matched in evilness only by tormenting then-child actress Morgan Brittany (later of Dallas fame). The same material is handled much better in "The Dummy" (9:00 PM 1/1).

Monday, December 30, 2013

Tandava's Guide to the Zone--2013-14--Part I: New Year's Eve--8am to Midnight

Welcome back to the Zone!!

Once again we spend the final hours of the year, and the newly minted hours of the next, in that land between shadow and substance, of things and ideas: The Twilight Zone.

And while the SyFy channel is only airing 86 episodes of this timeless series (down from 90 episodes in last year's New Year's marathon), it appears to have dumped quite a few of the turkeys and will treat us to some of the very best.

The fun begins at 8:00 AM on New Year's Eve, and continues through 9:00 AM on January 2nd (each evening will take three hours off between 5:00 AM and 8:00 AM for "Paid Programming").

As every year, all ten of Time Magazine's Top Twilight Zone Episodes will be featured; they are in red. As usual, the bulk of these are on New Year's Eve, with a few gems during primetime of New Year's Day, along with some lesser known favorites, such as In Praise of Pip (12:00 PM 1/1/) starring a magnificent Jack Klugman, who left us last year, and TZ's favorite child actor Billy Mumy (also known for his work in Babylon 5), as well as Ida Lupino's "The Masks" (11:00 PM 1/1) -- the only episode to be directed by a woman --and A Game of Pool (7:00 PM 1/1) (featuring Klugman and the sublime Jonathan Winters, who passed earlier this year), in green, and finally a few that are not perfect, but have notable performances in blue.

So, as usual, here is a short list of my favorite episodes which will be aired on Monday, December 31st, followed by a full list of all the episodes to be broadcast on 12/31, containing brief descriptions and my personal, subjective, and highly opinionated reviews of each -- and hopefully not too many spoilers. Celebrity names and other items of interest are bolded and linked.

Happy Zoning!

My Favorites  Short List
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)

8:00 AM  One For The Angels
8:30 AM  The Sixteen-millimeter Shrine
10:00 AM  And When The Sky Was Opened
12:00 PM – Long Live Walter Jameson
12:30 PM  A World Of His Own
1:00 PM – Mr. Denton On Doomsday
1:30 PM  People Are Alike All Over
3:00 PM  King Nine Will Not Return
3:30 PM  Nick Of Time
4:30 PM  Night Of The Meek
5:00 PM  A Penny For Your Thoughts
5:30 PM – The Odyssey Of Flight 33
6:00 PM  A Hundred Yards Over The Rim
7:00 PM  Where Is Everybody?
7:30 PM – Time Enough At Last
8:00 PM  The Hitch- hiker
8:30 PM – The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street
10:00 PM – Eye Of The Beholder
10:30 PM  The Invaders
11:30 PM – The Obsolete Man

Full List  With Descriptions

8:00 AM –  One For The Angels – A nice way to start the Marathon. One of TZ's more successful dark comedies features Ed Wynn as a fast-talking salesman who must use his skills to save a child's life. Features the third of three cameos of Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot (miniature, in this case) in the TZ; others include "Uncle Simon" (12:30 PM 1/1) and "The Brain Center at Whipple's" (which surprisingly will not be aired this time; it is not my favorite, but it is a treat compared to the execrable "Uncle Simon").

8:30 AM  The Sixteen-millimeter Shrine – Luminous Ida Lupino stars as a reclusive aging movie star, immersed in the films of her youth. Sunset Boulevard, served up Zone-style with a bittersweet dose of wish- fulfillment. Score is by Sunset Boulevard's composer/conductor Franz Waxman. Catch Lupino's deft direction in "The Masks" on 1/1 at 11:00 PM.

9:00 AM  Escape Clause – I only like this one because I like David Wayne, but it’s not a great episode, just a grim morality play about the value of mortality. *Yawn!*

9:30 AM – Perchance To Dream – Neat psychodrama with some freaky felinesque dream sequences. Not bad; not great.

10:00 AM And When The Sky Was Opened – Well played, creepy episode about astronauts returning to earth… or did they? Or were they ever here? Or were you?? TZ makes us question our grasp of reality.

10:30 AM – What You Need – Magical peddler who can give people exactly "what they need" moments before they need it is menaced by a small- time thug. Comeuppance awaits the thug, and the peddler reveals a refreshing hint of cold- bloodedness, uncharacteristic of the Zone. Mixed feelings about this one mostly due to the script's weak dialogue. Based on a superior short story by Lewis Padgett.

11:00 AM  I Shot An Arrow Into The Air – Three astronauts survive a crash on an asteroid (where the atmosphere and gravity are the same as on Earth, but no one notices this). Limited provisions stir bloodthirsty behavior. Yes, Rod, people in crisis are just no darned good.

11:30 AM – The Fever – Well-acted but ultimately hokey morality play about gambling addiction.

12:00 PM – Long Live Walter Jameson – TZ's most successful working of the "morality of mortality" theme features fine performances, a strong script and a touch of righteous revenge.

12:30 PM  A World Of His Own – Sweet story about the reality of reality features the only time Serling interacts with his characters.

1:00 PM – Mr. Denton On Doomsday – Touching old west tale about top-gunslinger-turned-town-drunk finding redemption. Fine performances by Dan Duryea, Martin Landau and Doug McClure.

1:30 PM – Third From The Sun – Trigger-happy world leaders have their finger on the button! Doomsday is near! Time for a select few to secretly gather their families to escape to a nearby planet. Hm... now what planet would that be..?

2:00 PM –  People Are Alike All Over – Astronaut Roddy McDowall crashes on populous Mars, and consoles his fears with the thought that Martians (who include the radiant Susan Oliver)  and humans must be "alike" ...

2:30 PM – A Nice Place To Visit – Another be-careful-what-you-wish-for morality tale about the true nature of Heaven and Hell. In 1960 it might not have been painfully predictable...

3:00 PM  King Nine Will Not Return – WWII B-25 Captain Robert Cummings finds himself stranded in the desert with only the carcass of his King Nine, lost 17 years before. Is it a hallucination? Time travel? Both? The de rigueur twist ending is now a TZ cliché, but still worth watching for a strong script and Cummings' excellent performance.

3:30 PM  Nick Of Time – A charming script and low-key performance by pre-Kirk William Shatner (yes, I used "low-key" and "Shatner" in the same sentence) grace this cautionary tale about superstition and self-determination.

4:00 PM – A Most Unusual Camera – Lame-assed episode about three greedy morons undone by a magic camera. Hokey, ridiculous, predictable ending. Skip it.

4:30 PM  Night Of The Meek – Down-and-out department store Santa, Art Carney, loses his job but finds a bag of gifts and plays Santa one last time for the neighborhood kiddies. But is it just an act? Beautiful, touching episode.

5:00 PM  A Penny For Your Thoughts – Not a classic, but one of my favorites, featuring a young Dick York (the first Darren from Bewitched.)

5:30 PM – The Odyssey Of Flight 33 – A 707 picks up a freak tail wind and travels back in time. Run-of-the-mill by modern sci-fi standards, but notable for its apparently realistic cockpit dialogue created by Serling's aviation writer brother, Robert Serling.

6:00 PM  A Hundred Yards Over The Rim – Underrated episode featuring a very young Cliff Robertson as a pioneer dad who will go yards, miles and years to heal his ailing son.

6:30 PM – The Shelter – "Maple Street" meets the lazy grasshopper. The industrious ant of this tale has built a bomb shelter for his (and ONLY his) family, and his neighbors scoff – until there is an emergency... Bloated prose and one-dimensional characters make this a must-miss.

7:00 PM  Where Is Everybody?  – Guy finds himself alone in an empty town, with hints of residents recently present (lit cigarette in ashtray, etc.). Eerie and amusing, most worth watching because this is the pilot that sold the series to CBS.

7:30 PM – Time Enough At LastBurgess Meredith at his lovable best as a devoted bookworm constantly thwarted by his boss, wife, and everyone else – until a touch of armageddon gives him new lease on life. #10 on the Time list.

8:00 PM  The Hitch-hiker – A driver keeps seeing the same hitch-hiker thumbing a ride as she heads west…. A deliciously Hitchcockian morality/mortality play about fear and acceptance of the inevitable. #5 on the Time list.

8:30 PM – The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street – #4 on the Time list. The text of one is included in grade-school anthologies. Beautifully written masterpiece about fearing thy neighbor. The brilliant Claude Akins is considered the lead, though it is a true ensemble piece. Don’t miss it.

9:00 PM – A Stop At Willoughby – Beleaguered exec finds himself in his childhood hometown. Similar to "Walking Distance" but trades insight for sentiment. Some people really like this one; I can do without it.

9:30 PM – The Howling Man –  A visitor to a monastery is disturbed to find the monks have a screaming guy locked up. Well, they must have a good reason… A lot of people like this one. I think it’s pretty meh. Features John Carradine as a monk.

10:00 PM – Eye Of The Beholder – A classic (#9 on the Time list) about the relativity of beauty, the lengths we will go to be beautiful – or to at least conform – and the dangers of conformity. Note: the girl at the end (Donna Douglas, of Beverly Hillbillies) is a different actress than the one under the bandages ( Maxine Stuart), but she speaks in her own voice – doing a very good impression of Stuart!

10:30 PM  The Invaders –  Agnes Moorehead's virtuoso 25-minute wordless monologue; riveting with a slick twist at the end. #7 on the Time list.

11:00 PM – Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up – This was voted 8.5 on the IMDB, but I think it’s dopey and ridiculous. Bus passengers are stranded at a diner – but there is one too many. Oh, and rumor has it that a spacecraft crashed nearby. Give me a break.

11:30 PM – The Obsolete Man – The superb Burgess Meredith is back to his book-loving ways, this time as a librarian in a dystopic totalitarian future, where both he and his books are declared obsolete.

Friday, November 22, 2013

November 22, 1963 -- Processing Tragedy

When I was a kid, I used to joke about where I was the first time the adults in my life launched into their "Where Were You" stories about JFK.

Then we had the blackout of 1977 -- and the moment of looking up to see all of the bulbs in the ceiling lamp fade to brown then go out etched itself in my mind.

A blown fuse? No... it wouldn't have dimmed out that way.

My sister and I wandered to the kitchen, shocked to see everything pitch dark -- and all the lights in the neighborhood too.

My father realized it was a blackout, lit up our kerosene lamp, and told us his memory of the blackout of  November 9, 1965 (also his 28th birthday) -- walking down Fourth Avenue where each street light blinked off in sequence, like falling dominoes. Then the confusion, some panic, and then calm upon realizing what had happened and what to do about it (i.e. walk home under the full moon; no biggie ... things were pretty chill in 1965, apparently).

And then came 9-11.

I'd awakened to the radio, jumped in the shower and emerged at 8:50am to find the NPR signal had dropped out.  I shrugged and continued on to work.

When I arrived a security guard told me a plane flew into the World Trade Center. "Poor plane," I said, figuring it was a small craft, like the B-25 that crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945, killing some people but leaving the building intact.

Then came the hysteria in the office when it sunk in; people worried for their friends and family downtown, then seeing the hole in the North Tower from our window in midtown, rushing back and forth from the window to the computer for any update ... then the petrifying news -- a tower had fallen.

And then the second tower.

For weeks Manhattan stunk of the burn, debris were found throughout the five boroughs, and every single conversation one could hear -- walking down the street, in offices, restaurants, bars -- was about that event, as we gradually wrapped our collective mind around the incomprehensible.

Tragedy rips us from our known moorings, sending us floating until we can tether down again.

It is generally believed that strong emotion aids memory, etching those highly charged events most potently in our minds -- and there is further evidence that pain is recorded more vividly than pleasure.

I am wondering if this may be because, unlike pleasure, pain is a sudden tearing of the fabric of our reality, which we must then work to process, and so our own effort infuses the memory.

And this processing can take years, decades -- during which each telling of the story, each meshing the personal experience with the collective one, is yet another stitch to bind and ultimately heal the wound.

So let's keep talking, sharing our stories, hearing those of others -- and healing together. Until the next time.....

Monday, November 18, 2013

Framing Beauty: How I Fell in Love with Sharifwear

"My curves flourish in this dance. And in my fellow dancers and teachers, I can see the Promised Land:  They are different shapes and ages and sizes and every single one of them is beautiful!"  (from the "Body's Language" segment of Blood on the Veil.)

Even in my first bellydance classes with SharQui's Oreet, I realized there was something different about this dance. The movements were every bit as rigorous as the ballet and modern I'd studied as a child and young adult; even the basics required concentration and deep muscle control.

But unlike the conventional Western dance forms, Oriental dance lavished in womanly curves; it embraced the body, rather than attempting to transcend it.

Slowly, my image of myself changed.

Realizing that my capacious hips and rear did not need to be trimmed to be beautiful, I tossed out my tight-fitting gymwear and searched Capezio and Danskin for attire that would accentuate and flatter -- rather than squeeze and flatten.

I did not have much luck. Even their flowy modernwear was tight-hipped and high-waisted, pressing my beloved belly into an unhappy muffin-top.

And then I went to my first Rakassah -- the big bi-coastal bellydance festival -- filled with hip- and belly-loving apparel for onstage and off.

My favorite vendor was Sharifwear.

Their "skirt-pants" caught my eye -- with beautifully flaring bell bottoms, often slit to reveal the lower leg -- and an extra layer of fabric attached at the hip creating a built in hip-scarf (very handy for me, as I often left my tie-on hipscarves at home!).

Many of the half-tops were tied in the front or wrapped around, gently hugging the lower chest, while the arms flared out in gypsy or flamenco style, matching the shape of the pants.

I tried on an outfit and bought as many as I could carry home!

With this new wardrobe, I could not help but love my body, how it looked and felt in the soft, swaying fabric, and realized:  I never needed to hide my belly -- I only needed to frame it!

As my dance progressed, and I attended more advanced classes and workshops, I saw more and more of Ms. Sharif's styles on so many different dancers -- of all shapes and sizes, each as beautiful as the next -- and realized that she was the very same Nourhan Sharif of New York's legendary Egyptian Academy, where many of my teachers, and teachers' teachers had studied their craft.

Nourhan, I learned, was a second-generation bellydancer and master teacher who had created this remarkable line of clothing to fill the very gap that I had found when searching for dancewear that looked and felt beautiful on a curvy female body.

And not only were the quality of design and material important to her; the integrity of production was as well. As her site declares: "Sharifwear presents the highest quality belly dance costumes, coin belts, belly dancing skirts, hip scarves,belly dance tops, veils and belly dance accessories that are authentic and proudly made in the U.S.A."

So, after years of wearing her clothes and pretty much being intimidated by the high reputation of the Egyptian Academy, I finally darkened her doorway in 2009 and found her to be kind, welcoming, innovative, and butt-kicking in the best way possible. And I have studied with her ever since!

Today, I am proud to call her a friend, teacher, and mentor -- and proud beyond words that she will dance the Master Teacher set of Blood on the Veil this Sunday, November 24th, in the finale of the 2013 NYC run.

Love to you Nourhan, and so many thanks for all you do!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ten Things/In a Compressed State

When I directed my first full-length play in my mid-20s it consumed me. I was working a temp job, which I was able to manage -- but I found I couldn't bring my mind to focus on anything other than earning a living and doing the play.

In some cases, I'd let myself get dragged along to other people's activities (perhaps because I lacked resistance), but other than that it was all about directing the play. 

If I tried to focus on something else -- even simple stuff like journal writing, bookkeeping, organizing or processing anything at all -- I couldn't do it. It is as though my energy was so uniformly directed that I lost the capacity to reflect and process. Or perhaps I worried that any attempt to process would detract from my singular creative mission. 

Over the years I've gotten a little better at shifting gears, at finding a little more space inside myself during these compressed-state periods of intense outer-directed activity.

But only a little. 

The past several months have been consumed with drama, onstage and off. 

Insane and bizarre things happened on the job that perhaps one day I will blog about; I've been through some incredibly twisted comings-together and partings on a personal level (all pretty much resolved now ... lessons learned -- albeit expensive ones -- though those are the most important kind, I guess).

Blood on the Veil is going great -- beyond my wildest dreams, and still getting better. And when I'm not rehearsing, polishing, promoting, etc. that show, I'm putting together stuff for other shows, like the recent Confessions of a Bellydancer and Mother Wove the Morning

And of course I write lots of stuff for my job, and answer professional and personal emails at all times of the day and night, and do more than my share of chatting and posting stuff on Facebook (also at crazy hours) ... but I could not organize my mind to blog about ... well, pretty much anything at all. 

Jellybeans ... I managed to squeeze out a few thoughts about that -- but only because a post on Facebook prompted me. So even that was reactive creativity.

And now I'm thinking -- maybe that's not a bad thing. Reactive expression is better than no expression; and I have been promising more blog entries....

So with that in mind, what follows is what I posted on Facebook in response to the "Things People Don't Know About Me" meme. 

The lovely Raksanna prompted me for ten items. And here they are!


TEN things you might not know about me (Disclaimer: some of this stuff is in my show, blog or mentioned in this interview: http://reviewfix.com/2013/10/review-fix-exclusive-carol-henning-interview/ ... but I'll try to add bits that aren't generally known.... )

(1) My first bellydancing class was in 2001 with Stella Gray. The "intermediate layered" move she did that frightened the willies out of me was an earthquake shimmy with an undulation. And, as I say in BOTV, I really did think, "Good lord! You have to be a freak of nature to be able to do that!!"

(2) My first role ever was in a Girl Scout Christmas pageant about being kind to the environment. I was five years old and played a girl who poured lemonade on a tree. My line was something like, "How about over by that tree!" And the tree responded, "Ooohh... that's cold!!"

(3) I was such an enthusiastic Girl Scout that I memorized the Brownie Origin Story ... by accident. We were discussing the story, and the leaders asked us to summarize the action, going from girl to girl. When they got to me, I just started reciting the text -- dialogue and all ("and those acorns too!"). I remember the leaders (including my mother) saying, "Is she reading? Where is the book?" This began a lifetime of memorizing crap for no particular reason.

(4) I entered a Shakespeare recitation contest when I was 16 and memorized a Juliet speech, as well as Sonnets 29 and 116. I won the contest, (but I lost the inter-school finals. Boo.), and went on to fall in love with the Bard and currently know about 20 Sonnets and maybe a dozen speeches, scenes, soliloquies off the top of my head. But these days I have to work a lot harder to memorize.

(5) I have no formal training for my current line of day-job work: third-level tech support at a law firm. In my late teens I started doing secretarial work at a law firm because I was doing stand-up and didn't want to commit to an office career. But I am a TERRIBLE secretary. Fortunately, I had learned some BASIC in Junior High and was able to parlay my rudimentary programming skills into Word Perfect script, getting the computer to do much of my work for me. And then started doing this for others... and now it's what I do!

(6) I am allergic to dust and dust mites and spend the first two hours of every day blowing my nose (this is absolute MAGIC in relationships ...)

(7) I have refinanced my co-op four times over the last ten years. Each time I've done it has cost me about $4000 -- and yet the deal I have now is so good (THANK YOU, FED!) that it just may have been worth it.

(8) Throughout pretty much all of grade school I was relentlessly unfunny. When I got into college, however, I started dating a comedian and began to figure out how jokes were constructed. I figured: If he can do it so can I. So I took the mike and dumped the boyfriend.

(9) My first time onstage as a stand-up was in February 1989 -- and it went GREAT. The next 30 or 40 times were not so good, however..... But I was hooked.

(10) I commuted for my first year at NYU and had a 4.0 grade point average ... but was miserable. Then I had the opportunity to move into campus housing with the Science Fiction club (finally -- to be with my own kind!), albeit renamed the SubGenius Alliance because of a prank the SciFi club played at Loeb Student Center (Glenn Hauman could tell you more about that).

My happiness level rose dramatically ... and my GPA dropped. I earned my first F ever... IN PIANO! Ah well...

(Coda in a follow-up comment about playing the piano: "I can barely play at all anymore. The first semester I got an A; but then when I moved on campus, I had to reserve rehearsal time with the piano, and I kept getting shut out by the music majors who got first dibs. So I was never able to practice. The only piano I could get had a broken E key .. and I was learning to play Chopin's Prelude in E Minor!! Grrrr. )

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Jellybean Approach

This video floated past my Facebook feed today...

Now:  I am a big believer in "living life to the fullest" -- but I have great reservations about what it means to "get the most out of life," and how it can be accomplished.

I don't believe our days, hours, and minutes break down so easily into "time spent doing this and time spent doing that..." So when you say, "Well, I spend X amount of hours sleeping, eating, working" -- that is not necessarily time that is not a part of, or worse detracts from, living life to the fullest.

In my case, living life to the fullest means working on my show and all that goes along with it (i.e. taking workshops, classes, rehearsing, promoting, etc.). It's a lot of work, and some of it is enjoyable, and some of it makes blood want to pour out of my eyes. But it is what I want to do at the deepest levels of my being. And even in the moments where I seem to be procrastinating against doing the very work I want to do -- other processes are happening that contribute to it, and to the general feeling of fulfillment I have about my life.

While it's true that I have not had a "sitting on the beach" vacation in over a decade -- this is not because I am so driven to create this show, but more because I don't find that kind of vacation restful.  If I were to have a non-dance/theater vacation, then I'd rather swing on a vine in Costa Rica or scuba dive or sail in the Virgin Islands than sit on a beach reading 50 Shades of Grey. Because that is not my thing.

But for someone else, sitting on a beach is EXACTLY what would make their life more joyful. And for others, hammering out the wording of a legal agreement gives them enjoyment and satisfaction.

And so that is what they should do. It is not necessary to divide the time between "stuff you must do" and "stuff that gives life meaning." It can all be part of the same experience of living life to the fullest.

I've heard it said, I believe, by the Abraham-Hicks people, when addressing what it meant to "win" in life: "He [or she] who feels the most joy wins."

Now, at this point in my life, I am at my most joyful when I am doing my show -- sweating onstage in a whirlwind of word and movement for two hours in front of strangers.

That may not always be the case, but for now it is, and I'm mindful of it (and if I didn't have a pure, insane, unbridled passion for this work, I'd have to be crazy to put myself through the rigorous insanity that goes into doing it each week).

But that is me.

Joy may be something entirely different for you (and if you are sane, it probably is).

So if you are going to use the jellybean approach, I would say:  look to find joy in all the days, no matter what you are doing -- working, sleeping, eating, commuting -- and in directly pursuing those activities that are our passion.

That is what I do with my time, and it's worked out pretty well.  How about you?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Best of Times

I am exhausted.

From Thursday through Sunday -- 9am to 7pm -- I went to a stage combat intensive and did more falling, rolling, punching, kicking (fake and not fake), sword- and knife-fighting, than I have ... probably ever.

And then Sunday night, I had my solo show -- which isn't quite a solo show anymore; three dancers now join me in certain parts, but within the mammoth two-hour performance time I am alone onstage talking, dancing, and even singing -- in Arabic!

So it's a tad tiring.

And on Monday, it was back to my full-time day job.

It usually takes a full day to recover from doing the show -- but that's without the four days of crazy workshops beforehand.

So, yeah, every part of my body hurts.

I am indeed completely and wholly exhausted -- deliciously exhausted -- and have never been happier in my life.

This Shaw quote from Man and Superman is pinned to my cubicle wall, and it has become my credo:
This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
In other words:  The very source of my exhaustion is also recharging my battery!

Joseph Campbell said: "I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be."

And my experience of working on this show -- of pursuing all of the different crazed combinations of performance arts from stand-up to Shakespeare to bellydance to Bollywood to mime to stage combat and beyond that have congealed to form this work, and are even now conspiring in the back of my mind to create new and wonderful projects -- has borne that out in more ways than I can count.

The path towards it was never clear; in fact, I had been flat-out told to give up on performing altogether by teachers and colleagues alike during the course of my circuitous path through the theatrical world. (When one teacher "compassionately" told me many years ago that I should "consider other aspects of the business" a fellow student said, "Well aren't you glad to learn that now...?")

I was in misery for a lot of years knowing that there was something inside me screaming to be put onstage, but what and how and where ... ?? I had no idea, and no one to guide me, and was mostly discouraged along the way by those in "the business." (Thankfully I did have the enduring support of wonderful friends and family, but when one is discouraged, it is difficult to feel love and support.... )

That was The Worst of Times.

During those times I suffered from exhaustion too -- but that was the exhaustion of depression, of spinning wheels going nowhere, of confusion, doubt, and despair.

But I kept Campbell's words at the back of my mind and fine-tuned my bliss-sensors.

As I attended classes in improv and sketch writing, lectures on Jung and archetypal analysis -- and even went back on the stand-up stage -- I kept close watch on my Level of Joy. Where did I feel "tuned in, tapped in, and turned on"?

I kept asking:  Where do I find myself seeking the approval of others? And where is the endeavor its own reward?

Bellydance class was an earshattering clarion.

Even though all rational sense told me I had no hope of dancing professionally -- EVER -- the level of joy I felt in those early classes surpassed everything. I felt compelled to practice every day, increasingly feeling more and more to be my True Self.

I practiced to exhaustion, and often to frustration, as I struggled with each new movement.

From the outside, it was a hopeless, unrewarding endeavor. But from the inside, something deep and powerful was being explored and expanded and expressed.

I could say it was like an addiction, but an addiction implies an easy, ephemeral high with a destructive aftermath; this bliss was solid work, and the work itself was pure joy and passion.

It's here that I begin to lose the words to describe what happened next... perhaps I'll find them in a later blog entry ... but the best I can say is that, having honed my sense of what James Hollis calls the "tuning fork of the soul" with this dance, I was able to return to theater with an ability to speak in a voice that was wholly mine.

And so came the show -- almost of its own accord -- fashioning itself from my life experience; and all I had to do was let it emerge. At least that was the first step. :-)

Then, of course, came the rough and painful work of building a compelling and cohesive narrative -- but even that was a joy, as people and opportunities appeared at exactly the right moment to give me the help I needed.

Take, for example, my dear director, Jeff, to whom I'd whine and moan for half of our allotted rehearsal hours about how much I hated a particular part of the script -- or sometimes I'd complain about some ridiculous and unrelated personal problem. But he, being a gifted writer who was all too familiar with the Creative Process, knew that even my wildest diversion would lead to the A-Ha! moments of finding the right words or movements or intentions.

Everything began to fit together, becoming clear -- like pulling back from a pointillist painting and finally seeing the image you had sensed existed all along.

And so The Worst of Times became The Best of Times ... and now I am realizing the one could not have come without the other.

Had it not been for what seemed to be rootless, frustrated searching -- for what seemed to others to be procrastination and wasted efforts -- had it not been for the very ability to endure confusion and despair that developed during that time, I would not have culled the very resources that are making this show and the intense efforts behind it not only possible, but absolutely, unambiguously, wholeheartedly, exhaustedly and exhaustively joyful!

How could I possibly ask for more?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

So Much to Say....

And I'll be talking about more than the weather (though it is dang hot!!)...new entries coming soon. I promise.

When there is a lot going on, it is not always so easy to write about it. More has happened in my life in the past six months than in the ten years prior. Crazy man crazy.

OK. Enjoy DMB in the meantime.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Valentine's Day has always had strange connotations for me.

It is my only sister's birthday (and my birthday is Halloween... yes, really...). And for much of my early life I had a troubled relationship with her, so the day had been largely about trying to make her happy and pretty much failing ... and then eating too much chocolate in the wake of it.

And then I met Dave.

Dave Nolan saved Valentine's Day for me ... by happening to have a birthday on that very day. Today.

When I first met him 27 years ago, I could not have guessed this birthday connection, or that he would become a brother to me -- the dear sibling I had never had.

In 1986, although I had no background in media, I spoke to the right people at WNYC and finagled an internship for one of their radio shows, "Kids America."

I arrived at the studio shortly before showtime where Dave, the show's engineer grinned broadly through a shaggy goatee and welcomed me warmly. He told me the basics about the show and gave me his vote of confidence when I met with the producer; I started the next day.

That summer was probably the happiest I've ever been on any job -- from making copies and running errands to helping choose the show's playlist to greeting guests, one of whom was LeVar Burton (!!!!), to learning how to mix sound and edit tape (the old fashioned way, with a reel-to-reel) -- I was in heaven!

Yes, public radio can be exciting.

Dave was my teacher, pal, my chief defender when I accidentally turned the station off the air for a full minute.

"Look," he grinned, patting my shoulder while I collapsed in uncontrollable tears, "Your problem is not that you don't know what you're doing -- it's that you know just enough to really be dangerous!! That's a good thing!" I laughed a little. "Believe me," he said, "this is one of those experiences you'll love talking about when you're older."

The summer ended and I returned to my real life as a socially awkward and isolated teen.

But my friendship with Dave continued and deepened. Through high school and college, he remained someone I could turn to for anything. He introduced me to my first live music show ... and my first hit of pot. :-) He worked the booth at the legendary Wetlands where he made a point of recording everyone who made it to that stage "because you never know who's going to hit it big!"

In the late 90s he met the love of his life, Joy, married her and had a beautiful child.

And although his family responsibilities trimmed his social time with me to only a few days a year -- dinners now and then, or birthdays, or just hanging out for a drink and shooting pool at the bar down the block -- time with him had a nourishing fullness that helped me understand what friendship was.

Nearly three years ago, Dave left us.

On his way to pick up his daughter from school, he suffered a heart attack on the subway.

I had meant to write about him shortly after, but couldn't find the words. It has taken this long to process his loss. But sometimes, kiddo, that's just how it goes.

That's what he would have said.

Love to you, Dave, wherever you are. Till we meet again.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


The New Year should be greeted with thoughts of hope and joyful expectations for the year to come.

But 2013 has met us -- I and my colleagues in New York's World Dance & Music community -- with the sudden tragic loss of one of our most enduring, beloved members.

On Sunday, January 13, Dino Bakakos, owner of the legendary Lafayette Grill & Bar which sadly had closed its doors just the year before, fell to a brain aneurysm.

For nearly three decades, Dino and his surviving brother Billy created nothing short of a Mecca for the most vibrant and talented musicians and dancers in the city. From their Tango nights to Friday night bellydance to ubiquitous Greek music to countless haflas and showcases, my mind is a torrent of raucous memories, infused with delightful raki or ouzo, which Dino would generously pour for me once I'd changed out of my costume.

"Yeah -- it's Dino -- like the dinosaur!" With this broad-smiled greeting he shook my hand and asked if I'd be dancing that evening in Ranya's Performance Prep Showcase. That was my "official" introduction to Dino in late 2006, but in fact I had met and spoken to him many, many times for over a year without knowing his name or that he was the owner of the venue that was quickly becoming my home in dance.

His rambunctious swagger had told me he was a manager or someone in charge; plus he treated me so warmly, as though he knew me, so I was embarrassed to admit I did not know his name ... until Ranya's hafla.

Making reservations for my family, I gave him my name and he said, "Yeah .. yeah, I know you! ... You know who I am, right?" And I fessed up. "I--  I'm sorry, I don't know your name..." He laughed broadly and told me .... and then offered me a glass of ouzo.

Over the years, he watched me develop as a dancer. In early 2008, after I had danced and emceed a showcase, he said, "Yeah.. you know, I think you're gonna be ready for Friday night pretty soon!" He turned to Magdalena, the dancer/photographer who booked the Grill's professional dance spot on Friday nights, "What do you think?" She agreed, and gave me an encouraging smile.

This was a minor miracle to me. I had started bellydancing to heal from surgery and three herniated discs. I was not young and for two years did not even believe it was possible for me to dance professionally. Who would hire me, after all??

Well, that night I learned: Dino would. And this was a guy who knew bellydance.

I redoubled my efforts, practiced technique, choreographies, learned different styles, props, went mad with my finger cymbals.

And several months later it happened: My first professional gig as a bellydancer at Lafayette Grill!

The room was packed and the band was fabulous as ever (though the speakers were cranked too high for my finger cymbals to be heard -- lesson learned: Get bigger zills!!). And when I was done, Dino congratulated me with a glass of raki and hug. "You were really good!" he beamed, "Beautiful dancer!"

And for the next four years I found myself on that stage frequently, either dancing professionally or as part of a showcase, benefit, or hafla, sometimes emceeing, and sometimes just cutting loose with everyone else on the dance floor into the wee hours of the morning.

Then in early 2012 the bad news came:

The Grill's landlord wanted to sell the building, so he raised the rent astronomically, forcing Dino to close up shop. He and his brother went back to their native Greece shortly afterwards where they rested and recuperated on their father's property.

In late 2012, I sent him a note saying how much we missed him and the Grill and wishing him well. He wrote back:
Carol, hi! It has been some time since we lost our lease. We will always remember vividly the great shows and one-of-a-kind atmosphere of Lafayette Grill. I'm in Sparta Greece taking care my father's land. The internet here has a lot of problems, I'm surrounded by olive trees. I will be back soon, how can I forget you? You have been a great performer with a genius personality. Billy also sends you his greetings.
Kind, thoughtful, and flattering to the last...

Shortly afterwards, he and Billy returned to New York and began scouting new venues to re-open the Grill.

A few weeks ago, a friend ran into him near Union Square, near the site of the most hopeful prospect. He was stressed, but coming back to his old self and looking forward to many more nights of dance and music.

That dream can still happen, I believe.

Even at his wake, several dancers and musicians began to discuss throwing a party or benefit in his honor. Maybe we can make it an annual celebration? Perhaps we can join forces with Billy and put together a fund or tribute in his name to support the music and dance that was so dear to Dino's heart...

The possibilities are as endless as the love and generosity he inspired.

When we lose a loved one it is common to think about endings and new beginnings, to stay hopeful in the face of pain. And I believe in that.

Each of us has our own journey which will begin and end in its own time and in its own way.

We have each other for so little time in this life, connections come and go whether by death, distance, or disagreements.

What more can we ask of ourselves and each other than to treasure the connection when it comes (even the painful ones may best be regarded as "learning experiences" ), and mourn its loss when it goes?

And when it goes... to let it go, and treasure, maintain, and honor what was best in it, and to continue to live, to share, and of course, to love.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Tandava's Guide to the Zone--2012-13 Version--Part III: New Year's Day 7pm Through 5am

And now for the third and final installment of Twilight Zone episodes to be aired on to be aired on SyFy from 7pm New Year's Day through 5:00am January 2nd.

This list continues from Part I (New Year's Eve, 9:30 AM through midnight) and Part II (midnight New Year's Day through 7pm).

First is the short list including the ever-changing Time Top 10, my personal favorites, and other noteworthy episodes. (By the way, you can go to Time's list and vote for your own!)

So, the categories are:

(1) Episodes on the Time Top 10 List – These are the acknowledged classics – in red.

(2) My Personal Favorite Episodes – These are underrated gems with strong scripts and beautiful performances – in green.

(3) Episodes Worth Watching – These have flawed scripts or execution, but often have strong performances and/or ideas – in blue.

Unfortunately, some of my favorites which were in last year's marathon are missing from this one, such as "A Quality of Mercy," "Mirror Image," "The Changing of the Guard" and "Nothing in the Dark." These were replaced with less-stellar offerings such as "The Jeopardy Room, "Caesar and Me", "Uncle Simon" (ugh!) and "The Brain Center at Whipple's."

And, like last year, SyFy included faves like "The Silence" and "The Sixteen-millimeter Shrine" which were not in the 2010-11 marathon, and added two good episodes at the very end of the run which have not been seen in quite a few years: "The Purple Testament" (featuring Dick York) and the especially excellent "The Last Flight".

And, as with last year, Part III still has many gems worth setting time aside for.

Enjoy – and happy 2013!!

My Favorites  Short List
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)

7:30 PM – The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street
8:30 PM – Time Enough At Last
9:30 PM  Kick The Can
10:00 PM – The Obsolete Man
10:30 PM  The Dummy
11:30 PM  A Game Of Pool
1:00 AM – Walking Distance
2:00 AM  Mr. Dingle, The Strong
2:30 AM  The Lonely
3:00 AM  Two
4:00 AM – The Last Flight

Full List  With Descriptions

7:00 PM – A Stop At Willoughby – Beleagured exec finds himself in his childhood hometown. Similar to "Walking Distance" but trades insight for sentiment. Some people really like this one; I can do without it.

7:30 PM – The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street – #4 on the Time list. The text of one is included in grade-school anthologies. Beautifully written masterpiece about fearing thy neighbor. The brilliant Claude Akins is considered the lead, though it is a true ensemble piece. Don’t miss it.

8:00 PM – The Howling Man –  A visitor to a monastery is disturbed to find the monks have a screaming guy locked up. Well, they must have a good reason… A lot of people like this one. I think it’s pretty meh. Features John Carradine as a monk.

8:30 PM – Time Enough At LastBurgess Meredith at his lovable best as a devoted bookworm constantly thwarted by his boss, wife, and everyone else – until a touch of armageddon gives him new lease on life. #10 on the Time list.

9:00 PM  The Bewitchin' Pool – Worst. Episode. Ever. Even To Kill a Mockingbird's Oscar-nominated Mary Badham couldn't save this dismal excuse for a story. Spoiled brats escape manipulative divorcing parents by finding their way to SuperGrandma via an enchanted pool. Now, if Grandma dumped the tots in an oven, then we might have a story....

9:30 PM  Kick The Can – Timeless story about rest home residents learning that you are indeed as young as you feel. "Look! Think! Feel! Doesn't that wake some sleeping part of you?!"

10:00 PM – The Obsolete Man – The superb Burgess Meredith is back to his book-loving ways, this time as a librarian in a dystopic totalitarian future, where both he and his books are declared obsolete.

10:30 PM  The Dummy – Cliff Robertson as a troubled ventriloquist whose creepy dummy will simply not stay in the box.

11:30 PM  Dead Man's Shoes – Bum dons dead gangster's wing-tips and finds himself stepping into the thug's revenge-thirsty ex-life. You might feel bad for the bum if you find yourself caring about anything in this one.

11:30 PM  A Game Of Pool – Taut two-person drama about winning and losing, and what's really important in the game of life. Fine performances by Jack Klugman (we'll miss you, Jack!!) and Jonathan Winters. Not crazy about the ending; the real (and better) ending was done in the 80s TZ version.

12:00 AM  The Rip Van Winkle Caper – It's Treasure of the Sierra Madre with suspended animation and blah writing. Good performances and a fun twist at the end make it sort of worth watching.

12:30 AM – I Am the Night–Color Me Black  Murderous bigotry, hatred and fear are bad things. OK. We get it.

1:00 AM –  Walking Distance – I LOVE this episode, a classic (#2 on the Time list) about a frustrated exec who, longing for his boyhood days, visits his hometown – only to find himself a grown-up amidst his own childhood. Insightful lesson about valuing the present and not romanticizing the past.

1:30 AM – Ring-a-Ding Girl – Medium episode about movie star returning to her home town and throwing a “celebrate me” party. Or is she? Even though it’s not great, I always find myself watching this one all the way through.

2:00 AM  Mr. Dingle, The Strong – Loud-mouthed salesman pisses away alien gifts on trivial feats. Worth watching for an adorable Burgess Meredith and amusing (and very young) Don Rickles.

2:30 AM  The Lonely – Convict Jack Warden spends lonely days on an asteroid until his supply ship pal brings him a realistic robot – in the ethereally beautiful form of a young Jean Marsh (best known as Rose from Upstairs, Downstairs). A touching, romantic story. Features Ted Knight as an obnoxious crew member.

3:00 AM  Two –  Apocalypse survivors Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery approach each other warily in this sparsely written, beautifully acted episode.

3:30 AM – The Brain Center At Whipple's – CEO Whipple automates manufacturing with low-maintenance machines. Does he understand "the value of a man"? Go tell it to Skynet. Features the third of three cameos of Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot in the TZ; others include "Uncle Simon" (7:30 AM 1/1) and "One for the Angels" (9:00 AM 12/31).

4:00 AM – The Last Flight – During a hopless dogfight, a World War I pilot abandons his best friend by flying into a cloud–and 42 years into the future, landing at a modern airfield. A touching, beautifully acted tale of cowardice, duty, and heroism at the last minute. A rarely-aired gem. And check out the vintage 1918 biplane!

4:30 AM – The Purple Testament –  Mediocre tale of a WWII soldier who sees a portentous "light" on his comrades' faces. Basically an anti-war story which offers only the resigned observation that in war, people die and you can't save them (or yourself); title is from Richard III: "He has come to open the purple testament of bleeding war."