Filming location for spaghetti westerns in Almería, Spain

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© 1987-2016
Scott Larson

Building façade in Cannes, France


In the wee small hours of yesterday morning (June 16), I had a strange dream. I dreamt that I went walking all over Seattle. I went from one end of the city to the other and met a host of strange and unusual characters. One of these joined me for a while, and it was Dr. Frasier Crane from television! He was locked out of his condo or something. The details all became fuzzy with the light of day, and in Ireland at this time of year there is an awful lot of light of day.

I don’t often remember my dreams, but this one stuck in my head. I kept trying to figure out what it meant, and then suddenly it struck me. It was my Bloomsday centennial dream. I had become Leopold Bloom, but instead of walking around Dublin with Stephen Dedalus, I wandered around my late, lamented Seattle with Frasier. There are all kinds of plausible reasons why I had this dream. I miss Seattle, having not set foot there in nearly two years, and not just because of its recently concluded film festival but also because of many friends and relatives. I suppose I am also missing Frasier, which I wrote about a month ago. Anyway, I guess that makes the Missus my own earthy Molly Bloom.

It was a strange dream in a strange week. Last Friday (June 11) life, marriage, politics and death all came together for me in one day. It was the Little Munchkin’s fourth birthday. And, being awful parents, we got dressed up in formal attire and went off to a ball while our Cinderella of a child in rags stayed at home with an auntie. We couldn’t really get out of the wedding, since we had known about it for half a year, and the bride was one of the Missus’s really good friends. Besides, it was in a castle. On a lake. In fact, it was because of this bride that I met James Joyce. No, not the author (hey, I’m not that old!) but a friend of hers from her university days, who was living in Seattle at the time. James and his (much older) platinum blonde girlfriend took us all over Seattle one night in a series of misadventures that could have been, well, an episode of Frasier, as they attempted to demonstrate their connected-ness by getting us into all the city’s trendiest restaurants without a reservation. But back to the Munchkin’s birthday. Fortunately, she didn’t really mind being abandoned on her birthday because, well, because we lied to her and told her that her birthday was on Sunday. (The Missus took the Dick Nixon approach and lied to her outright. I took the Bill Clinton approach and made technically accurate statements that were misleading.) But she had a great party on Sunday, outdoors with much better weather, so I think we did the right thing.

Friday was also an election day in Ireland. Along with the rest of the European Union, the country voted on members to the European Parliament as well as local county councils and on a referendum about whether newborn babies should get Irish citizenship even if their parents aren’t resident somewhere on the island. (The voters’ answer: they shouldn’t.) As a resident but non-citizen, they only let me vote for the county council, but it marked the third country in which I have participated in an election. (I was required to vote in a plebiscite in Chile back in 1977, but that’s a story for another time.)

On top of all that, it was also the day of Ronald Reagan’s funeral. I was surprised, not only by how moved I was personally, but by how moved everyone in the States seemed to be. Granted, when you watch these things from abroad, it often seems to have greater impact that it does to people in the country. Still, the endless of queues of people waiting to see the coffin were more than a testament to the mere desire of ordinary people to be part of history. As one of only two U.S. presidents in the past 44 years to serve the maximum eight years in office, he was a part of our lives for a long time. (Those of us who lived in California during his two terms as governor had a total of 16 years of him.) His passing means the 1980s, and indeed the 20th century, are really over.

I personally saw Reagan in the flesh a single time. He was one of several speakers who addressed a crowd of several thousand in Ontario, California, in 1972. That’s another story I’ll leave for later. But in this six-degrees-of-separation world, I was surprised that I was surprised to see a familiar face sitting behind Nancy Reagan when the coffin was first brought to the Reagan library early in the week. I had nearly forgotten that I had gone to high school with a guy who married Reagan’s daughter Maureen. His oldest child (by his first wife, Jane Wyman), Maureen died of cancer three years ago at the age of 60. A well-liked political activist in her own right, she was that rarest of beasts: a feminist, pro-life Republican.

Just as Leopold Bloom wandered all over Dublin in a novel and I wandered all over Seattle in a dream, this column is wandering all over the map as well. But if you aren’t tired of following me around so far, I’ll take a few moments to remember Ray Charles. This is another famous person that I saw one single time. My brother brought me to see him perform at the Civic Auditorium in Bakersfield a million years ago. He was a unique talent and an artistic icon. A friend of ours, who was destined to die young, was addicted to his music, and repeatedly played the vinyl LP track “Born to Lose.” Ray Charles also had something of a movie career. He wrote songs for a couple of films, including 1999’s The Hurricane. He also contributed vocals to the soundtracks of films like In the Heat of the Night (the title song), Sleepless in Seattle, Eve’s Bayou and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. He had an on-screen role, along with virtually every soul singer in existence at the time, in 1980’s The Blues Brothers. And, in the single funniest bit in the 1996 espionage movie spoof Spy Hard, the blind Charles played a bus driver, in what has to be the ultimate sight gag.

Since I am already all over the map, I will close by updating a column from last February. At that time, there were optimistic signs that two of my favorite TV series of all time might be making a return in one form or another. A pilot of a new version of Dark Shadows was being made for the WB, and Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski was teasing his fans with intimations of a new B5 project that might possibly be a feature film. On the Dark Shadows front, the pilot was not picked up for the fall season, but there is some faint hope that it could show up on another network or maybe as a mid-season replacement. On the B5 front, things are more promising. JMS has still not spilled the beans, but at least he has resurfaced in online newsgroups. Presumably, contracts are still waiting to be finalized and signed, and just recently he implied that the character of Dr. Stephen Franklin, played by the late Richard Biggs, would have to be written around, causing one more delay in the whole process. He did provide one new piece of concrete information. The previously announced initials of the project, B5:TMoS, stand for Babylon 5: The Memory of Shadows. The very sound of those words is enough to get any B5 fan’s pulse racing.

And now my ramble is finished. Can I continue to keep up these increasingly disjointed weekly musings? Can I bear waiting for new Dark Shadows and/or Babylon 5 literature? Will I ever get to another film festival? Will I ever get back to Seattle? I close with the words that James Joyce (the writer, not the university chum) put in the mouth of his character, Molly Bloom, on the last page of Ulysses: Yes I said yes I will Yes.

-S.L., 17 June 2004

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