For Real

Have you ever had a conversation with someone that made you question reality? Sometimes two people can draw such different conclusions from a situation that it makes you wonder if you come from the same planet. I had one of those recently.

A friend said, “You just called me an (xyz).”

I replied, “What are you talking about? That word never came out of my mouth. What I said was (abc).”

My friend repeated his assertion. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. Especially since we were communicating via text.

So I said, “Dude, scroll up. Where are you seeing (xyz)? Where? Show me.”

Long pause.

Then he said, “I just talked to (mutual friend E) and she agrees with me. I’m not an (xyz).”

Me: “Wait a minute! Where is this coming from? What are you talking about? I never said you were!”

Him: “It really hurts my feelings that you disrespect me so much that you think I’m an (xyz).”

At this point, my feelings were kind of hurt that he would think I was the type of person to say such a thing. So I said, “On my life, I never said that! I don’t know where this is coming from. If I struck some sort of a nerve somehow, I’m sorry. But I’m not responsible for the nerve being there in the first place. You’re pulling facts out of thin air, so I really think we should leave it at that.”

God, how I hate being misunderstood. Even worse, I hate trying to explain something that seems perfectly obvious to me, only to discover that the other person just doesn’t get it. “But… the sky isn’t lime green with purple polka dots! Look at it! Look!”

I would probably be easily sucked into a cult. Because eventually I’d just give up and I’d really want to believe the sky was purple and green, too. Anything to make the world make sense again. After a while, I might actually see a tinge of green. And maybe a spot or two.

Or not. Who knows?

green and purple

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Robby the Robot

Lately, I’ve been binge watching the original Twilight Zone on Hulu. That will be the subject of another post, because I’ve learned much from it. But today I want to focus on one character: Robby the Robot.

Robby actually appears, in one form or another, in 4 Twilight Zone episodes. What a blast from the past. Robby has a special place in my heart.

He first was created in 1956 for the movie Forbidden Planet. I loved that movie as a child. It excited me to think that there could be other worlds and other ways of living. And Robby was this benevolent protector, which was something I was sorely lacking in my life. And he had a wry sense of humor, which is a quality that I have always appreciated.

As I’ve matured, my relationship with Forbidden Planet, first forged in midnight movies during summer vacations, has evolved. Now I realize it is a vehicle for the “born sexy yesterday” trope that I’ve blogged about before. Indeed, the promotional posters for the movie show a menacing looking Robbie carrying a scantily clad woman, something he never actually does in the film. Nevertheless, I keep coming back to see it, mainly because of Robby.

Forbiddenplanetposter

Robby was quite an investment for MGM. He apparently cost $125,000 to make, which is the equivalent of around 1.1 million today. But they certainly got their money’s worth out of him. I would venture to say that Robby is the busiest robot in Hollywood history.

This robot has popped up in unexpected places throughout my life. Not only does he make several appearances in the Twilight Zone, but he’s also starred in The Addams Family, Mork & Mindy, The Love Boat, Gremlins, Earth Girls Are Easy, The Simpsons, The Big Bang Theory, and has even been in commercials for Charmin and AT&T. He has dozens of other credits as well. That’s an impressive resume for any actor, but even more so for one made of plexiglas and rubber.

As with any typecast celebrity, Robby is often misunderstood. Just as William Shatner is remembered for saying “Beam me up, Scotty,” when he never actually said that on Star Trek, ever, people often think that Robby said, “Danger, Will Robinson!” in Lost in Space, when in fact, he never did. He did appear in Lost in Space twice (and as two different characters, believe it or not). But the “Danger, Will Robinson!” line belongs to another robot, the B-9 Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot, known as “Robot” for short. I’m sure that both robots will be relieved to know that I’ve set that record straight.

Robby
Robby and B-9

A sad footnote is that after Robby “retired”, he was housed in the now defunct Movie World / Cars of the Stars Museum in California, where he was often vandalized and allowed to fall into disrepair. That would have been an undignified end to such a stellar career! Fortunately, he was rescued by horror filmmaker William Malone, who restored him to his former glory. Robby resided in his Forbidden Planet collection, and Mr. Malone had coffee with him every morning for 37 years.

Robby was sold to an anonymous buyer at auction this past November, along with his equally iconic vehicle, for $5,375,000.00 which means that he can add “most valuable movie prop ever sold” to his credits.

I wish I knew where you were, Robby, but Godspeed! Thank you for being such a big part of my life!

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What’s Your Motivation?

The other day I watched an old Twilight Zone episode that never fails to make me cry. It’s called “Time Enough at Last” and (spoiler alert!) It’s about a Walter Mitty type guy who works at a bank, but his true love is reading. Every day at lunch hour he sneaks down into the vault and reads. At home his shrew of a wife berates him for reading. One day, he’s on his lunch break in the vault, and the world is completely destroyed by an H bomb. He of course, survives as he’s in the vault. He crawls out, surveys the wreckage, discovers he’s all alone, despairs, for a while, then finds a library and realizes that he’ll be able to cope after all, because he’ll be able to read. He settles in, as if for a long winter’s nap, and at that moment his coke bottle glasses fall off his face and shatter. And that’s when he realizes he’ll never be able to read again. That’s when I cry.

Time-Enough-At-Last-the-twilight-zone-1065508_275_203

I used to think I was crying because I love to read, too, and can’t imagine a life without books. While that still holds true, I now know that the reason for my tears is something deeper. We all have a reason for being. For him, it was reading. For you it might be discovering a new type of orchid or making the perfect wedding cake. It’s different for all of us, and no reason is superior to any other. But I believe that until you know what your reason for being is, you can’t truly live a full life. Without your purpose, you have no motivation.

My reason for being is travel. It has to do with this family trait called “Enthusiosity” that I’ve blogged about previously. I was born to find out what’s beyond the next horizon. I want to know how people in different cultures live their daily lives. When I travel, I am truly alive. I’ve been to 18 countries so far, and have explored a great deal of my own. Circumstances have made it impossible for me to travel in the past 4 years, and that’s my own private version of hell on earth. I can only hope things will improve in the future. But at least I know my purpose. That’s a starting point.

You have to have a starting point to run the race of life. Ready. Set. Go!