Acts of Kindness Part 2

24 11 2011

Back in 1998, when we were struggling to get Patrick to an autism program in Massachusetts that we hoped to be his best chances at recovery, kindness came from everywhere: Family, friends, strangers donated, held fundraisers, etc. to help us earn the money we needed (starting in July). On December 31, 1998, the day we left, we raised the final number we needed: $15,000. It was difficult for me to accept kindness like this, but I had to swallow my pride to first ask for the help, but learned to accept it with humbleness and gratitude. For many years, I had a web site on AOL (remember AOL Hometown?) where any one of the donors could go to keep up with their investment. After all, it was not only an act of love but an investment in the life of another.

PBFundraiser

My friend Jennifer's church allowed us to sell bear ornaments as a fundraiser.

During the course of having Patrick, my boss has done a tremendous number of things that I cannot name for reasons of confidentiality. Even though I don’t seem to be able to produce full-time work anymore, she allows me to stay hoping that one day I can get past my medical issues and produce at full-time or even part-time levels again. I do know that without the things she has done, our lives would be very different today.

Last year, I got another WOW moment to add to my top 10 kindnesses of all-time. I put out to the universe on Facebook that we had planned to go to the Adam Lambert concert but because every penny now was invested in that fabulous private school Patrick was going to, the results of which they had seen unfold right on Facebook, that if they heard of any contests to win tickets to please let me know. Instead, my friend Melissa went out and bought us not 3 tickets, but 4. She told us we had to take Patrick and gave us an extra seat to buffer ourselves from other people if necessary and a place to put his stuff. In the tickets, she also gave us spending money (for parking, presents, etc.) Melissa will tell you to this day she had never done anything like that and several times stopped and thought she was crazy for doing it. This kindness had “kindness” percussions. Going to the Adam concert led to know a certain person who would go on and help my son’s school during a fundraiser called Rock Autism, Joey Guerra, music critic for the Houston Chronicle.

Patrick's favorite: The laser lights.

The next big kindness came from an actor named JC Williams (@JustChillin21) who has been on many shows, but I came to know him because he was on Stargate Universe, a show I blogged about on Fox 26 Houston and a volunteer science-fiction-fan-run website. When the show was cancelled, there was a big sale of prop items in Vancouver, British Columbia. There are so many Stargate fans, many of whom tried to find people attending the sale so that these people could get them something. I thoroughly understand that level of passion, but I never wanted to place an undue burden on anyone living in Vancouver so that I could benefit from such a request. I feel that such a request would put in doubt the true nature of our relationships in some cases.

I don’t remember which Saturday it was, but I am hardly ever in my office and I am hardly ever on Twitter on the weekend. But this short time span I was. JC sent me a tweet asking if he could pick me up something and was asking our sizes. We communicated back and forth for a little while and in the end I told him I’d just be happy with a sticker or something; I’m not greedy. After the sale, he would tease me about sending me off a “box” of stuff. A box???? From personal experience, even mailing a small box from Canada to the United States is expensive. I felt excited yet unworthy once again. I am glad that it took several weeks to get here so I could shed the “unworthy” label and just be excited. It arrived on a Monday, July 11, 2011. My husband wanted to be there when I opened it, and I needed him to record the event. Since JC could not be here in person to see my reaction, capturing it on camcorder and putting in on YouTube seemed like a good idea. Meanwhile the day before I was bit by a spider and my arm started swelling and about the time I opened this, I was running a fever, but with the surge of adrenaline in my system, you can hardly tell I was even sick. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so my videos will say more:

I first open the box here (I’ve lost a lot of weight since then):   Click here for the video

I missed sharing about some items in the box:   Click here for the video

I tried on one of the gifts here:  Click here for the video

Also among the box, not put on video (because at that time of the video I wasn’t sure if he wanted to remain anonymous or not), were these pictures (don’t faint friends):

JCWilliams

J.C. Williams, actor, dreammaker

JC put a lot of thought and love into this box he was sending. He went out of his way to meet up with one other Stargate Universe actor, Herb Sommerfeld (picture below). He also tried to get one other’s picture and autograph for me, but was never able to catch up with that particular actor.

HerbSommerfeld

Herb Sommerfeld, actor, teacher

You can see JC’s great work on a recent episode of Sanctuary, “Resistance.” Click here.

Finally we close out this year with the overwhelming support I’m receiving for Patrick’s fundraiser for his autism school’s end-of-the-year annual campaign. Even though we are in a tough economy, people have been giving amounts from $5 on up. We met our first-placed $1000 goal. When we reached that, I upped the goal to $1100 and we’ve reached that. Now the goal stands at $1200. The fundraiser goes through Christmas Day. If you would like to see your money make a huge difference, knowing all the money stays at the school, most of it directly for the support of the kids there or creating programs so more kids on the waiting list can get help quicker, then this is a good place to give. Thank you to all those who were able to give, and thanks to those, too, who found themselves unable to give, but forwarded the message to others. Your acts of kindness astound me.  If you would like to help us raise money for this wonderful school for autism, please click here.

 

Patrick

My life teacher and inspiration, Patrick






Farewell Stargate

9 05 2011

Be forewarned, this is a very long blog post.

On Monday at 9:01 p.m. central daylight time, original Stargate programming will end.  Stargate, with Kurt Russell and James Spader, aired on October 28, 1994. On July 27, 1997, Stargate SG-1 premiered on Showtime where it ran for 5 seasons before moving to Sci-Fi Channel where it continued until 2007, having completed 214 shows and earning the title of longest running North American science fiction series on television. With each passing season, fans just could not get enough of the main cast: Richard Dean Anderson as Jack O’Neil (with varying command titles along the way); Amanda Tapping as Samantha Carter; Michael Shanks as Daniel Jackson; Christopher Judge as Teal’c. Don S. Davis (rest his soul) was cast as George Hammond. Corin Nemec was cast as Jonas Quinn after Michael Shanks left the show for a short period of time. Later, when Richard Dean Anderson needed to take some time-out for his family, Ben Browder (as Cameron Mitchell) and Claudia Black (as Vala) were extraordinary choices to add to the team.

Families would sit down and watch the show together. They would attend conventions together. They felt like the cast and crew were like extended family. The cast became role models for children.

With the huge success of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis was born in July 16, 2004, with SG-1, and SGA filling out a wonderful line-up that eventually added Battlestar Galactica for a power-packed Sci-Fi Friday line-up. It was ambitious to do two Stargate shows concurrently. Cast in season 1 were stars Joe Flanigan, David Hewlett, Rachel Luttrel, Rainbow Sun Francks, Torri Higginson, and Paul McGillion. As the show evolved we said goodbye to some cast members (Rainbow and Torri) and welcome others (Jason Momoa, Amanda Tapping, Jewel Staite and Robert Picardo).

The show had a slightly darker edge to it. Some fans loved it; others did not. In the background, ideas were being presented to make a third incarnation of the series. After 10 years of SG-1, fans did not understand the decision by the now Syfy Channel not to renew Stargate Atlantis after a mere 5 years. When the announcement about the third incarnation of Stargate, Stargate Universe (aka SGU) was greenlit for production, fandom split in a bitter divide. Some felt SGA was not renewed so that SGU could proceed even though the creators and writers and producers assured fandom this was not true.

I remember hearing about the loose premise of SGU on Gateworld. It was somewhere around 3 a.m. my time and I remember posting, “Oh great, Stargate Voyager.” Being an avid Stargate fan since the beginning, loving both the movie, SG-1 and SGA in different ways, my reservations were put at ease.

Through Joe Mallozzi’s blog, I discovered David Blue, who was to play Eli Wallace, was on Twitter. I had resisted Twitter (and Facebook) up until that time, but the idea that I may actually be able to follow along his journey as he went through the production process, and possibly even have a remote chance to ask a question or share my thoughts directly, was very appealing. In those early days, he did not have as many followers as he does now and I did get more responses from him back then. As he recruited more and more of the cast to join Twitter, my addiction to this show was sealed. Even some of the extras, Herb Sommerfeld, Bill Butt, and the actor known as J.C. Williams on Twitter were getting into the fun. Still lingering in my mind was: Oh God, what if I don’t like it.

I watched intently October 2, 2009 along with everyone else. It was a difficult first show to follow with all the cutting in and out, going back and forth between the present time on Destiny versus what transpired before Destiny. I worried about the shaky camera because I had a very difficult time watching Cloverfield. There was so much information being relayed in those first three episodes (Air I, II and III) that I had to go back and watch it several times. I could see right away I was going to enjoy Eli Wallace’s journey. I had never seen such a complex character as Robert Carlyle’s portrayal of Dr. Nicholas Rush in the Stargate franchise before and this excited me.

These first episodes were also not without controversy. Aside from the split in fandom about SGA and SGU, the sex scene in Air I between 2nd Lt. Vanessa James (Julia Benson) and Lt. Matthew Scott (Brian Jacob Smith) lit the internet on fire. Parents were upset that they did not get a prior warning that this was in there so as to be able to make an informed choice for their children about whether or not it would appropriate to watch; prior to this time, they argued that they never had to censor their children from the Stargate franchise. The scene was actually cut from the United Kingdom’s airing. There was a PG-14 stamp at the beginning with appropriate warnings of content, but like everyone else, I did not see this until I went back and watched a second time.

While SGA had turned a bit darker from the SG-1 universe, this was even darker. For some, they stopped watching because of it; for others, it was the shaky camera. But like every television series, first seasons are all about discovering the characters, establishing the story. People were feeling like SGU had gotten off to a slow start.

I loved the idea that this was a show more closely tied to reality. Everything was not delivered in a perfect package. We finally had imperfect heroes. It was a healthy reboot of the franchise.

This show also doubled its main cast. Joining Robert Carlyle, David Blue, Brian Jacob Smith, and Elyse Levesque were Louis Ferreira (as Colonel Everett Young), Alaina Huffman (as Lt. Tamara Johansen, aka TJ), Jamil Walker Smith (Master Sergeant Ronald Greer), Ming-Na (as Camile Wray). Many of the guest-stars did such an outstanding job that they were showcased regularly: Patrick Gilmore (Dr. Dale Volker), Peter Kelamis (as Dr. Adam Brody), Jennifer Spence (as Dr. Lisa Park), Julia Benson (2nd Lt. Vanessa James) and Lou Diamond Phillips as (Colonel David Telford). Later, Mike Dopud (as Varro) was added to the cast. The show had many notable guest stars who gave terrific performances.

It seemed that each episode was a new personal best not only for the actors/actresses, but for the writers and the production crew and the visual effects team. After the first 10 episodes of Season 2 aired and Season 2 had finished production in December of 2010, the Syfy Channel announced that it would not pick up this show for any more seasons. Fans had hoped perhaps we could get closure from a movie, but alas that was not to be. Fans are still holding out hope that a season 3 will take some other form, like in a comic or a book, or that one fan will win enough at Lotto to fund another full season.

I would like to thank everyone who ever touched Stargate to bring us magic over these last 17 years . You brought wonderful action and adventures, held my heartstrings in your hands, brought in enough comedy when things seemed too dark, made me gasp in awe of the special effects and set designs. The Stargate wormhole was the glue that held many people together, both on-set and off. The fans who have been here will still be here to follow your careers as you set off to blaze more trails wherever you go. The friendships we have created are because of you and will continue because of the love we have for these shows. Maybe somewhere down the road, someone will pick up Stargate the original movie and do a remake of it; I can already hear the crack in fandom. The cycle begins again.  For now, I will need to leave what happens to the Destiny’s crew up to my imagination. 

T H A N K   Y O U  F O R  T H E  M A G I C !!!!!!!!!!!!