May, 2002, LOS ANGELES - T. S. Eliot said, "April is the cruelest month." He meant it in the tragi-poetic sense of spring, the beginning of life, being the beginning of the suffering and sorrows that is an inescapable component of existence. The ultimate cruelty of life is death. In recent weeks I have lost two people - Nobu McCarthy and Fred Okrand -- who played important roles in my life.
Nobu McCarthy was a lovely actress and a good friend. She played opposite me in my very first paying TV engagement, a role in the famed live television program "Playhouse 90" in 1958. I played a defeated Japanese soldier who returns to war-ravaged Japan only to discover that his betrothed, the character played by Nobu, had fallen in love with a GI with the American occupation forces, played by Dean Stockwell.
Nobu herself had only recently arrived from Japan as the bride of an American GI whom she had met and married in Tokyo. Her television role closely paralleled her own life. But she was untrained as an actress and halting in her command of English. Rehearsals were an arduous struggle for her. At first, Nobu's stunning beauty was what struck me. But as I got to know her better during rehearsals, I was impressed by her grit and will to grow as an actress. She worked with determination from first reading to dress rehearsals, and, by air-date, she was nervous but ready. Nervousness just made her that much sharper. She turned in a beautiful performance.
A few months later, we were again cast together, this time as lovers in an episode of "Perry Mason." She was wonderful. With diligence and determination, she continued her study, and, ultimately, transformed herself into a fine actress. And we became good friends. We saw each other often socially. But we didn't work with each other again until the early 90's when we did Philip Kan Gotanda's play "The Wash" in New York and Los Angeles. Again, we played lovers - but now as senior citizens. Nobu played a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage; I played a lonely widower. What a joy it was playing her lover in the autumn of the character's lives. It was bliss just being on stage with Nobu. She was now a consummate artist, as well she should be. She had a collection of distinguished achievements both on stage and on film. She had been much lauded for her moving performance in the television drama on the internment of Japanese Americans, "Farewell to Manzanar."
Nobu had added another dimension to her career as well. She had become a teacher and a cultural leader. She taught drama at California State University at Los Angeles and at my alma mater, UCLA. When the East West Players, America's oldest Asian American theater, was in turmoil in the early 90's, Nobu stepped in as Artistic Director and brought it stability and balance. Thanks to her efforts, East West Players today is a solidly established and respected theater company in Los Angeles. Nobu was playing a leadership role in the cultural life of the community.
I last saw Nobu two months ago at a press conference called by the lieutenant governor of California to announce the funding of a program to make video copies of her television film "Farewell to Manzanar" available to schools in California for educational purposes. Nobu was glowing with happiness. This program combined the two passions of her life, one as an artist and the other as an educator. It was wonderful to see her in such good high spirits.
Shortly after that press conference, Nobu flew to Brazil to work on a film on location. The next time I heard of Nobu was a phone call notifying me of her passing in Brazil.
* * * *
The other immeasurable loss is Fred Okrand. He was an attorney and an extraordinary fighter for justice who also had a unique Star Trek connection. His son, Marc, is the creator of the Klingon language.
I didn't meet Fred Okrand personally until Marc and I became friends during the filming of Star Trek III, The Search for Spock. But I knew of Fred Okrand since childhood. My father had talked of the attorneys who stood against the wind and challenged the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Fred was one of the few. He had been a principled, courageous, and lonely voice during that time of war hysteria. A lifelong advocate of civil liberties, he later became the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union. Honored frequently for his work, Fred is the holder of the Justice Award of the Japanese American Citizens League and was named Lawyer of the Year by the Constitutional Rights Foundation. The ACLU also presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Through Marc I got to know Fred, not only as an iconic fighter for justice, but as a whimsically rugged individualist as well. His most striking idiosyncrasy was in his clothes. He wore checkered trousers with wildly contrasting sport shirts or pale pastel pants with colorful Hawaiian shirts. He was clad in his office as if he were on a golf course. And he literally whistled while he worked. With his round, smiling eyes beaming out from behind large, round spectacles, Fred exuded an irresistibly elfin charm. Facially, Marc is the youthful spitting image of his father, but in attire, Marc is much more restrained. In contrast to his father, Marc is downright drab. When at work, however, Fred was a single-minded workaholic. He preached, practiced, and wore on his body the freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Throughout his illness, Fred never stopped working. At the time of his passing, he was co-counsel on another extraordinary class action lawsuit that went back to the unfinished business of World War II internment camps. Mochizuki versus U.S. is on behalf of over two thousand Japanese Latin Americans who were uprooted from their homes in Latin America and forcibly brought to and imprisoned in American internment camps during World War II. Japanese Americans had received apologies and redress from the U.S. government in 1988 but Japanese Latin Americans had not been included. Fred was continuing their battle for justice at the time of his death. Most fittingly, his memorial service was held in the stately Aratani Central Hall of the Japanese American National Museum. Fred Okrand's legacy is as strong and as magnificent a pillar of the U.S. Constitution as those elegant white marble columns at the entrance of the United States Supreme Court.
I will miss deeply the two wonderful people who passed away in recent weeks. But their legacies will always be with us to remind us of their magnificent work during the time they shared with us. Two beloved lives well lived, productively lived and importantly lived. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
Any engaged couple looks forward to the big day when after months of planning, they get to tie the knot and declare their love in front of family and friends.
What could possibly go wrong?
It turns out there are so many variables that can contribute to making the bride and groom's celebration a major matrimonial miss.
Curious to hear examples of weddings gone wrong, Redditor lolf**kno asked:
"Those who have been to a ruined wedding, what happened?"
Dramatic brawls and speeches plagued these weddings.
Catty Attendees And Booze
"Very beautiful wedding in a huge barn at this apple orchard. They must have spent a ton of money on the decorations and catering because it looked like something out of a magazine. The ceremony was great, the flower girl did her thing, the vows got everyone choked up. Everything seemed to be going well. Not even 15 minutes into the reception the mothers of the bride and groom getting into a full out brawl, hair pulling, red wine being thrown. Their sons jump in to defend their honor, chairs start being throw, tables are flipped, parents are grabbing children and running for their lives."
"The bride and groom are horrified and leave immediately and head back their honeymoon suite. My fiancé and I left after this as well but we heard from some other friends that most people ended up staying and getting wasted at the open bar on the bride and groom's dime. Apparently, the fight started because one of the groom's sister complimented the bride's grandmother's dress. The bride's mom thought she was being sarcastic and called her a b*tch, then the drama ensued. Mind you they had all been pregaming the wedding pretty hard."
Playing For The Drunk Uncle
"I played a wedding where as we started playing the set, everyone ran outside and nobody was to be seen for the rest of the night."
"I originally assumed it was because nobody liked us but the bride came in afterwards and said there was a huge fight involving multiple members of both families and everyone basically went home upset, injured or in a police van."
"We couldn't stop playing since we were payed and it was our job, and the only person watching was the drunk uncle dancing on his own asking for requests we didn't know."
Maid Of Honor Speech Goes Off The Rails
"Was a guest of friend of the bride, did not know anyone attending. Very expensive over the top place, several hundred guests of this very Italian wedding. Maid of honor grabs mic at the cocktail hour begins her speech, rambling, drunk. Quickly devolves to stating the recently deceased mother of the bride was against this wedding and that's basically what killed her. Plus Vinny will never give up sex workers. She is tackled by several people and dragged away."
"The happy couple is separated and divorced within a year."
This is what happens when bad luck crashes weddings.
Tumbling Into The Sunset
"I work at a golf course with a lot of history behind it. We do wedding venues inside the clubhouse and the actual ceremony is held outside by the historic water fountain and large pond."
"First problem was the weather. I live in the high desert and it was very warm. A solid 90 degrees that day and it was also pretty windy. So everyone's outside, no umbrellas, no ezups."
"The next problem, and probably the worst, was the golf cart incident. The bride and groom wanted to 'ride into the sunset' on one of our golf carts. Drive around a little bit on the golf course. To be fair, it is beautiful on the course during sunset. However the cart had somehow gotten a nail in the tire, tire went flat, battery on the cart went crazy and the cart ended up freaking out. It came to an complete stop from 15mph to zero. The wheels and mechanisms locked up, almost seizing. Both the bride and groom (fairly overweight mind you) both fell out and rolled over a few times. They were totally okay, just a few bruises and perhaps a bruised ego or two. So retrieving that cart was fun."
"And last but not least, the power inside the clubhouse went out to do the high winds. There was no after party available. Only the cake was cut, hardly any food was given out. Yeah, not a great day to cover for someone on your day off."
"I was not born yet, but my parents rented the observation deck on the Hancock building in Boston for their reception. Tallest building in the city, beautiful view. My dad pored over historic weather charts to figure out what day was statistically most likely to be nice out. Day of the wedding comes and of course, thick fog unlike anything they'd ever seen before. Couldn't see a thing out the windows of the room they had picked specifically for the view."
"Worked out well though, they were happily married for nearly 30 years before cancer took my dad's life a few years ago."
"There's one other funny anecdote from that wedding: The wedding was held in Kings Chapel, which is an incredibly historic church here in downtown Boston that's somewhat of a major tourist attraction. To close that on a weekend afternoon for a wedding, it turns out, was not very expensive. The tourists waiting outside to see the church didn't know that, though, and someone started the rumor that my parents were incredibly wealthy, maybe even Kennedys. As a result, there were tons of people taking photos of them when they left the ceremony. Not sure if any of them ever figured out that my parents were most certainly not rich or famous."
"I was best man at my sister in laws wedding (stepped in for the brother of the groom, that's another story entirely)."
"For a whole year of planning all the bride (SIL) wanted was a dove release while they said handwritten vows to each other. Very small, non denominational (most of the family are atheist anyway) wedding."
"Day arrives (early summer) and something is off with the bird handlers. They show up a bit late and are sourcing help from the wedding party to get everything in line. When the time comes to say their vows I help the handler carry the chest with the doves in it over to what is to be the altar where the bride and groom are standing."
"Vows are just about wrapping up and the handler gives ME the signal to open the chest. I open it and see 20-30 DEAD DOVES IN THE CRATE!!!! I immediately close it to try and limit who knows what happened. Too late. The look of horror on the bride's was all that was needed. We spent the next few hours trying to cheer everyone up but by the end of the reception the entire wedding party had organized and filed animal cruelty complaints on the handler. It was all anyone could focus on."
Tragic losses unfortunately befell leading up to or at a couple's nuptials.
The Wedding Guest Who Left Too Soon
"When I was 6 or 7 I went to a cousin's wedding. Everything was fabulous for little me, so much sugar everywhere, basically heaven. The reception was in a big community center that was reserved for the occasion. Went to the girls' bathroom, passing by the men's room to see my uncle on the floor. Went back to the main room to tell my dad my uncle was looking weird. Well, uncle had a stroke and had died."
"The bride spent the rest of the afternoon crying, and everyone except close family left."
"Bright side is the mariage is still going strong 20 years later, despite what happened that day."
A Terminal Diagnosis
"Leading up to my friends wedding his father had been battling cancer after a terminal diagnosis. And it was touch and go whether he would be well enough to attend the wedding, in the end he was too unwell to attend despite wishing that he could."
"Just as we got to the wedding reception my friend was informed that his father had just passed away. It was devastating."
"Happened to my classmate. He is successful middle level manager, divorced, about 35yo or so. Found a girl of his dreams but from a provincial poor town. The girl insisted to have the wedding in her town to show off her 'success.' The wedding is crashed by her old friends including male friends who are not that sophisticated and have some tense feelings towards the successful groom from the city. Somebody starts a fight in the middle of wedding, groom is trying to stop it and got stabbed in the back. Died right there. And he was my classmate."
An Unfortunate Trespassing
"The wedding was at a state park that's famous for its giant gorge/waterfall. I don't know whose idea this was, but someone suggested a photo overlooking this gorge and everybody was game. The wedding party went around a stone security barrier and the maid of honor literally fell off the cliff to her death. It was like 500+ feet."
With a lot riding on a wedding to go off without a hitch, the mounting pressure is one where something is surely to buckle.
And because wedding guests are usually inebriated and high on the buzz of celebration, they throw caution to the wind and make some choices they wouldn't make under normal circumstances.
People's ill-advised actions can have regretful consequences, but no one expects death to be an outcome.
Fortunately, the weddings I've attended or heard about from friends were not as catastrophic as the anecdotes mentioned above.
While the Redditors' stories are sorrowful, it gives me a sense of relief these devastating examples are rare occurrences.
Sometimes I think back to a teacher I had when I was a kid who demanded to know whether any of us were "raised in a barn" in response to crappy behavior. Namely littering. She hated littering. Can you blame her? It's a horrible habit and some people do it with no sense of shame. She dedicated much of her time to telling students to pick up after themselves and dispose of things properly. For that, I'm thankful.
But why didn't anyone else get the memo? The trash I see on the streets is obscene.
People had lots of thoughts to share after Redditor SneakyStriedker876 asked the online community,
"What seemingly uncivilized thing is commonplace in society?"
"We delight in the deaths of others as long as we feel it was justified. But when the reverse happens we act all high and mighty like we wouldn't engage in the same behavior."
"Slaughtering each other..."
"Slaughtering each other via warfare to solve political differences. It's standard policy worldwide."
Indeed it is. And it seems impossible to stop.
"Littering. Especially dropping cigarette butts on the ground/flicking them out the window.
The world is not your personal ashtray/garbage bin."
Every now and then I find new trash in my yard and I am constantly amazed by how nasty people can be.
"Mobbing someone because of their opinion or for a comment they made a long time ago, even if that time was yesterday."
"Xenophobia. The fact that racism and racial violence still exist is an indicator that we're still tribal primates in fancy clothes."
And it makes no sense! It's not based in reality. We are truly a tribal species.
"Shouting while arguing, refusing to listen to the opinions of others, basically the inability to debate and maintain proper communication."
"Letting people die..."
"Letting people die of curable conditions simply because they can't afford healthcare."
Probably the biggest reason why much of the Western world looks at the United States with shame in their eyes.
"Parents forcing their kids to hug family/friends despite the kid being uncomfortable doing it. They feel uncomfortable for a reason."
"During the holiday season..."
"During the holiday season, customers take products off of our online fulfillment carts. Y'all have legs. Get your own."
"Using phone speakers..."
"Using phone speakers in public. I don't care what you and your friend think about that restaurant, or how much that Spotify jam speaks to you. Nobody else wants to hear it."
We truly need to stop all of these, don't you think?
Have some opinions of your own? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
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I love presents. I try to hide my enthusiasm, and I do my best to appease the greater public by saying "it's the thought that counts." But that is a WHOLE lie. I don't just love gifts, I love great gifts. And if you go rogue from my lists, please keep a receipt. It's just plain rude to divert from what the recipient has requested.
This thought process has emerged from experience. I have received some trash presents over the years and now I'm too old to pretend you just went crazy while shopping. Like... "do you even know me?!"
Redditor u/sulemannkhann wanted to hear all about the presents some of us have received that we prayed, came with a receipt, by asking:
What's the worst birthday gift you ever got?
Have we met? That is an actual question I asked a gift giver once. (Who shall rename nameless) Football tickets. FOOTBALL TICKETS?! Who? What? I can't.
Looks FamiliarBroad City Wow GIF by Comedy CentralGiphy
"My own scarf. Yes, that's right, my mother went into my room took my only scarf, wrapped it and gave it to me like it was a new scarf."
"Thought I was getting a bike for my 15th birthday but my foster parents announced that they were sending me to a group home after living with them for 11 years. Devastation! That place was a wake up call. More independence then at my foster home but those kids had it really really bad, 12 year old heroine addicts, abuse... what the entire hell! I hurried up, graduated from high school at 16 and got the hell out of that place. I turned out ok, work in the legal field, live in Las Vegas. I did forgive my foster parents before they died."
The Forgotten One
"My brother and I worked for a farmer one summer, and he paid us with a used car. At the end of the next year, my brother graduated high school, so my parents paid me out for my half of the car, and that was his graduation gift. I gave them all a big discount compared to what it was worth. So like $500 for my share of a $2500 car."
"2 years later, and I needed $50 for some graduation fees, so I borrowed it from my mom until I could get to the bank. (Before mobile banking and ATMs everywhere.) Later, when my mom is telling me they invited all their friends over for a 'graduation' party, I asked if they had gotten a gift for me. "Well I gave you fifty bucks."
"I paid it back the next day, and she didn't blink. The 'graduation party' was just my parents friends, who said congratulations to me, but it wasn't really for me. A few years later, my little sister graduated, she got a car. They bought a used car for her, and our other little sister got the same when she graduated. My parents are mostly nice, and I never felt like they singled me out at birthdays or anything. Just my graduation seemed like I turned invisible."
Office Party Fail
"HR complaint from two subordinates fighting over how to throw me a surprise birthday party."
"I've never worked in an office environment, but the stories I've heard of people being required to buy a cake for the whole office and to celebrate their birthday with their coworkers would be enough to keep me in blue collar work for life, were it not for the fact that I love being active and working with my hands and could never sit at a desk all day anyway."
Basicslaw school finals GIFGiphy
"My Asian mom's gift was "no extra Kumon homework after school homework" so my birthday gift was that I didn't get extra homework from her."
Regifting is trash behavior. Do better. I'd rather you just say I forgot. Or... I just don't care for that much. But regifting? No.
"Stomach flu and my first ever period, at the same time. I think it was my 13th birthday."
"Omg, exact same story for me. It was my 13th birthday and my family took us kids to visit our relatives in Subsaharan Africa for the first time. I was sick, jetlagged, overheated and riding down a bumpy road in a Jeep driven by my dad in the complete darkness. We had just eaten at a restaurant where I found a giant scarab beetle in the bottom of my soup bowl. I have flashbacks to this day."
"My grandparents have been gifting me (and my brother) the same set of three vice grips for almost 10 years. Collectively we have 60 vice grips. I don't know if they bought a pallet of them, or where they are coming from. GET A GRIP GRANDMA!"
"I had a friend who's father was famous for doing Christmas shopping at the last minute. One year she complained that she went downstairs on Christmas morning and found, sticking out of her stocking, a spatula. Her birthday was a few days after telling that story, so myself and her friends all decided to get together and get her spatulas for her birthday, as a gag gift."
"Well, when it was our birthdays she retaliated. Which lead to a counter-offensive. And soon a new tradition was formed. And guys, I have so many spatulas now. Everything from dollar store cheap plastic, to hand-carved spatulas, a golden spatula, and even a replica of the famous Malaysian fighting spatula."
"I've got seasonal spatulas. As in, today it's time to pack away the Christmas spatulas and bring out the heart-shaped Valentine's day ones, followed by the bunny-shaped Easter ones. We've also been passing around this clip from the Weird Al Yankovic movie UHF. "Spatula City, we sell spatulas, and that's all!"
Their ultimate whack-a-doo move...
"A pair of homemade custom pajamas. Only problem was that they weren't made yet. It was just the fabric and a promise to make them for me. I had to give the fabric back and I never got the pajamas."
"Nothing legal just at our wedding they gave us a card that basically said 'have some land.' When the dust settled I asked what they thought we would do with it, they said build a home. I said ok, gonna need legal ownership for like building a house. They said sure we will get right on that. Then they decide to sell out and retire and never mentioned our wedding 'gift' again."
Gross...Disgusted Steve Carell GIFGiphy
"My grandma got me a hairbrush with a plastic horse head handle. The horse head was all chipped up and there was hair in the brush."
"My Godfather sent me a Birthday card each year which said, he paid 100 bucks to a bank account which I was supposed to get, when 16yo. He then got into alcohol, used all the money and died."
Oh for God sake, why even bother giving anything at all? Lint rollers, used brushes, homemade pjs... y'all ever hear of a gift card? Just put five bucks on it and call it a day. You can't hide cheap, so stop trying.
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I'm still on the fence about this whole extraterrestrial situation. I need more proof. Now I'm not naive enough to think that in this vast, endless universe only the human race exists. I just need proof, tangible, solid, didn't see it from my trailer through beer goggles proof.
I also need proof about the afterlife, another out there topic. Truth be told, I've never been that into this whole conversation. I've got enough daily problems on this planet, let alone worrying about making Will Smith's biggest hits into documentaries and not just popcorn/comedy space farce.
But let's compare thoughts...
Redditor u/ValencikHannibal197 wanted to discuss life beyond this planet, what do we really think? They asked:
What's the best theory on UFOs or aliens you've ever heard??
I definitely wouldn't turn down an excursion to AREA 51. I'd like to poke around and get a sense of the place. I've never personally been up close and face to face with a "non-Earther." Not sure I'd like to be...
TV Truthx files monkey pee GIF by The X-FilesGiphy
"UFOs/Aliens are a cover for all of the secret projects that the government is working on. Actually stole that from the X files."
"How human birth parallels alien abductions:
- Babies are taken from their home (womb)
- They still developing sight, so they see bright lights and grey figures.
- They hear an "alien" language they don't understand.
- They suddenly feel cold after leaving their womb.
- They are in a surgery room being poked with tons of instruments.
Long story short: some people suggest that abductions are just people who had memories of their birth."
In the Mind
"I just don't think anyone will ever see this. But I think that UFO's are the projection of our unconscious collective mind. Everything that exists in reality, also exists, in our immaterial mind. Is it possible that the insides of our mind are also just one drop in the ocean of consciousness... and together we create the material reality were in, simply by experiencing it in a real way, inside-out through our senses."
"My father was an aircraft mechanic and fabricator for test and spy aircraft for the USAF. He spent 75-85 working with test aircraft. He said that when they were going to do a test, that could possibly be seen by the public, they would make a betting pool on how many UFO reports local authorities and flight towers received."
Under the Seasci-fi ufo GIFGiphy
"I like the idea that some UFOs aren't machines. Instead they are some sort of Upper-Atmosphere Jellyfish. I found the issue of Fortean Times that had this article. Here's the cover: http://ft.gjovaag.com/q/images/a/ae/FT291.jpg"
Interesting. There are some ideas we can look into. None of it proof, but possibilities. There are certainly plenty of future film ideas.
"We are like that un contacted tribe and everyone agrees not to bother us."
"I've heard it explained from a channel (idk if you know what channeling is) kinda like this. First of all, we as a species tend to freak out, shoot first and ask questions later. Most humans would have a literal psychotic break. You have to believe in vibrational energy as it relates to our consciousness."
"The aliens (certain ones) are at such a higher level that it would be jarring for us to come in close contact with. We are slowly getting there but it's a process. Like 2012, end of the Mayan calendar, wasn't the end of the world it was the end of an energy cycle that we as the human race had never made it past before."
"Previous civilizations have been destroyed or destroyed themselves before they got this far. We passed a point where we are very unlike to destroy ourselves anymore. This doesn't mean we won't see some real bad hardships yet but we will keep progressing."
"train your eyes"Dancing GIFGiphy
"I was a firm believer in t em when I was in high school and kept googling theories and info in my spare time and during my study halls. They said their bodies were so lightweight or something that the reason why you can't see the evidence is that they disintegrate before hitting the ground."
"And then LOL it was so funny, some people would swear you could "train your eyes" to see rods... HhhahAHAHAHA. Like there were these experts. Video showed him walking around with a serious face, then pointing. And he's like, "that was one just there." "You can't see them, you have to be used to them... like me."
"I've spent many years immersed into hunting them finding them. That's why I can see them." And then one day China, who loves occult stuff, had like a lab that set up a nighttime camera to capture footage of rods at night... then realized they were normal bugs at overexposure. lol"
"The Dark Forest theory. Basically the theory that the reason we haven't made contact is because all the other civilized life in the universe/galaxy knows not to broadcast their location. They've learned that there's something awful or predatory lurking in the dark forest of our galaxy, and that it's better if they keep to themselves."
"That the universe is so vast that we haven't been discovered yet."
"This makes sense to me because traversing the distance to or from even our our stellar neighbors would require technology that is not known to us now or likely to be known by us anytime soon if it's even possible at all. To assume without evidence that aliens could possess this technology and have visited us does not meet my skeptical standards."
Back and Forthback to the future great scott GIFGiphy
"Time travel exists, and UFO sightings are actually future humans coming back to our time. That is why they are so discreet, and never openly make contact."
I hope time travel exists. Now that I'm onboard for. If aliens do exist... just come on out guys. We could probably use your help.
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