Friday, December 27, 2013

Star Trek: This Side of Paradise: Leila and the Tragic Spock

    One of my favorite Star Trek episodes was this Side of Paradise, which aired in Season 1, and perhaps more than any other defined Spock's character.   I started thinking about this episode after watching the new internet series Star Trek Continues.   How challenging it must be to play characters that others took to very high levels, especially the character of Spock.  

    In this episode, the Enterprise encounter an earth colony that had become infected with an alien spore, which made them physically healthy but which made them lose their desire to serve the Federation.

    Most importantly, Mr. Spock is re-introduced to Leila Kalomi, the only woman he ever loved.  They had first met at the Academy.  Mr Spock's stoic, emotionless demeanor prevented him from ever declaring his love for her.  Yet Leila apparently could see through Spock's outer shell and recognize beautiful inner qualities that no one else could see.  After all, Spock is one of the most truly noble and good characters in the universe. Leila continued to be in love with him, even after joining the Omicron Ceti III Colony led by Elias Sandoval.   

Because of the effect of the spores, Spock's emotional defenses are removed and he realizes for the first time how deeply in love he is with Leila.  

    Leonard Nimoy is brilliant as Spock.  It should be recalled that Spock's character was not formed instantaneously with the first show.  Rather there were a huge number of acting decisions that needed to be made.  What was Star Trek, anyway? Was it a kid's show?   Was the pointy eared alien character going to be a sideshow freak, or what?  

In the Star Trek pilot,  Spock was more like other members of the crew, displaying emotions.  He is shown here amusing himself with musical alien flora.   

     Ironically, Nimoy himself famously despaired of the ridiculousness of Spock, and only decades later realized that his legacy will be as one of the greatest actors in history.  Far from a mere children's fantasy, I believe that Star Trek will be regarded by future generations as a prophetic vision of the progression of the human spirit.

     I am quite sure that if we manage to avoid blowing our selves up, one day humans will leave the galaxy, and those colonist astronauts  will all have seen Star Trek. They may not recall their Shakespeare, but they will be intimately familiar with their Roddenberry.  

     Nimoy's sensitive portrayal reveals Spock's inner self, and how his life has been spent denying himself the ability to feel human emotions.  As he attempted to explain to Leila, "If there are self-made purgatories, then we all have to live in them. Mine can be no worse than someone else's."

To me Spock's repressed feelings are almost a metaphor for adolescence.   Perhaps for that reason we find it easy to identify with Spock and his terrible aloneness.

Nimoy's show of emotion was almost shocking to those of us who had become accustomed to Spock as an emotionless alien up to that point in the show. Yet when Kirk is able to return Spock to "normal," we can see that Spock is not totally comfortable with the result.  Part of him longs to return to state of being afflicted with the spores. But his friend Kirk seems oblivious to Spock's pain, concentrating only on the immediate task at hand. 

     Leila was played by Jill Ireland who tragically passed away years before her time due to cancer. Her performance was brilliant, playing a character that defied, um, logic, almost to the same extent as Nimoy's Spock. Consider a beautiful young PhD falling in love with an emotionless alien, and managing to live without male companionship for years until meeting the same alien again halfway across the galaxy.  The odds against this are so high that they could only be overcome by television scriptwriters.   

Moreover, in the script Leila was supposed to have been Hawaiian, whereas Jill was a fair skinned blonde with an English accent.   Nevertheless, she turned out to be perfect for the role. 

Jill Ireland was totally convincing in professing (Leila's) love for Spock, despite the fact that Spock was utterly incapable of returning it. Likewise we feel her pain when she realizes ultimately that she has lost Spock again.  We can completely understand Spock's love for the intelligent, scientifically oriented yet very sensitive woman who supplies the emotion that Spock desperately lacks.  

     I'm glad that they didn't make Leila too overtly sexy, like many of the half naked women that populate the Star Trek universe.  In this case, Jill's portrayal of a highly intellectual and sensitive young woman was perfect as the lost love of Mr. Spock. 

     At the end of the show, Spock admits that the entire experience at Omicron Ceti III was quite unsettling and yet memorable.  "I have little to say about it, Captain, except that for the first time in my life...I was happy."

     We are left to ponder how that must have felt. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

In Defense of Biblical Barbarism

        Many American Christians are perplexed that God seems to act in a very unenlightened way in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament.  Why, this backward God seems to be against 21st Century American morals concerning homosexuality!  And what is to be made of the Israelites receiving Divine permission to invade Canann and to kill all the Canaanites?

     Some assume that since God is good, it must indeed be a good thing to exterminate Canaanites, pull out the hair of non-Jewish women and persecute homosexuals.  Others assume that since these actions appear evil, and God is not capable of evil, then the Bible must be wrong.  

     However, the Village believes that neither interpretative method (or hermaneutic, if you prefer) is at all on the right track.   Not at all.

        Let us ask what the Bible is.  Bible is Greek for "book"  and the "Testament" is literally the testimony of those who have gone before us.  Thus the Bible testifies to what happened.  It does not claim to be some kind of rule book, nor can one assume that the ancient Israelites are to be held up as some sort of shining example for the rest of us to follow.  After all, the Bible and especially the Old Testament was created when the world was still barbaric and scarcely civilized at all.  To put it bluntly, if the ancient Israelites jumped in a lake, does that mean that modern Christians  have a moral duty to jump in a lake too?  Obviously not!

     In fact, we are supposed to learn from some of the events and especially the mistakes that are recorded in the Bible, rather than repeat them over and over and over.   

    The needs of an ancient barbaric people may very well differ from the needs of 21st Century America.  In an ancient barbaric society it was vitally important to win wars and even to annihilate the opposition if possible.  This requires a growing population.  With the average life expectancy of about forty, it was vitally important for girls to begin having children at the onset of puberty and to continue doing so for the rest of her life. This may have been vital to the survival of a barbaric society in the year 1000 BC, but it is alien to our thinking today.  Hence girls were married as soon as possible, usually when they were in their early teens (see West, Ancient Israelite Marriage Customs).  

    Male barbarians, on the other hand, are expendable.  It is acceptable to lose males in combat as long as they kill more males for rival societies with them.  In military terms, this is known as optimizing the kill ratio, or opponent deaths divided by the losses of the society's own warriors.  It leads to a deficit in the male population, but harms the opponents more.  
      The goal was to outnumber and dominate the opposition, rather than providing fulfilling romances and sex for the members of an ancient barbaric society.   

     Moreover, the reproductive capacity of an attritted  male can be easily replaced if males are allowed to mate with multiple wives.  Indeed this was the case in Biblical times. Males were routinely permitted to take additional wives.        

     Solomon, we are told, had 700 wives and 300 concubines, hardly the ideal of one man and one woman per marriage that many of us espouse today. The one man and one woman model is not actually Biblical. 

     As incomprehensible as it may seem to modern Americans, ancient barbaric societies simply did not have a vested interest in fulfilling the romantic desires of its members, whether heterosexual or homosexual.  What they did want to ensure is the maximum reproductive rate and this is accomplished by heterosexual intercourse, beginning at the earliest possible opportunity and continuing as long as possible.  

     Hence, if we wish to adhere to the concept of marriage in the Old Testament, we should consider supporting various practices now considered barbaric, including the marriage of young girls (say age 12 to 14) to older men, especially in situations in which females out number males due to combat losses.  Multiple wives for prosperous males should certainly be supported, and definitely same-sex relationships do .  Such arrangements can probably be most stable if there is a substantial casualty rate from hand to hand combat with neighboring tribes in order to maintain a high ratio of females to males.  

    Please don't quote me out of context, but based on the needs of an ancient society, I recognize potentially valid reasons for various barbaric atrocities, including banning of homosexuality, forced marriage of adolescent females and even genocide.  

    That was simply the common sense reality of ancient life.  But is not a blueprint for modern life at all.   

    This in no way implies that modern Americans are supposed to emulate the barbaric behavior of the Israelites.  Rather, we are supposed to read the records of what they did and learn from them, not emulate them!

   The alternative is to recognize that the Bible is a living document.  I like to say that the Bible is "Divine Grace and human response."  Paul certainly suggests that spiritual growth is a process rather than a fait accompli:   "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me."

    I believe that Jesus Christ called humanity to put aside its barbaric ways, and to become more tolerant and to live our lives out of love for God rather than fear of Divine Wrath.  

      It should be obvious that we no longer need to kill our neighbors and steal their land.  Likewise we are free from the need to steal their women and force them to reproduce as often as possible.   This ancient code of conduct simply does not apply to modern life.  Hence there is a major problem if one tries to use the Biblical description of the ancient Israelites as a model for the ideal modern American.  

   Jesus Christ was sent to humanity to lead us to a more excellent way (1 Cor 12:31).  It's up to us to decide whether to follow that way, or to stay in our familiar childish ways. 

     Now, if for the moment the reader is willing to acquiesce to my suggestion that we relieve our societies from the need to act like the barbaric societies, does that mean the Bible is pro gay?  Is there some commandment that causes us to recognize the religious correctness of homosexuality.  

    I don't think it means that either.  The Bible is simply not meant to act as a simple rulebook, and thus when we try to use it as a rulebook it is like operating a machine outside of its design specifications.  It just does not work very well.   

     Hence it is presumptuous to say that any particular form of sexual conduct is necessarily sanctioned by the Bible.  Being a Christian does not entitle me to do whatever I want whenever I want to.  Personally, I find that if I pray for guidance, and study the bible I almost always receive it.  Even if that is not as simple as some simple rulebook, there are real limits, and real direction for living life is in fact provided.  

     Whatever we decide to do, it should be done with the guidance of the Holy Spirt, in which case we should expect to see some evidence of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), which is "love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

     So I would say that even in today's context we don't have an automatic license to do everything we want to, whether homosexual or heterosexual. We probably can not use the Bible effectively to provide simple answers about, say, supporting or opposing specific legislative actions.   The Bible does not prohibit a modern society from addressing such issues in a way that differs from ancient practice, but neither does it offer carte blanche support, either. For example, perhaps we should take the Bible out of the sexuality debate altogether. 

    In  any case, it is very dubious whether a cosmic imbalance will be righted if we return to the laws and codes of ancient Barbarism.  To some extent we can afford to be very sympathetic to the actions of the ancient barbaric peoples, but 21st Century America is not the place to re-establish them.  


Monday, December 23, 2013

Star Trek: Klingon Star Ship Kronos

   Space....the Final Conquest.  These are the Voyages of the Klingon Star Ship Kronos.  It's enduring mission:  to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly conquer where no Klingon has gone before!

     Klingon Trek is my idea for a new Star Trek show.  The premise is that,since the Klingons and Federation have signed a peace treaty, the Federation and the Empire have started some exchange programs.  In particular, the Klingon starship Imperial has a crew of mixed Klingon and Federation crewpersons, but the persons with command authority are mainly Klingon, with Federation assistants and advisors. Sometimes they work well together, and sometimes not so well. 

    Here are some samples.  I've borrowed some from past Star Treks to help you visualize what they might be like.

Klingon Characters:  Captain (Klingon male), Vice Commander (human female), Councillor (Betzoid male),  Chief Engineer (Vulcan female),  Chief Medical Officer (Deltan female),  Security Chief (Klingon female), Tactical Officer (Klingon male), 
Navigator (human male), redshirts (mostly Klingon).  

File:TOS-day of the dove klingons.png
Frankly we Klingons do not like serving with Federation crew members.  But since we have been ordered to do so, we will do so with honor and do our utmost to bring glory to the Klingon Empire.  

The highest ranking Federation Officer is based on Roddenberry's "Number One" character.  This character was rejected, probably because the studios felt that audiences of 1966 were not ready for a competent female officer.  But hey, it's been 47 years, let's let Number One finally do her job, shall we?

The Betazoid Advisor is very good at discerning the true intentions of potential adversaries and is highly ethical.  The Klingons are not totally sure whetheer they can place their trust in a mind reader, however. 

Star Trek T'Pol. Free Star Trek computer desktop wallpaper, images, pictures download
A Vulcan woman could certainly be a good engineer, and could likely figure out the inner workings of a Romulan Cloaking Device (hint:  it probably uses Apple's Operating System rather than Windows).  But let's lose the Burger King uniforms, shall we?  Yech!

Deltans have usually appeared in a Burger King uniform, but bathrobes are also used and are easier on the eyes.  In any case, I think a Deltan might be good as the Medical Officer, and the crewperson who is most uncomfortable with the course taken by the Klingons.  

The Federation Navigator and Klingon Tactical Officer are among the quickest to build up a rapport with one another.  

The younger officers are often part of the away team, and learn to cooperate in hand to hand combat (yes there is going to be sex and violence if it is my show).  Hence they build trust for one another more readily than the older officers.  In particular, the young Federation Officers like the idea of solving problems with phasers (disruptors) instead of rules and regulations.  Yeah, baby!

Orion Females are known to be prolific, yet are disciplined enough to serve well on Federation Starships.   They say no human male can resist them. I wonder how the Klingons might fare?  Stay tuned.  An Orion woman is the ship's Communications Officer (if it is my show, you can most def count on there being some green booty).  

Synopsis of Episode I

     The Klingon Starship Kronos observes that a heavily damaged Romulan starship has made a brief incursion into Klingon Space.  The Federation observers, especially the Betazoid Advisor, are quick to point out the reasons that this was in all probability unintentional and unavoidable, given that the Romulan ship was heavily damaged, likely from an encounter with the Cardassians.  They explain how several incidents were solved successfully in the past by negotiation, and strongly urge the Klingon leadership not to seek a military solution.

     This puts the Klingons in a difficult situation. They are uncomfortable at being viewed as taking orders from the Federation.   Hence, accident or not, the Klingons feel honor bound to fire upon the defenseless Romulan ship.  After all the Romulan crew should be happy to die for their planet and preserve their honor, right?  So they attack with their disruptors, and destroy it easily, much to the horror of the Federation crew members.  In addition, they are able to salvage some of the weaponry, including--amazingly enough--the latest Romulan cloaking device.  
     The Romulan High Command is not amused by this, and they send SIX Romulan warships to destroy the Imperial.  However, with the aid of information gained from examining the new Cloaking Device--partly with the aid of the Federation engineers--the crew of the Kronos is able to see through the cloaking deception.  By knowing where the Romulan warships are, the Imperial maneuvers via an end-around (a modified Picard maneuver) to fight the six Romulan starships one at a time rather than all at once.  By so doing, their superior firepower is able to completely destroy the Romulan starships, a catastrophic loss for the Romulans.   Moreover, the Kronos is now able to threaten other nearby Romulan colonies which are now undefended.   

"NOW we will negotiate,"  explains the Starship Captain to the dumfounded Federation crewpersons.  Indeed, the Klingon Captain is able to force the  Romulan High Command  to cede control of the entire region of space in return for some minor face-saving diplomatic concession. 

The Federation crew has great misgivings about the way the entire incident has been handled, but they grudgingly admire the efficiency of the Klingon way.  They also realize belatedly that by helping to install the Cloaking Device, they have become accessories to whatever wrongs might have been committed.  
   At the end of the show, Star Fleet Command commends the crewpersons for following the will of their Klingon Superiors, who after all did not violate Klingon laws,  thus preserving the union which they intend to forge.  However, the Deltan Medical Officer resigns her commission and reports to the brig rather than be a part of what the Federation and Klingon Empire are doing.  

     Just as all this is winding down, Number One asks again how the first  Romulan ship came to be in such distress in the first place.   Then the Tactical Officer interjects that a Cardassian vessel has just now been detected along the perimeter of Klingon space....

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Withering Churches

I have been to a number of churches, partly by moving a lot but also because of my desire to find a place that will be there for my family ten, twenty or even fifty years in the future. 

However, so many churches are content to lose their vitality and die.   Oh, they think they want to grow.  In particular I remember one small church that my family and I attended which was always wringing their hands about diminishing attendance. 

 They would say that church growth was very important to the congregation, but the fact of the matter is that they did almost nothing to promote it, and the numbers had been going steadily down since their heyday in the 1950s.   

    I was kind of drafted into being the Youth Director of that Church on the basis that I've been academically trained for such activities, and I was one of the young parents in the congregation?  Young?  At that time I was in my mid 40s.  Kids would normally identify better with someone that was in their 20s.  

    One time we had a big self assessment initiative, and we gave ourselves a favorable rating on how hard we were working and so on.   We hoped that our visitors would like our 19th century church music played by talented musicians, and actually quite proud that our music was not entertainment, as the bigger growing churches liked to provide.  

      I dissented mildly, not wishing to create much of a stir.  But I thought that my job could be done better by someone closer in age to the kids, and I thought our 19th century music program was not likely to appeal to newcomers, and that we needed to make better use of the internet in order to allow new people to find us, and stuff like that.  Well, people listened politely but it was clear that they thought I was from another planet.  

   But a few weeks later a visitor came to the church.  A visitor! It was then that I realized that the church had no brochures to hand out, no one set up to welcome visitors, no newcomers packets, no nothing.  We liked worrying about diminishing attendance, but were not really interested in welcoming strangers come to our church, thank you very much.  

Young people may struggle with the idea of attending church.  Attending a rock concert is an easier first step for many to make (Thank you Chad Griffith Photgraphy!).

   Frankly this is not Biblical.  Matthew 28:16-20, the Great Commission, tells us that we need to reach out and spread the Good News.   Well, ok. 

 Flash forward to another church, which was growing rapidly.  The first time we visited, the minister explained that altough church growth was great, it would certainly change in the future.  In particular the church needs to greet the next generation of worshippers, and we don't know yet how they will communicate (Twitter? Facebook? something else?) or what kind of music they will like.  "We have ten years to figure out how to minister to people who are presently ten years old!"   I thought long and hard about that one.  

     Future worshippers will  probably prefer music that oldsters like me don't especially like.  But I'll put up with it if my kids and future grandkids are coming to church.  One of my friends put it this way:  "You know, the Apostle Paul never sang The Old Rugged Cross or any of our familiar hymns.  So as long as the theological content of the hymns is sound, what's the problem?"

     Exactly right.  If they want to sing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing in a rock mode, who cares?  At least they are in church singing and celebrating, which is what they are supposed to do.   But I know many of my friends of withering churches are very put off by the idea.   

    I might also mention that I have been blesse to have been able to visit Seoul, Korea, home of the MEGA Mega Church.  One church I visited had seven services on Sunday, and the church was the size of a basketball arena with a full orchestra and choir, AND they had to build a second santuary next door with a closed circuit TV link to handle the overflow.   The total seating was some 30,000, and I can attest that the first service at 6 AM was FULL.  So I would have to say that it is very plausible that 200,000 people attend church there on Sunday.  

That church was Yoido Full Gospel, but it is not particularly anomalous.  The Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists and others have churches in Seoul which claim over 100,000 worshippers on a given Sunday.  

Yup, that's the way I remember it.  It's hard for me to understand why many churches prefer to wither away and don't realize that there is anything wrong with doing that.  

Kumnan Methodist Church in Seoul is also a very large church with multiple services on Sunday.   

   It's not necessarily the case that bigger is always better, but if a church is small, there had better be some reason for it.  Otherwise, the natural tendency of the church is to grow and to spread the message and the love.  

 This point was brought home to me, when one time a young man with autism got lost in a huge state nature preserve.  Well, a withering church would have said prayers for him and that would be that. Our minister did that too, but also told the congregation, "Now go find him!" And so we sent 300 people to the other side of the state to help look for him.   And find him we did! 

    That's why you have to grow, Church!  There are certain things that you simply can not accomplish without growth.  In particular, withering churches everywhere often have some kind of wonderful rationale why withering away is the best that can be hoped for.  And in some cases I'm sure that that is true. But for most of us, there are a few things that God wants us to accomplish while we are here on this earth.  And that process of fulfilling God's will leads to spreading the word and growing as an organization!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Star Trek Continues (Really!)

Star Trek Continues?  Oh YES it does!

     Somehow I found this amazing video on, the first installment of a web series called Star Trek Continues.  It's 51 minutes of a show that looks incredibly like the original show from circa 1966.  For the most part the actors not only act, but do remarkable impressions of the original cast.   Vic Mignogna has mastered Shatner's body language to an extent that is just amazing as well as his....dramatic...pauses!  

     But more importantly, the show has the look and feel of the original show.  It is a relatively low budget affair and does not spend a lot of money on special effects.  But Star Trek was never about special effects.  Rather it was a prophetic vision of the future.  There will come a time, I believe, when humanity really will start to explore the worlds around us and we will look back on these shows as something much more than entertainment.   

   Back to Star Trek.  Special kudos to Chris Doohan, who does a perfect Scotty (perhaps not surprising since James Doohan was his dad!).   I was also very impressed with Grant Imahara, who also appears on Myth Busters, who sounds exactly like George Takei's Lt Sulu.   

   We are also introduced to some new characters, notably Dr. Elise McKenna (Michele Specht, who is Vic's real life leading lady, incidentally).  

"Say, you new around here?  I'm Captain Kirk..."

    The first episode is about a character that was encountered in the original show.  The alien known as Apollo revisits the Enterprise, but has mysteriously has aged some 47 years while the Enterprise crew has been only two years removed from the first encounter, shown below.

Note:  Most actors are shorter than they appear on TV.  Can you guess which one is Apollo?

The old boy actually is very well preserved, I'd say, though under restraint in Sick Bay.  

    Apollo actually looks great (maybe he really does come from Olympus?).  I mean, when I first saw him I assumed that this show must have been shot 20 years ago, but no.  This is a 2013 production.   

Anyway, Apollo tells us that the realm that the Gods had created for themselves--a kind of Obamacare realm for the Gods--didn't actually work as well as they thought when they commissioned it, and for that reason he now wants to become human and live out his remaining days in obscurity.  

But how can he be happy to live down on the farm after being Apollo?  Can he be trusted?

Then there is the business of the mysterious extra organ he has (familiar to devotees of the original show).  Should McCoy operate on it?  He seems quite eager to slice and dice.  Maybe I have a corrupted mind, but the solemn discussion of Apollo's mysterious organ made me laugh.  It's probably just a prostate problem, gang.  

In any case, it is a fitting sequel to the original episode, and Michael Forest is fantastic in reprising his role as Apollo.   

The link to the episode appears here:  

     The show has asked independent bloggers (like me) and fans (like me and you also, hopefully) to consider contributing to the production of the next show.   This show a labor of love.  Like the original, none of the networks or even independents wanted it, but doggone it, these renegade TV actors wanted to do it, and I think it is great.    I waited 44 years for this, and so I've sent a few bucks their way.  I hope you do too. You can use the "Kirkstarter" here, and if you are a Trek blogger you can paste it on your site.  They've already made their goal, but I say let's keep the funding going! Let's get this show into syndication at least!   What the heck, set phasers to kill!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Home Alone 2 is My Favorite Holiday Movie

     Home Alone 2 is my favorite holiday movie.  I liked Home Alone when it came out circa 1990, and I thought when Home Alone 2 came out a few years, it could not possibly be as funny.  But it is, and even better, despite having the same plot and the same major characters.  
    To me the key is that Home Alone 2 was meticulously thought out, and even the most minor of characters was interesting and funny.   We can start out with the McCallister family, shown below on Christmas morning.

The McCalisters are a wacky American family.  I recognized a few of my family members in there, and I'll bet you did too!

I think Buzz was greatly played.  That would be the oafish kid in the back there, nearly as tall as weird Uncle Frank.   To me, he was the consummate big brother, who seems to make decisions for the entire family and never getting in trouble despite evil behavior that ranks up there with Hitler and Stalin.     
Kevin's mom Kate was on the one hand hilariously played by Molly Ringwald, but she was  also a very sympathetic character, terribly frightened and worried for her little lost boy, alone in New York.  Who could not identify with this great Mom?

Kate McCallister discovers Kevin is missing Again!!  Oh no!!!

Peter McCallister is the calm and collected straight man for the more hysterical Kate.  Don't worry, dear, we'll get him back!

   I also like Kevin's cousin (played by his real life brother, Kieran Culkin).   He captures the joy of Christmas morning.  Doesn't it seem like the youngest child is always the first one awake on Christmas morning?

"Are you nuts?!  Santa's Omnipresent!"

    Who could not love characters such as the opera-loving Bird Lady?  Or Mr. Duncan, the philanthropic toy store owner who loves to support the Children's Hospital?

The bird lady loved opera.  She also steps up to help a young boy when he gets into trouble, putting herself at great risk. 

Mr. Duncan has all the money he needs, but continues to do what he loves in order to support the Children's Hospital, a great cause.  I know real people who do things like that. 

I also admit to having a bit of a thing for the Model, an unnamed but gorgeous blonde, who encounters the bad guys on the street a time or two.  Yup, she's a New Yorker, all right.  

In New York, the models can throw a mean right cross, so watch out!

The bad guys are really really bad, but somehow we love them, too.  Merry Christmas, Harry!  Happy Hanukka, Marv!

    But to me the absolute stars among the minor characters are the desk clerks at the fabulous Plaza Hotel, with Tim Curry playing the self-important Concierge with his overdone English accent.  Keep in mind that Tim really is an English actor, playing an American with a fake English accent.  Got it?    

Tim is a genius at comical facial expressions and comedic timing.  We love to hate him, which makes it all the more fun when Kevin is able to trick him at various points in the film.  It's kind of like the Road Runner defeating the Coyote.  We don't get tired of it or at least I don't.   

Tim  also gives a few lessons about physical comedy;  for example, when he needs to crawl away from what he thinks is a gunman in the hotel (another Kevin trick!).   There are probably a hundred different ways for an actor to crawl, but Tim decided to slither, kind of like a snake (try it some time, it's not easy, but it looks very funny).  

Also watch what happens when Cedric is temporarily stunned and lies on the floor by the elevator.  Little details, but they make you laugh!

The finest idiots in New York
What kind of idiots do you have working at this hotel?

   Something else that comes across to me is that the writers and producers seem to have thought out the social implications of their work.   They realized that they might unintentionally inspire children to run away from home or to confront criminals themselves rather than alerting the authorities.  But it seems to me that they built quite a bit into the script to emphasize that Kevin's adventure was the result of an accident, and that everyone tried their best not to leave a young child alone, and likewise the confrontation with the bad guys was something that Kevin really wanted to avoid if at all possible.