Friday, November 29, 2013
Below are images from "NORTH AND SOUTH", the 1975 BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's 1855 novel. Directed by Rodney Bennett, the four-part miniseries starred Rosalie Shanks and Patrick Stewart:
"NORTH AND SOUTH" (1975) Photo Gallery
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Below are images from Season One of ABC's "ONCE UPON A TIME". The series stars Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Dallas, Lana Parrilla and Robert Carlyle:
"ONCE UPON A TIME" Season One (2011-2012) Photo Gallery
Friday, November 22, 2013
TIME MACHINE: ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY (1917-1963)
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was fatally shot by a sniper, while traveling with his wife First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, Texas Governor John Connally, and wife Nellie Connally, in a presidential motorcade.
With the 1964 Presidential Election looming in the following, President John F. Kennedy wanted to travel to Texas for the following reasons:
*the Kennedy-Johnson ticket barely won the state in 1960 and Kennedy wanted to help mend political fences among the leading Texas Democratic party members
*Kennedy wanted to begin his quest for reelection in November 1964; and
*Kennedy wanted to help raise more campaign fund contributions for the Democratic Party
President Kennedy, along with Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson (formerly a senator from Texas) and Governor Connnally met in El Paso, Texas on June 5, 1963; to agreed upon the details for a presidential visit in Texas. President Kennedy's trip to Texas was first announced to the public in September 1963. And the exact motorcade route for Dallas was finalized on November 18 and announced to the public a few days before November 22. U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson visited Dallas on October 24, 1963 to mark United Nations Day. He was jeered, jostled, hit by a sign and spat upon during the visit. Stevenson, along with several other people, advised Kennedy to avoid Dallas during his Texas visit, but the President refused their advice.
The President and the First Lady arrived in San Antonio, Texas on November 21, 1963. There, they visited the Brooks Air Force Base. Later, they attended a Testimonial dinner at the Rice Hotel in Houston, honoring Congressman Albert Thomas, before finally arriving at Fort Worth, where they stayed at the Hotel Texas.
The following day on November 22, the presidential couple attended a Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the hotel in Fort Worth. Later, they boarded Air Force One, which conveyed them and the rest of the presidential entourage to the Love Field airport in Dallas, at 11:40 p.m. (CT). President Kennedy was scheduled to give a speech at a steak luncheon held at the the Dallas Business and Trade Mart. They proceeded to Dealey Plaza in a motorcade that conveyed them from the airport. Kennedy, the First Lady, Connally and his wife were in the second convertible with driver Secret Service Agent William Greer and Advance Agent and SAIC Roy Kellerman (also Secret Service). At 12:29 p.m., the President's motorcade entered Dealey Plaza after a right turn from Main Street onto Houston Street. Over two dozen known and unknown amateur and professional still and motion-picture photographers captured the last living images of President Kennedy. As the motorcade slowly approached the Texas School Book Depository, shots were fired at President Kennedy's limousine after it made the turn from Houston onto Elm Street, around 12:30 p.m. (CT). Most witnesses heard three shots.
As seen in the film clip shot by private citizen Abraham Zapruder, the third shot struck President Kennedy in the head. Governor Connally was also seriously wounded. During the shots a witness named James Tague was also wounded, when he received a minor wound on his right cheek. After the President had been shot in the head, Mrs. Kennedy began to climb out onto the back of the limousine, though she later had no recollection of doing so. Secret Service Agent Clint Hill believed she was reaching for something. Hill jumped onto the back of the limousine, while at the same time, Mrs. Kennedy returned to her seat. He clung to the car as it left Dealey Plaza and rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
Dallas Police Office Marion Baker confronted Lee Harvey Oswald, a former U.S. Marine veteran and employee at the Texas Book Depository, inside the building's second floor lunchroom, over a minute after the last shot was fired. Baker claimed that he had heard the first shot, as he approached the book depository and the Dallas Textile Building. When building superintendent Roy Truly identified Oswald as an employee, the latter was released. Meanwhile, President Kennedy was declared dead at Parkland Hospital around 1:00 p.m. His body was given the last rites by a Catholic priest. The doctors had to operate on Governor Connally at least two times that day. Fifteen minutes after the President was declared dead, Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit was shot dead, not far from Oswald's rooming house. At least thirteen people saw a man shoot Tippit. Five of the witnesses identified Oswald in police lineups, and a sixth identified him the following day. Four others identified Oswald from a photograph. Vice-President Johnson, his wife Lady Bird Johnson and other members of the presidential entourage returned to Air Force One at Love Field. Mrs. Kennedy, and several Secret Service agents escorting the President's body, eventually joined them. Before Air Force One departed for Washington D.C., Federal judge Sarah T. Hughes swore Vice-President Johnson in as the country's 36th President.
Oswald was arrested by the Dallas police at the Texas Theater (movie theater) that afternoon. And around 7:10 p.m. that evening, he was charged with the murder of Officer Tippit. Shortly after 1:30 a.m., on November 23, Oswald was formally charged with the murder of President Kennedy. He declared that he was innocent and had been framed for the murders. Oswald was interrogated during his two days at the Dallas Police Headquarters. On November 24, 1963; Oswald was being led through the building's basement for his transfer to the county jail, when he was murdered by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Oswald was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital, but died at 1:07 p.m. (CT). Ruby was charged and convicted with his murder. The state funeral for President John F. Kennedy was held on the following day, November 25, 1963. Following at service at St. Matthew's Cathedral, Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
President Johnson initiated the Warren Commission, chaired by Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court to investigate the assassination. The investigation lasted for ten months, between November 1963 to September 1964. It concluded that President Kennedy had been assassinated by lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald. It also concluded that Jack Ruby also acted alone, when he killed Oswald before the latter could stand trial. Despite the findings of the Warren Commission, many believe to this day that President Kennedy was killed, due to a government conspiracy and that Oswald had been framed. In contrast to the Warren Commission's conclusions, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded in 1978 that Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. But they do believe that Oswald was a part of the conspiracy.
The following books can provide more information and speculations on the John F. Kennedy Assassination:
*"Who Really Killed Kennedy?: 50 Years Later: Stunning New Revelations About the JFK Assassination" (2013) by
*"LIFE The Day Kennedy Died Remembers" (2013) by the Editors of LIFE Magazine
*"Five Days in November"(2013) by Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin
Thursday, November 21, 2013
"MANSFIELD PARK" (1999) Review
From the numerous articles and essays I have read on-line, Jane Austen’s 1814 novel, "Mansfield Park" did not seemed to be a big favorite amongst the author’s modern fans. In fact, opinions of the novel and its heroine, Fanny Price, seemed just as divided today, as they had been by Austen’s own family back in the early 19th century.
When director-writer Patricia Rozema was offered the assignment to direct a film adaptation of "Mansfield Park", she had originally rejected it. She claimed that she found both the novel and the Fanny Price character unappealing. In the end, she changed her mind on the grounds that she wrote her own screen adaptation. The result turned out to be an adaptation filled with a good deal of changes from Austen’s original text. Changes that have proven to be controversial to this day.
One obvious change that Rozema had made centered on the heroine’s personality. Rozema’s script allowed actress Frances O’Connor to portray Fanny as a talented writer with a lively wit and quick temper. Mind you, Rozema’s Fanny continued to be the story’s bastion of morality – only with what many would view as sass. Rozema also allowed the Edmund Bertram character to become romantically aware of Fanny a lot sooner than the character did in the novel. Because of this revision, actor Jonny Lee Miller portrayed an Edmund who seemed a bit livelier and less priggish than his literary counterpart. Characters like the Crawfords’ half-sister and brother-in-law, the Grants, failed to make an appearance. Fanny’s older brother, William Price, ceased to exist. And in this adaptation, Fanny eventually accepted Henry Crawford’s marriage proposal during her stay in Portsmouth, before rejecting it the following day.
But the biggest change made by Rozema had involved the topic of slavery. The writer-director allowed the topic to permeate the movie. Austen’s novel described Fanny’s uncle by marriage, Sir Thomas Bertram, as the owner of a plantation on the island of Antigua. Due to a financial crisis, Sir Thomas was forced to depart for Antigua for a certain period of time with his oldest son as a companion. Upon his return to England and Mansfield Park, Fanny asked him a question regarding his slaves. Sir Thomas and the rest of the family responded with uncomfortable silence. Rozema utilized the Bertrams’ connection to African slavery to emphasize their questionable morality and possible corruption. She also used this connection to emphasize Fanny’s position as a woman, a poor relation, and her semi-servile position within the Mansfield Park household. Rozema used the slavery connection with a heavier hand in scenes that included Fanny hearing the cries of slaves approaching the English coast during her journey to Mansfield Park; a discussion initiated by Sir Thomas on breeding mulattoes; Edmund’s comments about the family and Fanny’s dependence upon the Antigua plantation; oldest son Tom Bertram’s revulsion toward this dependence and graphic drawings of brutalized slaves. These overt allusions to British slavery ended up leaving many critics and Austen fans up in arms.
One aspect of "MANSFIELD PARK" that impressed me turned out to be the movie’s production values. I found the production crew's use of an abandoned manor house called Kirby Hall to be very interesting. Rozema, along with cinematographer Michael Coulter and production designer Christopher Hobbs, used the house's abandoned state and cream-colored walls to convey a corrupt atmosphere as an allusion to the Bertrams’ financial connection to slavery. Hobbes further established that slightly corrupted air by sparsely furnishing the house. I also found Coulter’s use the Cornish town of Charlestown as a stand-in for the early 19th century Portmouth as very picturesque. And I especially enjoyed his photography, along with Martin Walsh’s editing in the lively sequence featuring the Bertrams’ ball held in Fanny’s honor. On the whole, Coulter’s photography struck me as colorful and imaginative. The only bleak spot in the movie’s production values seemed to be Andrea Galer’s costume designs. There was nothing wrong with them, but I must admit that they failed to capture my imagination.
I cannot deny that I found "MANSFIELD PARK" to be enjoyable and interesting. Nor can I deny that Rozema had injected a great deal of energy into Austen’s plot, something that the 1983 miniseries failed to do. Rozema removed several scenes from Austen’s novel. This allowed the movie to convey Austen's story with a running time of 112 minutes. These deleted scenes included the Bertrams and Crawfords’ visit to Mr. Rushworth’s estate, Sotherton; and Fanny’s criticism of Mary Crawford’s caustic remarks about her uncle. This did not bother me, for I feel that such editing may have tightened the movie’s pacing. Other improvements that Rozema made – at least in my eyes – were changes in some of the characters. Fanny became a livelier personality and at the same time, managed to remain slightly oppressed by her position at Mansfield Park. Both Edmund and Henry were portrayed in a more complex and attractive light. And Tom Bertram’s portrayal as the family’s voice of moral outrage against their connection to black slavery struck me as very effective. In fact, I had no problem with Rozema’s use of slavery in the story. I am not one of those who believed that she should have toned it down to the same level as Austen had – merely using the topic as an allusion to Fanny’s situation with the Bertrams. Austen opened Pandora’s Box by briefly touching upon the topic in her novel in the first place. As far as I am concerned, there was no law that Rozema or any other filmmaker had to allude to the topic in the same manner.
However, not all of Rozema’s changes impressed me. Why was it necessary to have Henry Crawford request that he rent the nearby parsonage, when his half-sister and brother-in-law, the Grants, resided there in the novel? If Rozema had kept the Grants in her adaptation, this would not have happened. Nor did I understand Sir Thomas’ invitation to allow the Crawfords to reside at Mansfield Park, when Henry had his own estate in Norfolk. I suspect that Sir Thomas’ invitation was nothing more than a set up for Fanny to witness Henry making love to Maria Bertram Rushworth in her bedroom. Now, I realize that Henry is supposed to be some hot-to-trot Regency rake with an eye for women. But I simply found it implausible that he would be stupid enough to have illicit sex with his host’s married daughter. And why did Maria spend the night at Mansfield Park, when her husband’s own home, Sotherton, was located in the same neighborhood? And why was Fanny in tears over her little"discovery"? She did not love Henry. Did the sight of two people having sex disturb her? If so, why did she fail to react in a similar manner upon discovering Tom’s drawings of female slaves being raped?
Many fans had complained about Fanny’s acceptance of Henry’s marriage proposal during the visit to Portmouth. I did not, for it allowed an opportunity for Fanny’s own hypocrisy to be revealed. After all, she claimed that Henry’s moral compass made her distrustful of him. Yet, upon her rejection of him; Henry exposed her as a liar and hypocrite, claiming the real reason behind her rejection had more to do with her love for Edumund. Unfortunately . . . Rozema seemed determined not to examine Fanny’s exposed hypocrisy and dismissed it with an intimate scene between her and Edmund; the revelation of Henry’s affair with Maria; and Edmund’s rejection of Henry’s sister, Mary Crawford.
This last scene regarding Edmund's rejection of Mary revealed how truly heavy-handed Rozema could be as a filmmaker. In Austen’s novel, Edmund had rejected Mary, due to her refusal to condemn Henry for his affair with Maria and her plans to save the Bertrams and Crawfords' social positions with a marriage between Henry and the still married Maria. Mary's plans bore a strong resemblance to Fitzwilliam Darcy's successful efforts to save the Bennet family's reputation following Lydia Bennet's elopement with George Wickham in "Pride and Prejudice". In "MANSFIELD PARK", Edmund rejected Mary after she revealed her plans to save the Bertrams from any scandal caused by the Henry/Maria affair – plans that included the eventual demise of a seriously ill Tom. The moment those words anticipating Tom's death poured from Mary’s mouth, I stared at the screen in disbelief. No person with any intelligence would discuss the possible demise of a loved one in front of his family, as if it was a topic in a business meeting. I never got the impression that both the literary and cinematic Mary Crawford would be that stupid. In this scene, I believe that Rozema simply went too far. The director’s last scene featured a montage on the characters’ fates. And what fate awaited the Crawfords? Both ended up with spouses that seemed more interested in each other than with the Crawford siblings. I suppose this was an allusion to some fate that the Crawfords deserved for . . . what? Okay, Henry probably deserved such a fate, due to his affair with Maria. But Mary? I would disagree.
Ironically, both Rozema and Austen shared one major problem with their respective versions of the story. Neither the Canadian writer-director nor the British author bothered to develop Fanny and Edmund’s characters that much. In fact, I would say . . . hardly at all. "MANSFIELD PARK" revealed Edmund’s penchant for priggish and hypocritical behavior in scenes that featured his initial protest against his brother’s plans to perform the "Lover’s Vow" play and his final capitulation; his argument against Sir Thomas’ comments about breeding mulattoes (which Fanny expressed approval with a slightly smug smile) and his willingness to accept his family’s dependence on slave labor; and his support of Sir Thomas’ attempts to coerce Fanny into marrying Henry Crawford. The above incidents were also featured in the novel (except for the mulatto breeding discussion). Not once did Fanny criticize Edmund for his hypocritical behavior – not in the movie or in the novel. Instead, both Rozema and Austen allowed Fanny to indulge in her own hypocrisy by turning a blind eye to Edmund’s faults. Worse, she used Henry Crawford’s flaws as an excuse to avoid his courtship of her and later reject him. Henry’s angry reaction to her rejection was the only time (at least in Rozema’s movie) in which Fanny’s hypocrisy was revealed. Yet, not only did Fanny fail to acknowledge Edmund’s flaws, but also her own.
For me, the best aspect of "MANSFIELD PARK" proved to be its cast. How Rozema managed to gather such a formidable cast amazes me. Unfortunately, she did not use the entire cast. Two members – Justine Waddell (Julia Bertram) and Hugh Doneville (Mr. Rushworth) certainly seemed wasted. Rozema’s script failed to allow the two actors to express their talent. Waddell’s presence barely made any impact upon the movie. And Doneville seemed nothing more than poorly constructed comic relief. I almost found myself expressing the same belief for actress Lindsay Duncan, despite her portrayal of two of the Ward sisters – Lady Bertram and Mrs. Price. Her Lady Bertram seemed to spend most of the movie sitting around in a drug-induced state from the use of too much laudanum. However, Duncan had one memorable moment as Fanny’s mother, Mrs. Price. In that one scene, she gave emphatic advise to Fanny about Henry Crawford by pointing out the consequences of her decision to marry for love.
Victoria Hamilton fared better in her nuanced performance as the spoiled, yet frustrated Maria Bertram. She effectively conveyed how her character was torn between her pragmatic marriage to Mr. Rushworth and her desire for Henry Crawford. Frankly, I believe that Austen gave her an unnecessarily harsh ending. James Purefoy gave an interesting performance as the Bertrams’ elder son and heir, Tom. He expertly walked a fine line in his portrayal of Tom’s disgust toward the family’s involvement in slavery and penchant for a wastrel’s lifestyle. The late actress Sheila Gish gave a slightly humorous, yet sharp performance as Fanny’s other aunt – the tyrannical and venomous Mrs. Norris.
I believe that the movie’s best performances came not from the leads, but from three supporting actors – Alessandro Nivola, Embeth Davidtz, and the late playwright-actor Sir Harold Pinter. The literary Henry Crawford had been described as a seductive man that quite enjoyed flirting with or manipulating women. Nivola certainly portrayed that aspect of Henry’s character with great aplomb. But he prevented Henry from becoming a one-note rake by projecting his character’s growing attraction to Fanny and the hurt he felt from her unexpected rejection. Embeth Davidtz gave an equally compelling performance as Henry’s vivacious sister, Mary. She skillfully portrayed Mary’s more endearing traits – humor and sparkling personality – along with her cynical views on authority and talent for cold-blooded practicality. However, not even Davidtz could overcome that ludicrous rip-off from 1988’s "DANGEROUS LIAISONS", in which her Mary briefly stumbled out of the Bertrams’ drawing-room, mimicking Glenn Close, following Edmund’s rejection. It seemed like a flawed ending to a brilliant performance. For me, the film’s best performance came from Sir Harold Pinter. His Sir Thomas Bertram struck me as one of the most complex and multi-layered film portrayals I have ever come across. I find it astounding that this intimidating patriarch, who considered himself to be the family’s bastion of morality, was also responsible for the corruption that reeked at Mansfield Park and within the Bertram family. And Pinter made these conflicting aspects of the character’s personality mesh well together. Rozema added an ironic twist to Sir Thomas’ story. After being shamed by Fanny’s discovery of Tom’s drawings of abused slaves, Sir Thomas sold his Antigua estate and invested his money in tobacco. However, since U.S. states like Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky were the world’s top producers of tobacco at the time, chances are that the Bertrams’ benefit from slavery continued.
I suspect that if actress Frances O’Connor had portrayed the Fanny Price character as originally written by Jane Austen, she would have still given a superb performance. O’Connor certainly gave one in this movie. Despite Rozema’s refusal to openly acknowledge Fanny’s flaws in the script (except by Henry Crawford), the actress still managed to expose them through her performance. Not only did O’Connor did a great job in portraying Fanny’s wit and vivacity, she also revealed the social and emotional minefield that Fanny found at Mansfield Park with some really superb acting. I first became aware of Jonny Lee Miller in the 1996 miniseries, "DEAD MAN’S WALK". I found myself so impressed by his performance that I wondered if he would ever become a star. Sadly, Miller never did in the fourteen years that followed the prequel to 1988’s "LONESOME DOVE". But he has become well-known, due to his performances in movies like "MANSFIELD PARK", "TRAINSPOTTING" and the recent miniseries, "EMMA". In "MANSFIELD PARK", Miller portrayed the younger Bertram son, who also happened to be the object of Fanny Price’s desire. And he did a top-notch job in balancing Edmund’s virtues, his romantic sensibility and his personality flaws that include hypocrisy. I realize that Edmund was not an easy character to portray, but Miller made it all seem seamless.
Considering that Austen’s "Mansfield Park" is not a real favorite of mine, I am surprised that I managed to enjoy this adaptation of the novel. I will be frank. It is far from perfect. Patricia Rozema made some changes to Austen’s tale that failed to serve the story. Worse, she failed to change other aspects of the novel – changes that could have improved her movie. But there were changes to the story that served the movie well in my eyes. And the movie "MANSFIELD PARK" possessed a first-rate production and a superb cast. More importantly, I cannot deny that flawed or not, Rozema wrote and directed a very energetic movie. For me, it made Austen’s 1814 tale a lot more interesting.
Monday, November 18, 2013
"GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT"
STARDATE 54610.03 - Six years later
B'Elanna sat on the sofa inside the Mess Hall, staring the stars beyond the viewport. She allowed herself a heartfelt sigh and rested her hand upon her slightly protruding belly.
"Is everything fine, B'Elanna?" an anxious voice behind her, asked.
The Chief Engineer glanced up and found herself looking into the
concerned eyes of Voyager's cook and morale officer. She smiled. "I'm fine, Neelix. The baby is just a little active, this evening." B'Elanna gave her stomach a pat. "Actually, I was remembering."
"Oh?" Neelix joined B'Elanna on the sofa. "Remembering what?"
B'Elanna's gaze returned to the viewport. "Do you know what today is, Neelix?" When the Talaxian shook his head, she continued, "Six years ago today, Tuvok had exonerated Tom for murder."
Bushy eyebrows flew upward. "Murder? When was Tom . . .?" Realization dawned in his orange-yellow eyes. "Oh! The Baneans!"
A wry smile touched B'Elanna's lips. "I wondered if you would remember."
"Well, you did mention Tom and murder in the same breath. It didn't take me long to figure out that you meant that Banean scientist and his wife. I'm only surprised that you remembered."
B'Elanna replied in an arch tone, "Believe me, Neelix. That is one memory I will never forget. I learned an important lesson that day, thanks to Harry."
Neelix gave B'Elanna a shrewd look. "I think a lot of us learned the same lesson. Only it took me nearly six months later to finally learn it." He paused. "Did you really believe that Tom was guilty of murder?"
"I had believed that Tom was guilty of a lot of things, back then," B'Elanna said softly. "Murder was just one of them. I wasn't exactly a big fan of his. It's amazing how quick we were to judge him without any real evidence."
"You have to admit that Tom didn't make it easy for us back in those days."
B'Elanna's smile faded. "Maybe not. But that was no excuse. Whatever bad attitude Tom had in those days, it didn't stop him from making friends with Harry or Kes. Or the Captain from trusting him. They gave him a chance. We didn't."
Silence fell between the two friends. They were so deep in their memories that they failed to hear the Mess Hall's doors slide open. The next thing B'Elanna knew, a large pair of warm hands had covered her eyes. "Guess who," a familiar voice whispered.
B'Elanna inhaled. Every nerve in her body tingled with delight. She would recognized those pheromones anywhere. "Hmmmm," she murmured in a playful manner. "Freddie Barstow?"
"Hey!" Tom removed his hands, as B'Elanna began to giggle. A wide grin spread across Neelix's face. "Excuse me, Neelix." Tom frowned, although B'Elanna could see that it had failed to reach his eyes. "I need to discuss something with my wife. Namely, her misplaced sense of humor."
Still grinning, Neelix stood up and returned to the galley. Tom immediately occupied the empty seat. "Freddie Barstow, huh?" he growled with mock menace. Then his frown disappeared and Tom planted a warm kiss at the edge of B'Elanna's mouth. "You're lucky I'm in a good mood tonight, or I would have made you pay for that little remark."
Again, B'Elanna giggled. "Oh? Exactly how would you make me pay?" she purred, leaning toward her husband.
"Like this." Tom lowered his mouth upon B'Elanna's. The playful mood vanished and the air between them was soon filled with desire. The kiss became a passionate exploration of each other's mouth. B'Elanna would have happily continued, but sounds of rattling pots and pans reminded her of a third presence inside the Mess Hall.
"Uh Tom?" B'Elanna said in a husky voice. It was hard to ignore the warm tongue that flickered back and forth behind her ear. With great reluctance, she broke away from her husband's embrace. "Sorry to do this, but . . ." B'Elanna nodded toward the direction of the galley. "Neelix."
A sigh left Tom's mouth. "Oh yeah. Neelix." He gave his wife one last nip on the chin, before leaning back on the sofa. "So what were you two talking about?" he asked.
B'Elanna replied, "Nothing." She paused. "I just remembered an anniversary, that's all."
After a brief hesitation, B'Elanna continued, "Well, today is the sixth anniversary of the date Tuvok had cleared you of the murder of that Banean scientist. Remember Dr. Ren?"
"How could I forget him?" Tom said with a groan. "And his lovely wife, Lidell Ren. God, what had I been thinking?"
Another giggle escaped B'Elanna's mouth. "That's a good question, Flyboy. I thought you were a better judge of character than that." A small part of her felt amazed that she could tease Tom about his past interest in another woman. Something she could have never done, three years ago. Or maybe even last year.
Tom shook his head. "What can I say? I was young, stupid and horny. Don't forget, I had only been out of prison for almost four months. My libido was a little out of control, at the time. I could see that Lidell's marriage was already dead and she was no longer interested in her husband. Besides, I never thought she was an angel. Just bored and horny. I never realized she wanted me as a scapegoat for her little scheme."
"You call murder and espionage, a little scheme? Hmmph!" B'Elanna held out her hand. "Help me up, Hotshot."
Tom rose from the sofa and helped his wife to her feet. Then husband and wife started toward the exit. "You can close up now, Neelix," Tom said to the Talaxian. "We're leaving."
"Oh?" Neelix's head popped up from behind the counter. "You two are leaving already?"
"It's getting late." Tom's lips formed a slight smirk. "And the missus over here, needs her beauty sleep." His joke produced a playful punch from 'the missus'.
Disappointment creased Neelix's countenance, as he stood up. "That's too bad. I was in the mood for a little talk. I wanted to ask you something."
The Talaxian continued, "All this talk about the Baneans reminded me of that little spat you had with Seska in the Mess Hall." Mention of Voyager's former adversary drew groans from both B'Elanna and Tom. "Do you remember that day? You made some questionable remark about Seska's time in the Maquis."
A sly grin appeared on Tom's face. "Oh yeah. I remember."
"I'm curious. How did you know she was a Cardassian?"
B'Elanna replied, "He didn't."
Confusion whirled in Neelix's eyes. "I don't understand."
"I had never suspected that Seska was a Cardassian," Tom added. "I thought she was one of those Bajorans who had collaborated with the Cardies during their occupation. During the few weeks I was with the Maquis, there were too many close calls that made me wonder if there was a spy in Chakotay's cell."
Neelix turned to B'Elanna. "Did you feel the same?"
"I never met Tom, while he was in the Maquis," B'Elanna replied. "I did join before he did, but I was involved in the construction of a new starship around the same time."
Tom continued, "And there was always something about Seska's eyes that I didn't like."
"Too Cardassian?" Neelix asked.
"No. Her being Cardassian had nothing to do with it. She simply had the eyes of someone you couldn't trust. Like B'Elanna's old buddy, Max Burke," he added.
The mention of her former Academy boyfriend and his betrayal drew a slight wince from B'Elanna. Thanks a lot, Tom, she thought. But she quickly shot back with her own reminder. "You may also want to include your old buddy, Lidell Ren," she added sweetly.
"Ouch!" This time, it was Tom's turn to wince. "Thanks for reminding me."
Neelix sighed. "You know, with us remembering the old days like this, I might want to write my memoirs. Something like'A Talaxian's Journey Through the Delta Quadrant'. I'll be sure to add both of you."
The idea did not exactly sit well with B'Elanna. She could only guess what Neelix might write about her. The Chief Engineer could barely stand the idea of Starfleet Academy possessing a complete file on her life. "That's nice, Neelix," she said with little enthusiasm. One glance at her husband told Tom that he shared her feelings. "Well, it's time to go." She tugged at Tom's arm. "See you later, Neelix."
Tom added, "Good night."
"Good night you two," the Talaxian responded.
Once the couple stood outside the Mess Hall, B'Elanna turned to Tom. "We're going to be mentioned in his memoirs?"
"It's just an idea," Tom said in a placating voice.
B'Elanna growled, "It had better be. For his sake." She and Tom continued toward the turbolift, while she contemplated on ways to sabotage the Talaxian's computer logs without anyone finding out.