Orson Welles Should Have Played Harry Mudd On Star Trek

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be Orson Welles. I could never figure it out – is Orson Welles a boy haunted by manhood, or a man haunted by boyhood? Star Trek is a series of television programs about mostly-gay-now sea captains who respect their ex-girlfriends and want to watch aliens do Shakespeare and Orson Welles should have been on it at least once. Not as Riker, mind you; anyone who suggests Orson as Riker is an enemy of mine. I’m perfectly aware Jonathan Frakes has something of the Orsonian carriage, the Orsonian delivery, and I mark it, but Orson Welles is not a featured player.

“Harry” Harcourt Fenton Mudd, swindler and con man (“Entrepreneur!”), liar and rogue (“Did I leave you with that impression?”). Screwed over since the day he was born, probably stole a time crystal, husband to five hundred of the same wife – Orson Welles was meant to play him, and step toe to toe with William Shatner, until Shatner’s faltering boy-heartiness collapsed under the unrelenting earth-weight of Orson’s. Anything La Shatner has – bluster, intuition, empathy, rumors of girdles and other unkind responses to his lovely lush body, women’s eyes, buoyancy, boyishness, a voice for the back row, feline staginess – Orson had first, and in vaster, more honeyed, quantities.

“In the fifteenth century, they didn’t call them swingers, but…he swung…He was a beautiful bum.” The cause that wit was in other men! The transition from Orson’s heavily-drawled “It was Shakespeare’s finest commercial [always defending an artist’s right to go commercial] on the subject of…booze” to “Sherry sack!” clipped and delivered through Sir John Falstaff’s mouth is instantaneous and perfect. (“Again: ‘Here comes SIDEshow Mel. SIDESHOW Mel. Bada-bing, bada-boom, I’m done. Learn from a professional, kid.”)

“Every man who is any kind of artist has a great deal of female in him. I act and give of myself as a man, but I register and receive with the soul of a woman. The only really good artists are feminine. I can't admit the existence of an artist whose dominant personality is masculine.”
― Orson Welles, My Lunches with Orson

Bring that energy to the limp-lying “Harvey Mudd flees to space to escape his shrewish, nagging wife” and now we’ve got ourselves a character arc. What Orson can’t admit, can’t exist.

Sophocles' FRASIER

I’d apologize for the spate of Frasier content recently, but the hour makes the man, not the other way around; take it up with the present period and its anxieties if you object. From the Wyckoff.




Chorus of Seattlites



Eddie, a dog



A Messenger



Seattle, before the apartments of FRASIER.

NILES and FRASIER emerge from the great front door.


My sibling, my Frasier, do you know

of any suffering from our further sprung

that Zeus does not achieve for us survivors?

There’s nothing grievous, nothing free from doom,

not shameful, not dishonored, I’ve not seen.

Your sufferings and mine.

And now, what of this edict which they say

the commander has proclaimed to the whole people?

Have you heard anything? Or don’t you know

that the foes’ trouble comes upon our friends?


I’ve heard no word, Niles, of our friends.

Not sweet nor bitter, since that single moment

when we lost two brothers

who died on one day by a double blow.

And since the Argive army went away

this very night, I have no further news

of fortune or disaster for myself.


It's times like this that most families

pull together and draw strength from each other...

What shall we do?


What is it? Clearly some news has clouded you.


It has indeed. Martin will give the one

of our two brothers honor in the tomb;

the other none.

None may bury him and none bewail,

but leave him unwept, untombed, a rich sweet sight

for the hungry birds’ beholding.

Further: he has the matter so at heart

that anyone who dares attempt the act

will die by public stoning in the town.

So there you have it and you soon will show

if you are noble, or fallen from your descent.


If things have reached this stage, what can I do,

poor brother, that will help to make or mend?


Frasier, you know I don’t lift. I want

to prove that I’m strong and independent,

and I can’t do that alone.

Think will you share my my labor and my act.


What will you risk? And where is your intent?


My Taekwondo instructor tells me I'm just two moves

away from becoming quite threatening. Will you take up that

corpse along with me?


To bury him, you mean, when it’s forbidden?


My brother, and yours, though you may wish he were not.

I never shall be found to be his traitor. Frasier,

I've formed a fist and I'm thinking of using it!


I will not have you turning a minor,

albeit annoying, situation into a Martin Scorsese film!


It’s not for Martin to keep me from my own.


Alas. Remember, brother, how our mother

perished abhorred, ill-famed.

Herself with her own hand, through her own curse

destroyed both eyes.

Remember next her mother and her husband

finishing life in the shame of the twisted strings.

And third, two brothers on a single day,

poor creatures, murdering, a common doom

each with his arm accomplished on the other.

And now look at the two of us alone.

We’ll perish terribly if we force law

We must remember that we two are psychiatrists

so not to fight with men.

The only things we Crane boys are skilled at catching

are sarcastic nuances and the occasional virus..


Remember, I’m a Jungian.

There’ll be no blaming Mother today.

Be what you want to; but that man shall I

bury. For me, the doer, death is best.

Friend shall I lie with him, yes friend with friend,

when I have dared the crime of piety.

There shall I lie forever. You may see fit

to keep from honor what the gods have honored.


I shall do no dishonor. But to act

against the citizens — I cannot. Seattle needs me.


Frasier, once again you suffer the tragedy of being clever and alone.


Oh my poor brother. How I fear for you!


You've given me something to mull over during my herbal wrap.

For me, don’t borrow trouble. Clear your fate.


At least give no one warning of this act;

you keep it hidden, and I’ll do the same.


I’ll feel safer if I’m packing heat.


For heaven’s sake, you don’t even know how to pack a lunch.


I know I please those whom I most should please.

And so, when strength runs out, I shall give over.

I shall suffer nothing

as great as dying with a lack of grace.

You know, this is sort of exciting.

Even as a child I always fancied I might

make a first-rate society cat burglar.


Go, since you want to. But know this: you go

senseless indeed, but loved by those who love you.

You are a good brother

and a credit to the psychiatric profession.


You’re a good brother, too.


[in front of Polyneices’ corpse]

Well, I'm here. I forgot to gargle, I'm wearing mismatched socks,

and I'm so nervous, I could wet myself.

Two Transmasculine Anthems, Dependent On Mood

A hymn for early in the morning, before breakfast. Before testosterone, if possible.

Only the Goulet version captures the proper transmasculine vim: Accept no substitutes, and listen to no version sung by anyone born after 1950. What! Why such pulled and downcast faces? Have men disappointed you? Faint hearts! God permitted these failures only to serve as a more remarkable background for my success! Watch me, Mom, watch me – Both the voice and the spirit should crack over “Had I been made the partner of Eve we’d be in Eden still.” Thundering suavity! Untrammeled vision! Perfect, God-given clarity! Instant brand recognition! The masculine ingenue! Plucked out of summer stock and straight into God’s hands! A signature song and twelve percent on the back end! Someday, when you are old — if you choose to experience old age — Clive Barnes will write of your penultimate performance that your still radiant grin is in better shape than your joints: But when you sing or even speak, the years fall away, your voice untouched by time, filling the stage, revitalizing your co-stars and bringing them into contact with a passion and sentiment that previously eluded them!

Had I been made –

In the afternoon, but before nightfall. For the beleaguered:

A bit on the nose, having a group of suited executives plot your downfall in a men’s bathroom? Today has been perhaps a bit on the nose. Go get ‘em, baby…Lots of luck. What on earth are you doing in a men’s bathroom, anyhow? No one gave you sides for this number, and everyone else is already off-book. What’s left but style, the greatest of the second-best strategies? Meditate on pugnaciousness, refashion that weighty, doubtful female vanity into cheeky male self-adoration, trade a hairbrush-microphone for a mirror-audience, and you’re back in business – turning things around – learning to shave and flossing regularly – washing your hands thoroughly for twenty-five to thirty seconds, as all employees are required to do before returning to work – pour out the syrupy, show-boating self-regard before they turn the tap off — funnel that expansive world-conquering spirit into something more a little more focused, a bit more manageable — oh, I believe in you!

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