The Boyfriend of the Week

March 15, 2005

So, I was sittin' around the other day working up a little best-of/worst-of list of the movies I watched during my February hiatus (it's a list the email subscribers got to see when I posted today's write-up - join the list yourself if you want in on the tasty-movie-review-goodness). And, as I was mentally stacking DVDs into imaginary piles, I noticed a trend setting in. I wasn't really aware of it at the time, but as it turns out, February was the month of the HBO drama.

"So, hey," I asked myself, "why not take that trend and turn it into a Boyfriend series?" "Self," I replied, "I've said it before and I'll say it again: you are a genius." And hence, sub-begins the HBOyfriend series, which I will have to apply retroactively to last week's write-up on "Deadwood's" John Hawkes, since last week, I didn't even know this trend existed. Despite the fact it was there all the time. Funny, that.

Funny. . . Hey. . . Actually, hold on a second. If you don't notice a trend, does the trend actually exist? In other words, is the trendness of a trend contingent on the observation of that trend? Or, ooh, wait, is this line of thinking going to lead me into yet another tangential musing on the Schrodinger's Cat theory? Because if so, you guys might want to skip the next couple of paragraphs. Once I get started, I have a hard time stopping. Wait, wait, no! No, no, no. I'm going to try to de-tangent myself by repeating the name of this week's Boyfriend over and over until no thoughts of physics remain. Tim Dekay, Tim DeKay, Tim DeKay, Tim DeKay.

Right, Tim Dekay. Who exists, I contend, whether you observe his existence or not. Oh, crap, there I go again. And there's really no point in putting this off, because once I start thinking quantum, there's no stopping me. The topic just has to be left to burn itself out. So, here goes: Let's say you put Tim DeKay into a box with a device containing a small amount of radioactive substance and a vial of hydrocyanic acid that will be smashed open by a hammer the moment even a single atom of the radioactive substance decays. Let's also say that you know, based on previous observations, that an atom of the radioactive substance will decay in exactly one hour. Two hours later, is Tim Dekay still the cutest underdog of all time, or has he melted into a puddle of goop?

Answer: technically, according to quantum law, he's both cute AND melty at the same time until we open the box and see which one is actually true. And, frankly, because of that alone, I vote for just leaving him in the box, a la "Boxing Helena," because not only would I hate to see him puddle-ified, but "cute and melty" is coincidentally exactly how he makes me feel when I watch him on HBO's show "Carnivále."

And YES! I come full circle! And I think I deserve a major round of applause for once again working quantum theory, however inaccurately, into a Boyfriend write-up. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Next week, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Now, "Carnivále" was a series I actually had sitting around in my pre-queue at Netflix for so many months, I couldn't remember why I'd put it there to begin with. I'd probably read something about it, but I have no idea what, where, or when. And when it finally was released on DVD and jumped into my regular queue and then showed up in my mailbox, I'll be darned if I had a single clue about it whatsoever.

But, never one to let the unknown intimidate, I plunked the first disk into slot one of my DVD player and we were off to the races.

Well, not quite the races. Because, and I say this with the caveat that I will take it back in about seven more sentences, it was just amazingly boring. In the first episode, we are introduced to Nick Stahl's character, Ben Hawkins, whose mother dies just as a carnival comes rumbling by. The dwarf in charge (because a carnival just isn't a carnival without a dwarf in charge) gets word from The Management (who I'd nickname "Cigarette Smoking Man" except that he's voiced by Linda Hunt and lives behind a finger-puppet stage-curtain. Somehow, not so much with the "ominous." Or, for that matter, with the "Man.") that they ought to pick the kid up. So, he does, and it turns out to be doubly-good for Ben because without the carnival, he would not only have been alone and homeless, but he would've promptly been arrested by the cops who are hot on his trail (as it turns out, Ben's on the lam for committing some crime or another). Whew, close one, Bensy!

And well, okay, I guess "amazingly boring" is probably too strong a description. Because I watched the whole episode and was at least intrigued enough to continue. Except that, if I'm being completely honest here, and I think I should be despite the fact it'll make me look bad, the real reason I continued was because I'd made the mistake of requesting ALL the disks, and therefore the only DVDs I had that weekend were "Carnivále" ones. And while, granted, I could've done something else, like read a book, write the Great American Novel, or rally for peace in the Middle East . . . well, who wants to be productive when instead you can spend nine straight hours on your ass? Peace schmeace, I say. And besides, nobody in the Middle East EVER listens to me. Seriously. I've tried.

Luckily, "Carnivále" turned out to be GREAT. As the series went on, it got progressively more exciting and complicated and enthralling and sexy and just entertaining as all get out. And did I mention sexy? Because, SEXY. The only bad part is that the story also goes off in a direction that gets a bit hokey towards the end (and, unfortunately, I've see most of season two and it just gets worse from there). You see, as it turns out Ben has a magical talent - he can heal people just by touching them. This is cool, but as he hangs with the carny folk, he begins to learn about his father, Henry Scudder, a dude so bad The Management says he's going to destroy the world. So, Ben starts trying to track his dad down, as it's apparently his destiny to stop the apocalypse. Meanwhile, there's a preacher on the West Coast who is clearly bonkers in all the worst ways, and he too has a magical talent - he can torture people just by lookin' at 'em funny. Talk about your evil eye!

Anyway, he's somehow involved with Scudder and Ben and the implication is that he and Ben are going to face-off at some point. The problem is, the more I watch, the more I start envisioning that face-off as one involving crackly lightning beams of laser-y badness shooting from each character's hands. Hi-YAH, take THAT! KAZAAM! And then I realize the crackly lightning beams I'm picturing in my head are actually the beams from those contraptions in "Ghostbusters." So, then I start imaginging this battle involving a regular back-and-forth of lightning beams until all of a sudden, the Preacher and Ben accidentally CROSS THE STREAMS. And then I start thinking, "Ray, when someone asks you if you are a God, SAY YES!" And then that's followed by, "I collect spores, mold, and fungus." And then I start snickering, because, you know, "Stay Puft Marshmallow Man." And then I leap up to put "Ghostbusters" in my queue at Netflix, and then I lose track of what's going on in "Carnivále" and then I have to rewind scene two. AGAIN.

So, you can see how hard it is to take that storyline seriously. It's just, how best to put this, UTTERLY RIDICULOUS.

But luckily, in season one anyway (not so of season two, unfortunately), it's also a storyline that shares equal focus with the other subplots, and those subplots, which are FAR more interesting, involve various other carnival characters and a whole host of bizarre, more original, and less hokey goings-on.

Including quite a bit of delicious steaminess involving Tim DeKay's underdoggone character Clayton Jones ("Jonesy"). You knew I'd get back to Tim at some point, right? Clayton is kind of the carnival handy-man, in charge of all the set-up and take-down and maintenance (there's a word for that job, but I can't think of it at the moment). He's madly in love with the young daughter of the mute psychic lady, played by Clea Duvall, but when she rejects him over and over, he finally succumbs to his need for physical closeness with a woman, and opts for the house hussy instead (and I mean "hussy" in a very affectionate way, because Rita Sue is the second-coolest female HBO character of all time (after Calamity Jane from "Deadwood," of course)). Rita Sue is one of the cootch dancers (along with her two daughters), and though at first their relationship is supposed to be pure business, it's not long before they're seeking each other out all over the place. The best thing about Rita Sue? She's the very definition of "full-figured," and yet she's hands-down the sexiest woman on the show. Gotta love it.

Plus, Jonesy is such a sad, complicated, lonely guy. And such a GOOD guy. Plus he's an endearingly hard worker. Who just looks so, so, so good when he's all dirty and sweaty. So good in all the gentle sorts of ways. The soothing kinds of ways. The good-guy-to-marry kinds of ways. The curl-up-in-his-lap-and-get-smoochy (after he's showered) kinds of ways.

Of course, if you're opposed to carnivals because you've never gotten over your fear of bearded women and alligator men, or because you don't want to bother investing in a series when I've already told you season two bites the big one, the good news is that you have other options. For one thing, you can always catch Tim DeKay in his role on "Everwood," where he has played a character named Reverend Keys a couple of times. The last I saw of his character was in season two, I think, but that's only because this show, like "Carnivále," began to stink right around the end of the second season and I haven't watched regularly since. I mean, what, did they fire all the writers and hire preteens to take over the scripts? Because the few episodes I saw this year were pretty much all identical. Should we have sex? I guess not. Oh wait! Should we have SEX? I guess not. WAIT! I meant, should we have SEX? Oh, I guess not. For pete's sake, just have sex already and SHUT UP about it! Gosh!

Fortunately for those of us with tempers, there's a better option. A perfect, sweet, charming, wonderful movie co-starring Tim DeKay that we can turn to in times of frustration. And that movie is "Big Eden."

"Big Eden" is about a New York Artist, Henry (played by Arye Gross), who returns home to the small town of Big Eden when his grandfather, who raised him, has a stroke. When he arrives, he's stopped in his tracks to find that the man he's been in love with since high school, Dean (our sweet DeKay), has moved back to Big Eden and is there raising his two kids. At first, Henry can't stop thinking about Dean, and for a few months, the feelings seem mutual. But then the same thing that happened when they were kids happens again -- no matter how hard he tries, Dean is just NOT GAY -- and once again, Henry is absolutely devastated. Meanwhile, a tall, dark, and quiet local named Pike (played by ex-Boyfriend Eric Schweig) is intensely attracted to Henry himself. He starts cooking him gourmet meals in secret, trying slowly to make a connection. And the town, full of wonderful, accepting people, start helping him -- so much do they want to see both Pike and Henry happy. And by god, by twenty minutes into this sweet film, so will you. A truly fine film and one I know I will watch many times again in the future.

How's THAT for positive feedback, baby?

Of course, Tim's been in a few other things, most notably (and memorably) a two-year stint on one of my favorite teenage melodramas, "Party of Five." I think it was during seasons three and four (so, not out on DVD yet) and if I remember correctly, he played a doctor who was Kirsten's ex-husband. It's strange how vividly I remember his face from that, given this was almost a decade ago and at the time, I had no idea who he was. But, it just goes to show you how TOTALLY DARN CUTE he is. Because if he wasn't TOTALLY DARN CUTE, would his face have been so emblazened on my mind?

The bad news about Tim DeKay is that there really isn't much in the way of information about him available on the web. No fan pages that I could find and very little history even at the "Carnivále" site. But I did find out that he's quite well known in the theater world, having been on Broadway in "The Show-Off" and Off-Broadway in a variety of productions. He was also part of the national tour of "The Lion In Winter" starring George Peppard and while he was a performer at The Court Theater in LA, he received an LA Weekly nomination for Best Actor. That's pretty cool, right? Additionally, Tim can be heard occasionally on NPR, performing in plays for LA Theater Works with a ton of famous people including Charles Durning, Mercedes Ruehl, and ex-Boyfriend Anthony LaPaglia. His education includes a B.S. in Business Administration from Le Moyne College and an M.F.A. in Acting from Rutgers. He's also married (alas).

Up next for Tim is a role in "The Chumscrubber," which is described on the IMDB site as "a darkly satiric story about life crumbling in the midst of a seemingly idyllic suburbia." It co-stars Ralph Fiennes and future Boyfriend William Fichtner and also features Rory Culkin, who I would make a Boyfriend in a SECOND were it not for the fact he's only 16 years old.

And, we will probably also be seeing Tim DeKay in more "Carnivále," although I have to confess I may not stick around for a season three. Oh, who cares about all this other stuff anyway? If there's one thing I want you to take away from this write-up, it's the uncontrollable urge to go rent "Big Eden"! Do it! Do it now! Do it now or else!

MacGyver Factor Score: 94.569%. Points off for making my job harder by not being more famous. I couldn't find any (good) pictures, I couldn't find information, I couldn't find nuthin'. Tim, it's time to sell-out! I want to see you nominated as one of People Magazine's 50 Sexiest Men by 2006 or else you're outta here!

Addendum (March 21,2005): A reader just wrote to call me a "meany" and demand I put some points back on Tim's score because, ta-da, he has his own official web site:! Damn! I'm so totally fired! Quick, everybody go visit his site so that it'll show up higher in the Google search results for the next fool who tries to find information about Tim! And Tim, I apologize for encouraging you to sell-out (although, for the record, you should give your webmaster some better photographs of you because the ones on your site pretty much suck monkeys too. Make your wife pick out the photos -- she'll know what features to look for.).

Boyfriend-Related Links

Tim's IMDB Page
All About Schrodinger's Cat theory
HBO's Carnivale web site

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