Warped Factors by Walter Koenig "A Neurotics Guide to the Universe"
Hardcover: 316 pages
Publisher: Taylor Pub (April 1998)
From Publishers Weekly
Known primarily for his role as the confident Pavel Chekov in the Star Trek series and films, Koenig (Chekov's Enterprise) offers a surprisingly fretful memoir, focusing on his lifelong battle with neurosis and the toll it has taken on his personal and professional relationships. The book's first half covers Koenig's childhood experiences and early TV roles, with the remainder devoted mainly to his career on the U.S.S. Enterprise. Even success in early TV roles on Combat! and General Hospital failed to mitigate Koenig's "Quasimodo" self-image, which carried over into his worldwide success with Star Trek. He often complains about his treatment on the show: regretting that producer Gene Roddenberry ignored his script ideas, feeling dismissed by Spock actor Leonard Nimoy and envying George Takei's (Sulu) sword-wielding performance in "The Naked Time" episode. Koenig's honesty, humor and obvious intelligence do much to enliven the book (one of several intros hilariously sends up the entire crew), as do flashes of terrific writing. But the Star Trek show and films have been reported upon innumerable times, and so this book, for all its charms, will likely appeal mostly to diehard Trekkies.
As many of you know, I am of the age to have been a fan of the Original Star Trek. Later to have the luck of the Irish, and to become friends with Dr. McCoy himself.
In the interim, there were Star Trek Conventions! I lived in Florida when I first started going to conventions. The two most frequented guests were Walter Koenig and George Takai. Both, very nice people and genuine fun to be around.
Fast forward many, many, many years. Conventions still happen, but have gotten so expensive I rarely go. But there are Autograph shows now... much cheaper to get to but still expensive once you are hooked into "autographs"!
Over the years I have seen Walter Koenig numerous times. I think of all the Original Trek people Walter always made himself the most approachable. It was standard that while you walked around the dealers room you would eventually run into Walter who would be strolling around looking at all the dealers tables. He never turned anyone away who walked up to him and began to talk. Not only a fine actor.. but a fine human being.
A number of years ago it seems most of the Trek folk decided to write autobiographies. Having felt I knew them fairly well already.. or at least as much as I wanted to, I never got into the books they wrote.
As all who read my blog know, recently I've had more than my share of lost loved ones. It makes one feel very vulnerable to life itself. And so when I saw that Walter was coming to the autograph show in April I knew I wanted to see him. Walter is 73, I am 65.. time marches on at an accelerated pace. It could be the last time I see him.. so yes, I am going to try like heck to see him in April.
I was hoping to get a new copy of my favorite book by Walter called Chekov's Enterprise, but with all things considered I wound up sending for what I thought was his Autobiography. One thing that I already knew about Walter, from Chekov's Enterprise, was the wonderful sense of humor he has, and so when I read that Warped Factor was humorous.. I sent for it. I wanted to feel closer to Walter before seeing him again, and my memories of the times I did meet him were running thru my mind at the same warp speed that life was passing by. I looked at the book cover and even though he is making a funny face he is in uniform.. he is Chekov, which spurred my memory to the one and only time I met Chekov on the set when they were filming Star Trek 6. It was good. It was always good because Walter was always such a nice person to be around.
Ok.. on to the book!..........
Let me begin with a little something from the beginning of the book... just so you can get a feel for his sense of humor I spoke about..
Excerpt on entering 2nd grade:
Miss Farrell 2A-7
Students in 2A-1 were destined to skip a grade and someday become Eagle Scouts. Those in 2A-2 and 2A-3 had the multiplication tables down cold and already had experienced some insight into long division. 2A-4 through 2A-6 pupils had mastered the rudiments of cursive handwriting, could carry a tune, and were generally the most popular kids in the grade. Girls were equally represented with boys in the firs six sections.
2A-7, 2A-8, and 2A-9 were not so much sections as there were pens and stalls. Admission here was by being dropped through a trap door and poked at with a long stick. Among these students, tongue lapping of nasal mucous and farting on cue were art forms and, in keeping with Darwin's theory of survival, an early death was a foregone conclusion. Eighty percent of these children were male. They ate mustard sandwiches for lunch, could remember the names of only three people outside their immediate family, and hadn't conquered the intricacies of saluting the flag.
Imagine my mortification when I realized I had been dumped among these miscreants. Imagine how I pleaded with the mother of all mother-betrayers to release my hand, to let me go home, to start over in Uruguay. Imagine, if you will, the life-shaping moment as the classroom door swung open at the precise instant I screamed out: "I DON'T WANT TO BE IN THIS SISSY CLASS!!
Now imagine the former district attorney of Gotham City... who, after suffering an explosion which permanently disfigured him and his psyche, changed from Harvey Dent to Two-Face and became an arch foe of Batman.. and you begin to get a picture of the woman staring out at me from inside the classroom.
Just so you know, the book does have more serious parts, but his humor is hard to disguise. Also this book is more of an autobiography of Walter and his career and not so much his private life or family man. That's ok . I had just finished reading Maureen O'Hara's book and it had a bit of everything in it... this was good in other ways.
I was astounded to find out that Walter was a bit like me.. he was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. ... and for whatever reason, it always did seem to drop!
He didn't have the easiest of times during his career, as with many others there were some real highs and many not so great lows.
I did come away from this book feeling like I knew him better, which is a good thing because I am still hoping I can somehow go to the autograph show next month and see him once again.
If you were ever a fan of the Original Star Trek and enjoyed "Chekov", I would say that you would find this book quite interesting and you'd get some chuckles on the side. Not a bad combination if you ask me.
Reading this book just may make me get the books the others wrote. Maybe after all these years it's time to read them now.
Thanks Walter! I don't think there are more shoes to drop, so relax and enjoy all the memories.....