Travelling Through the Star Trek Universe, Part I. Viewing Notes on Star Trek: The Motion Picture. @StarTrek @Hulu #StarTrek #GuiltyPleasure #movie

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It’s time to revisit all the Star Trek movies. It’s my favorite intellectual property, but don’t expect me to act the apologist. As my friends will attest, I’m happy to criticize the things I love, but there’s a lot to love here as well. The things we tolerate for drama. *sigh* This post doubles as an entry in my Guilty Pleasures; it wasn’t well received by anyone. It isn’t the first Star Trek movie to be in that category, and it won’t be the last. Here are my viewing notes.

Nice theme music. I remember getting into a mild argument with my uncle. I claimed that they reused it for the Star Trek: the Next Generation series. Guess who won that argument.

“I’m so offended they changed the Klingons! How can we explain this in canon?!” The FASA Star Trek RPG did so brilliantly (which they adapted from John M. Ford‘s work), and the canon explanation from Star Trek: Enterprise wasn’t bad either.

Trivia: Mark Lenard was the first actor to play three different species in the Star Trek universe. In my favorite Star Trek episode, Balance of Terror, he played a Romulan commander. In Journey to Babel, he played Sarek, Spock’s Vulcan father. In this movie, he was the Klingon commander. If I’m not mistaken, it wasn’t until Jeffrey Combs played Shran that someone else accomplished the feat. I’m not entirely sure about that though. It could have been Tony Todd or Joseph Ruskin. I’m too lazy to look it up.

I’m not even three minutes into the substantive content, and we’re already getting a scene with unnecessarily long exterior views of things that don’t matter. We get it. The space station is big. Really big.

Ooooo, a backwards-firing photon torpedo. We’ve never seen that before. Wait. Why not? How stupid were the designers of these ships?

I don’t think the movie ever explained that the voice calling out to Spock was Kirk’s, not V’Ger. I seem to remember from the novelization that it was Kirk. I read the novelizations of the first five Star Trek movies. Yeah, that includes the Final Frontier. That book was pretty good. Sybok could have been the best villain ever.

Poor Sonak. He didn’t realize what was in store for him, but he almost deserves it. You’re not Spock, Sonak. Don’t raise your eyebrow like that. It’s a Spock thing, not a Vulcan thing. (It became a Vulcan thing, but it shouldn’t have been.)

Why is the Enterprise the only ship in range to intercept? They’re on Earth, which is the center of government for the Federation. Shouldn’t there be at least a few ships nearby? This isn’t the only time this nonsense was used as a plot device.

And here’s the unnecessarily long exterior view that everyone talks about. I really should fast forward through this one, but writing these notes is distraction enough to make it bearable.

The engineer on the floating disk is probably violating OSHA regulations.

All these actors are amazing. I actually believe they’re happy to see William Shatner arrive.

The real reason Decker was relieved of his captaincy was that he was molesting children. (Too harsh?)

The other person in that transporter malfunction had a pretty decent treatment in the novel. Here, she wasn’t even named.

The crowd of crewmen included a lot of diversity. The rest of the movie? Not so much.

Chekov’s smile when Ilia enters is classic. Sulu tried and failed.

McCoy should have kept the beard for the entire movie.

I don’t think wormholes work that way, but I’ve never been in one. From a dramatic perspective, the scene wore out its welcome not even halfway through it. It had the same effect as any of those external shots.

Kirk needs a ready room.

I’m sorry.
That you left Delta IV? Or that you didn’t say goodbye?
If I had, would you have been able to say it?

Now picture me rolling my eyes so hard they fall out.

I made a simple ST:TMP game on my Commodore Vic-20. There wasn’t a lot of memory to do anything impressive, but it was a good way to connect with the movie.

More external shots. Yes, we know. This thing is even bigger.

Was V’ger related to the Borg in some way? There’s a non-canon story line that says so, but I want that resolved in canon. Hey, what about Control? Could V’ger close a temporal loop by being related to Control?

Oh, Ilia. ☹ She’s so scared.

“This is how I define unwarranted!” How did Decker make Captain? Space travel is risky business. If you can’t handle it, don’t do it. They’re trying to save Earth. There are billions of lives at stake. You must take risks.

Spock is a seer. He can see the future.

The computer’s assessment of what’s going on

Why is the Ilia probe wearing clothes? This isn’t wishful thinking. She was created in the shower without clothes, and then they were added before it exposed itself.

My memory of the novel tells me that it went into a ton of detail about the scan of the probe. It was . . . . fascinating.

Why didn’t the door open for the Ilia probe? She shouldn’t have had to break through it. They’re automatic. We already know it’s extremely strong.

In one of his posts, Kessel Junkie claimed that this ship. . .

I use a toy because Star Wars is for children.

. . . proved that Star Wars got faster-than-light speed theory right before Star Trek did (2002).

Yeah, you beat this one, Hammerhead. 2009.

Bad news on that, though.

I swear it’s clearer earlier in the scene.

Spock getting emotional over a handshake. It’s as if millions of Vulcan voices cried out in terror.

I want to see V’Ger fight the whale probe.

Nimoy was wearing a lot of makeup.

“Mr. Chekov, when do those probes reach their final destination?”
“Fifty-seven minutes.”

What? That means that there’s got to be 57 minutes left in this show for the ending to have a close call! Oh, there’s only 20 minutes left. Phew!

“Captain, I’d like to go along.”

Of course, you would, Commander Decker. Someone’s got to die.

In 1979, I was 11, so the big reveal (i.e., “VOYAGER”) surprised the hell out of me.

Couldn’t they just hit Voyager with a phaser? That’s the whole ship’s brain.

“Jim, I want this. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this.”

Again, how did this idiot become Captain (of the flagship, no less)? It must have been nepotism.

In a sense, this was the perfect Star Trek movie. Lots of human drama, and a “villain” that represents the unknown of space, while representing a cautionary tale for humanity itself: Our actions will always have consequences. But that doesn’t resonate well with non-Star Trek nerds. It didn’t have the face-to-face villain that everyone craves. That’s because the first movie is always about the protagonists, with the sequel about the villain. Maybe the next movie will fare better with the masses. 😊

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Ice Cream is for Suckers #dnd #rpg #gaming

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, it’s something I saw on Facebook.


Sometimes, you just want to hack and slash, but fair warning: So does the DM.

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My Two Favorite Jokes #NSFW

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These are my two favorite jokes. Neither of them is safe for work. The second is a good way to test whether you want to be friends with someone.

The Doctor’s Visit

I went to the doctor today. He told me, “Rob, you’re going to have to stop masturbating.”
Confused, I asked, “Why?”
He replied, “Because I’m trying to examine you.”

Being a Good Sport

“Do you remember blowing bubbles when you were younger?”
“I ran into him. He says hello.”

For this second one, I’ve had several people recognize that they’re being set up and answer the initial question, “No.” They’re so insecure that they’re unwilling to be the butt of even the best joke. That’s how you know you don’t need them in your life.

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Scary Watch: Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons @netflix #crime #prison #GoodWatch

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Holy shit! This is some scary stuff. Netflix’s series, Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons, is well-named series currently consisting of four four-episode seasons, with each episode about 45 minutes long. It doesn’t take long to get scary. They start with a prison in Honduras where the guards lock themselves out and leave discipline to the most dangerous of prisoners. They even arm them, and the “warden” is a convicted killer. The interview with the 19-year-old is heartbreaking, but not in the way you might think. He belongs there. Another guy claims he acted in self-defense but still says he wish he hadn’t killed the deceased. Prison is worth than death for him.

From there, it goes to a Polish prison that keeps prisoners in cells 23 hours a day, Mexico, and a couple of overcrowded prisons in the Philippines. That’s just season one. Season two moves on to an understaffed prison in the Ukraine, a prison in Papua New Guinea where constant food shortages create chaos, and an evangelical prison (!?!?) in Belize.

None of these prisons are in the United States, but the show nevertheless reminds me of three concerns I have. First, do whatever you can to stay out of prison. The notion of spending any time there is terrifying for most of us, and the rest of us are just naive. Second, some people truly belong there. I don’t want them roaming the streets and posing a threat to society, so lock them up and make it uncomfortable. Third, we can’t forget that even the hardest prisoners still retain their humanity, and prison often breaks them. I don’t want prison to be easy, but forgetting their humanity assures us that they’ll continue to be a threat once their time in prison is done. We can’t leave most of them in there forever, so I want them returning to society with the assumption that they have a chance to get their lives back on track. It’s a puzzle for which I don’t have the answer, and unfortunately, as with all other complicated problems we face, each of us tends to look at only one side of the story and refuse to budge when presented with criticism. When we pass that sentiment on to our elected representative, we assure that this puzzle will never be solved.

My first draft of this post was written after having watched the first season, and it included a statement that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish it. I’m currently halfway through season 3 and will watch all of season 4. I think I actually got hardened to the imagery after a while. Considering what these prisoners go through, and thus what they may be hardened to, the thought of their release is scary.

This is a very tough watch, but it gives you a lot of food for thought. As always, YMMV.

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You Can Never Really Go Back #gaming #DnD

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I started a new job located in Chantilly, Virginia, and joined a gym nearby once it reopened. This means that every single day I drive by the old site of the Game Parlor. This is a tough pill to swallow. I left D&D in 1981 due to the satanic panic. In other words, I left because I was forced to leave. When I finally broke through a particular mental barrier, I returned to the game in 2005. My first game was at the Game Parlor in Chantilly, Virginia, where I created my warmage, Frylock, who would be immortalized both in a mini made for me by my friend, @Luddite_Vic, and also on my license plate.

I played two Living Greyhawk modules, which itself opened my eyes to a larger community that was unavailable when I was a kid. The game had become more popular, and the internet brought us all together. I instantly started making new friends (and frenemies) and found a new social outlet, which I know creates a paradox for the ignorant. Within five years, I had attended my first GenCon and was organizing my own convention, synDCon.

So here I sit on Wednesday night having a thought. I should be playing D&D with a group I recently joined, but I’m not. Why? Because I no longer enjoy playing the game. I don’t play it the way almost all others do, and the way those others play the game simply doesn’t appeal to me. I didn’t particularly like D&D 3.5e but, despite that systemic problem, still played it because of the people. Even though I like D&D 5e, getting to see them no longer is enough to make me sit through a game that just drags for me.

So while I lament not having the Game Parlor, I realize that even if I did (and there were no more pandemic), I wouldn’t take advantage of it. It’s like this: Even if you think very fondly of, for example, 5th grade, you wouldn’t want to go back there with the mind you have now. You’re an adult. You don’t want to do childish things with ten-year-olds as your primary source of entertainment. I’m not saying D&D is per se childish; I’m just saying I’ve moved beyond it as it’s usually played, so I don’t really want to go back there. I just want the idea of finding something like that. Unfortunately, I think I’m too old to expect that to happen.

You can never really go back.

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My Bucket List #music #travel

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With far more years behind me than I have ahead of me (absent a game-changing nanobot breakthrough), I’ve made a modest bucket list for myself. There isn’t much I want to do before I die, and I likely have plenty of time to do it. Unfortunately, the pandemic kept me from starting this year, but we’ll eventually get .

Experiencing My Heritage

Like most Americans, I’m a mutt. According to my family tree, my ancestors had five primary nationalities: Dutch, German, Irish, Italian, Scottish. I’m not one to believe in pride in your heritage. I shouldn’t get credit for any of the accomplishments of my ancestors, so in what exactly am I supposed to take pride? However, I know more about those cultures than I do any others, but have plenty more to learn. With no other reason to choose any other destination than another, I’m going with those five countries. Here’s my thinking.

The Netherlands: Amsterdam, because of course Amsterdam.

Germany: Dachau, because of its historical importance.

Ireland: Dublin, because my maternal grandmother’s mother was born there. This may require some more research to confirm.

Italy: Rome for the Corso family, and Sicily for the Matai family. This is my maternal grandfather’s portion of the family tree.

Scotland: Lochgilphead, because that’s where my father’s mother’s father was born. I’ve also been told of distillery tours where you can sample much of the scotch that country has to offer. Seems like my kind of trip. 

All of this is subject to change if 1) my research uncovers a specific reason to visit a specific site; 2) a DNA test uncovers a significant degree of influence from another nationality; and 3) any of you give me a good reason to choose a different location within these five countries. 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Simply put, I’d like to attend an induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Most of my favorite bands have already been inducted, but I’m such a music nut that it’d be hard to choose a class that wouldn’t appeal to me in some way. In particular, I’d like to attend when Warren Zevon eventually gets inducted. Here’s a small example as to why.

The class of 2020 snubbed Pat Benatar, Dave Matthews Band, Soundgarden, Judas Priest, Thin Lizzy, and Motorhead, any of which I’d love to see get inducted.

That’s it. I’m not asking for much of myself. 

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Neat Watch: Brave New World @peacockTV #GoodWatch

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NBC Peacock offered their original series, Brave New World, free of charge last weekend. I liked it a lot. The episodes are between 40-50 minutes long, and there are nine of them. From the Peacock website:

In a utopia whose perfection hinges upon control of monogamy and privacy, members of the collective begin to question the rules, putting their regimented society on a collision course with forbidden love and revolution.

In a sense, it was a horror movie for me, but I don’t expect everyone to feel that way. This is probably best described as science-fiction, though it’s also referred to as Utopian or Dystopian. I think of it as trying to achieve the same sort of vibe as Westworld. It’s a different story, and they carve their own path, so I’m not accusing them of doing anything wrong. Among the show’s stars are three actors with whom I’m familiar: Alden Ehrenreich, Hannah John-Kamen, and Demi Moore.

There’s a scene near the end of episode 4 that really hits me. I’m not sure if this is the intention, but it basically says (to me) that you don’t need soma (their mood-improving drug) because there’s music in the world. I doubt that was the precise intent, especially in light of a scene in episode 5, but that’s at least close (or part of) what they’re trying to say.

Is it good? Yes. I liked it a lot and will watch subsequent seasons. However, there’s too much good stuff on Peacock, as well as the other streaming services for which I’m already paying, for me to add another bill. I’ll probably join for a month and spend a weekend watching season 2 and a couple of other shows.

Unfortunately, if you want to watch it now, you’ll have to subscribe to Peacock’s pay service. As always, YMMV.

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The Story of Darth Vader #movie #StarWars

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Sundays are now lazy days for me. Going forward, I’m just going to re-post other people’s work or just do something silly. Today, it’t the story of Darth Vader. This video smartly uses the fan-created remastering of the fight between Darth Vader and Ben Kenobi.

The prequels are underrated. Fight me.

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Neat Watch: High Score @netflix #VideoGame #GoodWatch

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Netflix has a new limited series called High Score. It’s the story of video games, and it’s fascinating. It’s 6, 40-minute (or so) episodes, and it gives you a great sense of how much video games have evolved. For example, I played the stand-up games in the arcade. Almost 20 years later, I was working on the patents that made Final Fantasy possible. Only 2-1/2 episodes in, and they’ve already covered all that ground. I constantly asked, “Where do they have to go from here?” Every episode, they showed an innovation that changed everything. As a result, you see just how far along video game technology and culture have come in about 40 years.

Even for someone who doesn’t play video games anymore, this was a neat show. As always, YMMV.

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