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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] sir_cat, [personal profile] oxymoron67, AND [personal profile] klingonguy!!!



So... High-speed, low-budget post...

I slept in all of fifteen minutes this morning, since Rocky wanted food and insulin, Yoda wanted food, and Brigid and Brandon needed to go out and go potty. Oh well. Though, I've been napping on and off all day...

That's not to say I haven't been at least somewhat productive. I've gotten a start on laundry. I cleaned my bathroom. I've watered the plants. I've gotten other odds and ends done. I'm mid-way though taking care of the cat boxes and trash, but, I'm slowly whacking back my to-do list for the weekend. My goal is to have next to nothing to worry about for Monday. And the less I have to worry about for tomorrow, the better.

Not much else. Rocky is happy it's the weekend and has been following me around most of the time. He, Yoda, and I watched the series finale for Star Trek: The Next Generation, "All Good Things..." Now, I have finally seen all of the TNG episodes. Yes, there were a few that I never saw because I had set the VCR to tape them, only to have a hockey game or somesuch pre-empt them. Actually, that's why I stopped watching Voyager in the seventh season... It was never on when it was supposed to be, so, setting the VCR was useless. I'll eventually get Voyager (and DS9 and the enhanced Original Series [I have the regular Original Series on DVD]) on DVD.

To top it off, the last year of TNG was my senior year of high school, so, I was also a bit busy with graduating and getting ready for college. In fact, the original air date of "All Good Things..." was my high school graduation night. And I just never...watched the beginning of the episode. But now, I have seen the TNG run in its entirety. That last episode was like some sort of warped Christmas Carol as well. I mean, it starts and ends with Picard demanding to know the date. And he's visited by the past, the present, and the future.

Thing is, and thanks to all the wonderful Trek authors, I had a hard time watching "All Good Things..." as an end to TNG. Leaving aside the movies, the fact is that the books have done a more than adequate job in continuing the TNG story/saga. (Not to mention, DS9 and Voyager, too.)

Not much else. So, back to work, I suppose...

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You know, I've discovered that each time I re-watch my Firefly DVDs, I enjoy the series even more than the last time I watched it. Each time I watch, I discover another layer of nuance. I notice different details. I see evidence of larger arcs.

They should have given Star Wars to Whedon. With what Whedon did with Mal and Inara, I think he would have done great with Han and Leia. And with what he did with River? Yeah, we'd have Jedi fights of sheer awesomeness.

Something that's struck me about the series since I first read the novelization of Serenity is the relationship between Simon and River. My sister and I had our fair share of sibling rivalry, but, and I just watched "Safe," which is the episode where Simon and River are kidnapped by hillfolk, and River's telepathy leads her to be deemed a witch by the townsfolk, I still love my sister. Indeed, while I'm not out risking my life to save her from an alliance trying to turn her into a weapon, I think some of my current animosities towards family are a...protectiveness...towards her, given that such animosities have arisen about people feeling snubbed at not being invited to her wedding.

I think some of our past rivalries had come from a security to have such rivalries. When I look at some of the darker times in our lives, predominantly when Dad was sick, we still worked well together. And we've always managed to set aside differences when pets were concerned. When the going got tough, we were backup for each other, and typically didn't go for each others' throats unless there was nothing else going on. Maybe sibling rivalry, or at least our sibling rivalry, was born of boredom. But now, we play very nice together, whether we're rescuing abandoned felines or breaking Mom out of a nursing home or making sure Rich doesn't have a diabetic episode while with Mom at the hospital.

Fortunately, Mandie and I also had parents who gave a damn. I look at Simon and River's parents, who just plain didn't really know their kids, didn't see the signs River gave that the Academy was hurting her... At least our parents would have been more concerned about us rather than about how things might look to other people. Then again, we were too poor to worry about anything other than each other.

I'm glad my sister and I get along well these days.

And as far as Firefly goes... I realized I can't pick a favorite episode. The whole series is my favorite episode...

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] dungeonwriter, [profile] brainlesswonder, AND [profile] hmpinky!!



So, weird dream last night where some teenagers stole my car for a chop shop, and the local teen heroes were total douchebags about it. But my car was saved from the chop shop and returned to me by the A Team, because they had a soft spot for cars from the 1980s.

Rocky is behind me, snoring. Every time I fart, I figure I'm giving him a Dutch Toaster Oven.

So, with regards to JJ Abrams and Star Trek and Star Wars... I understand I'm in the minority in Not Liking Abrams, much less the stuff he did with Star Trek. An alternate timeline, I can handle. I can even accept some changes in Trek technology, or even "Treknology," as it were, but total disregard of physics (building a starship on a planetary surface, besides being rather unsafe, is too difficult for 22nd-23rd technology; transporters with no range limit; red matter; Spock, who was all about preserving original timelines as far back as "The City on the Edge of Forever" deciding to alter/interfere with his own past, alternate timeline or no...) It's just...too much. I think good storytelling was sacrificed for the eye candy that makes the masses happy. And I think Star Wars now has the same problem looming ahead. Or, actually, more of the same problem; I think this is what tripped Lucas up with the prequels. I think this is what tripped up Ron Moore in the last half of BSG. I think this is what tripped up Abrams with Lost.

Maybe I read too much. I've read too much of James Luceno, David Mack, Dayton Ward, Peter David, Keith DeCandido, Michael Stackpole, Allan Allston, Steve Perry, Michael Reaves, Timothy Zahn, and others... Others who have taken some of the crappy things from movies and turned them into halfway arcs in novel form. They tell a story and shock people with the quality of the story itself, the ability to transport us to another time and space, and make us forget about believability, rather than using Michael Bay-esque explosions and M. Shyamalan-esque twists. We have the frugal deaths warned against in Scalzi's Redshirts.

Unfortunately, this is what the masses want. Because no one has the time or patience to sit down and read a book. Even if they can do so on their phone.

Interestingly, some of the above can be said of the late 90s debacle known as Batman and Robin. Maybe Joel Schumacker was simply before his time...

If people like the new Trek and such, hey, glad you enjoyed it. But when you start saying it's the best thing ever or better than what came before? I'll need to beat you with my empty wrapping paper tube lightsaber. I will then throw bound pieces of paper at you as I throw the Vanguard series at you, or James Luceno's Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader, or even Steve Perry and Michael Reeve's Death Star. No, no, these things are books. You might want to look into them...

Hi, my name is David, and I'm a tie-in bibliophile. As well as regular bibliophile. And comicphile (really glad Gail Simone is sticking around for Batgirl, and I hope they keep Geoff Johns for Green Lantern).

I guess, having read enough, I have a different standard by which I judge a story to be good or not. I mean, it's all subjective anyway. I guess I just get tired of people looking at me funny and saying, "You don't like the new Star Trek? What is wrong with you?"

Then again, these people can understand the problems I had with I, Robot and why I've no interest in seeing World War Z. Sorry, folks, but Susan Calvin was an older, asexual scientist, not a young cute thing that would wet her panties at the sight of Wil Smith. Furthermore, the movie had nothing to do with the novel, aside from Robots based on Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, and in fact was originally under a different title until the producer, at the last moment, trying to capitalize on Asimov's name, changed the title at the last minute. Likewise, World War Z is not a single narrative. You want to film it? Make it a miniseries. Kind of like Tom Hanks and HBO with the From the Earth to the Moon series.

Of course, this is all just my $0.02, which is worth less than even that. Your mileage may vary. Just...stop treating me like a freak when I say, "Actually, I don't like Abrams' Trek and don't plan to spend money I don't have on World War Z and so on.

Meh.

Comics )
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Ugh.

Woke up with a nasty headache and sinus congestion. I blame the weather, the impending heat wave, and everyone cutting their grass over the past few days. Including myself. And tonight, I've had some esophagitis issues and resultant anxiety. I am Not Happy. To round all this out, I had some anxiety this morning, since I had nightmares all last night and woke up several times. So, I didn't sleep well. Despite that, I couldn't seem to sleep for more than an hour at a time during the day. So, in addition to the anxiety, I have a decidedly disconnected feeling today.

Rocky pretty much stayed with me all day, whether I was napping or downstairs watching TV. He, Yoda, Bonnie, and I finished watching Terminator 2: Judgment Day and started watching season two, volume one of the original Transformers. You know, the introduction of Spike's girlfriend, Carlie, has Carlie as a rather strong female character. She's not only a grad student at MIT, but she also manages to hang out with the Autobots and even plants a bomb on Decepticon HQ. And her grasp of particle physics allows her to sabotage Wheeljack's stolen invention - the Immobilizer (which sounds like a knee brace used right after surgery to me). She's just shy of a Mary Sue character, which makes her a welcome addition instead of annoying.

I still say T2 is an awesome movie and not only my favorite Terminator movie, but also one of my all-time favorites. Sadly, it's depressing on how, in the same way no one listens to Sarah Connor, our defense department doesn't listen to many people about programming machines to do our killing for us. Terminators, Cylons... We're screwed because human hubris makes those people think they'll stay in control. Then again, because we can't value other human lives, we're pretty much boned in any event.

To be clear: I'm not against artificial intelligence. In fact, done right, AI can be more human than human intelligence. And when you program a machine to not kill, but rather to protect life, as Asimov does, then we get Data, KITT, and Emergency Medical Holograms. It's creating machines that can learn to kill that bothers me. It's bad enough that we kill, but, and apologies if this seems a bit cavalier, but, have we gotten so lazy that we need machines to kill for us? If that's the case, then maybe we deserve what we've got coming to us.

But then, I lose faith in humanity a little bit every day...

Books read so far in 2012... )

Comics )
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As posted on Facebook...

[profile] infinitydog, [profile] daytonward, and Kevin Dilmore did with Star Trek: Vanguard what, in my opinion, J.J. Abrams' reboot failed to do: Bring in new adventures in the Original Series Trek era without mucking up continuity. Unlike the Abrams reboot, they did not need to create an alternate Universe as a cop-out to avoiding continuity, they did not piss on "treknology" (my biggest gripe with Abrams' reboot), and the eye candy was all in the readers' minds with top-notch wordsmithing and eloquence. Though, Doug Drexler's CGI covers did indeed inspire some very good visual aids, allowing an exception on the old "you can't judge a book by its cover" rule. The characters are as real and developed as the original Trek characters, yet the series has a darker, grittier, more visceral (and less clich├ęd) tone, with TONS of the social commentary Trek is known for, presenting conflicts that make the reader truly think about things. I highly recommend these books to any Trek fan as well as to any science fiction fan who may not have previously been a fan of Star Trek.

I've just barely started reading the last book in the series, Storming Heaven, so I can't yet say that it has a satisfying ending. Yes, David Mack has a penchant for killing off characters and radically altering the Trek universe in general, as evidenced in his equally well-written Destiny trilogy, however, since he has to line things up with original series continuity, he can only do so much. And there are only two characters who are "safe," since they're meeting a few years after the end of the series, so, we know they, at least, survive.

I know most fans think the Abrams' reboot is a wonderful thing. While I'm not going to sit here and rail on how I really didn't care for it, on how Abrams may have created an alternate timeline to cover his lack of respect for the established canon of the property, yet has completely ignored any of the technological principles established, such as limitless transporter range and why starships are built in space, or Spock severely pissing on any kind of temporal directives, I'll settle for saying that others are free to enjoy Abrams' reboot, but I could take it or leave it, preferably leaving it.

Vanguard, while having Kirk and others more as "guest stars," still puts Trek back on the map. Rockne O'Bannon, when creating Farscape, wanted something that was antithetical to Star Trek, and thus we got limited technobabble with Crichton at one point saying, "Einstein, Newton, Hawking... We prove them wrong every time we pop out for groceries. I can't explain it, I just use it." We had a ship without a captain for a little more than half the series. We had escaped prisoners instead of military-trained professionals. Then we got Ron Moore's re-imaging of Battlestar Galactica, which was initially awesome, with it's social messages for a post-9/11 America and easily recognizable, morally ambiguous characters. Now, Next Gen and DS9 slowly crossed that threshold from "lite sci-fi" to "getting a little darker," especially when DS9 dealt with the Dominion War. But Ron Moore, who also worked on DS9 with Ira Steven Behr, succeeded, at least initially, with his BSG reboot. Now, we have "reboot craze" where everyone tries to take stuff from the past and "modernize it and do it right." Most of the time, this is failing horribly (lookin' at Michael Bay, his extrasplodey Transformers and his alien turtles...). Hell, even Moore managed to screw up BSG. Like he just stopped even trying in the third season, and rather than tell a good story, he went for shock and awe. I think that's what Abrams did in his Trek reboot as well, and while that may appeal to the masses, I think I'd rather have a good story.

That is why Mack, Ward, Dilmore, Michael Martin, Andy Mangels, Kirsten Beyer, William Bennett, Geoffrey Thorne, and all the others whom I may not remember off the top of my head, have succeeded in constantly reinventing Trek without losing any of Roddenberry's core values for the property. Characters face dilemmas, ambiguous situations, and they grow, and we grow a little bit with them. The Vanguard series, as well as Titan, Typhon Pact, and the marvelous job Kirsten Beyer has done with Voyager (making it, in my opinion, better than what we ever saw on screen), has all kept Trek alive and well, keeping the characters relevant and the speculations going. If a character dies, then the death had a purpose, if only to show that there are casualties and not everyone makes it out alive.

What's more... When disaster strikes, as it often does with Mr. Mack, we don't see the frantic soldier, screaming and cursing, and just feel nothing but shock. Instead, we see a soldier, swearing like a sailor, but actually retaining some sort of professionalism. He sees who else is still with him, prioritizes his group's objectives, and then works with others to survive. There's an optimism there that, even though shit happened and people made mistakes, we still see these characters trying to do the right thing, not giving up, analyzing a problem, and working to solve it until the bitter end. In short, we get heroes not because they're overly talented and save the day, but because at the end, they try to do the right thing, despite obstacles, and even if one of those obstacles is himself.

Thanks, guys. Keep up the good work, and though Vanguard has ended, I hope you'll all continue to expand the Trek universe.

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HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] mobobocita!!



In other news, I'm fighting off a heat and humidity headache. Grrr.

[profile] lucylou has an image that summarizes the Harry Potter series, The SummHarry, that reminds me of a medieval tapestry, the name of which eludes me at the moment, but will probably come to me when I'm driving or have the runs or something...

Cracked.com gives 6 Pro-Gay Marriage Arguments for Fighting With Crazy People.

I don't know who this lady is, but I like her style... Get yer cock jokes ready! Now I want a giant chicken made out of metal drums. Keep snakes away from my cube at work. Not that I have snakes coming to my cubicle, but, you can never be too safe, you know?

Then in the video section...


Nathan Fillion delivers an important PSA


YouTube vlogger Meekakitty shares a Harry Potter-themed music video, "Wizard Love"

Now, I'll still put the Dork Tower comic in with the comics, but in relation to another Cracked.com article, the one about what we're doing to bring about Terminators (and Cylons), well, here's a screen cap showing an advertisement for the U.S. Air Force...



Yes, show a picture of a drone that lately we've started to arm and have been known to lose control of, and then put in a tag line about how it's "not just science fiction." Oh, and we're teaching it to think for itself and how to identify other air craft and shoot them down...

*headdesk**headdesk**headdesk*

Caturday Comics (with Juicy Commentary!) )
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