Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday: Black as Night & Good Trek/Bad Trek #47 Metamorphosis

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who’s never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better and/or worse Star Trek episodes to watch that remind me of this episode. Usually, I ramble on about some bullshit before the Trek. That’s it.

Thanksgiving was yesterday. SO I guess I’d have to say that I’m pretty thankful for Trek. Particularly Discovery, but I’ve grown to like these old TOS episodes as well. I’m thankful mostly that I was able to just sit and watch Trek or do whatever the fuck I want on Friday. I used to work retail and working retail this time of year is pretty awful. I worked at Best Buy which is probably one of three worst retail places to find yourself on Black Friday. Working or just shopping. Working there sucked to be sure, but shopping there didn’t really look like any fun either. Who in their right mind wants to go to a store on Black Friday? Do these people not have computers? Is that why they’re at Best Buy in the middle of the night? They need a computer so they decided to wait in line for hours or days or whatever. There’s always that one asshole who sets up a tent and is there for like a week. And all the local news folks come up and interview him about his empty meaningless life and how he hopes to fill the void with a Blu-ray player that’s slightly discounted. That guy isn’t even doing it for the sale. He just wants to be on the local news for five minutes in a story that’ll have his friends and neighbors looking at him and all collectively saying “what a fucking idiot.” I don’t know what’s sadder. I guess the saddest part is the person who’s making just above minimum wage to be there. 

Working Black Friday sucks so much that it almost bonds you to the job. You develop such hate for the monsters that go in there that you’re glad that they’re all getting screwed by deals that aren’t worth it. You set up all this cheap shit that costs way too much right next to the thing that’s marginally discounted and then you laugh when the dumdums buy both negating whatever discount they were going to be getting. They’re your enemy. I felt bad for some of them. After a few hours, I didn’t give a fuck. I just wanted them all to leave. The worst part is that it’s just the beginning. Yeah, it’s the worst part of the holiday season, but it’s the first real day of it. You got a whole month coming up that’s also gonna suck. It’s brutal. 

I used to like to read the articles about how Black Friday shopping was on the decline and that people were now into doing shit that wasn’t all about empty consumerism. I used to read those articles while at the same time I was being instructed by my manager what to do if one of these fucking animals accidentally tramples another fucking animal to death because they were standing in the way of their discounted Amazon Fire Tablet. 

I'll tell you what isn't worth trampling someone to death over, and that's this episode of TOS. It's the Metamorphosis and it was jarring going from new Trek back to this one. 

Recap:

Kirk, Spock, Bones, and an ambassador named Nancy Hedford are aboard the shuttle Galileo. Ambassador Hedford is sick and needs to get unstick as she’s the only person in the galaxy capable of getting to planets to not kill each other. When all of a sudden their shuttle gets caught in an energy field and they get marooned on a planet. Peace between those two planets isn’t looking good. Also, Hedford is probably going to die. That concern is secondary though because she’s kind of irritating. So no biggie. 
Two become one

They’re on the planet and to their surprise, they meet a guy. Who is…brace yourselves…Zefram Cochrane! If you’re not a Trek person that name probably doesn’t mean all that much to you, but in the Trek universe, Zefram is a pretty big deal. He’s the person who did (or will eventually) be the first human to discover warp travel. Also, the first to make contact with the Vulcans. 

Everyone thought he’d been dead for decades, but turns out he’s been marooned on this planet and living with or being held prisoner by this beam of light who reversed his aging process and now sees to his every whim. 
Captain, not only is this beam of light a woman, but it appears to
be a raging bitch because of its period

The Enterprise folks aren’t too happy about being held captive so they think of ways to escape, none of which work. The beam of light thing is pretty protective of Zefram too. They deduce that it’s not just a beam of light that can reverse the aging process, but a lady beam of light(???) who is very much sweet on Zefram and doesn’t want him to leave. 

Then the ambassador is about to die so the beam of light takes over her body (???) and Zefram decides to stay and live with the husk of what was Hedford and this is treated like a happy ending. It was pretty fucked. 

Good Trek?

Not particularly. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say that this was firmly in the bad Trek category, but it definitely isn’t as fun as some of the TOS episodes I watched before this one and it also was nowhere near as good as any of the Discovery episodes I’d been watching. It was fine. Just kind of a letdown to go from one to the other. 
Sorry lady, you're being sacrificed for the greater good: A cheap plot contrivance 

It is jarring going from new Trek to old Trek. Discovery has its faults. Not many because it’s really badass and you should be watching. But going from a modern day show that’s female-focused and really well written to this episode was something else. 

Even though this weird beam of light that is controlling the whole thing as soon as the crew realizes that it’s female and then they start treating it like shit. That’s messed up. To think this is five years after the events of Discovery. Seems like women go an awful long way between now and 2200 and then in the five years after that they get set back a lot. I hope that isn’t Burnham’s fault that women start getting treated like shit again. 

The ending is just fucked. So the woman is dead, right? She ceased to exist and the other thing took over her body and a little bit of her personality stayed put, but she’s for all intents and purposes a dead husk that got taken over. 

That energy dame took over her body. Now she has to live with Zephram forever on this planet, but the lady who was the character earlier in the episode is literally a dead person now. Man. That's fucked. I mean seriously it ends with her just being a dead husk and those two planets are going to kill each other now because she's dead and not coming back and nobody gives a shit because now Zefram can get laid. Yo, what the fuck?

Better Trek?

If you want to know more about Zefram Cochrane, and who doesn’t, then I’d say watch Star Trek: First Contact. It’s the second TNG movie. It involves the TNG crew going back in time to stop the Borg from stopping Cochrane from meeting the Vulcans. It’s an odd movie in that it’s almost two different movies. The parts that take place on Earth with Counsellor Troi, Riker, and Zefram Cochrane are treated very light where the action on the Enterprise with Picard, Worf, and the Borg are crazy intense. Some of the best Picard lines ever are found in this movie. Probably my second or third favorite Trek movie as well. It’s an all-around solid flick. 

Worse Trek?


You want to watch an episode where two people become one and you can’t separate them without killing the new entity. I got one word for you and that’s Tuvix. Tuvok and Neelix become one person for some reason. It could’ve been a worse episode. It’s a silly concept that they treat with a fair amount of gravity. So actually, this one might be better than Metamorphosis. They’re both kind of a mess. 

That's it. I'm proud to say that I think this is the first GT/BT that's clocked in under 2K words. Next one will probably be a million words to make up for it. Hopefully, the next episode isn't too shitty. 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Gene Simmons, Second Chances, & Good Trek/Bad Trek #46 Discovery: Into The Forest I Go

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who’s never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better and/or worse Star Trek episodes to watch that remind me of this episode. Usually, I ramble on about some bullshit before the Trek. That’s it.

Another week another whole bunch of sexual assault news. I think we can all admit how shocked we all were when we found out that Kiss frontman and legendary piece of shit Gene Simmons acted like a piece of shit. If you haven't heard, he's no longer welcome on Fox News for acting like a piece of shit. You have to wonder what it takes to get banned from Fox. Usually, they just give you the 8:00 slot until the lawsuits pile up and become too much. But I guess they’ve decided to head this one off at the pass. I didn’t know that Simmons was a regular on Fox. I can’t imagine a scenario where Gene Simmons would need to weigh in on anything not having to do with being a piece of shit. They’re always having two people yell about an issue. So do they sometimes have a segment called “being a piece of shit.” Then they have someone take the con side and Simmons weighs in on the pro side of being a piece of shit. I don’t watch. I’m sure his insights into the Middle East conflict were very insightful right up until he stripped down and started humping the sofa like an unfixed dog. 

There are lessons to be learned with all the sexual assault stuff. The big takeaway I’ve gotten from my social media feed is that ranking the degrees of sexual assault severity is probably a game you don’t want to play. This is particularly true if you’re a dude. If you’re a dude who hears about something a lady went through and you want to point out that it isn’t nearly as bad as the thing the last round of revelations brought forward then that’s probably something that you should keep to yourself. Until women come forward with some kind of official ranking system that we can all refer to, maybe you just take their word for it that it sucked and move on. The thing is you don't have to have an opinion on everything. You can skip a couple here and there. Just leave this news piece alone and get going on your hot-take for the next thing. 

The other thing that I’ve learned is that I think we should probably be done with politics as a field in which you can redeem yourself. I liked Al Franken. I’ve read some of his books. I wasn’t opposed to him running for the presidency in 2020. That’s looking a lot less likely. That’s probably for the best. There’s a history of redemption in politics. I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere, but in America, you can be a pretty big piece of shit and then be in a public office and slowly teach people that you’re not as big a piece of shit anymore. That doesn’t seem like the place for that. If for no other reason than there’s a lot of people out there. Many don’t have the same baggage. Maybe we can find a couple of them to run for something. Robert Byrd was a Klansmen. That’s obviously not okay. That was never okay. But for some reason, Robert Byrd was allowed to show the world that he wasn’t as big a piece of shit as he used to be. There’s probably a place better suited to learning you’re not a klansmen. Used car sales come to mind. You can sell cars and not be a member of the klan. I think it’s encouraged in fact. But as a salesman, you can still learn the error or your previous beliefs and how wrong you were and as an added bonus we as Americans aren’t looking at a dude who used to run the Klan every time we turn on C-Span. 

That goes double for people in the entertainment industry. I’m not saying that people don’t fuck up. People do. I’m not saying that people don’t deserve second chances. I’m just that the people who make more money than me and have had more success don’t deserve second chances. There are way too many folks waiting in the wings to keep on giving folks who’ve already made more money than god more and more chances to let everyone down. Fuck ‘em. 


Know what doesn’t need a second chance because it didn’t let anyone down? Star Trek Discovery. Particularly the last episode of the first part of the first season. This one. 

Recap:

Here we are the end of part one of season one and it’s a doozy. A whole lot goes down on this one. Maybe too much. Lorca, Saru, and Burnham want the Discovery to stay and protect the planet its inhabitants. Starfleet order Discovery back because of how important it is to the war effort. Lorca decides to trick Starfleet and fight. He’s got a plan. But there’s risk. He’s got to beam folks over to set up sensors and just hang out while at the same time making Stamets make 130 micro jumps with the spore drive. 

If this didn't tug the shit out of your heartstrings then you're an unfeeling monster 

This isn’t a good idea. Stamets knows that running the spore drive is messing him up something fierce. Lorca has the doctor check him out and then now he realizes how bad the damage is. This is extra tricky because the doctor and Stamets are an item. The doctor tells Lorca how dangerous this is and Lorca doesn’t give a shit. 

Burnham and Tyler go over. They discover that Admiral LeftForDead is (surprise!) still alive. Also, that seeing the person in charge of torturing Tyler is enough to trigger some really awful PTSD. He’s pretty useless at this point. Not judging. Just saying. 

These are all the amazing places you've helped discover, but won't be able to visit on account of I'm gonna sacrifice you for the good of the mission


Meanwhile, back on Discovery, the jumps are not doing good things to Stamets. These jumps are taking a lot out of him. The doctor wants Lorca to stop, but he won’t because it’s too important. He’s ordered to keep him alive long enough to finish the sequence. It’s a pretty heartbreaking scene. This alone is worth watching for. 

And boom goes the anti-matter

Burnham is worried that the Klingons are going to try to warp away so she challenges the Klingon commander to a knife fight. Solid action. The Klingons don’t warp away. Burnham, Tyler, Admiral LeftForDead, and also the Klingon who tortured Tyler get beamed away. The Klingon flagship gets destroyed. The Admiral gets put on the first transport to medical care. Lorca is about to get a medal for how great he handles his insubordination. Tyler, Burnham, the doctor, and Stamets share passionate kisses. Everything is tied up in a nice little bow. 

Or is it…because it turns out that Tyler is still really messed up by his time being tortured and raped and his captor being on board is really not good for his mental health. Stamets agrees to one last jump before quitting Starfleet to focus on not dying in a spore drive. Lorca knows that as soon as the admiral recovers she’s going to have his gun and badge for his behavior. And the one last jump goes awry and leaves them in the middle of nowhere. Anyone who has seen any TV ever knew that it wasn’t going to end all happy like. It was a damn satisfying way to end. I can’t wait for the second half. You probably know what the answer to the next part is but…



Good Trek?

I would say yes. I still like the previous episodes a lot more. I like this show so much better when they’re letting the characters stretch out. I like the occasional war and space fight. Those scenes are awesome. The effects on this show are just nuts. They look amazing. But some of these war-centric episodes are so jam-packed with plot that we don’t really get to hang out with the characters. I know that the makers of this wanted to make this a new generations Trek, but a lot of this would have had so much more impact had it come later in the run or at least later in the run. I’m not sold on the doctor. It’s not that he’s a bad character or that I don’t care for the actor, but we’ve just spent so little time with him. I’m not really all that invested in his and Stamet’s relationship. I know they’re together. I’m not sure if they’ve mentioned if they’re married or dating or what. I know that they seem to care about each other. Had we known a little bit more about what they’ve been through and who they are, then watching him sit idly by while Stamets is hooked into the spore drive would have carried so much more weight. 

What's the matter, Burnham? Targ got your tongue?

I love how willing this show is to creating what are supposed to be huge multi-season plot points and then just throws them away. The ship of the dead which is supposed to be the focal point of the Klingon war and now it’s just gone and also now the Federation can see through cloaks somehow. I don’t know why they’re not looking for increased tachyon particle emissions because everyone knows that cloaked ships produce detectible tachyon particles. I guess they should have watched TNG before sending Burnham and Tyler on the Klingon flagship. 

Really, they should call the engine the Stamets drive

This did what it was trying for really well. It wanted to tie up some loose ends and loosen some new ends. It did that really well. I don’t know where Discovery is now that the spore drive has gone haywire. I hope it’s very far from the front lines. I want to know what’s going on in Stamets’ head. I want Tyler to deal with his PTSD. I want Lorca to come to terms with the shit that he’s done. I want Tilly and Saru to keep being Tilly and Saru. And I want Burnham to keep on being such a badass. I really just want them to stretch out their legs and let Discovery do some goddamn discovering. That’s what I’m hoping for come the last six episodes of season one. I thought this was the last episode, but it’s really just the last episode of the first half of the first season. This is a midseason break. The last six will drop in January. 

The only thing that continues to get my goat about this show is that it takes place when it would. I love so much about this show, but I think that it would so much better if it took place after the events of DS9 and VOY. The fact that the technology is so advanced would make more sense. Testing out a new experimental engine would make sense considering nobody has ever mentioned the Discovery or their experimental drive in any other incarnation of Trek. I think the Klingon war could’ve and should’ve been a newly independent Jem’Hadar who are locked in multiple tribal fights now that they don’t know what to do with their freedom. There would be multiple factions and houses that are now vying for supremacy. The crew of Discovery could be exploring the Gamma Quadrant because the war with the Dominion didn’t really give the Federation to do so. I’ve given this some thought. But if you can’t have the Trek you love, love the Trek your with. And I do love this show. 

Better Trek?

Listen, if you like Trek and you’re not watching this show you’re an asshole. I’m sorry. I don’t want to have been stern with you, but there are qualms to have about this show, but the goods so outweigh the bad. The cast is bananas. Every character we’ve gotten to know I adore with the exception of Lorca. But I don’t think we’re supposed to love him. If we are then they’ve screwed that up, because that guy is a monster. The characters that I’m not sold on it’s mostly because we just haven’t spent enough time with them. I don’t really know about the doctor. I’m invested in his and Stamets’ relationship, but mostly because I’m invested in Stamets as a character. Same with the two people with metal faces on the bridge. Would like to get to know them better. Don’t know them at all. Would like to. That being said, this is a great show and you should be watching it. 

In terms of other Treks this one hit some themes we’ve seen before. If you want the best cliffhanger ever then it has to be The Best of Both Worlds. This is the episode that introduced us to Locutus. Captain Picard gets abducted by the Borg and forced to become their face while they try to assimilate Earth. It’s one of the best episodes that TNG did and ends in such an uncertain way particularly considering that I’ve heard that a lot of actors weren’t sold on the show yet and weren’t sure if they planned on coming back for the fourth season. 

If you're looking for an episode where the crew of a ship is on a mission and gets trapped where they don’t know how to get back during a war then go with DS9’s A Time to Stand. Sisko takes a Jem’Hadar warship on a dangerous mission. A whole bunch of other shit ensues which leads to some engine problems. Great cliffhanger too even though it was the first episode of the season. Also, it leads to a great multi-episode arc that you should probably watch in its entirety. It’s all pretty badass. 

Worse Trek?

If you want an episode about using an experimental engine that’s being run by a person that takes a lot out of that person and leaves them in the middle of nowhere then watch Where No One Has Gone Before. Or don’t watch it because it sucks. A guy named the Traveler takes over the Enterprise’s engines and gets them trapped somewhere. Then they all start hallucinating. It’s a pretty well-regarded episode and I have no idea. It’s cheesy and Wesley sucks and there’s no reason to watch it. The Traveler is a dumb character. A lot of folks think that this is one of the first early TNG episodes that showed its promise. I disagree. It’s a stinker. Don’t watch it. Watch this episode of Discovery instead. 

That’s it for this week. And that’s it for this group of Discovery. So I guess I’m back to TOS next week. 

Friday, November 10, 2017

One Sexual Assault Closer To Comedy Greatness & Good Trek/Bad Trek #45 Discovery: Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who’s never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better and/or worse Star Trek episodes to watch that remind me of this episode. Usually, I ramble on about some bullshit before the Trek. That’s it.

Note: I think this one is more typo-riddled than usual. I'm okay with it. 

I don’t want to say anything about Louis CK. I don’t really want to not say anything either though. He’s in trouble. That happens when you show your dick to people who do not want to see your dick. I can’t say that I understand that desire. Not showing your dick to people who aren’t actively trying to see it seems like one of the easiest things to do. 

I don't want to say anything else about him. There are smarter people weighing in with better takes than anything I’d write. Read one of theirs. Usually, when dudes weigh in on shit like this it comes off as either pretty tone deaf or white knight posturing. I don’t know shit about anything having to go through with that. So, read someone else's opinion who does. 

The thing that is important to remember whenever a Cosby or CK is outed as a predator and taken down that comedy is a static market. There are only a certain number of opportunities and spots. There are currently 45 spots and there are roughly 97,000,000 comedians out there to fill those spots. Now that Louie is out of the picture we all move one step up. That’s good to know. I’ve sent all my avails to HBO for Night of Too Many Stars. It’s a fundraiser that Louie was supposed to perform on and now won’t be. I don’t even know what it’s raising funds for. I don’t give a shit. I just know that Louie was supposed to be there that night and that I’m probably free. One step closer to being America’s preeminent comedian. So by this rate, I’ll be first in line right around the time the sun burns out. I’m looking forward to the increased opportunities.

I guess the industry is starting to take notice too because this Saturday night I’ll be making my television debut. On roughly channel 2000. Every time a comedy legend falls and I move up one channel. If one established comic a year falls then I should be on TBS in one thousand nine hundred and fifty years. Depending on your cable listings. Check your local provider. Even though the spot was one for which I did not, nor will ever get paid for, I'd say things are looking up for those of us out there who don’t force people to watch us masturbate. In fact, things are looking so good that I kinda want to wave my dick around. But I won’t. On account of how good a guy I am. 

Last note before the Trek, if any of you have any stories about the remaining 89,000,000 comedians, now’s the time to come forward. Let’s bring them all them mother fuckers down. Let’s burn this bitch to the ground and then I can rise from the ashes. Reborn. But with dick firmly in pants. 

I’ll tell you what won’t be viewed as an abuse of power if you show it to someone and that’s this episode of Discovery. Here goes. 


Recap:

We start out with a pretty sick looking battle. I’ve been liking all the time we’ve been spending not in actual war, but I’ll admit the war looks pretty goddamn good. The Discovery is trying to save another Federation ship that’s under attack. It doesn’t do it. The ship gets destroyed before Discovery can do anything and it’s sad. Also it looks like all these jumps are taking a toll on Lt. Stamets. He’s getting cranky on account of just watching a Federation ship get destroyed before his eyes. It turns out that Federation ships are having a difficult time adjusting to the cloaking devices. 

Meanwhile, on some planet, Saru, Burnham, and Tyler are hiking around a planet that has some crazy sonar going on all the time. They’re thinking that this new sonar will help them figure out how to figure out how to detect Klingon ships when cloaked because this planet makes a bunch of weird noises that could lead to a new kind of sonar detection. Saru has done gone nuts. The planet has gotten into his head and it’s caused him to go bananas. He’s talking to the planet and it’s driving him a bit batty. He’s decided that he wants to stay on the planet because it's in balance or whatever. They get to the giant crystal sonar thing. Which will help them, I guess. They don't explain it all that well. I have a feeling they'll get more into it in the finale.  
Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but YOUR SANITY!

Then on a Klingon ship, we’re getting to see what happened to the admiral who Captain Lorca left for capture. A Klingon is helping her escape. Or is she? Seems like this is definitely a trap. I guess it’s a shame for her that this is a prequel because had she seen more Star Trek before she’d know that this is definitely a trap. 

These are the main storylines that are going on. Admiral Left-for-dead and three of the four likable characters are on a mission. They both get resolved kind of. I don’t think that Admiral Left-for-dead is actually Admiral Dead. Yet at least. I could be wrong, but I think she’s waking up in the next episode and that’s going to be a cliffhanger for the finale. 

Good Trek?

Yeah. This one was pretty damn good. I didn’t love it the same way I did the previous two episodes. This seemed like a table setting episode. Putting all the pieces in place for next week’s finale. Now that the finale is almost here, I’m a little bummed. I know that’s how TV is done now, but it sucks that we’re only getting a nine-episode first season. I really thought it was supposed to be a lot longer. I'm pissed that it's almost over. Back in the old days, you’d get a couple dozen episodes per season. Yeah, some of them would suck, but who gives a shit. You get a lot of them. I want more. 



This is sick. If you disagree, you're a fool


The whole planet is alive is a pretty cool concept. And the fact that the Discovery crew has to protect the planet now that they’ve asked for help. 
Walking through a holo-rendering of someone you're
talking to is a real power move


I love this show. I started out being just okay with it. Then I started liking it. These last few episodes I’ve just loved them. I still have issues with it. But when I'm watching the show I forget all my qualms. It's so much fun and great at bringing you into the Trek world. Plus, the war looks sick. We can all agree on that. I was liking the fact that there was a movie before to this where the vacuum of space is rendered silent. Because from what science nerds have told me that’s how it would actually be like. They've spared no expense on the looks. Everything looks amazing. 
Their relationship, like so many of mine, is soon to be tested by differing
interpretations of the Prime Directive

This is the second to last episode and it was pretty damn good. Looking like they’re saving a lot of their tricks for next episode. 

Better Trek?

Next week is the season finale. If you want to watch anything watch the last couple episodes. Actually, watch the first six episodes. Let them sink in. Take a day. Really think about them. Then watch episodes 7 and 8. Have your goddamn mind blown. Then watch this episode and get ready for the finale on Sunday. That's it. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

10/31/17 Already Forgot & Good Trek/Bad Trek #44 Discovery: Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who’s never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better and/or worse Star Trek episodes to watch that remind me of this episode. Usually, I ramble on about some bullshit before the Trek. That’s it.

Not sure if you guys are news hounds like I am, but there was a terrorist attack in New York this past week. I’m sure you heard about it, but on the off chance that you didn’t, a dude rented a truck and drove it on a popular bike path. I live in New York and I ride a bike in New York. I don’t often ride that path but I have on more than a few occasions so it was weird to see it on the news as a crime scene. I heard that people had died on the Westside Greenway and at first I just assumed that a shitty driver was trying to avoid traffic and killed a bunch of people as a means of getting to where they wanted to get a few minutes earlier. Because that happens a lot.

I was pissed off by the response. I wasn’t really surprised but I was pissed off. I live in New York. I also routinely ride a bike in New York. As a New York bike rider, I can say that even without the threat of terror attacks like this one, cars and trucks are pretty goddamn terrifying. Right after the whole attack, I was riding my bike to an open mic in Bushwick. A ride about 8 miles away from my place in Queens. As I was riding in a bike lane a cop in a car used the bike lane to pass several cars just so he could catch up with another car who was driving like an asshole so as to ask him what sized engine he had in his stupid asshole car. Yeah, I know there’s a lot of difference in terms of intent here. But for fuck’s sake, cop. It’s, at the very least, bad optics. 

You know how big a piece of shit you have to be to be driving in a bike lane minutes after eight people were murdered that very way? I guarantee you if you were to try walking through Las Vegas carrying a bunch of automatic weapons you are, at the very very least, gonna get a few cross glances. People might even call the cops on you. Because a bunch of people were just murdered that way and behaving in the exact same way makes you look like a piece of shit. Which is what that cop looked like. A huge piece of shit. For the record between that trip to Bushwick and between riding through three boroughs yesterday, I saw a lot of shit-head behavior in a lot of bike lanes. This guy was just the shittiest. 

There’s always all kinds of shitty responses to shit like this. Whenever there’s a terror attack that uses anything but guns these idiots come out of the woodwork saying, oh well looks like this guy used a truck to attack all these people. Maybe we should be looking at truck control. How come there’s not a waiting period to get a truck, you liberals. Maybe they need to have the government step in to make sure that nobody can get access to a truck. And to that, I say that’s a damn good idea. We let sixteen-year-olds drive in this country. That’s a bad idea. We shouldn’t let sixteen-year-olds do anything and definitely not command multiple tons of steel near where other people are. I’m sorry teenagers, you’ll just have to find another place to get blown. 

Cars and trucks are terrifying. I don’t know why we let people have them at all let alone to the degree to which we let them have them. There are way too many cars in this city. We’d be so much better off if we destroyed like 90% them. I know a lot of this is clouded by the fact that I live in a dense urban area. I’m sure if I lived in rural Montana I’d have a much different view of cars. Some cars are fine. But as a guy who does live in a city, cars fucking suck. This isn’t an environment thing either because that ship has sailed so who really gives a shit anymore. The oceans are coming for us so might as well just rent water world and find a nice turtleneck to hide your new gills. 

Terrorist attacks are used to shake people’s faith in an institution. 9-11 Made people afraid to fly. Or in my case much more so. The terror attack in Vegas made folks unsure if they were really safe while just having fun at an outdoor concert. Luckily cyclists already felt like they were being shat on all the time so we get to take this one in stride. Because it just kicked us when we were already down. It’s not like we get any kind of respect as it is. We’re already constantly getting run down as it is. People treat us like shit. The NYPD would rather kick a cyclist in the face that ticket any piece of shit that decides to run us down. At least in the case of this being a terror at, ack we can be confident in knowing that they might at least prosecute the guy. Given the NYPD’s track record in dealing with cyclists death I’m a little surprised he wasn’t dragged from his truck and given a fifty dollar ticket for failure to yield which would get thrown out of court anyhow. 


One thing I’ll tell that didn’t further shake my faith in an American institution and that was this week’s episode of Star Trek: Discovery. It was solid as shit. 

Recap:

Boy oh boy, we got ourselves a time loop episode. That and Harry Mudd is back. And this time I’m really liking Rain Wilson’s take on him. Mudd has a little device that helps him relive time as many times as he wants. He’s using it to keep Discovery in a 30-minute time loop. He gets as many chances as he can to take over the ship and sell it to the Klingons, who desperately want the only ship in Starfleet that’s been kicking their asses. 
I applaud the makers of Discovery for not using Fight For Your Right To Party for this scene

There’s a catch with his little plan though because of Chief Engineer Paul Stamets, due to him fuzing his DNA with a space tardigrade (???) in a previous episode somehow exists outside of normal time. Just go with it. I'm so much happier suspending disbelief than when they try to over explain this bullshit. So he knows that time is repeating. It’s driving him a little batty. Battier than he’s been in previous episodes. 
Fun, your name is Mudd
Most of the episode is repeated scenes where Stamets is trying to convince Burnham what’s going on and Burnham is trying to get Tyler what’s going on. They also seem to fall in love a whole bunch of times throughout the many many loops. There’s also a really enjoyable scene where Mudd goes through all the ways he’s killed Captain Lorca during his many many attempts at taking over the ship. 

It's hard to pick a favorite Lorca murder scene, but being beamed in the vacuum of space wins
Spoiler alert: Burnham and co. do figure out how to thwart taking over the ship and give Mudd their own brand of justice in a nod to the ending of I, Mudd. 

Good Trek?

Oh, hell yeah. Last week’s episode, Lathe was my favorite of the new ones this one gives it it’s run for its gold pressed latinum. I’m starting to hope that war with the Klingons just stays in the background for the entirety of the series. I know it won’t, but the storylines that have dealt directly with the war have felt a little flat for me so far. The episodes where they only really talk about the war but other stuff is the main plot, like in this episode and the one before has been so much more satisfying to watch. If I never see another Klingon or one of their newfangled fake bat’leths it’ll be too soon. 
Great shot. Great scene. Great episode. 
One thing that separated this episode from the previous Mudd episode is that Rainn Wilson seemed to be having so much more fun this time. It reminded me of the Mudd from I, Mudd. Even though his plan is terrifying and he’s an awful person the episode had so much levity to it. The scene where he’s going through all the ways in which he’s murdered Lorca is a hoot. Seems off to describe a character murdering a main character over and over as a hoot, but goddamnit it was. 
The only thing that's missing is the "nagging continues" from end of I, Mudd
Speaking of characters I didn’t care for which are now growing on me is Didn’t care for the Lt. first few episodes, and I don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that he outed Kevin Spacey as an attempted child rapist, but he’s really starting to grow on me. I thought his character was a little one dimensional and grating up until now. He’s either been way too gruff and then got his DNA all screwed up and has been doing a kind of annoying hippy act. I thought both were a bit much. I like to think that the character we saw this week is the one he’s settling into because it was much less grating than either of the other iterations. 

In just about every way this episode somehow is able to manage the tightrope act of being like a classic Trek episode while at the same time having fun with old Trek conventions and cliches. I guess this is what Enterprise could’ve been if it didn’t suck so much. Even though it’s repeatedly nodding to what’s come before, it’s telling its own story with its own much different characters so well. I’ve been leery of this show, but that’s starting to go away. If even a quarter of the season is like this then I’m 100% on board. 

Time crystal. I do kind of like how they don’t try to base any of this on real science. There’s really no reason to attempt to make this jive so who give a shit. It’s a time crystal. Doesn’t make sense why it works it just does. I was half expecting a reference to the orbs from DS9, but they didn’t. Maybe we were just supposed to assume that’s where it came from. I did. I assume anyone who’s gone through DS9 probably did too. 

The bottom line is that this one was great. The last two episodes have both been really Trekey without at all feeling stale. Great Trek.

Better Trek?

This one is great. Watch it. Because it’s great. 

That being said, also watch TNG’s Cause and Effect. If you’re into time loops and thing inexplicitly repeating, and who wouldn't be because it's an awesome device, then this is a great time loop episode. In this one, the Enterprise is caught in a…TIME LOOP! It keeps on getting blowed up. Few of the folks, mostly Data are aware something is amiss, but they can’t quite figure out what’s going on or why. It’s a really cool piece of classic sci-fi. It’s just a real solid TNG. 

I know I've mentioned this one numerous times, but also watch Trials and Tribble-ations. It’s a DS9 episode that’s just pure fun. There are no time loops, but there is a time orb which I think is really the same thing as a time crystal. 

That being said, also watch TNG’s Cause and Effect. If you’re into time loops and thing inexplicitly repeating, and who wouldn't be because it's an awesome device, then this is a great time loop episode. In this one, the Enterprise is caught in a…TIME LOOP! It keeps on getting blowed up. Few of the folks, mostly Data are aware something is amiss, but they can’t quite figure out what’s going on or why. It’s a really cool piece of classic sci-fi. It’s just a real solid TNG. 

Other than that, just please don’t drive like an asshole. Cyclists have enough to worry about and we don't want to be murdered. Especially me. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Hostel Territory and Good Trek Bad/Trek # 43 Discovery: Lathe

Intro: I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a kid. I started by watching TNG in 6th grade. I’ve been a fan since then and though I’ve spent a lot of time watching Star Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one who’s never seen any of them. So I’m watching all the TOS episodes for the first time and saying whether or not they suck. At the end, I give examples of better and/or worse Star Trek episodes to watch that remind me of this episode. Usually, I ramble on about some bullshit before the Trek. That’s it.


I’m back in New York watching Star Trek this week which is nice. I’d been gone for three weeks and it feels good to be back. I was in Chicago the last week and I have to say I was pretty ready to not be anymore. Good to see some folks I haven't seen in a bit. Good to meet people I’d met online through writing for The Whisky Journal in person for the first time. Good to do comedy in places I hadn't before. Lots of fun stuff. All that being said, I was staying at a hostel. Which is probably the worst way to go. When you're performing comedy for almost no or no money you need to cut corners wherever you can and I cut my corners by living in squalor at a hostel. This is not the way adults should travel. No offense to Europeans, but this is no way for an American adult to travel. I understand that you might be British and not know any better, but I'm not and I do. Don't get me wrong I wasn’t thinking of pulling a "Brooks was here" while there. Not that my cheap bunk bed frame would’ve supported my weight anyhow, but still it was tough. I probably wouldn't recommend this as a way to stay places if you have any money. If you don't well then it's not like you have any options, so go ahead and stay at one. I don’t so this isn't my first time doing one of these. I spent a week in a hostel in San Fransisco a few years back and Toronto and in 2005 I spent 95 delightful minutes in Eli Roth's Hostel when that came out. But don't let the tales of murder and torture port fool you, hostels aren't all fun and games. They can be a really lonely and depressing affair. 

I work from home so it's not like I'm used to all kinds of human interaction throughout the day, but this is different. there are people all around and the only thing I've said to anyone in three days here is "pardon me." that'll drive you a little batty. Plus it's all the cons about being alone all day without any of the pros. I'm wearing pants right now. I shouldn't be. There's a lot of shit that goes along with working from home and one of the best things about it is the very relaxed dress code. I put on pants when I goddamn well please. I don't have to listen to society's dictates about when a grown ass adult should put on pants. I put them on if and when I fell like it. Not a second before. So I spent days wearing pants and not talking to anyone. I spend all day alone normally and feel great. Here it was lonely as shit. 


Know what wasn’t depressing and lonely as shit? The latest episode of Discovery, Lathe! It fucking ruled. Here it is. 

Recap:

The open is us getting to learn that Sarek is going on a crazy mission. We don’t know what. And Burnham is mentoring Tilly in the Starfleet art of moderately paced jogging. Before we even get tot he credits though Sarek’s ship is sabotaged by a Vulcan extremist who thinks that Vulcans have no business associating with the outside worlds and tries to blow the ship up. 

The rest of the episode is a few different plots. We’ve got Burnham using her previous mind meld with Sarek to track Sareck down whose ship is floating dead in space while he’s unconscious. We’ve got Captain Lorca trying to convince his superior officer/friend/sometimes lover that he’s not nuts even though he’s really nuts. We also have Burhman wandering through Sarek’s mind and wondering why he’s revisiting the time she let him down and also trying to get him to his meeting with the Klingons so he can try to make sure peace happens. 

None of those plots really sound they’re enough to carry an episode but it really works. The Burnham plot is the meat of the episode, which she does while also learning a lot about her relationship with Sarek and how they really feel about each other. Sarek isn’t saved in time enough to make it to his very important date, but Lorca convinces Admiral Cornwell to go in his stead where she is immediately kidnapped by the Klingons after watching her guards get their throat slit. 

Good Trek?

Yes. A thousand times yes. This was easily my favorite episode of Discovery. The recap sounds a little light. Like these plots wouldn’t really be enough to carry an hour of TV, but boy oh boy does it ever. I had some issues with it, but all in all, it was just great. Easily the Trekiest episode so far too which is probably why I liked it the best. It blends old Trek sensibilities and updates it much better than any of the episodes so far. I still have my issues, but while I was watching it I couldn’t really remember any of them. 
Watch this episode just for how sick this shot is

We get a replacement chief of security. Ash Tyler the guy who was on the Klingon prison ship with Lorca in the previous episode. With Ash Tyler, we finally have another character I give a shit about. It’s still only like half of the characters but I’ll take it. Ash Tyler is a solid fourth person to give a shit about. I like him. We didn’t really get a chance to meet the last chief of security. I don’t remember her name so I’ll just call her Tasha Yar. But anyhow, new Tasha Yar, like old Tasha Yar was dispatched pretty quickly without any kind of warning. Which is a little silly considering that this was pretty heavily billed as the feminist Trek and now we’ve had multiple main female characters who’ve been dispatched and replaced with male ones. I like Ash Tyler. I can’t say more than new Tasha Yar because we didn’t really get a chance to meet her.

A couple things about Sarek. I thought it was kinda dumb that he was a character. I had no problem with a Vulcan having Burnham as a ward who joined Starfleet. I just thought that having Spock’s father be a character was a little dumb. Like it was too up in TOS’s ass about itself. This episode changed my mind on that. It gives backstory to Sarek and Spock’s relationship and why it was strained. It’s the kind of fan service that works perfectly. Kudos, writers. 
Something something DRUMPF! something

I like Spock. Don’t get me wrong I like Spock. I mean he’s the first of the Vulcans so really he set the bar for how they should be, but he played Vulcans as emotionless. Which was wrong I think. Vulcans aren’t emotionless, they suppress them. Sometimes it’s tough. I think Tim Russ did that really well. Zachary Quinto did it well once and then fucked it up two other times. James Frain seems like he’s going to do it really well. At least if this episode is any indication. 

Live until five seconds from now and languish

I feel like I shouldn’t like Cadet Tilly, but I really really do. I haven’t read any of the fan takes on that character yet because who gives a fuck what a bunch of nerds thinks about her. Except for this one, of course. It’s a character that could go either way. She’s too smart and too young. She could easily drift into Wesley Crusher territory and she’s too perky where she could also drift into Ezri Dax territory, but she doesn’t. It’s a testament to the actor, Mary Wiseman for pulling that tightrope act off. Her relationship with Michael Burnham is almost as enjoyable as watching Saru with Burnham.
In space, no one can hear you quote Atlas Shrugged

I hate Captain Lorca. I hate Lorca and I hate that I have to hate him. I don't hate him in a he’s creepy and I love to think he’s creepy kind of way. I think he’s a bad character and I wish we had Captain Georgiou back because she was so much better. She leaned a little too heavily into saying number one, but I liked her relationship with Michael Burnham. She was a solid Starfleet captain who understood that firing first went against Starfleet stood for even if that meant her and her ship might be destroyed. Lorca is a fucking monster. Admiral Cornwell wanted to take away his command despite their previous relationship and she is right to do so. Then he goes and tricks her into going on a mission he’s pretty sure is a trap so he doesn’t get his precious command taken away. That’s fucked. I’ve seen captains do some crazy stuff for their command, but this is WAY over the line. I will not be cool with this show if at a certain point he’s not dead or at some Federation prison colony spending the remainder of his life mining Dilithium.

Future Trek?

Little prediction. I think at a certain point Michael Burnham, the first Federation mutineer, is going to realize that despite what she thought in the first two episodes is going to realize that Federation ideals are worth fighting for no matter the cost. And despite everything Captain Lorca has done to help her rehabilitate herself she will turn on him and either kill him or turn him into the authorities with proof of his incompetence. Here’s hoping at least. He needs something to come to his way because he’s a real piece of shit.  

Better Trek?

This is an absolutely great episode. I wouldn’t really tell you to watch a better one because you should watch this one. It’s solid and the crew is really starting to mesh. At least the four ones that aren’t forgettable or don’t suck are starting to mesh. If you want to watch another episode where a character is drifting in an area of space that’s impossible to scan so a character with a personal connection has to rescue him then check out Penumbra. Honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve seen this one. I don’t remember it as being amazing so it’s probably not as good as this one. It’s not too bad. In it, Ezri Dax saves Worf from the Badlands. I’m not a huge Ezri fan. I felt if they were going to kill of Dax they should’ve kept her dead. But I love Worf and it’s part of the final arc of the final season of DS9 most of which are solid. 

If you want to watch an episode where two characters have their minds connected and have to share secrets with each other against their will then go with TNG’s Attached. Picard and Dr. Crusher have their minds connected while trying to escape some bad hombres. They learn a lot about each other. Some of which they’d have preferred the other not know. It gives real depth to the characters and meaning to their relationship. 

If Lorca’s arc was more your style and you want to see a captain who will go to any lengths to keep his ship then I’d say leave the Trek universe and watch the Firefly episode Out of Gas. There’s only a handful of Firefly episodes so I guess watch them all. In this one Serenity’s engines go bust leaving them adrift in space. They’re far from anyone who might hear their cries for help so everything looks pretty bleak. This is the episode where we get to learn how everyone came to be aboard Serenity and what the ship means to Mal and what he’ll do to keep it. It’s a sweet look at a captain’s fanatical relationship with his ship, but in this one, he doesn’t try to murder his friend, superior officer, and fuck buddy. Which is nice. 

That’s it for this week. Hopefully we’ll get to know the doctor a bit more in the coming episodes so he doesn’t suck so much. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Busy Racists, Knowing Me Is A Tremendous Burden, and Good Trek/Bad Trek #42 Discovery: Choose Your Pain

I was reading the comments on a website the other day and one of the commenters complained that he'd been waiting all day to comment. This was a huge inconvenience for him I guess because he was pissed. He finally got the site up and running and was able to post his comment. A comment that was incredibly racist. That struck me as odd. Not that someone would be racist on the internet. That shouldn't really be a surprise to anyone at this point. But the fact that the internet made this guy take a timeout by having the site be broken. He was able to sit down and think about what awful thing he needed to say and he still said it. Not only did he still feel the need to say it, he was pissed he wasn't able to say it sooner. That's messed up. Even for internet behavior.

What kind of piece of shit are you where circumstances preventing you from being racist is a huge inconvenience? What is it that you even need to do where this is screwing up your day? I have trouble that this character's inability to say something racist in a timely fashion really prevented this dude from getting to the soup kitchen on time or anything like that. I don't' think that there was too much else on the agenda aside from being a sack of shit on the old to do list. The only thing I'm sure that

I'm about to leave Michigan and it's probably about time. There are three stages to going back to where you're from. At first, you're just excited to see people and people are (I think) excited to see you. That's the fun part. It feels nice. You get to catch up. Then comes the weird ass in between feeling. You feel weird being back. Like you're homesick and like you've never left at the same time. It's confusing and weird and usually, leads to sitting in your parents living room drinking and watching basic cable. Eventually, that gives way to a feeling where you can't wait to get the fuck out of here and never come back. Love my family. Miss them when I don't see them. Can't wait to miss them again. Not to mention that it's not easy explaining to my family what a Trek blog is and why I'm doing one. Mostly because I have no idea myself what the point of this is. And if I don't know how the hell am I supposed to get my grandpa to understand the point of it.

Plus, maybe it's just my own shit here, but it's hard not to feel like a burden when you're bouncing from family member's house to family member's house. I'm borrowing cars I'm eating all their cheese. You go out of town and come back and then you get to be a burden on everyone. It's not like everyone had trouble filling their week until I showed up. No. They all have the same shit going on only now they have me. So I'm heading off to Chicago for a week. Where I'll be staying in a hostel. Looking forward to being a burden on strangers for a while.

Speaking of burdens, I watched Star Trek Discovery and I'm still not sure if I like it. Here goes.

Recap:

Captain Lorca gets kidnapped. Kidnapped most foul. Turns out the Klingons are onto him and his spore drive, and they need to know what gives. So they snatch him up in a really badass scene where his shuttle is attacked.

Meanwhile, on Discovery some folks are realizing that maybe strapping a sentient being into their engine and forcing it to do your bidding is really not cool. The tardigrade is being tortured and they don't know how long it's going to survive at this rate. Burnham, Engineer Stamets, and Tilly aren't happy about it. Acting Captain Saru don't give no shits. He needs that spore drive to save the captain and he doesn't give a shit how tortured that makes the tardigrade.
THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS!

On the Klingon jail ship, Captain Lorca meets up with another captured member of Starfleet in addition to friend of the blog, Harry Mudd. Here played by Rainn Wilson. It's a pretty self-contained episode despite drawing a lot on the previous tardigrade stuff. The captain gets out after realizing that Mudd is a piece of shit. The Discovery folks grant the tardigrade its freedom and Stamets hooks himself up to the spore drive after injecting himself with tardigrade DNA which tricks the spore drive for some stupid reason. That's it.

Good Trek?

I don't know yet. I really liked the first two episodes. I liked them a lot. I thought three and four were pretty good. This one was, I just don't know. It's good. They've all been good. I just don't know if I like them. I know I'm an old fuddy-duddy, but maybe this new generation just likes a flashier Trek than I can adjust to. It reminds me of Riverdale. I haven't seen it, but I've heard things. I'm sure it's fine. It has a very loyal fanbase and I'm not saying it's bad, but if you tune into Riverdale hoping for some hilarious Jughead hijinx, you might walk away disappointed.
Genie, you're free!

Part of the problem is I don't really know most the characters. Lorca has been very one note. So has Stamets. Neither are awful, but I also don't really give a shit when they're on screen. I love Burnham and Saru and I really like Tilly. The rest I don't even really know their names. I had to look up Stamet's name three times while writing this and I've seen all five episodes. I don't know the name of the lady with the metal shit on her face. I don't know the doctor's name and I'm not even looking that one up because of how much of a dud he is. I didn't think it was possible to find a weaker doctor than Pulaski, but they went ahead and did it. Doctors are usually a strong suit of any Trek franchise. Bones set the bar pretty high in how awesome he was. The Doctor from VOY is great, I'm a firm Bashir defender especially in later seasons. And I think I speak for most guys when I say that Dr. Crusher was one of my first loves. Even Dr. Phlox had his moments.  Nobody was shitting their pants for more Phlox time, but still. At least he wasn't a big stupid dud.
We have a great comedic actor playing a historically comedic character: Best take the dark and brooding approach

Now that we know that the doctor and Stamet's are an item that could be something, but honestly at this point, I don't even really give a shit. Don't get me wrong I'm glad Trek is finally incorporating gay characters in a real way, but do they both have to be such huge fucking duds? Plus, this is a silly gripe, but I have trouble believing that Starfleet is cool putting two folks who are dating in the same quarters. That sounds like a recipe for disaster. What, you're just gonna move in with your boyfriend immediately? Come on. I can't imagine this is either of your first time here dating someone. This is a bad idea.
Hey fellas, how's about don't waste extract where you food replicate.

It's a good show and it's done well, but it's just so unrelentingly dark. Where's the levity? This is Trek. I'm not saying every episode has to be The Trouble With Tribbles but you can have the occasional light moment. We get one during the whole episode. And it's a great one. The first F-bomb in any Trek that I know of. It's great and I laughed, but the rest is so bleak. It's tough to watch. There's a lot to like, but there's so much that just seems foreign. I don't know. I'm keeping with it, but I want more Tilly saying "fuck" and less long brooding Klingon speeches.

Better Trek?

You want some levity, check out the last Harry Mudd episode I watched. It was just a few weeks ago so it's fresh in my memory. It's called I, Mudd and it was really fun. Even though the crew was in mortal danger the entire episode it was fun and silly.

If you're into Klingons on a prison ship then go with By Inferno's Light. A later DS9 episode. Worf and a Garek are captured in Dominion space. Worf is forced to fight members of the Jem'Hadar while Garek and Bashir are trying to devise a way out. It's an absolute powerhouse. One of my favs.

That's it for this week. I don't know how much Trek I'll be able to watch from my hostel next week, but we'll see.