Monday, February 27, 2017

Good Trek / Bad Trek #14 The Conscience of the King

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 Stat Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one whose 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 Star Trek to watch that remind me of this episode. That’s it. 

The world is still going (gone?) to shit which is nice. The Oscars were last night. I didn’t watch them because I never do. They're dumb and boring. I don't get why anyone would care whether someone gets a stupid award. It's nice that people are excited about how they're getting better at diversity, but since the last movie I saw in theaters was Sausage Party I don't really think that I'm in any position to talk about The Academy or the state of film. Sausage Party was not bad, for the record. Not awful. But not great either. 

It's been a couple weeks and I feel bad, but I was working on something else. I don't owe any of you an apology because you don't pay the bills, but whatever. The other thing I was working on also won't pay the bills. From my experience, nothing will ever. In my experience, most of comedy is working really hard on something and then sending it someone who didn't ask for it. Then 99 times out of 100 they don't do shit with it because they didn't ask for it and don't really want it. So why would they?

Nobody really asked for me to write about the Trek either, but here we are. I really didn’t feel like watching Trek today. I was talking about Dollhouse last night and now I kinda want to watch that. It’s a solid show, but I don’t think that I can do twelve episodes of Star Trek and just switch this over to a Dollhouse blog all of a sudden. Plus. There’s only a couple seasons of Dollhouse (a couple solid seasons). So there’d be no Good House / Bad House. It’s all pretty goddamn good. Also, if I named something Good House / Bad House then people might assume it’s about that show House. Which I hated. I only watched it a handful of times but it was enough to realize that it was not for me. If you're a House fan, that's fine. Just not my thing. 

I'm getting sidetracked a lot here. I watched The Conscience of the King today and it was pretty goddamn good. 

Recap:

Kirk thinks that an actor in a traveling theater troop named Anton Karidian might be an old despot named Kodos who killed a bunch of Earth colonists twenty years prior. People think that he's been dead for years. Kirk's buddy convinces Kirk to look into it. He tricks the theater troop into relying on the Enterprise for a ride to their next gig. Which is good for two reasons. For starters, it'll give Kirk a chance to look into the actor/despot. Kirk is also sweet on the actor's daughter, Lenore Karidian. So he can get his flirt on too. 

Ass, Grass, or Dilithium

The actors are there it's revealed that only two people are able to recognize Kodos. Kirk and a lowly Lieutenant. Shortly after they realize that only those two would know him. Seems a little weird that there's only two people in the galaxy that can identify this character. But I guess people who would recognize him have been disappearing for years. Seems every time this theater troop around one of them, they end up being murdered. Murdered most foul. Then someone tries to kill him. So this guy is probably definitely Kodos. Meanwhile, things are really heating up between Kirk and Kodos' daughter. 

Someone tries to kill Kirk, so he confronts Kodos. Turns out the daughter is the one who tried to kill Kirk and the young Lieutenant Reilly. She was trying to eliminate all the folks who may be able to put away her dad. Makes sense. There's a struggle and she accidentally kills her dad. During a performance of Hamlet. A little too much, but still. 

Good Trek?

Yes. This one is solid. I think I still want to get back into Dollhouse, but even though I didn’t want to watch this episode it was some pretty goddamn good TV. I’m not saying this is the best episode of TOS I’ve watched, but this is when Trek is at it’s best, but it’s an hour-long drama that’s set on a spaceship. It was really enjoyable. I like the chemistry between both Kodos and his daughter. I believe that he genuinely seems to care for her. I don't really get that only seven people getting eyeballs on Kodos can put him away. That doesn't really make a lick of sense, but who gives a shit, it was a hell of a ride. 
Kirk and his buddy Opera Phantom

I like to think that in the future theater troops are at the whim of whoever can give them a ride. Because fuck them. 
Sick Vulcan burn

I’d like to know if Yeoman Rand and Lenore Karidian had met before this. Usually, a look like this requires some history.



Star Trek characters always have a thing for Shakespeare. I don’t. I have trouble thinking folks a few hundred years in the future are still doing Hamlet in traditional garb. If they want to watch something great from Earth's past, I think they should check out Star Trek. It's pretty sick. 

I like how Spock realizes something is up with Kirk and it just pisses him off that he doesn’t get to know. Sorry Spock, you don't get to be in on everything. Maybe you're not as smart as you thought you smug piece of shit. (Just kidding buddy, you're the best Spock)

Don’t really get the whole Uhura singing. She’s great. Her voice is just fine, but good gravy does it kill the flow of the episode. 
Love that McCoy is just in his office getting fucking tanked

Kirk calls for a "double red alert." I love that. Double red alert. You know how red alert means the ship is in immediate peril? Well, like that but TIMES TWO!

This was a cool shot I thought. Just focusing on her eyes while she was talking about murdering folks at the end. That's it. 

Push Trek: TNG's The Vengeance Factor

If you're looking to see a woman try to wipe a bunch of folks off the map at her personal expense then this is a good one. I'm trying to decide which one is better, and I think it might be the TOS one. 

Better Trek: DS9 Duet

This is a better early DS9. Kira is one of the best characters that DS9 gave us and this is one of her better episodes. Least one of her better early ones. There were more than a few missteps with early DS9. There's usually missteps with early seasons of any Star Trek. This is an early gem, though. Kira meets the man she feels is responsible for countless Bajoran deaths. If you haven't seen it, I don't want to give too much away, but it's great. Better than this episode even though this one was good. 

Good House


You know the whole run is really solid. Just give it a watch. I wish now that Joss Whedon can do no wrong they’d make him go back and redo all the stuff that got canceled too soon. I've never seen Buffy. I probably should get in on that some day. I bet I'll enjoy it. But seriously, treat yourself and watch some Dollhouse in addition to Conscience of the King. 

Next week we get to meet the Romulans for the first time. Should be good. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

No Trek, Just A Few Thoughts

I didn’t watch any Star Trek this week. Sorry, but it doesn’t look like I will the rest of the day, so I don’t think I’ll post any Good Trek / Bad Trek today. I’m trying to write more and trying to post more on here, so I guess here are just some thoughts as I type this. This will probably be more typo-ridden than usual. 


  • I watched the Trump press conference the other day and oh boy. There are legitimate reasons to not like the media as a whole. The fact that it’s shitty is probably the best reason. I hate how the fact that Trump repeatedly shits on CNN has elevated them to dogged martyr status. Trump is right for the wrong reasons. CNN does fucking suck, but not because they’re mean to Trump. The whole station is run like it’s trying to get you to buy it while you check out at the grocery store. That being said, the vitriolic hatred of all things the media freaks me out. I don’t know what it is, but really it seems that only consistent view from the right over the past sixty years is that the news makes them angry. That’s a weird thing to unite a people.

  • New Rule: I don't like Real Time with Bill Maher. I don’t understand who it's for. I watched the much-touted episode with Milo Yanjl;joihbkjhlpolis and I gotta say I just don’t get it. I don’t get who Milo is for. I don’t get who Bill Maher is for. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. 

  • Bill Maher strikes me as the kind of guy who smiles at himself and says “yeah, I said it” about a thousand times a day. 

  • Milo Whateveropolis isn’t a news figure. I don’t get why he’s considered such. He’s a silly character for silly people. There was a douche I went to hight school with who used to flick my ear and call me names. Are we putting him on TV to address shit now? Do we as a country also care what he has to say about shit?

  • That’s it really. I don’t know shit. I’ve been taking in a lot of news, and it’s a bummer. Not just the news itself, but how it’s delivered and how people react to it. It seems people are only interested in having their own opinion yelled back at them. I don’t know the right way to take in the news. I do know that I’ve read multiple comments online of folks who say that they get sexually aroused by Trump shitting on the media. So, no matter what news you take in or how you take it in that’s the wrong way to do it. I’m sure they were joking, but I also know that they weren’t joking enough. 


So, I don’t know the right way to take in the news, but I do know that that’s the wrong way. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Good Trek / Bad Trek #13 The Menagerie 1&2

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 Stat Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one whose 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 Star Trek to watch that remind me of this episode. That’s it. 

It was fun being in Michigan telling jokes. Now I’m back in New York telling jokes. It was less fun watching this episode of Star Trek. This week’s episode was The Menagerie AKA the episode of Star Trek where everyone sits around and watches another episode of Star Trek. It's a two-parter, but it seemed silly to break it up, and it’s a doozy. 

Recap:

The gang is at a space station and they get to see Captain Pike. I'm not sure if you remember Pike, but he was the captain in the pilot. He’s a garbage actor and it was a shit episode. Luckily he was involved in an accident and can only stare straight ahead and communicate via blinking lights on a wheelchair. One blink for yes and two for no. The both makes him more sympathetic as a character, and greatly improves his range as an actor. Spock sees him and goes a little squirrelly, so we’re led to assume he’s got something up his sleeve and he does.
This week on Two and a Half Men!

Spock kidnaps Pike and takes him and the Enterprise to Talos 4. He arrests himself and goes on trial because I guess going to Talos 4 is the only thing that still carries the death penalty. During the trial, they all just sit and watch the pilot of Star Trek. I shit you not. Spock introduces an episode of Star Trek into evidence and they all just sit and watch The Cage. 
They should at least be watching Enterprise. Though, I understand why they wouldn't want to

So, I guess, just go back and read that recap. Because that's all they do for rest of the episode. They watch The Cage in its entirety. At the end of the episode, they let Pike go live on Talos 4 where he finds the lady with whom the Talosians wanted him to rebuilt humanity. That’s it. End of episode(s). 

Bad Trek?

This episode is a mixed bag. I do like the idea of Spock breaking against orders in order to help his old commanding officer. All the parts where they’re just sitting around watching The Cage, though, are garbage because that’s a garbage episode. So, the majority of this episode is garbage because it's all just The Cage again.

I know TV was more expensive relative back then. They had all that footage from The Cage and they wanted to reuse it, but good lord. There was a reason that they had to remake the pilot. It sucked. Nobody wanted to buy it because it was garbage. 

I get they wanted to make it sound like going to Talos 4 was a big deal, but I refuse to believe that it or anything carried the death penalty. Plus, they refused to tell anyone why it was so bad. They just said don't go there or you'll be murdered by the peaceful Federation. These are scientists. You're telling me that nobody ever tried to make contact with the Talosians again? Not buying it. 

Worse Trek?
TNG’s Shades Of Grey

If you want to watch an even shittier episode that is mostly made up of other episodes check out TNG’s Shades Of Grey. In which Riker contracts a space disease and then sits in a hospital bed and watches Star Trek clips for an hour. I'm not blaming Riker for this. That's how I spend most my time when I'm sick, but it makes for shitty TV. 

Doing a clip show in Star Trek is weird enough. It’s hard to do seamlessly. There might be a way to do it well, but neither of these episodes figured out how. They're both garbage episodes, but The Menagerie is a lot better. So don’t watch Shades of Grey. It’s bad. Probably don't watch The Menagerie either, but I'm not the boss of you so do whatever you want. 

Good Trek


This isn’t really good Trek, so much as best Trek. But if you want some Trek that features a commander who is trapped in a mechanical prison and a second in command defying orders and odds in order to help him out, then you can’t get any better than The Best Of Both Worlds. It’s also a two-parter, though really the first episode is where it’s made. The second episode is great, but you get the impression it was supposed to end a certain way when nobody was sure whether or not Patrick Stewart planned on returning to TNG. I got a chance to see it in theaters a few years back to commemorate the remastering of it, and it was one of my favorite movie-going experiences of all time. While you’re already watching TNG just keep it going and watch Family as well. So watch The Best Of Both Worlds because it’s jus the best. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Good Trek / Bad Trek #12 The Carbomite Maneuver

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 Stat Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one whose 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 Star Trek to watch that remind me of this episode. That’s it. 

I'm back in Michigan, which is where I'm from. It's always a little weird going back to where you're from. That doesn't explain why there have been no new Trek posts the past couple weeks because I've only been here a week. I'm just saying I'm going through some shit right now and feeling pretty weird, so just back off. That being said, I watched the Carbomite Maneuver this week. It was pretty badass. There are some typical TOS problems but all in all, I liked this one a lot. 

Recap. 

The crew finds a floating cube. It seems to follow them wherever they go and they can’t escape it. What secret does the floating cube hold? There’s only one way to find out and that’s to keep on watching it. It’s following them around and it’s causing radiation to rise. It’s all around no god. They eventually destroy it. 
This cube belongs to the RainBorg

They’re deciding whether or not to move ahead, which they do. Despite the fact that this increases the likelihood of running into whoever left that cube in the first place. They run into a giant sphere shaped ship which tells them it’s going to destroy them because I don’t really know why. They just decide it’s time to destroy the Enterprise. Nobody is too keen on this idea. Kirk thinks that maybe this is all just a game that they’re playing and decided to tell the sphere about a substance called Carbomite t hat will destroy them if they try to destroy the Enterprise. It's just a bluff, but Kirk gives it a whirl. 
Balok

A little ship comes out and escorts to the Enterprise to a prison planet. The pilot of the ship is a blue character named Balok (or is it???) but the Enterprise manages to break free disabling the little ship. They beam over because they still want to meet this new life form even if it might be violent. Turns out the blue alien was just a ruse. The blue alien was just there to look intimidating. The real Balok is a small child looking alien with the funniest voice on earth. It seems pretty jovial considering it just tried killing everyone. Space baby explains that it just uses the other alien so people don't treat it weird because it's just a space baby. Then a crew member who was a real fuck up decides to live with space baby. None of this matters, because space baby has this crazy deep voice and it's the funniest thing I've ever seen. 5 stars for this episode. 5 stars and 3 cheers for space baby. 
Space baby on board

Bad Trek?
NO! Even without the amazing space baby, this was a real fun episode. Honestly, this should’ve been the pilot I think. This is probably the Trekiest episode so far. Aside from some TOS silliness, this could’ve been a pretty good TNG episode. I don’t know what the fuck the deal is with having Shatner shirtless and shiny, but here it is again. Is that what masculinity was supposed to look like in the 60s? It’s not like he’s super ripped or anything. He's an okay looking guy who’s in okay shape. I just don't know who that is supposed to be for.
Seriously. Let me know if this works for you. I'm really quite curious. 

This is the most militaristic and scientific the Enterprise has looked so far. That makes sense in context. They’re out where nobody has been so far so it makes sense that they want to make sure everyone is at full battle ready. 

Seems a little weird how quickly Bailey decides to just leave maybe forever and live with the crazy child. 

I get the ruse as part of a reveal for the show, but if you have the technological power of that ship then that’d be enough to be intimidating. Seems a little weird that folks on another ship wouldn’t take anything he says seriously because he looks like a tiny baby. I mean, if a ship could clearly destroy mine without thinking twice about it then I’m not going to laugh in the guy’s face just because it’s a baby with a  deep voice. That being said, the baby reveal is hilarious. I loved it. 
Bonus Space Baby
Even though it really seems against character they've established so far, I really enjoyed Kirk thinking that scientific curiosity trumped getting revenge on the baby for almost destroying them. That seemed like more of a Picard move, but it worked. He hammers the point home a  few times that the only reason they’re out there is to meet new folks, and they can’t very well do that if they keep on trying to destroy all the new folks they meet. 


Three’s been a few episodes that strike me as odd that they’re never mentioned again. This is the first time they’ve gone out this far, but not the last. Picard or the rest of anyone just never run into space baby again? Where's space baby? I want more space baby. Star Trek: Discovery better be like 80% or I'll throw a fit. 

Worse Trek

I'm having trouble thinking of an episode that mixes the drama with such a humorous ending. If you want to watch a real horse shit episode about the crew thinking they're in danger only to realize it was all a silly game then you could watch the DS9 episode Move Along Home. I won't be watching it because it's just straight garbage. You also shouldn't watch it either, I'm just grasping at straws trying to find an episode that's similar to this one. The crew plays a game. It's fucking awful. So don't actually watch it. 


Good Trek

Shadows and Symbols DS9 S7E2

This isn't really comparable at all, but it's a great episode. Poker comes up a lot in TNG like it does in The Carbomite Maneuver, but not in the same way it does in Shadows and Symbols. It's a great episode about a commanding officer calling someone else's bluff. It's a Major Kira heavy episode which is good because she's awesome. 

That's it for this week. I'm still feeling a little weird, but I guess better. Star Trek makes people feel better. Not much, but a little. And that's something. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Good Trek / Bad Trek #11 Dagger of the Mind

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 Stat Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one whose 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 Star Trek to watch that remind me of this episode. That’s it. 

Big week across America. The world too I guess, but mostly America. We had the calendar turn over. Lots of folks were pretty happy to see 2016 go. It was a weird year to be sure, but some people seem to think that now that it's 2017 Americans are going to get better at voting and celebrities are going to stop dying.  Seems a simplistic. Yes, a lot of icons passed away. It was very sad. But the ones who didn't are still marching towards the end. It’s not like just because Billy Bragg managed to stay alive last year that means he’s home free.  Celebrity deaths work like one of those quarter pusher games at casinos. Every year is a push. Most years a couple fall down. Every year quarters are added and subtracted. I guess that analogy implies when celebrities die we win which isn't the case. I think what I’m trying to say is that every year brings a quarter you really care about closer to falling off the edge. It’s always sad. So get ready. A bunch of icons died last year. A bunch more are getting closer to death. So be ready. Also, I watched the Dagger of the Mind this week. It features a lot of people who managed to stay alive last year. And Leonard Nimoy who died in 2015 before it was cool. 
The money represents you and everyone you care about. The edge is the abyss that awaits us all. 


Recap:

The gang is at a prison colony. They beam something up. You don’t have to wonder if this is going to kick off the plot for long because almost immediately it’s revealed that there’s a prisoner hiding in one of the crates they’ve just beamed up from the surface. 


The actor who plays Adams' buddy said this was the hardest he's ever acted. It does not show. 

There’s a showdown, and the prisoner is not a prisoner, but a doctor who used to work closely with Dr. Adams, the man in charge of the prison planet. McCoy is suspicion. Kirk and Dr. “Please don’t call me doctor” Noel. Go down to the surface to see what’s what. Things seem a little fishy, but Kirk does not seem too bothered by it. 

He should be because this bad shit is going on. Dr. Adams has gone crazy and has been using this bright light thing, called a neural neutralizer, to control people’s minds. It started as just a thing for the patients, but then he went all in and decided to mind control everyone who crossed him. Adams tries wiping Kirk, but (don’t call me Dr.) Noel manages to shut off power to the neutralizer. Dr. Adams’ mind gets wiped when the power comes back on. So now he’s dead and the Enterprise leaves the prison planet, hopefully after notifying someone that a bunch of prisoners needs to be fed and looked after at this prison colony. 

Bad Trek?

Mixed. It’s not great. I’m starting to think that it’s just me. It’s a relatively well-regarded episode of Trek. I thought I was going to like it better than I did. I was able to sum up the plot in three paragraphs which was a nice surprise. There wasn’t a whole lot of batshit divergences that don’t go anywhere. 

Kirk is not at all bothered by the fact Dr. Adams is using something called a neural neutralizer. That's a scary sounding device. I don't like how accepting Kirk is with mind wiping and control. That's a pretty dangerous piece of technology. 

It’s not that women wear short dresses on the Enterprise, it’s that they’re just not wearing any pants. Dr. Noel, who does not like being called Doctor. It’s very evident with her. 
No pants transporter ride.

This is the first time I remember getting to see a mind meld. They’ve been used as a shitty plot contrivance on more than one occasion. It leads to the mess of Star Trek 3. But it does add the psychic abilities to Vulcans which plays in a lot in the future. 


We get mind control, we got ladies without pants, we have heavy-handed lessons on prisons. This episode has a lot going for it. I still don’t think it was great, though. It tried. And among all the bad Treks, this one is the closest to being good. It had everything going for it, but still these are just not easy to watch. Maybe TOS is something I’m just not supposed to get into. It was mostly Kirk. That's part of the problem. I started writing these hating Shatner and thinking that he was just a garbage actor. A couple episodes in and I started to like him. I was right the first time. He just sucks. 

I will say this in support of this episode, and that’s that I’ve complained about how most of these episodes take forever to get the plot going. Not this one. About 15 seconds in and we’ve already got a crazed maniac running around the Enterprise. So, kudos to the writers on their lack of dicking around this go round. Hopefully, this is something they keep on doing because there’s a lot of essentially dead air in these early episodes. 
There are one lights!

I like what they were trying to do. So I’ll give them credit for that. But I wouldn't recommend. What I would recommend is...

Good Trek. 


This two-part episode features a Starfleet captain being held prisoner by a madman who tortures and tries to control his mind by shining a light (or four) in his eye. You want to see that done better then the list begins and ends with the TNG episode Chain of Command. Jesus H. Christ is that ever a good episode. Two of the best TNG episodes ever which easily puts it in the running for some of the best Trek to ever see the light of day. This episode has everything. A naked Patrick Stewart acts the shit out of it. He just kills it. Both when he’s standing up to his tormentor and when he’s on the verge of breaking. You actually get to some unsavory aspects of The Federation which is a TNG rarity. Also, someone finally tells Troi to get into a standard fucking uniform. I mean, for Christ’s sake lady. You’re a goddamn officer on the goddamn Federation flagship, get out of those silly pajamas and get into standard issue Starfleet pajamas. 

That's it for this week. Next week we got The Corbomite Maneuver. Also, I was kidding earlier. Billy Bragg isn't going anywhere ever. He's too fucking awesome. 
Billy Bragg: 1957 - ∞

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 End of Year Media Power Rankings

 A lot of good media this year. Some of it buzzworthy. Some of it decades old that I just got around to. Regardless this is what made me happy this year. 

Here's it is. The media I most enjoyed taking in this year. 

TV. 




5. Stranger Things
You saw it. If you didn’t then you heard everybody shitting their pants about it. It's good. Let's all calm down a bit, but it is good. 


4. Orange Is The New Black
If you’re like me, then you probably thought that 2015 Orange is the New Black really sucked. This year’s was much better. They raised the stakes. More important, they let non-Piper characters carry the load it ends up better because Piper is really not that interesting.

You keep feeding that chicken American Dad!
3. American Dad
If you haven’t seen it then you’re missing out. It’s great. It was on this list last year and it is again. If you don’t think you like it because you don’t like Seth McFarlane but have never seen it then you should. The first few seasons were pretty meh, but if you stick with it you’ll be rewarded with one of the funniest, unique, and completely bizarre shows around. 

2. Mad Men & Game of Thrones (tied)
Mad Men was on this list last year when I watched the lion’s share of it. I watched the last season this year. Most of the big shows that ended had everyone talking endlessly about the finale making it hard to avoid spoilers. That didn’t seem to be the case with Mad Men. I wonder why. I thought it was a perfect sendoff. Game of Thrones was fucking nuts this year. That's it. Just nuts. I can't wait until the next season. 

1. Luke Cage
Marvel is just knocking these out of the park and good for them. All of them are good shows. I like them all in different ways even though they’re pretty similar thematically, but I think Luke Cage was the most fun to watch. The badass music helped. 



Honorable mention Star Trek: Voyager
Dishonorable mention: I'm sure I watched something that sucked, but can't remember. 

Music. 



5. Run The Jewels; RTJ3 

Run The Jewels were able to get this one in under the wire. It wasn’t supposed to be released until mid-January but then did a surprise release on Christmas day. If you like either of the other two outings, then you’ll like this one too. 


4. Stanley Brinks and The Wave Pictures: Orange Juice
I don’t really know anything about these guys. Orange Juice popped up in my Spotify Discover playlist and I loved it. I bought the album which is only a 2 song single. The other song is good too, but not nearly as good as this one. I usually like to put full albums on here, but I listened to this 2 song single enough to warrant a spot. 


3. The Hold Steady: Stay Positive and Boys and Girls In America
I know these guys aren’t new to music, but they were new to me this year. I found out about via my Spotify Discover playlists. I like that they rock. Way too much of indie rock is heavy on the indie and cheap out when it comes to the rock. These guys are fun and unique and I like them a lot. I’ll probably do a lot of listening to them this year. It was a tough call over whether to put this one or Boys and Girls In America on here. So it's a tie. They’re both great. Listen to both of them. 

2. Adele 25 This one came out late last year. You’ve probably heard Hello a billion tiems. And with good reason, Adele is a very good singer and it’s a great song. YOu should be lucky that a song that’s so pervasive is also really damn good. All I Ask is my favorite song on the album. I can listen to it on repeat forever and never get sick of it. It’s amazing. 


1. My Spotify Discover Playlists
I don’t know if this counts as an album, but this is what I spent the most time listening to. My friend Jay Welch told me about this midway through the year, and now I don’t know how I took in songs without it. I look forward to them every Monday. 

Honorable mention: (1/2 of) Life of Pablo by Kanye West. There's some sweet songs on here. Not enough to put it in the top five, but still. 
Dishonorable mention: (The other 1/2 of) LIfe of Pablo by Kanye West. There's a lot of fucking garbage on this album. You know it's true.

Movies 





Star Wars: The Force Awakens
5. I finally got around to seeing this one. It was pretty good. Wasn’t great. Wasn’t terrible. It was an exceedingly competent movie. I mean that as both a compliment and an insult. I heard that it was pretty much just a Newer Hope. It was. It was fine. It actually probably doesn't’ belong on this list, but I watched it very recently so it’s fresh in my head. 

4. Star Trek Beyond
The Kelvin timeline Treks are tough for me. I  loved the first one. I LOVED the first one. I very much did not love Into Darkness. As a Trek guy, there are parts of these new ones I love and parts that bother me. But also as a Trek guy to watch the Enterprise on the big screen still gives me goose bumps. I look at the new universe almost like I do the movie Galaxy Quest. Don’t get too pissy about retcons and cannon and just try to enjoy yourself.

3. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
I’ve seen this movie a bunch of times. It’s one of my favorites. It came to Netflix so I watched it a couple more times this year. There’s not a whole lot to say about it that hasn’t already been said. Jim Carrey is good without being too Jim Carreyey. Kate Winslet is awesome in everything she’s ever in. The effects are haunting and dreamy. It’s just beautiful. 

2. 10 Cloverfield Lane
Everyone I know pretty much loved this movie. The only negative reviews I heard were from critics who thought the name of the movie gave away the ending. If you're telling me that at the end of that movie you can tell me you were able to call that because of the name then I say “fuck you” because you're a damned liar. 

1. Mission Impossible 3
This is hands down my favorite movie that I saw this year. Tom Cruise is a goon. He’s part of a creepy religion and gives weird interviews, and was shitty to Brooke Shields a while because he doesn’t understand how brains work. All that aside, the dude makes a good movie sometimes. I don’t even like the Mission Impossible franchise all that much. I thought Ghost Protocol was one of the most overrated movies ever. Yeah, there were a couple neat stunts, but it ended there. Mission Impossible 3 though is just awesome. Phillip Seymour Hoffman makes a terrifying villain. Keri Russel is great. I can’t say enough good things about this movie. 

Honorable mention: Sausage Party
Dishonorable mentions: Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (or the 25 minutes I watched before shutting it off). And also Batman v. Superman. Good gravy was that ever bad. 

Books


5. The Bill From My Father: Bernard Cooper
I bought this book because I heard a chapter read on This American Life. I was expecting a book of humorous essays, but I got a sweet, funny, touching, sad memoir about a man's relationship with his father. I didn't get the book I was expecting, and I'm glad. 


4. This Boy’s Life
Tobias Wolff is my absolute favorite. (watch your ass, Wolff, King is driving hard to the hoop). I usually read something by him every year. I went with his memoir about his early life. They made a movie based on it with Leonardo Dicaprio. I've never seen it. 

3. Wizard and Glass: Stephen King
This is the 4th book in The Dark Tower Series. It's my favorite so far, but they're all just awesome. The Dark Tower book are daunting because very few people sit down and want to kick back and read 8 books. But then you start and you don't ever want to leave Mid-world. I'm on the second to last one now and I don't know whether to jump into the last one or wait so I can stay in this world a little bit longer. 


2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. 
This book should be required reading to live in America. Malcolm X is probably the most interesting person ever. They should make you read it in high school, and then make you reread it 10-20 years later. Maybe I'm just saying that because that's what I did. 



1. 11/22/63: Stephen King
Holy shit is this a great read. I read a lot of Stephen King. I don’t think it was too much but that’s what my wife said. He deserves it. I’ve read 8 and I’m working my way through my 9th book by him. Maybe that’s too much I don’t know. I’m enjoying them all. So I guess not. As much I've enjoyed all the Dark Tower books and The Stand I think this is my favorite King book so far. 


Honorable Mentions: Stephen King's The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wind Through the Keyhole, and Wolves of Calla

Dishonorable Mention: The news. Started out okay. Went to shit half way through the year. Do not recommend.  



Friday, December 30, 2016

Good Trek / Bad Trek #10 Miri

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 Stat Trek, I’ve never watched The Original Series. So, I’m watching and reviewing them as a fan of Star Trek, but one whose 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 Star Trek to watch that remind me of this episode. That’s it. 

This week I watched Miri. As I was typing this I just learned that Carrie Fisher passed away. I generally hate when people fill social media with a bunch of vapid horse shit when a celebrity passes away, but I liked Carrie Fisher and it’s a shame to see her die as young as she was. It's hard to talk about Fisher without using the word badass. Almost everything about Star Wars is overrated. Not Fisher. She was awesome. Honestly, I think I had more fun looking at the promotional picture her and Hammil made for The Force Awakens than I did watching the movie itself.



This isn't about Wars. This is about Trek. And I watched some. I watched Miri this week. And it is a bizarre hour of TV. Oddities on TV aren’t uncommon these days. Weird TV isn't that weird anymore, but this wasn't made for today. It was made for the late 60s. Star Trek had trouble finding an audience when it was on originally and that makes perfect sense. It's bizarre. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad hour of TV. I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly good hour. It’s weird and has some problems.

Recap:


The gang is cruising around and they pick up some old Earth radio waves. That’s bizarre on account of that they’re very far away from Earth. They go to investigate, and BOOM, it’s Earth! But of course, it’s not Earth. It’s just an exact duplicate of Earth. You might think this is nuts and will be the central mystery of the episode, but really they don’t bring it up too much after this. 

No but seriously, what the fuck?
McCoy, Yeoman Rand, Kirk, Spock, and a couple shit bag red shirts beam down to look at Earth 2. It’s exactly like Earth used to be in the 1960's, but all dilapidated and run down. So I guess they’re in 1960’s Cleveland. They get attacked by a monster and they find a little girl that Kirk ends up being way too flirty with.


Not okay

Turns out the Earth2lings found a way to almost completely halt the aging process. They thought that they’d figured out a way to live forever, but it didn’t go as planned. The adults who took ended up aging hundreds of years in a very short amount of time. It does work on the kids though. So all the children are hundreds of years old, but as soon as they hit puberty they age hundreds of years in a matter of days and then they die. So you get to be a kid for a few centuries and then you die.
Fly lord
Worse part is, now all the Enterprise crew has contracted it. So it’s a race against the clock to figure it out in time. It would be hard enough, but there are roaming bands of unruly children who are running around causing havoc. So the crew has to outsmart the kids and also stop the weird aging virus from killing them. Luckily, the crew is stronger and smarter than a bunch of dumb kids. So they are able to do it. At the end, they all share a good laugh about how the Federation is sending some babysitters to help deal with these children now that they’ve figured out a way for them not to die right after puberty.

Bad Trek?

It’s bizarre. It’s close to being good, but Jesus Christ Kirk and Miri’s relationship is not okay, and it's really hard to ignore. She is a child. He is very much not a child.

Yo, what the fuck is up with the lighting on the Enterprise? They have the energy to go to distant planets, but for some reason they only ever seem to use track lighting that focuses all the lights on small sections of people’s faces.
???
I don’t want to keep harping on this shit, but Kirk is straight up weird with this little girl. And that is what she is. She’s a little girl and Kirk is hitting on her. I know according to McCoy she’ a little girl, but she’s becoming a woman. That's a fucked up enough thing for an old man to say. I don’t know what’s worse Kirk flirting with a child or McCoy repeatedly bring up her burgeoning womanhood. Don’t describe her that way, because it’s creepy. You keep on saying she’s becoming a woman, but she is no way one yet. She is a child. Everyone quit excusing Kirk's behavior just because she'll be an adult one day. Kirk, keep your goddamn paws to yourself. I”m not trying to review sexual politics from fifty years ago, but yikes. It’s jarring. 
Miri: Either a young woman or a small child depending on whether or not you're a fucking creep
Have you seen this? It’s weird. SHe’s a child. SHe’s not even a teenager I don’t think. She’s supposed to be like 12, and Kirk immediately just turns on the sex appeal to get her to help them. He’s not exploiting her crush on him at first. He just sees a small child and his instinct is to start pawing at her. This part is just too fucked up.

Why are we not trying to figure out why this planet is exactly like Earth? That’s pretty nuts. There way off in deep space and they stumble on a planet that is exactly like earth from the 1960's. The continents are all the exact same shape and in position. They use similar radio waves as Earth did at that time. The inhabitants look exactly like humans. Nobody seems all that curious about it. This is insane and nobody seems all that bothered by this.
Kirk, scouting another love interest

Yeah, the kids are messed up. It’s very Lord of Flies. I assume. I’ve never read the book, but I’ve seen The Simpsons episode that was modeled after it so I got it. I know that kids have less developed brains than adults do so that would explain some of their behavior, but they’re still in the hundreds of years old. You’d think even people with child brains would stop being animals at one point. They just don’t ever learn.

This also has one of the problems that Star Trek Into Darkness had. So they discover a procedure that makes humans pretty much immortal. Are they're just going to abandon this altogether? Living to be thousands of years old is still a pretty insane technology that you’d think they might remain interested in even after they’ve left. Yeah, the first tests weren’t great, but at the same time maybe this is worth a second look.

The whole thing, I see what they’re going for, but I think the whole concept is a swing and a miss.

Push Trek:

VOY: In The Flesh

This isn’t really equal as I like the Voyager Episode a whole hell of a lot better, but it’s not the best of episodes. It des feature an alternate Earth that isn’t really what it seems. The Voyager crew, tens of thousands of light years away from the real Earth is surprised to find Earth. They don’t know what’s going on. It seems pretty right even down to the Starfleet Academy groundskeeper being there. But that’s no the real Boothby, and that’s also not the real Earth. This episode is definitely better, but at least the Voyager crew is a little bit curious as to why there’s an exact replica of Earth where it shouldn’t be. Unlike the Enterprise crew who stumbles upon a scientific impossibility and just says “neat” and forgets all about it.

DS9: The Quickening

This is a much darker episode than Miri. I chose this one because it also features a race of people who get sick and die sometime after puberty that one lone doctor has to try to cure. Doesn’t happen immediately like in Miri. Some of the people are able to live with it for a little while, but the whole of the planet’s population is soon to be extinct because of what the disease has done to them. Bashir is a polarizing character. I think they misused him the first couple seasons and this is an episode that really lets Alexander some nuance to the character. Bashir’s arrogance can be grating. For reasons that are revealed later in the series, he has reasons to be pretty confident of his abilities. He has superhuman smarts. Watching him try and fail to find a cure and grow increasingly frustrated is hard to watch. It seems for the first time he’s failing at something that he’s really trying to do. Even when things start to go his way it’s bittersweet.

That's it for this week. Happy New Year everyone. Next week is Dagger of the Mind. Also, I'll review my favorite of the year tomorrow. I'll give you a hint in that Star Trek TOS is not on it. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Good Trek / Bad Trek #9 What Are Little Girls Made Of?

I completely forgot to write about Star Trek last week. If you’re one of the thirty-some-odd people who read this, then my sincerest apologies. If I was going to skip over an episode, this would’ve been a good one because it was really something. That was selfish of me, and I’m sorry. The holidays are stressful and I imagine a lot of folks would’ve liked to kick back with a glass of eggnog and read a sick Trek recap.

It was extra easy to forget about Star Trek this week because this is also the premier of Star Wars: Rogue One. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but Star Wars is kinda dumb. I like some of the movies, but the way everyone loses their shit over Star Wars when there’s a lot of other much better sci-fi out there irks me sometimes. This is not one of those episodes that’s better though. It’s episodes like this that make me completely understand why people don’t like the Trek. This one in particular, is bizarre. Particularly considering that this is a fifty-year-old show, this is one bizarre hour of television. I can’t even imagine what folks thought back then when they were switching back and forth between this and The Waltons or whatever else was on. It’s bizarre, but they’re all so poorly paced and written so clumsily that these episodes are really pretty boring too. This episode features both killer robots and sex robots and couldn’t help but keep looking at my watch the whole time.

This one is very Nurse Chapel heavy which I like. Anyone who is at all familiar with any kind of Star Trek will have a soft spot in their heart for Majel Barrett. The wife of Gene Roddenberry. She was originally cast to play the second in command who was just called number one. CBS didn’t like the idea of a woman being that close to the captain’s chair so they made Roddenberry get rid of the lady commander. She did get to play Nurse Chapel, which was a much smaller role. This is my first time through the TOS episodes, so I don’t know how much smaller but since her other character’s name was number 1, and Nurse Chapel doesn’t have a number at all then I’ll assume that her role is diminished. She also was the voice of the computer on pretty much the rest of all the Star Treks. She also played Lwaxana Troi in (probably too many episodes than necessary. but who gives a shit, she’s great. She’s the only person to appear in all incarnations of Trek, and that’s super badass. People shit on Lwaxana a lot, but I liked her. She wasn’t my favorite reoccurring character, but she’s got some solid episodes that people overlook because they like shitting on any Deanna Troi episode. 

Recap:

The gang is headed to a planet to look for a character who has done gone missing. He found some tunnels and then went off the grid. Kirk has a hunch that he’s still alive down on the planet. Chapel gets to go with him because the missing dude is her fiancé. They find him and the episode is a fucking mess. They find Chapel’s fiance who is living with his longtime associate, a giant, and a lady whose nipples deserve top billing for the episode. 
Andrea: Hubble Hubble!

They’re all underground because Chapel’s fiancé has been studying the folks who used to live on the planet. The reason they’re worth studying is that when their sun went dark the whole planet went underground and started relying on robots. Korby (Chapel’s fiance) thinks all he’s learned about all these robots is going to revolutionize the way the whole galaxy operates. 

Boy that Kirk really gets around

Fine. The rest of the episode is just nuts though. I’m trying to keep the recap portions brief so here goes the rest. The folks who used to inhabit this planet are dead because they built robots that got paranoid and took over. Turns out that most everyone we’ve met so far is a robot. Chapel doesn’t like that her fiancé has been hanging out with a sex robot, but Korby assures her that it’s just a sexy robot, not a sex robot so he has not fucked it. But also he’s a robot and everybody dies at the end because these robots got the same paranoia bug that wiped out the original planet dwellers. 

Chapel and Andrea having a nip-ff!

It’s all pretty nuts. We also get a Kirk robot at one point who has a battle of the wits with the real Kirk. Again, it’s nuts. But at the end all the robots are dead and the Enterprise takes off. 

Is This Bad Trek?

Honestly, I have no idea. There were times that were entertaining that I liked. It was bizarre, and I have to give them credit for reaching for the stars. This show was on at 8:30 at night. That’s when families gather around and watch TV together. Knowing that some poor father had to explain the ins and outs of sex robots to his children makes me like it a little better. If Kirk hates the sex robot so much then why does he keep on kissing it. Other than that though this episode is a real mess. 

I almost forgot that Kirk spent a lot of time running around with, what is clearly, a giant sex toy

We do get our first red shirt death. So that’s pretty cool RIP crewman Matthews (I think). You’re the first, but I’m sure not the last. 

The best exchange in the episode is one I’m not even sure they meant to be funny. When Chapel first meets the sex robot she angrily asks her husband if he’s been having sex with the sex robot, and he responds by telling her that robots aren’t for falling in love with. Nobody said anything about falling in love, we’re talking about sexing the sex robots. The fact that you gave that non-answer is a big fat yes. 

Korby keeps on bragging about how realistic these robots are and that they'll be able to take over without anyone noticing, but the Kirk robot sucks. It's a jerk, and it can't eat. How long before people notice that their captain is physically not able to eat food. That might come up at some point. You Dr. Korby are no Noonien Soong. 
Kirk and robo-Kirk breaking bread

While we’re on the subject of the sex robot, not saying I agree with the practice but if you’re building them you could do a hell of a lot worse than modeling them after Sherry Jackson’s Andrea. A hearty space-wowza to her. But what does this mean for the rest of Trek canon? If they’re able to build these robots so lifelike and advanced why is Data look like 1G model compared to these? Did Kirk not tell anyone else about these robots? Did he forget to file his logs, and so Starfleet just never got around to taking a look at this technology. If that’s the case then he really messed up I’d say. 

All in all, I’d say that this was an example of bad Trek. It’s bizarre enough to warrant a watch if you’re interested in though. 

Strike that, I'm changing my mind as I write this. This episode was so nuts it was great. 

Push Trek

TNG: Up The Long Ladder

I haven’t seen this episode in a long time. Usually, when I rewatch TNG I skip over most of seasons one and two. This one isn’t great, plus it’s the return of another race of space-Irish. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but when it comes to being a good episode of the Trek then space-Irish need not apply. 

This one’s not about robots, but about clones. People whose people weren’t going to live on decided to turn to clones instead of robots. It’s okay. It’s got Dr. Pulaski who sucks, but in terms of early seasons of TNG it has it’s moments despite the space Irish. I’d probably watch the What Are Little Girls Made Of just because it wins hands down in terms of pure bonkers TV. 



Good Trek

TNG: Measure Of A Man

This is the exception to the early TNG sucked rule. Kirk is not very nice to the robots (except for Andrea) because they’re just machines so fuck them. This season 2 TNG episode addresses the grey area of whether or not a sentient machine is considered a new life or not. In it, Data asks Starfleet not to disassemble him and Starfleet has the balls to say no. So they have a trial about whether that’s a decision Data can make on his own. Whether or not Data is a person or property is settled in a court of law. It’s a solid episode featuring a great performance by Jonathan Frakes’ William Riker, a character, and actor not necessarily known for depth. 


That’s it for this week. Sorry about last week. I’ll get back on schedule next week with,  either Dagger Of The Mind or Miri. I don’t know which one was officially next. Merry Christmas everyone!