Live Long and Prosper

Thanks in part to a Facebook group called “Star Trek Shitposting,” I have been diving in up to my sternum lately into the universe known as Star Trek. I recently watched all seven seasons of the Voyager series, for example, an endeavor that was well worth the time. While the series starts off on shaky legs, once Kes is absorbed into the cosmos and Seven of Nine is rescued, it seems to find its footing, and, occasionally, its writers present you with something masterful.

There is, for instance, the episode called “11:59,” the 23rd episode of the fifth season. This episode leaves behind the nuts and bolts of space and science fiction and entertains some of Kathryn Janeway’s genealogy–an ancestor of hers named Shannon O’Donnel and her involvement in something called the “millennium gate” project. I am not sure many Trek fans would choose this as one of their favorite Voyager episodes, but it is one of my standouts, as the writers had the courage to leave the starship behind and to tell a plainer tale set in the 21st century somewhere in Indiana. It is a striking love story and a somewhat bittersweet entry into this Trek franchise. It is a true surprise, and a welcome one.

There is “Blink of an Eye,” season six, episode 12, in which Voyager becomes trapped in a magnetic field that forces them into a temporal orbit so that their passage of time differs wildly from that of the inhabitants on the planet’s surface. While a few hours pass for Voyager’s crew, eons of time pass for the planet’s inhabitants, as they move from their iron age through to space travel. Such a boldly large scope for storytelling.

So I have since moved on to the new Discovery series on CBS, which I am enjoying. I find the character of Michael Burnham utterly entrancing, and the idea of the spore drive and its missing component are big ideas (although the creature and the treatment it receives until a humanoid takes the time to extend true compassion, this theme rings through directly from the “Original Series” episode “The Devil in the Dark,” my favorite Trek episode of all time). I appreciate too the updated look, feel, and pacing in the new series, though all of this somehow fitting in as prequel is driving many fans to distraction. For instance:

In the same vein, what about the spore drive itself? This supposedly is the most speedy and most accurate way to travel in space. Why is it not present in TOS, which is supposed to take place after Disco? Is it perhaps too unsustainable?

This is the problem with prequels. The discontinuities can be jarring. For instance, Disco sports Trek’s first “gay relationship” without missing a beat. Why such acceptance now and no mention of any further such couplings in the “future” Trek? (I mean. We know why. But why?)

The bottom line is that if you’re going to watch Discovery, you’re just going to have to let some of these things go. And, yes, that means Ethan Speck as Spock, too.

I think the writers understand an essential aspect of Trek in general. I remember watching the show on the television when I was a child. I think I was at my friend’s house, where I think was the first time I had ever witnessed this thing known as “color television.” I remember finding the show to be generally dull until the appearance of the Vulcan character.

Spock.

This is a character that scruffs the imagination, this lanky fellow with the odd haircut, the eyebrows, and the pointy ears. This is a character with one lonesome backstory, half-Vulcan, half-human, an outcast at any entrance, yet still an alien with superpowers–super-strength, able to disable another with a single touch, able to crawl into a person’s headspace and rummage around. Spock was what made Trek compelling, and Leonard Nimoy was who made Spock compelling. Nimoy not only invented Spock, but he invented Vulcans, and, indeed, he cast the template for how future, non-Vulcan fish-out-of-water characters would bring the same gravity to iterations of Trek. Seven of Nine is, essentially, a Vulcan. Data is, essentially, a Vulcan. Tuvok is, of course, a Vulcan, but without Nimoy’s clearly defined template, Tim Russ may not have played him so clearly. And, while these wannabes are all excellent characters, the originator was Leonard Nimoy, and it is due to his performance that we’re still talking about that show long after its three-season run on NBC.

That, my friends, is why we’re getting a brand new Spock and why our first-season protagonist has a Bacon’s score with Spock of one.

And now, some of my favorite Star Trek Shitposting items that I have done. Thank you.

The Protocols of the Elders of Blah Blah Blah

One often hears a meta-debate about whether it is wise or warranted to compare this event or that event to the massive event from 1941 to 1945 referred to as The Holocaust, or Shoah. There is “Godwin’s Law” to consider, concerns of resorting to reductio ad Hitlerum, and therefore having one’s points rendered as moot due to such reliance on an obviously accepted logical fallacy. One could even register a moral concern over comparing anything in contemporary experience with the unique horrors that event unleashed.

It is problematic.

I had the privilege of studying Holocaust history under Saul Friedman in my college days at Kent State. Professor Friedman was a tall man, perpetually in a sports coat, a serious face, and more gravitas than most people anyone has ever met. His challenge was to teach the iceberg to people who grew up shown the tip and thought it was all there was. You remember. From middle school forward, the teachers would show us the pictures of emaciated people stacked up in rickety wood bunks, they would drill those incomprehensible numbers into our heads, six million Jews, six million others; the higher-skilled teachers would even perhaps note the grappling irony of “arbeit macht frei.”

But those lessons did not even try a bit to explain the origins of these hideous ideas. I think that most people whose Holocaust study occurred merely through high school graduation got the impression that the hateful ideas that led to the “Final Solution” began and ended in Hitler’s warped brain, and that is by far not the truth. Professor Friedman’s greatest impression upon me was to pull back the curtain to reveal how ancient, how matted into the soil, how far back the ugly tendency of humans to massively scapegoat goes.

Russia in the late 1700s forcibly restricted the movement of Jewish people, who were made to live in the “Pale of Settlement,” and yes, this is from where the phrase “beyond the pale” comes. But the practice of ghetto-izing Jewish people goes back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Indeed, the practice of murdering Jews en masse is nearly as time-honored: Pogroms in Ukraine and Belarus killed some 150,000 from 1918 to 1922.

Russia is of course the origin point for a book called “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which first raised its horrible head in 1903. This book purports to detail a Jewish plan toward world domination, which they would achieve by subverting the morals of non-Jews, by taking over the banks and the press, and, ultimately, by destroying civilization.

You can buy yourself a copy at Amazon right now!

Egyptian scholar Dr. Samir Taqi Al-Din has a well-thumbed copy, apparently. He recommended it as a source of truth in April 2018. Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Malla of Damascus is a fan, too. He thinks the World Cup is part of the plot outlined therein. He said this just last week.

The practice of and the notions behind mass scapegoating are deeply engrained over centuries and as modern and current as Cardi B.

During the 2016 campaign, I expressed alarm to friends I knew were going to vote for D.J. Trump, who essentially campaigned saying that this group of people and that group of people are causing the problems, so we’re going to get rid of those groups of people. That is an argument that cannot help but engage the worst tendencies and the worst practices of people.

And now we have toddlers appearing alone before immigration judges and a Muslim ban with the Supreme Court’s stamp of approval.

Nope, I see no similarities whatsoever. Nope.

Where Did The Guitar Go?

This is one of two examples I can find on the Internet where Prince ends by making his guitar disappear. It is a move I have seen no other artist perform. It is astonishing. Watch this 12-minute medely at the 2005 NAACP Image Awards and try to deny that he was the best live performer on the planet.

I have to be honest, though, I think that audience was more excited to see Morris and Jerome than they were anyone.


Last night, I heard Chris Hayes report that, despite the shootings today, the staff of the Capital Gazette in Maryland fully intend that a paper will go out tomorrow. My automatic but certain response as a former news reporter and editor (and one who once covered a live shooter situation) : Well f*** yeah the paper’s going out!


Purple Rain. Again.

I learned via local public radio on Thursday evening that The Little Theater was featuring Purple Rain and Sign ‘o’ the Times on Saturday. There went my normal weekend.

I have probably watched Purple Rain a dozen times since April 2016, and now twice in the theater thanks to the good people at The Little. That is, admittedly, a lot of times to have watched a movie that is, quite arguably, a horrible movie. So bad is it that I have essentially re-written it and tend to choose my version over the one that appears on-screen, and I am able even when actually watching it to apply at least one major change. If I squint a bit, I can pretend that The Kid’s mother is actually dead and is just a ghost haunting he and Francis L. Their haunting by a discorporated being better explains the family’s derangement. I mean, if they’re both alive, then the only other explanation is that they are both insanely unhinged tweakers.

Of late has come the following observation: If indeed The Kid’s parents are off-the-rails meth users, well, then, they’re that and they are prolific gardeners.

I’m referring to the scene after Francis L.’s suicide attempt, after the cops have left, and The Kid is all alone and has a freakout, hallucinates his own self dead by hanging, and, you know, “goes crazy” beating the crap out of the family’s basement. The Kid’s first line of attack is to take a bat or something to the family’s abundant collection of preserves on the shelves.

The Kid’s parents, who are for most of the film only seen screaming and yelling at one another if they are not physically fighting, apparently also engage in the utterly wholesome practice of home cannery. People rarely bother to sterilize jars unless they are putting up food they have grown themselves.

I mean, can you imagine those two working in a garden? And when would they find the time?

It’s these details that fascinate me about Purple Rain, these story elements that were apparently not considered beyond “we need something for Prince to break / how about jars of preserves.” For instance:

In the beginning of the “Lake Minnetonka” scene, The Kid asks Appollonia where she is from. “New Orleans,” she answers, matter-of-factly.

Let me get this straight. She grew up in New Orleans. NEW ORLEANS. She has show-bidness ambitions. Claims she’s a singer and a dancer, in fact.

And she came to Minneapolis?

So many things in Purple Rain don’t make sense. At one point, Francis L. gruffly insults The Kid with, all my songs are in my head, I don’t have to write them down like you do (we later discover this to have been a lie). But we never see The Kid putting pen to paper, not once (as I recall, he is seen writing music in Graffiti Bridge).

Why is The Kid always late to rehearsals?

Why does The Kid show up at First Avenue in the afternoon and ask “where is everybody?” It’s a NIGHT CLUB.

And why does he have no idea how to kiss a woman?

Why is Jill Jones holding a dog near the end? (We actually know the answer to this, but if you don’t know that in a deleted scene The Kid for some reason gives Jill Jones a dog, you’re gonna wonder.)

Why did these filmmakers find Appolonia’s job application process interesting enough to leave in the movie? Why not just have her fill out W-2s as well?

Anyway. Who am I to criticize, I reckon. The thing made Warner Bros. buckets of money. And I, for one, can’t stop going back to it.

#6

I was nominated on Facebook…to list my 10 all-time favorite albums, ones that have really made an impact and are still on my rotation list, even if only now and then. In accordance with directions, I’ll do my best to post an album cover each day for 10 days. No Particular order, No explanations, just the cover.

#6:

#5

I was nominated on Facebook…to list my 10 all-time favorite albums, ones that have really made an impact and are still on my rotation list, even if only now and then. In accordance with directions, I’ll do my best to post an album cover each day for 10 days. No Particular order, No explanations, just the cover.

#5:

#4

I was nominated on Facebook…to list my 10 all-time favorite albums, ones that have really made an impact and are still on my rotation list, even if only now and then. In accordance with directions, I’ll do my best to post an album cover each day for 10 days. No Particular order, No explanations, just the cover.

#4: