Monday, May 30, 2016

Boarding The Enterprise

Great news!

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Ben & Bella books to see whether I might want to read, review, and give away a couple copies of the new, anniversary edition of Boarding The Enterprise edited by Robert J. Sawyer and David Gerrold for whom I have the utmost respect. Of course, the email went to my junk mail folder and then I was traveling and sick and injured and a million other things but eventually I got my biz together enough to reply and say, "Yes! Sure thing!"

And then a few more days went by as I put off figuring out how to run a legit giveaway here on the blog... but now, finally, I have put the exceedingly creaky wheels of progress in motion.

See. I have a blog tour banner and everything! I'm no(t too much of a) slouch!

Alright, I have TWO copies of this book to giveaway (US & Canada only please (sorry spam bots from Russia) for super practical shipping reasons) and you can enter thusly:

Option 1: Leave a comment below with the title of your favorite episode. That's it.
Option 2: Tweet about this blog or this book or both at once if you're feeling efficient.
Option 3: Tweet using the hashtag: #BeamMeUpAgain

My impression of this is that it will be easy. Presumably easier than that time I wrote a bunch of names down and drew them out of a legit wizard hat my husband owns because of reasons. (Magic reasons.)
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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Bend. Don't Break. Adapt.

Apparently May is Ehlers Danlos Awareness month (along with, I'm sure, about a thousand illnesses and conditions I'm not aware of) and I realize there are only about four days left in May but that's four days of... awareness, I guess.

A few months ago, when I was sorting through the swamp of scary internet medical information, trying to figure out what--exactly--was going on with my body, I found a lot of help and reassurance in the blog posts and articles I read from other people who deal with EDS so, I don't know, I figured I'd write one too. Maybe someone in the middle of the diagnostic process will run across it and it'll help them. For all the rest of you out there: Enjoy the Star Trek snaps and information about a thing you will never have to deal with!

Ehlers Danlos Snydrome is a genetic disorder wherein one's body sucks at making connective tissue. It's a really unpredictable condition so various people in the same family could all have EDS but they could all have vastly different (or no) symptoms. Here's what EDS means in my body:

1- My teeth.
I've gone into some detail about my teeth before but here's some brief background. I've had crap teeth my whole life. I had my first root canal when I was eleven and have had five since. I avoided one by just having the thing pulled out--which wasn't really a great decision and I don't know why anyone let a thirteen-year-old make that choice.

2-My eyes.

Sometimes I need glasses. Sometimes I don't. My vision fluctuates a little bit every day. Sometimes it gets bad enough that I go to the eye doctor and they give me a new prescription. But my Rx goes up and down like an elevator and I've never had the same one twice.

3-My joints.
My hips pop out for no reason. My ankles turn over without warning. Sometimes I just stand on the outside edges of my feet and don't really notice until someone points it out. I have hitch-hiker's thumb and sometimes have trouble gripping stuff because my fingers just bend backwards like a bunch of wriggly earthworms. I also now (apparently) have a thing where my ribs sublux sometimes while I sleep and I have to put them back where they go before I can go about my business.

4- My skin.
Hey man, if you want the leotards you also get the skin stretchers.
My skin is velvet soft and fairly stretchy. It's not like... carnival attraction stretchy... just stretchy enough that I can do interesting things with my cheeks and various other body parts and dentists and doctors have remarked (without ever helpfully saying, "hey, you know there's a thing called EDS...?") on its elasticity. The party tricks are great but stretchy, velvety skin is also hard to sew up so stitches and surgery can be problematic. 

5- My immune system-- 
is shit. I pretty much can't leave the house without getting sick. 

6- My brain. 
Apparently there's a higher than average incidence of Asperger's Syndrome among people with EDS. This isn't really a huge deal. It's just sort of nice to know, I guess. 

The thing about Ehlers Danlos is that it can have an effect on pretty much every element of your life. From little things that mostly just impact one's vanity (I've had stretch marks and varicose veins since I was eleven) to larger issues (EDS is likely why I sometimes pass out) and all the stuff in between (I have some digestive issues and an overly high tolerance to local anesthetic which causes a lot of problems when dealing with item #1 and there are a few things I think I'm leaving off... I can completely fold my ears up into themselves) but it's really just part of my life. 

When I was back in Kentucky I saw a few of my friends in person and a couple of them wanted to talk about this whole EDS revelation. Is it a good thing that at least now I know? At least I can approach my health differently, right? Yeah. Definitely. Now maybe dentists won't ask, "Have you done a lot of really hard drugs?" when I am desperate for more anesthetic. 

Is all of this still a pain in my ass? Yeah. It is. I snapped a tendon sheath in my wrist a few weeks ago which severely limited my work and work-out time while I heal. I cried a couple of times, desperate to just do the stuff that I love and need to do. But then I was reminded, by another close friend, that I will adapt. Adapting is what I do best. I am Borg, after all. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Well, ok, I haven't meant to be gone for the last couple of weeks. But Scott's been on hiatus and we took some time to come to Kentucky and see our families and while we were here we did a live show and a short film and a quick photo shoot and I went hiking and swimming and I stayed up all night playing bananagrams with my mom and brother who I hadn't seen in three years and I fell asleep playing video games with my dad and twin sisters and I hugged so many people and man, I don't even know. We've been super busy--and goofy. Busy being goofy. Which is just how we like it.

But we're flying back to LA at like 4AM and sometime in the afternoon we'll trudge back into our house and take the longest nap of all time and then I'll be able to get back to my regular life. And my regular life includes Star Trek and I miss it when it doesn't. Sometimes--just sometimes--I think I'm sort of burned out on Trek. Or, not really burned out on Trek but sometimes I worry that I've already said everything good I have to say about Trek. Or... maybe I worry that Trek doesn't have the same power over me that it once did because I've just spent so much time watching and re-watching and analyzing it and its place in my life.

But it does. And I know it does because today one of my friends (and readers!) posted a link to the new Trek trailer, which you can watch here:

I had no idea this trailer was coming out and I was caught completely off guard. I've tried not to let myself get too excited about the new series because there's so much wrapped up with it so I wasn't sure I would even have a reaction to any of the hype. And yet. And yet as soon as I tapped play I felt like I'd been kicked in the gut. 

Yes, I realized. Yes, I am excited. I am nervous. I am happy. I am hopeful. I am ready. 

I hope it's good. I hope it's wonderful. I hope it has enough time to develop into something that's worth watching. I hope it finds its voice and I hope, I hope, I hope it finds a new generation of Trek fans who will feel lots ways about Star Trek and someday a long time from now they'll write whatever the 2056 equivalent of a blog is and in the third year of it they'll start a big project and it'll take forever to get going and then sometime at the end of May/beginning of June they'll really get their shit together and write about all that stuff she promised because, yes, they does still really love Star Trek and, yes, they really do still have plenty to say. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: Celebrating The Sophomore Season

I'm a couple of episodes into Season Two now but I can tell you that within the first five minutes of the first episode, this show is already 9000% better than it was the first season. That's to be expected with just about any show, I think. Freshman seasons are unsteady. No one knows what to say or where to put their hands or where Biology 101 is. They have a lot of potential but their mouths are dry and their palms are sweaty and they're mostly just really worried about being rejected at every turn.

But here we are in Season Two. So much more confident. So much more secure in the knowledge that they might just fit in and be the kid they ought to be instead of just trying to simply ape what their popular, sexy, colorful older brother did. They can feel ok about being the quieter, nerdier, wordier show they really ought to be.

Ok, before I labor this metaphor anymore than it can handle, here are a few of the things that helped turn the ship in season two:

1- Riker's beard:
Yes. Riker 2.0 is immediately, inherently better than the first edition. I love Riker's beard so much I made a whole Captain's Vlog about it back in the first year of this project.

2- Dr Pulaski:
Katherine Pulaski is a character you either love or hate--or love to hate. When I was a kid, and the whole time I was growing up, I hated her. But then one day I realized her value and I was sad I'd never seen it before. Again, I wrote a whole post about it.

3- Guinan:
It is impossible not to love Guinan. For one thing, Whoopi Goldberg, has legit acting chops. Secondly, the Whoopi/Guinan combination brings a certain quiet sophistication and intelligence that TNG wanted and needed.

4- Geordi's Promotion:
WTF?! Why the hell did anyone working on TNG think they didn't need a Chief Engineer? I mean, I get it. There had only been one Star Trek and they didn't really know the magic recipe and I guess I shouldn't go casting blame around. Anyway, they corrected their mistake. Geordi was the perfect Chief Engineer--he NEEDED that yellow shirt--and that's how we all still think of him. 

So, back to the high school thing: Riker is the kid who grew into his feet over the summer and figured out that maybe taking showers was a great idea. Dr Pulaski is the new girl who's smarter and sassier than a lot of folks are comfortable with and maybe she's not super tactful but that's ok with her because she'll probably end up transferring to a magnet school next year. Guinan is the new girl who is just so fucking chill and cool and mysterious and stylish that everyone loves her--she'll eventually take valedictorian and most popular and no one signs her yearbook with, "Have a good summer!" Geordi is the kid who went to science camp over the summer and tested out of 10th grade so now he's actually a junior. He's a little socially awkward and he still has trouble with the ladies but he has a robot best friend and a vibrant online life with his MMO guild.

Four strangers with nothing in common--except each other. Cue the music.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TNG Rewatch: We'll Always Have Vegas

I watched We'll Always Have Paris yesterday while I was trying (again) to get back to work. In spite of the fact that it's is a Picardisode I could never find my way to loving this one. Once again, it just feels like a leftover story from TOS. I could totally see Kirk pseudo-struggling with having to save his old flame and his old flame's new super science husband from said super science husband's research mistakes. I do like that Picard won't really let himself indulge in a holo-recreation of the day he left her sitting around in Paris on her own and I've always liked the Three Datas ending--even when I was a kid. I suppose it's just that I know that this show gets a lot better and this episode pales somewhat by comparison and I'm eager to get past this (even though you wouldn't know it by how slow I've been moving through this season--but things here have been crazy. I mean, a week ago, I was on my way back from a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas.)

We live in LA so it's not really a huge deal for us to hop over to Las Vegas for a couple of days. And, of course, there's a lot we love about Vegas. Mostly all the magic shows. Really just the magic shows. I'm not overly fond of the rest of it. Anyway, I've gone on and on about Penn and Teller before  and I have a long history of loving their show etc. And (actually, I'm not sure how I never mentioned this before but,) Penn was on an episode that Scott wrote earlier this season and said if we ever came out to Vegas to come by the show. So, of course, we did. And we went backstage and met Penn and Teller who were very cordial and lovely and the whole experience was very nice.

In fact, it was more nice than they knew. Because one of their new tricks involves a little white rabbit and this time (I've seen this trick live twice now) the rabbit was called, AshleyRose. (If you've just found this blog this is significant because my name is AshleyRose, nice (probably!) to meet you) Penn swung the rabbit up into the air Lion King style and said again, "Everyone meet AshleyRose!" and then again, "AshleyRose."

Penn introduced the rabbit to an audience of hundreds but it was a joke for two people. Me and my husband. The words had significance to Penn, Teller, Scott, and me. And that's it. And that's really rather wonderful and special. (It also doesn't hurt that Penn happened to associate my name with a little, white rabbit.)

Several years ago, when I was in first grade, and my parents had just divorced and I'd gone in and out of homelessness and/or home insecurity and it would be over a year before I saw my dad again and I'd been in three schools over the last eight months, I happened to see a promo for a televised magic special. It was Penn and Teller's Don't Try This At Home. Something about them... their irreverence, their dangerousness, their scofflaw attitude... I loved it. I was trying so hard to hold it together and in many ways I relied on the steady hand of Trek during that time but just as much, I needed to scream and I needed to bark and I needed to see magic happen and then, in the same breath, see how easily it's unraveled. I wrote the date of their special on the calendar in the hallway and kept an eye on it until the night it aired. I've been a Penn and Teller fan ever since.

I never would've thought, when I was writing two magicians names on a calendar in crayon that someday I'd be sitting in their packed house when one of them suddenly barked, "Everyone, say hi to AshleyRose!"

That's pretty magical.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: Skin of Evil

So here's the deal, I had this whole idea about this episode. I mean, I already wrote about Skin of Evil back in my actual Year of Star Trek so it's not like I have to write about it again.

When I was a kid, living with my dad, we watched a lot of movies and TV together and a lot of them had really evil bad guys. My dad and I both loved really evil bad guys. I personally love evil bad guys who are also imperious and physically imposing (here I can cite my ongoing infatuations with Khan, Bane, King Thrandy, even Hannibal Lector) and it doesn't hurt if they're vaguely British or old-timey. Anyway, my dad and I would watch movies like 5th Element, Die Hard, Tank Girl, and Heroic Trio and paused the VHS to debate whether Zorg, Gruber, Kesslee or The Evil Master (this one sort of answers itself) had any redeeming qualities. Villains that didn't have any were sometimes more fun but harder to take seriously and sometimes that was the point.

While I was watching Skin of Evil (like two weeks ago) my ears perked up because Data, after beaming down to crap town after Tasha dies, tells Armus (the blobby baddie) that he has "no redeeming qualities." It's something Picard repeats later in the episode. And it's something my dad and I would repeat in countless conversations for years after.

Normally, in the following space, I would go on to pontificate about the very idea of redeeming qualities or write about other Star Trek villains, or I could just write about how the last time I saw this one I'd liked Tasha but after watching Voyager all the women in TNG seem so obviously and purposelessly flat to me which makes me sort of sad--but I don't really have it in me. I've been really worried about my dad lately. I'm going back to Kentucky in a few weeks and I'll see him and I'm really glad because I miss him and anything that makes me think about him just makes me want to be near him and then my mind, instead of spending time on the idea of morally bankrupt bad guys, goes back to my dad and all those afternoons and evenings and weekends and summers that we sat on the sofa and, maybe because of this one line in this one episode of Star Trek that we watched together, years before, when I was little, we talked.

Friday, April 1, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: Home Soil - Symbiosis

This week I watched Home Soil, Coming of Age, Heart of Glory, Arsenal of Freedom, and Symbiosis.

The first season is still rocky as hell but everyone is beginning to find their footing. Patrick Stewart is phenomenal as always. LeVar Burton is fantastic and I love just about every moment he's on screen. Frakes is charismatic even if they still don't really know what to do with his character. The higher ups didn't seem to really know what to do with any of these characters at this point but the lady types seem to have had it worse than the rest. Troi, Crusher, and especially Yar are all examples of well intended characters that nobody understood how to write. They're all more of a statement than a real person with real motivations, thoughts, and emotions. As a consequence Sirtis, McFadden, and Crosby don't get a lot to work with and their characters tend to fall fairly flat, which is a shame.

Heart of Glory is my likely favorite pick out of these, mostly because it's Michael Dorn's first chance to really shine as Worf. You get a better understanding of what this Klingon is doing on a Federation ship--how his parents died on Khitomer (he thinks) and how he was found and raised by a Starfleet officer who settled in a farming colony. It's a solid foundation for one of the most interesting characters in all of Trek--a character we wouldn't truly get to know until DS9. We also see the Klingon death ritual for maybe the first time. And that's nice. It's always fun to watch a bunch of Klingons get all shouty.

Symbiosis is the last of the bunch and the high point here is seeing Judson Scott show up as the narcotic peddling ponce from Brekkia:

You'll remember him as Khan's right hand man, Joachim: 

Or, more recently (for me), as Commander Rekar in Voyager's fantastic Message In A Bottle: 

Actually there is one more thing: This is Denise Crosby's last shot episode and contains her "goodbye" to the show, the fans, etc at about 42:14, just as Crusher and Picard leave the cargo bay (and their wonky understanding of the Prime Directive) behind.
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