Friday, March 22, 2019


Whether you used to read this blog or you've just stumbled into it, I thought I'd make a post to explain what this is and was and who I am and what's going on with me.

I'm leaving this blog up because, for a few years, it was a huge part of my life. In 2013, I watched ALL of Star Trek and wrote about it here. Doing this strange, crazy thing helped me as a writer and as a fan and as a human. Deeply analyzing something you love is an eye-opening experience and, in the course of that year, I made a few wonderful new friends, reconnected with a few old ones, and even became closer with members of my own Star Trek-loving family.

Then, for the next few years, I continued to try to watch Trek and write about it but, gradually, I did so less and less. I felt like I'd already written about as much as I could regarding the series and, though I knew it was probably time to move on, I didn't want to give it up.

In 2015 I began having scary health problems and Star Trek helped me through it. Then, in 2016, I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and suffered months of agonizing, constant pain in my hands that no one could seem to fix or even begin to treat. I couldn't write at all. This blog had only been one of my projects. I also wrote stories, released a couple of novels, and made comics that got published in some really lovely journals. I had felt as though I was just beginning to understand who I was as a writer when I almost completely lost my ability to type.

At a loss, and desperate to make something, I began doing Star Trek-related videos. They were called Generic Ensign's Log and I loved doing them. They allowed me to combine my deep knowledge of the series with a little creativity and story telling and they were a blast to do. They were also really time consuming.

In the Spring of 2018, after over a year of physical therapy and working on other things that didn't involve a lot of typing, I sat down at my keyboard. I was terrified of it. Literally terrified. My heart thrummed and my palms sweated as panic spread through my body. In the past, my keyboard had been my lifeline. From the time I was thirteen (awkward and living with undiagnosed Asperger's and always moving around) my keyboard had been my predominant method for communication. I didn't make a lot of friends in real life. They were all on the internet. And, even when I did make friends in person, I hated talking on the phone. Texts, email, and Gchat were all I used. Typing was my whole life. It was how I worked, how I communicated, how I kept this project rolling and it had all been devoured in a storm of sickening pain. So, yeah, my keyboard terrified me.

But, on that day, I pushed past it. I was finally well enough to work again. I wrote a story. And then another. And then I decided to write a novel in stories. And then another novel on the side. I couldn't (and can't) write like I used to. I can't sit at my desk for hours on end, typing until my brain falls out, editing until the cows come home etc. I have to be more careful now. Have to be mindful of how my body handles the stress of writing.

And, with all of my energy focused on working when I can, keeping my body as well as I can, pursuing this thing I can't not pursue...I let this project go. After five years it just sort of happened.

I didn't want to admit it at first. I'd had lots of plans for Generic Ensign.

I loved My Year of Star Trek and I still do.

But, right now, it doesn't' fit into my life like it once did. And, I think that's ok. Maybe someday it will again. Maybe someday I'll finish all the stuff I wanted to do with Generic Ensign or maybe someday I'll have a bunch of new insights about this show I grew up with and love and wrote about for so long.

For now I'm just going to leave it here, in case someone finds and reads it and finds my own long journey with this show helpful or insightful or comforting. If that does happen, please let me know.

I'll still be around.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Generic Ensign's Vlog: Voyager 4

Ok, well, it's been an adventure. Turns out my green screen wasn't bright enough or green enough so when I shot the first version of the next video it was a total mess. I mean, yes, some of the charm of Generic Ensign is that it's kind of low-rent but this was... over the edge.

So I re-shot it. And, ok, good. Great. It looked way better. But, then I ended up not being ok with one of the logs. Not the video, but the premise behind it so... I took a while to think about it and re-cut with another clip I'd meant to use later and anyway, now there's finally a 4th Installment of Generic Ensign's Voyager journey for you!

And... you get the premier of my Voyager Jacket. Hooray! You'll notice here that the jacket looks a little more blue than peacock/teal and that's because, while my new green screen (a huge piece of lime fleece) works brilliantly, the program I use, as a side-effect of eliminating green, sucks out a fair portion of the greenish hue from the jacket top. So, yeah, it looks a little more blue than it maybe should but, seriously, you should (not) have seen the first version.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Making My Voyager Jacket

First off, you should go check out this lovely review post about my latest book, Lona Chang: A Superhero Detective Novel, from fellow MYoST reader/watcher Jordan. SO NICE!

Second off, my hands are not nearly as bad as they used to be but typing still puts a lot of stress on them. That's why it's been almost exclusively Generic Ensign Vlogs this year. But, the great news is, I'm really enjoying doing them! And, because I enjoy it so much, I decided to step up my costume game for the Voyager GE series. The only thing is... you really can't get a decent  any Science Division jacket/uniform anywhere. So, I reasoned, I had to make one.

For that, I turned to Etsy and quickly found Bad Wolf Costumes and their amazing selection of cosplay patterns. They've put SO MUCH work into making patterns that will help the (mostly experienced) costumer create a gorgeous and screen accurate piece.

But, I'm not a mostly experienced costumer. I don't own a sewing machine. I've never cut out a single pattern. I can barely run an iron. On the other hand, what I do have is the kind of gung-ho enthusiasm and naive optimism that makes me think I can learn to do anything I want. While this mentality has led to several catastrophic failures in my life, I've had just enough spectacular triumphs to not change how I do things.

I asked for a sewing machine for my birthday, ordered the pattern, laid in the course and set out (as usual) at warp nine.

At the end of January I found myself wandering around JoAnn's sending my mother (an actual highly experienced seamstress) questions like, "Where the hell is the muslin... what even is this? Is it like linen?" "What is interfacing?" "If you were supposed to make a costume out of wool gabardine and couldn't find any what would you use?"

In the end I managed to come home with a decent amount of fabric but I was sick and busy and didn't get around to actually starting on the costume until mid-March. When I did finally get into the package and the giant pattern paper exploded on the floor, I confess I spent about an hour on Ebay looking at Chinese cosplay stores that sell custom Voyager jackets (though they only offered Command and Operations, no Sciences.)

But, with an equal mix of enthusiasm and hand-wringing, I persevered.

The pattern pieces went up to Q! 
After several hours I finally cut out the pattern pieces (wrong on two pieces) and fabric (also wrong on two pieces of regular fabric plus two pieces of lining) and commenced to figuring out how to operate a sewing machine and what seam allowances were. The pattern STRONGLY SUGGESTED I make at least one muslin prototype but honestly, with my hands the way they are, I can't operate scissors for hours on end for a muslin jacket. I was confident that I MIGHT be able to make a Voyager Jacket such that I needed it (for my videos you really only see the front of my head and shoulders so I reasoned that if I could JUST get that mostly right, I'd be ok.) 

Sewing proceeded apace for three days. I spent an entire weekend under a mountain of discarded thread, fabric scraps, and strong swear words. 

This pin cushion was the first thing I sewed...
because I didn't realize how much I'd need a
pin-cushion when I began this crazy endeavor. 
Eventually, sometime late at night (on the second day), I had completed the shell for the jacket but it was still crazy looking, frayed, and bottomless: 
All Star Trek uniform pants should actually be Fair Isle leggings. 
I kept working my way through the VERY thorough (seriously amazing, well-researched and painstakingly put-together) Assembly Instruction PDF that came with my pattern. Until, finally, on the fourth day, I emerged from my sewing cave, triumphant. I went outside, stood in the reliably beautiful California sunset and took selfies:

Thrusters on full! 
OK. Is it perfect? No. Is it still the best Star Trek costume piece I've ever had? Without question. 

I'm really proud of this jacket, even if it is a little janky and rough around the edges... and partly because of that. Part of the enjoyment and charm of Generic Ensign, for me, has always been that it's a low-rent labor of love. Everything in Generic Ensign comes from me, all my feelings about the show, all my silliness, all my hard work. I just put it out there and think, "Well, maybe someone else will enjoy this as much as I do." 

I don't plan on ever wearing this to a convention because I don't ever plan on going to a convention so I'm not really worried that it's not exactly straight in places or that some of the wrong color thread shows through. To me, it's perfect. 

And now, a note:
If you ever find yourself in need of a cosplay costume and you suck at sewing, and you actually DO want it to turn out just right, make yourself a muslin mock-up (or two, or three). Save yourself the headache of accidentally sewing the wrong seam allowance for approximately 70% of your costume or whatever else I did wrong. I literally could not operate scissors for that long so I didn't. 

Really, I think a big part of the reason my jacket turned out as well as it did is because I grew up backstage with a seamstress mother, I was always around this stuff and I found that I understood innately (in my wonky theater brain) how costumes were constructed and altered. Additionally, I have an Asperger's endowed laser focus paired with a really high tolerance for cocking things up and then fixing them. Me and my seam ripper have become really close lately. So, just keep that in mind. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Generic Ensign's Vlog: Voyager 3

Y'all I've been all kinds of sick. Like... so many kinds. Did you know that steroid inhalers can give you insomnia and panic attacks and horrifying muscle cramps? I did not. But I do now.

Anyway, I've been watching Voyager (and a whole lot of the Winter Olympics including every single Japanese Women's Curling Team game) so I've got a new batch of Generic Ensign entries for you!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Generic Ensign's Vlog: Voyager 2

I've been steaming right along through SSN1 of Voyager while I animate and, I have to say, it is refreshing to be watching this crew's story unfold. I worried that, after literally years of doing this blog and watching so much Trek I'd be too burned out to watch Janeway's gang again. But I'm not. In fact, watching Voyager in tandem with Discovery has been an interesting journey all on its own.

Anyway, here's my costumed commentary for Phage, Ex Post Facto, and Prime Factors. Are there any episodes you'd specifically like to see Generic Ensign's take on?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Generic Ensign's Vlog: Voyager 1

Has it been a while?

Am I still watching Discovery?
I mean, yeah.

Am I also watching Voyager (again) while I work on my myriad other weirdo endeavors like learning animation and producing my first animated short?

Did I decide to just go ahead and do a Generic Ensign series for this round of Voyager?

Am I just now getting around to it on the last day of January?
Well, yes. But mostly because I was super sick and also because I'm me and things take time.

Anyway, here she is. Back, and ready to provide running commentary on the Delta Quadrant:

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Battle-Star-Trek-Galactica Turns A Corner With Context Is For Kings


At some point last week I began referring to Discovery as "Battle-Star Trek-Galactica" because that's what it felt like after the 2-part pilot. Don't get me wrong. I love BSG. I loved it from the first five minutes of the premier of the mini-series that aired what feels like seven million years ago. But BSG was grim. Like, Brothers Grim grim. But I loved it anyway, like I loved I a lot of the shows that came after it and were heavily influenced by it like The 100 (which I recently binged on a near pathological level and which is basically Young Adult BSG with swords.)  But... I didn't really want my Star Trek to be BSG. I wanted needed a little more hope, a little more optimism and, goddamnit, a little more of the crew.

That's why I think the bigwigs at CBS really, really, really should have aired the first THREE episodes of Star Trek: Discovery on CBS as what would basically be a TV movie-type event. The first episode leaves us with our main character being hauled to the brig after a mutiny. The second leaves us with the main character being sentenced to life in prison. It's grim and dark and sad and there's not even a titular ship or a crew to attach to.

I think that's why, after my first viewing of The Vulcan Hello and Battle at the Binary Stars, I felt sort of...bereft. Watching it the second time, with my husband, I was dumbfounded by how much more I enjoyed both parts and, as it went off and I watched the preview for (the apparently even darker) Context Is For Kings I realized what it was.

Like so many others, I was a little kid when TNG started. I spent my whole childhood with bright uniforms and mauve chairs and one-off episodes that almost always had a happy ending. The earth of TNG had no famine, no poverty, nearly no sickness. As a kid who was going through a lot difficult emotional and financial stuff that I didn't really understand... the world of TNG was appealing and inviting. And, watching the first two episodes of Discovery, I felt sad that this darker, harsher, angrier Star Trek wasn't going to be for kids. Telling my husband my feelings, I actually began to cry. Star Trek saved me in a very real way but Discovery isn't for kids. And... once I got those words out of my mouth... I actually began to feel a little more ok. Even if I did start going around referring to it as Battle Star Trek Galactica. This Star Trek isn't for kids but it is good.

And, isn't that more important? At least right now? My MAIN concern going into this Star Trek was that it would be bad. That it would be a cobbled together mess. That it would get panned and that it would disappear after one unsuccessful season and it would be another decade before anyone tried another Trek. But if it's good? Who knows? Maybe one season of Discovery will lead to two and three and more and then another Trek that is brighter and happier and more suitable for kids. But first, it has to be good.

This weekend, Scott and I sat down and watched the third episode, Context is For Kings. I watched it again today. It started out with Burnham six months into her life sentence and en route to a mining colony when the shuttle pilot had to go outside to do some fixing and abruptly died (read: grimdark.) They were soon greeted on Discovery by an actual BSG alum, Commander Landry or, as I referred to her for several years, Cylon Foster:

But, once on the ship, things quickly began to look more familiar (even if it still kept a lot of its Battle Star Trek Galactica tone.) Discovery is big and bright and full of officers doing science-y things. Burnham is met by First Officer Saru (who's somehow even better in this episode) and then by Captain Malfoy Lorca who wants her to help out around his super secret war research ship. She's assigned to engineering where she butts heads with astromycologist, Stamets, played to a pitch-perfect annoyed-as-hell-that-he's-doing-war-stuff-vibe by Anthony Rapp. Soon enough we get that Discovery is doing something seriously shady but it all feels a little better, a little less grim, thanks to Burnham's indefatigable new roomy, Cadet Tilly. I swear I almost broke into tears when Tilly opened her mouth and word-vomited this bright, boundless enthusiasm all over the place. Through the rest of this episode we're treated to some killer action sequences and a pretty perfect performance all around from Martin-Green who does science/action/sass/and sweet, remorseful remembrance all in one go.
When Burnham pulled out her copy of Alice in Wonderland and told Tilly about her adoptive mother, I cried. Honest to Kahless, I literally, legitimately, unabashedly cried. This didn't feel like Discovery was just throwing Trekkies a bone. It felt like they understood who they were, what they were doing, and where they were going. Up is down. Down is up. Even in the bleakest, scariest of times, there is hope.

I'm onboard.

My other takeaways:
-Captain Lorca is surrounded by Easter Eggs but my read of all of them is this: Lorca is a man who likes to possess and control dangerous creatures. The creature from The Glenn? The Gorn Skeleton, this whole crazy ass living propulsion system and now... Michael Burnham. And let's not forget the most dangerous creature in his whole collection, which he keeps RIGHT ON HIS DESK--a tribble. This sounds like a joke but I'm totally for serious right now. Someone might oughta check him for the Dark Mark.

-I'm up for any recitation of Alice in Wonderland but 1000 bonus points Burnham for delivering that whilst crawling like hell is on her heels through a Jeffries Tube.

-Vulcan martial arts are the shit. End of story.

-I love the return of memory cards and the forced perspective warp core.

-At the end of Discovery's third outing, I felt that, yes, this is Star Trek. Is this closer in theme and feeling to Deep Space Nine than TNG? Yeah. And that's ok. This is a Star Trek for a time of war, bitterness, hopelessness, and deep-seated prejudices that need to be questioned. In short, it's a Trek for the same sort of times The Original Series was engineered for. That series influenced popular culture in ways that were nothing short of phenomenal. I hope Discovery can do the same. But, hey, even if it can't, it's still damn good TV.
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