Friday, August 30, 2013

DS9: It's Only A Paper Moon

Nog is one of my very favorite characters. I've loved this guy since the first season of DS9 and every time I watch those early episodes, I love him even more. In many ways, he develops more over the series than any of the other DS9 characters. He starts out as a "typical Ferengi" but befriends Jake, learns to read, and starts thinking about things other than profit. He joins Starfleet, becomes an Ensign, and flies on the Defiant into several battles. He's courageous and gung-ho. He's anxious to prove himself. Then, in "The Siege of AR558" he wades into the ground war and ends up losing a leg. It's terrible and, while Julian gets him a shiny new one, he just isn't the same.

That's where "It's Only A Paper Moon" picks up and it's absolutely heartbreaking. My experience with war is negligible. My great-grandfather fought in World War I. My husband's grandfather fought in World War II. As a teenager I fell into a war literature phase and my favorite novel is probably still Slaughterhouse Five. But that's pretty much it. So, it is with limited experience that I watch this episode. Still, its impact on me is great.

Nog returns to DS9 with his prosthetic limb. Bashir insists that he can walk without a cane but Nog believes otherwise. He's depressed, despondent, and he needs to take a break from his reality. To achieve this, he ends up moving in with the holographic character, Vic Fontaine. Their 1950's adventure is sweet and endearing and for one of the only episodes in all of Star Trek, two non-regular cast members carry the entire story. And they carry it beautifully. I wouldn't buy this same story from our veteran members of Starfleet, battle hardened Kira or Odo, or the cynical Quark. But, coming from Nog, who's lost his unflinching optimism to the war, it's perfect. And Vic's charming, easy manner is just the thing Nog needs--until it's time for him to go.

I've read that Aron Eisenberg received a lot of letters from service men and women complimenting him on his true-to-life performance. I can't attest to that. But I can attest to the need to sometimes escape reality. I can attest to the impact stories have had on my life and their ability to bring me out of deep, dark places. I mean, in many ways, that's why this whole blog exists.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ezri Dax

Been watching a whole lot of DS9 Season Seven lately and, boy, there's a whole lot of Ezri Dax in these episodes. It seems like she's in the center of just about every single story. It seems like bringing a brand new character in (actually two counting Vic Fontaine) was like a gift to the writers. It's as if they said, "Here's a whole new person (who we already kind of know so we're instantly emotionally invested in her) now lets write a ton of stories exploring this new character and her potential." 

That's fine with me. I really like Ezri. So, after staring at her face all day I made this: 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DS9: Take Me Out To The Holosuite

I've mentioned here before how much I love baseball. I love it. Back in May, I wrote a whole post about how excited I was to be watching DS9 during baseball season. I knew I'd be watching the seventh season, baseball-themed episode "Take Me Out The The Holosuite" right around time for the regular season to wrap up. At the time that I wrote that original post my team, The Dodgers, were the worst team in baseball. Now they're looking like a sure bet for the Post Season and they could go all the way to the World Series. In May, I was looking forward to all of DS9 but had never appreciated it as much as I do now, after watching it all in order and at such a fast clip. It's funny how things turn around.

In "Take Me Out To THe Holosuite" a jerkbag Vulcan from Sisko's past challenges the DS9 crew to a game of holosuite baseball. The Vulcans are stronger, faster, smarter, and they've been practicing. The DS9 crew has to look up the definition of a fly ball. It doesn't look good. But, ever optimistic and needing a pick-me-up in the midst of this never-ending Dominion War, the crew get some uniforms and gloves together and head over to Quark's holosuite to practice.

They absolutely suck. The big game is in less than two weeks and these guys can barely even throw the ball let alone figure out baseball strategy. The entire story is a rompy sports movie style episode with high and low points in all the right places and a great score and awesome (can I even relate to you how much a I NEED a Niners jersey?) costumes make this one absolutely wonderful. At this point, after all the story mess we've been put through--all the doom and gloom--we really needed a romp. And, after seven years of baseball references, it's about time we had a wall-to-wall baseball episode.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

DS9: Dax Transformed

Here's a post with a bunch of spoilers. (And by "spoilers" I mean "stuff that happened on TV about twenty years ago.")

I don't know whether you're into Breaking Bad but a few days ago Anna Gunn (the actress who plays Skyler White) released a piece about what it's like to portray a character who's widely hated by the show's fanbase and how easily the lines seem to blur between character and actor--how people also hate her. I thought a lot about that while watching the first few episodes of DS9's seventh season.

A couple weeks ago I attended the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention and sat in on the DS9 main cast panel. Each cast member took questions from the moderator but Nicole De Boer (who played Ezri Dax) began her answer with a sort of apology about how she almost didn't even feel like she belonged up there with everyone else--that the part she played was smaller etc. There's a lot of fan hatred directed at Ezri. People didn't like the fact that they replaced Jadzia; they didn't like the actress; they found her annoying etc.

Here's the thing though, I actually really like Ezri. The more I watch her (especially at such a fast clip, all in order, which I'd never been able to do before) the more I like her. I think that if you're going to knock off one of your main characters in a senseless, less than honorable way, you'd better have something good in the works for her replacement. And I think they accomplished that with Ezri's entrance into Season Seven. She's awkward, unsure, and only wants to please. She didn't ask to be joined. She didn't undergo years of training and testing and studying in the hope of getting a symbiont. She was just minding her own business, serving as assistant ship counselor, when the Dax symbiont took a turn for the worse and absolutely had to take root in someone's gut right-freaking-then.

Ezri just wants to belong. She wants to sort out her life and develop lasting relationships with people who she is strangely connected to. I get that. I've only got about 20 episodes of DS9 left and while I miss Jadzia, I'm happy to have Ezri around for the rest of it.

Monday, August 26, 2013

DS9: Season 6 Essentials

Ok, so this one is a bit of a hard call. Season Six is easily the most serialized season so far. The first six episodes are basically one long story. I only ever do a list of five essentials so I'm just going to suggest one of those episodes and assume you can continue with the rest of the essentials from there.

Episode 130- Sacrifice Of Angels
-This is the episode where Sisko and the crew make their big push to get back on the station. Lots of plot stuff happens here--very dramatic and important stuff.

Episode 134- The Magnificent Ferengi
-Watch this one for some SERIOUS Ferengi hijinks. I mean, for real. Seven Ferengis and Iggy Pop. You absolutely cannot go wrong. Also, if you're going to watch the rest of these, you're really going to be glad you had a Ferengi romp in this list. Trust me.

Episode 137- Far Beyond The Stars
-In spite of my qualms with this episode I still think this is a beautifully done, beautifully written, and expertly costumed and designed episode. The idea to plunk all our DS9 friends into the 1950's is bizarre and just the right kind of quirky for me. Also: it's totally iconic. You can't not watch this one.

Episode 149- The Sound Of Her Voice
-Ok, this may at first seem like a strange addition. There's literally zero attempt at furthering the season's arc. The plot rests solely on the Defiant crew reaching a marooned captain before she runs out of oxygen on a desolate, L-class planet. On the way to her, each member of the crew takes turns talking to her so she isn't alone in what could be her final hours.
I selected this one because the crew's confessions to Captain Lisa Cusack are revealing and heartbreaking and made even more poignant in the very next episode--the season finale.

Episode 150- Tears Of The Prophets
-The Season Finale. Lots of feels. Lots of plot. If you don't watch this one you're going to be REALLY confused in the next season.

Runners Up:

Episode 136- Who Mourns For Morn
Confession: I only JUST (like last week) realized that Morn is an obvious tribute to Cheers' Norm complete with anagrammed name. I feel like a real petaQ.
Anyway, this episode is all about Morn cacking and Quark having to chase down the secrets Morn left behind. If you're at all interested in Quark's most dedicated patron, you need to watch this one.

Episode 138- One Little Ship
Here's an episode where half the DS9 crew shrinks down to the size of a tennis ball and pilots a teensy runabout around the Defiant. As ridiculous as this sounds, this one is actually surprisingly great.

Friday, August 23, 2013

DS9: The Reckoning

So today I watched a straight-up Harry Potter battle take place on Deep Space Nine. Sisko gets a call to come to Bajor to see some new artifact that literally has his name on it (and by name I mean "Emissary" Yeah, I know I was looking for something a little more specific too but whatever) and he heads down there with Kira and Jake and they all stand around gawking at the artifact until Ben gets a crazy prophet vision. Benjamin decides to bring it back but gets super pissed off at the thing and goes all Hulk-Smash on it. Some crazy energy things fly out of it and zoom around the ship and lo-and-behold they're wormhole aliens/prophets. It's obvious that a big battle's going to happen but Sisko's all, "You can't take the sky from me."

One of the profits suddenly decides to live inside Kira. She's all, "The reckoning is upon us!" (allow me to point out a side note here: the Bajoran monk who originally showed Siko the artifact said there was nothing about any "reckoning" in the prophecies at which point I must ask--"What kind of BS religion is this?") and she's got a sort of Dark Willow vibe going on.
Six years as a sideman, now I get to be the Slayer.
Kai Winn (who reminds me a lot of Dolores Umbridge) fills Sisko in on what's about to go down. Basically, the prophets will take control of one person (Kira) while the Pah Wraiths take over someone else and they'll fight to the death to decide the fate of the Gateway To The Celestial Temple aka DS9. And who do the Pah Wraiths choose as their vessel of doom?

How Ood. 
Yep. Sisko's own kid. If the Prophets defeat the Pah Wraiths, it'll mean 1,000 years of peace and prosperity for Bajor but that means that Benjamin pretty much has to be willing to sacrifice his son. As I promised you at the beginning of this entry, a Harry Potter battle ensues:
I love "The Reckoning." I think bringing back the Pah Wraiths is a great idea as they make fantastic villains. I've been getting pretty fatigued with the Dominion War lately so it was nice to get a good "I am the Emissary and that means I'm magic" episode. I love Kai Winn. Well, I love to hate Kai Winn but I actually love the way Louise Fletcher plays the character. Terry Farrell is especially great in this one too. And you get a straight-up wizard duel on the Promenade. Definitely worth a watch.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

DS9: In The Pale Moonlight

Sometimes I forget that there's a war going on in Season 6 of DS9. They talk about casualties and troops and Dominion ships. We sometimes see Jem'Hadar wandering around with their Vorta. Klingon ships occasionally dock and talk about their victories. Otherwise though, most of these wartime episodes are pretty much like any other DS9 episode. And, really, that's ok with me. I love the regular episodes.

Then you get a rude awakening with "In The Pale Moonlight." Suddenly Sisko's getting casualty reports every other day. They're constantly talking about how they're losing the war, how hopeless it all seems, how the entire war effort often seems to rest on Sisko's shoulders.

This episode comes on the heels of two pretty disturbing ones. "Wrongs Darker Than Death Or Night" features Kira uncovering her mother's secret past as Gul Dukat's concubine during the Bajoran occupation. Then, the Michael Dorn directed episode "Inquisition" is creepy and atmospheric in its telling of Bashir's interrogation at the hands of a villainous internal affairs agent. I suppose I was in kind of a dark and depressed mood by the time "In The Pale Moonlight" came up in the queue.

Dude, quit looking at me. Just pretend I'm not here. 
This one is all about Sisko's morally ambiguous choice to enlist Garak's help in bringing the Romulans into the Dominion war. I love the idea for this episode. I love Garak's role in all of it, Quark's delight/Bashir's righteous disgust in Sisko's actions, and the cheeky Romulans themselves. There's something about it though, that just isn't working for me. I think it partly comes from Sisko's Captain's Log segments. Throughout the episode, he tells his story to the computer because he can't really tell anyone else. But, in an artsy move (that they've actually done before on DS9), Avery Brooks is monologuing right into the camera. This should serve to bring the audience in but it just doesn't work for me. It pushes me away.
Dude, seriously. This is not ok.
This episode is lauded as one of the most effectively dramatic in DS9 and the darkest in all of Star Trek. But I can't really see it that way. DS9 is already a morally ambiguous show. It's all shades of grey and it has been for the better part of six seasons. Sisko isn't Picard or even Kirk. This isn't the first time he's toed the line between good and bad. Remember the time he wasted an entire planet to get one guy? His ethical freakout straight into the camera over whether the ends justify the means just seems to be coming out of nowhere. And as for this being the darkest episode of Trek--let's not forget that time Archer straight-up Jack Bauer-style tortured a guy in an airlock. How about Picard's admission at the end of Chain of Command. Or the time Janeway literally killed one of her own officers (ignoring his pleas to her to let him live) to get two of them back. Heck, what about the time Kirk split into two guys and one of them tried to rape Yeoman Rand.
Oh, come on! 
As I said, there's a lot to love about this episode. I just think there's a little too much put on it. And, aside from the mytharc advancement, I think both "Wrongs Darker Than Death Or Night" and "Inquisition" are more worth the watch.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Far Beyond The Stars

Armin Shimerman, at the Las Vegas Star Trek convention, said that "Far Beyond The Stars" was his favorite episode. I'd been looking forward to getting back around to this one anyway. I hadn't seen it since I was a kid and, come on--50's costumes, 50's cars, 50's SciFi magazine--I couldn't wait!

And really, this one ought to be awesome. Benjamin gets sucked into a prophets-induced alternate version of his life where he's a 1950s SciFi writer. Like some kind of reverse Wizard of Oz (a trip into the mundane from a fantastic world), everyone we know is there but they're all playing their own part as SciFi writers, baseball players, cops, etc. Benjamin is sick of the racial discrimination he experiences on a daily basis and has a vision of the future--one in which a black man commands a space station and basically lives the life of our Sisko--which he writes up into a story. His editor--Odo's alternate self--won't publish the story because it features a black protagonist. The episode is very strong most of the way through. These alternate characters are well written and they piece together an interesting patchwork of humanity for Benjamin to interact with. The plot is engaging and we all want Benjamin to succeed, get his story published, and make it as a writer.

The problem is the very end. Maybe it's just me but Benjamin's final scene completely pulls me out. It's too much. In the theatre, maybe the way he did it would have been amazing and gut-wrenching. But, the way it is, all I can think about his how hard he's acting. I get that what's happening is a HUGE deal, that people really go through similar emotional issues, that when that happens it isn't pretty. But I'm not looking for pretty. I'm just looking for something a little more subtle.

And the thing is, if you're looking for an episode of a SciFi TV show where they use some bizzaro method of time-travel-story-telling to convey the plight of a person of color in an un-accepting society, there's a better one out there and it's from The X-Files. I know it seems ridiculous for me (on my Star Trek blog) to tell you about an episode of TV dealing with race that isn't Star Trek but whatever. Season Six's "The Unnatural" is smart, sentimental, and heartbreaking.

Avery Brooks has (and will again) broken my heart into teensy pieces but, as much as I wanted to, I just couldn't love "Far Beyond The Stars." 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

130.5 (The Unseen DS9 Episode Between 130 And 131)

Remember how, at the end of "Sacrifice of the Angels" everyone got to come back to DS9. Sisko stares meaningfully at his baseball and everyone says things like, "It's sure good to be home..." etc etc. The next episode is "You Are Cordially Invited" and by the time we see all our DS9 friends again they've settled back into their lives and everyone's super excited about Worf and Jadzia's wedding.

What we didn't get was the super-boring episode in between those. We didn't get Odo and some Bajoran security officers roaming the corridors changing the locks and checking for Cardassian booby traps. We didn't see Miles shouting obscenities at some jumble of wires in a jefferies tube or Dax and Kira sleepily catching up on everything that happened while the Cardassians/Dominion were in charge. We didn't see anyone sleeping off the last six months in several marathon nap sessions only to drag ass to Quark's to eat a huge plate of food and try to figure out where the hours have gone. In short, we didn't see all the boring stuff that had to take place in order for life to keep going after a long time away from home. You'd call that episode something like, "The Crud," because that's how everyone sort of feels.
The entire episode would look just like this. 
And, in case you haven't noticed (and I'm extremely flattered that some of you have and inquired after me) I've not been around quite as much the last week or so. Life leading up to my Shakespeare Camp was hectic and crazy. The camp itself was exhausting and amazing and terrifying all at once. I was deliriously tired the whole way home. Then, a few days later, I packed up my Starfleet uniform and headed to Vegas for the Star Trek convention which was a completely short notice, last minute thing. It was awesome and there were thousands of people there and, as amazing as it was, I got super peopled-out. Then we got back. When I came in the door and set my bags down I said, "Man, it's good to be home," cracked open a Coke Zero, watched five episodes of DS9, and went to bed.

But, like my DS9 friends, I have a love-hate relationship with my current home. I'm thankful we have it and we're lucky to be out here doing what we're doing but this apartment is awful. Between loud neighbors, shoddy construction that means we can hear EVERYTHING they do, and recent changes to the landscape (namely the cutting down of the tree that had been providing our place with shade, a noise barrier and much needed greenery) we can't stand it, we can't sleep, and we're overpaying for all that. So I'm glad to be back but I'm still exhausted, a little sick, and sort of overwhelmed with all the "home stuff" that has to be done after a long absence. Basically, the last week of my life is "The Crud" and I spent most of it looking like this:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I Now Pronounce You Geek & Geek

I watched "You Are Cordially Invited" the other day. It's a pretty big deal episode. Jadzia Dax and Worf finally tie the knot. I love Alexander's part in it, the never-ending bachelor party Klingon pre-wedding endurance event, and the fact that Benjamin and Jadzia's roles are reversed in a very sweet scene that leads to their pretty killer wedding:

My own wedding was pretty amazing. It was just Scott and I, on a beach with an amateur photographer I found on Craigslist and a police chaplain who delivered the ceremony (taken from The Princess Bride and Star Trek) and some dolphins who were not invited but I'm not really the kind of jerk who tells a bunch of dolphins they can't crash my wedding. Scott and I are still going strong almost six years since that day and a big part of our bond is our common geekiness.

I thought about that a lot at the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention. As the World Record attempt was emptying out, I noticed two beautifully dressed Vulcans. They looked awesome. I approached them to ask about taking their photo and they were so pleasant that I ended up talking to them at length about Star Trek, my blog, and (somehow) marriage. It turns out that Christy and Chuck had been together for thirty-six years. Their first cosplay event was Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. They attend conventions together (dressed up) all the time and told me that they were thinking about retiring their pointed Vulcan ears and moving on to a different species. They seemed to me to be completely in sync with one another and I mentioned how my husband and I initially fell in love over a conversation about Star Trek. They nodded, smiling happily, and agreed that being able to share one's innermost geek stuff helps to keep a strong bond.

I wish I'd been able to keep up with them over the convention but I lost track of them after the World Record Attempt. When I got back to the hotel room, where Scott had been working on a new project all day and sadly couldn't attend convention stuff with me, I relayed to him everything I'd been up to. I told him all about the absolutely wonderful Vulcan couple I'd met, how happy they seemed, and how glad I was that we had come to the convention. He grinned and kissed me and then we talked forever about all the awesome Star Trek stuff I'd seen.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Star Trek World Record Attempt

One of the main reasons I attended the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention was to participate in the World Record Attempt for "Most Star Trek Costumes In One Room." It seemed a crazy thing to do. I get all nervous and jittery around crowds. Tight spaces and loud noises make me a little passey-outey. People in general typically make me kind of itchy. But, I wanted to do it. I wanted to put myself in a room packed to the gills with Trekkies and see what happened. Basically, I wanted to be able to tell you a story of the time I helped break a Star Trek-themed world record.

We needed to beat the London record of 1063 costumed fans and we had about two hours to congregate in the room. After standing in line for half an hour with a few hundred other Trekkies, my outfit was deemed worthy by a Star Trek Canon Inspector and I was given number 499 as I entered a large ballroom. Right after, a voice came over the PA system to announce that there were 500 people in the room. Cheers went up. I walked around taking pictures and chatting with other fans for about an hour and a half.

This is not something I'm typically ok with. I can talk to other humans--I just don't like to. I have a tendency to either seem aloof and uninterested or I talk about my weirdo obsessions for a million years until the other person wants to run away. This didn't seem to be a problem in the world record room. Everyone there had the same obsession that I did. They were all obsessed enough to put on a costume and stand around in a crowded room for two hours waiting to break a record just because they were fans of the same thing that I am. Approaching the girl dressed as a Borg cube or the Worf guy or the chick in the killer Enterprise uniform was instantly easy.

It went something like this:

Me- Hey, I love your costume! You look great!

Them- You too!

Me- Can I take your picture and put it on my blog?

Them- Yeah!

Me- Awesome!

I had variations of this conversation about fifteen times in that two hour span.  They were the easiest cold conversations I've ever had in my life and they inevitably always moved into common Trek topics: favorite series, favorite captain, favorite series finale, favorite episode, how can I get my kids into Trek, how much time did you spend on your costume, where'd you get those awesome boots?

As the 1064th person entered the room a sea of red, gold and blue cheered. Klingons let loose with battle cries. Two Gorns celebrated with some Jem'Hadar and a few Ferengi and some Vulcans went ahead and grinned. We stayed a while longer. Terry Farrell entered in a red dress to become the 1085th costumed fan. We had to wait around for ten minutes to officially hold the record but it wasn't a chore--even for me. Actually, it was awesome and eye-opening.

Walking around amongst over a thousand costumed fans made Star Trek come to life for me in a totally different way. It was like walking through some kind of actual Federation convention (complete with time travelers and friendly Borg) where everyone was just happy to be there, together, in celebration of our common obsession.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Magic at the DS9 Guest Stars Panel

While I attended both DS9 cast panels at the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention, the guest stars panel was far and away the best. These actors (Aron Eisenberg, Max Grodenchik, Casey Biggs, Marc Alaimo, Jeffrey Combs, Andy Robinson and Chase Masterson) seemed more receptive to fans, more interested in their characters after all this time, and more interested in the series as a whole. Of course, I may be a little biased about this event because something truly magical happened at the guest stars panel.

Many questions asked at these conventions seem to repeat. They are the questions about what an actor's character might be doing today, what they did when they first found out about being cast, how familiar they were with Trek then and now. There's a lot of gushing about how much we all love them and their work. Occasionally you get a really fantastic question which is answered in a great way but at Sunday's DS9 Guest Stars Panel, it was something more than that. A sort of magic happened. A young woman approached the mic with her question written down--she was worried about being too nervous to get through it without the paper. Her voice shaking, she started her question but she was too far away from the mic. The panel moderator admonished her a bit and she ran away saying, "Never mind. I can't do it."

It was Jeffrey Combs who insisted that she come back and try again--that maybe someone else could read her question. She made her way back to the microphone and relayed a story about how when her fiancé committed suicide, she not only felt at fault, but became suicidal herself. She said that it was Star Trek: DS9 and the guest characters especially who had brought her through the most difficult time in her life, that they each had saved her many times over. She thanked them and wondered if any of them could share advice about coping with depression and suicidal thoughts for anyone who might be suffering in the audience.

Jeffrey Combs spoke directly to her about how she did exactly the right thing--that stories are what bring us through the most difficult times and finding those stories, clinging to them, is healing. Chase Masterson reassured the young woman that it wasn't her fault, that everyone, including herself has been in a dark place where they didn't want to go on but that things do get better. She went further by saying that this woman's admission about DS9 saving her life had made Chase's (and her fellow guest stars') career completely worth it--that if they had helped to save even one life, then they couldn't ask for more.

I wish I had more direct quotes for you rather than a slightly vague retelling. I wish I had taken better notes but I put down my pen to wipe away tears. When I looked around I saw that several others in the audience were doing the same. They were crying and whether they let the tears streak their cheeks or searched in their regulation Starfleet bags for tissues, I realized we were all crying for the same reason: this young woman had plucked at a string inside each of us. In that moment, we were all resonating at the same frequency.

That string had formed when something we loved--a story--and probably Star Trek had saved us. Whether we had been truly close to suicide, experienced only twinges of depression, or felt that we were alone, in an inescapable hole, Star Trek gave us hope. In a way it also gave us companionship--or at least showed us that companionship could exist. Its optimism buoyed us along until we could get back on our feet. That's the reason, beyond its entertainment value, we are so eternally grateful for its existence. That's the reason we all fly across the country, get dressed up, and sit in a hotel ballroom staring at a group of people on a stage we can barely see just to hear them reminisce about shooting a TV show two decades ago. That's the reason we were all shedding tears that day. We had all come through something deeply personal with help from the same story. And now we sat together and shared both the story and the pain.

I don't know that young woman's name. I couldn't find her again after that panel. But I wish I had. I wish I could tell her, from one fan to another, how much Star Trek had meant to me. I wish I could tell her how many men and women of all ages sat in that room, listened intently to her story, and cried. I wish I could tell her that Star Trek saved my life too but that, in some ways more importantly, this young woman herself had given me a great gift. She had given me a realization that we aren't alone. While we may have sat by ourselves, in our living rooms, experiencing the show and letting it heal us, we aren't alone anymore. We are bound together by our mutual love and appreciation of a single thing-- a story.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Some Trekkie Gave Me A Cold

Sorry for the radio silence yesterday and today. I finished up the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention last night and it was AWESOME but as I meandered back to my room I realized I didn't feel well. When I got up this morning I felt worse and by the time I got home this afternoon it was clear that my sinuses (which have always been volatile turncoats) had gone completely over the edge. Basically, I have a cold. It's the sort of ear/head cold where I can't bear to walk around or get up too fast or stare at a screen for too long. Scott can always tell when I'm sick because, rather than multitasking, I'm only doing one thing and that one thing is staring at the ceiling with the TV running.

Hopefully tomorrow I can get back to the blog for real and post lots of pictures and stories about the convention. Until then, please enjoy a comic that's sort of about me/this blog. A reader of mine has his own art site and he's doing a bunch of portraits/comics featuring his own readers. I'm one of them! And I love what he did with my portrait comic. I hope you do too. Go check it out! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Star Trek Vegas

Surprise! I'm in Las Vegas. You know how I spent my afternoon? Breaking a World Record with about a thousand other fans. I'm completely exhausted and writing on my phone so I can only stick a couple photos up. I promise a real post ASAP!

Friday, August 9, 2013

DS9: Sons and Daughters

I've written a lot about my life on this blog--my childhood, my parents. Star Trek is a natural part of my life as it is/was a part of my parents' lives so I can't help but write about my family when I talk about it. In a family of Trekkers, many of my fondest memories with my parents are those of watching Star Trek with either or both of them but especially my dad. Of course, while my dad and I have a lot in common--while we both love Star Trek and bond over geek stuff--that doesn't mean that there's isn't a sea of uncharted, uneasy, unsettled emotions between us.

I thought about that a lot while watching the Season Six episode "Sons and Daughters." The story deals with (as the title suggests) a son (Worf's) and a daughter (Gul Dukat's). Both of these grown children are somewhat estranged from their parents. Neither father was prepared for fatherhood when it was thrust upon them.
Alexander, after a short stint on the Enterprise, was sent back to live with Worf's adoptive parents. Ziyal was raised in a Breen prison camp and then came aboard DS9 before being evacuated to Bajor during the Dominion/Cardassian re-occupation. Both young adults have a rocky relationship with their fathers. Both want very much to please. Both, thanks to their natural dispositions, have always fallen a little short of their fathers' expectations. No matter how much Alexander wishes, he'll never be a great warrior in his Worf's eyes. No matter how much Ziyal might try, she'll never be devious and cunning like Gul Dukat. Both children can only strive to be the best version of themselves that they can be--both laboring do better, to go farther, to be stronger/smarter/greater/somehow less disappointing.

The relationship between parents and children is bound to be complicated. Especially for those of us with parents who weren't really planning on our arrival into their world--those with parents who were young, unsettled, or otherwise unready. We grew up with our parents. We saw their naked unease, their mistakes, their lives fractured upon our entrance into it and then healed around it.

Hopefully, over time (and not in a single 45-minute span within our lives), we see each other grow and change and the sea between us lessens.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

DS9 Season Five Essentials

DS9 Season Five is wall-to-wall awesome. After Season Four, they really hit their stride. It seems at this point that they could do almost no wrong. I had a really hard time picking out the Essential Episodes and there were quite a few that I felt all mopey about leaving out. Still, if you're in the market for a DS9 Season Five fix and just don't have it in you to power-watch all 24 episodes, check out the following:

Trials and Tribble-ations:
Do I really even need to explain why this is essential?
The DS9 crew is hob-nobbing with the TOS crew, getting into epic barfights, and thwarting assassination attempts. Plus: Tribbles!
You can't not watch it. It's one of the most iconic episodes of Trek ever.

Let He Who Is Without Sin:
This is basically a vacation romp episode. Jadzia, Worf, Leeta, Bashir and (oh yeah) Quark all put on their tacky vacation duds and pop up on Risa to soak up some sun.
Aside from hints at Dax's past relationship with gorgeous Risian Vanessa Williams, and Quark wearing SHORTS, this one is worth watching for one very important scene: Worf explains why he's so un-Klingon. And it's amazing. If you've loved Worf since TNG and wondered about the character's stoic, careful nature, this is an absolutely essential episode.

For The Uniform:
I'm a sucker for the Michael Eddington character arc so I feel like all of his episodes are totally essential but I get that everyone may not feel that way.
Still, with it's very dark nature, and Sisko's questionable ethics, this episode exemplifies a lot of what makes DS9 different from other Treks.

In Purgatory's Shadow:
Basically, this is the DS9 Fight Club episode. But it's made awesome by the diversity of inmates in the fight club prison. Not only does Worf encounter Bashir, General Martok and a Romulan but also a Breen. They're bent on escape but first Worf has to fight his way through about a bajillion Jem'Hadar.

Call To Arms:
Season Finale.
Everything that's been building up all season with the Dominion pretty much hits the fan. Space battles, political intrigue, and a break up of the DS9 crew make this one completely essential.

Runners Up:

The Begotten
Odo buys a changeling baby from Quark. 'Nuff said:

Ties Of Blood And Water
Kira's fake Cardassian daddy shows up with a terminal disease and wants to tell her all his dirty, war-time secrets. Consequently, she relives her own dirty, war-time secrets. A great plot with interesting character stuff and heart-breaking moments, this one is almost essential. Bonus Points for Jeffrey Combs' return as Weyoun.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

DS9: In The Cards

So apparently I should have also pre-written some posts for the inevitable after-camp-exhaustion I always experience when I return from Shakespeare week. This is the level of my wornoutedness: I actually realized today that I hadn't taken a shower since I was in Kentucky (on Sunday) so I finally got it together and ran some hot water over myself. Otherwise I've spent the last two days asleep. I did manage to squeeze in five episodes of DS9 yesterday including "In The Cards."

This one is basically a bottle-romp. Jake realizes that everyone is super depressed what with the impending war and hostile takeover of DS9. He's especially worried about his dad so when he notices a mint Willie Mays baseball card on auction at Quark's, he takes the reluctant Nog on a crazy-pants quest to obtain it for Papa Sisko.

I love this episode because it's a quiet, simple, mostly stress-free episode. It's low-key and provides a sort of calm before the inevitable storm of invasion, war, and occupation that would end up taking up lots and lots of episodes later on. The entire story takes place on DS9 and tracks Jake and Nog (who I love already) as they basically go around making everyone's day better. No one is dying (yet) or losing something important to them (yet) or questioning their own ethics in time of war (yet.) Everyone's just super freaked out and then less freaked out thanks to a couple of kids looking to help someone who has helped them. While this story doesn't have a ton of hard SciFi, it overflows with optimism and generosity of the human spirit and that's VERY Trek. Check it out.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Enterprise Watercolor: We Have A Winner!

Scott and I are finally back from Shakespeare Camp. We are EXHAUSTED. After several hours of travel and almost no sleep we got home, ate a huge lunch, and went straight to bed. Of course, what you do really expect after a week that included activities like this: 

Anyway, when I finally managed to creep back out of bed (around 5:30 pm) I put all the names from the Enterprise watercolor contest into a random winner generator and got a single name: 
Hooray! Throw some confetti for Christi! She'll soon have a lovely little hand-painted starship to adorn her wall. 
I hope to have another original art contest soon so check back regularly! 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Shakespeare In Star Trek: Passing The Torch

My week of Shakespeare is almost over. 
Tomorrow's the show. 
Here's a little snippet of what we've been doing all week: 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Shakespeare In Star Trek 5: Voyager & DS9

Once Star Trek: The Next Generation was finished, the Shakespeare themes, quotes, and titles began to drop off. There are fewer references to the bard in DS9 than in TNG and fewer still in Voyager, with no overt references that I can remember in Enterprise. Still, DS9 had plenty of titles taken from Shakespeare's plays and Voyager pulled from one of Shakespeares most powerful and enduring monologues for one of its strangest and most controversial episodes.

DS9 first:
I love Garak. He's a perfect example of an enemy turned maybe-not-as-much-of-an-enemy-as-he-was-before turned maybe-friend. (All that really seemed more cut and dry in my head--the man is complex) Anyway, when his shop is bombed in Season 3, he gets on a dangerous path which ultimately leads he and Odo to his former mentor.
At the opening of this two-part mini-arc, Garak and Bashir are discussing Julius Cesar. Garak finds it improbable that Cesar, a shrewd leader, wouldn't have foreseen his own murder. Later, Garak's mentor, upon realizing that he's in too deep, asks Garak what happened, how their whole plan fell apart. Garak has been desperate for a way to return to his home, to his former glory, to his friendship with his mentor, Tain. Now, those hopes are dashed. He must choose between his loyalty to Tain and his friendship with those aboard DS9. He replies with a classic (if slightly altered) line from Julius Cesar, "The fault, dear Tain, is in our stars." It's a nice touch.

A short note about Star Trek in Voyager:

The Shakespeary-ist thing I can think of in Voyager is from what could have been a silly/ridiculous episode but instead was one which carried tremendous dramatic weight: Tuvix. The title character is an amalgamation of Tuvok and Neelix--the result of a transporter accident. Janeway is faced with what may be the toughest decision put to any Trek captain--does she effectively kill a member of her crew in order to retrieve those who were lost? In most Treks, the character would willingly go to his death, for the good of the crew. But Tuvix fights it. He is his own man. He does not want to die.
His speech to Janeway is very similar to Shylock's famous monologue in Merchant of Venice:

"Look at me, Captain. When I'm happy, I laugh. When I'm sad, I cry. When I stub my toe, I yell out in pain. I'm flesh and blood, and I have the right to live."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shakespeare In Star Trek 4: The Undiscovered Country

If I asked you to name a famous line from Shakespeare you might say one of the following:

1- Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo...

2- Parting is such sweet sorrow...

3- To be, or not to be...

4- Let slip the dogs of war...

All but one of these are uttered in Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country by this guy:
Admiral Change is a total jerkbag and I'm willing to bet he lost that eye in a barfight (lol with my fellow Elizabethan theatre nerds) for relentlessly quoting Shakespeare around a bunch of Klingons who really just wanted to relax by downing some bloodwine and singing about Kahless.

The Undiscovered Country basically follows the Federation's rocky path to a ceasefire with the Klingons. Kirk doesn't want to do it. Everyone still hates Klingons. Klingons still mostly hate humans. At one point, all seems lost and it's the crew of the Enterprise who have pull it all back together for the sake of peace.

This is probably the Shakespearey-ist thing in all of Star Trek. From the title (which is pulled from Hamlet's to be or not to be speech) to Change casually mentioning that you haven't appreciated Hamlet until you've read it in the original Klingon, to the very end, this thing is full of quotes from the bard. Unfortunately, aside from the title, and Gorkon's use of "the undiscovered country" as an analogy for the unknown yet to come when they move into a time of peace, the Shakespeare quotes end up being more of one character's affectation than anything else. And, at the end, Change is just shouting snippets of Shakespearean phrases at Kirk as if, off screen, he were scrolling down a Wikipedia entry called,  "Famous Lines From Shakespeare." It seems to me it would've been a lot more effective to just give FREAKING CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER a full monologue from Hamlet or Henry V. Would it not be more satisfying to see this great villain (and classically trained thespian) going out with at least the through line from, "Once more unto the breach, dear friends..."

Oh well. I think that maybe the most interesting thing about The Undiscovered Country is that the most powerful quotation (in a movie full of some of the most well-known, most evocative strings of words in the English language) is actually not from Shakespeare. It's from Peter Pan. And, it's the best goodbye I can imagine for this crew, ship and captain.

Consider yourself warned. This clip is from the end of the film: 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...