Saturday, November 30, 2013

Star Trek: Nemesis

When I was a kid, after my parents split up, my dad used to jokingly say things like, "I wish me and your mom had made you a little brother or sister. Then we'd have another Little AshleyRose."

I know a lot of kids out there want brothers and sisters but the very idea of another person just like me put an almost indescribable fury inside me. It made me angry. Really angry. Later, my parents went on to create my half-siblings who I love to no end and would do pretty much anything for. But the question of "another me" comes up just as often now that I'm a grown woman who doesn't want children.

"Don't you want another little you running around?" people will ask.
"Not even a little bit?"

Here's the thing, if I found out another me existed (by way of cloning etc.) we would inevitably end up in a ridiculous knife fight. Two AshleyRoses enter. One AshleyRose leaves.

I don't know why I'm like this. I just am. I find the idea of another me offensive and I would straight up murder my clone.

I was thinking about this as I watched the last TNG movie, Nemesis. This thing is just full of duplicate guys. The Enterprise is wandering around and happens upon (not actually a coincidence) an extra Data. Then, they get to Romulus and its significantly crappier brother-planet, Remus, and find a Picard clone.

Both Data and Picard are a little enamored/fascinated by their of their brother/clone. Data tries to help his brother out and when Picard discovers that his evil clone is dying, you can see the complex mix of emotions swirling inside him. Eventually the Picards wind up in a ridiculous knife fight. Two Picards and two Datas enter. One of each leaves. (This sounded way better in my head.)

I'm not especially keen on this movie. Especially Deanna's treatment as a victim, even though they kind of give her a bit of a comeback scene, I just really dislike the "Troi gets dream raped" plot line. Neither Worf nor Beverly get much to do here and Riker mostly just gets to fist fight Ron Perlman for a while. Geordi gets a nice emotional arc with Data's loss but, in all, I much prefer to think of Insurrection as this cast's goodbye. It's simple, sweet, and all about a bunch of besties going on an adventure together. No knife fights with one's clone.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Star Trek: Insurrection

Welp, I'm sick. You can help me make a differential diagnosis:

1- A legit cold
2- A Kentucky-induced allergy attack
3- My body hates me for subjecting it to so much human contact over the last week and a half.

I don't know. Does being around other humans make your nose run? That seems like a thing.

Anyway, last night I watched Star Trek: Insurrection. This is the third TNG movie (that's counting Generations as the first) but it's more like a really awesome episode of the series. In short, some seriously Amishy people are inhabiting this gorgeous, idyllic planet in the middle of an otherwise pretty uninhabitable system (called "The Briar Patch," which I love) and some jerks (including Star Fleet) are picking on them. Data (who was supposed to be helping Star Fleet) don't take no mess and starts going all Crazy-Android on them until Captain Picard and Worf sing some show tunes to help him calm down. Then everyone starts kind of aging backwards and regaining their youth and Picard is all, "No one puts 300-year-old-Baby in the corner." Then--lots of fighting. Both space fighting and Picard in a t-shirt fighting. Pretty awesome.

I love this one. Seeing everyone back, acting a lot like they did in the first season (Riker even shaves his beard) or even before (Worf is experiencing Klingon puberty) was refreshing. Back in May, I didn't want to say goodbye to my TNG friends so this episode-as-movie really hit the spot.

This movie has a ton of amazing moments. I mean, a ton. And that's something I've been thinking a lot about. Picard's seriously sexy lady friend specifically brings up the idea of wonderful moments--perfect moments. Her cultures lives at such a chill pace that its people can essentially slow down time to experience a moment more fully. She asks Picard whether he's ever experienced a memory that he would like to just live in. Instantly, he replies with, "The first time I saw my planet from space."

Yes. That does sound pretty damn amazing. I've obviously never gazed down from orbit at the little marble that housed every single thing and person relevant to my life so that's not the first thing that springs to mind. But I thought about it last night and today. I've had a few really great times in my life, moments that changed me, moments that I could have lived in. One really stands out. It's mine though. My perfect moment. And it's a great thing to think about when I don't feel so great. It's an escape when I'm sitting somewhere away from home, without my own bed or my own TV, facing humans on a daily basis, and sneezing into tea made in someone else's kitchen.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Well, it's Thanksgiving here in the US. A while back, I actually thought about how, sometime this year, I'd be writing a post about how thankful I am for Star Trek. And, of course I am. I'm so grateful that this show has been a lasting part of my life and that it's taught me so many lessons about how to be a decent person, how to write, how to get on with my life when everything seemed bleak. I can never forget that.

But, as this holiday approached, I found myself thinking more about a newer addition in my life: you.

Your continued readership, your comments and the interest you've shown has humbled me. Some of you just showed up. Some of you have been there almost since the beginning. You keep coming back. You keep telling me how much you appreciate what's going on here. So I wanted to let you know that I appreciate you too. More than you could know.

As I sit here across the country with holiday stress, spotty wifi, deadlines to meet, and what's turning out to be a pretty terrible cold, what I find myself feeling really grateful for is your support. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Star Trek: First Contact

When I was a kid, my parents got married and divorced and married and divorced again. Not to each other. Just the regular kind. The kind that gives you step-parents. And ex-step-parents. And step-siblings. And half-siblings. Have I mentioned that, in these myriad familial combinations, I've been the oldest, the youngest, the only, and the middle child?

Anyway, during one of these times that my mother was married to my soon-to-be-ex-stepfather and my father was married to my soon-to-be-ex-stepmother, I was sent from my mom's to my dad's for Thanksgiving break. My parents met about halfway between North Carolina and Kentucky. The one dropping me off was early, as usual. The one picking me up was late, as usual. My dad finally made it to the McDonald's where my parents shared a few frosty glares and I grabbed my backpack and waited for it all to be over in the passenger seat of my dad's Mazda.

Driving back to Kentucky, my dad blurted out, "You know, the new Star Trek movie is out. Let's pull off and see it."

The movie was Star Trek: First Contact. It's a pretty simple plot, as far as Star Trek movies go. The Borg go back in time to try and prevent Earth's first foray into Warp Travel and the TNG crew shows up to stop them. The crew fanboys over Zefram Cochrane while the Borg Queen seduces Data and Picard goes Full Ahab with the Borg as his white whale.

My relationship with my dad had been pretty rocky since he'd married my stepmom. She loathed me in the most fairy tale way that a stepmother can loathe a stepdaughter. She'd wanted me out of the house so I went and this was my first time back. Thanksgiving? Couldn't I just go stay in a cave with a TV and a bunch of Sailor Moon VHS tapes? This whole thing sounded like the worst idea ever--until my dad mentioned Star Trek.

I still remember walking into the theatre, the walls decorated with paintings of old movie stars. I still remember drinking cherry coke, watching my TV friends on the big screen. I remember crying when the Vulcans emerged from their ship, my dad suddenly throwing his arm around me, squeezing me tight, holding onto me in a way he hadn't done since I was little.

When we left the theatre, it was over. My dad went back to being someone's soon-to-be-ex-husband. We got in the car and drove down a gray ribbon of highway under a gray sky until we got to a gray house where I didn't feel welcome. When my three or four days were up, I went back down the road where the person dropping me off was early and the person picking me up was late then returned to the house where my soon-to-be-ex-stepfather loathed me in the most fairy tale way that a stepfather can loathe a stepdaughter.

But, for that two hours in a strange movie theatre, what I had was magic. Real, fairy tale magic.

In the coming years, when things got worse before they got better, I held onto that memory like a treasure. I knew that I couldn't always connect with the people I loved in the way I wanted, that I couldn't make my life the way I wished it to be, that I couldn't turn the clock back to a time when I felt safe or content. But I knew, deep down, that we were all the same people. We really did love each other and, under the right circumstances, we loved each other openly, with no reservation, hesitation, or fear. Star Trek gave me that gift and I'll never forget it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Voyager: End Game

This post is about the Voyager Series Finale. There are a lot of spoilers so read with care.

About a week ago, Scott and I settled in to watch the final episode of Voyager. The problem is, once it started, I never seemed to actually settle. I stopped to put on my pajamas. To grab a drink. To make a batch of popcorn in our cast iron pot. I'd scoot around the kitchen in my socks trying to look at anything but the TV.

I just didn't want it to end.

I've had about a week to think about that. A week to process it and understand why it bothered me so much to see Voyager specifically coming to an end and I think I've got it figured out.

Beyond the fact (yes, it's a non-subjective fact) that End Game is a great series finale with lots of beautiful character moments, this last episode and all of Voyager is about a family. It's a cobbled-together family, formed not by blood but by chance and luck and choice. They're close--closer than any other Star Trek crew and they have the most specific mission: Get home.

The finale joins them twenty-six years from the last time we saw them. Janeway and most of her crew are attending a Voyager reunion party on Earth. Barclay (an adopted member of the family) is there along with B'Elanna and Tom and Naomi Wildman's little girl. The Doctor is there with his hot, young wife and Janeway is there looking like a total badass grandma. It's clear she's got something going on and we find out soon enough that she's planning to go back in time and help her past self reach the Alpha Quadrant much, much sooner. If she does, then maybe she won't have lost Seven of Nine (who, in her timeline, died on an away mission) and maybe Tuvok (who is suffering from mental illness) would have access to treatment in time. She won't have to lose all the crewmen who died after we last saw them. And, being Janeway, she succeeds.
Admiral Janeway sacrifices herself to get her crew home twenty-six years faster.  But, instead of making me happier, it made me sad. The crew I saw at the reunion was a family forged in hardship, over many, many years. Would they still be as close after only seven years in the Delta Quadrant? Would they still come together for reunions? Would Barclay still be a part of their family? Would they go their separate way as soon as they made it to Starfleet?

All of this makes me think about the little family that sprung from this blog. I'm thinking about you. It's only been eleven months but it's been a crazy, hectic, stressful, amazing, fantastic eleven months. I've written things here, opened myself up, in ways that I never really considered doing before. I've learned more about who I am and who I want to be by way of Star Trek and you've been here for all of it.

That's why, if Future AshleyRose sat down beside me and said, "You're finished with the project. You need to stop." I couldn't do it. I fully intend to keep watching and writing. I hope you'll come with me.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Something Has Happened To Us

I left my MFA program's residency today. By the time I got where I was going, I crawled into bed fully dressed and slept for three hours. I woke up after dark and cursed about not having watched any Star Trek or blogged today. Then, as I was wolfing down a pre-Trek tray of fast food pasta at my sister-in-law's, her DVR switched over to PBS where she'd scheduled a recording of Carol Burnett's Mark Twain Prize ceremony.

I. Could. Not. Look. Away.

As a kid, I watched a ton of TV that was older than me--older than my parents even. From The Dick Van Dyke Show and Lucy to Taxi and Welcome Back, Kotter, I loved old sitcoms and variety shows. Lucky for me, I saw a lot of Carol Burnett. I loved her loud, brazen, carefree exuberance. She seemed so open and giving, so warm and honest. Tonight, hearing old stories about her from her closest friends, I remembered watching her--my mom always telling me little factoids she'd heard about Carol or the guest stars. So, after the ceremony was over, I went off by myself to YouTube some of the stuff I'd remembered.

Strangely enough, this is the first thing that came up:

Apparently, the Carol Burnett show had a revival in 1991 and it only lasted two months. (Ridiculous! I know!) I never saw it. But in that very short run, she did this Star Trek Parody. I love Genderbent Star Trek (and I love that that's even a thing) so even though I'm not 100% taken with this parody, I can't help but laugh when Kirk/Spock mash each other's boobs. As I was watching this segment I thought, "Man, Spock looks super familiar. Wait, is that Ishka???" Yep. It totally is. Andrea Martin, the first actress to play Moogie, is Spock.

When this finished up it occurred to me that basically every single actor who was anybody ended up on the first Carol Burnett show. "What about Star Trek people?" I asked google. Sure enough, I wasn't let down: 

Also, this exists: 

 Like a lot of girls with big dreams and too-loud laughs, Carol Burnett inspired me. I loved her and tonight, seeing her by chance before I queued up my Trek, I was reminded of just how wonderful she is. She seems to have been smart, bold, and kind in her choices--she is all the things I want to be. So, thank you, Ms. Burnett, for encouraging girls like me and for being a role model to generations of chicks with outrageous goals, out-sized personalities, or unabashed ambition. Live long and prosper. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Voyager: Season Seven Essentials

I finished Voyager a few days ago but, because I've been traveling, I've had no time to sit down and really analyze the potential essentials list. Voyager Season Seven is really, really solid but I didn't have quite as much trouble selecting the essentials as I did in Season Six. The whole time this season was winding down, I found myself dreading the end and it all came to a head in End Game when I had to stop several times and take breaks to regroup.

I'll write about more End Game as soon as I can but I didn't want to keep you waiting on the Essentials:

1- Shattered:
This one is a time capsule of the entire series. Every scene is like a "Remember when?" and it's pretty perfect on every level.

2- Lineage:
I have strong feeling about this one on a personal level but, even if I didn't, it's still an amazing episode. You can't watch Voyager and not see this strong, surprising, character-centric B'Elanna story.

3- The Void:
Voyager is stuck in a dark, inescapable region of space where everyone is stealing resources from everyone else. If you've ever wondered what's so great about The Federation, this one can answer your questions.

4- Homestead:
Neelix's goodbye. As much as I hate the very idea of living on an asteroid, the end of this one makes the whole thing worth it.

5- End Game:
The Series Finale. I'll have a lot more to say about this one in a future post.
Bonus Points for guest star, Dwight Schultz

Runners Up:

Seven of Mom says goodbye to three of her Borglets and soon realizes that she's "malfunctioning." If she can't get herself fixed, she'll die.

Author, Author-
The Doctor writes a novel based on his experiences on Voyager. Unfortunately, he doesn't take his friends' feelings into account.
Bonus Points for guest stars,  Dwight Schultz and Paris' Mustache

Friday, November 22, 2013

Do You Regret It?

Today is the anniversary of the release of Star Trek: First Contact and, as I have very vivid memories of the first time I saw it and have been really looking forward to watching it again, I'd hoped to watch and write about the film. But, a lot of stuff happened instead:

#1- My Year Of Star Trek was nominated for a some blog awards! If you've been reading and enjoying the blog and you're so inclined, you can go vote for it at A Peek At Karen's World.

#2- A book that I illustrated was just released on Amazon and tonight was the launch and reading which I attended.

#3- Because my first novel is set to come out in early 2014 and I don't have a real author photo, I had to go take some. I know you're expecting a link to something here but I don't have any digital copies yet. When I do I'll post some! Until then, here's a picture of Janeway and Seven:

At the end of this crazy day, Scott and I went out to dinner with some of my closest friends--all writers. They, for the most part, aren't Star Trek fans. While they were very interested in my writing and illustration work, they are somewhat baffled by the Star Trek project. One friend asked me, when I mentioned how many hours I spend on the blog every day, whether I felt like this project had hurt my writing life.

"Do you regret it?" he asked.

"Never," I answered.

I told him that Star Trek has meant more to me than any other single story, novel, or show and that without it I wouldn't be doing everything I'm doing now. It helped make me into the person I am now. I explained that this blog has helped me grow as a fan, a writer, and a person. It's getting (way too) close to December and, as the end of the year approaches, I've come to realize that this blog is as much about my life as it is about Trek. I've always wanted to write personal essays but was too afraid of getting too deep into my life, my history, my feelings. This project has acted as a gateway to the elements of my life I always hedged away from in my writing. It allowed me to write every day without fear of rejection or anxiety about publication. It allowed me to reach like-minded readers who appreciate my efforts. It taught me that sometimes you have bad writing days and that's alright, that sometimes the piece a writer least expects to be effective is the piece that reaches people on the deepest level, that honesty and genuine feeling are worth the heartache and struggle it often takes to pull one's emotion into a cohesive post.

I went on for a while.

I finished by saying that I would do My Year Of Star Trek again in a heartbeat. That I have loved every bit of it and that I can't wait to continue the project, on some level, in 2014.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What I Talk About When I Talk About Family

Today I got up at 4:15. That's 4:15 in the MORNING. I downed a yogurt bought expressly for this purpose, jammed my suitcase the back of our car, and tried to mentally prepare myself for several hours of travel among crowds of strangers. On the plane I took a dramamine, read a few issues of Hawkeye, and went in and out of sleep. Hours later I touched down in Louisville, Kentucky.

I'm spending a few days here at my old MFA program promoting a book and seeing old friends. My mom is a student here. My best friend graduated with me. Many of my dearest friends are here and, for the first time, so is my husband. It's pretty amazing. It's been a couple of years since I saw a lot of these people but it's as if no time has gone by. We just picked up the same conversations we were having the last time I was here.

Also the napping. Definitely need to pick up the napping I was doing before.
I moved around a lot, a whole lot, as a kid. I didn't get into the habit of making lasting relationships. I'm not sure how these kinds of things really even work. But today I got to the hotel and there were my friends. Smiles all around. Hugs everywhere. I was having drinks with my best friend when my mom joined us along with a kid who worked for my camp several years ago and now attends my MFA program. Small world. I came back to my room and there was Scott. I opened my email and had six messages from friends hoping to see me while I'm in town.

All this reminded me of Voyager and a post I've been meaning to write. One about family. I get that, in their own way, every Star Trek features a family of sorts but none are as explicitly stated as Voyager. The characters refer to Voyager's crew as a family throughout the run. Over and over Janeway mentions bringing wayward souls into the fold. Naomi Wildman is born and raised on Voyager and Tom and B'Elanna fall in love, marry, and have a baby there.

These are people brought together thanks to a string of choices each of them made. With no one there, no Federation, no support, not even letters from home for the first several years, all they have is each other. In the beginning all they have in common is their location but gradually they develop bonds so strong that they'll do anything for one another--as long as they don't have to break up the family.

As a kid, I didn't really get this. Even as a young adult when I rediscovered Voyager, I didn't appreciate it. Now though, as I look a the relationships I've built--relationships I thought for a long time were impossible for me--I appreciate Voyager in a new way. I see the kids from my camp, my fellow actors, my fellow writers, and my husband, and I realize that I'm as fiercely protective of my cobbled-together-family as Janeway is.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Moon-Shuttle Conductor

Ok, so I was going to do another post about Janeway's hair today. Actually, I was going to do a VIDEO POST. For real. A video post. But I ended up not being able to. I know. Bummer. 

A few months ago, I got this weird cyst in my wrist and I finally got to the doctor and she referred me to a dermatologist who got me in today. I went, she checked it out, said it ought to be taken out and sent off to the lab, etc etc. Since I have a (ahem) fainting problem, I had to lie down and think about things besides a knife in my skin. 

So, I thought about this instead: 

Yep. I literally lay on the table in the doctor's office re-watching episodes of Voyager in my head whilst having a minor surgery. Then I saw that there was quite a lot of blood coming out of my wrist hole. At that point the doc put on some new gauze and wrapped it super tight and I ate some candy and finished the episode of Brain Voyager I'd been watching until I was normal enough to leave. 

I'll get back on it tomorrow but, since I'm about to be traveling, it'll be a little while until I can do a Captain's Vlog. But I promise I'll get back to actual posts tomorrow. Till then, it's bed time. I'm may fall asleep watching some actual Star Trek.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Star Trek: Generations

On this date, back in 1994, Star Trek: Generations was released. So I figured I'd watch it and maybe write about it since I'm a little behind in the films. Also, I just finished Voyager last night (more posts to come about the last season, I promise) so I was grieving a bit--and by "a bit" I mean "a lot."

Of course, I was soon put out of my misery when I started up the film and immediately saw one of my Voyager friends:
Tuvok actually had a line later but this picture was taken when I first saw him and was (obviously) super excited.

So here's the gist of Generations:
Prepare yourself for some mighty spoilers
The baddie from Tank Girl and Guinan got sucked up into a crazy, glowing joy ribbon called "The Nexus" like a super long time ago and then got spit out when Cameron Frye's Enterprise collided with them. Ever since, he's been trying to get back and, with the help of some jerk Klingons is about to do just that. Picard is way into stopping him but then he gets sucked up into the Nexus as well and Dream-Guinan shows up to give him the what-for and then points him in the direction of Kirk's Nexus. Kirk is all, "A dangerous mission? Awesome. First, let me ride this horse around for a minute." So then apparently the Joy Machine doubles as a Time Machine and Kirk and Picard go back in time--not to when the baddie (Soren) first came aboard the Enterprise but to when he's about to seriously mess everything up with a big ole' missile. Kirk, Picard, and Soren proceed to have a pretty epic old man fight and they save the day before things go really pear-shaped (the deadly kind of pear) for Kirk.

Told you it was epic.
I saw this one in the theatre with my dad. I was a kid, I'd been living away form him for quite a long time, and our mutual love of Star Trek helped us to reconnect when I came back. I'd seen all of TNG and was pretty obsessed at that point so my 10-year-old self was chomping at this bit for this movie. Here's what I still remember about that viewing:

1- I was SUPER uncomfortable about Data's freak out. 
2- This: 

3- Crying when Data found Spot.

So, basically, this movie was all about Data when I was 10 and not at all about one captain passing the torch to the next one. This time around, I was a lot more invested in the Kirk/Picard stuff. Still, this movie just... it just doesn't do it for me. I wish it did. I really, really wish it did. Especially after eleven months of non-stop Star Trek, I'd really hoped that this movie would make more of an impression on me but I just didn't find it satisfying.

That's ok. The memory of watching Generations in the theatre, sharing popcorn with my dad, and bawling when Data found his kitty is enough for me. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Voyager: Lineage

So Tom and B'Elanna are like, super-surprise pregnant in the Season Seven episode, Lineage. It's a big surprise and everyone's happy until they discover that the baby has a Klingon-inherited spinal birth defect. It's not a huge deal. The Doctor can correct it but in discussing it, B'Elanna sees that the baby will also inherit her forehead ridges. This is not ok with her. She doesn't want her baby to have the same problems socializing in a human culture that she has endured or suffer from any potential prejudices. She spends the episode trying everything she can think of to make sure that her daughter isn't nearly as Klingon as she is. But why? Surely if this kid's anything like Tom or B'Elanna, she'll be one tough cookie.

Finally, B'Elanna makes a confession to Tom: her fear is rooted in the idea that her father abandoned her and her mother because he couldn't handle B'Elanna's Klingon side.

So, here's my confession: it's taken me several days to write about this episode. Since I first saw it (only about seven or eight years ago) this one affected me deeply. As of today, the 17th of November, this is the third time I've attempted this post.

When I was seven, my parents divorced. It wasn't as if they'd had a rosy marriage but it still came as something of a shock when it was announced one morning that I'd be living several hundred miles away from my dad and going to a new school and everything I'd grown up with would be quite different.

At that time every TV show had a very special episode about divorce and lots and lots of movies featured parents who'd split up. A lot of those TV kids were consumed by feelings of misplaced guilt--thinking that their parents had split up because they (in spite of their obvious adorableness and catch phrases) had done something wrong. These stories were meant to show kids like me that our parents' problems hadn't stemmed from us. But I never felt any of that stuff as a kid. I assumed my parents were weirdos and, like everyone else's parents in the 80's, just didn't get along. My seven year old self said, "It's not a big deal. My mom will probably end up hiring a male nanny and every day of my life will be an episode of Who's The Boss?"

(Note: This did not happen. Even a little bit.)
It wasn't until I was older that I started thinking about my unintentional role in my parents' split. I was an accidental baby--born when my parents were in college and their incredibly bright futures were being laid out before them by their hippy dippy liberal arts school. When I came along they rushed into marriage, got the first jobs they could find, and started a life they'd never anticipated or planned.

Later, as I became more of a person, I couldn't deny the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways that each of my parents resented their missed opportunities, their canceled, glittering futures, their twenties-sans-child. What had they meant to do that they couldn't? What were they doing instead? Who were they living with? Was their child a blessing or a curse? Both? Neither?

Did they split up because of me? I don't think so. But would they ever have been together for any kind of long-term relationship if I hadn't come along? I doubt it. And have they had these same thoughts? Of course they have. And I don't blame them for it.

I, without any say in the matter, forever altered the course of my parents' lives. I think we've all made the best of it. They loved me, and still love me, and I love them. I have a good relationship with both of them. I understand them, I think, more than I ever have. I am extraordinarily like my parents. I discover ways in which I'm like them more and more often as I get further into adulthood. Their choices as parents have affected and shaped me in innumerable ways.

So, like B'Elanna, I have had an unalterable effect on my parents' life. Likewise (and my inability to get through Lineage without very strong feelings is proof of this) even now that I'm an adult, they continue to have a profound impact on mine.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Voyager: Shattered

Earlier this summer, I went back to the little theatre that I trained in, the very same one that hosts my Shakespeare Camp. My director has kept photo albums of the last twenty years of shows and, with two of my (used to be campers but now assistant directors) children in tow, I opened these albums. I showed them pictures from shows I'd heard about, shows I'd seen, shows my husband was in before we met. When we came to the shows I was in, it was like stepping back in time. I have such distinct memories of this short stretch of years--the names, the faces, the lines I learned, the costumes I wore, the way I felt before taking the stage each time.

It was a thing kind of like magic. An era of my life, shared with two people I love, collected by yet another person I love in a few neat photo albums. Looking at the pictures, I wondered what I might go back and tell that AshleyRose and the people around her. Would I, for instance, tell the AshleyRose in the bottom right picture that the guy next to her would become one of her dearest friends? Would I tell the guy standing directly behind that AshleyRose in the top left picture that he would someday propose to her in that very place? Would that be breaking the Temporal Prime Directive?

This is something akin to what Chakotay struggled with in the 7th SSN episode, Shattered. Thanks to a spatial phenomenon, Voyager is split into various (past, present, and future) time zones and Chakotay is the only one who can move between them with his memories of the last seven years intact.

It's a bit of a romp (so you know I'm partial) but it's also one of the most surprisingly poignant episodes of any Star Trek series. When he takes Pilot-Episode-Janeway (aka Pioneer Lady Janeway) through the timezones and, thus, through the events that they lived through together, he struggles with how much to tell her. How much should he say about their life together?

How much could she possibly appreciate hearing about the two aliens they took in after the Caretaker incident? Or that a half-Klingon maquis soldier would become her Chief Engineer? Or that a crude medical hologram would become not only an amazing doctor but a trusted friend? How much could she possibly appreciate how betrayed they would all feel when Seska first left their crew and then returned to take over Voyager? Could she even imagine how awesome she would be when a ginormous virus attacked the ship? Or that this band of misfits, stranded half-way across the galaxy, would become the closest crew--the closest family--in all of Star Trek?

Pilot-Episode-Janeway can't appreciate it. But we can. And that's the point. Shattered is an episode that catches me by surprise. I laugh through the first 3/4 of the episode and then Chakotay (this is really a credit to the writing, directing, and the very under-appreciated Robert Beltran's acting) gives a speech about his time on Voyager and I'm suddenly sobbing into my Dr Pepper.

I watch this episode and I think about going back and telling Renaissance-Dress-AshleyRose about her future life, the fun she'll have, the man she'll marry, the books she'll write, the friends she'll make, the places she'll go, the Year of Star Trek she'll watch. She won't appreciate all that stuff. But I do.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Please State The Nature...

They say you never forget your first doctor. Well, Whovians (Doctor Who Fans) say that. I guess that's who "they" are. Anyway, my first Doctor was Tom Baker--the eccentric, scarf-clad, fourth (and probably most famous) doctor. PBS used to air a lot of his episodes late at night when I was a kid and I watched them with my dad. Then, when the TV movie aired, we watched that as well. And then I went back to my Star Trek and didn't think much more about it.

Much, much later when the series picked up again, Scott and I started watching and got hooked. We've been avid fans ever since and next week is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. There's a lot going on. A docudrama. A 50th anniversary episode. And, tonight, they released a brand new mini-sode featuring the 8th Doc and a little something extra:

In the very beginning, we get an homage to another show featuring a nameless doctor. Cass' ship requests, "Please state the nature of your injury or ailment." 

Nicely done, DW. Nicely done. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Seven Of Mom

I've never wanted kids. Even as a kid I knew I didn't want kids. I just don't have that part of my brain. Attempting to imagine my life with children, my brain goes into a startling shut-down mode where all I can picture is darkness and all I can hear is screaming. That's not even a joke. It's true. I basically suffer cascade failure at the idea of producing offspring.

Even so, I've worked with kids for over a decade. I have four younger siblings and I started babysitting when I was twelve. I love kids. I've created story times, outreaches, plays, and preschool arts program, and an entire Shakespeare camp dedicated to encouraging a love of theatre in rural kids who have limited access to the arts. My Shakespeare camp has run for ten years. Ten years!
Do you know what ten years is to a kid? That's basically forever. I've watched these kids grow into amazing people. After all that time, working so intensely with them, I know them as well as I know my own family. They make me insane and I get absolutely furious with them occasionally but I'm proud of them. I love them. I consider them my family--my children.

I've been thinking about that a lot lately as I watched Voyager, and Seven specifically, take on a brood of Borglets. I'm already a lot like Seven so as she adapted to life with young people, I empathized. When she set high standards for them, watched them succeed or fail, struggled with them bucking her authority, helped them reach their potential, and then had to say goodbye, I got it. Seven isn't a mom. Maybe she's missing that part of her brain too. However, that doesn't mean that there isn't room in her heart for a few misfit kids.

So what I'm saying is: I get it. I only wish that every year, when I have to say goodbye to my kids and tears start rolling down my cheeks, I could use my malfunctioning ocular implant as an excuse.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Voyager: Season Six Essentials

Is it possible that Voyager is almost over? Is it possible that I started Season Seven yesterday? Is it possible that it's the middle of November and I only have a month and a half left in My Year Of Star Trek? How has this happened?

Somehow (Temporal vortex? Guardian of Forever? Slingshot around the sun?) it's time for the Season Six Essentials:

1- Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy:
The Doctor programs himself to have daydreams and adorable aliens start watching them like a daily soap opera. Hijinks ensue.
This is maybe my favorite episode of Voyager. I love, love, love romps and this is one of the best Trek Romps of all.

Reginald Barclay is back and he's on a mission--to make contact with Voyager.
Basically, I love Barclay. You put this guy on screen and I'm in. Get him talking to holo-versions of the Voyager crew and there's no way you can pull me away from that.

3- Blink Of An Eye:
Basically, Gavin Park from Angel shows up on Voyager from his planet which spins way faster than the rest of the entire universe.
This episode is a lesson in the finer points of fandom and inspiration.

4- Good Shepard:
Janeway goes on a roadtrip with some of her black sheep crewmen.
This one's pretty underrated and unsung but it's beautifully written and acted and it reinforces the whole "this is a family and I'm going to take care of us" Janeway perspective.

5- Muse:
I'll admit that I may be a little biased about this one for personal reasons but it doesn't matter. This is a solid episode of Star Trek and I'd put it up against just about anything else out there for its use of theme and pseudo-history to underscore the ever-present mission of Star Trek to engage and inspire.

Runners Up:
Alright, all my runners up this time have to do with the Borg kids. I don't care what anyone says, I love these little guys. I love Seven-of-Mom. I get that they're not especially "essential" but they're a great part of Seven's character arc and one of my favorite things about Season Six so, if you're feeling especially ambitious, here are the Borglet episodes:

Harry, Tom, and Tuvok stumble upon a wrecked Borg cube inhabited by a number of drone children. If you thought regular kids were creepy, just wait till you see these little Borg kids wandering around.

Ashes To Ashes:
The A-story in this one is all about Harry's back-from-the-dead girlfriend but the B-story is all about Seven's problem kids and it's great.

Child's Play:
Icheb, Seven's oldest kid, finds his mom and dad and everyone's eating cookies and getting excited about the reunion--except Seven-Of-Mom.
Bonus Points to this one for featuring Mark Sheppard i.e. Lord of the Nerds.

Ok, one more thing:
If you regularly read this blog, or if you only just stumbled across it, please help spread the word about it before the year is out. Let someone know about your favorite post. Heck, let me know. I like knowing you're out there. I've seen my numbers take a sudden jump lately but I'm not sure why. So, if you're enjoying this project, let me know you're out there. I'm nice--promise.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Voyager: Muse

Some of my very first memories are of my mother--on stage. I was born when she was in college. She was a theatre major and would go on to be a drama teacher, writer, and director. But, when I was a kid, she was Guinevere. She was Cassandra. She was Antigone:

Thanks to my mom, I was raised backstage and I loved it every minute of it. I developed an appreciation of live theatre before I could read. Watching my mother (from the sofa, from the rehearsal hall floor, from the audience) argue for a citizen's right to civil disobedience made an impression on me. I got, over the course of my entire childhood, that art, theatre, and stories make a difference.

I thought about that a lot as I was watching Voyager's sixth season episode, Muse. In this one, B'Elanna crashes the shuttle onto a planet inhabited by an Bronze Age culture and is found by a playwright--Kelis. Kelis believes B'Elanna to be an "Eternal" and uses her stories about Voyager to create plays (performed with a Greek-style chorus) for his patron. Through the course of his working relationship with B'Elanna, he realizes that his plays can serve to do more than entertain--they can inspire. He hopes that his stories of Voyager will inspire his patron to stay out of a deadly war.

The entire episode is pretty meta. It even features an exchange about how to play a Vulcan and whether an audience member could grasp the inner turmoil of a Vulcan's mind if he doesn't outwardly show emotion. Watching the play within Muse is like watching an episode of Star Trek--if Star Trek had been written in 400 BC. Kelis' optimistic message of peaceful resolution and his hope of positively influencing the audience couldn't be more Trek.

Star Trek isn't Sophocles but I would argue that it serves the same purpose. Antigone was meant to entertain and inspire, to teach and make the audience think. And isn't that exactly what Star Trek has done for forty years and hopefully (like any good Greek tragedy) will continue to do for long time yet?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Tribute To Janeway's Hair

It's no secret that I'm practically in love with Janeway. 
What may not be well known is that I'm also way into her hair. 
All of her hair:
Pioneer Lady
Away Mission
ie- Blending In

(Angry) Katharine Hepburn
Actual Pioneer Lady
ie- Homesteading with sexy tattooed BFF

What even is this? 

Sexy Bedtime Hair
Shellacked Space Helmet
I officially have too much hair
Cut my hair with safety scissors because this is the Year of Hell

Chillin' with Da'Vinci
The "finally as awesome as my character" hair

Badass Grandma

Friday, November 8, 2013

Voyager: Ashes To Ashes

Tonight I watched the Season Six episode, "Ashes to Ashes" which features a cool-as-hell-looking purple chick claiming to be one of Harry's unfortunate ex-girlfriends, Lindsay Ballard. Of course Lindsay Ballard (in an episode that does not exist) died in a shuttle accident three years before so everyone's pretty skeptical. But, pretty soon she puts everyone's doubts to rest by relaying the unfortunate circumstances of her own death. Harry Kim (because he's typically present at terrible events) confirms that she's telling the truth and Lindsay recommences her life aboard Voyager.

I like this episode. It's not a huge standout but it's strong in that Lindsay is an interesting character and the idea of a race that reproduces by altering the DNA of dead aliens is a pretty neat concept. What really jumped out at me though was that when Lindsay returns, Janeway invites her to dinner and Harry off-handedly says something like, "What? The captain never invited me over for dinner!"

And I continued his thought by saying, "I mean, I guess it's not like I died and then came back or anything... oh wait. Or, well, it's not like I was kidnapped by an alien species who wanted to keep me all to themselves... oh, actually... Well, as least my DNA was never altered so that I thought I was from a completely different species... Oh, screw it. Why hasn't the captain ever invited me to dinner?"

Why, indeed Harry Kim? Why indeed?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Seven Vs. The Rock

So tonight, for one night only, live (not really) from my living room, this happened:
Also this:

And this: 

Yep, Seven fought The Rock and his People's Eyebrow. She also fought Martok (Well, kind of. The guy who plays her trainer also played Martok in DS9.) After Fight Club's release in 1999 basically every show on TV (Alphas, Bones, Chuck--and that's just the first three letters of the alphabet) has featured an episode wherein one of the characters ends up being forced to fight in some kind of underground fight club. This episode of Voyager, Tsunkatse, came out in 2000 so you have to give it credit for  being an early adopter. 

The funny thing is that this Voyager isn't actually the first Star Trek to feature this trope. That'd be TOS: Bread and Circuses wherein Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are forced to fight in televised gladiatorial games: 
Come to think of it, Star Trek also invented the People's Eyebrow:

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