Friday, February 28, 2014

Coming Clean

I think, in 2013, the longest I'd ever let this blog sit without writing was two days. Then the new year rolled around. I got deep into the revision of my soon-to-be-released first novel. I started consulting with a web designer and putting together tons of new art for both the book and the site. I started scheduling blog tour type-things and a trip back to Kentucky to participate in my MFA program's alumni reading series. I've been outlining and researching for the next book at full clip. I've been in and out of doctor's offices trying to get to the bottom of some issues. I went on a crazy baking binge. And, all the while, I wrote less and less of this blog.

At first, I thought it was just because I was so busy. And, while I am much, much busier this year (so far) than I was last year, this absence also stems from my not watching any Star Trek. When the year first rolled over I was already missing my three Star Trek/day regimen. Every time I got a free forty-five minutes, I'd watch an old episode. But then, I went through a long spell of not watching. Just too busy.

I kept thinking, "Oh, I'll watch one tonight. I'll catch one tomorrow."

Finally, when I did catch a break, I spooled up the Netflix and scrolled through the various series. Nope. Not Enterprise. Still too fresh. No, not Voyager either. I had to watch that one so fast that I'm still a little exhausted by it. Not really feeling DS9. No, I've seen all of those TNG episodes a million times and all of them again only a few months ago. Ok, let's do TOS. I started up a random episode. Something I did before My Year of Star Trek all the time. It was my go-to video wallpaper.

I started it. I was working on some illustration stuff at the same time. Five minutes went by. Ten. It was dragging. And that's when I realized... Star Trek has started to feel like work.

After a year of three (and often more) episodes per day and writing about Star Trek just about every single day, followed by my apparent Stockholm Syndrome-like symptoms that occurred in the first weeks of January, I'd done the unthinkable: I'd burned out.

The guilt and shame that I felt upon this realization was intense. I have always loved this show. I'd just spent an entire year of my life immersed in this show. It had always been my solace, my refuge from the real world. I'd always been able to watch it and relax--thinking about how peaceful and delightful and optimistic the future and humanity could be. Now, for the first time in my life, I found the watching of my favorite show to be a chore. I still love the idea of it. I still love my memories of it. I still love this blog. But, watching individual episodes is something that I just can't do right now.

I missed the blog. I missed you. I hated not writing but I hadn't much Star Trek stuff to write about. I still have posts planned. Rock Climbing in Star Trek, for instance. Tons of Mix Tapes. And I still want to write all of those and can do so just by referring to last year's notes. But, I think I have to make this a predominantly personal blog for a little while. Less about Star Trek and more about me and my daily life and the other things I'm watching/reading/doing. Otherwise, I won't be able to write.

I know I'll get back on Star Trek soon. I know this aversion will wear off. I know that in a couple weeks or months, I'll happen to catch a well-worn episode of TNG on BBC America and say, "Stop. Leave it there. I love this one."

Right now though. I just need a little bit of a break. So, please, please, stick with me.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


I've never been into the Hallmark Holidays. I don't like buying cards. I don't like watching flowers die. I don't like going out to dinner around a lot of other people. But one year, completely by accident, Scott and I celebrated Valentine's Day. It was mid-February around six or seven years ago and we found ourselves at an Indian buffet the day after Valentine's. The only people there were a couple who looked like they'd gone to bed but maybe not to sleep and, thus, Valentine's was still in effect for them. As we ate our chicken tikka and palak paneer in peace, we realized that this was the best time to celebrate the romance between two complete hermits. No one is out. Candy and potted plants are half-price. It's amazing.

So today is my Valentine's Day post. I figured, after a year of following every single Star Trek relationship, I'd write about the best ones.

1- Christine Chapel and Spock:
This one is completely unrequited and, thus, pretty depressing. Still, it's the only ongoing almot-love-affair in The Original Series. Kirk's trysts nearly always lead to <ahem> death. They don't count. I'm tempted to count the Kirk/Spock pseudo-love affair that people have been putting in fan-fiction since the 60's but Kirk has a different true love and I'll get to that later.

2- Troi and Worf:
Yes, Deanna and Riker were imzadis but I always loved the too-little-too-late Troi/Worf relationship. These two were just sexy together.

3- Rom and Leeta:
Yeah, I know I should probably put Jadzia and Worf together and I really did love those two as a couple but the way Jadzia died and the fact that Worf never really got to avenge her in a satisfying way always put a bitter taste in my mouth about them. Rom and Leeta, on the other hand, were amazing. From the moment they got together I was cheering them on and I love that they didn't have some ridiculous tragic end. They were steadfast, true, and supportive.

4- Tom and B'Elanna:
In a franchise that always shied away from any kind of serialization, I love the way the Paris/B'Elanna relationship was allowed to evolve over time. These two complement each other perfectly.

5- Reed and Hayes:
I've already written about how these two could have had the best relationship in all of Trek so I won't go into all that again but I totally ship Reed/Hayes. Their almost-relationship had more depth than most Trek pairings and, if viewed from the point of view that they were a couple, their parting is legitimately heart breaking.

6- Every captain and their ship:
In spite of how much I may love Kirk/Edith Keeler, Picard/Guinan (yes, I prefer this to Picard/Beverly; there's just something about these two), Sisko/Kasidy, Janeway/that Devore inspector guy who always reminds me of Prince Humperdink, and Archer/Captain Hernandez, it's obvious that the real love of these captains' lives is their ship.

As Kirk tells McCoy when the doc asks his captain about a possible interest in Yeoman Rand, Kirk answers, "I've already got one female to worry about. Her name's the Enterprise."

A Year Ago Today: I started Next Gen

Monday, February 10, 2014

The Games

So last week I was absent because I had to split my time between work on my new novel, some commissions (that I was behind on) and Murder School. I'll write about Murder School tomorrow on the X-Files blog. Tonight, I just want to mention the Olympics and how completely useless I am while they're going on.

I love both Winter and Summer Games and my preferred sports tend to be the weirder ones. Steeplechase, anyone? My favorite winter event is the biathlon because the combination of cross country skiing and shooting essentially makes it the Jason Bourne of athletic activities. Anyway, since all I can do is work with Bob Costas yammering in the background for the next week and a half, it's inevitable that I eventually start planning a Star Trek Olympics.

There are a TON of crazy-ass sports in Trek. I mean, these people have had another World War, alien contact, and a couple hundred years for the Olympic committee to hem and haw about whether or not space wrestling is a thing. I feel like by the time the CXXI Olympiad rolls around this is what it'll look like:

1- Parrises Squares
This seems the most obvious. Next Gen revived Trek and suddenly everyone was tromping down the corridor in shiny blue spandex to play what is apparently a very tough, dangerous game. If this were an Olympic sport, Harry Kim (a Starfleet Academy champion) would probably hold a medal but no one would believe him.
2- Anbo-Jitsu
A game favored by the Riker clan, Anbo-Jitsu is a sort of pseudo-Japanese armored combat sport that you play BLINDFOLDED.

3- Fencing
Here's a thing captains (and future captains) apparently love--even in the future. Both Picard and Sulu are enthusiasts. If anyone held a fencing medal though, it'd be Guinan, obviously. She'd keep it in a drawer along with some other epic stuff she never talked about like Mark Twain's hat and a bottle of Aldebaran whiskey.
4- Velocity
This is pretty much just futuristic target shooting where two people try to hit and avoid being hit by a disc that constantly zips around. Yet again, Harry Kim was supposedly some kind of big shot Velocity player but I'm really not buying it.
5- Rock Climbing
I'm not sure how one makes this an Olympic sport but it's the future. If they can figure out faster than light travel, I think they can put a time limit and some judges on a guy scaling a rock. Anyway, freaking every single person in Star Trek likes to go out on their off time and climb rocks. Why? I don't know. It's clearly the most popular pastime in the twenty-third century so it should obviously be included here (and in a future post dedicated to this weirdo phenomenon.)

6- Baseball
Ok, I know this is an outdated game and no one plays it by the time Picard and Sisko are mad at each other. But I love it. And, really I think after the Niners-Logicians game of 2375, people of the future will come to their senses and reinstate this as an Olympic Sport.

So that's six sports. I thought about including some Vulcan or Klingon martial arts. What do you think? Or maybe Dabo? I don't know, I'm pretty happy with these. Therefore- let the games begin!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Leveling Up

You know who I totally get? Barclay. We are introduced to Reginald Barcaly in Hollow Pursuits and we follow this guy throughout his struggle (across two series) with Holo-Addiction. I've written about Reg here here and here so I won't go into yet another post about why this guy is so great. Instead, I want to talk about games and the way we, like Barclay, escape into them.

As a kid, I played Commodore 64 and Amiga games then both NES and SNES, I moved to PS1 as a pre-teen then the PS2 as a teenager and an XBox360 as an adult. I bought the 360 so I could play Halo with Scott but we deserted that gaming world as soon as the Borderlands franchise entered our life. Now, after we'd completely exhausted BL1 and BL2, we faced a tough choice. Get something else or play online.

Listen people. I don't play games online. Ok, yes I used to play Diablo 2 online with my dad but that was a father/daughter thing. Playing online defeats my entire gaming purpose as it involves other actual humans and if I wanted to deal with actual other humans I wouldn't have built such an amazing life for myself here on the internet.

Anyway, we were starting to get desperate. BL2, on its highest levels without online integration wasn't as relaxing and lovely as it once had been. So, for my birthday, I got Diablo 3 for the 360. And then... got completely sucked into its ridiculous world of endless hack and slash monsters and loot collection for the sake of itself. I've sunk many, many hours into the accumulation of items with names like, "Fleshraker." Why?
From the Adventure Time episode ALL ABOUT this phenomenon: Dungeon Train
It's easy for me to see how people get lost in video games. I play games so I can relax in a world that is completely different from my own. A while ago when Scott (who I was used to seeing 24-7) got a new job and both his hours and commute were incredibly long, I got sucked into Skyrim. Scott would come home and ask about my day and my answers were filled with details about picking mushrooms, making potions, forging armor and how my gorgeous wife made me some stew in the lovely, rustic house I owned. After a week or so, I adjusted to days spent without Scott sitting right next to me (we lived in a studio apartment so we were essentially always next to one another) and left the world of Skyrim behind.

Now, as I move into a new phase in my life, as I'm getting my first novel ready for publication while planning the next and doing art commissions and paying bills and washing dishes and lying awake at night worrying about the future, I find myself needing that same escape that Barclay craved. I need to easily achieve something. I need to spend less than an hour leveling up because, in the real world, it's a lot harder and it takes a lot longer and there's no sword or spellbook, no Majel Barrett-voiced computer, no programmable versions of Crusher and Troi to make the day better or easier. There's no mini-map and the waypoints don't glow. Leveling up (or leveling sideways) in the real world is just a lot of plodding around in the dark hoping that your hard work is getting noticed and you aren't spending all your time groping along the wrong path.

So anyway, that's a bit of what I've been doing lately. Leveling up. It's awesome and I mean that when I say it. It's also just kind of scary.

Incidentally, I have a friend who's working on releasing a longtime dream of his--a tabletop RPG. His awesome project is on Kickstarter and if you're the kind of kick-ass nerd who likes leveling up with some dice and your actual, real life human friends, you ought to check out Far Away Land.

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