Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Year In Review

Boy, I had a lot of posts planned for this month. I had at least three Generic Ensign Vlogs planned as well as a holiday post and a couple of specific episodes I just really wanted to write about. I even made a Trek-themed mince pie!

But then a bunch of life happened. I got really sick. None of those well-intentioned December posts materialized.

Still, I didn't want to leave off this year without at least mentioning something about 2016 and My Year of TNG coming to a close. I'm just about finished with the series. In spite of the fact that I haven't been writing, I have been watching. I intend to watch All Good Things as I ring in 2017.

But before I do that, here's everything I have to say about 2016:
I started out the year with the intention of watching TOS but quickly realized I just didn't have the enthusiasm for it that I'd hoped and, by February, I'd switched over to my old friend TNG. It helped to comfort me when both of my grandmothers died within a couple weeks of one another. And it was there when my no-longer-convenient-to-ignore health issues led me to seeking and getting my Ehlers Danlos diagnosis. Suddenly I understood why a lot of things that frustrated me about my health, my body, my weightlifting were the way they were. And I understood that it was a problem that wouldn't ever just go away. Just as I'd finally got around to coming to terms with that I banged up my wrist and couldn't write or draw. And just when my wrist was nearly healed I started having strange, sudden, nauseating pain in both hands. This went on for six months. In and out of doctors. In and out of Physical Therapy. In and out of my blog. In and out of my house, taking long, long walks because I had to burn off my creative energy somehow and using my hands just wasn't an option. All the while I wondered, but really didn't talk about, whether my career as an artist, an essayist, a writer was about to be over at the age of thirty-two. Nothing seemed to help. Not exercise, massage, heat, cold, anti-inflammatories, or rest. I was frustrated. I cried a lot. I complained to my friends but not nearly as much as I wanted to, not nearly as much as I could and maybe should have. I poured myself into Generic Ensign and that, at least, was a welcome respite.

Now the year is nearly over. At the end of November I realized that I'd also been having some neck issues and wondered if it might be connected to my hands. I went to my doctor and she said, "How long has your neck been hurting?" I said that I didn't know. Things are always hurting. I have a chronic condition and I'm a power-lifter and workaholic with pathologically atrocious posture so it's tough to say. She perscribed a neck collar and physical therapy and I got rid of the foam pillow I'd purchased in May (a week before my hand pain started, I realized) and my hands, I'm happy to say, began to get better. It looks like there's a possibility that the pain is mostly caused by a pinched or inflamed nerve in my neck. Two months ago, I couldn't have imagined writing this post. I couldn't type for more than twenty minutes without excruciating pain. Now the pain is still there but it's in the background, easing in and out, and I worry that it's getting ready to pounce. That this really isn't the answer. I've hoped for so many "the answers" over the last six months and none of them have panned out so I don't want to speak too early and say, "Hooray, it's fixed!" and then catch myself back in the apparently bottomless pit I was in before. I am cautiously optimistic.

I realize, of course, that this post isn't really all that much about Star Trek. But this blog, since it began, has been about half Trek/half me. And the "me" hasn't made much of an appearance lately. So, here I am, telling you about my year. And, yes, in many ways, 2016 was rough. But there were plenty of great things too. I began meditating to cope with my pain and found that I really enjoy it. I started working with a lifting coach who also has EDS and got a new PR in conventional deadlift. I went to the beach by myself and did a ton of watercolors and ate huge slices of greasy pizza. I started riding my bike more often and now I take her (Harriet) out nearly every day. I let my hair knot itself into long ropes and stopped fighting it and now I'm happy with it for the first time in my life. I made new artist and lifter and Trek-fan friends on Instagram. I went hiking with my mom and little brother. I had three comic essays published. I turned in my third novel. I read several great books. I baked bread. I ate cheeseburgers and took long naps and played video games with my husband every Saturday afternoon. I watched Rogue One and cried when the credits rolled. I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation and I was comforted by its enduring message of hope and human compassion.

2016 has been a tough year. For a lot of us. And that sucks. I don't know what 2017 will bring. And that's ok.

I've always said that my greatest, or most beneficial quality, is my adaptability. This year that quality was put to the test and, go figure, I'm still here. So, whatever happens next year or the year after or the year after, I'll figure it out as I go. I'll adapt and keep going because adaptation is, more than a Borg quality, a human quality.

Ok, something extra (because what this post needs is more words) here are the things I loved most in 2016:

3- The Flavia De Luce mysteries by Alan Bradley
4- The Murdoch Mysteries (the Canadian TV show, it's available in the US on Netflix and Hulu in parts and on Acorn nearly whole also on the cable channel, Ovation)
5- People of Earth (the new TBS series)

Go forth and watch/read these things and decide whether you love them as well.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Generic Ensign's vLog #8: Time's Arrow - Chain of Command

It's been a long few weeks (you'll hear this from Generic Ensign as well) and I'm glad to finally be getting back to the blog. I had some really intense family stuff going on that laid me pretty low for a while but then Thanksgiving was for serious amazing. The best in my memory. I played video games. I hung out with Scott. I took naps. I played more video games. I ate SO MUCH turkey. (I butterflied the bird this year and this is something I HIGHLY recommend) I made the biggest, craziest pumpkin pie. It weighed three+ pounds and took several days to polish off. This week I got back to work and FINALLY returned to Generic Ensign. So, here's the latest:

Generic Ensign's Vlog #8 from AshleyRose on Vimeo.

Friday, November 4, 2016

TNG Time Capsule: A Matter of Time, Hero Worship and Cause and Effect

A few years ago my mom found a couple of the journals I'd been made to keep in the second grade. I nearly cried when she gave them to me. As someone who writes and illustrates her own life, these little composition books are precious treasure troves of memory. PROOF! Proof that I existed as a small human. That I thought things and felt things and watched, even then, copious amounts of television.

Earlier this year I got them out and looked through them again, thinking that I would do a "on this night" series as I watched episodes that originally aired on dates corresponding to my journal entries. Unfortunately, life got a bit in the way. Waylaid by health issues and the like, I completely forgot about my plans. It wasn't until I was straightening up my workspace yesterday that I remembered.

Luckily, we're not that far away from these episodes. I only just finished the season in question! I handpicked a couple (for what will be obvious reasons) and here they are:

A Matter of Time
Original Air Date: November 18, 1991
This entry is the closest I could find since TNG was likely on winter hiatus at the time but I felt it was fairly appropriate. It's also the first entry in this specific journal.
"Yesterday it was cold. I stayed in and watched TV for 5 hours. Then did homework. Then I played and watched a movie. I fell asleep. I woke up. And I got to go to bed. 
I loved last night."

Hero Worship
Original Air Date: January 27, 1992
Again, this one isn't on the exact date (new episodes hadn't yet returned) and they would've been showing re-runs. 
"Tonight I can stay up as late as I want. I can watch late night shows. I can do anything I want. I love to stay up. I can play until 10:30. I can go to bed at one in the morning. But I like to watch TV best." 

PS- I think it's fairly plausible that the person on the TV is Worf. Just look at the haircut. 

Cause and Effect
Original Air Date: March 23, 1992
I picked this one out because it's one of my favorite episodes. I have a very clear memory of watching this one for the first time, feeling that sort of Hitchcock zoom trick your mind plays when it suddenly turns inside out.  I would've written this entry on the day the Cause and Effect premiered. 

"This weekend I flew a kite. I saw old friends. I played with them. And I wrote my dad a letter. I built a "made". And a story box." 

A few things strike me about this entry. 
1-In spite of being pretty poor through a lot of my childhood, I had plenty of toys. Still, I was always building stuff out of cardboard. My journals from this time actually have a lot of little rockets and such and I have really strong memories of building sprawling doll houses and weird little dioramas. I still do this kind of thing. In my kitchen there's a recycling bin and, beside it, a pile of cardboard pieces that I want to use for paintings and projects and whatever. Sometimes I actually get around to those projects and sometimes they make the slow march into the bin. I remember this maid construction really well. She was made out of toilet paper rolls and a shoebox. I'm not sure what her hat was made of but, knowing me, it was likely a stollen coffee filter. 

2-Why a maid? I'm not sure. My mom worked as a maid for a while during this time. I remember going with her to a couple of swanky houses. One of them had a gorgeous mural in the basement. I remember thinking, "Wow, this place is so clean." And my mom was like, "Yeah, gee, I wonder why." 
So maybe I made a maid to help her out around our house. I mean, what else was I going to do? Actually clean? Clearly I was too busy watching TV. 

3- The letter to my dad. This was about thirteen months after my parents split up. I hadn't seen my dad since then and, in child years, thirteen months seems like about forever plus ten. My journals reflect the memories I have of my attitude from that time. A sort of weird practicality I had toward stressful situations. I missed my dad but I didn't mope about it. I wrote a letter and got on with my life. What else was I supposed to do? 

Boy, this is a lot of typing. I actually saved my hands up all day just so I could do this post. And I'm glad I did. I LOVE doing Generic Ensign and I'm going to keep those Vlog posts going but I do also miss speaking in my own voice. After all, that's sort of my whole thing—writing about myself, my life, my history. Hoping that somewhere out there it'll strike a chord and resonate with someone else. So, if you're out there, thanks for taking this stroll down memory lane with me. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Generic Ensing's Vlog #6: New Ground, Conundrum, Ethics

You may have noticed that I skipped over the legendary episode, Darmok, last week. I actually had a big plan for it but it kind of crashed and burned. Hopefully, the next time I watch TNG, I'll have the kind of time I need to put into it... or maybe I'll just come up with something else. In any case, I did watch it. Darmok is my favorite episode of any Trek and sometimes those are the hardest ones to cover.

This week I watched a slew of Season Five offerings and came up with Generic Ensign's vLogs for New Ground, Conundrum, and Ethics. I'd really, really hoped to do one for Cause and Effect but I couldn't come up with any ideas that lived up to the amazing craziness of the episode. There's still time.

Anyway, here's this week's Generic Ensign:

Generic Ensign's Vlog #6 from AshleyRose on Vimeo.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Generic Ensign's Vlog #5: Ensign Ro, The Game, Disaster, Unification

Generic Ensign's at it again! She's well into Season Five and trucking right along:

Generic Ensign Vlog #5: My Year Of Star Trek from AshleyRose on Vimeo.

In other news, back when I first started doing comics, I had this dream that someday I might be published in the very prestigious and totally awesome magazine, The Rumpus. Earlier this week, that dream came true with my graphic essay, Distance. Feel free to check it out!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Generic Ensign's Vlog: Clues, Qpid, Mind's Eye

Wow, apparently that last Generic Ensign Vlog I put up was the 500th MYOST post! I had no idea (clearly) but hooray! If I'd known, I'd have thrown confetti or made a Deana Troi cake or at least poured myself a big glass of Romulan Ale. But whatever, Congratulations to me anyway! And also you for reading this blog and sticking around and leaving comments and emailing me. I love my little Trek family.

My hands ARE getting better. Splints, physical therapy, finger strengthening exercises, rest etc etc are definitely helping but typing is still the worst. So, there'll be more GE Vlogs to come. Here's a brand spankin' new one covering TNG's Season Four episodes: Clues, Qpid, and Mind's Eye. Enjoy!

Generic Ensign Vlog #4 from AshleyRose on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Generic Ensign's Vlog 3: Data's Day

Holy cow I've been sick. I spent the last three weeks hacking and wheezing. Last week I finally scraped myself off the couch and stumped into the doctor's office (where they apparently make you wear a surgical mask if you look like you might be Typhoid Mary) and she gave me an antibiotic to clear up what had become a nasty sinus/upper respiratory infection. It's taken another week to really get back on my feet but I'm still coughing a bit and I still feel a little sluggish but... this illness did not keep me from recording yet another Generic Ensign Vlog!

So here's Generic Ensign, rolling out her version of Data's Day:

Generic Ensign Vlog #3 from AshleyRose on Vimeo.

I'm actually into season five now so I think I'm going to pick up the pace with Generic Ensign and do a few really quick entries. Are there any episodes from Season 4 that you REALLY want to see GE's side of? Let me know and I'll try to hit them before moving on to Season 5.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Generic Ensign's Vlog #2

I've been laid up with a crap cold and that means Generic Ensign has as well. Her encounter with the Borg was not as eventful as that of her more vital crew-mates.

Stardate: 44012.3
(Best of Both Worlds - Family)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Generic Ensign's VLOG #1

My hands are still healing up so I've spent a lot of time thinking, "Hmm. What can I possibly do to continue the blog without having to use my hands...?" Finally, I hit on the idea of pulling the Generic Ensign concept into video form. If you're new to this, the conceit is that I write summaries of or commentaries on the show or specific episodes in the form of logs from the point of view of a nameless Ensign. So... here's the first one. 

Thanks to Trek Core for the sounds and for the LCARS animations. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Today is Trek's 50th Birthday. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to sit down and write the sort of longish post I wanted to. The kind of post I've been thinking about since 2016 first rolled around. The kind of post I used to contemplate back in 2013 when I first started this project. I can't go ok for ages about how much Star Trek has meant to me, how important it's been to my life, how unexpectedly meaningful this blog has become to me. If you've seen my latest Captain's Vlog or read any of my recent posts, you'll understand why.

I'm happy, though, that I was able to do a little TNG-inspired art tonight. In honor of Star Trek's big birthday, here's my Trek-sona: 

Happy Birthday, old friend. May we all celebrate many, many more with you. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Captain's Vlog #6: Geordi's Visor

I'm still having a hard time typing and realized that it was high time for the triumphant return of the Captain's Vlog: 

I'd like to do a few of these until I can get back to regular blogging so if you have anything you'd like me to talk about or ideas for videos, just let me know! I'm at the end of TNG: Season Four at the moment and still watching. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: Commander Shelby

Over the weekend I re-watched Best of Both Worlds. I'd known it would be coming up and was sort of dreading in. Not just because I always dread it because of the whole Locutus thing but because I've written about this major episode twice already. And so has every other Trek blogger/reviewer/fan out there. So I just let this blog sit here.

I thought, "Maybe I'll write about Worf's perspective, or Data's. Or follow Beverly through the trauma of this whole mess."

But no. None of that really felt right. And I didn't really feel like writing at all, to be honest. Not because I don't want to. Because my hands are still a complete mess. An hour of typing renders them completely useless so I feel the need to save them for the comic I'm working on and the query letters I'm sending out for the most recent book and the editing I was doing (now finished!) for the second Awesome Jones book. I never mean to put this project on the back burner but there it is. It happens sometimes.

Anyway, re-watching this two-parter, what I mostly thought about was the role of the women herein.

Troi actually has something useful to do here. She can sense when Picard is and isn't Locutus. She can monitor the emotions of the crew. She can actively participate in the mission with something other than, "He's hiding something, Captain."

Crusher goes on the away mission to retrieve Picard and comes up with the idea of treating the Borg ship like a giant organism and acting as a virus within it.

Guinan realizes how bad is the state of the crew's emotional wellbeing and confronts Riker about how he needs to let Picard go. It's in this speech that we get a clue about the closeness between Guinan and Picard. She's assertive and involved here in a way that she, in her mysterious Guinan way, doesn't usually get to be.

And finally, SHELBY. Everyone hates Shelby. When I was a kid, I didn't like Shelby. She shook up the crew, my crew, and she challenged Riker in ways I found uncomfortable. As an adult female though, I see Shelby differently. Under that floofy hair and flamingo lipstick, Shelby is 1000% baller. This woman has made it her business to know everything there is to know about The Borg. THE BORG. That's a dangerous damn job. She's also gunning for first mate of the Federation's flag ship, something she lets practically everyone know as soon as she steps foot on board. She's assertive and smart and she has bucket loads of gumption--which she gets chastised for. I get that she shouldn't be running off to inspect suspicious business with Data without letting anyone know but this is how bitches get shit done. They beat every dude at poker and don't get to sleep until 1AM. They roll out of bed in full (probably yesterday's) makeup. They beam down to some dangerous planet with their new robot friend in tow. And they do risky science at the crack of dawn. And... they still get talked about in terms of being, "just an old man's fantasy..." which is a shame. Because Shelby has fantasies of her own. And those fantasies include commanding a damn starship. I have no doubt that she does just that.

Ok. As predicted, my fingers are on fire. So this BAMF lady is going to go soak her hands in some hot water and say a thousand curse words while I wonder, "What would Shelby do?"

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Generic Ensign's Log: Year Three

(In case you're new here, Generic Ensign's Log is a series of posts wherein I write from the point of view of a no-name Ensign and record the crew's misadventures.)

Generic Ensign's Log
Stardate: 43917.4

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks. And, I should say first off that my hands were damaged while I was uncoupling a node in Jeffries Tube 19 so this entry will have to be short.

A few weeks ago things were going pretty smoothly after Riker's insane holodeck murder trial. Nothing happened at all except one day I saw Guinan giving Commander Worf some prune juice and then right after that she called into the bridge. It sort of felt like something was happening. Sort of like... all of time and space were briefly in flux and things weren't as they were supposed to be and it would take two entire starships to right some cosmic wrong and possibly one of our own crew would have volunteer to die in a timeline which we will never know anything about.
But, I mean, I didn't hear about anything weird so I guess it was fine. In any case, things were quiet on my deck.

Then, I swear to Sha Ka Ree, not two days later Data up and had a kid. She was adorable and I mean, legit adorable. And he seemed like he was going to be a great dad. Her name was Lal. I talked to her a few times in Ten Forward. Just like Data but... different. But it didn't last. I wanted to make note. I want to not forget her. We aren't all capable of just permanently storing her memory in our cybernetic brains.

About a week after that we got an officer named Kurn through the Klingon Officer Exchange Program. Man, this guy was a real piece of work. Total hard ass. And he brought all this drama with him. He was here for like twenty-four hours and then suddenly Worf and Picard are all up in arms and everything is Cha'DIch this and Mogh that and then they took off for a while and when they got back Worf was a sad sack. But that probably won't last long, right? How long can Worf really go around being depressed?

Alright, about a week after they got back the cap was replaced with an imposter who was just really amazing at flirting and ordering us to go places and singing Starfleet drinking songs.

Not gonna lie. There was a mutiny.

After our real captain got back he went out on a holiday and things on the ship were back to normal. I went down to Risa for a few days but I got a sunburn so I spent the rest of the R&R days in my quarters reading an ancient JK Rowling tome.

Right after that we took on a Betazoid guy who was sorta kinda crazy and I know that because Counsellor Troi has apparently NEVER heard of doctor-patient confidentiality and she was basically going around the entire ship yammering about how this guy used to be her patient. Anyway, he and Data got good and chummy but then he flounced off with a giant, space dwelling alien.

The next few days were a major headache for me and pretty much everyone else. Some biological samples apparently leaked everywhere during transport and the ship's systems went on the fritz. We were all working around the clock to fix it. Everyone seemed really centered on Barclay and I'm glad about that. He's a really smart guy, just awkward, probably logs too many hours in the holodeck. He gets in his own way a lot of the time, bless his heart. Eventually they fixed the issue and I hear Barclay was instrumental in that.
After all that, I think everyone needed some rest. We were scheduled to pick up Sarek. THE Sarek. So he could talk trade relations with the Legarans. We organized a banquet and a concert and we were all gonna take it easy breezy until we got to Legara IV. Things were quiet at first but then people just started getting super intense. I was walking into Ten Forward and saw a huge brawl going on:
And later I heard Riker say that he saw LaForge and that Crusher kid almost come to blows. Come to blows? What would that even look like? The greatest slap fight ever? Ugh. I wish I'd been there. Anyway, I don't know what they did but this whole thing only lasted about a day and then we made it to Legara IV and things were pretty chill during the whole conference. Though, I didn't see Captain Picard for a few days. Not until after Sarek left.

Next up we're headed to Betazed for a trade conference. Hopefully things'll be more relaxed for a while. I know I need the rest.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Star Trek: Beyond: It's A Romp!

Scott and I finally made it out to see Star Trek: Beyond on Sunday.
I was excited but... a little nervous. I really loved the Abrams reboot but I'd been worried for a while about this one. I hadn't seen a single trailer in theaters (in spite of seeing multiple, big blockbusters since Star Wars) and I'd seen very few previews on TV. I was worried this was a reflection of how Paramount felt about the film—maybe they were dumping it off without trying to spend too much money, maybe it wouldn't be good, maybe it would get bad reviews, maybe people wouldn't go see it... etc etc. It was a rabbit hole that, as it turns out, I didn't really need to go down.

I don't write reviews on this blog. Not really. MYOST is about me and my experience with or thoughts about Trek rather than a compilation of graded reviews. That being said, I loved this one.

Spoiler Free Thoughts:
Star Trek Beyond is the first rompy "episode" of this Star Trek "series." It's fun. It's wild. It's weird. It's self-referential. It doesn't take itself too seriously but still manages to tug at the heart strings which, if you're like me, you'll feel that in your lower right side. I absolutely, without reservation, recommend it.


Alright. You've been warned.

References: Beyond was written by a longtime fan and it shows. References fly not only from TOS but also the two most maligned (and, of course, my favorite) series, Voyager and Enterprise. Part of this comes from the fact that the only canon Trek history pre-TOS-era is from Archer's time but they could easily have ignored it and just jammed in more technobabble and new history. Instead, Beyond is flooded with terms, costume designs, and history from Enterprise which, I loved. LOVED.

Chicks, Man: Beyond is the first of the rebooted Trek to feature multiple women with real agency. Amanda (Spock's mom) and Carol Marcus (Kirk's love interest) were both fine. Both actresses did a great job but their roles weren't expansive and you can sort of tell that by the way I've reminded you who they are. They are characters who exist to help deepen two main (male) characters. But here we have:
The Commodore played by the amazing Shohreh Aghdashloo has incredible gravitas. She's the only person in authority Kirk deals with in this movie and she conveys a deep understanding of his situation at the beginning and end of his story in Beyond. And, her name is Paris. Guys, I literally started crying when Kirk said he'd spoken to Commodore Paris. I just completely broke down. At that moment this movie said, "Yes, I am for you."
Kalara, the (apparently) alien woman who escapes to Yorktown from a nearby unstable nebula has a lot going on. She manages to dupe everyone at Yorktown and lure The Enterprise and its cargo back to the hands of her captain. Her screen time is ultimately limited but she manages to set a lot of story in motion.
Jayla. Alright, I love Jayla. She reminds me a lot of Lori Petty's character, Noss, from the Voyager episode, Gravity. She's tough, resourceful, brilliant, and she's been stranded on a hostile planet for years. She also manages (like Petty) to have a weird sort of punky/spunky quality that I found really refreshing. Given Anton Yelchin's tragic death, I found myself wondering/hoping that she might be on the bridge for the next film.

Big, Dumb, Fun: There are movies that you laugh at and there are movies that you laugh with. And there are movies where you do both and enjoy every second of it while it's happening. Beyond falls into that last category. In the (almost) climax, the key to defeating the hive of alien ships, comes down to disrupting communication abilities and they do this with... Sabotage. The same song from from the 2009 reboot. Waves of enemy ships explode like fireworks as the Beastie Boys blast into deep space. The moment this happened I immediately had that same old feeling I get when I watch Trouble With Tribbles, Trials and Tribulations, Mirror, Mirror, Author, Author, Hollow Pursuits, or any of the episodes in the long, long tradition of rompy Trek.

Hell Yes, Optimism: Beyond is unapologetically optimistic without being saccharine. An alternate title might as well be Star Trek: Friendship is Magic and I would absolutely be alright with that. Trek has always been about the power of unity, of friendship, of kinship among crew and Beyond gets at that in multiple, fantastic, resonant ways. Beyond sends a message that we are always more powerful together than divided. And that's a message I think we all need to hear right now.

Broken Captain: This is a trope that goes all the way back to TOS and occurs in pretty much every Trek series. Some captain has had it up to here with the Federation and their... ways. And he totally loses it and freaks the hell out and its up to our captain (and their trusty crew) to defeat them in a way that makes us all sad and yet grateful for our friends who somehow keep us from turning to the dark side. Idris Elba is the latest in a long line of broken captains and he does a lovely job of portraying a man who has done everything, everything for his crew and, in the process, has lost his humanity. He (physically) makes strides back to it throughout the film in a way that is pitch-perfect in it's Star Trek-ness.

Sulu's Family: Much has been made of Takei's reaction to the fact that Sulu has a husband in Beyond and, I suppose I get it. He feels ownership over this character and thinks about Sulu's life and legacy in ways that none of us can anticipate. However, several years ago I considered trying to start up (what would've been a largely ignored) campaign to Give Sulu A Boyfriend. I've been in favor of this idea since before it was an idea so, I'm happy. I think it's a great tribute to the character and the actor and it's high time we finally had an LGBTQ character in Trek.

Big Picture: Beyond is the first of the rebooted series to really, really feel like Trek. I loved the Abram's films. I really did. But this one felt alive. It had the heart and soul of the thing I've spent the last three years of my life (with basically 99% of 2013) writing and thinking about. I've written many times about growing up with Trek, about not remembering my introduction to it, about how it's always been in the background of my life, like an old friend. Beyond was like seeing that friend again, unexpectedly, and getting the biggest, warmest hug.

Some Issues: The action is a mess. The bulbs in our theater were a little dark so that might've been part of the problem but I'm a huge fan of frenetic, fast action and so much of the action in Beyond was just confusing and disorienting. This is surprising given that the director is known for action but it is what it is. Action scenes are dark, the framing is constantly askew, the camera is always shaky. Which is, in an otherwise lovingly written, powerfully acted movie, unfortunate.

Still, action was never really Trek's strong suit. So, I guess it's not the worst thing that ever happened:

Last Thoughts:
One of the most beautiful things about this movie is its acknowledgement of history. Both days gone by and the people we've loved and lost. Anton Yelchin passsed away suddenly in a time that I wasn't writing a lot. I was really sick and my hands were a mess and when Scott broke the news to me I had no emotional space to process it. When, For Anton, came up on the screen during the credit sequence, I smiled, teary eyed. That kid was brilliant. A perfect Chekov. And his work in Beyond (as in the first two films) was wonderful. He was gone far too soon and he will always be a beloved part of Trek.

Of course, Yelchin wasn't the only Trek star we lost recently.

Nimoy's death had a profound impact on Trek fans and his loss was carried into Beyond with the death of Ambassador Spock and the effect it has on young Spock. Toward the end of the film, Spock opens the box containing the Ambassador's belongings. Inside is this photograph:
Multiple choices were made and I love them all. One, I love the choice to just use this photo. I love that it's just the original cast with no attempt at melting their faces to look more like the rebooted cast. It's them. It's the characters and the actors we love and we are allowed to have that moment.
Two, I love the choice that Spock made. The fact that this photograph was in his belongings meant that when he initially boarded The Jellyfish to chase after Nero, when he knew he might never come back, when he knew he might die or he might be stuck on the wrong side of an inescapable wormhole, he took this photograph with him. The most meaningful thing to him, the thing he refused to leave behind, was his crew, his family.

So, basically, Beyond has the thing I'm always going on about, the thing that means so much to me about Trek—Beyond has heart. I can't wait for more.

Friday, July 15, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: The Price-Deja Q

Over the last week I watched several episodes of TNG while I worked or, as it happens, didn't work. I don't have a lot of time to type for "reasons" and I'll get to those reasons (hopefully) at the bottom of this post. Anyway, this is a quick and dirty roundup of observations from Season 3 episodes 8-14.

The Price:
I spent this entire episode texting back and forth with my BFF about Troi's terrible taste in men. I've gone into this issue in (too much?) depth before. But this is my blog so I'm gonna harp on it some more. I love TNG and I really try not to be too hard on it but I do get frustrated when the thrust of just about every female crew-member-centric episode is about babies or children or some terrible/dangerous boyfriend. This is something that got a lot better in DS9 and heaps better in Voyager but The Price falls in lockstep with the bad boyfriend parade of TNG.
Soft synth music, overlong foot massages, "advice" about Troi's hair and clothes, macho conversations about who will "win" Troi, and, of course, BOOB CUTOUTS:
No amount of thirty-something-esque boyfriend drama can overcome boob cutouts. I'm sorry. Ultimately Troi does stand up for herself and her crew but this whole episode is just another example of TNG not really knowing what to do with this character. 

The Vengeance Factor: 
For some reason this one really stuck with me from the time I was a little kid. I'm not sure why. As an adult, the main thing I think when I watch this one is, why doesn't Yuta go down when she's shot with the phaser. It worked on the dude Riker inexplicably hit when he beamed in. I know she's been genetically altered but the fact that Riker has to keep hitting her with stun when... I don't know... someone could just get off their ass (ahem, Picard, ahem) and tackle her? And then he ultimately has to set his phaser to kill and disintegrate her? I guess this is dramatically more interesting and less messy in terms of TV-time wrap-up but Yuta's (probably unnecessary) death at the hands of Riker just unnerves me a little bit. 
The Defector: 
Welp, I love this one. Top to bottom, I think this is a swell episode and an early example of what TNG was capable of. This one has Shakespeare, a (not very) secret Patrick Stewart cameo, Romulans (I love the Romulans,) mystery and excellent speeches from Picard and Jarok. Go watch it. 

The Hunted: 
A dangerous convict escapes prison, boards the Enterprise, and is thrown in the brig so, of course, Troi senses his beautiful mind and seeks to help him. I make fun but this is actually a pretty decent try at getting to the heart of PTSD, soldier programming, and veteran rights and physical/emotional care upon their return. Watch this one in conjunction with Tennyson's "The Charge of the Light Brigade" and Kipling's "Last of the Light Brigade."  

The High Ground: 
Another foray into political territory has Crusher tending to the wounded after a terrorist attack when she is then captured by said terrorists. Like The Hunted (and most early TNG) this one makes a good attempt at showing both sides of a conflict within the early 90s network TV limitations. I've got to hand it to them for not cleaning this one up too neatly, not making either side too right or too wrong and I really love the dimensional shift transporters causing sickness. Of course, because it's a Crusher (read: woman) episode there must be a bad boyfriend somewhere so the main baddie falls for her and she uses that to her advantage. My favorite thing about this episode is this chick right here: 
She's caught up in the middle of all this nasty business and knows how awful and messy it is but she never wavers and, importantly, never falls for Riker. 

Deja Q: 
Initially I was just going to write about this episode but decided it would be "quicker" to do a round-up. That didn't really work out. This post is much longer than I'd intended. 
Anyway, Deja Q is a legitimately great episode. It has a lot going for it: 
1-Q shows up sans Q powers.
2-Guinan enters and tests #1. 
3-Data and Q form a brief but perfect friendship.
4-Several fantastic conversations regarding "humanness" happen. 
5-There is a MOON hurtling toward a PLANET. I don't know why this lights my christmas tree but it does.
Ultimately this episode has a lot of what's good about TNG. Crazy space problem, long discussions about what it means to be human, and heart. Another must-watch.

Speaking of what it means to be human. I'm having some more EDS related issues. Namely, my hands have been cramping up and aching like mad and there's not a lot I can do for them at this point. I've been wearing compression gloves, ring splints, rolling them, massaging them, soaking them in hot water, writing with fountain pens instead of regular pens etc. This stuff helps but the problem is still there. I saw my doctor about it yesterday but he doesn't know what's going on and he's referred me to a hand specialist—which will take at least two weeks to schedule—in the meantime, my ability to work is limited. Typing, drawing, writing is fairly agonizing so, until this gets taken care of, posts will likely be spaced out, short, or both. But know that I'm still here. Watching. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: Who Watches The Bonding Of The Booby Trap And The Enemy

Monday night (Independence Day) we headed over to the Dodger game (which was awesome and I ate nachos out of a hat) and because I have a dime store immune system and went out amongst humanity and nature I spent the next day totally laid out by the crud. Also, I took some (expired) Mucinex DM and it messed me up big time. Big Time. Thanks to the meds I renewed my love affair with the couch and together we watched four episodes of Next Gen (and five episodes of The Murdoch Mysteries) Granted, I was tripping balls somewhat stoned (and not in a pleasant way) from the cold medicine, so I'm not sure how great my attention span really was but anyway, here's what I noticed:

1-Beverly's sudden and unexpected hair growth.
In my addled state, I was unduly distressed by the plain fact that Beverly's hair grew about eight inches over the course of two episodes:
Who Watches The Watchers
The Enemy

2- Worf has a "brother"
In The Bonding, Worf leads an away mission in which a crewman is killed. The crewman in question was a single mom who leaves behind a little boy and Worf feels obliged to go through a Klingon ritual that would bond the two of them as brothers. Lots of wacky stuff happens (or may not have happened, again, I wasn't really on top of things yesterday) but my takeaway here is that at the end of the episode Worf is all, "Now we're going to be forever linked as brothers." And then we never see this kid again.
Just doing brother stuff, I guess. 
3-Picard is a god, or not, maybe.
In Who Watches The Watchers a bunch of scientists accidentally reveal themselves to the primitive society they're studying and then religion happens. Their god is Picard because, I mean, come on, if you're lining this bunch of 23rd century jerks up and saying, "Pick one of these to be your god," obviously you're going to pick The Picard. I mean, if you've seen seasons 1-2, you're definitely going to pick Picard. At least, if Guinan isn't there. Because then you might pick Guinan. Anyway, they pick Picard. And Picard goes through all these god-like elaborate but earnest steps to show his new followers that he isn't a god and finally he's out of options and is all, "If the only way that you will believe I'm mortal is if you kill me, then fine! I will die!" And so they shoot him in the chest with a bow and arrow and he dies.

Except... he doesn't. He goes back to the ship (in a scene we don't see) and Beverly fixes him up and the next time we (and his followers) see The Picard, it looks like this:
And The Picard is calmly explaining the tenets of the Federation and the core principles of anthropology and suchlike and somehow no one is talking about the fact that The Picard died and then (probably on the third day) was resurrected. I mean, I may have been kind of zonked out yesterday but I did happen to grow up in the Bible Belt and, let me tell you, if I've seen one Sermon on the Mount painting on someone's grandma's bathroom wall, I've seen 'em all.
Hmm. I had a "really good" joke to stick here but in the time it took me to put together this Space Jesus photo collage, I totally forgot what it was...

Moving on.

4-Booby Trap
This episode has the word "booby" in it. Given that this is a holodeck intensive episode, I feel hoodwinked.

5- The Enemy
In this one the Enterprise comes upon some Romulans where they aren't supposed to be. One of them is stuck on a junk planet with Geordi. The other one is dying in sickbay and the only thing that can save him is a ribosome donation from Worf. You know what's super surprising and kind of awesome? Worf won't do it. And, he never backs down. And, he never shows any guilt about it. Obviously, TNG shouldn't be overrun with this kind of thing. If it were, it wouldn't be TNG. But I like the complexity here. Michael Dorn is given some meatier stuff in this season and he's making the most of it. Worf's character is deepened by his unqualified hatred of Romulans. And, Geordi's is deepened by his willingness to compromise à la Enemy Mine.

Ok. Well, it's been 24 hours and I'm fairly sure I've finished riding the Mucinex DM roller coaster so I have to get back to work. Fortunately for me, some of that work entails watching TNG. Unfortunately for me, the next episode is The Price:

Give me patience, The Picard. Amen. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: The Emissary

First of all, some good news, my newest graphic essay was recently published over at Neutrons/Protons. It's about dads, death, and video games so, if you feel inclined, you can go check it out. It's called, Growing Up Together.

Second of all, I'm in an editorial phase of work which means that I spend about eight hours a day melting my brain trying to critically read every sentence of a long work and comment on/correct it. So, about midway through the day, I need a break. And that's when I have #LunchWithPicard.  Yesterday, I re-watched The Emissary.

Holy hell, I love this episode. More specifically, I love K'Ehleyr. I love what she brings to this episode and what Suzie Plakson brought to the character. And I love what that character ultimately brought to TNG. Worf has always been an intriguing dude but this opens him up in a way "girlfriend episodes" don't usually do. I think a lot of that is because of the paradoxical way Worf chooses to Klingon. He loves all the crap about honor and death in battle and warrior worship but he's way more stodgy than the other Klingons we've seen. He's not a fan of loud drinking songs, inexplicably yelling everything he says, or bawdy jokes. Dude is uptight. (Later on, in DS9, we finally find out why.)

But this one is just as much (or more) about K'Ehleyr as it is about Worf. Again, this is kinda rare for a girlfriend episode. K'Ehleyr is bi-species: Klingon/Human. And she briefly talks about her experience with Troi, who can sort of relate. Two women. Having a meaningful conversation about their histories and cultures. What show even is this?

K'Ehleyr is unconventional. She speaks her mind and she doesn't let Worf get away with sulkily slinking around the LCARS systems. She knows what she wants and she's not afraid to ask for it. She wears red spandex better than anyone on the Enterprise and has amazing, unapologetic sex with Worf, then tells him how ridiculous it would be for them to get suddenly married. She leads high ranking Starfleet officers in discussions about strategy and though her bias about Klingon attitudes shows she's level headed enough to go along with a smart plan when one is offered.

Even in her exit, K'Ehleyr is amazing. She refuses to let Worf sulk his way through their goodbye and helps him see that, even if they aren't getting married RIGHT THIS SECOND BECAUSE THEY SCHTUPPED they don't have to be on bad terms and can even go on to have a relationship.
In a lot of ways, I feel like they hit something with K'Ehleyr that they wouldn't get again until DS9 and, even more so, with Voyager. (But especially not while Roddenberry was still piloting the ship) An exceptionally well-rounded, complicated female character who's capable of having real discussions (not comforting platitudes or worries about children and boyfriends) with the people around her, capable of being flawed and owning up to it, capable of leadership and of admitting when she's wrong, capable of being unapologetically sexual without being injured or somehow punished by it, capable of just, you know, being a person.

Actually, you know, there are a couple of women in TNG who do this stuff:
Guinan and Pulaski are both full of gumption and realness. Unfortunately, they're both far too underutilized in TNG. I watched all the way into the first episode of season three yesterday which means I got to see Crusher return and spend a lot of time wringing her hands over Wesley's non-problems (not the ship-wide crisis) in Picard's ready room at which point, I made this face:

Friday, June 10, 2016

TNG Re-Watch: Time Squared or The Best/Worst of Times

A few weeks ago I was sitting at a table in Kentucky with my husband and some of my dearest, best-loved friends—my Shakespeare kids adults. Whenever we're home, we try to meet up with as many of them as we can. Though, they now have their own lives which include jobs or college and even a baby! So it can be hard to get the family back together. Still, a few of us were there. It was fantastic.

I bring this up because, as I was re-watching TNG's Time Squared, I thought about an old and often repeated conversation I've had with my husband regarding Trek and other SciFi shows. The people who inhabit the Whoniverse, the Hellmouth, The Verse, the Twelve Colonies, and (maybe especially) The Federation, are always getting into some seriously traumatic trouble. So far I'm only forty-two episodes into TNG and already they all got drunk and had sex with each other, Data was replaced by his evil twin brother AND an old, jerk scientist, Deana had a pregnancy and then a baby and then a little kid who then went off to become one with space, Tasha got eaten by a blob, and the whole ship was captured by a weird giant face who wouldn't let them go until Picard threatened to blow up the ship.

The point is, it seems like these folks wouldn't even be able to sit at their stations and press their flat LCARS buttons because of how traumatized they would be. It seems like all they would do is go around saying things like, "Man, remember that time Riker had a fish tail sticking out of his neck and then a guy's head straight-up exploded. I don't think I'll ever be able to forget about that."

But they don't. Obviously. A lot of this is just practical. You have 24 episodes a season. You have forty-five minutes per episode. You have to get into the plot and get out. You can't clutter all that up with everyone bemoaning what happened to them last week. This isn't Luther.
Or is it?
Ok. Time Squared wherein the Enterprise is just going about its business when they discover a shuttlecraft adrift. They reel it in only to find that an unconscious but very real Captain Picard at its helm. So now there are two Picards. Everything begins to feel very Primer-ish as the crew tries to puzzle out what happened (or is going to happen) and what to do (or what they did) with the copy of Picard. By the end, one Picard just full out murders his double, they escape the time loop they're caught in, and they go on their way to the next episode. They will never speak of this again.

Ok, back to lunch with my Shakespeare family. I asked one of my kids why he never emails and he says, "Well, I read your blog and you have so much going on I don't want to add to your problems. You order a bike and it doesn't work, you're injured, you go to the hospital, you wear a heart monitor. Then your grandma dies. Then your other grandma dies. Then you get diagnosed with a chronic illness. You have a really stressful life!"

As he rattled off all the unpleasant facts of my life from the last couple of years, I felt really uncomfortable. His summary was a distilled reduction of my life—a best (or worst) of list. I realized that to him and the rest of my readers (all six of you) my life is probably more like episodic TV than real life. But that's because, like episodic TV, I only really have (and take the) time to write about stuff that's a fairly big deal. Injuries, illnesses, deaths—this stuff is "news" because it fills up a lot of my emotional space while I'm living it. And also because I think reading about my dead grandma is probably more interesting to you than reading about what I had for lunch or what a pleasantly uneventful morning I had watching my favorite Murdoch Mysteries episode for the fifth time or how the roomba I bought has been the some of the best money we ever spent. I'm not saying I don't put that stuff online. I do. I put it right over on my Instagram feed which you are more than welcome to follow:

A photo posted by AshleyRose (@thisashleyrose) on

The point is that, I guess now, while I watch the coming episodes of TNG, while Troi turns into Cruella Deville, while Picard is tortured by the Cardassians, while Data has a daughter who is just as lovable as he is but who then tragically dies, while Dr. Crusher gets it on with her dead grandma's boyfriend, I'll think about how this is just one instance in these people's lives. I'll think about how yes, at the moment dealing with half-Romulan Tasha's daughter is super important but the rest of the time everyone's mostly doing their day-to-day, boring job or just sitting around drinking prune juice in Ten Forward, or playing poker, or reading old volumes of Shakespeare, or simply farting around on the holodeck. That's the stuff that doesn't get a lot of screen time... or blog time. That's the stuff that, while pleasantly uneventful, real life is mostly made up of. This is the stuff that might not even register. These are, in many ways, the best of times. If only Picard were on Instagram. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Boldly Going Barbie

A couple of days ago, Matel announced that they'll soon be putting out a whole line of Star Trek themed Barbies

I'm in my early thirties now. Which means that, bafflingly, everyone I know seems to be having children. I end up being dragged into a lot of conversations about child rearing and one of the most common, off-hand thing I hear is, "Well, if it's a girl, we're not going to let her play with barbies." And everyone nods (I imagine they nod, I only talk to people via a keyboard) approvingly, as if not letting your child play with barbies is the same thing as not letting your child play with rusty nails or lighter fluid.

I realize that Barbies can still or could have contributed to a lot of self-image issues--though this is something Mattel is trying to change. The Barbie we all still picture, though, is impossibly thin, impossibly busty, with legs like a gazelle and feet like a grotesque human-rabbit hybrid. She is perpetually tan with a tiny nose and huge, Disney Princess eyes. She never leaves the house (to go to her job as a surgeon or astronaut or veterinarian) without makeup. I grew up in the 90s era of Barbie doll and, yes, I had self image issues. Whether that was because of Barbie or because of my dad's gibes at my mom's "thunder thighs" (a trait I inherited and proudly own) I don't know. But I had Barbies. I had a bunch of Barbies. And I loved them, literally, to pieces.

Here are some facts about me and my Barbies:

1- I don't remember not loving Barbie. The first one I remember getting, I was five years old. I think she was a Malibu Skipper doll.

2- I never used a pacifier or sucked my thumb as a child but I did (and still do) tend to stick stuff in my mouth. So, of course, I used to chew up my Barbie's feet. They were, as a rule, completely mangled.

3- Once, I left my 2nd favorite Barbie on the radiator and her legs melted.

4- I love androgyny (Is that a thing you can love? I hope I'm not being offensive.) Men's clothes dominate my wardrobe and I hold Tilda Swinton and David Bowie as my fashion icons. I'm fascinated by all kinds of gender fluidity or modes of gender outside the traditional norms. Anyway, when I was a kid, and first learned about drag queens (at the time I heard the phrase "transvestite") from my seriously awesome, wry, liberal god-mother, I loved the whole concept. I dressed one of my Ken dolls in a tube top and neon mini skirt and gave "Transvestite Ken" to said god-mother as a gift. She still has them.

5- I used to stash my Barbies in a little green suitcase at night. Locked. Under my bed. Not because I was worried about night-time fashion doll thievery but because I was worried they might come to life and attack me.

6- I had a video game on my dad's Commodore 64 wherein Barbie arranged a date with Ken then drove to various shops (side scroll style) to get ready before the ever-changeable Ken would inevitably call and say, "Wanna play tennis instead?" and then Barbie would hit the road again.

7- I built huge houses for my Barbies out of cardboard boxes and anyone I met (child or adult) was forced to come and see my (always dangerously close to toppling) homemade palaces.

8- After Hurricane Hugo decimated my state, my town, my street, a picture of me appeared in the newspaper navigating the wreckage in my Barbie Jeep.

9- I held onto my Barbies through a ton of moves. I changed schools thirteen times before high school. Each move, my Barbies went with me. In that old green suitcase.

10- I got a Barbie dream house for my 7th birthday and I distinctly remember my dad sitting on the floor in the living room, snapping the fiddly pieces together. My parents suddenly split up two weeks later and I never saw that dream house again.

You might wonder where all of my Barbies are now. As far as I know, my mom still has that old green suit case wedged into a closet somewhere. It's still packed full of 90's era Barbie Dolls. But there's one absent. My favorite one. She was a Midge doll with long auburn hair. Her head/neck connector knob broke so I always just crammed her head back on with unflattering effect. She went with me all the way through middle school, all the way through high school. And, at some point while I was in college, she got left behind. She's probably in a box of my stuff in the back of a closet at my dad's house.

You might wonder whether I'd want those Star Trek Barbies. No. Not really. I don't like having things I won't use. Things that exist merely for display. And I don't play with Barbies anymore. As much as I love that Uhura doll, she would likely just end up (still in the box) in a trunk somewhere. But, man, I'd give just about anything to see my old Midge doll again. That girl saw me through a lot. And, I don't recall her, with her smushed down head and chewed up feet, ever judging me about my cup size or my thunder thighs or putting ideas in my head about impossible beauty standards. She was just... there. And now she's not.
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