Wednesday, June 25, 2008

More thoughts on original Star Trek episodes

That website is fantastic. I have gotten through several more original Star Trek episodes. I realize I have not seen many of these episodes before.

"Balance of Terror" Season 1, episode 14. One of the best episodes ever. The first Romulan episode, with Mark Lenard playing the Romulan captain well before we see him playing Sarek, Spock's father, later. The chess game he plays with Kirk is fantastic, a definite inspiration for the starship battle in Wrath of Khan. Throughout the episode, the Enterprise takes "22 casualties" but we find out that only one man has died: Tomlinson, the would-be groom before the action. This is in the top ten best Star Trek episodes, throughout any of the incarnations of the franchise.

"Errand of Mercy" Season 1, episode 26. The episode that reveals the world of Organia. If you are a Star Trek fan, you constantly hear of the Organian Peace Treaty between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. These Organians are extremely powerful--what if they decided to extend their benevolence? I think it would be fun to pit the Organians against an entity like Q or Trelane. No one dies in this episode even though Spock says after the first attack that "casualties are light."

"I, Mudd" Season 2, episode 8. The return of the infamous Harry Mudd from the first season, the only returning antagonist of the original series. Heaven knows why. I guess the creators of the show could not have omnipotent enemies every week and decide to throw in a bit of levity every now and then. Several interesting aspects of this episode include an android named Mr. Norman who easily infiltrates and overtakes the Enterprise. Disgustingly easy. We find that this world of androids was created by a long-since-gone race from the Andromeda Galaxy. It was also an intriguing solution to defeating the androids. No one dies in this episode.

"Day of the Dove" Season 3, episode 7. You have to love the original series Klingons! Another malevolent space entity feeds on the emotions of hatred from the crew and Klingons. The entity can also transmute matter into swords. They said a lot of bigoted things in this episode but had the courage to combat the racial bigotry head on. "Intraship beaming" is only a theoretical possibility in this episode, but it works.

"Whom Gods Destroy" Season 3, episode 14. This episode features the Chinese grandfather from the beginning and ending of the movie Gremlins! (I only remember that because we watched it in our household very recently.) In this installment, there is a medicine, a drug, for the insane. A previous starship captain, Garth, is now criminally insane, takes over the asylum and now tries to get aboard and take over the Enterprise. All that and the fact that he has somehow learned the trick of becoming a changeling, able to transform his body into the appearance of anybody else; oh yes, and he has a green lady alien as a sidekick. One interesting aspect to this whole mess is the code "Queen to Queen's level 3" that most be answered before beam up. Kirk won't give away the code, preventing the inmates from rampaging all over the ship. My concern is that since this is such a good idea, and also works so perfectly here, wouldn't this become standard practice all the time? Sometimes, my geekiness comes out and wants to know stupid stuff like this, when obviously it was just a plot device for this episode. But wouldn't there be all sorts of code words among Federation personnel? A rotating key word for danger? This is partly why I think the novel Dune by Frank Herbert is so interesting. Yes, it takes away from any direct action, but with the intricate hand signs and code words that the Atreides family use could never be called dumb. No one dies in this episode, unless you count the green alien girl who was blown up on the surface to intimidate Kirk--why would you blow up your own gangmember? remember, he is insane. And then everything at the end is all hunky-dory with drugs that miraculously remove the homicidal and criminal tendencies.

"Requiem for Methuselah" Season 3, episode 19. Yet another powerful antagonist, this one an immortal human being that lives in seclusion with fantastic technology (with the ability to shrink the Enterprise from orbit and have it transported to a tabletop). At the beginning, three crewmen have already died from Rigellian fever--I blame these deaths on Dr. McCoy (there's a cure out there and you don't have it on hand on the flagship of the fleet?). So they have to go to a strange world where their sensors have picked up the apparently rare cure, unbeknownst to them the home of this immortal human now named Flint. One sticky wicket for me: if Flint is "shielded" from sensors and doesn't want to be found, why did he come out to greet the landing party in such a rude manner? Shouldn't he have just left them alone? Flint basically pimps Kirk out to bring out the emotions of his female android (yeah, you read that correctly). We find out that Flint was born back in 3834 BC. Before we find out the secret, I was musing about Flint's collection of rare books and priceless art masterpieces. I wondered, even if I could live forever, would I know enough to pick up and obtain masterpieces of art? No, I wouldn't, otherwise I would have hocked everything I had to buy some of those early Marvel comics when they were less than $1,000 when now they are worth tens of thousands. The basic concept of immortality intrigues me, like in Highlander. Interestingly, at the end of the episode, when Kirk is all weepy from losing his newest love, the girl android, Spock mind melds with him while he is asleep and says, "Forget."

"Dagger of the Mind" Season 1, episode 9. Another great Shakespeare reference for a title, from Macbeth. Another treatment for the criminally insane. Spock does a mind meld on the patient and he says he has never done it on a human before. I noticed that they only took the word of the doctor about "dismantling" and "destroying" the equipment of the machine. Imagine if, in the Star Trek world, this machine was improved upon. Ripe with story possiblities there. No crewman dies, although the female doctor who Kirk beams down with, for obvious romantic complications, manages to throw one person onto an electrical grid; and the "evil" doctor dies as well, with poetic justice.

"The Apple" Season 2, episode 5 where the lovely picture posted here comes in. This is a classic episode of red-shirted crewmen dying, being used as cannon fodder for the writer to show how dangerous the planet is. Handorf (?) dies from a plant shooting darts into him. Kaplan (?) is disintegrated by lightning. Marple (?) is brained to death. Mr. Mallory is blown up by the landmine rocks. Even Kirk says, "I could have prevented it all." Yet Chekhov still manages to try to get some lovin' off the short-skirted red-shirted female yeoman, even after people have been dying. This is a great Trek that even battles, a bit, philosophically with the Prime Directive. Kirk says about his superiors coming down on him for violating the Prime Directive, "I'll take my chances." Part of me says they were dead wrong, part of me says they were right. Good episode.

(Remember, numbering for the episodes comes from the website)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

1984 in Zimbabwe

This is the reason that I stress the novel 1984 by George Orwell as the last book the seniors read before leaving high school.

Yahoo! News has a great little article describing the latest in Zimbabwe, where it is even unsafe to have an election.

The U.N. Council even stresses how unfair it is:

The 15-nation council said late Monday it "condemns the campaign of
violence against the political opposition ahead of the second round of
presidential elections," which has resulted in the killing of scores of
opposition activists and other Zimbabweans.

The novel 1984 reminds us of what could happen in a world like this--but most
importantly, 1984 tells us how a world depicted in the novel can come about.

Zimbabwe is leading down that path, where even

opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the vote — reportedly fearing for his safety — and police raided his Harare headquarters, hustling away dozens of his supporters.

Imagine a world where you are completely unsafe to support a political candidate--or be on the ballet itself. The U.N. needs to make sure that the world condemns these actions. And my seniors will hopefully realize that the book I am making them read is more than just a book.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where there are no end of examples of politics becoming like 1984.

Monday, June 23, 2008

21 point 5 million

New high score. 21,502,750 on 3D Pinball Space Cadet.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Flowers on the porch

Just some of the flowers we have been growing on our porch. Adding a bit of color into our world. Plus, I love how my digital camera takes close-ups of flowers. That previous one I took of the Alaskan Wildflower is still one of the best pictures I have ever taken. (I can't find the picture--it's gotta be on disc somewhere...) Ah HA! I found it here. Beautiful Alaskan wildflower picture I took on the way up Anvil Mountain in Nome.

Don't hate me because I'm a schoolteacher with summers off

The Sci-Fi Channel Dune adaptations. I have watched them before. I have read the Frank Herbert novels. I have read the first one twice. I love the series. I am now reading the fourth book, God Emperor of Dune. These adaptations are wonderful to me, a fan of the series. However, those that don't know the series or haven't read the books probably won't get into it. I can't imagine these converting new fans, just establishing older fans.
Children of Dune actually incorporates material from both Dune Messiah, a novella really as it is not very long at all, and Children of Dune. This one, even more than the first one would more or less confuse anybody that is not a fan. But I like 'em.
I love Jackie Chan. This is bad kung fu at its baddest.
I almost didn't watch this movie due to the sophomoric title alone, Balls of Fury. But I enjoyed it. It was funny, not laugh-out-loud, but good for a snicker. Concept neat--whole premise just kind of neat. Worth watching.
We turned this off after about 15 minutes. Meet the Spartans was horrid. We rented it because Morgan liked that Epic Movie and other stuff that she had watched with her friend. However, that unfortunately is the age bracket this movie is hitting. It's middle school humor. They spend five minutes kicking the judges of American Idol and Britney Spears into the Pit of Death. That's funny? He has to fight and get sat on by a giant penguin? The crude humor was horrible, not funny. If this got better, I am not sorry we turned it off. This is the crap that most movie studios are peddling on the movie consumers now.
An older, decent Star Trek novel. Star Trek: Devil World by Gordon Eklund 1979. This could easily have been an episode of the old series. Little devil creatures on a planet ruled by something else. Kirk has to take a beautiful lady in to save her father marooned there. Kirk falls in love while trying to figure out the mystery. Good old Trek.

I like good old 1940s detective movies. I discovered the Dick Tracy movies on my Detective movie 10-pack that I got recently. Great stuff. I could see myself going to the movies and beng entranced int he 40s. Proves you don't have to have a huge budget to have a decent movie.

The Thieves of Heaven by Richard Doetsch. Extremely slow in the beginning, but it really picked up and became a good thriller. Great characterization drives it, even though I don't think it needed almost 100 pages to express the husband's devotion to the wife. That was the long part. Once you got past that, it was really good. Great history too--you feel like you really know the places visited, like the Vatican.

And I just finished a top-notch H.P. Lovecraft novelette, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. First rate supernatural horror. Man, is Lovecraft good. I have never read such good mood-pieces. Better than Edgar Allan Poe, I swear, and I love Poe. It can be read online here:

I absolutely loved this movie. I have enjoyed all the Rocky movies but this one was really good. Maybe it has something to do with getting older and mattering. I really liked this one. I tell you, Sylvester Stallone has a way with good characterization. I honestly think all the characters, even side characters, were taken care of extremely well. I found myself on the edge of my seat during the fight sequence because this one could have gone any way, like a real fight. I loved this flick.
Great bad kung fu! You have to love kung fu kids! You have to love a climax that has the hero kicking the bad guy up a rope. Phenomenal choreography, the real reason to watch kung fu. Almost like watching a superhero comic book.

Star Trek episodes

Season one, episode 29 (remember, this numbering is from the website I am watching them on)

"Operation--Annihilate!" Kirk's brother Sam is dead. He's a research biologist whose planet of Deneva was on the route of some kind of space plague, like locusts. Kirk has a nephew named Peter Kirk. Amazingly, no one dies while Kirk is in command of the situation.

Season one, episode 13 "The Conscience of the King" Even though that title is a reference to Hamlet the play produced at the beginning is Macbeth but we won't go there because they did mention that they would produce Hamlet for the Enterprise, but I digress. This was a great episode with a fantastic twist at the end. This was the episode that directly ties in with that book The Lost Years by Dillard that I read a few months ago. It has that Lt. Kevin Riley that was so prominent in the book, as he escaped the terror of Kodos on Tarsus IV. (Don't ask--it takes me longer to explain than just admitting I am a geek and getting on with it.) Kirk's friend Tom Layton dies but isn't his fault. Kirk must catch Kodos in the act, much like Hamlet. Great episode.

Season one, episode 21 "The Return of the Archons" Classic Trek. A dystopian society in which Kirk must go against the Prime Directive to battle what is right. Kirk says the Prime Directive "refers to a living, growing culture--do you think this one is?" Especially enlightening in that I just watched The Next Generation episode entitled "Justice" where Picard must violate the Prime Directive over what is right--remember Wesley falling into the flowerbed and being sentenced to death? In "The Return of the Archons" no one dies, the lieutenant that was absorbed by the machine comes back safe and sound after the final conflict. One puzzling aspect is that they never completely explained "the Red Hour" unless it was simply a release for the enslaved people of the planet.

Season one, episode 4 "The Naked Time" Another space virus. It's amazing how that is very often the answer to many Star Trek episodes--a space virus. It is hard sometimes to remember that this being one of the early episodes, that they have to go through these space viruses. It is amazing how they mention undergoing "decontamination" after visiting a starbase where everybody died mysteriously, trying to find the cause. Wouldn't decontamination be standard procedure? It would be after the first one I ever encountered as a starship captain. Anyway, this one has 3D chess, and 3D checkers too! Lt. Kevin Riley is featured again. One crewman dies, Joe Something, the idiot that took off his glove at the contaminated starbase and ended up infecting everybody. This episode also sees a crying Spock because of the virus. Also, this episode features what appears to me, the first formula for a time warp--is it the same one the crew use again in Star Trek IV to save the whales? This is also the direct precursor episode to The Next Generation season one episode "The Naked Now" in which Data and Tasha Yar get cozy with each other--somehow proving to people that Data was "fully functional." (Why anybody needed to know that is beyond me.)

I jumped around a bit and also watched Season 3 episode 9 "The Tholian Web" No deaths occur. Kirk is trapped in interphase in a space suit out in the middle of nowhere as the Enterprise is trapped in a Tholian net. Strange, but good. This is one where a novel would have been better to expose these Tholians as the viewer knows absolutely nothing about them.

Season 3, episode 11 "Wink of an Eye" Fantastic episode about hyperaccelerated aliens that try to take over Enterprise. (Although there are many plot failings, including the fact that if they are so fast, why it takes so long for them to do anything.) One red-shirted crewman, Compton, disappears and we find out that cell damage kills him. Hilariously, Kirk is hyperaccelerated and then has hyperaccelerated sex with the alien whose sole purpose is to seduce him. This is the crux of the issue with me, an episode where Kirk and the Enterprise should have easily been finished--if they had not hyperaccelerated Kirk, if they had simply waited until they had taken over the ship, there would have been nobody to interfere. This is, then, simply stupid aliens. I wish this concept could be revisited in one of the Star Trek novels by a decent writer. I think it would be neat to revisit this entire episode and take away some of the stupid mistakes that the aliens make and rewrite it.

Season 2, episode 10 "Journey to Babel" featuring Spock's father Sarek, one of my favorite Trek characters. Fabulous episode with all sorts of Trek aliens that also introduces us to Spock's mother. You gotta love an episode with Andorians, those blue aliens, and especially fake Andorians with communicators in the antenna. No crew member dies.

Season 1, episode 5 "The Enemy Within" Complete with a dog with a horn as an alien species! This is the one where Kirk is split in a transporter accident into aggressive Kirk and benevolent Kirk. Did this episode ever mention why, when the transporter fails and Sulu and crew are marooned on the -100 degree freezing planet, that they couldn't use a shuttle to go and rescue them? Luckily, only the dog dies. PETA would be pissed.

Season 3, episode 20 "The Way to Eden" By far, the worst Star Trek episode ever. And I mean ever. Hippies sing and dance and take over the Enterprise in quite possibly the easiest ship takeover ever. This episode is sour simply for the singing and sit-ins, and Spock jamming with his space-harp thing, being one with the hippies, saying "I reach you." It would have been like Wesley Crusher wearing grunge clothes. Absolutely horrible episode. No deaths in this one except Dr. Severin who took over the Enterprise and died on the planet Eden after eating poison fruit. Was this episode a precursor to Star Trek V? I shudder.

Season 1, episode 3 "Where No Man Has Gone Before" Another one of those omnipotent-forces Trek episodes that Roddenberry enjoyed so much as one of the crewmen, a Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell gets possessed by some kind of energy that turns him into a god-like creature. Interesting tidbits in this episode: the Enterprise tries to break the edge of the galaxy; early Spock where he must say, "irritating--one of your human emotions"; Spock talks about "one of [his] ancestors" marrying an Earth woman, not his mother, as Kirk defeats him at 3D chess; no opening credit dialogue, you know, the "Space--the final frontier" shpiel; there's no Doctor McCoy yet; the tombstone says "James R. Kirk" and not James T(iberius) Kirk. Spock reports casualties of 9 dead as they hit the galaxy's edge, so that's nine more to add to Kirk's total. The fascinating part of this episode is the fact that Kirk and Spock pretty much condemn Mitchell to exile and death by marooning him on a planet--a precursor to Kahn? I also see that Mitchell, with his powers, could easily come back to haunt Kirk, worthy of a novel if you ask me.

Season 1, episode 7 "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" Nurse Chapel's long lost fiance is found, amazingly right where he was supposed to be the whole time of his five-year absence. Two, count 'em two, red-shirted crewman die quite unimportantly in this episode, Rayburn and Matthews. One falls into a bottomless pit! Good episode with a neat twist. Also, definitely one of the episodes that lay the groundwork for The Next Generation to have Riker lead Away Teams and not the Captain himself.

Comics read during this time period:

Super Powers (Vol. 1, DC, 1984) #3

The Brave and the Bold (DC, 1979) #151--gotta love a comic that stars Batman and the Flash in "The Disco of Death"

Deathstroke the Terminator (DC) #6-10, including the "City of Assassins" storyline with Batman. Issue #10 has Deathstroke and the new female Vigilante get their asses kicked by a random street gang, then they go home and have sex.

New Gods (DC, 1989) #1-4. This is a series that intrigues me because of the ramifications with Darkseid. Kirby was on the top of his game when he created this world of his.

Star Trek (DC, 1989) #3, 4. I will read anything by amazing author Peter David. No matter what he has written, I have loved it. I am even thinking of picking up his novel set in the Alien Nation universe simply because his name is on it. I loved #3--Kirk transports the Klingon photon torpedoes to impact behind the Klingon ship. Awesome.

DC Universe #0 (2008) Sometimes it takes a scorecard to keep this friggin' DC Universe straight. If this is supposed to be a jumping-on point, I am still confused, and I am a comic book geek. I still long for the days of the comic books that had words in them. They used to explain what the hell was going on, who was who, what happened before, even if it appeared in a boring text box. I long for the days of the writing style of Chris Claremont from the 80s X-Men comics. He tended to repeat, almost verbatim, origin text boxes and super-power info but it was absolutely necessary. I think that anybody could have picked up an Uncanny X-Men from the 80s and know what was going on without 50+ years of history. Any issue, even in the middle of a storyline. I want that back! I want words in my comics! Pick up one of those Marvel Essential books or the DC paperbacks of reprints. There were words.

Conan the Adventurer #1 (Marvel, 1994) One of the 100 comics I picked up at the little Bloomington comic convention I went to on Father's Day (100 comics for $40!). I love Conan.

Superman #297 (DC, 1976)

Flash #278 (DC, 1979) Have I mentioned how much I love 1970s DC comics?

Fury of Firestorm #32 (DC, 1984) with the Phantom Stranger, one of my favorites.

Superman #45 (DC, 1990)

Conan Classic #2 (Marvel, 1994) reprint of a 1971 Roy Thomas story

Jenna Jameson's Shadow Hunter #0, 1 (Virgin Comics, 2008) I tell you, if I had not gotten these sent to me for free from Virgin to promote on, I would be ashamed if I had bought these. Besides the great covers, absolutely bad.

The Expendable One, Volume 2: The Boob Versus the Boobs (2007 Viper Comics trade paperback--one of those nice small trades) and yes, that is a double entendre in the title as the immortal hero that can hack off limbs and get shot in the head and still be all right has to fight killer robots with feminine bodies. Jason M. Burns, the writer, writes very good dialogue, just like Kevin Smith, but the plot here is hopelessly shallow and stupid.

Democratic House passes $162 million war funding bill

Someone needs to explain how a Democratic-controlled House of Representatives can pass a bill for something they all talk against.

The House has voted to provide $162 billion for President
to carry out U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through
the end of his term.

A supposed lame duck President is getting everything that he wants. He is getting money for a war deemed unpopular and wrong. But he's still getting it.

The bill would give Bush's successor several months to set Iraq policy after
taking office in January - and spares lawmakers the need to cast any more war
funding votes closer to Election Day.

Wouldn't the real story behind power in Congress be that a political party can get things done? Why do they need to wait for "closer to Election Day"? What does that have to do with anything, other than a Congress that is gutless and doesn't want to go against the grain?

If they are worried about pulling all the funding, a la Vietnam, why don't they demand a strategy before approving the funding? Or is there a secret one which the public is not made aware?

If the party in charge really wanted to get something done, while they are in power and against a lame duck President, why don't they do it now? And why doesn't Senator Barack Obama say something now, start leading and keeping his promise now?

It's because nothing will change. This is the clear indicator. Because how will Obama change anything with a weak House?

There are more questions than statements here. That's how confusing all this is. As a voter, I just don't understand how the Democratic Party can be against the War in Iraq and then pass all the funding in the world to President Bush.

That is one thing about President Bush that will be written in the history books: no matter what his approval rating, 29% on a poll I saw today on MSNBC news, he has continued to stay his path and do what he thinks necessary. And I believe history will judge him on that in the future. It may take 20 years, but history will see President Bush in a decent light.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Summer Vacation in Nome

Morgan is going someplace not regularly on the summer vacation circuit: Nome, Alaska.

She leaves in about a month, for a nice three-week stay with her absolute best friends of all time, Dawn and CC. She misses them so much. She still keeps in contact, what with the wonders of IMing and all-in-one long distance service. I've never kept in such good contact with friends.

To be honest, that was the hardest part of our moving away. Morgan basically found sisters in these two, they were so close.

So Morgan could look forward to an event like one below, Dawn standing on a mound of snow.

But look at the two of them there--they are just like each other. The three of them get along spectacularly.

I remember about the same age, maybe a little younger, I went on one of the best trips of my life. In 1984, I spent a month with my grandparents in California. It was fantastic and one of the most memorable events in my life.

Morgan will have fun in Nome, Alaska.

Madison at Chuck E. Cheese

I finally got around to scanning this pic taken at Chuck E. Cheese back on Madison's fifth birthday.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fred Hembeck cartoon

Such bad puns but so much fun.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Ultimate Reality Show--American President

This has been brought up before. I think they even made a movie around the concept but I can't remember what it was called.

What if they did the United States Presidency as a reality show?

In a way, they do, what with this screwed up primary system. (The concept of Superdelegates really freaks me out on a democratic freedom level.) But I have an ultimate test for the last two candidates.

Solve the gas crisis.

Any way, any how. Bring down either the price of gas or fix it so we don't need so much gas.

I'm backing McCain, but I would vote, in a heartbeat, for Obama if he solved it. They are both United States Senators. They both lead their respective parties. They have the power now. So DO IT.

We have over four months til the election. They can work with gas companies; work with big oil; work with governments foreign, national, and local; they can work with car companies to finally either create a car that gets 100+ miles to the gallon or a completely alternative fuel; they can drill in ANWR or offshore; they can do anything they can to get the gas crisis under control.

I would vote for either candidate that can do that right now. All of America would love to back that kind of leadership.

So I submit to Senator McCain and Senator Obama: Solve the gas crisis and prove you have what it takes to lead this country.

Or, if it is completely impossible, start telling us that now. That would be honest.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Twenty mill!

My wife is going to be so pissed. "I wish I could play pinball all day!"
But I cracked the 20 million point mark on 3D Pinball Space Cadet as my high score.
I had over 14 million on the first ball.
20, 062,750 points. I just managed to crack that threshold. Ha ha ha.

What to do when you have nothing to do

So I have been reading and watching movies and old tv shows.

We set up a new rental account at the Family Video. Not Blockbuster. So Family Video, still one of those old mom-and-pop type video stores, has some amazing deals--we are getting half price for a month. Videos are like a quarter.

So I rent some crap. Didn't think it was crap.This movie was utterly horrible. It was pretty and had a lot of potential, about a Chosen One in a fantasy world. Right up my alley. But the execution was horrific. Boring. You know when a movie is
really boring? when you keep pressing Display on the DVD remote to see how much left you have to endure. Even the kung fu wasn't enough to keep this one going.

Here's one I never watched before.When I was a young teenager, I wasn't allowed to watch Rated R movies--I am glad now that I didn't as I think it was the right decision and do it to my own kids. So I never watched the Nightmare on Elm Street series, only seen bits and pieces on cable. I have to admit, Wes Craven can make a movie without much there. I can't believe this flick spawned five or more sequels, with Freddy vs Jason, and a fanboy craze. It's okay. You have to watch it from that early-80s mindset, and it's okay. I'll probably go through the series now.

We really enjoyed this movie in the Butcher household. It's fun. It's like a modern-day Indiana Jones (without the aliens). I'll admit, I don't much care for Nicholas Cage, but this is just a fun movie. Well worth watching. Somehow, the amazing part of these National Treasure movies is that you want to believe all this stuff is possible.

I watched two more Star Trek: The Original Series episodes through watched "Charlie X," billed as the second episode of season one. This is another of those "cerebral" episodes that Roddenberry was so fond of. A teenage castaway was given ultimate powers from some super alien race, a race that in all my Star Trek trivial knowledge I have never heard from again. The Thasians were never heard from again. (Ripe for a new novel, if you ask me.) He's basically a Q character, like the Squire of Gothos. It was good, but a bit long. This must have been the first episode with Kirk beating Spock in 3D chess. Charlie does manage to destroy an entire cargo vessel, the Antares, before Kirk knows anything. I was especially intrigued by Yeoman Janice Rand, played by Grace Lee Whitney. I wondered why her character didn't last--she was in a few episodes, but never became a regular. I looked her up on and she eventually becomes a communications officer under Captain Sulu.

I then skipped around and watched episode six of season one, "Mudd's Women." Now these were both two episodes that I had never seen before. "Mudd's Women" was boring. I can't believe they thought Mudd was charismatic enough to be the one recurring original series "antagonist" that they brough back into another episode later. This was a boring, pointless episode. I suppose one of the only things interesting about it is the fact that the characters don't all have to be in Starfleet. No one dies in this episode, no "red shirts."

And through my Netflix Watch Now, I managed to get through all 17 episodes of the classic Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. An obvious precursor and inspiration for The X-Files. This was a series that must simply have suffered from its era. Made in 1974-1975, the effects when they ahd to do them were laughable. I laughed heartily at that one Lizard-Man thing. It was due to die in the U.S., same as the early Doctor Who never took off amongst the general American public because of some of the effects. Americans sometimes can't suspend belief--they have to be dazzled by special effects. Kolchak is incredible, and superbly acted by Darren McGavin.

And I have read a few old comics:
House of Mystery (DC) #266 from March 1979
Super Powers (DC) #1, 2 from 1984, where it says plots by Jack Kirby but I don't know how much he actually put into it. Fun reading, but little else.
Secret Origins (DC) #37 featuring the Legion of Substitute Heroes and Doctor Light. This was more of a funny comic than a real origin issue. I am interested in Doctor Light since the awesome reboot of the character in DC's Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer in that his ineptness and stupidity was brough about by a spell under the authorization of the Justice League.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The Un-busy Summer

Stuff read and watched the past few days.

I love this crap. Robert Jordan, author of that Wheel of Time series that my wife just loves (even though I couldn't get past the second book--I think it was the super-sized length of each book), puts together an awesome Conan book. This is the second in the series called the Robert Jordan Conan Chronicles and I just love it. Just started the third one too.

This was a strange book. I got it either at a garage sale or Goodwill, I don't remember which. The Visitor by Chauncey G. Parker III was interesting in that I thought it was science fiction. It bills itself as a book that will "gnaw your nerves" and while a decent read, I got done wondering if that was it. Yeah, that was it. This would make a good Sci-Fi Channel movie.

I found a most remarkable place online: CBS video now. It has all the Star Trek episodes of the original series and some other series, like Twin Peaks that I can't wait to watch online. So I thought I'd try to go through all of the original Star Trek episodes, kind of make sure I've watched them all and such. According to the CBS site, "The Man Trap" was the first episode of season one, so I decided to go with it. Classic Trek in that they beam down and a weird creature-mystery must be worked out. Decent episode. I thought I would keep track of the officer deaths know, those barely-named ones that beam down with Kirk and the boys and seem to be the fodder for making the story more intense. This episode had no red-shirted ones, but three died, Darnell, Green, and Barnhart.

Also to mention, I read a few comic books.
Clockwork Girl #0 (Arcana)
Deathstroke, The Terminator (DC) #3, 4
The Adventures of Superman #644-- a great tale by Greg Rucka about the delusions that go on in a bad guy's head. The Toyman "sees" differently than Superman's reality. Very intriguing. It's always intriguing when they give a bad guy a real motive or delusion, not just some maniacal Dr. Evil-type character.

I've also been watching through Netflix the old Danger Man or Secret Agent Man discs starring Patrick McGoohan. I watched one episode entitled "It's Up to the Lady" about a defector to Communist China and his wife trying to get to him. John Drake has to do some dirty business sometimes. The interesting thing to me, especially via my The Prisoner mindset, is how John Drake keeps getting lied to by his own people. It is an obvious precursor to the Village. I mean, how do you still work for these people, take orders from them, take their word for anything? That's why he "resigned." It's like in The Prisoner episode "The Chimes of Big Ben," the closest he ever got to revealing the secret. He starts off with "I resigned because for a very long time..." and we know it is already a "matter of conscience." This is one of those episodes that can lead us to believe what that dilemma of conscience was all about.

I also have been reading Sherlock Holmes original stories. Just finished "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb." Horrible story, actually. While Holmes found the place of the mystery, he never found the culprits. Kind of disappointing.

And I found this one in a ten-cent bin at a garage sale and loved it. China Strike by William Chamberlain (my wife has been joshing me that I am reading a Wilt Chamberlain book). It's a Gold Medal action book about paratroopers that have to go in a destroy a Chinese nuclear installation. Especially when taken in the 1960s mindset when it was written, it's fabulous. Great politics too.

Friday, June 06, 2008

16 million


I've been trying for two weeks to hit ten million points on Microsoft's Pinball game.

So I bust it completely and hit a grand total of 16,894,750. I had 12 million on the first ball alone.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My comic story

It's been two solid years since I wrote this comic story that never got published. The artist finally sent me the art pages! The drawings are by Séber László (aka Laci), even though I really don't know who it is as we have only communicated through email.

Page one: Splash page
Panel One: Fat Chubby man sitting in a chair, in a messed up apartment. (Ideally, the guy should look like that short stocky guy from Spawn—wasn’t he the Violator?—just no face makeup). Tray of half-eaten food by his side. TV on and sports of some lame kind on it, BOWLING. To his side, there must be a little boom box radio. It is not playing music now, but must be visible and present for the ending to come together.
Text box: Meet Edward Narton. His neighbors know him as just your average sewer worker. He likes to come home at night with his 40 oz. Schlitz and his TV dinner and sit back and watch TV.
Text box #2: To look at this man, one would think that there was nothing special about him. In fact, he’s disgusting and rude, devoid of manners.
Text box #3: Looks can deceive…
Page two: Five panels
Panel one: Closeup of TV. The bowling picture shows a bowler ready to bowl. Dialogue of announcer on TV: Jeff Richards steps up to the line, ready to see if he can tie the game with four straight strikes. He has to dig down deep and see what he’s made of--
Panel two: TV fritzes to static, sound effect of a loud buzz.
Panel three: We see Edward’s face now grumpy, the lights from the TV static illuminating his face weird.
Dialogue: Awww, nuts!
Panel four: Closeup of Edward pressing buttons on remote control, to no effect. Dialogue: Reception’s out again!
Panel five: Edward throwing the remote control at TV. We should see the remote harmlessly thudding off the TV.
Dialogue: They’re at it again!
Page three: Three panels, panel three being the biggest at the bottom.
Panel one: We see Edward get up out of his chair and walking into kitchen, stomping if possible, looking mad. Remember, the apartment should be a mess.
Dialogue balloon: (Smoldering text, illegible, with some swearing asterisk symbols).
Panel two: We see him reaching for a cabinet next to the fridge.
Dialogue: This time, I’ll send them back! Panel three: Opening the cabinet, we see his stash of Death Lurker gear. There is a machine gun roll (you know, the bullets that go through the machine guns, the “whole nine yards”), a short sword, some vials of unknown chemicals, a few guns—new shapes and sizes not normal looking, a large brass ankh, a large brass cross, and any other implements artist may find neat. I also think we should add a skull of an ALIEN from the Alien movies.
Page four: Sequence of panels of Edward putting on gear. At minimum, he must be wearing that machine gun roll around his body, sort of like the sash of Chewbacca. He must pick up a machine gun, not a real machine gun, but something fanciful. It should show it being loaded with not “bullets” per se but little water tubes, hopefully a bright color. He should be lighting up a cigar on this page. The last panel on the page should show a full body shot of the Death Lurker, Edward Narton. The artist will have a lot to do with the success of this page.
Page five: Five panels
Panel one: We see Edward outside now, hefting a ladder over his shoulder. Panel two: Looking down the ladder, we see him climbing up. His face should be absolutely pissed off.
Dialogue: I’ve told these guys that if they messed with my reception anymore there would be hell to pay!
Panel three: Coming off the ladder, bringing his machine gun to bear.
Dialogue: And I’m just the Death Lurker to do it!
Panel four: From right over Edward’s shoulder, we see the satellite dish on the roof a little ways in the distance. It is a bigger dish than DirecTV. It is not absolutely huge though. Medium-sized. There are faint wisps of a greenish-grey smoke coming out of it.
Panel five: Menacing shot of Edward, pointing his machine gun directly at the “camera” of the shot.
Dialogue: Hey, you bums! Haven’t I told you to stay outta my satellite dish?
Page six: Four panels
Panel one: The wisps of the alien ghosts are coming out of the dish. Should not be menacing looking at all. They should be puffy soft-looking. The slight faces that blend into the smoke should look like cute aliens. I leave this to artist’s discretion. Dialogue: We are the Sarenitti. This is our new home.
Panel two: View of Edward with machine gun, loaded, aimed at the ghosts although we do not see the ghosts in this shot, straddling the roof and the cigar hanging out of a corner of his mouth.
Dialogue: I’ve been nice up ta now! But I’ve told ya and told ya—Ya can’t live in my satellite dish!
Panel three: We should be behind the dish, seeing the further spread of the wisps of the alien ghosts and we should be able to see Edward’s face, still aiming his machine gun. Dialogue from aliens: We know your kind, Death Lurker. It is because of your kind that we were made to leave our planet.
Panel four: closeup of the alien wisps. We should see soft and sulking faces. Make us feel sorry for these guys.
Dialogue: We are the last of our kind. Because of you Death Lurkers. You never understood our race.
Page seven: Panel one: closeup of Edward’s face, munching on the cigar. His look should appear softer now, as if he is contemplating something and listening to the aliens.
Panel two: close up of aimed machine gun now going down to his side, no longer to point towards the aliens.
Panel two: Same picture of Edward from panel one, but mouth open a little for dialogue.
Dialogue: I was a Death Lurker. Once. We had a disagreement.
Panel three: closeup of Edward’s midsection, showcasing his big gut. Make it look sort of like those “before” pictures in the workout ads.
Dialogue: But look at me now. I ain’t been a Death Lurker for years. They abandoned me when I grew a conscience. I’ve seen species like you before.
Panel four: Looking again at the aliens. Dialogue: What does your conscience tell you to do now?

Page eight:
Six panels, equal distribution on the page.
Panel one: A hand is seen flipping on a lightswitch.

Text box: Eight minutes later…
Panel two: We see the back of Edward walking away out of the kitchen, shedding his Death Lurker stuff and just leaving it on the ground.
Panel three: We see a closeup of the TV and the hand that is switching it on. The TV should be coming to life, but no picture can be seen yet.
Panel four: From behind the chair, we can see Edward plopping back into the chair with a (plop) sound effect. A picture of the bowler comes back onto the screen. TV Dialogue: Jeff Richards going for his fifth straight strike and the win…
Panel five: Same shot as panel four. This time the TV goes out again, same as before. Dialogue from Edward: Sigh!
Panel six: From behind chair, we see him turn on the boom box. Music comes out.

The End.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Stuff to do

I have been reading quite a bit. Some things other than novels too.

I just finished H.P. Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Creepy. Scary. Downright good. Macabre at its finest. Long but excellent.

I've also been reading some comics.
The Comet #1-18 (DC). The limited run of DC's Impact Comics line (or !mpact as it was written) made for a New Universe a la Marvel effect in the early 90s. What were they thinking? Didn't they learn from Marvel? I picked up a few but stuck with The Comet. I now know it must be because superscribe Mark Waid was writing it. The great part is that they knew the line, after about 12 issues, was going to be cancelled. So Waid completely went nuts, turning the Comet into an alien and ending in a blaze of glory. Acts as quite a good novel-type of writing. Eighteen self-contained issues (with only occasional references to the rest of the line). Well worth the $1 or so I paid per issue.

Deathstroke the Terminator #1, 2 (DC). I started picking this early 1990s series up as I could with the cheapo Mile High Comics. Always wanted to read it with those brilliant Mike Zeck covers and Marv Wolfman writing but couldn't afford it as a high school/college student. Now I can. Good stuff, but heavily steeped in DC mythology.

Action Comics #852, 854 (DC). Kind of new as these are COUNTDOWN tie-ins. However, even fabulous author Kurt Busiek cannot salvage decent reading out of Jimmy Olsen obtaining strange powers and trying to figure out what to do with them. Boring, and I am a Superman nut.

More to come.

Monday, June 02, 2008

X-Files in Nome

Gotta love references to Nome in media.

The first season episode of The X-Files entitled "Ice" has our intrepid FBI agents Mulder and Scully going north to Alaska to investigate something dug up out of the ice.

Mulder says, "We leave tomorrow for Nome." Picture is a snapshot from the DVD. He then traces a line north to the non-fictional town of Icy Cape, up near Wainwright.

The episode also lists the agents landing at "Doolittle Airfield" in Nome. However, no such airfied exists. It is interesting to note that Doolittle was the aviation mastermind behind the Tokyo bombings after Pearl Harbor--he spent eight years of his youth in Nome, Alaska, at the turn of the twentieth century.

I have dug up that the location was:

Delta Park, 120th Street, Surrey: [standng in for] Doolittle Airfield, Nome, Alaska.

Flash flood

Friday night, we got a bunch of rain. Our parking lot flooded. Our neighbor went to move his mini-van and said the water was well above his ankles.
It's gone now. It only took a few hours and it all went away. We just had a ton of rain hit hard and fast.
Fun to watch anyway, especially from the third floor!