Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Warp Speed Wednesday: A Lexicon of Lingo.

My husband and I have a mixed marriage. I am a trekkie. He is normal. We've been together fourteen years, and -- while still not a trekkie -- he now has a working knowledge of the Star Trek universe.
For anyone else just entering fandom, or in a relationship with a fan, I've created the following list of Trekkie terms:

United Federation of Planets -- it's like the United Nations, but with more one-piece jumpsuits. Earth is a charter member of this league of planets located in the Alpha Quadrant of the Milky Way galaxy. Member planets must have independently achieved interstellar spaceflight, have one planet-wide government and agree to adhere to certain governance principles and philosophies.

Starfleet -- the military arm of the United Federation of Planets, whose main mandate is peace keeping, scientific study and exploration. The ships and space stations featured in the Star Trek television shows are part of Starfleet. Starfleet ranks (ie Yeoman, Ensign, Commodore, etc) follows the conventions of the American and British navy.

Prime Directive -- key principle of Starfleet that forbids interference in an indigenous culture. It's meant to prevent colonial domination of civilizations by the United Federation of Planets.  This edict doesn't apply to sexual relations, however. Kirk might not be able to stop a society from going to war, but he can have sex with their women-folk.

Captain's Log -- a narrative tool employed frequently. It's like a blog, but more awesome.

Pon Farr -- the Vulcans are a race who eschew any display of emotions except for a period once every seven years when their biological urges impel them to put on a Kenny G cd, light some scented candles and make sweet, sweet illogical love.

Holodeck -- rooms used for recreation, research, and training where light and energy are harnessed to create or recreate three-dimensional environments or dynamic characters. No doubt invented by a  pornographer.

warp speed -- rate at which ships travel faster than light.

impulse drive -- slower than warp speed, used within planetary systems.

dilithium crystals -- power source for the warp engines.Will break/fracture/rupture/whatever at critical moments.

Gene Roddenberry -- creator of the franchise.

Berman-Braga -- want to earn props with your Star Trek loving mate? Make an insulting quip about Brannon Braga and Rick Berman, producers and writers of the franchise following Roddenberry's death.  You might not agree with the popular assertion that they made Star Trek a tepid, neo-conservative shadow of it's former radical self, but don't let that stop you from ragging on these two. It's FUN!

neutral zone -- buffer zones between Federation space and other political factions or empires that are not members.

Transporter --  people use these to disappear and reappear at different locations.  

Mirror universe -- appears in TOS, DS9, and ENT, this is an alternate/opposite reality to the main Star Trek universe. Mirror story lines show a vile, treacherous, violent version of the galaxy. There are lots of beards, and exposed midriffs in Mirror universe episodes because these things are inherently EVIL.

Do you have any words to add? Or terms you want defined? I'm happy to help.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Younger is Not a Synonym for Better.

This annoys me:

For one thing, contrary to the label this is NOT a book. It's just a two-hundred page catalog of products and services, sold on the magazine rack. It costs as much as a book, but it's still a magazine that you will chuck within 3 weeks.

Secondly, the cover model is Jenny "I hate science and want your kids to die of measles" McCarthy. She is ridiculous and dangerous.

Thirdly, I KNOW that makeover shows and articles are really about looking YOUNGER, but I appreciate the artifice of that goal being implied not stated. I'm all for tips on looking better (although I prefer articles about diet, exercise and fashion to ones about serums, operations, and pills), but I'm trying to make peace with looking my age.  It wounds my approaching-40 soul to see a magazine blatantly equating younger with better.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Story Telling.

I love stories. Be they in book form, or television, or film, or blog posts or...well, you get the picture. I love narratives. But recently I've come up against a stumbling block that impedes my enjoyment of my plays.

I realized it last week when I was watching an episode of Monk. Sharona went undercover as a nurse employed by a criminal Monk is investigating. A few days later, I turned off an episode of Murder, She Wrote -- even though I knew the outcome of the case -- because Jessica was masquerading as someone other than herself. Last night I watched Mrs Winterbourne. I knew the premise of the film, I knew that there was going to be a happy ending, but I was feeling too anxious. I fast forwarded to the last 15 minutes of the movie, confirmed the outcome, than rewinded and watched it at my leisure.

I'm becoming a big suck. When did this happen?  I'm okay watching a cop (ie Beckett on Castle), or operative (ie Sophie on Leverage), but if some amateur (especially a woman) is working clandestinely, or pulling a scam? I'm all twitchy and sweaty.  Am I over identifying with these characters? Why am I nervous? GAH. Am I becoming sensitive? Where will this end? If I can't stand the suspense in a romantic comedy, what's left for me?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Warp Speed Wednesdays: Child Labour at its Finest.

 For our homeschooling language arts lessons, I frequently have the boys write books reports. "Zarf" and "Klaxon" write very detailed initial paragraphs explaining a book's opening chapter. Then their energy and interest wanes and they sum up the bulk of the story in two very brief, very vague sentences.

To give them a better idea of how to correctly summarize a plot so your audience isn't completely befuddled, each boy watched and wrote (and edited) an overview of a Star Trek episode of their choosing. They gave me permission to publish their work on this blog.

• • • • •

Plot synopsis of the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Thirty Days."
By "Klaxon,"age 7.

Captain Janeway demotes Lieutant Tom Paris to the rank of Ensign. Two security guards escort Tom to the brig.  A couple of days later, Neelix comes to the brig and gives Tom his meal and a padd. Tom starts and deletes two letters to his father. Then he starts one long letter to his father. He talks about how he got in the brig.

Voyager came to a planet which was a large ocean and no land and is the home of the Moneans. The planet's atmosphere is destabilizing and the Moneans ask Voyager for help stabilizing their planet's atmosphere. Tom takes the Delta Flyer down to the core of the planet.  They discover that the planet is held together by a three-thousand year old gravity generator. It is failing because of the power plants that the locals were using.

The locals wouldn't listen to Tom's idea of how to keep the planet from falling a part.  Tom went with one of the Moneans down to the planet in the Delta Flyer. Tom fired at a power plant, but Voyager fired at him.  Voyager damaged the Delta Flyer and diverted Tom's torpedo down into the depths of the ocean. Captain Janeway was mad at Tom for disobeying orders and sent him to the brig for thirty days. Ten days after Tom finishes the letter to his father, Tom's thirty days in the brig are over.

I like this episode because you don't get to find out who built the three thousand year old gravity generator. I like mysteries.

• • • • •

Plot synopsis of the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Twisted."
By "Zarf," age 9.

The point of this Star Trek story is about some sort of subspace ring which consumed the ship.

One day on Voyager, the senior officers were celebrating Kes' birthday on the holodeck. She was two years old, and her species only lives for nine years. There was a transmission from the bridge, but when it came down one word kept repeating and getting deafeningly loud. When Chakotay, Janeway and Paris tried to go up to the bridge they ended up going to three different decks and then wound up back at the holodeck. The decks were rearranged and the crew was confused and lost. Tom Paris and B'Elanna were finally able to get to Engineering. They tried to make a site-to-site transport to the bridge but they ended up back on the holodeck.

Meanwhile, Harry Kim and Janeway tried to use the Jefferies tubes to get to the bridge.  When they opened an access panel, Janeway touched the subspace ring's energy which was green and wavy. A few seconds after they got her arm out, she passed out. Harry got her back to the holodeck. When she comes out of her coma she is speaking a different language. Neelix has vanished. The crew used their tricorders' data to make sense of what is happening to the ship. The map they make comes up all strange and twisted. They eventually find Tuvok and he explained they'd entered some sort of ring of subspace that is twisting the ship. The crew tried to create a tetrion shower to stop the ring from spreading further inside the ship. It does the opposite of what it is supposed to do.

A few minutes later they were all crowded up in one room, and that room was starting to dephase and twist. Once the whole ship was immersed, the ring was instantly gone. Janeway could speak English again and the ship was restraightened. The only thing different was their computer database was copied and 2000 gigabytes of data were added to their computer banks. The ring was some species' way of communicating.

I like this episode because it's a mystery. You never find out who created the ring and the new data is never talked about again. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hot Men, Part Deux.

As a follow-up to my last post, I'm giving Jenifer an early Christmas present:

• • • • •
If these came in adult sizes, I'd ask for one for Christmas:

I mean the recliner, obviously. I don't have any desire for a super-sized or regular-sized baby.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hot Men on a Cold November Night. A Post In List Form.

Bradley Cooper is cute. He reminds me of a Golden Retriever. He's shiny and friendly. When you enter his house, I bet Bradley Cooper runs over to greet you. It is flattering that Bradley Cooper -- with his straight teeth, sleek coat, bright eyes, and breath that smells of eucalyptus and peppermint -- is so very interested in you. But your happiness is short lived. Someone else enters the house. Bradley Cooper turns his back on you and greets the new person with the same outlandish degree of zeal and focus (but now he has drool hanging from his chin). It's not personal. It's just Bradley Cooper's nature. Bradley Cooper is a cheerful, inveterate crotch sniffer.

And Bradley Cooper doesn't deserve the title of People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. Actually, I didn't care for anyone on that list so I followed in the footsteps of Beck and Hannah and wrote:

My List of Male Celebrities Who Have Gravitas and Hence Make Me Swoon and Bring The Sexy Wherever They Go:

(Where ever possible, I included "grey beard porn." YOU ARE WELCOME!) 

1. Chris Pine. When I look at Chris Pine I have sin in my heart. And fire in my loins.

2. Alexander Siddig. He gets prettier with every passing year. I wish he would show up on my doorstop and repay that compliment.

(at this point I'm going to implement a Star Trek actor boycott or else the list will consist entirely of Star Trek actors. Patrick Stewart! Avery Brooks! Zachary Quinto! Robert Beltran! Jonathan Frakes! Connor Trinneer! Michael Dorn!)

(Edited on November 17 @ 4PM -- I couldn't resist. I'm adding the following photo collage.)

3. Jon Stewart. "Drop those smarty pants, Jonny!" would be my idea of foreplay.

4. Pierce Brosnan. Instead of blogging, I am going to write Remington Steele erotica. Sound good? 

5. Neil McDonald. Big words + liberalism tempered by real-life experience + sexy scowl and furrowed brow = the real reason I watch CBC's The National.

6. Colin Farrell. He's the list's token bad boy. But he's a bad boy who, with the love of a good woman, will become a good boy.

7. David Tennant. Trust him. He's a doctor.

8.  Dylan McDermott.    Dermott McDylan.    Rooney McDermot Muldylan.  Dermot Mulroney.  THIS GUY:

9. Ron Livingston. "Dumped Carrie Bradshaw via Post-It note" was what I typed into Google because I couldn't remember his name. I loved him best in Defying Gravity.

10. Gerard Butler. He was very sexy as the dad in Nim's Island.

Honorary Mention: Rex Murphy -- WHAT?! He's probably really, really good at pillow talk. I'm sure it would be educational and FILTHY!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Warp Speed Wednesdays. To Boldly Go Where No Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgendered Person Has Gone Before.

I don't consider myself a true fan of science-fiction. I have no appetite for dreary visions of earth's future as post-apocalyptic, polluted, violent, libertarian cesspool. This is why I'm a fan of Star Trek.  The United Federation of Planets is a utopia. Money is obsolete. Poverty is unknown. Violence is scorned. Peace reigns. There's universal health care and education. There is no sexism or racism.  Miscegenation is commonplace. Science is revered. Organized religion is viewed with skepticism.

Alas there is one thing missing in this pretty picture of the 23rd/24th century: homosexuality.

There are now two openly gay Star Trek actors. Last month in a magazine interview, Zachary Quinto (aka Spock from the newest Star Trek movie) described himself as "a gay man."  In 2005, George Takei (Mr Sulu from the original series) publicly disclosed his sexual orientation.  But there are still ZERO openly gay Star Trek characters. I am frustrated that the Star Trek franchise ignores lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Wikipedia has a great article about Sexuality in Star Trek. It mentions that franchise-creator Gene Roddenberry wanted to incorporate gay characters into Star Trek: The Next Generation in 1987. But he passed away in 1991 without following through. In the last twenty years, no one at Paramount has taken up Roddenberry's idea. There are only a handful of episodes in various series which reference or explore sexual orientation. Sadly the writing and the marketing for those stories focused upon the novelty of same-sex relationships for the heterosexual crew members.

A cursory glance at the search terms that lead people to my blog indicates that Trekkies are very curious about the sexual dalliances of the characters. Especially if the characters are the same sex. Star Trek online forums are rife with threads discussing, detecting, dissecting and denigrating same-sex subtext (ie Kirk + Spock = Pon Farr PARTYTIME!, Did Janeway groom Seven to be her Sappho sex slave?, etc) in Star Trek. A lot of these discussions are puerile and border on homophobia, but the fans are interested.

It's time for JJ Abrams, and Paramount, to create a Star Trek character who is lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered and bring Star Trek into the 21st century.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Scarce Heard Amid the Guns Below.

 • • • • •

This post is my contribution to Veteran's Affairs Remembrance Challenge.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
-Lt. Colonel John McCrae 

• • • • •

In 1989 my grade 11 drama class wrote an original play for Remembrance Day. In those pre-internet days, facts about John McCrae were hard to come by. We used the scant details we knew of McCrae's life as the framework for a 45 minute long melodrama. I don't remember very much -- no doubt this is a self-defense mechanism -- other than I played a nurse in one scene and the role of McCrae was performed by the only boy in the class.  The play's legacy for me is that I love In Flanders Fields. 

That was the last year I viewed Canada's participation in war as the stuff of history textbooks and television shows. With Canada's involvement in the Gulf War, war became reality.

My sons are 9 and 7. For their entire life times, Canadian soldiers have been deployed in Afghanistan. They have only ever known a Canada that is at war. We tell Zarf and Klaxon the truth: the government in Afghanistan was cruel to their citizens and western nations are working to ensure that the people of Afghanistan (regardless of sex, religion, or social class) enjoy the freedoms we have in Canada.

I've stared at the last paragraph for almost 20 minutes. Those words seep into my brain and make my fingers thrum with the anxiety of how far removed my childhood is from that of Zarf and Klaxon. But maybe they are better off dealing with the idea of war in a far off corner of the world, than with the fear of nuclear proliferation which defined my youth? 

Only time will tell...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Warp Speed Wednesday: Unconventional.

Last night I dreamed that our small town hosted a Star Trek convention. Hotel accommodations were in short supply, so people in the community billeted attendees. We were assigned four teen boys who dressed as Klingons for the duration of the weekend. The boys went to the first day of the convention and raved about the beauty of our newly renovated bathroom to anyone who would listen. So the convention organizers asked us to also billet Chris Pine and his girlfriend.  Yes, our dream-bathroom was THAT amazing. Alas, Chris Pine was -- at least in my dream -- kind of a dim bulb and his girlfriend was skanky so I was more than happy when they left. Ditto for the Klingon-boys.

And then I woke up.



I've never gone to a Star Trek convention. The closest I've been is Vulcan, Alberta which promotes itself as a the Official Star Trek Capital of Canada.  I'm hoping to change that within the next year, because Mr Wrath (who is a non-Trekkie, but who is tolerant and patient and A VERY GOOD SPORT) wants to take the boys to a convention. I'm giddy at the thought.

Does anyone know if there's going to be a Star Trek convention in Vancouver in 2012? I don't think I'm up to a Las Vegas convention experience.

Do you have any advice for a convention newb? With kids?

Do you think we should dress in costume? If yes, do you think I can get away with this look:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It Pays To Marry A Handsome, Handy Man.

My in-laws left today after a week long stay. It was a good visit.  My mother-in-law played countless board games with Zarf and Klaxon and showed more patience and good humour than I can muster.  My father-in-law and Mr Wrath went to town on the basement renovation. We now have walls, a shower stall and a new sink. The walls are largely without drywall, the shower is in a box in the carport and the sink is not yet plumbed, but it's PROGRESS and that's what counts.  In the evenings after many games of crokinole and chess, and multiple trips to the hardware store, my in-laws and I would camp out in the living room and watch Murder, She Wrote. Jessica Fletcher -- her appeal is universal.

Today we drove to the Big Smoke (aka the nearest city) to buy more supplies for the basement renovation. We're getting rid of the carpet in the basement family room. It's an industrial-grade, low-pile, grey-blue berber with a subtle geometric pattern created from sea-foam green, grey and pink threads. It's awful. We bought two taupe-coloured carpet roll-ends and are having them custom cut and bound. We'll just lay them over the concrete floor and the old tile that's currently in that room.

I also snagged some paint chips for when the bathroom and the family room are finished. Much to my surprise, I am drawn to shades of off-white with warm undertones. This is quite a departure from the bright colours I usually favour.  Also it's time to paint over the bright red accent wall in the living room kitchen. Nothing says "I watched a lot of Trading Spaces in 2002 and 2003" like a red accent wall in your living room and kitchen.

It was a long day for us. We spent over four hours in the car. We went to two hardware stores, the carpet store, the recycling center (we drove 200km to recycle leftover tins of paint in the name of environmentally friendliness), the grocery store, and Starbucks. PLUS we went to Walmart to buy Klaxon's birthday present and there was no Harry Potter Lego to be found. He was disappointed, but bore it stoically.  Through it all, Zarf and Klaxon barely complained.

The same can not be said about me.

So what's new with you?