Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Warp Speed Wednesday. "I'd say someone was playing an elaborate trick-or-treat on us."

10 Star Trek episodes worthy 
of the Halloween season:

TOS: Catspaw 
Aired October 27, 1967. It's the only overtly Halloween episode of the franchise.
Creepy scale: 3

TOS: The Man Trap
Creepy scale: 6

TNG: Sub Rosa
Beverly Crusher is haunted by a ghost. With whom she has sex. It's the same ghost that haunted and fornicated with her grandmother.
Creepy scale: 9 (with bonus points for a scene of spectral coitus.)

TNG: Frame of Mind
You don't know what's real and what's a delusion.
Creepy scale: 5

TNG: Violations
Aliens abduct the crew for science experiments. There. I have ruined plot for you. But I guarantee you will still find it unnerving.
Creepy scale: 8

DS9: Distant Voices
It's a variation on the concept of being chased through a haunted labyrinth.
Creepy scale: 6

DS9: Empok Nor
A derelict space station haunted by genetically engineered soldiers.
Creepy scale: 8

VOY: Haunting of Deck 12
Neelix tells the children of Voyager a ghost story to distract them while the ship undergoes a power shutdown. Creepy scale: 6

VOY:  The Thaw
This episode features a murderous clown who is nourished by fear. I'm a little foggy on the details because I watched it once and it was so scary I never want to see it again.
Creepy scale: 10 (on account of the clown)

ENT: Fight or Flight
Creepy scale: 9

• • • • • • • • • • • • 

Trek or Treat!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Fansbury.

I am getting shirts made up that say:

I liked Murder, She Wrote before it was cool to like Murder, She Wrote

If this sentiment strikes you as funny or ridiculous you are obviously not a Fansbury. Yes, that's right. Fans of Angela Lansbury have coined a term for themselves. We are the Fansbury! I assume this arose on that hotbed of hipster-inspired Fansbury love: tumblr. I'm sure the tumblr-based Fansbury was just as interest as I to learn that there is reboot planned for our beloved series.

Truthfully, I'm conflicted about this. According to early reports the reboot is going to be very different from the original. For one thing Octavia Spencer's JB Fletcher will be African-American. Or so I assume. Also Octavia Spencer's JB Fletcher will be (if we are to use the actress' real birth year of 1970) in her mid-40s when the show finally airs next fall. Angela Lansbury was 59 when the show was first produced. I have no issue with either of these alterations, in fact I am excited by both.

JB 2.0 is going to be a hospital administrator who "self-publishes her first mystery novel." True confession: in real life the phrase "self-publishing" terrifies me. Also she'll be a hospital administrator?! This I don't like. JB 1.0 was a retired school teacher whose social contacts spanned generations and social classes. Many episodes revolved around Jessica mentoring and visiting former pupils. It was an excellent plot device. Plus if JB 2.0 has an office job she won't be able to globe trot like JB 1.0. This is a huge change from the original premise, and it's not a plus. I often watch particular episodes based upon my desire to see a certain locale (Ireland or Japan or a version of my own province that is completely fanciful and yet charming). Throw in the fact that her novel is self-published and we've also lost the plot device of Jessica travelling to different cities and countries on book tours encountering a revolving cast of friends and foes.

All of these changes mean that the proposed series is less a reboot of the original Murder, She Wrote and more another generic variation on the Author-As-Amateur-Sleuth trope that we can currently see in Castle and Bones. And we all know where that leads.  To story arcs (timed for sweeps periods) involving serial killers out for revenge upon our author/sleuth. Ho. Freakin'. Hum.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

If I were in charge I would change very few things about the original formula. JB would still be an internationally famous author, trained as a teacher, with the backing of a major publisher who is willing  to finance her semi-peripatetic lifestyle. She'd still live in a small town. More importantly, I'd ensure that characters from the original series were entrenched into the reboot version.

Characters like…

Frank Fletcher. JB 1.0 writes her first novel to fill her days after the death of her beloved husband. In my version, this role will be played by either Jerry O'Connell or John Cho.

Clarification: Frank will be alive in my MSW reboot. I don't go in for zombies or ghosts.

Grady Fletcher. I have two actors in mind for the role of the milksop nephew raised by Jessica and Frank following the death of his parents:
- Nathan Kress (Freddie from iCarly) if we want him to be a university aged character, or

-Tyrel Jackson Williams (Leo from Lab Rats) if we want a younger actor.

Doc Hazlitt. Eric McCormack would be perfect as our cankerous doctor.

Would it be too derivative of  Cagney and Lacey to have a female sheriff to act as JB 2.0's foil? Because I'd like Sandra Oh to appear as Sheriff (Miranda? or Margaret? or Morticia?) Metzger

Eve Simpson.  This strumpet/realtor would be a great role for Ashley Tisdale.

My version is going to be AWESOME.  I hope Ms Spencer's is good, too.

Monday, October 28, 2013


I've often wondered what to do with my Remembrance Day poppy on November 12. It seems disrespectful to toss it in the garbage. Keeping it and reusing it the following November is very environmentally-friendly. Except that annual poppy sales are a huge fundraiser for the Royal Canadian Legion. Also, invariably after a year of sitting in my desk or the console of my car, the poppy's flocked surface is covered in lint and looks shabby. Plus I've stabbed myself 80,000 times with the straight pin.

Leaving poppies on Ottawa's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or cenotaphs, appeared to be an ideal solution.

My opinion about that changed in 2011. That was the year I spent the weekend following November 11 in the Big City. While walking through a park, I noticed a lot of red plastic littering the ground. In the manner of JB Fletcher, I followed the trail back to its source: the cenotaph. Thousands of poppies had blown off the granite monument, across the grass, into the flower beds, into the trees, into the gutter and along the adjacent roadways.

And now I look upon the poppy-leaving gesture as socially-sanctioned littering.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

I have come up with two solutions:
– cities and towns or the Legion or Air Cadets gather up the poppies at the end of the ceremony -- from the cenotaphs and/or attendees -- and dispose of them, OR
– the poppies are redesigned so they are made of something biodegradable.

The former is the one that will work for the current year, the latter one that would take time to implement. Is there another solution? What do you do with your poppy?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Once upon a time I was not excited to find dead things. Then I had children.

Today we went lichen picking.  Which isn't dissimilar from berry picking -- another activity we've done frequently this year -- except that we won't be using the lichen in jams or crumbles. In fact, we won't be eating those lichens at all. Instead our bounty will be consumed through the winter by a group of captive caribou. Come the spring, they will be returned to the wild after a months spent protected from wolf predation, which is currently decimating the local population.

None of this explains the title of this post, which is a reference to something ELSE I harvested while in the bush. Behold a tiny tomb:

 Creepy, but fascinating.

And this is why only assholes litter.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

If you're local and want to help with the caribou project, send me an email and I'll share the contact details. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Burn baby burn.

I have blogged before about the clearcut at the top of our street where we walk the dog on her many, many daily walks. Snowshoeing there is one of my favourite things. The area was logged initially six years ago. Last fall the downed trees (those too big for use as firewood and without commercial value) were stacked up into 30 slashpiles. I won't lie: I often fantasized about lighting one of them on fire. Just because.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Forests beat me to it.

We were unable to resist the spectacle and like many other locals we went down to check out the light show: 


It was toasty warm and LOUD. So loud. Also smelly -- our jackets and Fogo's fur still smell faintly of smoke.

At noon the following day it looked like this:

And now I'm pining for my snowshoes. Bring on winter!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Warp Speed Wednesday. The Great Link.

My 9 year old gives a hearty thumbs up to the audiobook for The Watsons Go To Birmingham - 1963. Only after he sang its praises did I investigate the title. It's very well regarded (it won both a Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Award). I'd chosen it solely on the fact that the narrator is Levar Burton, aka Geordi LaForge from TNG. 

In other Star Trek news...

Why don't I ever get customer service reps well versed in Star Trek? Well played, Mike Mears! After that netflix transcript went viral he agreed to sit for a tv interview. Unbeknownst to Captain Mike The Shat was in the studio. It's a very charming video.

 • • • • • • 

Diane Gabaldon's Outlander is coming to tv, and it has a Star Trek connection. Ronald Moore has written for and executive produced several series and movies in the franchise. Now he's helming the Outlander series for Starz

Yes. Starz. With a -z. 

I'm trying very hard not to let that taint my opinion.

 • • • • • • 

From the Guardian:
Batman's Joker was originally Brad Dourif, not Jack Nicholson, says Dourif.  
Actor, known for his supporting roles in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Lord of the Rings and Childs' Play, says Tim Burton was refused permission to cast him as Batman's nemesis.

Based upon the creepiness Dourif brought to Lon Suder on Voyager, he'd have made an excellent Joker.

 • • • • • • 

I need to take up cross stitch

 • • • • • • 

It is a few months old, but this post discussing Khans [and pros] was very interesting.  This is my favourite point: 

In the original, when the crew of the Enterprise learns they have their hands on Khan Noonien Singh, everyone knows who he is. Kirk, Scotty and even Dr. McCoy all admit to having a certain admiration for the 1990s-era tyrant, at least through the gauzy filter of history.  

In Star Trek Into Darkness no one has ever heard of the guy.
I'm still mulling this over. 

 • • • • • • 

From The Mary Sue:  Star Trek Just Might Come Back To Television. Please, please, please make this happen. 

 • • • • • • 

 • • • • • • 

And finally...

I've added a new tab at the top of my blog. Murder, She Trekked is a compliation of all the information from my Murder She Wrote Marries Star Trek And Has Its Babies series.  Look upon it and behold my obsessive nature and be amazed/scared. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bad Behaviour.

On Friday afternoon we drove to the local mall to pick up some groceries. Our shopping expedition was complicated by the fact that our fridge is dying and in the name of frugality and putridality (okay, I might've just made that word up, but if anyone asks it's a deep seated loathing to touching foods that have gone bad due to spotty refrigeration) I was reluctant to buy things that could spoil.

While at the mall we made a stop by the book carousel. It's a fundraiser operated by a local charity whose name and function I do not presently recall, where second handbooks are sold by donation. By donation translates into whatever coins I have in my person, not to exceed 50¢ for a hardcover, 10¢ for a kids' title,  with the understanding the books are being re donated soon, because I am not a book hoarder. It's not so much about buying, it's a rental fee. Or so I tell my children.

In close proximity to the book carousel two women were sitting. One was on a bench, the other a rocking chair. The bench was one that belongs to the mall. The rocking chair was a temporary addition. The rocking chair lady was wearing a long flowered skirt, an honest-to-goodness blouse, practical footwear, and a shawl. She held a stack of picture books on her lap. On the tile floor in front of her, she'd spread a blanket upon which sat a forlorn looking girl of six or seven.

"Just so you know" I said quietly to Klaxon and Zarf, "I think those women are hosting some kind of storytime. One of them will ask you to join. Be prepared with an answer."

They looked at me dubiously, then carried on sorting through the books.

Less than sixty seconds later:

"Hello, boys. We're just about to start a storytime session. Would you like to come hear a story?" said the non-rocking chair lady.

"No. Thank you." said Klaxon with nary a second of hesitation.

"I'm not interested, but thank you." Zarf's answer was spoken with a tone of voice that conveyed the message that he could think of few things more unappealing.

That's when the old bat turned to me and said, "I don't understand children these days. In my day I loved having stories read to me. I read to my children all the time. But nowadays? Kids just don't care."

I very nearly said, "Yeah. Kids today are spoilt. Who wouldn't want to sit on the tile floor of a dingy mall and hear an old woman read to them from a book aimed at much younger children? Get over it. They're too old for that. They are busy finding chapter books to read for their own enjoyment. Plus they just read a chapter from their grade 6 science textbook, they've done independent reading today, and want to head home to hear the end of their Island of the Blue Dolphins audiobook. They declined politely, so put a sock in it."

I did not say this.

I did not show the same restraint a few weeks ago.

On that occasion we attended a community event and encountered a local man who I've known for many years. I would hesitate to call him a friend, since most of our socialization is incidental or coincidental and not by design. Still, our families have been on convivial terms for almost a decade.

As he has done for the last five years -- WITHOUT FAIL -- he greeted my family by commenting on my sons' hair.

"Well, I see that at least one of your kids has found their way to the barber." He gestured toward Klaxon who shaved his head in July.

I truly believe that he thinks this comment, and all the rest fall, into the category of good natured ribbing. Whereas I think he's just being rude.

Since we were obviously doing away with the conventions of  polite society by exchanging pleasant salutations, I replied "Listen, [man's name]. Zarf's eleven. He knows that you are judging and mocking his appearance. It's rude and you owe him an apology. Say you're sorry."

He waved away the suggestion obviously believing me to be overly sensitive.

I turned to Zarf, "As of now you have my permission to mock this man's appearance. I would start with his weight. Or maybe the fact that he's a grown man wearing overalls."

In the background his wife barked with laughter. "His weight! Make fun of his weight! He's really sensitive about it."

The man responded by loudly and hotly exclaiming "What's wrong with my overalls? They're Carhartts."

Later I asked Zarf if it offended him when the man commented on his shoulder length hair. "No. I don't care what other people think about my appearance. I like my hair," he said.

I think it's great that my kid has enough confidence not to worry about his appearance. Particularly when the derision comes from an overall wearing adult. But this means that instead of teaching my son to stand up for himself, I'd shown him that it was okay to respond to rudeness with rudeness. It also meant I would never become a successful mommy blogger by authoring a viral post about the ills of bullying.

Which is why when the old bat was rude to my kids about storytime, I just smiled and shrugged.

And saved up my vitriol for a post that will not -- I am happy to predict -- go viral.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

And for no real reason here's a photo from Benedict Cumberbatch's AMA on Reddit.

BeckShorter says this question from the session was not posed by her husband:

 I mostly believe her.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Warp Speed Wednesday. Your weekly dose of Trekkie goodness.

I enthusiastically recommend the audiobook for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I read the book three years ago and loved it. The audio version is just as charming. Amongst the five (equally excellent) narrators are two names that will stand out for Trekkies.

Firstly there's J. Paul Boehmer. His credits are: 

ENT: Storm Front: Part 1 -- SS Agent
ENT: Zero Hour --  SS Officer
ENT: Carbon Creek -- Mestral
DS9: Tacking Into the Wind -- Vornar
VOY:  Drone -- 'One,' 29th-Century Borg Drone

Until now I've only known Rosalyn Landor as Brenna Odell from TNG's Up the Long Ladder. In their digital collection, my library has 32 audiobooks read by her. I want to hear them all! She's a fantastic narrator.

Riker gives Brenna his classic 
"Do you want to be my Imzadi for just one night?" look. 

• • • • • • • • • •

By and large, I agree with Clive Burrell's "10 Star Trek Episodes That Are Not As Good As People Say." I still don't understand VOY's Fury. But I will brook no insults about Gorn.

• • • • • • • • • •

A couple of weeks ago Beck sent me the link to "Star Trek actors past and present combined in eerie portraits" because she is a very good person. Every photo is like a delicious transporter accident.

• • • • • • • • • •

Stymied for an easy, cheap Star Trek costume for Halloween? I recommend this:

Available from

Monday, October 7, 2013

Of Slips and Walks.

Last week was a very, very long week.

Mr Wrath has a slipped disc. Medicine doesn't seem to even touch the pain, and his recovery has been slow going. Right now the pressing issue is that he can't sleep for more than an hour at a time. He's bearing up better than I would in his position. I'm a wimp. As proof, I offer up these two examples:
- in an act of solidarity, on Wednesday I did some of the simple back stretches he's undertaken to alleviate his pain. And I hurt myself. My pain was no where near what he felt, but it was enough to make me cry.
- a pair of vise grips richoted off my front teeth. And I cried.

More about that latter point:

After seven days of undertaking nearly all of Fogo's four daily walks, I was done. This is an admittedly ridiculous number of walks for a dog, but in her puppy-hood it was necessary. Mr Wrath habitually took the early morning and the evening shifts. I took the boys along for the lunch hour walk and went solo for her late afternoon walk. It amounted to at least 2 hours of exercise a day for her. I don't mind taking over Mr Wrath's morning dog duties, but it was the night time walk (which usually involved prying the dog off the chesterfield and dragging her outside) that sent me over the edge. I want to be in pajamas at 9pm, not standing around in a reflective jacket by the road hoping she would be inspired to have a bowel movement.

Our intention was to dog-proof our fence this summer. Wait. That is slightly misleading. The plan was to Fogo-proof the fence, as best we could. The fence worked just fine and dandy for the 9 years when the yard was the domain of our original dog, Falafel. But Fogo jumped over or climbed under it when the mood struck. Mind you, we knew that the new fence was not going to deter her from taking herself for a walk. It was mostly going to be good PR. "I'm so sorry that Fogo ran passed you, through your open door, chased your dog around your living room, and then ran downstairs to roll around in the clothes piled in your laundry room. Our yard is fully fenced now. We're trying our best." I could see myself saying. And yes, this is an example pulled from real life.

 It was the construction of this new fence that lead to Mr Wrath's slipped disc. The recovery time for a slipped disc means there's no way the fence will be finished before the snow falls. This week we decided the best compromise was a sturdy overhead trolley system. This way I can send her outside for pee breaks. She'll have a 10m+ long area to roam and will always be visible from the kitchen. Plus it won't let her approach  her favourite restaurant  the compost heap. And I won't need to go outside at 9pm. Yesterday, with Mr Wrath's guidance we set it up.

I was putting a wire eye lag into a post when the vise grips I was using slipped off the bolt and out of my hands. Straight into my front teeth. While I was standing on a ladder. By the time I stumbled back to ground level so I could have a good cry, two searing threads of pain were radiating from the teeth, up my face to the bridge of my nose. Thankfully the teeth didn't chip. If I'm lucky the roots will heal, and I can eat non-mushy food within a few days.

Needless to say, the forthcoming week looks like an improvement over the last one.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Dim Bulbs Make Me Cranky.

Remember the good old days when it was easy to replace a light bulb? You just unscrewed one old incandescent bulb and screwed in another incandescent bulb, taking care not to exceed the wattage recommended on the fixture.

In the era of CFL and LED bulbs, I've got to check:
- the socket type. Is it an Edison screw base? Is it bi-pin? Is it a gu10 type? A gu25? Do I need a suction cup to remove the bulb from it's housing?
- the colour. Is it a soft white, bright white or daylight? Having mismatched bulbs in the same fixture is one of the things that morphs me into a Little Miss Type A.
- the size of the plastic base and the spirals. Some of them are too big or long for some of our fixtures.

And don't get me started about how CFL bulbs much touted longevity is dependent on the orientation of the socket or the degree airflow is restricted by the cover on a light fixture. Then there's the fact that I am suppose to recycle the bulbs. According to the Light Recycle website, the two closest depots are 184 km and 177 km away.  Driving 2 hours to recycle something doesn't strike me as being particularly environmentally friendly.

Maybe I should go back to the incandescents? Should I start stockpiling incandescents before the January 1, 2014 ban?

Do I sound like Andy Rooney? Don't answer that. I already know that I do. It's just that I'm pissed off because this morning I went to change the lights in the front hall (semi-flush mount with horizontal sockets) and found this:

[Commercial Electric brand bulbs from Home Depot. Model EDXO-14]

Scorched and melted plastic doesn't grant me any piece of mind. 

So now I'm adding "confirm brand name of product so that you can sue the company for BIG money if/when your house burns down" to my bulb checklist.

The bastards.