Friday, September 11, 2009


"The spear in the Other's heart is the spear in your own; you are he.  There is no other wisdom, and no other hope for us but that we grow wise."

-- Diane Duane

Sunday, June 14, 2009

...But It Was Home

Up a steep and very narrow stairway
To a voice like a metronome
Up a steep and very narrow stairway
It wasn't paradise
It wasn't paradise
It wasn't paradise
But it was home
-- "At the Ballet," A Chorus Line 

So yesterday, I descended into total nerdom, and --

Okay, who am I kidding?  I've been a nerd ever since I taught myself to read.  Having 20/575 eyesight and the glasses to go with it was just the icing on the cake.

Anyhow, I went to see Star Trek again, and I've been pondering my reaction to it in the time since my last post.  I couldn't quite describe why it affected me the way it did.

And then Bones nudged a very nauseous Kirk in his side as the shuttle flew up to the Enterprise, and I realized it.

There's a part of me for which Star Trek is home.

(Do me a favor, okay?  If you didn't like the movie, let me have my indulgent self-analytical moment and gripe about the movie in your own blog, okay?  You're entitled to your opinion, I promise, and we can debate later if you want to.)

Now, different is nice, but it sure isn't pretty 
Pretty is what it's about
I never met anyone who was different
Who couldn't figure that out
So beautiful I'd never live to see
But it was clear
If not to her
Well, then, to me
That everything is beautiful at the ballet...
-- "At the Ballet," A Chorus Line

Until recently, if someone asked what my favorite Trek series was, I would probably have said The Next Generation.  Deep Space Nine is a better, more effective dramatic show, but TNG is the one I grew up with.

Except it's not.

It was TOS for whose bi-monthly (I think?  Maybe it was quarterly.) release of two episodes at a time on a VHS tape.

Maybe I didn't watch it live on the air, but those were "new" episodes to me in the same way that "Best of Both Worlds" would be five or six years later.

I still tear up when I think of the poor Enterprise, at the end of The Search for Spock, streaking across the sky because Kirk couldn't come up with a better plan even though he was fighting Klingons that were too stupid to realize that an empty ship with a computer counting down to something was a BAD THING.

(Check out Julia Ecklar's "Fallen Angel" for another view of this.  Liner notes (lyrics) here and audio here.  And, yes, I know she didn't like the movie.)

Anyhow, the Enterprise's death (and "rebirth" in Star Trek IV) still make me tear up.  When the Enterprise D plummeted to its death, I was too busy being amused that the person at the conn had, just two seasons before, been unsure as to whether matter + antimatter = bad.

When I saw the Enterprise, this time I was conscious of that same feeling -- it was as though Trek, even though I was born something like 12 years after the fact, was being alive again.

(Except for Scotty.  I still don't quite buy Scotty.  Interestingly, Patrick didn't, either.)

Spock Prime's "thrusters on full" as Kirk got his first commendation and subsequent narration just sealed it.  This is Star Trek, in a completely different way than Battlestar Galactica was BSG.  It's not quite a prequel, not quite a reboot.  It

It's an alternate reality -- which is good, 'cause true time travel (and predestination paradoxes) give me a headache -- and that, as many have said, makes both true in a way that the current BSG really didn't.

None of this is logical, of course, and some other people probably felt about the movie the way Star Wars fans felt about the edits to the original trilogy (admittedly, Han shooting first drastically changes his character).

Star Trek certainly had its sillier moments (my TiVo just grabbed "Spock's Brain" for me the other night, and let's not forget "Catspaw"), but there's no denying that it must -- just by the fact that it's survived so long -- tap into something deep in some people.

For me, the movie had to have tapped into that same thing.  I've suspected that one of the things that draws me to Trek is its diversity, where it's okay to be a guy with pointy ears or a bumpy nose or see with a banana clip.  That wasn't strictly a "talking point" in this new movie and it's not something I need to be explicit, but I suspect that, for myself and for a lot of nerds who don't fit into society's conventions (we're too whatever...socially inept, smart, not conventionally attractive, whatever) that's a large part of the show's draw.

None of which really has to do with the movie, per se, except to explain Trek's initial appeal.

I think what I'm saying here was that seeing the Enterprise evoked an instant, spontaneous thought.

I'm home.

And, now that I have further revealed myself to be a complete nerd and more of a die-hard Trekkie than I ever really suspected myself to be (though the day I appear in costume at a convention would be the day someone flaps their arms and flies to the moon under their own power), I'm off to get ready for the last 3 days of school.

(Until it all starts again the following Monday for 4 weeks of summer school, but whatever.)

Peace and long life.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Born Again Trek

Note:  I have some minor qualms, now, borrowing the title of Julia Ecklar's song about Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, having read her blog and seeing that she did not like the new movie.  However, that's the nature of creative works: they mean different things to different people, so I'm sticking with it.  I've planned to use the song ever since I -- ever so slowly -- began to hope that maybe, maybe, Star Trek would be...good.

Also, this will be long, because I have this need to justify my opinions that is ridiculous, as everyone's opinion is, of course, valid.  It's just that I've been involved in fandom long enough to know that everything -- anything -- can be hugely polarizing and I know that for every me (and Wil Wheaton, ahem) there is a Julia Ecklar.

Naturally, there will be massive spoilers below.

Star Trek has been a huge part of my life for a long time.  When I was five, my dad -- a longtime fan and early tech adopter -- was testing out his new VCR and showed me a tape of "The Trouble With Tribbles."

The first movie I saw in a movie theater was Star Trek III: The Search for Spock -- I had recently seen (and been traumatized by) The Wrath of Khan at home.

I will never forget the day a couple of years later, sitting with my dad and his parents (his dad was also a fan), watching a c-band satellite feed of "Encounter at Farpoint" while a nine-month-old Patrick wailed in the bathroom as he was getting a bath.  He could point to all the characters in both shows before he could talk.

For years, on Saturday mornings, I would get up early (anyone who knows me knows what that says about how I felt about Trek) to watch c-band feeds of TNG, then Deep Space Nine, then early seasons of Voyager.

Meanwhile, George Lucas released the prequel movies, and I saw a fandom -- of which I was not a part -- explode with rage.  I never quite got it -- but, then, I was never a huge fan of Star Wars.  By the time I saw Phantom Menace, I'd seen A New Hope three or four times and the rest of the trilogy once.  I was -- and am -- a fan of the music, but that was about it.  I didn't hate the prequels, or the re-released movies, because they weren't violating something I cared about as deeply as a devoted Star Wars fan would.  I didn't get it.

Then Enterprise premiered, and the creative team behind that betrayed Star Trek as thoroughly as some believe George Lucas betrayed Star Wars.  Why betrayed?

Because it was evident, in the first two minutes of the show, that the producers either didn't know or didn't care about Trek history.  The people writing a prequel -- a story about Trek's history -- didn't. Get. It.

Only a couple of years earlier, Deep Space Nine's creative team payed homage to Trek's 30th anniversary by writing "Trials and Tribbleations" -- a brilliant blend of new and old that forever changed my perception of the scene where all the tribbles fall on Kirk's head, because I know that the last few stragglers falling out of the hold are actually being tossed by Dax and Sisko as they desperately search for a bomb.

That episode also has a short, brilliant scene in which Bashir, O'Brien, and Worf observe the classic bar fight.  When they realize who the guys in the bar are, they are massively confused.  "Those are Klingons?" they ask, referring to the utterly human-seeming aliens.

"We do not discuss it with outsiders," Worf replies stiffly.

That meshes beautifully with Trek history.  In The Motion Picture, the Klingons are beginning to have small bumps on their foreheads.  By The Undiscovered Country, the Klingons there resemble Worf and The Next Generation's Klingons.

Except that in the first two minutes of Enterprise, a Klingon running across a field on Earth looks like he could be Worf's long-lost cousin.  This is not a time traveller from the future, which I could have forgiven.  This was how they had Klingons look.


Either they had never seen an episode of the original series, or some bean counter had decided that new Trek fans themselves had never seen an episode of the original series and therefore would not know that the person was a Klingon, and they went for expediency rather than logical story telling.

To be fair, in the fourth seasons, new consultants (and Trek novelists) Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens managed to at least explain the discrepancy, but by then it was too late.

I understood, then, how Star Wars fans felt when Han shot first, or know.

With that bitter taste in my mouth, news that the new Star Trek would be a "reboot" of the original series, with a whole new cast playing the iconic characters worried me.  Surely it would be better to explore some distant future on the Enterprise-H, or to mine, say, the conflict of the Dominion War with an entirely different ship, if you really wanted to make a new Trek with a new cast.

At that point, I wasn't even sure I would see it in theaters, particularly when J.J. Abrams said that he wasn't really a Star Trek fan from the beginning.  What he did say -- and what didn't resonate with me until I saw it mentioned in Wil Wheaton's review here -- is that he was a Star Wars fan, and probably felt as outraged by the prequels and re-issued editions that most die-hard Star Wars fans felt, and therefore understood.

At the time, he didn't know Trek, but he knew what it was to have something you loved be ripped to shreds.

And then, they revealed the writers.

Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

Y'see, I knew those names.  They were staff writers for at least Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, and possibly Xena as well.

At one point, they wrote a hilarious, self-referential episode called "Yes, Virginia, There is a Hercules."  It was brilliant, I admit, even if the male writing staff did end up -- ahem -- humming the theme song while doing their...personal bathroom the restroom.

And, of course, it left me with this image of Orci and Kurtzman.  (And, yes, I know it was a sendup...still....)

Here Orci and Kurtzman are shown living in a storage room at the Renaissance Pictures offices.  And while I realize this is satirical and self-referential...somehow, it was hard to picture them writing blockbuster movies.

Meanwhile, other casting news trickled out.  
Zachary Quinto as Spock -- who, although he does bear a remarkable resemblance to a young Leonard Nimoy, is mostly known for playing a psychopathic, sociopathic serial killer.

Winona Ryder, of all people, as Spock's mother Amanda.

And...Karl Urban as McCoy.

Now, I realize that to most of you, "Karl Urban" equates to "Eomer" in Lord of the Rings

Having spent several years watching Hercules and Xena with Patrick, "Karl Urban" means two things.

First, Karl Urban means Cupid:

And Karl Urban also means Caesar, Julius Caesar -- which is how he always introduced himself on the show.

As the reviews trickled in, I simultaneously tried to avoid being too spoiled while still seeking out the opinions of people whose opinions I trust.

Many were positive.  Some, like Wil Wheaton, were outright ecstatic.

Of course, there was also some talk about a "fan backlash."  But the thing is -- fandom is like that.  

Some people like the epilogue to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  Some were ready to crucify J.K. Rowling for it.

Some people think Dollhouse is great.  Some think it's sexist drivel.

Just try asking people who the best Trek captain is, or whether Trek is better than Babylon 5 or Star Wars and vice versa.

There is very little uniformity of opinion in fandom.  I still remember the venomous disagreements between X-files 'shippers and "no-romos," or people who were convinced that focusing on the characters' relationship would destroy the soul of the show.

So I tried to go into the movie with an open mind.

It.  Rocked.

Okay, there were some plot holes, the most glaring of which to me was why a pregnant woman would be on a starship of that era -- TNG's Enterprise was supposed to be the first to carry families, and this was happening before Nero's timeline-altering incursion into the past. 

I could buy a turbine in a starship if it is some sort of coolant, though that seems...suspicious.  

Then, of course, there is the strange chain of command issue where a cadet can become captain, but this is Star Trek.  Even the original Kirk was the youngest in the fleet.

Star Trek had the feel of the original.  One criticism I had skimmed over mentioned that it wasn't moralistic in the way of the original show -- and mentioned the original's (get this) subtlety in its message.

Yes, you read that right.

Star Trek, of "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" fame.  Subtle.

Uh huh.

Frankly, I always found the "here comes the message" moments distracting and over the top.  "Let That Be" being the most egregious offender, but hardly the only one.  TNG's episode "The Outcast" comes to mind, as do countless moments in other shows.

Star Trek's greatest strength, in terms of its message, was what it didn't say.  It was in the fact that it didn't comment on Uhura's presence on the bridge, or Chekov's, or Sulu's.  It was in the quiet moments, where the message was there for us to absorb if we wished.

I would argue that this Trek has a message too, in Nero's quest for revenge.  It's interesting that there are moments that hearken back to Star Trek II -- the slug (in the mouth, not the ear, but ewwww), the Kobayashi Maru, the death of a planet (oh, Vulcan!), and Nero's quest for revenge that takes the planet but is ultimately about Spock.

Nero's quest for revenge takes so much, and he is ultimately killed by his own weapon.  He's killed by his own desire for vengeance.

Much of what I liked about this movie was in the little moments: the copious references to 47, McCoy's "green blooded hobgoblin" and "you're out of your Vulcan mind," Spock's delighted reaction (though he tries to hide it) when Kirk almost literally falls on him from out of the sky, Spock later watching as Kirk gets his first medal (which, my mother reminded me, hearkens back to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home -- if your plan doesn't work, you get a court martial; if it does and you save the world, you get a medal, a commendation, and a ship to command).  

Unlike the writers of Enterprise, Kurtzman and Orci at least know their Trek: McCoy joined up when his wife divorced him, Kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru by cheating, and the names -- many of which were never stated in their entirety in the show.  Pavel Andreivich Chekov.  Hikaru Sulu (though we might have gotten a Hikaru in one of the later movies; not sure).  Nyota Uhura (I'm virtually certain we never heard Uhura's first name).  Kohlinar.

The movie also had a good story, that followed the classic Trek formula -- teaser, credits, story, ending on the bridge.

It's also a classic Trek story with an interesting distinction -- Spock failed.  When was the last time Spock failed?  

Of course, he ultimately succeeds, and goes on to help rebuild Vulcan society.  

I appreciated the flash of humor that "live long and prosper" might seem self-serving, as well.  Clearly Old Spock has grown quiet comfortable with himself and who he is since last we saw him in "Reunification."

And when Spock -- our Spock, old Spock -- began the final narration...I confess that I gasped.  I hadn't even noticed it was missing until he began speaking.

Other random things I really liked:
  • Uhura and Spock.  There were, if you were so inclined to look, references to perhaps something going on in TOS -- Uhura singing as Spock played his lyre, for instance.  A couple of books made slightly more of it.  I didn't find it disturbing at all.
  • Kirk's reaction to Spock knowing Uhura's name -- and Spock's response (something along the lines of "I have no comment on the matter").
  • The rescue pod telling Kirk that it was dangerous to get out, and him promptly getting right out.
  • Sulu having an expandable sword.  That was just too cool.
  • That Kirk grew up in Iowa.  It's just a tiny throwaway line in The Voyage Home -- "I'm from Iowa; I only work in outer space" -- but again, it just shows that the writers knew their stuff.
  • The Enterprise.  That's one pretty ship.
  • The warp nacelle on top of the Kelvin's bridge.  I don't know why, but that just tickled me.
  • Flying to the Enterprise for the first time, when McCoy puts aside his fear and is mesmerized enough to call for Kirk's attention.
  • Spock and Spock talking.
  • McCoy and Spock talking after Kirk gets thrown off the ship.
  • Uhura asking Spock, "What do you need?" and her reluctant but tearful acceptance of his honest answer.  There's a scene in the novel Uhura's Song where Spock catches Uhura emulating Vulcan emotional control.  When he calls her out on this, she points out that everyone expects him to adapt to and understand them, but no one thinks to do this for him.
  • Spock's "fascinating" as the control chair in the little ship rotates itself.
  • The look on Kirk's face when he asks Spock about his father in the other timeline -- you can see the simultaneous longing for that reality and the resolve settling in to do what he must in this one.
  • "I'm givin' her all she's got, Captain!"
  • There's a fun symmetry with Old Spock giving Scotty the right formula for his new technology -- which hearkens back to Star Trek IV's scene in which Scotty gives the scientist the formula for transparent aluminum.  (This is headache-inducing, but...well...Our Enterprise Crew took the whales back into the past so they are existing in a past without Nero's timeline changes, but this crew will in the future be different from that are there whales in San Francisco or not?)
  • These people write Vulcans better than any Trek writer has in a long time.  Tuvok was insufferably arrogant and superior, and T'Pol was...well, T'Pol.  (Granted, the Enterprise writers decided that Vulcan culture had...well...corrupted Surak's teaching, but anyway....)
  • The scene in the Vulcan school reminded me strongly of the scene in Star Trek IV where Spock is "re-training his mind" -- drilling with a computer.
  • Calling out for Nurse Chapel -- it was a tiny touch and one they didn't have to include, but they did anyway.  Yay for them.
  • I'm sure there are more, but I've been writing this for a while and I don't want to forget to add my...niggles.
Okay, so, the majority of Star Trek was great.  I did have a few problems with just a few tiny things:
  • I did have one "oh, God, it's Sylar" moment -- when, naturally, Spock was talking with Amanda.  It shoved me right back into Sylar speaking with his mother.  Whoops.
  • Of all the cast, I sank easily into seeing Zach Quinto as Sylar, Chris Pine as Kirk...almost everyone.  I haven't totally bought into Scotty yet, and the one I had the most trouble with was, surprisingly, Sarek.  To me, Mark Lenard is Sarek, and that's that.
  • McCoy, Leonard McCoy.  Seriously.  I swear to God.  He introduced himself as McCoy, Leonard McCoy.  I was trying not to think of Caesar, thank you very much.
  • And, on that subject, Karl Urban's accent slipped here a lot more than it ever did as Caesar -- my only explanation for that being that in attempting McCoy's southern drawl, Karl Urban's Kiwi slipped out instead.  Whoops.
Really, that's just about it.  Destroying Vulcan was horrid but probably only because Spock's World is one of my favorite Trek novels, and the thought of it being gone, of Seleya crumbling into just too horribly sad.

I'm planning on seeing Angels and Demons next week, but for the first time ever, for any Trek movie, I'm planning on seeing it again. 

I did see Undiscovered Country twice, but mostly because I was brought along the first time and then went with my grandparents so my grandpa could see it the second time.  This time, it's my decision.

Also...this may be the movie that causes me to get a Blu-Ray player.  It was absolutely gorgeous...though somewhat heavy on the lens flares.

I know "re-boots" are the thing lately, and I liked that Trek accomplished this one without destroying the original continuity.  They found a way to start again without invalidating what came before.

Julia Ecklar wrote "Born Again Trek" after seeing Star Trek II, but that feeling of...invigoration is what sticks in my mind after this movie.

Deep Space Nine might be the most dramatically interesting and consistent Trek series, and TNG holds a special place in my heart because it's the Trek I grew up on, but...this felt right.

It was like visiting old friends for the first time.

I can't wait for Star Trek 2.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Yom Hashoa

Today is Yom Hashoa , or Holocaust Remembrance Day (though "Shoah" does not mean "holocaust" -- which actually means "a burnt offering" -- but rather "catastrophe").


(ETA: I was certain that I had been told that "shoah" means "immolation" or something similar, but three online dictionaries insist it's "catastrophe.")

"I've noticed that about your people, Doctor.  You find it easier to understand the death of one than the death of a million.  You speak of the objective hardness of the Vulcan heart, yet how little room there seems to be in yours." -- Spock, "The Immunity Syndrome."

After Spock's comment above, McCoy, cynically answers, "'Suffer the death of thy neighbor,' eh, Spock?  Now, you wouldn't wish that on us, would you?"

"It might have rendered your history a bit less bloody."

Ironically, I think one of the most difficult things about the Holocaust is the sheer number of people that died.


Twenty million soldiers, and forty million civilians.

Sixty million people.

How do you conceive of millions of people dead?  Of sixty million, at that?

How many people can truly conceive of what a million means, anyway?

And, yet, every one of those millions was a light, a spark, and every one of those millions had people who grieved their loss.

It's staggering, to the point almost of abstraction -- which gets to the heart of Spock's comment.  Of course we find it easier to understand the death of "one."  One life snuffed out is hard enough to try to conceptualize 400 -- the number of Vulcans about whose death the good Doctor is so incredulous -- let alone millions is almost an impossible task.  After all, when does "millions" cease to be "millions of faces" and become...well...just "millions."

And imagine the horror -- imagine the sheer, unutterable horror -- if we truly did suffer every one of those deaths?

So is it too much to ask to take a few moments out, once a year, and consider the lives that were cut short by forces of history that ceased to see a human being as a person and turned them into -- quite literally, in some cases -- a number?

To remember the approximately 6 million Jews who perished in ghettos, concentration camps, work camps, death camps?

To remember the approximately 5 million other people who perished in the camps, including gypsies, slaves, gay men and women, and others?

To remember the thousands upon thousands upon thousands people with disabilities who were exterminated as practice for the real Final Solution?

To remember the heroes who cared for, hid, saved, and protected the other victims, at grave danger to themselves?

Of course not.

The problem is, the Holocaust asks us to peer into the deepest, darkest parts of human nature, and to accept that they are there.

The Holocaust is uncomfortable, and nowhere is that more exquisitely portrayed than in an episode of the Twilight Zone called "Deaths-Head Revisited."  You can watch it online here, (iTunes has a radio play of the episode, but it's not quite right...for one thing, they consistently pronounce Lutze wrong) and I would highly recommend at least the teaser:

A former SS officer has come to check into a little inn, and feigns forgetfulness of where he is.

Reluctantly -- oh, so reluctantly -- the woman behind the desk admits in a quavering voice, "Dachau, sir.  Dachau."

"Ah, yes," he says, unable to hide his pride, "Dachau."  He points to the hills and inquires whether that is still the camp.

The woman, appalled, wishes they would "burn it to the ground."  The memory is clearly painful, and she wishes to avoid it.

Being the Twilight Zone, awful things happen to the former SS captain, including a trial run by a former inmate (played amazingly, searingly well by the same man who played Otto Frank in the original Diary of Anne Frank -- also a weakness of the radio production mentioned above).  At the end, a doctor comments:  "Dachau.  Why does it still stand?  Why do we keep it standing?"
There is an answer to the doctor's question. All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes - all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God's Earth.
People often quote the adage that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it, and I would imagine most people think that this is the function of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

But here, in one of the most haunting tags that Rod Serling ever wrote, he points to another reason to remember, to be haunted by remembering: because if we don't, we are complicit in the victims' deaths -- after all, it is only when someone is no longer remembered that they're truly gone.

In a later episode, less well acted and less affecting in its product though perhaps not in the thought behind it, the Twilight Zone continues the meditation.  If by becoming inured to or forgetful of the horror, we become complicit, the gravediggers, the assassins of the victims all over again -- then by "Othering" people, any people, we are allowing the spirit of Hitler to live, thrive, and survive.
Where will he go next, this phantom from another time, this resurrected ghost of a previous nightmare - Chicago; Los Angeles; Miami, Florida; Vincennes, Indiana; Syracuse, New York? Anyplace, everyplace, where there's hate, where there's prejudice, where there's bigotry. He's alive. He's alive so long as these evils exist. Remember that when he comes to your town. Remember it when you hear his voice speaking out through others. Remember it when you hear a name called, a minority attacked, any blind, unreasoning assault on a people or any human being. He's alive because through these things we keep him alive.
"Any blind, unreasoning assault on a people or any human being."

Or, in the words Diane Duane fed to Sarek, "The spear in the Other's heart is the spear in your own; you are he.  There is no other wisdom, and no other hope for us than that we grow wise."

To me, that's the heart of Holocaust Remembrance Day -- that we take the day to remember that words and thoughts sow deeds.  Casual epithets, whether it's the "N word" or the "R word" matter.  They shape thoughts, and given enough times, thoughts can shape actions.

I am not Jewish, though some people in my family are.

I am not gay, though some people in my family are.

I do not have a disability, though some people in my family do.

My family's history is neither Slavic nor Romani.

None of that should matter, of course.  The Holocaust should be horrific whether or not it could have affected you directly.

But somehow, that's my hook.  That's how I can take those millions of faces and even begin to conceptualize them.  They're my aunt, uncle,

Only through a fortunate accident of birth was I born in a place and time where the Holocaust would not directly impact my life, though personal experience, but I suspect this is behind my long-time interest in the topic.

Today, though, history, psychology, anthropology...none of that matters.

Today, I remember.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Pictures

So, the gallery of what I initially called 5-star images is up here; I think I've changed my mind about a few of them, but that could be just the 1024x768 images that are shown in the gallery.  If anyone wants 'em, I set the gallery to allow downloading of whole images -- just be aware that the new camera is 15 megapixels, so the images are...big.

Meanwhile, here are the smaller preview-sized pictures.  Comments, if any, are above the corresponding picture.

First we have NEON. ;-)  Actually, I liked all the almost garish colors contrasting with the gentle blue of the sky.  Also?  Love the clouds.

I've taken almost this exact picture before, but this is cropped extensively.  Plus, the sky was blue -- difficult for someone who generally chooses to do Disney on cooler days or late afternoon / night time.

Patrick does not often let me take his picture, so I generally snap one while he's taking his own.  Sometimes I even get away with it.

"Get ready, Screamers!  Launch in five, four, three...."


"!"  (Note that this picture looked sharp when I edited it.  It seems odd to think that some blurriness was added -- specifically to the people and background -- when it was resized for the web, but who knows?)

 Grizzly Peak.  It took me three or four visits to catch onto the face, way back when.

I like the vertical composition better, but I prefer the colors in this one:

And this one:

I've mentioned before, I think, that I love to photograph water.

The Disneyland...Honor...Band (I think that was what it was called) during the Flag Retreat Ceremony.  (Which I stumbled upon as I was attempting to attach a different camera strap, as I didn't really want to walk around with, in effect, "NEW DIGITAL CAMERA" emblazoned on my neck, even at Disneyland.)

The old logo, the band uniforms...somehow it screamed sepia tone.  I also have a B&W version.


And, last but in no way least, my pride and joy of the day, taken at an ISO of 3200, with my nifty fifty, in order to get the most light into the camera as possible.

Again, whole gallery is here.  Other galleries (past pictures) are here.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sad News

Please send good thoughts towards my fellow teacher, Sixth Grade Teacher J, whose sister lost a year and a half (ish?) long battle against lung cancer last night.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Okay, because sometimes it's fun to celebrate your neutrinos rotating in the wrong direction (which is an old in-joke with someone who probably doesn't even read the blog, but anyway...) this is my life since Friday:

*  Wake up feeling very warm; suspect catching one of three versions of flu rampaging through the school (the district ran out of subs!)

*  Realize it's Friday, and therefore it's very likely that one of my staff will not be at school

*  Get to school and find out that, lo and behold, there will be no Aide J

*  Somehow survive the morning, begin special Friday afternoon routine (clean the classroom, clean the desks, play board games), when PH hits another student (Drama Queen, of course) for the first time all year

*  Allow Bulldozer to help me prep for the following week, as I've promised Patrick a couple of hours at Disneyland (he wants to video the fireworks with his new video camera)

*  Wait for Drama Queen's...someone (her family is really messed up) pick her up.  That someone, G., is late, so we wait for quite some time for someone to pick her up

*  Get home, tell Patrick that we will have to wait, as we've missed our pre-rush hour window for leaving

*  Fall asleep while watching The Ark of Truth, on Sci-Fi HD, where it looks purrty.

*  Wake up in time to see cute scene at the end where Sam gives Cameron the cookies she baked for him

*  Have disappointing dinner

*  Watch Dollhouse

*  Go to bed, and have very weird dream where (I absolutely kid you not) I dreamed that Disney replaced the flume ride part of it's a small world with some kind of rotating scary train ride.  Went to City Hall to complain, where a cast member confided that (kid you not) new Disney board members, including Ben Browder (??!), had tried to vote down the change but were overruled.

*  Wake up with a very bad headache

*  Laze around in the morning and eventually take very hot shower in attempt to get rid of headache.  Both fail.

*  Have lunch, walk outside, and want to rip eyeballs out of head due to the sun

*  Motrin starts to work, go to grandpa's house for laundry (he has a functioning dryer...ah, luxuries) and to update his computer (he's on a 3-week long cruise)

*  Anal side of me takes over, and I suggest that perhaps we should start his car one more time, as we only drove it once

*  Turns out Patrick didn't close his door all the way (which we didn't see 'cause the dome light doesn't work) and the car's battery is very, very dead

*  AAA guy says to drive it at least an hour, without even the stereo on, to recharge the battery (it was that dead)

*  Pull out of driveway, unsure of whether to go for a drive up or down the coast, face west, shriek at sight of setting sun, decide to have dinner at Downtown Disney

*  Dinner, though it takes a while, is very good.  Turns out ESPN Zone's Caesar salad is almost -- and, perhaps, equally -- as good as Planet Hollywood's (my all time favorite, and, yes, I know it's a very weird place to have The Best Caesar Salad Ever, but it does)

*  Stop at Wetzels for pretzel and soda to munch on way home to stay awake, discover huge line, go to Marceline Confectionary (fancy word for outside-the-park-extension-of-Main-Street-candy-story) instead for a small bag of taffy

*  Encounter large line there, too, but assume (incorrectly, as it turns out) that the Disney cast members are used to this and will move the line through with alacrity

*  Eventually make it to very long tram line, even though it's after the fireworks and before the park closing

*  Patrick gets grumpy and decides it's my fault that there's a line for the tram (yup)

*  Eventually make it to car, where we spend five minutes figuring out that I am not, in fact, in charge of the size of the line for the Disneyland tram system

*  Start driving home, only to see traffic advisory that the 5 North is down to one lane from the 110 to the 2.  Having experienced this once before (can you say, leave Disneyland at midnight and get home at 4 a.m.?), quickly head over to the 101

*  And immediately stop dead

*  Crawl forward for several miles, see a CHP officer running a traffic break, which then dissolves and things open up

*  Try to listen to KFWB for traffic info and discover an hour-long informercial (what the bloody heck?) and listen to KNX instead, which insists there are no traffic issues on the 101, but that there is a fatal accident on the 170

*  Revise plan again (was attempting to avoid 101/405 interchange due to emergency road repairs I'd heard about) to proceed up 101 to somewhere that looks promising to cross back to north end of valley

*  Turns out the work is done, head up 405, get very sleepy, and get off to head west across valley on city streets in order to make me pay more attention and (hopefully) stay awake

*  Drive up to grandpa's house, click button to open garage, and...

*  ...the garage goes up about six inches, then back down

*  Repeat 10 times, to no differing effect

*  Give up, drive grandpa's car home, collapse into bed

*  Straggle out of bed, shower, go to lunch and grocery shop, come home, make News-2-You video, and hope that maybe the neutrinos have turned around.