Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembrance



"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...my 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 just...is.

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.

Betrayed.

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 when...well...you 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 business...in 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 crew...so 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 dust...is 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").

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.

Millions.

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 encompass...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, cousins...brother.

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...."


"...two..."


"...one!"  (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.


Sunset!


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

Misadventures

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)...to 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.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Book Review: Flood, by Stephen Baxter

It took me a while to pick up Flood, though not for lack of trying.  After it was listed on Stephen Baxter's website as available in the fall of 2008, I kept an eye out for it at my local Borders, and even checked out both the Borders and Barnes and Noble in Santa Barbara one day on an unrelated outing.

On a semi-related note, I searched for it one day in Borders in...oh, November or December, and it was listed as not-yet-released.  I looked it up on Amazon, then and there on my iPhone, and it was absolutely available.

So, I eventually did order it from Amazon.

I have an interesting reader's relationship with Stephen Baxter's books.  Some of them suck me in from the first page or two -- The Timeships, say, or Evolution, which I recently finished as well.  Others, like Conqueror or The Light of Other Days, were slow going at first but engrossing once I'd gotten into them.

Spoilers below, obviously.

I struggled more with Flood, and I'm not really sure why.  Perhaps because I'm not a fan of the global disaster genre as a rule -- though I found the young adult novel Life as We Knew It engrossing in the extreme.  (It might be useful to note that I was a fan of Susan Beth Peffer's older novels as a teenager.)

The story is simple enough (if you're a hard sci-fi fan): there are vast subterranean oceans that -- due to climate change or the Gaia hypothesis -- suddenly release, setting a horrific catastrophe in motion: Earth's oceans begin to rise, first by meters a year and ultimately a meter a day, until the entire surface of the Earth is covered in water.

The story begins in Spain, with hostages of a religious fundamentalist group, and their rescue.  This serves as a reason to tie the main characters together throughout the book -- a sometimes flimsy excuse, it seems to me, but I'm willing to engage in a little suspension of disbelief.

When Lily returns to England, she finds that London has already endured several flooding events.  The story follows the former hostages through the next several decades of their lives -- ending as a flag planted atop Mount Everest drowns -- as humanity struggles to cope with the changes.

I'm not certain how to read the end of Flood, where Lily and another character discuss the Gaia hypothesis, and whether it's possible for humanity to survive on rafts indefinitely.  There are several mentions of the children who are born after the flood, and how they are at home in the water from a very early age.

Perhaps because I finished reading Evolution fairly recently, that struck me several times as a vast untapped aspect of the story, and may have something to do with my ambivalence regarding the ending -- in which Lily, aging and somewhat senile, suddenly asks, "I sailed on Ark Three, and I saw Ark One fly off...but what is Ark Two?"  Paraphrasing mine, emphasis on the last Baxter's.

It's striking to me that I didn't clue into that being a lead-in to a sequel until I read an article about it -- either on io9 or Sci-Fi Wire, I forget -- because I am far more interested in whether humanity will survive.

Note: I said humanity, not civilization.

By the end of the book, several generations have passed -- the characters note that children are having babies younger and younger -- and there have been references to raft kids that could swim to depths of 200 meters or more.

Which leaves me wondering -- could natural selection operate on the remaining populations quickly enough to allow some remnant of humanity to survive?

And, if so, what characteristics would be desirable?

Clearly increased lung capacity is one, to enable people to dive for fish and other goods.  Webbed or fused fingers or toes would suddenly become desirable, rather than something that suggests immediate surgery.  Quick thinking would likely be selected for -- but more than that, a sensitivity to changing pressure would warn of impending storms, hypercanes, or waves.

And so on.

I suspect the sequel will center on Ark Two, or perhaps answer the question of whether Ark One was really a spaceship setting off for parts unknown, but I would hope that we get at least some glimpses of what life on Earth has become.

All in all...I give Flood a hearty "meh."  5 out of 10, which is a shame because I am generally an avowed Stephen Baxter fan.

Friday, March 20, 2009

There Are Those Who Believe...

...that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans.  Some believe there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive somewhere beyond the heavens....

-- opening narration to the original Battlestar Galactica series, spoken by Patrick Macnee.  You can find a sound file of the narration here.

Small spoilers for tonight's Battlestar Galactica finale follow.

Consider yourself warned.

That original narration fascinated me as a child.  Patrick Macnee's delivery of it was awesome, and I loved the lyrical quality of the writing itself.  There's also, of course, the idea behind the narration -- which I can't express any more eloquently than the narration itself.

So of course I always suspected that the current BSG's mantra of "all of this has happened before and all of it will happen again" had something to do with that original narration.  When they found Earth and it was destroyed, I -- like many fans, I assume -- figured that the BSG story takes place far into our future, where there have been two additional catastrophic human near-extinctions: along with the one on the original Earth, the one on Kobol, and of course the destruction of the Twelve Colonies.

However.

Mitochondrial Eve.

Mito-frakkin-chondrial Eve.

My science nerd and my sci-fi nerd collided into a rush of ecstatic squee.  That is just too entirely awesome -- whatever you may think of the rest of the ending.

I mean...Mitochondrial Eve.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Question

What would make a camera suddenly stop focusing and show vertical
halos (as in, more heads on top of real heads), with multiple lenses,
batteries, and a preferences reset? I suspect something physical but
I've never had a camera fail before.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Milestone

Comparison shopping is very hard for Patrick.

I suspect it's some combination of I'm-a-21-year-old-guy impulsiveness and the fact that comparison shopping requires a few higher-level thinking processes, not the least of which are (1) delaying gratification (not buying something cool the moment you see it), and (2) understanding that some nebulous something you might see later might be cooler than this REALLY COOL THING you see right here and now.

We worked really hard on the idea at Disney World this past winter (see, there I go again, making a trip into a CBI (community based instruction) experience ;-)).  Patrick's plan is always to get one shirt at each theme park, and in the past, this has meant grabbing the first cool shirt he sees and running with it.

This year, we (mostly jointly) decided to look in all the shops first, and go back and buy whichever shirt was best.  Patrick was skeptical at first, until I talked him out of buying some generic shirt at Mouse Gears in EPCOT -- and then he promptly found a really cool (to him) shirt at the Mexico Pavilion.  I pointed out (and emphasized heavily) that he would never have found that shirt had he bought the first one.

This time he got it.  He carefully perused every shop in every other park -- with the exception of Animal Kingdom, which is a hilly, bumpy, difficult place to walk around if you don't see too well, and which had utterly exhausted him -- and ended up finding some really nice shirt, including his bombest shirt.

Meanwhile, Patrick had been hired by my mom to help her catch up on the shredding at her office.  Patrick has been slaving over a shredder for months, with the ultimate goal of earning enough money to buy a video camera so he can take ride videos at Disneyland and Disney World.  He is nearly done (half a box more) but was a little crestfallen that he wouldn't finish in time to buy the camera for his birthday.

Today, with the intention (though she didn't tell him that) of taking pity on him and advancing him the money for the camera, we all traipsed to Fry's and Best Buy to look at cameras.  He found one at Fry's that he really liked, then willingly -- and without any prompts -- walked away to browse the DVDs, planning to go to Best Buy next.

Without any prompts.

Even though he'd found one he liked a lot.

So we went to Best Buy, and lo and behold, he found one he liked even better.  It was available in bright red, and had night vision -- a plus for dark rides.

He perused them, and walked over to browse the DVDs.

(That's kinda a Routine.)

Anyhow, at dinner (mmmm...Bear Pit), my mom asked him which camera he'd liked the best.

(We'd told him he was getting a surprise after dinner, but hadn't told him what it was.  In a testament to his growing maturity and responsibility, he never once -- not until after we'd parked at Best Buy -- thought that his surprise might be his camera.)

He said the one at Best Buy, then went back to writing in his notebook.

So, we parked at Best Buy, and Patrick frowned.  "We're at Best Buy?" he said.  "My surprise is at Best Buy?"

Then it hit him.

"My surprise is my camera?!"

It turned out they were out of the red ones, but he was happy with his glossy black.

A whole day of comparison shopping.  Go Patrick!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Eureka!

A while back, I posted a Shakespeare quote that had appreared -- I was certain -- on Star Trek at some point, though I was not at all sure where. Googling the quote hadn't helped.

So, tonight, while I was waiting for my update (please have bug-fixes!) for Communicate:SymWriter to download, I tried something more generic: I googled "Star Trek Shakespeare" in one tab and the quote "I shall not look upon his like again" in another. The former didn't help much, although it did link me to a general page reminding me of other Shakespeare quotes in Trek.

But armed with my new knowledge -- namely, that the quote itself was from Hamlet -- I googled "Star Trek Hamlet" and...eureka!
In 2366, when Data was abducted by Kivas Fajo and presumed dead, Geordi La Forge returned Data's volume of the complete Shakespeare to Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He read two lines from Hamlet Act I, Scene II to himself:

"He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again." (TNG: "The Most Toys")
Ironically, after my initial googling a while back, I was fairly certain that the quote had come from "The Most Toys" -- which, along with the episode in which the bad guy takes over Deanna and makes her age precipitously, is the only TNG episode I've only ever watched once -- or "Time's Arrow" (a.k.a. the "Data's Head" episode, in which the writers take the mind-numbing "predestination paradox" to new heights, where Data found his head under San Francisco and travelled back in time to investigate how his head was buried in San Francisco, only to lose his head in San Francisco, resulting in him finding his head in the future and...yeah.).

Meanwhile, having more or less struck out on Amazon, I've been searching Google Images for pictures from Nepal, in order to write a short adapted book about it. (One of our staff members this year, Long Term Sub Aide R, is from Nepal, and the kids are dreadfully curious about the place.)

Also, I may be getting Student #12, although I haven't heard back from Program Specialist PM after the parent visit, so it's still up in the air. Turns out Teacher M used to sit in on the student's IEPs as a special educator, because the student was homeschooled. He's sixth grade age, but considered a fifth grader, which would bring me up to six fifth graders, four sixth graders, and two lonely fourth graders.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Adventures

Back at Christmas, I was the happy recipient of a "nifty 50" -- a Canon 50 mm prime lens that costs around $100.  It's mostly plastic and -- as with all of photography -- not the best 50 mm prime lens you can buy.

However, it's a 50 mm f 1.8 lens, so I happily brought it along to ride the new it's a small world and to take some pictures.

I got a couple of good shots, but my favorite of the night is this one, from the also newly-refurbished Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through.


This one was taken with my trusty kit lens from way back when I bought the camera, but I'd paused there to wait for my mom to buy a coffee, and I never take photos from this angle or vantage point.



A couple of small world shots.  I like Woody the best, but to be fair, I tried to get away with an ISO of 400 in an effort to reduce noise.  I got a surprising number of usable shots, but I think next time I'll go for 800 and see what I can do with that.  There's always 1600 if I must.


Meanwhile, still slowly going through San Diego pictures from...ahem...the day after Thanksgiving.  Lots of neat Balboa Park architectural pictures, with some Seaport Village thrown in.

Seaport Village:

Balboa Park:
And that's all she wrote, for now.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Various Fannish Stuff

Okay, first, a few words about Dollhouse.

The majority of reviews that I've read online have been...anemic, at best.  People who were expecting snappy Buffy-esque dialogue were disappointed with the (heavily-tinkered-with-by-Fox) premiere.  Many people see no potential in the show because Echo is "not a character" (read that on a blog; don't remember where).  One Fandom!Secrets post complained that Dollhouse is the last nail in the Joss-isn't-a-feminist-after-all coffin.

I was, I'll admit, a little surprised at the...well...normality of the dialogue in the premiere.  There was no creative use of tenses, word forms, or sentence structure (just look at the Wikiquote Buffy page, if you don't know what I'm talking about) such as "But not for me the furrowed brow."

The thing is...this isn't Buffy.  Or Angel.  So why does it have to sound like it?

(To be fair, in the second and third episodes, there are a few turns of phrase that I found quite reminiscent of both, but it's not like it's an hour of Buffy-esque dialogue tricks.)

Now, as for the "Echo isn't a character" thing -- I'd argue against that, strenuously.

(Spoilers below for the first three episodes.)

I'm not sure that Echo, in her non-imprinted state, has much to do with her pre-Dollhouse persona (whose name I have forgotten) but I'm fairly certain that something is lingering even after wipes.  Whether that has to do with the flashbacks she had when crazy-hunter-guy was stalking her, or whether it's just a flaw in the process (which the existence of Alpha and of the other doll recognizing Echo at the end of the third episode suggest), I'm not sure.

The fact is, they have shown Echo wandering around where she shouldn't be, out of curiosity, remembering other dolls when she shouldn't, interacting with them in a way that suggests she knows she shouldn't let on that she recognizes them (shaking her head at Sierra), and so on.  I think Echo is a character -- and, what's more -- I think that Echo is going to develop as a character over however long the series lasts (or however long Joss has planned, if by some miracle its ratings go up and it lasts more than the few episodes that have been ordered already) into the main character of the show.

And, yes, I mean that as literally as I wrote it -- it's not going to be the "tabula rasa" show -- it's going to be the Echo show.  The question is, is it going to be about Echo taking down the Dollhouse from within, or is it going to be a more morally murky situation?

Much is being made in the show of Echo's ability to build something above and beyond what she's been imprinted with.  Dr. Fred suggests -- likely because they suspect that's what Alpha did -- that that is a bad thing.

So is Alpha going to be the moral opposite of Echo?  The doll that took all the bad bits and pieces and created for himself a persona that seems clearly evil.  Or is it?  Was he, perhaps, trying to put the dolls out of what he perceived as their misery?

And, say Echo becomes fully self-aware, in between imprinting sessions.  Does she retain that after being imprinted?  Does she, ultimately, become Echo who is also a ninja fighter?

Personally, I find the possibilities fascinating.

So, say, at some point in the show (I think I remember reading that Joss intends for it to be five seasons) Echo escapes from the dollhouse and becomes a fugitive.  Who do you trust?  How do you know that the person you're talking to isn't a doll sent to set you up, like Agent Ballard in the third episode.

Incidentally, I could do without the Agent Ballard thing at all.  I've just never gotten the fuss over Tahmoh Penikett, even as I rooted for his character on Battlestar Galactica.  Someone, though, perhaps on an io9 discussion, suggested that he might be Alpha, and I find that intriguing -- that perhaps the Alpha persona is only part of the character.

Now, based on past history, the fact that I enjoy a Fox sci-fi show with mediocre ratings suggests an early end, a la the much-lamented Alien Nation.  Oh well.

Meanwhile, having been inspired by a re-read blog on Tor's website, I have decided to try, once again, to re-read The Lord of the Rings.  I've tried three other times before, but was heartened by many, many comments by folks that are now clearly die-hard fans who also made several aborted attempts (all failing very close to where I gave up -- somewhere between Bree and Rivendell) to try once again.

I have no real explanation for why I've never made it through the books -- the rather high-brow language doesn't really trouble me -- but my suspicion is the rather long info-dumps that happen with prodigious regularity in the book.  Peter Jackson said once that getting the prologue to Fellowship the right length was an arduous process -- he had to try to give audiences info they needed to know, without having a 23-minute-long prologue.  Tolkien, to my observation, showed no such restraint.

So we'll see.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Strange Workings of My Brain

I am absolutely convinced that the last two lines of this sonnet were, at some point in time, quoted in an episode of one of the Star Trek shows.

For the life of me, I cannot remember who, what, when, or why, and it's driving me nuts.

"So long as men can breathe or eyes can see
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."

I don't suppose anyone out there can help me out?  Normally, I'm much better at remembering lines and quotes.

For the record, I think my favorite sonnet is Sonnet 29:


When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply** I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings'.

** Haply does not mean "happily," but rather, "by chance" (it's related to "happenstance," I suppose).

Like most of Shakespeare's works, I think that his sonnets should be read aloud to be fully appreciated -- but remember that you shouldn't pause at the end of a line unless there's punctuation there -- so, for instance, there should be no pause between "arising" and "From sullen earth."

That said, one of the greatest talents of my 11th and 12th grade English teachers was finding contemporary language to explain poetry (you should hear how my 11th grade teacher -- who, incidentally, was abysmal at teaching prose -- explained "To His Coy Mistress"), so here's my take on it:


When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,

When nothing in my life is going well, and I'm crying from loneliness . . . 

And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,

. . . and praying, though it's not doing any good, and I'm cursing my life and my bad luck . . . 

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:

. . . Wishing that I was somebody else -- someone with friends, or talents, or power -- hating that which I usually love . . . 

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

. . . And yet hating myself for feeling this way . . .

Haply** I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;

Just by chance, I think of you, and then I love everything about my life (note: I could not in any way do justice to that simile, which to me is one of the most gorgeous turns of phrase I've ever heard (despite the now sinister connections to the term "heaven's gate" and so I chose not to)

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings'.

. . . Because when I think of how you love me, I feel so rich that I wouldn't change my life for anything.

Seriously, though, read it aloud.

Read all of Shakespeare aloud, or at least listen to someone else read it aloud.  It takes longer, but it makes all the difference in the world.

Now that I've gotten so sidetracked, let me repeat my plea for help:

Where, oh, where, did they quote this on one of the Trek shows:

"So long as men can breathe or eyes can see
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."

I have the niggling sense that it somehow relates to Data, but I'm honestly not at all sure.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oh, Copyediting

So, there is an interesting headline on Yahoo's front page right about now:


Strangely enough, the headline of the article the link points to makes more sense:


For any screen-reader using guests, the first headline reads "Many TV stations will still switch to analog signal on Feb. 17" and the second reads "TV stations get ready to cut analog signal (AP)."  I just included the screen captures as evidence.

(Also, since when are article headlines not capitalized?)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is This Cool or Weird?

Okay, I loved the mid-80s TV movie version of Alice in Wonderland, which, of course, prominently featured "The Jabberwocky."

I also like filk music, at least older stuff (classics like Julia Ecklar's stuff, Leslie Fish...that kind of stuff).

This sounds like a filk recording of "The Jabberwocky," but I'm not sure if it's cool or not.  Something about the phrasing or pacing, especially at the beginning, seems a
bit...off:


Personally, my favorite nonsense phrase was always: "the vorpal blade went snicker-snack."