Author Archives: sam
Star Trek comes in handy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed a pop culture reference and reached for Kirk & Co. They’ve also provided fan fiction mulch on a few occasions.
This despite that I rarely rate it higher than Good Bad, the category which naturally falls below Good and above Bad. There’s also a Good Good, but I see no need for a Bad Bad.
I turn on the subtitles when watching anything. It’s not that I’m hard of hearing; it’s more that I always have a nagging worry about missing dialogue, and prefer the redundancy. These days all my viewing is done on a computer, making it easy to collect screenshots along the way.
The following are from the Star Trek Voyager episode Alter Ego, which may have been the first to make me sit up from my usual half-interested slouch, one eye on the Netflix window, the other on some fresh hell in my chosen opinion aggregator, and say to my Oreo “Hey, this is better than Good Bad.”
After the preliminaries, which are nothing special else I would’ve taken snaps of them, we are presented with the sight of the ship’s senior logic jockey fiddling with one of those Vulcan games that make you wonder if this advanced race is all it’s cracked up to be. Humans discovered Pick-up Sticks centuries ago.
In walks Harry:
“Grasshopper,” he forgot to add. Harry calls it:
as I was saying, the obviously troubled Operations Officer
has come seeking wisdom from Lt Cdr “Know-It-All” Tuvok, who like Spock only has one name, all others having been dispensed with probably around the time the Vulcan High Command outlawed any emotion more severe than a raised eyebrow.
Harry has woman woes. A step up from Tribble trouble, if you ask me.
Well, this is Star Trek. Specifically, Harry is smitten with a holodeck character (“Computer, give me something from Baywatch, aged to perfection”) who’s the only one who really understands him. Or at least that’s what I assume the project notes said.
Tuvok looks into the situation
and comes to appreciate what Harry sees in what’s-her-name. But it turns out all is not what it seems. Marayna (all writing is improved by research) isn’t in fact just another saucy tomato.
She’s a highly intelligent forehead being of the sort the crew is forever running into. But I’m getting ahead of myself in my rush to finish this before I run out of screenshots.
Mary lives on a space station, her job to keep an unruly nebula tame by twiddling dials to maintain that wondrous dampening field technology that awaits future generations. She’s a little like a lifeguard keeping her entire race safe, suffering from not-so-splendid isolation.
She’s managed to infiltrate the Voyager’s CPU or whatever and project herself as holobait. She’s done things like this before, to other ships. It passes the time.
Only this time she didn’t reckon to meet a mind as fascinating as Tuvok’s. She falls for him. She must have him, or else. The imminent destruction of the Voyager awaits, unless the crew can figure all this out before the credits roll.
A highlight of the episode is the hilarious fight between holo Hawaiian hotties (resistance to alliteration is futile) and B’Elanna.
One wonders if junior Vulcan Voric paid to have that set up, fuel for the obvious Pon farr smoldering behind his bedroom eyes earlier in the show.
There is the usual meeting of the minds (Neelix is often the mascot begging for scraps at the table, but he’s too busy adjusting the feng shui on the holodeck of this love boat) who struggle to find a solution which doesn’t violate the prime directive of being too earnest. They fail, of course, as Tuvok allows himself to be beamed into the lair of the highly intelligent forehead being, who his tricorder identifies as the reincarnation of Alex from Fatal Attraction, to faced with an ultimatum: be hers, or she’ll use her plasma nebula powers to boil the crew of the Voyager like so many bunnies.
There follows a genuinely touching exchange whereby Tuvok talks her out of this act of extreme jealousy
convincing her that she needs to get out more.
I’ve skipped a lot of details, but that’s the gist of it.
What struck me about this episode was how it rose like a phoenix from the ashes of my expectations, begging the question of why I still watch the various Treks floating forever in syndication. It seems that resistance really is
the new perfume by Borg. Not that Borg.
Look, I’m no TV reviewer. I was just pleased that Alter Ego was better written and acted than the usual ST fare; even, if I may be dreadfully patronising,
Is it possible I will be pleasantly surprised by future episodes I’ve already seen ages ago and conveniently forgotten?
* * *
Bonus shot of the doctor, still nameless (Shmullus doesn’t count) but now considering Don Juan.
Blast from the past:
In the mood for Star Trek fan fiction? Click here.
More screenshots from the not-such-an-idiot box here.
I’d like to see how Janeway handles first contact with Swearengen.
I like to think that after 48 years on this Earth I’ve developed a little patience, but 13 weeks for an armchair, Multiyork? God knows how our lives will have moved on in 13 weeks.
Unfortunately they carried the only chair my wife and I were willing to allow across the threshold into our home, so it seemed we were stuck. Then one of us – it doesn’t matter who – mentioned IKEA. They weren’t shouting, it’s meant to be in all caps.
A quick search brought the Strandmon to our attention. [Google Translate: it means Strandmon.] While it didn’t possess the aesthetic perfection that we had heretofore felt necessary, it had other qualities which we also hold in esteem: it was a fraction of the price of the überchair, and it was available within that highly desireable timeframe of now. It wasn’t just a showroom tease.
Three trains and a bus (evidently the IKEA Bus – “Does this go to IKEA?” every other person asked as they got on) brought us to the big blue and yellow box in Tottenham/London, where thanks to many internet reviewers we were prepared to run a gauntlet of poor customer service.
We tracked down the chair. First we confirmed that we could bear the sight of it, as much of the life of a chair consists of not actually sitting in it, but having to look at it. Armchairs are very susceptible to being ugly. The Strandmon is too curvy and spindly for my taste, but that was better than an overstuffed monstrosity designed for Jabba the Hut.
When you’re considering a chair, naturally you ponder all of the sitting to come. At a basic level it has to be an improvement over the lack of a chair. Once it gets you off the ground, does it hold you the way you like to be held? Will you have worthy thoughts in it? Read great books? That’s not to say you can’t fall asleep gently drooling in front of bad TV, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire tumbled to the side. It’s just that whatever the future holds, it will include this chair in which you will spend some time pondering the future, an infinite loop which complicates the buying decision.
£195 resimplified the decision. It was available in a nice enough colour+fabric, I quickly divined that the high side wings would cradle my lolling head wonderfully, and apparently it passed the necessary tests back when it was in basic training on how to be a chair, so we got it.
Our first point of contact with an employee was to check it was in stock. She unbruskly and unrudely confirmed it was, then led us most of the way to its location in the warehouse in case we should get lost
I wrestled Strandmon onto a trolley
and after a bit of queuetime discussing how swimmingly it was all going we had our second encounter, a very nonunpleasant cashier who bid us have a nice day. So far we were having one. The direction of the day took a wrong turn when we pulled into the home delivery bay and discovered that our postcode was outside the store’s delivery zone and therefore this particular Strandmon wasn’t going anywhere. We took a number and waited for a refund from a woman who once again failed to achieve targets for surliness, then rubbed our faces in it with vouchers for a happy meal to make up for the disappointment of having to order it online instead.
Once it arrived it fit right in; accusations of curviness and spindliness were quickly forgotten.
This was actually posted in 2014, but I came across it the other day and the memory made me smile, so I’ve bumped it by faking the date. The bad news is, that means I’m 50.
Facebook capture has been achieved. Dragged kicking and screaming, I finally went limp and fell into its embrace. “Thou doth protest too much,” it whispered, all-knowing.
Wait a minute. This isn’t news. What is, is that I’ve become addicted to little red flags indicating Something Has Happened, eg a friend request or acceptance, or perhaps a mention (I’ve heard it happens). Hit me baby one more time.
Yet ambivalence remains, my consort in life.
The good: It’s fun to search for intelligent life and make first contact, if necessary using the universal language of photoshop.
It gets the wheels spinning. Who knows where you may end up.
The bad: I’m still not sure you end up anywhere. And there are limitless opportunities to be snubbed. Hello, cruel world.
Listen, it’s always nice to chat with friendly folk, and a direction isn’t required to make the exchange worthwhile. As someone who has virtually no social life, it’s a godsend (or pathetic, if you prefer). The problem is, with few exceptions it’s been like pulling teeth.
practically obligatory illustration
Take this gambit:
It yields a solitary response. Granted, I only had a dozen friends at the time (this number has since ballooned to 21 – break out the champagne! even if 4 of those are relatives), but it still strikes me as an abysmal success rate. Although it wasn’t the easiest to answer, I’m not convinced the nature of the question was the issue.
What was the issue? I don’t know. It could be my messages in a bottle are getting lost in the feed of people who have many more friends than I to keep track of, which if I’m not mistaken is everybody else on the planet. Possibly I’m like that guy who breaks into a water cooler moment speaking Swahili. Possibly my friends are duds. Possibly I am [much more likely -ed].
Speaking of which, I committed my first unfriending yesterday, if you don’t count the actual first one a few days earlier, as that was clearly necessary, the beneficiary high on the fraudster meter. No, this one was a genuine heartbreaker.
Acquaintance from RL in my distant college past. Wouldn’t call him a friend, not that I wouldn’t have been open to the possibility, but we never went there.
Come the current Facebook era I look him up, as one does, and find him quite active both in his chosen profession (which he’s very good at) and social media. I send a friend request, he accepts, away we go.
Only we don’t go anywhere at all interesting. This bothers me for some reason – “Is he immune to my charms?” I mutter under my breath on occasion. Cue my perhaps making a little too much of an effort to engage, with no discernible results. Soon enough even the sight of his little profile pic annoys me, a constant badge of perceived failure.
I make the grave mistake of attempting what I hope will not be construed as anything other than lighthearted remonstrance, garlanded with my wishes for a more active engagement, complete with my genuine compliments on his wordsmithery.
An epic fail on the messaging front, or so I see it, follows. Horrified, I direct my wavering finger (despite a red light flashing in my insomniac’s brain – WARNING: sleep on it WARNING: sleep on it) over the Friend button to reverse that process: a very uncheery prospect indeed. Finger takes the plunge. The deed is done. I am faintly sickened at the carnage.
The following morning I consider the earlier-in-the-morning’s events. Decide I was being an ass. Maybe. At the risk of being reported to the authorities as a stalker, I contact Mr Unfriend with a conciliatory “mea culpa” explanatory email (he’s one of us dinosaurs who still uses that ancient technology), thus satisfying my conscience that I’ve done my best on the communication front. And that, my imaginary Lost in Translation friend, is that.
Naturally he hasn’t acknowledged receipt. I hardly expected him to, indeed almost dreaded the very prospect. I think I can rest easy. For a change.
She’s winning as usual. Came out of the gate with a seven letter word. We’ll have to play piecemeal through the week or not at all till next weekend.
She usually reads the board upside-down. Doubtless she could take on a dozen challengers at a time, blindfolded.
I’ve got a 2,000 year old Roman coin in my pocket.* It’s genuine, if the dealer was legit. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be; an abundant supply is available to those interested in history but lacking a trove of disposable income. I would’ve gone for the Yappese Rai but there was no way I’d get that home in a cab outside The Flintstones.
I bought it almost as an afterthought when sourcing a gift for my father, who long ago was bitten by the numismatic bug. I’m not a collector, though will admit to a fondness for £2 coins, especially shiny ones.
It’s cool being able to walk around with something in my pocket that a resident of these windy isles could have carried in his before the Dark Ages. (Did they have pockets back then? Do I need to look that up? Can I trust Wikipedia? Oh let’s, especially as they aren’t motivated by filthy lucre.) What might he have spent it on? A haircut? Small amphora of joy juice? Tip for the attendant at the baths, accompanied by a wink? I can only imagine. Which is kind of the point.
Recently the Bank of England introduced a new fiver. Can’t say I’m a fan. It looks sharp, but it doesn’t like to be folded—a nonstarter for those of us who don’t bother with wallets. It’s also disconcertingly slippery. They say it’s good for the environment, so there’s that.
Peep Show aficionados may remember the rather icky episode when Jeremy is making a deposit at a sperm bank but has nothing in the way of visual stimulation. Desperate, he tries it on with Queen Elizabeth on the front of a £20 bill. When it flutters to the floor in the heat of passion, Sir Edward Elgar on the flip side spoils it for him. There was even a Facebook page devoted to this particular gag.
The banknote featuring the quintessentially English composer on the back is no longer legal tender, though Liz’s ballroom eyes and a stirring rendition of Pomp and Circumstance might still be a potent aphrodisiac for some.
Now appearing on Netflix
They say power is the ultimate turn-on. I don’t know about that, but in order to be worth anything, money needs power behind it. Traditionally the face of that power has been stamped right on top.
That now pleasantly worthless old Roman coin of mine was later joined by a gift from my father: my inheritance, as he put it. One hundred trillion dollars, backed by the full faith and credit of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. While admiring the Chiremba Balancing Rocks, one is given to pondering the value of money and the state of the economy in general. It’s a whole lot of zeros.
Cash money is rumoured to be on its way out anyway. The banks would certainly prefer it all be relegated to a museum. I rather hope it stays in circulation. I may not carry much of it, but it’s nice to know it’s there.
* for the purposes of this post. I seem to have misplaced it. I hope the parking garage didn’t get it.
The world awaits my seminal paper, In Defense of Mouthbreathers.
I don’t know about you, but I need a lot of air. It might have something to do with all my cycling, which instills the need to suck in oxygen at prodigious rates. Or it could be a vague feeling that my nose is filtering out the good stuff. Whatever the reason, I am not ashamed to admit to giving my lungs the biggest hole in my arsenal to inflate themselves.
My concern is that breathing using your mouth is too often tainted with negative connotations. As The Urban Dictionary puts it, a mouthbreather is
1. Literally, someone who lacks enough intelligence that they never learned to breathe through their nose.
2. A really dumb person.
When humans first acquired the power of speech, doubtless they quickly moved on to insults. “Why can’t you just yawn and be done with it?” said Lucy to the “handy” habilis painting her cave, ignoring the 1.2 million year gap.
RDH Magazine has this to say: “Mouth breathing affects the pH of the entire body… A low pH oral environment is not only corrosive to the teeth directly, but the acidic pH activates the acidophilic and acidogenic bacteria to set up housekeeping. Building a healthy biofilm in the presence of acidic saliva is nearly impossible. Acid begets acid.” Oh dear. Parenthetically, RDH, you don’t make it easy find out what those letters stand for. Rooting for Dental Hygiene?
“We know that breaking a habit is nearly impossible and starting a new habit is just as hard. And like it or not, one habit will be replaced by another, so finding an alternate habit is a good strategy.“ Just when I was about to take up the harmonica.