Thursday, November 29, 2007

Encounter at Farpoint: Part 2

The best part about this episode is how ominous and threatening they make the Ferengi out to be. It must not have taken the writers long to realize that they looked just a little too ridiculous for viewers to actually find them scary, and that they work far better as comic relief.

Did everything just taste purple for a second?

Another thing I really liked about the earlier seasons of Next Gen was the alien creatures who looked and acted nothing like humans. There was a lot less of that in Deep Space Nine and the other later series, as they became more of a space opera and stopped pursuing plots that even tried to explore new science fiction themes.


By al - 8:52 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Encounter at Farpoint

There are a few funny things about the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Mostly they involve things that seemed to be a big deal in the first episode but then were totally ignored. Like the fact that the Enterprise can split into two parts, the saucer section and the lower section, which had its own bridge, the Battle Bridge. Even in the episode when they first encounter the Borg and Riker orders that the ship ram right the fuck into the Borg cube, he never takes a second to think "hey you know it'd be awful decent of me to let the families and crew go home safe and sound if we separated from the saucer section before we rock'n'roll right up in this bitch."

Each of the bridge officers also made a show of pushing their consoles out and away from them before getting up, which no one ever bothered with in subsequent episodes. There was a bridge member who sat where Wesley Crusher would end up sitting named Lieutennant Torres. Surely Bolanna Torres from Voyager was named after him. I wonder if the writers who crank out things like the Star Trek Encyclopedia thought to crowbar a family relationship between the two characters.

Another cute thing was a little console for the jumpsuit-clad Deanna Troi that told her the ship was at status: green before they could go to warp 9. Totally adorable that they gave the eye-candy something technical-ish to be in charge of. They didn't take long to drop that little facade, did they? It's too bad they stuck her in the purple body suit afterwards, it never showed her nice soft juicy legs.

One thing that remained unchanged through the whole series after that, though, was that the best part of the whole episode was whenever Q was in the scene.

There's a great scene where Q puts Picard on trial in a scene they label "Mid 21st century - the post-atomic horror." There's a huddling crowd of observers to the trial who are all poor and filthy and speaking Chinese. This setting, sadly, was never re-visited as far as I know, in any later episodes of any series. Too bad, there'd have been a lot of potential to explore human nature and near-future outcomes of our own society's decisions. But it doesn't quite fit with the hooray-for-everything future outlook of the Star Trek universe.

Denise Crosby (Lt. Yarr) getting hysterical is glorious. "You BARBARIAN!" Q almost kills her, and silently kicks ass by yawning while Data examines her body to see if she'll live.

I still think Q was right in his charges - humanity are a grievously savage race. It's a shame they didn't give the charges a proper hearing.

It's still awfully cute that they think blind people have big white balls for eyes with no pupils. The 80s were a simpler time.

I'm glad that they didn't use any computer graphics instead of models back then. The show still looks remarkably modern because of it. The blue light cast by the warp nacelles reflects perfectly on the rest of the ship, where it wouldn't be until a few years ago that CG would have gotten that right without it looking like an episode of Reboot. And it's still cool to think that people actually took the time and effort to actually build the bridge and the corridors and the engine room and the rest of everything you see on the ship. That episode of Reading Rainbow where Lavar Burton takes you around and shows you everything was still my favourite half our of anything PBS has ever broadcast.


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Saturday, November 24, 2007

My Greatest Accomplishment of the Day

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Monday, November 19, 2007


gabrielle says:
that is insane. he draws things that come to life.

Now, the business plan: move down to mexico, get a glass-bottomed boat, fill-er up with playpen balls and charge tourists to go out in ballpit / sea life gazing combination tours.


By al - 1:01 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Librivox - Great Idea, Spotty Talent

OK, new rule: I think it's really great if you want to volunteer to read for the Librivox project - Free audio book version of public domain books - but you have to be at least as steady and talented a reader as Mac OS X's new "Alex" voice. Because otherwise you're just wasting a whole lot of time, disk space and bandwidth.

I just finished listening to The Antichrist by Nietzsche (I need to occasionally re-fuel my polemic tank). The first reader (mp3) was this poor lady with a voice like a balloon being rubbed way too hard on a table. Poor girl, while listening I am imagining that this voice of hers has left her isolated and lonely and maybe that's why she reads books out loud in her spare time.

It's a good thing I've gotten used to such things, though, because otherwise I'd have missed the fantastic piece of performance art that is the last section (mp3) - read by a chap who really, really gets into the text. The energy and emotion makes it sound like he's trying to impress upon Nietzsche's ghost just how much he hates Christianity, too. This is what a fundmentalist atheist sermon would probably sound like. A great piece of unexpected entertainment.

Still, I made up a hotkey macro to dictate out a selected block of text using the Alex voice, and I think I'll end up using that rather than actually listen to the voices of those internet nerds who probably spend the rest of their online time in revert wars on Wikipedia and blogging about their cats' health problems. And yeah, there's also the huge number of commercial audiobooks on Bittorrent sites, but the overwhelming number of self-help books and dime-a-dozen fantasy novels who's print versions are the size of phone books makes finding something worth listening to take as long as the download itself. And I still read old-fashioned paper books, too, but I can't play Tetris at the same time which is a pretty great selling point for audio books.

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By al - 4:52 a.m. | (0) comments | Post a Comment

Friday, November 02, 2007

Best opening weekend? Not what you think.

So, the big news just recently was that Halo 3 had beaten out both Spider-Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the best opening weekend of sales, with over $150,000,000 in sales.

Well, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard just sold 2 million copies in its opening weekend, and 2,000,000 * $129 = $258,000,000. Looks like we have a new winner.

PS. I'm loving Leopard, it's an improvement in a lot of ways I didn't expect, since I really didn't have any complaints about Tiger, but the new additions are quite slick. I'll write a bigger piece about it in the next few days.


By al - 2:40 a.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bogart's Hallowe'en Costume


By al - 5:55 p.m. | (1) comments | Post a Comment

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