2016 So Far Has Been Hard On The Heroes

•February 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

And now Edgar Mitchell has gone to rest.


Good Night to a Hero

•January 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

David Bowie has died.

Depending on what was happening around me, there was always a Bowie persona that I could identify with. From outsiders like Ziggy or the Grand White Duke to Major Tom being caught up in an out of control life to Bowie in the Black Tie White Noise early 90’s era, touching on love, life, and solitude. When he proposed Let’s Dance, only later would it go Magic from the Underground up.

Only yesterday was I looking at Blackstar, his final album just released. The cosmos is a little dimmer now that Bowie’s star has dimmed.

A Fanfilm Implosion

•January 9, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Everyone knows two things about me. One, I come up with stories. Two,  I’m a bit of an extreme Trekhead. Need proof?  Here .  That’s my story, not that I’m sticking to it. Sure, it was rewritten a bit to fit with what the Farraguteers needed, but the idea came out of my huge, hairy noggin.   When I first saw Starship Farragut and saw that they were looking for script submissions, the idea leapt fully formed into Word like some 23rd century Athena with warp engines.    Before that, I’d watched some New Voyages, which eventually became Phase II, which has now apparently gone back to New Voyages.    There was a forum on both groups’ websites.  The New Voyages forum seemed less a place for relaxed byplay with more moderators than you could shake a stick at, and heaven FORBID you should make a comment that ventured in the slightest from the thread topic at hand.  The TOPIC STICK would come out and smack the hands at the keyboard.  The episodes were enjoyable enough, but the forum eventually turned me off the whole thing.  On the other hand, the Farragut board was more like the BBS’s of Ye Olde Modem Days, just people popping in with questions or comments and it was far more relaxed, and far more comfortable.

One of the topics to often come up in forums was, “Have you seen what THESE guys are doing?”  The thread that followed was of two varieties, either, “Hey, look at that, that’s pretty cool,” or, more often, “How DARE they use chromakey sets or THINK they can use the same characters or is her hair REALLY like that?”  You’d see the same names with the same iconography on forum after forum.  Some people were good to communicate with.  I got quite friendly with a few.

Time went on.  New Voyages released a few episodes that got people talking, one two-parter because it was a reworking of David Gerrold’s AIDS allegory, and another because there was all kinds of Drama, yesth a capital D, with the Director, sorry, director, Vic Mignogna releasing an early cut and stuff that no one who wasn’t IN Port Henry, NY can say for any certainty.  Didn’t stop most people, though.  Vic Mignogna decided to start his own series, ST Continues.  He partnered with the Farraguteers and was promptly accused by one person at least of stealing sets from another group in Oklahoma.  Which never happened, by the way.   One of the loudest voices against it made a comment on my posting of the script that became Farragut’s Dearly Departed.  Go ahead, check it out, I’ll wait here.

You’re back?  Cool.

Now, I’m not so much the sycophant or blind fan that ALL FAN FILMS ARE GOLDEN.  Some have just been too derivative, or the production has just sucked, or they just didn’t hold my interest.  Even the ones I really like I don’t always keep as current as I could.   Until, that is, I started hearing about Prelude to Axanar.

Axanar, for those not up on their FASA Trek lore, or Regular Trek Lore, or Data’s brother Lore, or…what was I saying?  Oh, yeah.  Axanar was the site of a major battle in the Four Years War, won by Garth of Izar, the guy who ended up going bananas and hanging out with Marta, a nicely green Yvonne Craig, on the Tantalus Colony.  A few people got it in their heads to do a fan film for this battle.  Okay, fine.  There were links all over for their fundraisers.  Much as I might have liked to donate to any of the groups I’ve said I liked I’ve never had the disposable cash.  Life of a professional TV guy and all.

So, every so often, it would come up on Facebook or any of the various Trek boards, what’s going on with Axanar?  Whatever happened to Axanar?  That’s when I found out that it was being produced by a gent named Alec Peters, by profession a lawyer.  I thought I recognized the name from the heady days of New Voyaging through the forum, but I was thinking of another gent named Alec who was a barfly.  Do people call lawyers that?  They should.  Anyhow, big names were getting associated with this production.  Tony Todd, who people always associate with Candyman, but who I always think of when not in DS9 mode as Ben in the NOTLD remake.  Gary Graham, who, possible cousin though he may be, I’ve liked since the premiere of Alien Nation.

Along came the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  I was working overtime with not a hell of a lot to do.  Since I needed to stay awake until 8:00 AM, I started bopping around the internet.  There I found that Paramount and CBS had decided to sue the people behind Axanar.  I started to worry about my friends at Farragut, but as I read through, it became evident that the folks at Axanar had decided they needed to be paid, so they were drawing a salary from the donations.  That’s always been a no-no for fan films.  A BIG no-no.  Yet there it was in the released financial report, Peters was drawing 38 grand a year for this fan film. sorry, professional production.  I find it particularly grating as I’ve been working in production since 2001 and I only make 30 grand a year, but that’s a tale for another day.  It seems that this is the crux of the lawsuit, although various people swear it’s because Axanar looks better than the recent movies or Enterprise or whatever and Paramount and CBS are just being big meanies.    It seems perfectly clear to me that it’s the salaries that are the problem, complaining from the likes of David Gerrold and various other webizens notwithstanding.  The Axanar production types keep posting everywhere that they’re determined to press on like the lawsuit is just going to go away.  The word hubris keeps getting attached to Alec Peters.  I don’t know the guy, I only know what I’ve read, but it’s hard to believe someone who is a lawyer could see that as a realistic outcome.

I wrote a post on the Farragut forum, which sadly isn’t up anymore, asking the question, why do fan films?  Recognition is one reason I came up with.  Wanting to play in a familiar universe is another.  The desire to be your own heroes ranks high.  But I closed it out by saying if you’re creative enough to do this, why not do something original?  There seems a lot of talent connected to this thing.  Had they gone original, would they have gotten all the donations?  Probably not until they’d shown something that they could do it, an Into The Woods to prove The Evil Dead.   I have friends who’ve done zombie movies.  Depending on how this comes out, could it set a precedent for the studios to go after them?  I doubt it, personally, but what if…?

Watching how this plays out is going to be interesting.

The Recent Adventures

•August 24, 2015 • Leave a Comment

It’s been an interesting couple weeks around here.

Let’s start at the beginning, back in October. Yes, smart ass, I know that’s more than a couple weeks, but that’s how far back the beginning of this part goes. See, the inspection was up on our Corolla. The hood was also up because of a fender bender, and wouldn’t close. Since the car had over 240,000 miles on it, and would need brakes at least along with the body work, we decided to trade up. After going to a bunch of dealerships and a bank who wouldn’t give us any loans, we finally found a bad credit(not us)/no credit(ding! ding! ding! on to the bonus round!) place up the street. They had a 2002 Taurus with 120,000 miles on it. After negotiating out the loan, we got the car. Well, except for the heater not working and the brakes(!) occasionally not working in the cold, not too bad. We’ve had to have three alternators put on, but that’s because the car chain place who will remain unnamed but shares initials with peanut butter screwed it up the first two times. Two places checked the brakes, couldn’t find any problem. Checked the heater, couldn’t find anything wrong. A few months after this, Stace is driving to work and the brake dashboard light comes on. I walk up, get the car, take it to a DIFFERENT chain place that I’d dealt with on Greycar. They look at the car, ask me where I got it, and inform me that to come close to passing inspection, it’ll need over $4000 of work–including the leaking rear brake cylinder and a few tires. The mechanic then asks me if I got the car at the corner of two roads nearby, which is in fact where I got it. Mr. Mechanic tells me that the guy is known for that, and even though I bought it as is, it’s illegal in Pennsylvania to sell a car that won’t pass inspection. He tells me the government offices to get in touch with if the dealer won’t play nice. The dealer wasn’t going to play nice, so I filled out the paperwork and waited and watched the brake fluid level like a hawk. Six weeks go by. I hear less than someone with earplugs in a sensory deprivation tank at the bottom of the Marianas Trench. I call the office I sent the paperwork to, and I’m informed by the person handling my case that it was all approved and mailed out in June. This is now the middle of July. I’ve received nothing, so she sends it out again. Three more weeks pass, nothing. I call again, my contact says she’ll overnight it. One of the first two envelopes is in the mail that day. However, contrary to the approved part, dealerboy isn’t going to pay for the repairs and the only option is to take him to court.  My contact says she never said anything was approved and she doesn’t even know what that would mean.  In the midst of my seppuku preparations, we happen to mention to Brian’s She’s Not My Girlfriend’s parents that we need to get inspected.  Turns out he works with a mechanic shop, we should take it there.  We get the number, I call, drop off the Offending Vehicle, and walk to the park a few blocks away with my Complete Lovecraft book to pass the time and/or distract me.

Forty minutes or so pass.  The phone rings.  I hear the distant death knell of any hope or pride on distant hills.

“I have an estimate on the Ford,” the voice on the phone says.

My stomach is tied tighter than my sneakers.

“Break it to me gently,” I think I said.

“It’s going to be $305.  Your rear master cylinder needs replacing.  Other than that, it’s a very clean car, you must take good care of it.  We test drove it, it rides really nice.”

“Three HUNDRED…..?” I say.

“Yeah, something something mutter mutter,” the mechanic says.  Between the nervous blood pumping in my ears and the Angels From On High singing over me, he could’ve said they have to sacrifice thirteen hamsters over the brake cylinder first and I wouldn’t have known the difference.

I stammer for a minute, incredulous.  Then I tell him I have to call him right back, I’m not THREE HUNDRED? sure which card we’ll have to THREE HUNDRED? use for this.  I call Stace, tell her, she’s almost as incredulous, and tells me which one to use.   I call the shop back, and tell him to go for it.  I read the Doom that Came to Sarnath, the White Ship, a few other Lovecraft tales.  People start to come into the park, looking for a miniature golf course.  At first, I  don’t remember where it is, but then it hits me that it’s a few blocks down.  I pick up some plastic trash around the benches and put it in the cans.  I start walking around.

There’s a train station a few blocks down.  I like trains, so maybe I’ll watch for a while.  The stairs lead up to the platform, where some benches are outside and some are in.  On the inside, there’s someone sleeping who looks like his luck has run out.  Right at the bottom of the stairs is a Wawa.  (For anyone not from this area, Wawa’s are like uppity 7-11’s.)  I go buy some fruit, a sandwich, and a drink, then leave it by the somnolent on the bench without waking him.

I walk around some more, and since we’re keeping the car, I go into Advance Auto Parts to see about replacing the antenna.  There’s nothing to mount the mast too, so the guy has no idea what I’m talking about.  I keep walking, and soon I’m back to the car with its new stickers.

A week and a half go by.  Stace starts getting pain in her back and whenever she eats.  She makes a doctor’s appointment, since she has insurance now, and Monday after I slept for a few hours after work, I take her over.  Right next door is the hospital, where the doctor says she has to go to the emergency room.

Well, frig.

We drive thirty feet over, I argue with people who claim they’re valets because I don’t want to give them our car, I just want to drop her off.   The guy in charge, in a gruff voice, says that I’ll have to park in the garage then.  Stace won’t get out of the car without me, so we go fifteen feet further into the garage, and then we start looking for the emergency room.  We find it after wandering around for what seemed an interminable time to me.  We wait in a large room with TV’s on whatever daytime talk shows were judged the most inane, and then she’s taken into a room.   My hackles are up, my shoulders seem very broad, and I’m very looming whenever someone comes into the room.  The ultrasound tech ran a scan, where all they saw were gall stones, but not her actual gall bladder.

It had to come out.  I went home to tell Brian, who was still asleep, and then I went back to the ER.  It’s now around 2:00 PM.  I call work to tell my ever-cheerful boss what’s happening.

“So you’re not coming in?”

“She’s going into surgery, so she’ll be overnight, and someone needs to stay with Brian.”

“You’re calling me at 2:00, it doesn’t give me much time to take your shift.”  I start at 10:00.  PM.  I literally looked at the phone for a minute and contemplated ripping several new orifices over the phone.  I also contemplate telling him that it’s a shame emergency surgery doesn’t take into account overnight schedules.  I get off the phone after being WAY more diplomatic than was deserved, and go tell Brian(who went back to sleep)  and got some things, including the backpack with the laptop in it.

They are a little concerned because Stace’s blood clots veeeeeeeeeeeery slowly.   Finally the doctor, an Asian guy with the last name of Vu, (“Don’t make deja joke, don’t make deja joke, don’t make deja joke….”) comes in, tell her and and my looming self that she’ll go in, and everything will take about an hour.  I go to the waiting area with tall ceilings and skylights that remind me of the Denver airport.  There are plasma screens on the wall, and every patient gets a number so the waiting can monitor their status.  Stace was 622326, I think.  She goes from Pre-Op to Surgery.

And stays there.  For an hour and a half.  I start to pace, then go back to the seat with the laptop.  There’s a father and son, discussing investments and business opportunities and blah blah blah.  90 minutes go by.  The woman at the desk calls me, says the doctor’s on the phone.  I’m slightly nervous, but he says she’s done, and it was, this is an exact quote, “very icky.”  About twenty minutes later, he actually comes out and tells me there were over 160+ gall stones and a VERY infected gall bladder, and they’ll be taking her up to her room soon.  Half an hour and several texts sent later, they show me back to recovery, where they wheel my already- conscious wife in.  We get wheeled up to her room, where thirty seconds after her low fat lower flavor lunch is delivered.  Even though she’s awake, she’s in no condition to eat.  I was, but they didn’t seem to have gotten my order.  One of my sisters kept texting to make sure Stace was in good shape, and the other, since she worked forty six inches from the hospital, came to visit.  They kinda kept me from freaking out,  Finally I went home and had a really garbage night’s sleep without her.  The Clone had taken everything in stride, although slightly nervous and he wanted nothing to do with going to the hospital.  After another night in there, she came home.

So, what’s been happening with all of you?

Odd Habit I Seem To Have Developed

•July 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Way back when I started Perception, it was a conscious decision not to give the main character a name. Partly it was to increase the you’re inside her head feel, partly because there was so much internal dialogue.  Now it seems that the last few short stories I’ve worked on the characters don’t have names.  Wonder if that means something, or am I just more interested in telling the story?

A Career Begins

•July 12, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Yesterday, my son, the kid who has loved animals since he was old enough to know what they are, worked for the first time at the Elmwood Park Zoo. It’s on a volunteer basis, and he’s currently only doing two days a week, but he still got to work with the animals.

He was working with birds on this fine day.

If I Were To Make A Trek Show….

•July 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

First off, I’ve considered it.  The cost and time involved make the consideration die aborning.  Still, were I to do it, here’s what it’d be.

It’d be ship-based, more exploratory, part of the whole boldly-go thing.  If there was one thing that I thought TOS had over the later shows, it was the new races and civilizations.  There’s more to the galaxy than Klingons, Romulans, and Cardassians.

Sometimes the ship would run into things that no one had ever seen, and it wouldn’t be understood at the end of the story.  Think Doomsday Machine.

There would be at least one or two jerks in the crew, just to keep it interesting.  Story lines where everyone gets along aren’t as fun to write as people who really dislike each other.

The ship would be sort of middle-sized, but not particularly significant.  No saving the entire Federation every other week.  Who they run into is more interesting.

The captain would probably like the rules and regulations, but they keep running into things where the rules and regs don’t help much.  The rest of the crew would have to help him adapt.   The first officer would be a little more adventurous, but not always the wisest person to go to.  The navigator would be an Andorian who wanted to get away from Andor because he finds snow dull.