• Category Archives Science Fiction
  • The 6 most amazing ships in Star trek (that aren’t the Enterprise)

    51 years ago, a “Wagon train to the stars” was launched, and no one – not even Gene Rodenberry himself, had any idea of the life it was going to take. 13 movies, five live action series (err, now it’s six), and even a cartoon….the franchise has certainly been a huge part of our culture. Star Trek has introduced us to characters we love, and even a few that we hate. Star Trek has introduced us to worlds and aliens we would have never met. And of course, the ships! What would Star Trek be without the ships? So many amazing ships too! There’s the Enterprise, the Enterprise A, the Enterprise D, the Enterprise E….ok ok. There are a lot more ships than the six versions of the Enterprise. And as Star Trek is about exploring strange new worlds, and new civilizations, what better way to celebrate than by exploring vessels we don’t know a whole lot about? I mean….we know a lot about the Enterprise D, we were there every week for 7 years! We even know a lot about Voyager and The Defiant. But there’s some ships that are just as interesting which we hardly know about. So…as we prepare to learn about the US Discovery, (and oh how stoked I am about the new series) let’s take a few minutes and….discover…. some of the amazing ships that made Star Trek awesome.

    1)The Borg Queen’s Cube (First Contact)…

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    Efficient is one word. Egalitarian is another. The Borg Cube has very little in the way of aesthetics, but while it looks like something designed by Soviet Russia, it’s far from a boring ship. Firstly, the size of the ship. It’s huge! In the above picture, you can see the Enterprise E (the largest Enterprise) for scale. The Enterprise looks like it’s the size of a runabout compared to the cube! Borg Cubes are, of course, decentralized. The weaponry could be fired from pretty much any spot on the vessel. Any Borg from any station can do any task. And then of course there’s the fact that it contained a time traveling escape sphere! Seriously….who has one of those, save for the queen of the Borg? The Queen’s Cube, if it were not for the intervention of the Enterprise E, would have assimilated Earth. It’s the only ship to ever evoke the Klingon Death Chant (Perhaps today IS a good day to die) from Worf himself….while captaining the Defiant no less.

    Kelvan Multi-Generational Ship (Original Series)…

    Not much is known about these ships or even what they looked like, but what we do know is quite impressive. First launched in the 1960s, these ships traveled from the Andromeda Galaxy (hence the picture above). In a series full of interstellar travel, it’s hard to believe that intergalactic travel is almost a thing of fairy tales. To put it in perspective, a constitution class ship would take thousands of years to travel in between galaxies. The Kelvan ships can do it in 600. If we fast forward to about the year 4000, we might finally know more about these amazing ships. For now….we know they’re fast. We know they’re built to last for hundreds of years….and that’s just about it. But those facts alone are quite impressive.

    Species 8472’s ships (Voyager)…

    While not a specific ship, these ships are certainly some of the most impressive of the Star Trek universe. Organic technology alone might be impressive enough….but that’s just the start of this species’ amazing ships. The first time we are introduced to these ships, they’ve outright flattened a Borg Armada of 15 ships. What other species can say that? If not for the alliance with Voyager, these ships would have totaled the Borg Collective in six months time. How, you may ask? Their ships were not that big – they only carried one crew member. But these ships used the borg tactics of working in unison. When several ships came together, they could form a planet killer weapon which totally anilated anything in it’s destructive path. If there’s one thing you can take from species 8472 by the way….never piss off a xenophobic species that can wipe out the borg.

    The USS Valiant (Deep Space Nine)…

    While this ship is almost identical to the Defiant, the crew of the Valiant is what makes it so extraordinary. This ship, full of cadets and trapped behind enemy lines for months was able to survive long enough to complete it’s mission. While the captain’s huberis is what ultimately got most of the crew killed, it still must be noted that this was more than an ordinary crew. They knew what they had to do, despite being alone, despite being cut off from communications with rest of Starfleet. Red Sqad, we salute you. We can’t blame you for being inexperienced cadets.

    The Prometheus (Voyager)…

    This ship can separate into three….yes, three parts. Not even the Enterprise-D could do that! Each section of ship was a vessel that was more than adequately prepared to kick the Dominion back to the Gamma quadrant. In addition, it had regenerative shields as well as the same plating as the Defiant (and of course, the Valiant). Oh, did I mention it’s EMH could roam the entire ship without a mobile emitter? And did I mention this ship was the fastest in all of Starfleet? Seriously – it’s almost like they took the best parts from Voyager, the Defiant, and the Enterprise C and mixed them all together. If only they had shown more of the Prometheus….sigh.

    The Narada (Star Trek 2009)…

    This ship (along with Spok’s) pretty much split the Star Trek Universe into two timelines. But asides from that, this ship was essentially a weapon of mass destruction which was far more a match that any and all ships it encountered in the 23rd century. It had a primary assault of several missiles which could seperate into multiple projectiles. It had a drill (I mean, it was a mining ship) which was used to destroy the planet Vulcan!!! And it had a crew that was pissed off. More pissed off than species 8472, as their homeworld had been destroyed and they themselves were catapulted back in time. Yeah…..don’t mess with a shipload of pissed off Romulans. Just don’t.

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  • Blasting off with Sci-Fi!

    stargate

    I’ve loved science fiction my entire life. The idea of blasting off into space and landing on a distant planet, or maybe slipping into an alternative dimension where all the apes are purple and all the barnacles are made of gold? Yes please! I was two years old when Star Wars came into theaters, I grew up watching Star Trek re-runs, and even went to see the Black Hole in theaters (quite possibly the first time at a theater where I didn’t fall asleep during the movie).I love Sci-Fi so much that I almost feel like I can claim a deep love for the genre is in my genetics……and while I’m on the subject, I’ve got to say – I’ve never understood the stereotype of only nerds liking Sci-Fi. But then again, I am a nerd, so there’s that. Hell, I’m even wearing a t-shirt referencing Stargate (there’s no place like ). But I digress – there’s a war in science fiction – there’s those who care more about the fiction and less about the science, and there’s those who care more about the science and less about the fiction. Whose right? In my opinion, it depends on the piece of Science Fiction. There’s some simple rules one must follow when writing science fiction.

    1) One must know their audience:
    This is such a 101ism that it hurts to include this in this list. I know my readers enough to know that they know this already – but yet for the sake of completionism I feel I must say this. Knowing one’s audience is a basic part of writing, but this is especially important in this discussion, as science fiction fans are a diverse group of individuals. There’s physicists who study things that, quite frankly, I’ll never be able to understand. There’s people who can barely grasp the concept of warp speed. There’s the ten year old kid who saw Anakin Skywalker in the Phantom Menace as character they can relate to, there’s the disgruntled gen Xers who scoff at the prequels and swear by the original three. One has to know what kind of science fiction fan one is writing for, or else you’ll get something that no one likes. To add to this, knowing which audience you’re writing for means knowing which opinions can (and should) be ignored, and which opinions should be taken seriously. Are you writing the next 2001? Then don’t listen to the ten year old kids when they say it’s boring. Don’t listen to those who prefer Micheal Bay explosion type movies. Listen to someone you might find as a character on the Big Bang theory, because they’re the ones who are more likely to understand your creation. Likewise, don’t listen to the hard science crowd if you’re trying to write the next Skyline – though I will say that if you’re trying to do this, maybe you should just chop off your hands because Skyline was the worst movie ever.

    Skyline's brain removal was a perfect metaphor for what the movie did to the audience.
    Skyline’s brain removal was a perfect metaphor for what the movie did to the audience.
    2) One must have likable characters: I just said that Skyline was the worse movie ever written. That was not just a cheap jab – Skyline is seriously the worse movie I’ve ever seen. I hold it as the bottom measure of how bad a movie can be. There’s two things that made it bad: a) it felt like it was written by a board of directors and b) I just didn’t give a damn about the characters. Seriously – the main guy didn’t give a damn about his girlfriend until her life was threatened. He was going to leave because he knocked her up, but then he decided he needed her I guess. It was such a badly written character that I expected him to die pretty quickly, but he didn’t. He was harder to wipe out than a piece of crap stuck to a strand of butt hair and twice as disgusting. Now, maybe there was a small percentage of people who really liked him, but considering that movie was hated by so many people, I highly doubt it. I could go on, and on, and on….about how bad of a movie Skyline is – because seriously, I’ve found things more pleasant in my kitty’s litter box, but my point is if the audience doesn’t like your characters, you’ve failed! Look at Walking Dead. Look at Lost. Look at Star Trek (TOS and TNG). Heck, look at pretty much all of the Marvel Movies! Why are they so loved? Because you don’t want the main characters to get swallowed by black alien goo or zombified or just die. When they do, be it Tasha Yar or Lori Grimes or John Locke or (spoilers) Quicksilver, it’s a tragic thing. You’ve invested yourself into those characters, and even though they’re fictional people, you feel a sense of loss. This is how it always should be. You should be wanting your audience to care about your people enough that if you do choose to go all George RR Martin on them, your audience is going to be a bit pissed off.

    3) One must define what Science fiction is to them: In the last section, I mentioned The Walking Dead, Lost, Star Trek (TOS and TNG), and the marvel universe as examples of Science fiction. I chose these examples, because in a broad sense, they’re all science fiction. In truth however, I see The Walking Dead as horror, Lost as mystical fantasy, and the Marvel Movie Universe is mostly superheros. Again, they all have something involving science fiction, but if I’m writing Sci-Fi, I’m thinking about traveling to other worlds, or the implications of technology in the future or maybe life in an alternative universe. It should deal with issues, though it doesn’t have to be dystopic. It should be a world which we don’t live in now, though this world could be part of it’s history. This is by far no ironclad definition of science fiction, as I am only one voice amongst many – but if you write science fiction you better have at least some definition and focus. Again, The Walking Dead clearly has some science fiction involved – the virus is man made. However, the focus on the series isn’t really how to cure the virus – the focus is surviving a zombie apocalypse, which therefore puts it into a more horror category. The island on Lost has many mysteries, however they’re not scientific in nature. They’re mystical. The Marvel Universe? Well, science has been a huge part of creating most of those guys, but really the focus is a super hero focus. Star Trek however – that’s about exploring the galaxy. That’s about “boldy going where no one has gone before!” That to me is the heart of Science Fiction.

    4) Be it science or fiction, a sense of wonder and imagination is key: This almost needs no explanation but it still needs to be said. I tend to lean towards the fiction part of science, and therefore a sense of wonder and imagination really is key as I don’t really have the science to back up my writings. Sure, I’ll BS my way through some rudimentary physics or what have you, but the science part of the equation really is nothing more to me than a plot device. Honestly, my audience is not the physicist – but that means that I have to work extra hard to present the reader of anything I write with a sense of “wow! I wish that would really happen!” But while it’s not as important for a “hard science” piece to rely on a sense of wonder and imagination, it is important to provide a little. Hard science is, to be frank, boring as hell. It’s fascinating what it can do, but it’s still science fiction – not science. It’s taking a concept and theorizing (and I use the literary definition, not the scientific definition) what it’s implications might be in, say, 100 years. It’s about exploration of things beyond this world, and how it will effect humanity. Most hard science buffs I know really like Stargate, and I do too. I like it because they really do put me in a different place. I like it because it explores the morality scientific endeavors. It’s got action and adventure and big explosions, it’s got relationships and people being people (be it good or bad), it asks the basic “we can, but should we” questions when it comes to some technology (Asgardians singularity anyone?). It really is the balance between the two universes – and that’s why it was such a great series(s) and movie.

    In an alternative Universe, Han Solo is related to Mickey Mouse.
    In an alternative Universe, Han Solo is related to Mickey Mouse.
    5) Don’t be afraid to use an alternative universe: Look, not everything in sci-fi can be explained with modern science. The sooner you learn to accept this, the happier you will be. This concept is not just limited to science fiction by the way – pick a discipline, fictionalized it, and I guarantee they’ll get things wrong. Be it construction, be it medicine, be it the police, be it computer programming. I work in television – this is something TV shows should get right because they know how things work – but Television shows about television get things sooo wrong on so many levels. The reason being is that most things are boring without a little fictionalization added. They don’t make sense, or maybe they just look stale. This is why hard science fans gripe about movies such as independence day or Pacific Rim. But guess what? Science fiction, be it soft or hard or any firmness in between, likes to use Alternative dimensions. This is a great tool to explain why maybe your physics don’t work in this world, because maybe they’re not supposed to work in this world – they work in a different universe that has a different set of rules. I know hard science fans are going to hate this – but like I said, I’m not a hard science person.

    6) Your universe should be consistent
    : Don’t take that last point as an excuse to make your universe a place where any random thing might happen (unless there’s maybe an infinite improbability drive or something). Set your rules and use them. Do not stray too far. If they don’t work for you, then change them – but make the changes consistent or at least find a way to explain why all of a sudden you can travel three times the speed of light, when in chapter 4 you couldn’t even travel half that speed. It is fiction – but it’s science fiction. And even if it’s a different genre of fiction, any fiction worth their salt cares about consistency and continuity.


    May the Force be with you. May the Klingons and the Borg not attack on this day. May the Cylons leave you be. And may there be no Volgan Poetry in your future. Have fun, and write like the wind. Oh wait – that’s not Sci-Fi!

    May Everything you right be as awesome as this,
    May Everything you write be as awesome as this,
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  • Star Wars. Why not?

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    When Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope came out – I was two years old. There’s some possibility that my parents went to see it for the first time, and dropped me on my head. I mean, it might have been a different movie, I really don’t remember, but I do know I was dropped on my head at about that time at a drive-in theater and they said it was a distinct possibility. Just to be fair, it was a total accident – I had heavy casts and one of my parents sat me on the counter – I swiveled my legs over the edge, and down I went. But I digress.

    This guy still hangs out on my dresser.
    This guy still hangs out on my dresser.
    Growing up in the eventual class of 1993, Star Wars was a HUGE deal. We grew up playing with the Kenner toys, we got hyped up when the new movies came out, and we talked – oh we talked and talked and talked about Star Wars. We knew of the eventual 6 movies that would come later. We knew that one had to do with the Clone Wars Obi-wan and Leia mentioned – we knew one had to do with Anakin falling to the dark side. We had no idea what the third trilogy was about, and frankly we didn’t care. We just knew we couldn’t wait till it was released! Star Wars was a huge part of growing up in the 80s – one might argue it was bigger than Transformers, and certainly bigger than GI Joe.I even remember staying over at my friend Isaac’s (who seemed to be a little more into Star Wars than the rest of us, if that was even possible). He wanted to do a reenactment of Star Wars. I was to play Darth Vader, he was supposed to Play Luke Skywalker, and his little brother, dressed in white pajamas and a pair of tighty whities over to simulate the Armor, was to play a Storm Trooper. My dad simply looked at us – the younger brother in his skivvies, and said “no” and I went home. Even the girls liked to play star wars, despite a severe lack of female characters. Star Wars was equally loved by both genders: Be you a wearer of Princess Leia or of Luke Skywalker underoos.

    In my early twenties – Star wars mania was still alive and well. A couple good friends of mine were obsessed with all things Star Wars, and it was pretty common for us to spend hours in the Borders Bookstore cafe, looking through books showing technical specs, artists concepts, and little bits of trivia. To be certain, Star Wars fandom among gen xers was far from isolated to us. I went to a music fest and saw a band called “Bobba Fett” (later renamed “Twin Sister” for what I understand to be legal reasons). The band was a side project of several other bands, but the point is Generation X and Star Wars went together hand in hand – not just when we were children, but also into our adult years. It was part of our lore, part of our story. We all knew we were secretly Luke Skywalker or Chewie or Han or Leia.

    And then the dark times began….

    George Lucas did a remix of the original movies….the special edition. The internet was young and didn’t hold as much power to share opinions as it does now. Most people were not online, and therefore most of what we heard was either word of mouth or read in a magazine or a newspaper. I’m dangerously close to going off topic here, but the reception of the zeitgeist of the special edition is not the reception we have now – and I think it’s because the internet has changed the way we discuss these things. But back to the topic at hand: I personally had an opinion on computer graphics – and that was pretty much “use them only if you need them.” I feel like everyone I knew was ok with Lucas over using computer graphics. Even people who now preach that the special editions were an abomination against creation itself seemed to be ok with them in the mid 90s. To be fair, while I mocked the special effects, I actually liked some of the special edition scenes – the scene with Jabba the Hutt in IV, the ending of Jedi, and while the used too many computer effects in Empire Strikes Back, at least they didn’t fiddle with the story too much (Empire has always been my favorite). Again, it seems like most people I talked with felt the same about the Special editions. I really never heard much talk against them until after Episode 1 came out four years later…

    The special edition of Episode III includes this scene.
    The special edition of Episode III includes this scene.

    Episode 1…..two years later. I saw the damned thing in theaters several times. Sometimes I would go to the movie theater, flip a coin, and say heads I’ll watch the Matrix again, tails, I’ll watch Episode 1 again. I’m pretty sure I saw each four times in the theater, which is a record. We had been waiting sixteen years for this film. We waited from childhood, through puberty, through our college years, and into our early career phases. Some friends were already married with children when Episode 1 finally decided to flush itself out of the rectum of Lucas like so many other turds before it. But I was in denial – it was Star Wars. It was the movie I had been anticipating for what felt like forever. Surely, this was not a piece of crap. It wasn’t until I saw a commercial showing 9 year old Anakin leaving his mommy – I realized that this was a kid’s movie. I hated Jar Jar before that mind you – a friend told me to look at him as the comic relief, much as C3PO served in the original trilogy (this friend was most likely in the same denial I was in). But I realized this movie was not meant for Generation X. This was meant for the next generation. It had it’s good points mind you: It set a tone. Episdoe 1 was about showing what the galaxy was like before the Dark times. It was a time when a 14 year old could address the senate and demand that her planet’s senator be elevated to Supreme Chancellor. It was a time when the invasion of a planet could bet thwarted by a 9 year old kid who got lucky and an army of Gun Guns. It was a simple time, where things just worked out because the dark side wasn’t really a factor. The Phantom Menace was a story that needed to be told to set up the next two movies – and to even put the original trilogy into perspective.

    My reaction, both immediate and delayed, to The Phantom Menace probably helped me process the next two movies. Yeah, they had bad acting, and yes, they still rely on bad CGI, but really they were the stories we knew were coming. They were the stories of the clone wars, they were the stories of Anakin and Obiwan, going from master and apprentice to brothers to eventually nemesis. They showed the death star under construction. They showed Darth Vader reborn. They told us the clones in the war eventually became the Storm troopers. They weren’t the original trilogy, but could anything ever live up to that hype of sixteen years? No, of course not. And more and more people seem to be forgiving their shortcomings because the story really is important and the really are fun at times.

    We’re looking into the future again. We’re looking to a new trilogy that may or may not disappoint us. All signs say no, it won’t. It might even be the trilogy we’ve been waiting for…or it might not. But regardless, I will be there for every movie. I will be in denial if the films suck, and elated if they don’t. I cannot look at a new Star Wars movie objectively, because like so many other Generation Xers, Star Wars is part of who I am. It’s a link throughout my lifetime. When they finish the six movies coming in the next few years, I will be wanting more.

    I have no doubt these will not be the last movies we see either. Star Wars is a cash cow that Disney plans on milking for all it is worth. We’ll reach a point where the zeitgeist will say: Another Star Wars movie, why? But myself? I’ll be saying Another Star Wars movie….Why not?

    I hear in Episode X, Mickey Mouse plays Han Solo's son.
    I hear in Episode X, Mickey Mouse plays Han Solo’s son.

    EDIT FROM THE FUTURE: The Force Awakens freaking killed! The trailers for Rouge One look amazing! Let’s hope it stays on this way. On a sadder note – RIP Kenny Baker.

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  • Orphan Black, or how I forgave Canadian TV for Primeval: New World.

    orphan-black-season-2-poster81 If you’re not watching Orphan Black, you should! It’s probably one of the best shows on TV right now. I’ve watched every single episode thus far, and I can’t get enough! I think the last Canadian TV series I’ve enjoyed this much was You Can’t Do That on Television or Kids in the Hall. I mean, sure Lost girl And Continuum are decent –– sure I’m a little jealous that we don’t have Hockey Night in America –– but as far as shows originating in Canada, none of them have quite done it for me recently until I started watching Orphan Black. In fact, Orphan Black might, just might, be enough of a good show, that I might… just might… forgive Canadian TV for the debacle that is/was Primeval: New World.


    Ok, let me back up. If you’ve never seen the original BBC series, “Primeval,” maybe you should just stop reading this right now and watch it now. You done? Good. See what I mean? It’s just that good! I took a trip to the coast with seasons 1 and 2 in tow. I watched every episode. Seriously – the show was so good, there were days I stayed in my hotel room longer than I should. The beautiful Oregon Coast on the mighty Pacific Ocean was just a few blocks away, but I preferred to stay in and watch Primeval. When I got back from the coast, I thoroughly made sure to watch the seasons 3-5. I’ve got to wonder if this is how crack addicts feel! I just wanted more! More! More!


    And then the dark times came.


    Like a crack addict, I was going through some serious withdrawals after I finished season 5. I would check the web to see about a possible season 6 – and nothing. Nada, zilch, nein…you get the picture – I just wanted more, but there was no more to be had! I seriously considered flying to England, and holding up a sign outside of the BBC offices, “Will work for new episodes of Primeval.” Finally, after months of desperation and withdrawal, a light from the North….a spin off series, Primeval: New World. Oh sure – I had my reservations. I mean, part of what made Primeval proper so good were the amazing characters. There was Conner and Abbey and the will they or won’t they relationship. There was Professor Nick Cutter and his witticisms (I said it was beautiful; I didn’t say it was friendly), there was Jenny (no, not the one from Rilo Kiley) Lewis, who’s secrets I won’t reveal….the entire ensemble was just remarkable! So…could they repeat, could the replicate this amazing cast in Vancouver? Well….maybe. They got Conner to sail on over to the new world, and that was a good start!

    Mmm, nom nom nom.....tastes like the lawyer from Jurasic Park!
    Seriously T-Rex, take a bite.
    So the wait was on….I heard it was playing in Canada but not available in the states, no matter what shady streaming methods I tried. I had to be patient until it came on American TV or Hulu. I tried to get a hold of the DVDs, but to no avail. I remember during that time emailing a friend of mine in Canada saying that if New World sucked, I would personally vote for any candidate that favored war with Canada. Long story short, I voted for Mitt Romney. Just kidding…I don’t think Mitt favored war with Canada, and it was after the election anyways -but back to how much New World sucked. Conner only appeared in two episodes and the characters of New World really just lacked that same charisma we found in the original series. I didn’t expect a repeat of the Original characters, but I did expect some depth to the characters and I did expect to actually care whether or not the characters lived and died. Honestly, by the end of the third episode, I was kind of hoping a T-Rex would hop on through an anomaly and rip the entire bunch to shreds. I have a major rule with fiction – make me care about the characters. If I hate the characters, I’m 99% of the time going to hate the book, TV series, film, or what have you. So yeah – I hated the characters in New World. But also, the New World was darker, and more adult. It just wasn’t as fun as the original! The original felt like a roller coaster at times, sure, but at the end you had a lot of fun riding the damned thing. New world, on the other hand got you from point A to point B, yeah, but it felt more like riding a crowded train at rush hour. The only surprises were unwanted ones much akin to the guy who hasn’t bathed, shoving himself into the empty seat next to yours. Primeval: New World felt like a military and/or police drama that just happened to deal with dinosaurs and the like. The long and short of it – I hated Primeval: New World! I felt like Canadian TV took a very beloved series of mine and used it as toilet paper. I didn’t even bother watching the entire series. I think I stopped 8 episodes in, and I’m the type who always finishes a series, even if I hate the series.


    I’ve ranted on and on about how bad New World was, when this is supposed to be an article about how good Orphan Black is. Oh, but I did this on purpose. I wanted you to know how much disdain I have for New World – because I’m saying that the sins of Canadian TV’s Primeval: New World just might be forgiven with the series Orphan Black. In fact, the crack addict feeling I got while waiting for new episodes of Primeval is one and the same with the feeling I’m getting right this very moment as I wait for a new episode of Orphan Black. I want more….and I want it now! And I want a full 26 episode season….none of this ten episode thing we got with season one! I NEED MY FIX!


    So….dear Canadian TV people. You’ve got a really good thing going with Orphan Black. Don’t, for the love of all that is good and holy, mess this one up. We let you slide on Primeval: New World, so you kind of owe us already. Besides, you saw what we did to Iraq because of some fabled WMDS.
    Sincerely – your gun toting, war mongering neighbors to the south.babyorphan

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  • Big giant robots killing eachother.

    On all my social networking sites, I’ve mentioned I was going to go watch Micheal Bay spit on my childhood for the third time. Regardless of Bay’s past indiscretions (and there are many), I still slapped down my ten bucks to go see Transformers 3. Call it an overblown sense of nostalgia, call it a sadomasochist tendency, or call it just plain curiosity. Well, I’ll get this out of the way: Transformers 3 is not going to win any Oscars, nor should it. However, for me, Transformers 3 did not suck.

    Transformers 3: The Dark of the Moon had a thin plot-line to say the least. The characters were so-so, and the effects were par for course. This was a movie made to make money and I doubt Micheal Bay cared the art of film. However, I loved almost every minute of it. OK, so the first few minutes I hated. The actor that played JFK did the worst impersonation of JFK I’ve ever seen. It was so bad, it was like a bad impersonation of someone doing an impersonation of JFK. There’s also the effects in the beginning of the film:  while I appreciate the fact that Bay tried to insert graininess into the some of the shots from the 1960s, it felt a little forced, and did not mesh well at all with the non grainy shots. Of course, then there’s the up-skirt shots of Carly climbing the stairs. That was the point of the movie I rolled my eyes, and braced for impact. Anytime some streetwise jive talking autobots would bust into a rap, and some huge robot made of constructions would be tea bagging the audience. Thankfully, those scenes never came. Instead Micheal Bay focused his testosterone on giant robots blowing each other up. My inner 9 year old breathed a sigh of relief.

    Again, I say that Transformers 3 will not be winning any Oscars, but at the end of the day, I spent ten bucks to be entertained for 2.5 hours. I saw massive amounts of explosions and icons of my childhood in a massive war in the middle of Chicago. I give Transformers 3: The Dark of the Moon a solid B. You might not enjoy the film if you weren’t a 9 year old boy in 1984, but if you are of my age and gender, go see the movie. Now. You’ll love it!

    One final thought. Now that we’ve gotten through the trilogy, can we get alive action  Transformers movie with Unicron? Pleeaaasee?

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  • Lost and Life

    Several weeks have passed since the Lost gave us it’s final farewell. Most fans of the series have formulated strong opinions of favor or disdain. Overall I have a favorable opinion of the last episode. One reason for my opinion is that the series finale did not pander to the audience by answering every unanswered question in the series. But while I see the unanswered questions as favorable, it is the very reason why many fans of the show were disappointed in the ending. This particular issue is probably the biggest hot button of the series finale. I’ve had many debates with a co-worker who keeps saying “when I read a book, I don’t want any loose ends at the end.” It is my argument, however, that this viewpoint totally misses the point of the finale! Of the entire series even! The questions left unanswered in Lost mimic not only life, but also religion.

    As a writer, I tend to hate the fact that every detail in a story has to mean something. Life is simply just not like that. Life is a chaotic spill of random events, which sometimes interlock, sometimes hold significant meaning, and sometimes mean absolutely nothing. Consider the following: You’re driving to work and you’re running late.  You look down and discover a mysterious rash on your arm. In real life, you might put some Cortizone on the rash, and think nothing of it. In a  work of fiction, this rash would probably have a meaning. This rash would later be revealed to be a deadly disease or a mark of greatness. Writer’s choose their details for a reason. Writers usually don’t insert random events just for the sake of inserting random events. Random events confuse people! But random events are all a part of life. Random events are in fact reality. Going back to Lost, the writers insert many random things that apparently have no meaning. Why were the numbers so prevalent and what do they mean? Why was Desmond able to see Charlie’s future? Why was Walt Special? Was it the island, or was it the smoke monster that healed John Locke’s legs? Why didn’t Kate grow any leg or armpit hair? OK, the last question was more about aesthetics and sex appeal, but the other questions will never be answered. They remain huge mysteries. Well, guess what? That’s life. We never find out what the rash on our arm is, and we don’t really care because the cream took it away. But Lost is a work of fiction, therefore it should wrap up into a tidy little package, shouldn’t it? Nope! Arguably, one of the key themes in Lost is life and death. What better way to emphasize this theme than to emulate something that happens in life? What better way to emulate life, than with random happenstances and unanswered questions?

    But the unanswered questions are not just about life. The unanswered questions go hand in hand with another prevalent theme in Lost: the theme of spirituality and religion. There’s a reason that mysticism is a synonym for spirituality, religion, and the like. Mysticism shares a root word with mystery and mythology. Mysticism indicates a sense of not knowing the whole story. And that is precisely the sense we get with Lost; we don’t know the whole story. We don’t know where the island came from, we don’t know what the island is capable of, and we don’t know why the island behaves the way it does. We know some things, just as in all myths we know the basic concepts. We know the island is a cork that keeps evil from flooding the Earth, just as we know in the book of Genesis that it was God who created the Earth. But just as we don’t exactly know how God created the Earth in Genesis, we don’t know why the island exists in the first place. We can speculate all we want to, but we are never going to have all the answers. This is the nature of religion; this is also why having some of the big questions remain unanswered works so well in Lost. These unanswered questions emulate mysticism, and thus adding to one of the major themes in Lost.

    I’ve been reading all kinds of comments online since Lost ended, indicating that JJ Abrams is a hack. Such comments state that JJ Abrums relied on MacGuffins; that he intentionally led the viewer on so the viewer would keep watching. Well, considering my stance on the intentional fallacy, I am not about to say that Abrums did anything of the sort intentionally. But even if Abrums was just being a jerk to the viewers, even if he was just trying to string us along for six years, in the case of Lost, it worked. In the case of Lost, MacGuffins served a purpose to illustrate it’s key points. Besides, said commentators also state that JJ Abrums does this in everything he touches. While that’s certainly an exaggeration (ahem, Star Trek had none), even if it were true, it doesn’t matter. If JJ Abrums did this in everything, then that would  cease to be a plot device used to hoodwink the audience, and start to be Abrum’s style and form.

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  • Buffy vs Twilight in Buffy Season 8

    ©Jinx, Inc. Used without permission. Please don't sue me, Jinx! I love your t-shirts!!!!I’ll be honest: I cannot stand sparkly vampires. I have even considered buying a T-shirt depicting Buffy dusting Edward. I have even contemplated writing fan fiction along the same lines. But why should I write fan fiction, when Buffy goes toe to toe with the Twilight Vamps canonically? In the Buffy the Vampire: Season 8 graphic novels, we find an interesting subtext involving the evils of even the nicest and incompetent vampires. This evil, is not just limited to the Buffyverse: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 shows that even the sparkly vamps of the twilight universe are evil creatures, and should probably be disposed of, lest they win the hearts of the innocents.

    Let’s begin with issue 21: “Harmonic Divergence.” Harmony, the ditsy cheerleader turned Vampire Princess, is spotted in California drinking blood from the neck of an unnamed celebrity. Through a course of events, she gets her own reality show on MTV, and a worldwide interest in, and love for, vampires emerges. But Harmony as evil as ever, even more so. Not only does she heartlessly kills a slayer on live television, she also endorses a line of what is later revealed to be demon controlled toy vampires! Of course, after an attack by a would be slayer (who is slaughtered mercilessly), and after Buffy’s gang destroys the toys, Harmony plays the victim, and of course, the public fall for this. Hmmm, Vampires gaining immense popularity, to the point of immense fandom and said fans claiming said vampires are not evil. Quite an interesting resemblance to the fans of Twilight, as well as the other sparkly Vamps that have emerged because of the immense Twilight Vamps. Harmony appears nice enough, she’s not out to kill anyone – at least not publicly. But when the doors are closed, she’s just as bloodthirsty, heartless, and evil as ever. And perhaps, so are the Twilight Vamps. Perhaps.

    Or perhaps I’m jumping to conclusions. Perhaps the similarity of Harmony’s popularity and Twilight’s popularity is simply just a coincidence and not an allegory showing that all Vampires are evil creatures  (even though issue 21 came out a mere two months after the release of the first Twilight movies). Well, even if this IS a coincidence, there are other damning factors against Twilight in season 8. For one thing, the Big Bad of season 8 is named, (ahem) TWILIGHT! Yes, how coincidental is that? How is it that the head evil creature is actually named Twilight? There’s no denying the fact that Season 8 shows the evils of the Twilight, when the main villain is actually named TWILIGHT!!! That’s would be like if CS Lewis had named Aslan “Jesus.” That would be like if George Orwell had called the pigs in Animal Farm “Communists.” That would be like if Herman Melville named the Whale – well whatever the heck the whale means, that one’s still up for debate. But my point is simple: Word association is a powerful tool. Its pretty unimaginable that Joss Whedon would happen to overlook the fact that his main villain in season 8 just happens to share the name of a series of books and movies which depicts good and caring vampires. When the name is different, any similarities, however blaring they might be, could be dismissed as merely coincidence. The very fact that the main villain is named “Twilight,” is a big blaring sign saying “HEY! LOOK! TWILIGHT! WE REALLY MEAN TWILIGHT!!!!”

    Oh, but wait! What about Angel? What about Spike? They’re both Vampires and they’re both good!Or are they? If I remember correctly, Spike only became “good” because he had a chip implanted in his head causing him not to kill humans. Despite anything he did after that, if it had not been for that chip, Spike would have gone on killing anyone and everyone he felt the urge to kill. Spike was pretty much tamed like a circus animal – take out his metaphorical teeth and he’s harmless. Ok, ok, Spike is evil, but what about Angel? Well, Angel just happens to be the best piece of evidence to my thesis. Angel was probably one of the most evil Vampires in the Buffyverse before his, for lack of a better word, anti-curse. And after he slept with Buffy, he lost his soul and became evil once more. Angel is no (ahem) Angel; he’s a demon who is only good because people were so sick of his terror, that they decided to put a spell on him. But never mind that. an interesting fact was revealed about Angel recently. The writers of Buffy Season 8 has revealed that Angel, who has not previously been portrayed in season 8, has been in the background of Season 8 this entire time. Angel has been wearing a mask—the same mask that Twilight wears. Angel is Twilight! The kindest, most gentle, and dare I say Edward-like vampire in the Buffyverse turns out to be the Big Bad that’s trying to kill Buffy and the rest of the Scoobies! Case closed! Never mind the neon sign, we now have a blaring horn bleating out that even the sparkliest of vampires is evil and vile and will kill you if you give it a chance. And yes,I said  it! They are not people! They are evil THINGS that need to be disposed of properly and by all means necessary.

    Oh the path we weave when we decide evil is good, and good is evil. Oh the twisted, sick perversions, oh the death and destruction – but I digress. In all seriousness, I really don’t believe Vampires exist, despite my enthusiasm in this article. Vampires are a great literary device to describe all that is evil and dark in this world. A little Vlad the Impaler, a little Black Plague, a little dark magic, and voila! Dracula – one of the most formidable literary villains of all time – is born. But even Dracula has his good side, right? He helped Buffy and the Scoobies in Tokyo, right? Well, yes….but only because that served his best interest. Mark my words, in any other circumstance, Dracula meeting Buffy would have meant a reenactment of Season 5’s first episode – only this time the end might depict a role reversal – IE Dracula standing over Buffy’s grave. Every vamp is something to be weary of. Like I said, I don’t believe in vampires – but if I ever meet one – I’m running the other way as fast as I possibly can. And you should as well. Now. Don’t stop. Just freaking run already!

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