Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A rich tapestry of nerd angst

It's not just me, right?
I mean, this can't be normal.
Today I'm going to give you a little insight into the resentment and sense of inferiority that lurks in the heart of many sci-fi/fantasy fans when it comes to sports. Not all nerds mind you, some of us are totally into both and it's nothing against physical activity, it's just that when you're not a sports person and everyone around you is, it's a little like being from some other planet or a parallel universe. Wearing a jersey with some guy's name on the back and watching other people play a game for hours? For non-sports fans this shit is weird.

It's a whole other world that, to the uninitiated, seems strange and unfamiliar. Which brings us to Star Trek. Bet you didn't see that coming. Or maybe you did. I am fairly predictable.
Incidentally, I'd like to take this opportunity to downplay
my previous assertion that sports fans are weirdos.
"CBS All Access: resistance is futile!"
-CBS's ill-advised new slogan
Anyway, CBS has announced the premier date for the new series, Discovery, and I think it's further evidence that they either don't know what they're doing or just straight up hate their fans. Or maybe both. We'll get to that. The way the series is going to be made available in the U.S. is lame. To watch, you'll have to sign up for CBS All Access, which is their streaming service. It's ten bucks a month, but you still have to sit through commercials because I guess CBS is unclear about why nobody watches broadcast television anymore.

Why pay them when we know they're jerks?
Again, fans. Short for fanatic doncha know.
But that's just the U.S, the rest of the world can see it on Netflix with no commercials. Because it's 2017. But whatever, CBS apparently knows that since it's the only place to get new Star Trek, fans like me will reliably, if grudgingly, pony up for their stupid service. What's straight up offensive to nerds like me is how their handling the premier. In addition to streaming, the first episode will air on CBS on September 24th at 8:30-ish. Yeah, ish. It's following Sunday night football, so it'll air whenever that's done.

"Wah...why is Picard dressed like...and is
Worf wearing tights? What's happening?"

-Me, age 10
And that brings us back to sports and the source of my aversion to all things athletic. When I was a kid, Star Trek would run in syndication on weekends after football. And when I say after football, I mean after an 11 minute game is stretched into three and a half hours. No really, I looked it up. Eleven minutes of actual footballing. Add to that another half hour of former players crammed into ill-fitting suits discussing the game that just happened, and then the network would join their regularly scheduled programming already in progress. Yes, like half way over. Because sports.

There was a decent chunck of TNG episodes' original run that I only saw the last twenty minutes of. It was infuriating to a ten-year old who didn't care about or understand sports that a bunch of old guys talking about a game everyone just watched took precedence over me getting my nerd fix for the week. So thanks CBS, thanks for bringing it all back...
"Blah blah, end zone blah blah third down, blah
yard line, blah. Blaaaah. Now over to you Terry."

-What this all sounds
 like to non-sports fans

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tweet havoc!

So as much as I'm sick of Donald Trump being the axis around which everything seems to revolve lately, I really can't let this pass by without comment. Let what pass by? This:
Pictured: a thinly-veiled indictment of the current politcal-wait, I
say thinly-veiled but I think the phrase is, face-punchingly obvious?
"Carpe feles!"
-Julius-ok, one thing in common
Yeah. The Public Theatre in New York just did a production of Julius Caesar in which Caesar looks like Trump. You know, because subtle social commentary is alive and well in American Theater. Anyway, a lot of people were outraged, some because-spoiler alert-it doesn't end well for Trump/Caesar and others because holy shit the two have like nothing in common. I mean, Caesar was able to speak in complete sentences where as our sort-of President is famous for inarticulately thumbing out gibberish on twitter at all hours.

I suppose they can't all be 'the die is
cast' and 'et tu Brute?' huh Jules?
Anyway, on Friday a protestor, Laura Loomer, ran onstage during the assassination scene and shouted 'This is violence against Donald Trump!' She may have been paraphrasing Caesar's historical, but not super-memorable 'Why, this is violence!' quip he made shortly before getting stabbed to death by his closest pals, but that's assuming a lot of someone who despite these last five months and the campaign leading up to them, still literally leapt (what? It's a raised stage) to Trump's defense.

"I'm Ricahrd II. Know ye not that?"
#loosers #thatreisgay
So look, I'm not defending The Public Theatre's choice to plunk the former host of The Apprentice in the middle of an Elizabethan play based on first century B.C.'s most famous shanking. It could be great, it could be shit, I don't know, but whatever we may think of Trump, William Shakespeare lived and died 400 years before anyone ever tweeted, so laying 21st century America's political shitshow on top of the play is a stretch at best.

But whatever, Loomer and another protester who filmed her cameo appearance pulled a dick move here and one which they compounded by accusing everyone in the theatre of being exactly like Hitler's propaganda guy, Josef Goebels. You know, because political commentary that doesn't align with your worldview is, by definition, Nazi propaganda.
Pictured: either Don Knots was into Nazi cosplay or
Josef Goebbels was just a ridiculous looking man.
Above: Loomer exercising her 1st Amendment
Rights by trampling all over other people
exercising their 1st Amendment Rights.
Hey that's funny, because here we thought everyone on the right was a bunch of Nazis. Go figure. While I'm sure Loomer and her friend hilariously believe themselves to be American heroes, their spectacle does, accidentally (again, not going to give them a ton of credit), raise a question about freedom of speech. After all, the production is absolutely a political statement and would be even if they didn't go full-on bludgeon by putting The Donald on stage so why isn't it ok for Trump-fans to protest in the way that they did? It's a difficult, soul-searching question and one that doesn't have an easy answer.

"A fellow of infinite jest. So much
jest you wouldn't even believe." #sad
But I'm going to answer it. And easily. No, of course it's not ok to bust onto the stage in the middle of a performance and start calling everyone Nazis. I mean what are they, assholes? Regardless of opinions about The Public's production, it's still their artistic and political expression and if Loomer and pals don't like it, they are welcome to put on their own show in response. Maybe they could do a version of Hamlet where Trump is Claudius and he heroically usurps the throne and then whines about Hamelt's witch hunt. 

Look, I don't know if making Donald Trump into Julius Caesar is a thoughtful artistic choice or a move designed to cash-in on the still-fresh shock we all feel at the realization that anyone, literally anyone no matter how flagrantly unqualified can be the goddamn President of the United States, but it's The Public's call as well as the public's call (see what I did there?). It's not ok for Loomer or anyone else to barge in and ruin everyone's pleasant evening of unsubtle revenge fantasy. I mean if you want to crap all over what others do, write a blog.
"So...nobody's going to ask me what I think about all this? No? I see..."
-I don't know, some guy

Friday, June 16, 2017

We're really Shaka-ing this up...

Ok, so you're mad, I'm mad, we're all mad. A lot of us don't like the current president, while others think he's doing a great job and wish we'd stop asking about all the justice obstructing. Obviously they're wrong, but I think what we all need to keep in mind is the lesson taught to us by Captain Jean-Luc Picard: that violence is never the solution.
Pictured: Picard solving his problems with violence.
"I'm a role model."
Ok, there was that one time he shot a bunch of Borg on the holodeck with a holographic tommy gun. But for the most part Captain Picard solved his problems with diplomacy and occasionally by re-routing power through the whatever and then emitting a tachyon pulse through the main deflector, but he did that diplomatically too. And that's why this day, June 16th, is set aside to honor Captain Jean-Luc Picard: space explorer, amateur archeologist and role model. That's right, today is Captain Picard Day. I hope you sent your cards out in time.

Above: Riker playing with one of the
Picard Day entries while seriously
jeopardizing his career in the process.
Introduced in the episode The Pegasus as a way for Commander Riker to fuck with his boss, it's now a real thing for trekkies. While not as well known or widely observed as First Contact Day, or May the Fourth, Captian Picard Day is nevertheless an important geek orthodox holiday. Traditionally, children celebrate by drawing pictures or fashioning crude likeness of the Captain out of household supplies, which are then entered in a contest judged by Jean-Luc himself. Of course, Captain Picard is fictional and as such can't judge your art work, but that doesn't mean you can't mark the occasion.

You heard me.
You see the true meaning of Captain Picard's Day isn't about crayons or macaroni Picard sculptures or even calling out from work-although, feel free to call out from work. Tell them I said it was ok. Anyway, Captain Picard Day is about Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. You know, cooperation. The simple fact is that that despite our differences, the key to coexistence isn't stunt doubles throwing double punches or even having superior phaser fire, it's a cup of Earl Grey tea and the willingness to talk through our problems.

Whether it's with someone who voted differently from you, or a hive-mind bent on assimilaton, or even just with someone who speaks entirely in impenetrable metaphors drawn from their planet's history with which you couldn't possibly have any familiarity, there is common ground if you look hard enough. That's the lesson of Captain Picard Day and it's especially relevant now because we are seriously Shaka-ing when the walls fell when it comes to getting along with one another.*

"Darmok and Jalad at...Why would you just assume
I, an alien, would get your obscure cultural references?"

-Picard, the reason
for the season

*allow me to nerd'splain: Shaka when the walls fell is Tamarian for complete and disastrous failure.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Today in lingering shreds of self-respect...

At the risk of falling back on the tired internet cliche of linking to something and just saying 'this,' without further explanation, I say to you now: This. I mean, holy shit. Did you click on it?
Because you're going to want to see this for yourself.
The cabinet rap battles in Hamilton
are less rehearsed than today's meeting.
I'll sum up just in case you don't, but you should really click on it and marvel at today's cabinet meeting. It wasn't so much a cabinet meeting as it was a thinly-veiled press event wherein everyone in the room burst out into completely unprompted and surprisingly un-ironic praise for President Trump. It's...what's the phrase? Stomach-churning? Each one in turn blubbers about how great he is at presidenting and how lucky and thrilled America is to have him which is kind of weird since most of us didn't vote for him and fewer of us than ever think he's doing a shitty, terrifying job. Like, the worst.

It's eleven minutes of sycophantic gushing and begs the question, 'how stupid does he think the American people are?' 
Oh, right. Incredibly...
-Me, listening to DeVos
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley hails this as '...a new day at the United Nations, Tom Price called it an incredible honor to be in change of the Department of Health and Human Serves under Trump's exciting leadership and Betsy DeVos went on about what a great privilege it is to serve the children of this country and make sure that everyone has an equal shot at a great education which is hilarious coming from her. Eric Mulvaney just straight-up launched into an completely un-self conscious political ad about the budget:

Either Eric Mulvaney actually believes
the bullshit he's spewing or he missed his
true calling on the stage, because goddamn.
"Thank you Mr. President for your kind words about the budget, you're absolutely right, we are going to be able to take care of the people who really need it. And at the same time, with your direction we were also able to focus on the forgotten man and woman who are the folks who are paying those taxes. And we appreciate your direction and support in putting that budget together."

-Eric Mulvaney, Office of
Management and Budget

Above: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus
staring lovingly upon the golden visage
of our most gracious President.
But the cherry on this preposterous shit sundae that I can not fathom anyone, anyone taking seriously in any way, had to be when Reince Priebus actually says with a straight face:

"We thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda."

-Words that actually came out of
Reince Priebus's his word-face

"Blah! I must feed upon the constant
validation and approval of others..."

On one hand I'm insulted by these people and their transparent attempt to convince the rest of us that the shitshow of a Presidency that is the Trump administration is actually awesome. That the angry tweet factory we've had foisted upon us is, in truth a bold new leader who totally won't destroy whatever remains of America's credibility. But I'm also embarrassed, deeply embarrassed at the way they each gushed about the former host of The Apprentice while he sat there, soaking it in like some kind of depressing emotional vampire who can only subsist on the adoration of idiots.

So I guess my question is do you suppose the cabinet members still possess the ability to feel shame and are just really good at forcing it down or do you think they take some kind of pill that suppresses the part of the brain responsible for self-evaluation?
Pictured: The President basking in effusive praise of the people that work for him.
Not pictured: the last lingering shred of self-respect of anyone in the room.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Today in not the craziest thing in politics...

So last time I promised that the next post would be about Star Trek and not politics because holy shit am I sick of talking about the death spiral that is American politics. And today I'm going to keep that promise. Partially. John Hertzler, an actor of all things, is challenging Representative Tom Reed for New York's 23rd district.
Pictured: Noted actor Ronald Reagan seen here with his costar, a chimp, would go on to be
Governor of California and then President before being posthumously trotted out whenever
Republicans want to remind everyone of a time when they weren't universally reviled.
Ever get the feeling that our political
system is heading this way?
What's that got to do with Star Trek? I'm going to pretend you asked. Hertzler played a number of characters on a number of Star Trek spin-offs over the years. Those number being nine and three respectively, but since he was under a ton of make-up and forehead appliances, most people didn't notice. He's probably most familiar to fans as the one-eyed Klingon General Martok on Deep Space Nine, a character who himself gets into politics when (spoilers for a twenty year-old TV show) Worf murders his political rival and then crowns him leader of the Klingon Empire.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, we have elections and not bat'leth duels but that doesn't mean that this tiny, seemingly insignificant election in Western New York isn't going to be bananas. Bananas foster even. How come? Because get this: Hertzler is going to be running in character. Specifically as Mark Twain.
I think you'll agree that this is an accurate level of bananas.
Someone once ran as a belligerent,
misogynistic gameshow host, but he's
right, no one's done Twain before.
Say what now? Yeah. Hertzler, who announced his decision to run Friday night, is going to run for office as American humorist Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain. Why? Got me. Apparently because it's a challenge and because this sort of thing hasn't been done before.

"To my knowledge, it's never been done before."

-John Hertzler, goddamn 
right about that

I think the take-away here is never
google 'Deep Throat Mark Twain.'
Ok, so on the surface this sounds pretty preposterous, but if you dig deeper, you'll find that it gets even more preposterous. According to the article from the local news site, Hertzler also said that the Twain thing is also a tribute to Hal Holbrook, who played Deep Throat in All the President's Men and is also famous for his Mark Twain one man show. But don't confuse him with Jerry Hardin, who also played a character called Deep Throat (on The X-Files) and also does a Clemens/Twain one man show and in fact played the 19th century writer on Star Trek. Right. So where was I? The election.

Don't look at me like that, you voted
for, and continue to support, a goon.
You've got no room. No room at all.
So while I, as recently as one paragraph ago, referred to Hertzler's plan as preposterous, I'm actually going to go ahead and get behind it. Dramatic twist, right? Not at all. Samuel Clemens cosplay aside, he's been in politics for years now and has even spent the last three years on the local town board giving him three years more political experience than the President. And his opponent, Tom Reed, can't complain that Hertzler isn't taking the election seriously given that Reed has been a vocal supporter of Trump. So why not?

I mean, I guess what I'm getting at is that he's an intelligent, thoughtful person* with experience, passion and a desire to change things for the better. Besides, the political scene is, right now, basically a circus. It's divisive and angry and I say if an actor wants to run for office in character as a writer who wrote under an assumed name, is that really all that out there? Like, for real.
To clear up that point, Samuel Clemens was a riverboat pilot and borrowed his pen name from the phrase
 'Mark Twain,' which meant that the water's depth was a safe two fathoms. When asked why pilots didn't
just say 'two fathoms,' Twain, with his trademark wit, once famously replied: 'Because shut up, that's why.'

It's klingon for 'success' with overtones
of wading in the blood of your foes.
*Just to be upfront, I should mention that in addition to being biased towards anyone whose resume includes being Chancellor of the Klingon Empire, I also met John Hertzler once when he did Death of a Salesman at the theatre I used to worked at. I trekkie'd out at him pretty bad, but remarkably he didn't take out a restraining order. He's a delight and you should totally vote for him. You know, if you happen to live in the NY 23rd-which very few people do, but even if you don't, I hope you'll join me in wishing him a hearty q'pla in the coming election.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Astology for Plutocrats

Hey, did you see the thing Trump's son said? No this is one of his other sons, who also said something ridiculous on Sean Hannity's show. It happens a lot.
I guess that's a helpful description if the name and smug
expression of contempt for all we hold dear wasn't a tip off.
Well, on the pulse of Americans who
move imaginary money around instead
of doing actual work, to be specific.
Yeah, we're talking about this bullshit agin. Sorry, the next post will be about Star Trek or something. Promise. Anyway, Donald Trump the Younger said:

"When the Dow hits another all time record right during the testimony, you know he's been exonerated. The markets basically said this has been nonsense."

-Donald Trump Jr, with his
finger on the pulse of America

"Go ahead, call the cops...pfft...narc."
-Some thieves,
flipping the script
He's referring to former FBI director James Comey's testimony yesterday which everybody who doesn't own a red 'Make America Great Again' hat agrees looks pretty bad for Trump, but which the President sees as incontrovertible proof of his total innocence. He went on to denounce Comey as a leaker for leaking details about their conversations in which the President might have been trying to pressure him to drop an investigation. Which seems a little like robbing someone's house and then calling them a narc for calling 911.

"To income inequality and its
indefinite continuation!"

-some wealthy jerks
So Trump's son thinks the stock market is saying that the President is innocent. Cool. Whatever. Like, I'm not a stock market guy, but even I know that Federal investigations don't hinge on the goddamn Dow. Sure, politics totally have an influence on the market, but so do natural disasters, wars and how Dutch people feel about tulips. The point is it's complicated and if anything, just shows that Wall Street really digs Trump, which of course they do. He loves money and doesn't give a shit about poor people, which is their thing.

Donald Jr.'s preposterous suggestion came during an equally preposterous six minutes of Hannity and he circle jerking each other over how mistreated the President has been at the hands of the Democrats and the media and the two of them-huh? Settle down, I mean circle jerking in the figurative sense.
What? Don't look at me like that. They might as well have been jer-huh?
What's that? Oh, your problem is with a two person circle...ok, that's fair.
I'm being unfair. Donald Jr. and Eric worked
very hard be the sons of a guy who inherited a
fortune from someone who worked very hard.
The important thing is that Trump Jr.'s comments point to a serious divide between how he sees the world, and how the rest of us see it. Like, he's measuring success in things like corporations turning profits and regulations being dismantled, not by things like whether or not people have health insurance, or where the sea level will be in fifty years. And he never will. He's part of a segment of the population who will never have to spend the rest of their lives paying off student debt or start a GoFundMe for life-saving medical care.

Look, I don't know if there's a causal link between market upticks and Comey's testimony and I don't think Donald Jr. does either. I think that's crazy rich person astrology and he's bringing it up because Republicans are sexually aroused by the Dow Jones Industrial Average. I do think however that we're in for some serious problems when the right looks at this unfolding shitshow and sees Trump as a victim and not like the guy that's going to drag everyone else down with him.
Pictured: This, except with out of touch plutocrats.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Let's get those hopes up!

Today's the day everyone! Our long national nightmare is soon to be over. James Comey, the former head of the FBI who said Trump pressured him to stop looking into all the collusion stuff and then fired him, is as we speak delivering damning testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Pictured: Huffington Post's countdown clock which may be
the single most dramatic countdown clock ever to countdown
to a guy giving testimony whose content we already know.
"What, so we're going to give the job to the
person with the most votes? How novel."
Following Comey's testimony, we can expect the President to make a humble and articulate statement on the lawn of the White House wherein he admits that trying to influence an FBI investigation was a gross violation of America's separation of powers, apologizes for not only his reckless and rude behavior these last few months but also everything he's ever said and done publicly in his entire life before handing the Presidency over to Hillary Clinton, boarding a helicopter and flying off, never to be heard from again.

Right? I mean that's where this whole shitshow is going right? An immediate end to the divisiveness and national embarrassment that was visited upon us by November's election? A national Yub Nub with fireworks and Ewoks playing crude xylophones made from the severed heads of their enemies?
Which, holy shit, right? I mean the Ewoks were prepared to roast Luke, Han and
Chewie and feed them to Leia, so yeah, pretty sure those helmets aren't empty.
"Sir, I must say with all due respect
that I disagree with your view
in the strongest possible terms!"
Like, I don't want to be a bummer here, but it kind of seems like we're about to settle into a long, drawn out period of bitterness, name calling and vitriol the likes of which we've yet to experience in American politics. At least during the Civil War people were still (swear to God, no pun intended here) civil to one another. I mean, I'm glad we're not shooting-well, most of us aren't shooting at each other, but we are staring down the barrel of months and months if not years of angry tweets, resurgent hate-groups and Facebook posts about how everyone's a stupid idiot except us. 

I'm sorry, is a Trump seriously lecturing
us on morality? Because, um, Trump...

"I've never seen hatred like this. To me, they're not even people. It's so, so sad. I mean, morality's just gone, morals have just flown out the window and we deserve so much better than this as a country. And you know, it's so sad."

-Eric Trump speaking to Sean Hannity seemingly 
without the even slightest whiff of irony

Above: Obama's Supreme Court nominee,
Merrick Garland. But please, do go
about Democratic obstructionism.
He then went on to describe the DNC as an imploding party of whack job obstructionists with no message of their own who are resorting to sabotage because they're bitter at having been crushed so thoroughly in last year's election by his dad. Yikes, right? And sure, I'm going to pick an example of someone on the right being a dick while remaining conveniently silent on say, Kathy Griffin or whomever, but that's just because I, like everyone right now, am hugely biased and besides, whatever you think of Kathy Griffin, she's not super-likely to tweet us into a war with North Korea. 

So buckle up everybody, today promises to be a thrill-ride of damning allegations, nakedly partisan spin and dramatic red 'breaking news' banners coming to, let's be real here, absolutely nothing. At least until everybody puts politics aside and agrees to examine the evidence of obstruction of justice, collusion and corruption with cold detachment and with nothing but the best interests of the country in mind. So like, never, right?
"Yeah, we're pretty fucked."
-James Comey
giving us the gist

Monday, June 5, 2017

Today in how not to be a person...

Can we not go a day? One day without the guy we've been saddled with as president making an Omega-level ass of himself on Twitter and embarrassing all 300 million of us?
"Evidently not..." 
-all 300 million of us
Although I fail to see how British police
could unnerve anyone in those adorable
hats. I'm mean, they're just precious.
That's the president we currently have tweeting at goddamn 4:30 in the morning about not at all what
the Mayor of London actually said. Which was:

"Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days-no reason to be alarmed. One of the things police and all of us need to do is to make sure we're as safe as we can possibly be."

-London Mayor Sadiq Khan doing
his job thank you very much

Yes, worse than Buchanan and he kinda
let the Civil War happen. So, low bar...
You, I and any other rational human being would interpret this as the mayor alerting people to the fact that the city is crawling with police and letting them know that this isn't in response to any specific new threat, but rather a precautionary measure, so please don't freak out and do something ridiculous. The President however decided that he would be an asshat and suggest that Shadiq Khan doesn't know how to mayor, which is something coming from Trump who is, and I'll be kind here, terrible at being president. Like, the worst. But instead of having his press secretary try and walk it back, he decided to lean into the asshattery.

Khan of course, not wanting to engage, let his spokesperson handle Trump's accusations by pointing out the thing Khan actually said. But Trump, unwilling to admit that maybe he jumped to the wrong conclusion shot back with:
Hey, fun fact: in the 2016 London Mayoral election,
Sadiq Khan won the popular vote. Like, by a lot.
Frankness, racism, xenophobia,
 misogyny...it's a rich tapestry. 
Which, look, is it really that hard to be a person here? I know he made his fortune by-well, inheriting it, but whatever, he's a business guy and business can be impersonal. In fact we usually use the expression 'business is business' after screwing someone over for no reason other than it's convenient or profitable. The point is I'm not surprised that the President can sometimes come off as abrasive. In fact, I think his frankness, regardless of its resemblance to reality, was part of why people voted for him, but holy shit.

I mean, I don't want to tell the President how to do his job (ok, yes I do) but are the hours and days after a horrendous terrorist attack really the best time to chime in with cajoling and arm chair mayor-ing? Especially when the criticism is about an idiotic mis-interpretation of what Khan actually said? I mean, people have been killed and injured and he's using it as an opportunity to score political points and sell his racist-ass Muslim travel ban. What a preposterous goon this guy is...
And look at this staff. Is there not one of them
with the wherewithal to take his tweeter away?