Sunday, September 24, 2017

Discuss Star Trek? On the internet? Ok...

Buckle up nerds, I just watched the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery and because this is the internet, I feel the need to register my feelings about it. If you want to go in fresh or find yourself confusing Star Wars with Star Trek, maybe skip this post, it's about to get nerdy.
The internet, as you know, is a global communications network used primary
to look at porn, trash other people's worldview and to discuss Star Trek.
Spoiler alert: Turns out Discovery is
actually a cooking show staring Neelix.
Still with me? Super. So Discovery. I liked, a lot. If you recall, (and you don't have to) was worried when I read that CBS had placed an embargo on reviews and thought that maybe the show sucked and they didn't want bad buzz, but now I'm thinking that they didn't want spoilers to get out. I'm not going to go into spoilery stuff here, but I do want to give a heads up: if you're like an obsessed fan like me, you've probably formed a sense of what you think the show is going to be like based on the trailers, but be prepared to be wrong. In good ways, but wrong.

Sometimes our nit-picking is ridiculous,
and sometimes Benedict Cumberbatch is
grossly miscast as Khan...freaking Khan.
Anyway, on to the nerdtroversy. That's a word I made up, but I think it aptly describes the internet Trek nutty that was staged over the look of certain elements of Discovery. If you're unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, I'll give you the broad strokes. Trekkies (I can say it, they're my people) can sometimes fly off the handle when you mess with Star Trek canon. And fly off the handle they did. Discovery's sets, costumes, starships and Klingons look way different from what we were expecting. Gasp.

Maybe it's a high-tech, super-strong
alloy that just looks like particle
board, styrofoam and paint?
While Discovery is set just before TOS (acronym!*) the look of the ships, both interiors and exteriors look like an evolution of the recent Trek movies. Everything is touch screens and holograms and this has been the source of a lot of fan ire, since Kirk's U.S.S. Enterprise looks like a cheesy 1960's sci-fi set which, incidentally, it is. So the older ship has fancier technology. Sure, it doesn't make a lot of in-universe sense, but the reality is the designers on Discovery had a choice between pleasing a few ultra-fans with a loving recreation of the original show's look, or making something that doesn't look terrible. I think they made the right choice.

Speaking of design choices, holy shit do the Klingons look different. When I first saw the new look, the part of my brain responsible for head-canon immediately switched on. Maybe they're a different kind of Klingon, or mutant Klingons or space orcs but no, it's made clear fairly early on that this is what Klingons look like now. Deal.
Ball's in your court cosplayers. 
"Get a medic over here!
He's lost a lot of Pepto..."
Yup, it's a retcon. If it helps your head canon, just think of them as HD Klingons. In other interesting updates that only people with way too much time on their hands would notice, the Klingons have pink blood again. It's a small detail, and if this isn't interesting to you, congratulations, you're a reasonable person, but Klingon blood in most of Star Trek is red, but in order to get a PG rating for Star Trek: VI, the effects team made it purple/pink-ish. I think it helped sell them as aliens and I'm glad they brought it back, even if it will almost certainly incur the wrath of the internet.

Pictured: future people, doing
space things. What can I say?
I guess I'm just a word smith.
But whatever, these are all minor points. The show itself is off to a really good start. At about forty minutes apiece the first two episodes felt a little short, but I was left wanting to see more, which I suppose is the point. They centered around Sonequa Martin-Green's character and her conflict with her captain played by Michelle Yeoh. This focus on fewer characters was very different to Star Trek's traditional ensemble format, but feels more true-to-life, which can be difficult when your show is about future people doing space things.

He's sort of Spock with a little
Arnold J. Rimmer thrown in.
Also fun was the Spock/McCoy-ish banter between Martin-Green and Doug Jones, who plays this show's 'alien character who offers an outsider's view of humanity,' Saru. His species is a prey animal, so their deal is being naturally cautious...or maybe likable cowards. And while he's filling an obligatory role in any Star Trek thing (Spock, Data, Odo, Seven of Nine) he manages to be his own thing and his outsider's view makes sense. He's sort of there to say 'Holy shit a Klingon warship? Hey, how 'bout instead of poking at it, maybe we should just get out here and not die horribly.'

Oh, and did I mention that this was a Star Trek show featuring a strong female lead? Two in fact? Who interact with one another and talk about things other than a man? I'm not an expert here, but I think this show might pass the Bechtel test, something Star Trek hasn't always been the best at.
Full disclosure, while there was a radiation decontamination scene, but it was a
million times less awkward and weirdly sexual than the ones on Enterprise.
Hey, great job everybody, but seriously,
12 years between Star Trek shows?
That was just...unacceptable. 
As a nerd, Star Trek: Discovery's strong opening comes as a huge relief. After Star Trek: Insurrection's objective terribleness killed the TNG movies, and Enterprise's tepid recycling of old storylines got Star Trek kicked off TV, seemingly forever, it looked like our only hope of new Trek was the J.J. Abrams reboot series, which were really more like Star Trek-flavored popcorn movies. And while Discovery borrows from Abrams in terms of design (and lens flare), it omits the big-dumb action movie vibe and manages to feel like an update of Star Trek which, it's about goddamn time.


*Fun fact: There are official abbreviations for the various Stars Trek. TOS for The Original Series, TNG for The Next Generation. Discovery's official abbreviation is DIS, which, yeah, I'm glad they clarified that too, because by all rights it should be STD.
Above: an unrelated picture of Captain Kirk and one of the alien women
he made out with without bothering to find out if they were biologically
comparable. Does her species have acid for saliva? Or eat their mates
after sex? I don't know and neither does Kirk, but here we are...


In further fireable offenses...

"Allow me to reiterate: 'he lept
to the defense of literal Nazis."

-Hill, still not wrong
So remember a couple weeks ago when Sarah Sanders called for the firing of ESPN Host Jemele Hill for calling the President a white supremacist just because he panders to white supremacists and doesn't call them out for all their white supremacy bullshit? You don't? Well she did. And it was arguably itself a fireable offense, because people who work for the government aren't supposed to be using their positions to get private citizens fired from their jobs. Also, Hill was exercising her right to criticize the President. Also Hill wasn't wrong.

"He's fired! Remember? Because that's
my catch phrase? You're fired? Very
funny. I'm a very funny President."
Also, holy shit it's somehow getting worse. The President at a campaign rally-yes, despite being the president, he's still having campaign rallies-anyway, at a campaign rally Trump said this of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick:

"Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He's fired. He's fired!"

-President Trump at a-hang on, he knows 
he's not the President of Football, right?

Above: less of a concern to the
administration are the literal
Nazis now marching on our streets.
Yikes. So what's that all about? Kaepernick is one of many pro sports players who go down on one knee during the singing of the National Anthem before a game. It's in protest to frequent killing of African Americans by law enforcement which is a thing that happens. In America. But apparently Kaepernick's reminding everyone of the epidemic of police brutality and unwarranted killing directed almost exclusively at black men is bumming out racists and Trump has had enough. 

I honestly don't know
how football works...
In addition to the President of the United States referring to a private citizen as a 'son of a bitch' for calling attention to a national crisis of racially motivated killings by police, he's calling for said private citizen to be fired. What the shit? Surely he'd take the first opportunity to walk his comments back and explain-nope, I guess he's just going to lean into them. And on National Football Day of all days. Sorry, I'm not a sports person, today's National Football Day, right?

Here. Enjoy another of the President's rational, well thought out tweets:
Or maybe police could stop shooting unarmed Black men?
"These players should honor cherished
American values like shutting up and
not standing up to societal injustice."
-Pretty much what he's saying
Yup, now Americans are supposed to boycott football. Unless of course they hate America. But I'm sure the question on your mind is what does the Treasury Secretary thing about all this? Don't worry, Stephen Mnuchin's got you covered:

"This isn't about Democrats. It's not about Republicans. It's not about race; it's not about free speech. The can do free speech on their own time. This is about respect for the military and first responders and the country."

-Stephen Mnuchin on-wait, but it is- yes, it is 
about-hang on, everything he said here is wrong

Ok, couple things. Of course this is goddamn about race and of course this is about goddamn free speech. And this is the players own time. The eyes of millions of sports fans are on them and know exactly why their kneeling. That's the point. To confront America with a serious problem that's not getting better. Also, Stephen Mnuchin is the Treasury Secretary, shouldn't he be criticizing other people's protests of institutionalized racism and murder on his own time? Yeah, burn. 
Above: A wealthy, white former hedge fund manager chiming in on how
Black people should keep their opinions about police violence to themselves.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

I'm sure this won't come back to bite them...

"We literally have no idea."
-Republicans
Like, ok, the Affordable Care Act isn't perfect and really anything that isn't a single-payer system is basically just going to be the insurance industry finding new and interesting ways to screw us, but people are used to it and prefer it to Graham-Cassidy by a huge margin. 56%-33% according to this ABC News/Washington Post poll. And it's not just wanna-be Canadians like myself, that 56% includes a quarter of Republicans and a third of conservatives, so what the shit is the GOP doing and maybe more importantly why are they doing it?
"What? Enrollment period
closed? Thanks Obama!"
-Some idiot
What they're doing is trying to kill the Obamacare by the shittiest means possible. A month ago, the administration cut the outreach budget for the ACA by 90% and now they've announced that the website will be down for twelve hours every week during the enrollment period which is already going to be half as long as it was last year. So less public awareness and a more frustrating sign-up experience. Holy shit I hope everyone remembers which party wanted to make signing up for health care more frustrating.

Ok, so Trump's riding this like Slim Pickens on the bomb, but then he would. He's a belligerent goon who may literally Tweet us into World War III. But doesn't the rest of the GOP want to keep their jobs? Do none of them possess even the slightest hint of a whiff of self-preservation? Why are they going along with trying to gut a popular program instead of trying to work with Democrats to make it better?
Above: political commentary!
Suck it up kid, the GOP's
reputation is on the line here. 
This week, Chuck Grassley, a Republican just came out and said it:

"You know, I could give to ten reasons why this bill shouldn't be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That's pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill."

-Senator Chuck Gr-holy shit, really?

"Look, we're not putting politics ahead of
people, just ahead of access to healthcare."
-Sen. Grassley, American hero
Yes, really. He's explicitly saying that the GOP's pride is more important than you and your family's healthcare. And the weird part is that he got praise in the media for being honest. Honest about the fact that the GOP is so cynical and morally broken that he and the rest of the party is willing to dismantle something that is for many Americans a health care system that's keeping them either alive or out of bankruptcy, just to avoid loosing face. But you know at least he's being honest about how awful he and his party are. What a guy?

I mean. Fuck. Fuuuuuuck. Is that what this is about? Republicans promised their base that they'd kill Obamacare so they're going to do it regardless of what the people want or who gets hurt in the process?
"Well yeah, what's your point?"
-Speaker Paul Ryan, who, like most Republicans, 
is biologically incapable of feeling shame

Thursday, September 21, 2017

To be clear: 100% not a fan of Kim Jong-Un

If these two didn't have nuclear weapons, this would be hilarious. Which two? And what? Settle down, I'll explain. Remember when Donald Trump, former guest star of Wrestlemania 23 and somehow now the President, went before the United Nations and referred to the cherubic man-child running North Korea as 'Rocket Man' before threatening to destroy him and his entire country? Because that happened.
Above: I'm not going to say that being President is easy, but I am going to say that
it's easy to not start World War III. Step one: don't be an idiot and start threatening
hostile, nuclear-armed countries just because you think it makes you look tough.
Well in a move that surprised exactly zero people in the world, Kim-Jong Un, aforementioned North Korean leader and man-child, has responded.

This leaps to your mind
when you hear the word
'rogue' right? It's not just me?
In his statement, Kim criticized the President's UN comments as 'unprecedented rude nonsense' and accuses him of destabilizing an already tense situation. He goes on to describe Trump himself as mentally deranged and unethical. He is, says Kim,

"...unfit to hold the prerogative of supreme command of a country, and he is surely a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire, rather than a politician."


-Kim Jogn Un, that lunatic 
in charge of North Korea

Maybe we've just been living with Trump's barely comprehensible Tweet gibberish, but Kim's surprisingly coherent statement sounds almost presidential and-huh?

Thousands of them. In the hands of a guy
who still holding a grudge against Rosie
O'Donnell from like ten years ago.
Oh, you know, I should probably make it clear that Kim Jong-Un is still a dangerous and capricious saber-rattling despot who's been lobbing missiles over Japan for weeks now just to show everybody how crazy he is even though he must know that any conflict with the U.S. regardless of who the President is, but particularly with someone like Trump in charge, would be disastrous for North Korea. We have thousands of nuclear weapons, he's got like two. And huh-sorry, I thought that would be comforting, but now that I've said it, it sounds like anything but.

Anyway, just to be super-clear on this point: 100% not a fan of Kim Jong-Un. Just saying that he, or his translators, can string a sentence together, a quality I miss in our leadership.
Remember when we weren't embarrassed by our President?
But back to the substance of Kim's statement which reaffirms what anyone goddamn could have told Trump: That threatening to wipe North Korea off the map is only going to piss off the goon with the nukes.

Don't be a dick, the emphasis
on the first syllable. Dotard.
"His remarks...have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last...I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue...I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."


-The missile-happy tyrant our technical 
President just threatened at the U.N.

Seriously, what was he thinking? Look, as someone potentially in missile range of Kim Jong-Un's next tantrum, I just want to know, is there no one, actually no one in Trump's administration that reads the crazy shit he spouts, you know, before he spouts it?
Oh shit...right.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Uncanny G-Men

"Lock'er up 'cause them emails..."
-pretty much
Say, remember when then FBI director James Comey oh so dutifully told Congress that the bureau was reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails two weeks before the election? And then two days before the election, he put out a statement saying: ' never mind, everything's cool' But it turns out everything wasn't cool because the damage was done and now Donald Trump, star of a Access Hollywood sexual assault blooper reel somehow pulled off an electoral win despite reason and polling and is now the President?

Sure, an unqualified buffoon that most of
us didn't vote for is running the country, but
at least this guy's conscience is clear, right? 
Remember all that? Comey said he did so because he believed that to do otherwise would be misleading to the public. Which...do you suppose he's actually met the public? Because 'public' and 'nuance' don't usually go together. We, as in the American people, are fairly headline oriented so when the director of the FBI says they're reopening an FBI investigation into a political candidate right before election day it's going to play as damning. Catastrophically so and no retraction two days out is going to fix that.

Pictured: Manafort, seen here with
a hand, possibly Russian, up his ass.
Ok, maybe Comey cost Clinton the election, maybe he didn't, I don't know. We may never know, but get this, the FBI was wiretapping Paul Manafort while he was running Donald Trump's campaign. It was part of an investigation into Manafort's connections to Russia, you know, the foreign power that totally wanted Trump to win and the one that all American intelligence agencies agreed interfered with our election? Manafort's apparently been under surveillance for years because of his companies connections with the Ukrainian Governement, but the investigation was renewed after intelligence suggested that Vladimir Putin had directly ordered his intelligence agencies to screw with our election.

Maybe the FBI should stick to what
they're good at? Like investigating
things like aliens and fluke men?
Ok so while the evidence isn't conclusive and being under suspicion isn't the same thing as being guilty of anything, is it me or is it weird that we're only hearing about this now? To be clear, the FBI spent the summer leading up to the election wiretapping the Trump's goddamn campaign manager-whom they'd long suspected of being a tool of Russian intelligence-and kept it under their hat. Meanwhile, emails from Hillary Clinton to Huma Abadin show up on her husband Anthony Weiner's computer while their investigating him for an unrelated sexting scandal, it's time to go to the press.

Look, I don't want to sound paranoid, but remember way back when Hillary Clinton referred to a vast, right-wing conspiracy and everyone laughed and called her a nut-job? Well...
"I don't want to say I told you so, but..."
-The person most of us voted for

Sunday, September 17, 2017

I hope you kept that nerd belt buckled...

Don't you face palm me, you...meme...
Before you roll your eyes at another post about Star Trek, keep in mind that the new series starts a week from today and we fans are both stoked and trepidatious about whether or not it's going to be good. Or should I say trekidatious? Huh? What's that? I should be ashamed of myself? Yes, that's fair. Where was I? Oh, right, new Star Trek show. Well get this, Jonathan Frakes, who directed an episode of Discovery for season one, just blurted out a spoiler and its...well, it's a thing.

Pictured: Commander Riker,
awkwardly mounting a chiar.
Since it's super difficult to discuss the spoiler without telling you what he said and in the process spoiling it, I'm going to go ahead and say 'spoiler' now, so you can stop reading if you want. You know, if you haven't done so already. So, 'spoiler.' Still there? Ok, so at a Star Trek convention in Chicago today, Jonathan 'Commander Riker' Frakes-who's a director now, revealed that Star Trek: Discovery will feature an episode involving the Mirror Universe. Don't know what that is? Great, you're in luck, nerds love to nerd'splain. 

The Mirror Universe is the fannon name given to the parallel universe visited by Kirk and the original series crew in the episode 'Mirror Mirror.' It's just like the regular Star Trek universe...but eeeevil. The Federation is The Empire, Spock's got a goatee, and Uhura wears a crop top...an evil crop top I guess? 
Above: regular universe Uhura distracting not-gay parallel universe Sulu
with feminine wiles. Because TV in the 60's was apparently bananas.
There's homage and then there's
alterna-Spock shouting Khaaaaaan!
One's ok, the other is pictured above.
The episode was as preposterous as it sounds, but it's a fan favorite and both DS9 and Enterprise would have their own 'Mirror' episodes because Trek writers love to make multiple trips to the same well. Which brings us to the 'uh-oh.' As another be-coloned Star Trek spin-off, Discovery is going to be derivative. And that's fine. It's a sequel/prequel to stories we've already seen before, so of course it's going to draw from the source material. But holy shit, that's a fine line and one that Star Trek has historically been really bad at walking. 

Above: turns out TV in the 80's
was pretty bananas too...
Aside from the basic premise of a starship flying around and doing Star Trek stuff, Discovery's already leaning a bit on elements that have been done. There're Klingons, and Harry Mudd and the main character was recently revealed to be Spock's here-to-fore unmentioned human foster sister. And that's all fine, but this Mirror Universe thing kind of sounds like a retread and it's only season one. Of course, TNG's writers did that too, remember? They ripped off the original series episode with the crazy space disease that makes everyone act drunk and make out? It wasn't their best work.

But TNG got better. In fact, it's objectively the best Star Trek (yes it is, that's what objectively means). So maybe we should all just calm down and look forward to the new show. And besides, it's entirely possible Jonathan Frakes just loves to fuck with the fans.
"Yup, Mirror Universe. And then in episode five, Commander Riker is going to travel back 
in time and have sex with everybody on Discovery. Everybody. Episode six: Tribbles."
-Jonathan Frakes, fucking with us

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Today in 'I really hope this doesn't suck...'

Ok, you know the drill, buckle your nerd belts. I have some, well let's say potentially not great news. If you didn't click, it's-huh? I know you didn't click, don't lie to me, I can tell. Anyway, CBS is not sending out screening copies of Star Trek: Discovery's pilot episode which premiers next week.
"Oh shit..."
-Data, Star Trek: Generations,
Act III, scene ii
"What? No, don't even worry, about
 it. It's gonna be great, trust me..."
-Producer Alex Kurtzman
...who wrote Transformers 2
It may be nothing, garbled communications, but it seems like a bad sign that the producers of the series don't want anyone to see it ahead of time. What's more is that even people who see it at the premier screenings won't be allowed to talk about it until after it's released. Sure, this could be because CBS wants to avoid screening audiences giving away some big plot twist or spoiler or something. It could be that. But it could also be that they don't have a lot of confidence in the show's quality and are worried that bad word of mouth might drive down viewership and subscriptions to their stupid CBS All Access service.

I'd rather pay to not have access to The
Big Bang Theory, thank you very much.
You heard me. Yeah, if you live in the U.S. you can't just watch Star Trek: Discovery on Netflix or whatever like a civilized person. Instead you have to sign up for CBS's special streaming service. Yes, another subscription but one that offers all the inconvenience of watching broadcast television like commercials and the privilege of paying for a bunch of tv shows you don't want. It's sort of like what HBO does with Game of Thrones, except now, thanks to non-disclosure agreements and review embargoes, the concern is that Discovery might be terrible.

Oh don't look at me like that,
I mean did you even watch the one
where Trip gets pregnant? 
Ok, cards on the table, I still have high hopes that Discovery will be awesome. And as an obsessed fan, I'll watch anything, pay anything, literally anything Star Trek. Even if it is crap. I stuck with Star Trek through some objective crap during TNG's first couple seasons. I dutifully sat through Insurrection in the theatre not once, but twice, just in case I missed some reason it wasn't terrible. I even watched all four seasons of Star Trek: Enterprise. Four seasons. I fast forwarded thought the theme song, but still, I did it and I'm prepared to do it again although I resent having to sign-up for All Access to do it.

But that's why they call us fans instead of, you know, normal people. Anyway, I want this to be good. I need this to be good. It's just that the pre-release secrecy is troublesome.
It's ok, I can say that. These are my people.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Speaking of fireable offenses...

Wait-wait-wait, hang on. Let's just be absolutely clear about this. Sarah Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, today called for Jemele Hill to be fired for being mean to the President on Twitter.
Pictured: The White House Press Secretary standing at the Press Secretary's podium
in front of the seal of the White House calling for the firing of a private citizen for
criticizing the President on Twitter. Not pictured: the slightest hint of irony.
"The most outrageous comment anyone
could make? Challenge: accepted."

-The technical winner
of last year's election
Sanders was asked to respond to some tweets made by Hill, an ESPN host who called the President a white supremacist and someone who surrounds himself with white supremacists.

"...I think that's one of the more outrageous comments that anyone could make, and certainly something that I think is a fireable offense by ESPN."

-Presss Secretary Sanders on-wait,
has she even met the President?

Pictured: Trump and Bush walking arm in
arm with a woman they were moments
before talking about sexually assaulting.
I mean is she unaware of of everything that's spewed forth from her boss's twitter hole over the nine months of his Presidency or the years leading up to it? There was that time back in 2015 when he suggested that Megyn Kelly was menstruating because she had the temerity to press him in a debate. And that time he and Billy Bush weighted the pros and pros of sexual assault. Oh, and remember when he blamed the Orlando nightclub massacre on immigration even though the man who committed it was born in Long Island?

Above: some of the Nazis the
President recently defended.
Because these were all pretty outrageous comments. We know because we're all still pretty outraged by them. Sanders also seems to be forgetting about that time he leapt to the defense of White Supremacists? Literal goddamn Nazis were marching in the street and he defended them. It was way back in August, so maybe it just slipped her mind, but it seems super-relevant because she's calling Hill's comments about white supremacy outrageous. And look, I don't know if Donald Trump is really a white supremacist, but I also don't think Jemele's read is wrong.

Working at the OGE has got to be like
working at Blockbuster. But somehow
sadder and without the pop rocks.
Speaking of Nazis, did no one in the White House have a problem with the fascistic implications of the Press Secretary calling for a private citizen to lose her job? Walter Shaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics even pointed out that there's a law against government officials using their position to influence private employment decisions. While he doesn't believe Sanders remarks are prosecutable, he did tweet that they were inappropriate and called them "[a]nother important norm down the drain." On a side note, does anyone else feel bad for the OGE?

"I mean, literal goddamn Nazis.."
-Jemele Hill, not being wrong
Well, there's nothing we can do about it. ESPN has distanced themselves from Hill and has refereed to 'disciplinary action' but hasn't said what that is yet. And even if they do fire her, we'll never really be sure if it was because of Sander's call for her dismissal or just corporate cowardice on the part of ESPN. What will be for certain is that she'll have lost her job because she criticized the President. Criticized him for something that's kinda true. That's kind of fucked up, no?

Yes. But what's even more fucked up is that Sanders job is almost certainly secure, despite using her position to try and get Hill fired for voicing her opinion. What Sanders did might not technically be illegal but-wow, is it me, or is this entire administration coasting on the phrase 'it's not technically illegal but...'
As long as she doesn't lead an FBI investigation
into Trump's Russia ties, she'll be fine.