Friday randomyness

A Friday Haiku

Star Trek: Discovery
I saw just one episode
I won’t pay blackmail

Growing up blond

I was a towhead kid. Very light-colored hair. Most of my friends had dark hair. I hated them for it.

Why? Because all the cool television characters at that time had dark hair and the dorks had blond. So when we’d get together on the playground and oretend we were, say, The Monkees, all my friends were Davy, or Micky, or Mike, the cool guys. So who got stuck being the idiotic Peter? Yes. Me.

Starsky and Hutch? Starsky was the cool guy who drove the cool Torino. I got stuck being the sappy Hutch.

All the shows we watched, the cool guy always had dark or black hair. Captain Crane on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea? Black hair. Jim West on Wild, Wild West? Black hair. Don West on Lost in Space? Black hair. Jim Kirk on Star Trek? Not black, but a darker brown than blond and then as T.J. Hooker, it was black.

OK. OK. Sergeant Saunders (Vic Marrow’s character) on Combat! had blond hair, but it was always covered by an Army helmet. So although Saunders was cool as hell, he was an outlier.

My point is, for role models, us blond kids didn’t really have any. And yes, it still bothers me all these years later. Woukd it have killed TV to have a few more blond heroic characters for us to identify with?

The Silver Age: Thor

I’m current reading the very first stories of The Might Thor. The original ones plotted by Stan Lee, written by his brother Larry Lieber, and drawn by Jack Kirby. These first few stories are almost laughable in their simplicity. In Journey into Mystery #83, we are introduced to the lame Dr. Don Blake, who is vacationing in Norway. He is hiking (with a bum leg and a cane) in some wilderness and comes across an advance scout party of aliens from Saturn here to invade Earth.

He steps on a twig, which the rock creatures hear and chase him. On his bum leg. In the pursuit, he loses his cane, but manages to climb some rocks and hides in a cave.

In the cave, he finds an old gnarly stick, which he uses to try to move a boulder blocking the back exit of the cave before the aliens find him. He strikes the boulder in anger and he us transformed into Thor, the Norse god of thunder and his stick is now Mjolnir, the enchanted uru hammer.

On the hammer are inscribed the words, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of… Thor.” Words I don’t believe we ever see again. One also wonders, does this mean anyone could have picked up the cane and become Thor?

Now Dr. Blake has all the immortal powers of the thunder god until he strikes the hammer and resumes his mortal form again. However, if he is separated from his hammer for longer than 60 seconds, he becomes the frail doctor again.

So as you can guess, many of the early stories use that weakness to create tension. “It’s almost been 60 seconds! If I don’t touch my hammer soon, I’ll be at their mercy as Dr. Blake.”

In the third issue, Journey into Mystery #85, we meet Loki and some of the other gods of Asgard. But Thor himself doesn’t appear in Asgard until the tenth issue, Journey in Mystery #92.

So far, I’ve noticed several interesting things. First, Dr. Blake and Thor aren’t two different people. Blake becomes Thor when he strikes the cane, but he just seems like Don Blake with muscles and powers.

So the question becomes, where was Thor all this time? Odin, Loki, Heimdall all exist on Asgard, but what about Thor? And why was Mjolnir disguised as a stick in that cave?

When Blake becomes Thor, he still thinks and talks like Blake. They haven’t yet introduced the strained Shakespearean speech Thor is known for, with thees and thous and anon.

As Dr. Blake, he’s very much in love with his nurse, Jane Foster, except he’s afraid to profess his love for fear as she will either laugh because he’s frail and handicapped, like a grown-up Tiny Tim, or he fears she’ll only pretend to love him back out of pity. So he says nothing. All the while Jane Foster is in love with Dr. Blake, but thinks he beyond reach because he’s cold and impersonal. Then Thor appears and she’s all, whata guy! If only Blake was that exciting.

The whole thing is very reminiscent of the Clark Kent/Superman/Lois Lane schtick.

I grew up a child of the Silver Age, but I didn’t become aware of Marvel Comics until 1965 or so, three or four years after these stories came out. By then, many of Marvel’s characters had already gone through their growing pains.

I was more familiar with DC, which was better established and had a stranglehold on the distribution system, making it difficult for Marvel to reach many markets. I can’t even recall seeing their comics early on, just DC, Gold Key, and Dell.

So, I’m finding these early stories fascinating from a historical perspective and I can’t wait to watch how Thor evolves into the character I remember reading in the late 60s and early 70s. Verily.

I might also mention that, in the comics at least, there were several blond role models for a kid to look up to, including Thor and Captain America/Steve Rogers.

Weigh-In Friday

I didn’t. It was a busy week, workwise. I only ran once, on Sunday. So, it’s probably just as well I didn’t step upon the scale.

The Orville

I admit, I wasn’t going to watch this. It just didn’t seem interesting. Most sci-fi comedies are more corny than interesting. I also have no idea who this Seth McFarland guy was, so that didn’t pull me in.

But, given the fact that CBS fucked us over with Star Trek: Discovery, I decided to give The Orville a shot.

I was going to DVR an episode to watch, but discovered that there is this thing called Fox OnDemand. I can watch all the episodes.

I gave the first episode a shot at impressing me.

And you know what? It was good. I mean, really good. Sure, it had it’s flaws, but overall, I was impressed.

The special effects are as decent as any serious sci-fi show out there. The story took a while to build, but it entertained. The acting was good. The characters, although at times their parts seemed a bit forced, were relatable and likable.

I’d say, overall, The Orville is a very good sci-fi program and unlike the first (and only free!) episode of Star Trek: Discovery, it managed to make me want to see more. (I’ve already posted why I didn’t care for ST:D.)

I will be making The Orville a regular viewing habit. Good for Fox. Shame on CBS.

Halloween at Frankenstein’s Castle

Every Halloween, one of WTMJ-AM radio personalities, Jonathan Green, would play a recording from Armed Forces Radio of a Halloween prank recorded in “Frankenstein’s castle.” Green retired many years ago, but I found the recording on YouTube.

The premise is that Armed Forces Radio program director Hunt Downs took three announcers to spend the night in the castle, explaining the myth that the monster’s ghost returns to haunt the castle every 100 years and this was that night.

Each was given a small flashlight and a walkie-talkie and sent to different parts of the castle.

The following recording was unscripted and are the true reactions of those announcers.

Enjoy.

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Star Trek: Disappointment

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come not to praise Caesar but to bury him.” — Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Let that serve as notice to the tone of all that follows.

The long awaited Star Trek: Discovery premiered last night and it was a mixed bag, at best.

From a purely aesthetic view, it was beautiful. The special effects are nearly flawless, with a high budget movie quality to them. They are almost too detailed and overwhelming on the small screen.

The show takes place 10 years before Captain Kirk. Why the Trek braintrust insists on going back in time versus going forward, is an enigma.

But they did and that causes a whole slew of continuity issues.

Start with the Klingons. It was hard enough to explain how their species evolved from the Asiatic human-looking villains in the original series to the ones with the ridged foreheads and mullets in Next Generation, but now how do they explain that they looked like demons just a decade earlier?

Still, it’s nice to have the Klingons as villains again instead of allies, as they became in Deep Space Nine.

And they didn’t even try to backwards retrofit all the tech in order to give the series a look and feel older than TOS, as they at least attempted to do with Enterprise.

One example is the phaser pistol Captain Philippa Georgiou (sadly, Michelle Yeoh is only a guest star and not the main character) holds on the traitorous First Officer Michael Burnam. It looks more like something that would have come after the TOS phaser. They should have made it look more rounded and bulkier, something more akin to the pistols from the TOS’ pilot episode, The Menagerie.

And the bridge itself looks far more advanced than the one from TOS or even Next Gen. And that makes you wonder why the design would change from this very high-tech, spacious bridge to the more cramped one on the TOS’ Enterprise.

And personally, I like the character of Captain Georgiou, which is disappointing because she is not the focus of the series, nor is her ship or crew.

The focus is on the First Officer, the mutinous Michael Burnam, who I think should be keelhauled, but I guess they don’t do that in the future. Seems traitors and mutineers aren’t drummed out of the service to spend the rest of their lives rotting in a brig. Instead, she’ll be demoted down to First Mate on the starship Discovery.

I don’t like Burnam, which is a shame because it seems she will be the series main focus. Of course, my prejudice against her came the moment she assaulted her Captain and tried to commandeer the ship. I don’t mind hot-headed characters or the take charge sort or even ones who bend the rules at times, but what I don’t like are hot-headed, irrational characters who are so inflexible and narrow-minded in their views they commit violent acts of treachery to get their way.

And what’s with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch. I understand she was raised on Vulcan by Spock’s father, went to the Vulcan Learning Center and then their Science Academy, but she’s still only human. Even Kirk never learned how to do the neck pitch and as Spock said, “I tried to teach you.”

To me, this sets bad precedence. Now we’ll always wonder why no one else ever learned the neck pitch, which was an invaluable tool in deescalating so many situations.

Something else I didn’t care for: ending on a cliff-hanger. What I liked most about Star Trek overall was an absence of cliff-hangers, but even more than that, each and every episode was self-contained. I can turn on any episode of any Star Trek series and can watch it without needing any prior knowledge of what happened previously.

I understand we dodged a bullet when the original director quit, his plan had been to make it like Lost, with an overreaching, continuous story arc. I am not a fan of those kinds of shows. I wasn’t happy with some of Deep Space Nine’s story arcs. It forces you to watch every episode in order and if you miss a few, you just sit there confused.

Another thing, as much as I loved the look of the show, it was the feel that left me lacking. It didn’t feel like Star Trek. There was no sense of wonder. No sense of hope. No sense of Mankind aspiring to become better. There was no Roddenberry, child-like sense of awe.

Instead, it felt like a set-up to a mindlessly violent military drama. No sense of space exporation, no seeking out new life, or new civilizations, no going boldly where no one has gone before, just a sense of forboding and doom as we prepare go to war.

Which brings me to my overwhelming judgement that this series seems too dark for Star Trek and that saddens me.

Its possible the series and characters would have grown on me over time, but CBS isn’t giving me that chance because this is the only free episode CBS will show.

This was a teaser, my friends. CBS is like a blackmailer sending you the severed ear of a loved one and demanding payment if you want to see them alive and whole again.

This is nothing more than extortion, forcing Star Trek fans pay for their stupid subscription service, CBC All Access. Star Trek should be accessible and affordable to all fans, not just the rich.

I’ll wait for the series to come out on DVD, or possibly when the entire season is finished I’ll subscribe to CBS’ seven day free trial and binge watch.

But paying $10 a month to watch one show — which is what I’d be doing because I can’t name any other shows CBS does, or has ever done — is fiscally irresponsible.

I don’t negotiate with terrorists, CBS. Fuck you.

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Randomosity

It is Random Friday, where I cover a lot of topics in a short time. Hang on.

Fuelishness

When I first started driving, I got into the habit (some might say weird compulsion) to keep a notebook in the car to keep track of fuel and mileage. Its something my mom did, and still does. Whenever you fill up your car with gas, you note the date, odometer reading, how much gas you put in, and then you can figure out how many miles per gallon you’re getting.

This is useful because it often can indicate if there’s a problem with the engine if the MPG starts dropping radically.

I got away from this a few decades ago, but I just started up again recently. I found a phone app called “Fuel Buddy” and it tracks all the fueling information and even calculates the MPG for me so I don’t have to wear out any brain cells.

Fuel Buddy also allows you to track several vehicles and has options to automatically sense what gas station you are at. You can set service reminders for various components, like the battery, engine oil, spark plugs,  tire rotation, etc.

So far I’ve found on our last fill up that our 2004 Pontiac Vibe got 26.27 mpg, which is pretty good for an older car that does primarily city driving, and the 2013 Fiat 500 Lounge got 33.35 mpg. I might have been driving it a little aggressively since I first got it, so I’m going to see if I can better than on the next fill up.

First Outdoor Run

Yes, you read that correctly. Tuesday, I went out for the first outdoor run of the year. We finally had nice weather, no rain, and it was in the low 80s.

I wore my Hoka One One Clifton 3 and they were so cushiony, it felt like I was running on a wrestling mat instead of a cement sidewalk.

I did fairly well, and ran well over a mile and a half before I had to rest walk for about half a block or so. It seemed like I was always running uphill. How is that possible? I’m pretty sure M.C. Escher did not design my neighborhood.

I’ll have to relearn to pace myself, but it was nice being outside instead of on the treadmill watching TV.

I ran a total of 3.14 (pi!) miles in 36:13. Way off my personal treadmill best of 28 minutes and change for 3.11 miles (5k). My average speed was 5.2 mph, which isn’t bad since I had about 4 walking breaks thrown in there. And my fastest pace was 9.1 mph! Call me The Flash! Or maybe The Flash’s older, out of shape brother, The Slump.

The only drawback to outside running is my shoes got dirty. They don’t pick up dirt and grass and debris when I run on the treadmill. I’ve grown accustomed to having my shoes looking like new, so seeing the sole no longer pristine white sort of depressed me. Oh, well.

Took the Plunge

My phone did, that is. Fell right off my belt and took a half gainer into the toilet bowl at work. I guess the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge really is waterproof because it wasn’t harmed at all.

Luckily, the water was still disinfectant blue from when it had been cleaned the day before, meaning no one had used it yet.

I wiped it off, smeared some hand sanitizer on it, and it was good to go.

Weigh-in Friday

Sorry. I didn’t weigh myself this morning, which is probably just as well. Despite returning to salads for lunch this week, (the last several weeks I was eating PB&J or lunch meat sandwiches), I ate a lot of junk food the rest of the time: pizza (three times, restaurant and frozen, and leftovers), burgers  (twice, both at restaurants), a shake, cheesecurds, and heavily salted snack foods. So I wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d climbed back over the 200 pound mark.

First Place!

Thought I’d mention it, since nearly every baseball pundit predicted we’d be in last place,  the Milwaukee Brewers are in first place in their division, leading the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs.

Nyah! Nyah!

Star Trek Discovery

By now, most trekkies have seen the first real trailer of Star Trek Discovery and pissed their pants. Amirite?

Or you’re in a state of quiet uncertainty. You dont want to get too excited in case it sucks, but you’re still eager for anything new from the Star Trek franchise.

Or you’re one of those skeptics who are trying to figure out, if this is supposed to be in the Prime timeline 10 years before Kirk, why does all the equipment and special effects look like they’re from the Kelvin timeline?

I’m actually part of a fourth group. The ones who are angry as Hell that CBS isn’t airing Star Trek Discovery on over-the-air network CBS, but instead has chosen to hold the franchise hostage and extort money from loyal fans by forcing them to watch their pay service, CBS All Access.

I don’t know about yoo, but I don’t deal with terrorists. Why should I pay for a service that has only one watchable show on it? I mean, I can’t even name another television program that airs on CBS.

Fuck you, CBS.

If I have to, I’ll wait ten years for the show to make it to Netflix.

How the Elimination of the Fairness Doctrine Fucked Over America

I read something appalling recently. Although that the approval ratings for the Orange Turd are the lowest in the history of approval ratings, there are 96% of those who voted for him, STILL SUPPORTING HIM!

Are you fucking kidding me?

So you have to ask yourself Why? And the only answer possible is they are uninformed on the issues, they only hear one side of the argument, the side they already agree with. There is no critical thinking involved. They are spoon fed their opinions from Fox News, Breitbart, and conservative talk radio.

There was a time in America where the people were better informed. They could make better decisions because they were more knowledgeable about current events and understood both sides of an issue.

If you’re old enough, you probably remember when news programs had Point-Counterpoint discussions where they’d discuss both sides of an argument.

They did that because it was an FCC  requirement.  They had to give equal airtime to opposing views to keep their broadcast license. During elections, if they had one candidate on, then the station was required to give equal time to their opponent.

It was called The Fairness Doctrine and it became law in 1949. And it worked. Most Americans, if they regularly watched the news, had a basic understanding of issues and could make informed decisions. It helped Americans to think for themselves.

But then, in 1985 under Ronald Reagan, that rule was rescinded. Without the requirement to present both sides of an argument, conservative talk radio was born and its angry,  one-sided ignorant rhetoric quickly found an audience among white bigots who felt disenfranchised by a progressive America.

Talk radio hosts were able to inflame these white Americans into believing all their supposed woes were because of illegal immigrants, non-Christians, libtards, feminazis, ecoterrorists, gays who were forcing their lifestyle upon them, and the like.

And their hate and ignorance continued to grow because now they could feed their ignorance by listening to only one side of the news–conservative–and they lost the perspective to see things from the other side. It became easier to name call than have an open mind.

And the Orange Turd found he could capitalize on their hate, their bigotry, and their ignorance, and he road a massive wave of racial, homophobic, sexist prejudice into the White House.

And despite his every lie, every scandal, every illegal activity, his supporters still love him because they are completely uninformed about these activities and have the opinion (handpicked by the Orange Turd himself) that everything negative said about him is “fake news” and all part of a witch hunt to tear him down.

And that is why we need The Fairness Doctrine back: to try to bring some sanity back into politics, to gradually re-teach people how to think for themselves, and to inform them of all sides of the issues.

Resist to stay informed.

/rant over

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