May 16th, 2012

All Good Things…

I finished watching Star Trek: The Next Generation today. I know I’ve been talking a lot about it lately, and it’s because I’ve been making my way through it.  I did it kind of weirdly, though. See, back when I started it last year, I started midway through Season 2 because I was pretty sure I had seen all of them up to that point.  So I went on from Season 2 through Season 7, and it just got better and better. Well… okay, the 7th season isn’t the best, but I do love the last episode. Let me know what you’ve thought of it at

I got sad when I realized I was about to watch the last episode of Season 7, “All Good Things…,” because I was going to miss these characters.  I had already decided I was going to go back and watch the first episode again (“Encounter at Farpoint“), just to see the full circle. I remembered taping that first episode when it originally aired – my parents allowed it as I had become a pretty big Star Trek fan by then. It was all so … strange, seeing these people do stuff like Kirk, Spock, and McCoy had, but in this weird-looking new ship. Going back to that first episode after watching the whole series was almost as strange.  The characters grew so much in their seven seasons. Captain Picard was kind of a jerk starting off, Worf growled a lot, and Data wasn’t really anything.  Riker showed flashes of Future-Riker, but not much.

While I watched that first episode, I took a look at descriptions for the rest of the season, and I figured out that there were a lot of them I hadn’t seen. I wanna be the the very best, like no one ever was and catch all the episodes, so I kept going. Let me tell you: it was kind of rough. I knew where the characters ended up, but it was hard seeing them like this!  I mean, Geordi wasn’t even the Chief Engineer!  (I had completely forgotten that he wasn’t always.) Things started to get better in the second season, and after that, it really got fantastic.  I still prefer Original Recipe Trek, but Next Gen got great.

Anyway, tonight I got back around to where I had started, so I’m officially done. I didn’t realize it until I finished the episode and looked at the description for the next one, though, so I wasn’t prepared for it. It hit me again, that sadness. I spent a lot of time with these people, you know? And now they won’t be around any more. I know that’s a ridiculous thing to say about a television show, but it really did hit me like the loss of a friend.

And now, because I’m really into lists these days, here are my thoughts on the main characters (based on the whole series):

Captain Jean-Luc Picard – I think I’m on the Picard side of the the “Kirk or Picard?” debate. Kirk was great and everything, but he was always being either a jerk or really close to a jerk. Picard turned into this wonderful multifaceted character, wise but human. Patrick Stewart did a fantastic job portraying Picard, and in lesser hands I don’t think it would have gone so well.

Commander William T. Riker – He’s the closest thing we have to a Kirk on the Enterprise D. In command (when he’s supposed to be), but happy to be working with Picard as his superior. He’s funny but firm, quick to action, and a good balance for Picard.

Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge – Poor Geordi. He was always the most easily frustrated character, most likely because he was used to being able to figure things out. Engineering never helped his love life, though.

Lieutenant Worf – Second-funniest guy on the ship. You have to feel bad for him, though, too, because nobody ever took his advice. Seeing a Klingon on the Enterprise was a big shock to us Original Trek fans. They were always the ultimate bad guys.

Counselor Deanna Troi – Marina Sirtis is reportedly one of the nicest people ever, but I did not care for this character at all. “Captain, that guy on the screen? The one with the frown and who is yelling? I sense he is angry.” Bah.

Lt. Commander Data – My favorite character. He’s the most Spock-like character, if we’re going to compare to TOS, and Spock was my favorite on that one. He gets the best journey, even if some of the “Data gets possessed/rewritten/rebooted” episodes were not that great.

Doctor Beverly Crusher – The ship’s mom, and the first redhead I ever had a crush on.

Wesley Crusher – Back in the day, I disliked the Wesley character just as much as everyone else. It’s funny, though, watching it now I really liked him. Part of that is because I’ve read Wil Wheaton’s stories on what it was like for him back then, but part of it is just that I liked him this time around. I was honestly bummed when he left the ship.

Lieutenant Tasha Yar – Man, I loved Yar. I thought she was awesome, and I thought it was great how much butt she kicked/wanted to kick. Stupid Tar Monster. She got brought back in a few future episode, to great effect, and I was happy about that.

Guinan – Meh. Not a necessary character, really, but I didn’t dislike her. Probably my favorite of Whoopi Goldberg’s work?

Doctor Pulaski – Not a fan. I know some of you out there really liked her, but I liked Dr. Crusher too much to ever be okay with her getting replaced. The 2nd season is hard for me to watch for this reason, and I was super glad she was gone by Season 3.

After I finished the last episode and realized there weren’t any more, I removed it from my queue and added Deep Space 9. I’ve only seen maybe three episodes of this, so while I sorta know what goes on with it, I really don’t know much. I started watching the first episode a little, just to see, and it was a strange mix a familiarity and newness. Captain Picard showed up, and there was Miles O’Brien, but that’s about the end of the familiar.

I got excited, though, looking forward to meeting these new people and seeing how things went for them. And, hey, Worf shows up later, so that’ll be cool.

March 28th, 2012

Lower Decks

I’ve been working my way through Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix streaming and I’m in the last half of the last season. I thought I had seen most episodes of the show, but I think there’ve been more I haven’t seen.  Regardless, it’s been a great ride and has reawakened my inner Trekkie.  After this, I’m thinking of starting Deep Space 9, because I’ve seen maybe three episodes of that one.

Yesterday I watched an episode that I had seen before, but didn’t remember that well.  It was called “Lower Decks,” and I’ll let the IMDB synopsis tell you about it:

A mission of the Enterprise as seen through some junior officers who are up for promotions, as questions of duty and honor arise among some of them, such as a Bajoran whom Worf has designated to be promoted to operations.

Because I’ve been watching the series in order, I remembered the Bajoran from the previous episode she was on, “The First Duty,” where she (along with Wesley Crusher)  covered up an accident they were involved in.  There’s more, but it’s not important.  You’ll get to that when you watch through the series yourself.

It ended up being one of my favorite episodes in the whole series. Seeing the ship from the viewpoint of people who weren’t the same characters we’ve seen every week was very interesting. The secondary characters circled around a storyline that sort of happened in the background with the main characters, until the end when the storylines sort of became the same.

I’ve said before how much I love the idea of space travel. I love the idea of an Enterprise wandering around at warp speed, checking things out and getting into crazy adventures. I do not, however, love the idea of actually being on the Enterprise.  Aside from the whole “submarine in space” thing, it just seems like living in the place you work is a bad idea. The Enterprise-D has a little over 1,000 people on it, which is fewer than the amount of people at the school where I work. So you see the same people during your 8-hour shift, and then you see those same people in your 16 hours of off-time (minus sleeptime). There’s pretty much just the one hangout place, and Guinan’s there most of the time, so there’s always the danger of her butting in and making you learn some sort of life lesson.

Aside from having to figure out how to keep coming up with small talk in a place where the weather never changes, there’s also the lack of privacy. Anytime the senior officers want to know where you are, they ask the computer and the computer tells them. “Ensign MadMup is hiding behind some crates in Cargo Bay 4. He is playing Angry Birds 4000 on his spacephone.” The kids on the Enterprise can’t play hide-and-seek because the computer ruins everything.

Speaking of kids, what kind of psychotic parent brings their kids on a spaceship whose job it is to seek out new and unexplained phenomena??  “Well, the Crystalline Entity was pretty scary, but I’m sure there’s nothing worse than that.  Now, what’s this ‘Borg’ thing you were talking about?” I don’t know what the Starfleet approximation of Child Services is, but any parent that wants to take their kids on a starship should probably be assumed to be an unfit parent.

How often did the non-major characters even know what was going on, anyway?  The ship’s being torn in half, but I never noticed anyone getting on the intercom and saying, “Hey, we’ve run into some slight quantum turbulence, so buckle in and put your tray tables up.” It really seems like a horrific experience all around.  Sure there’s replicators and holodecks, but Barclay can’t even run a simple holodeck program with the senior officers as inferior-to-him beings without being found out, so what chance does your “I am Superman mixed with Spider-Man on a planet of chocolate” program have of not being used by everybody?

I’m completely in favor of space exploration. When I’m appointed President, I’ll make sure NASA gets a nice budget (and I will share my ideas with them). I just don’t want to be the guy out there in actual space.  Vulcans are totally cool, but I can wait til they come here for a visit.


March 31st, 2009


My friend Dave was a running back for the football team in high school.  I don’t know his stats, but I remember he was pretty good.  I also remember that one time when were watching a game film, a coach told Dave that he needed to “belly more” on the end run.  I’m still not entirely sure what that means, but it had something to do with how he needed to get out and around the end before heading downfield.  Whatever it meant, it earned Dave the nickname of “Bellymore” for a while.  It sounds kind of like a British butler’s name, really.

That lasted until a particular game that didn’t go so well for Dave.  In this game, he ended up losing three fumbles.  “Bellymore” promptly became “Fumblemore,” which doesn’t have near as nice a ring to it.  Because of that game, Dave was assigned the task of carrying a football around with him for a week.  All day long at school there was Dave, carrying a football.  It was supposed to make him more comfortable with the ball so he’d carry it more naturally.  The rest of the team got an assignment, too.  Any time we saw Dave, we were supposed to try to knock the ball out of his grasp.

I don’t know if any of that helped Dave at all, but I don’t remember him having to do that again.  Aside from the discussion we could have about extracurricular activities intruding on Dave’s academic life, it got me thinking about what we hold on to and how we learn to do it.

Grudges seem to be a thing people hold on to for a long time.  I’ve known people who have carried grudges for years, refusing to let go even if they haven’t seen the offending party in almost as many years.  Usually someone holding on to a grudge is also holding on to bitterness as well.

Other people hold on to a good memory, something that stood out for them from whatever else was going on around them.  We see this in movies all the time – someone is told to find their “happy place” and we get a flashback to when they got a puppy as a kid or had a vacation on a tropical island.  It’s as if that puppy was the pinnacle of their life, and nothing else will ever match up to it.

In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Sybok offers to “take away” Captain Kirk’s pain. Captain Kirk gets downright belligerent and tells him, “No way! We need our pain, it makes us who we are, yada yada yada.”  (That’s a paraphrase.) He makes a good point, but there are still many who would love to give up the pain of having to watch Star Trek V, I’ll warrant.

Others hold on to heartbreak, in some cases because the lost love was their whole life, in other cases because the heartbreak is all they have left to show, and in still other cases because it’s easier to hide in the heartbreak then to try again.

How did any of these people learn to hold on to any of these things?  Pretty much the same way Dave learned to hold on to the football: they carry it with them daily.  Pretty soon it doesn’t matter who comes along and tries to knock it away from them, they’ve gotten very comfortable with it and won’t be fumbling  it away any time soon.

What do you hold on to particularly well?  Anyone who knows me can pick mine out of this list pretty easily.