Sunday, November 23, 2008

Star Trek

Cross-posted from

Hi. My name is Larry, and I'm a Trekaholic.

Hello, Larry.

So, I look at this trailer, with the way-cool effects and the amazing Zachary Quinto and all, and part of me says, "This is going to be even cooler than Iron Man." Part of me salivates in anticipation. The part that secretly wishes he had more time for movies by Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay and other guys who know how to make stuff Blow Up Good.

The human part.

The coldly logical Vulcan part, however, notes that the filmmakers seem to have crammed into about two minutes of trailer as many deviations from canon as possible. Constitution-class starships were assembled and refit in orbit, not on the ground. Kirk never met Christopher Pike until Kirk was assigned to replace him as captain of the Enterprise. Kirk didn't know how to drive, and spent his teen years off-world. Chekov wasn't a member of the Enterprise's bridge crew until well after Kirk took command. And most importantly, the Federation and Romulans had had no contact for 100 years prior to the "Balance of Terror" episode of the original series, and nobody -- certainly nobody on the Enterprise -- even knew what a Romulan looked like; so what's with the hand-to-hand combat?

If the filmmakers care so little for the established facts of the Trek universe, it's hard to believe they'll care all that much for Roddenberry's guiding vision. What Star Trek was originally about, when you boil it down, was getting along: humanity getting along with each other, and getting along with other species in an often dangerous universe. Often the best episodes didn't feature a villain per se (we never even heard about Klingons until the end of the first season). Rather they were about ideas, and morality, and the need for understanding.

Think about the two pilots, "The Cage" and "Where No Man Has Gone Before". In neither was there a true villain; in the first there was a dying race struggling to survive, and trying to help a crippled human in the process; in the second there was Kirk's best friend, unwillingly made something both more than and less than human. Roddenberry was pitching adventures in which the antagonists weren't monsters, but moral dilemmas.

Or think about series episodes like "Devil in the Dark", or "The City on the Edge of Forever". Most people (who care) would rank these in the top tier of Kirk-era episodes, and again, neither features a true villain at all. Rather, they're about big ethical questions, like when it's acceptable to kill (or allow to be killed) and when it isn't.

Kirk-era Trek was often heavy-handed to the point of cheesiness, and way too sexist for the 23rd century. I'm sure there are people who can't forgive those failings, and I may on occasion be one of them. But neither cheese nor sexism was what the stories were about. Judging by what's in the trailer, the new film is about ... well, I'm not sure. I see that it's about young Kirk and young Spock and slightly-less-young McCoy and all, and I see that it's about a big fight with Romulans that never happened in the Trek universe I know, and I see that it's about things Blowing Up Good.

I just hope there's a point to it all other than "Make lots of money and crank out a few more."

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

For Kevin

Some advice from the Right Reverend John Hagee.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Hypothetical

Hypothetically -- just hypothetically -- let's say you took the day off to go to Valleyfair with the family. And let's say you needed to go to the bathroom. So you walk over to the nearest restroom, and standing outside of the restroom is a former co-worker, from the other side of the skyway. Without thinking, you say "hello", and the former co-worker -- standing, I remind you, outside of a public restroom -- extends his hand to shake yours.

In this purely hypothetical circumstance, who is the last former co-worker you'd want to exchange a handshake with?

Monday, June 30, 2008


I'm not even sure what Motorhead's "Ace of Spades" is doing on it, but shuffle mode followed that up this morning with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band's "Urban Spaceman".

It's going to be that kind of day.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Fun. Smiles all around. I was damned impressed by the visuals in "Ratatouille", but this far surpassed them. In fact, some really obvious, welcome inspiration from the good folks who did the special effects for "Firefly" -- the camera jitter, unsteady zooms, finding of focus that made the "Firefly"/"Serenity" CGI work seem so real.

Gets a 10 from me. Almost lost a point due to excessive "Hello Dolly", but gained it back thanks to smart use of Sigourney Weaver.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Truth ...

... despite what my brother suggested in an earlier comment, the truth is that I watch pretty much all of the sports I care to. Now, true, I'm constrained by the fact that we don't have cable or satellite (a decision I'm fully on board with), and that the games I'd care to watch aren't broadcast here in Minnesota the vast majority of the time. But if there happens to be a game on that I want to watch, it's my decision whether to do so or not.

On the other hand, I see way too many chick flicks.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

While I'm Waiting for Game 2 ...

... a very, very brief update on what's been going on in my life lately. Because I just know you care.

At the end of April, I walked across the street to attend the College Bowl national championship tournament, which was hosted at Macalester College. I got to see old friends and teammates Ron Trigueiro and Chris Baxter; both were officiating, and Chris, an events coordinator at Macalester, was handling lots of logistics. Sadly, I see now that College Bowl has officially come to an end. Sad, but I'm glad I got to see another Nationals before it left us.

In May, work sent me to Chicago for three days, for the BEA Participate conference. The main perk, besides three nights on the top floor of the Hyatt Regency, was this sweet thing, an iPod Touch.

(It was, at the time of the photo, piping Jonathan Coulton through some old amplified PC speakers. If you don't know Jonathan Coulton, you should. Well, you should if you like songs about laptops, the Mandelbrot Set, George Plimpton, mad scientists, Ikea, zombies, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, curling, Pluto and Charon, lonely programmers, Leonard Nimoy, and outdoor sex. If you prefer your songs to be about romance 'n stuff, you probably shouldn't bother.)

Also in May, Emma had a ballet recital and a school band concert. She was excited to be able to play her very own Yamaha trombone in the concert, instead of the rental she'd had all year; we picked the Yamaha up, barely used, from eBay. It still had paperwork and a polishing cloth from the music store in Madrid, Spain where it was originally purchased, though the seller was in Arizona.

More later, unless I forget again for a few months.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Yeah. Tonight.

21 years ago, I was preparing to move back to Los Angeles, where I'd work for a law firm with Laker season tickets, and get to go to a couple of playoff games and watch Magic, Kareem, Byron, James, Coop, A.C. and (of course) Kurt Rambis. But even though they won a championship that first year I was back in L.A., beating Detroit in seven games and the first repeat championship for any franchise since the sixties, it pales in comparison to beating the Celtics in '85 and '87.

These days, I don't follow sports much, but for this I'll make an exception. Kristi and Emma are in Montana, and from there going to California, so Smudge and I are going to have some serious guy-time in front of the big screen: drinking beer, eating chips and cheering Kobe and Derek and Pau. It won't be the same, even though Kurt's still on the bench, and still suited up -- though now he suits up in, well, a suit.

I'm guessing Kevin McHale will be there. Kurt had better watch his back.


*Tap Tap*

Is this thing on?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Still haven't had time to watch all of Obama's speech at one sitting, but I've seen a highlight reel now. I am impressed by the size and brassy nature of his testicles. Candidates aren't supposed to be honest. What the hell was he thinking?

Talk about raising the bar.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I have been informed ...

... by various people lately that I need to blog more. It's hard for me to imagine why this should be important to anyone, but I'll try. Of course, "blogging more" is relative; given how little I've been blogging, this post really should get me a pass for at least three weeks.

Emma and I drove down to St. Peter yesterday to see Klund and his son Koleman starring in the St. Peter Area Children's Theatre production of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". When I say "starring", I mean it; Klund played Willie Wonka and Koleman played Charlie. It kind of surprised me that the Oompah Loompahs didn't consist of the rest of the Lund brood, since there are certainly enough of them to do the job. Clearly somebody thought two Lunds in the cast were sufficient, especially given that Klund himself had a dual role.

The play was a lot of fun. Scooter and Poo-Tee-Wheet and their daughter also came down, as did Tall Brad and Not-Yet-Showing Mary. We spent the night, played lots of Wii, had breakfast this morning and hit the road back to town.

I have no pictures, owing to a horrible lack of foresight in assuming the camera batteries were charged. But I'll cross-link when any of the above-cited blogs decide to post some. In the meantime, if you know Klund, picture him in bright-yellow slacks and a purple coat and top hat. (And that was just at breakfast; wait until you see his costume!)

Sunday, March 02, 2008


So, yeah, haven't been blogging for various reasons. The best excuse I have is "pneumonia!", which actually should be a good enough excuse for you, so shut up.

Except for a lingering hacky, rattling cough and the feeling that I never quite get enough sleep, I'm over it now. At least I think I am; I have a follow-up chest X-ray scheduled for Wednesday, at which time I suppose I'll know more.

Kristi and I watched "Sicko" last week. Good timing. Just like the bad timing that brought this whole thing on right when The Company changed its sick-day policy from "basically unlimited" to "six per year". Fortunately I have understanding management. There was also our switch this year from $20 copays to $40 copays, but that was our own damned fault. Anyway, "Sicko" was thought-provoking, but most of the thoughts were along the lines of, "This could have been so much better a movie if somebody other than Michael Moore had made it." Sad, but true.

Of course, other video was watched during my convalescence. Lots of "Heroes." "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." "Pride and Prejudice" (okay, it was on PBS, but we missed the last night because of the Oscars so we broke out the DVDs to wrap it up).

And now I'm feeling better, and Kristi is sick. Hopefully not pneumonia sick, but her fever is as high as mine ever was and she feels like crap (it's true, I felt her). So Emma helps by breaking out the "Harry Potter" collection and subjecting Kristi to the entire series, in order. Could be lots worse; could be that damned "Hannah Montana" DVD over and over and over. I wonder when Emma will be ready for "Firefly"?

While I was standing around the clinic a week ago waiting for my antibiotics prescription to get filled, I popped across the hall to say "hello" and "thank you, a million times thank you!" to my former physical therapist, Allison Trombley. She is truly a miracle worker.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day

Knowing that one of my New Year's resolutions had been to start playing my dad's guitar, Kristi had it restrung and bought me some instructional books. And five picks! One for each finger, apparently -- or one to use when Emma and Smudge have appropriated the other four.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Damn You, Scooter!

Even though you didn't meme me, I know you wanted to and just forgot. Damn you for both.

A) Four jobs I have had in my life:
1. Engraver
2. Dishwasher
3. Lawyer
4. Lead Software Engineer

B) Four movies I would watch over and over
1. "Lord of the Rings" trilogy
2. Spirited Away
3. Blade Runner
4. Brazil

C) Four places I have lived:
1. Los Angeles, CA
2. Fresno, CA
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Saint Paul, MN

Four TV Shows that I watch:
1. Heroes
2. Masterpiece Theatre
Um ... we don't have cable and TV is mostly crap, so that's largely it -- unless you count DVDs we own/rent/borrow, in which case you can add Buffy, Farscape, Firefly, etc.

E) Four places I have been:
1. Rome
2. London
3. Madrid
4. Paris

F) People who email me (somewhat frequently):
(I exclude work-related emails from this list, because then my top four correspondents would probably be automated systems, or my management.)
1. Scooter
2. Ming
3. Kevin (though he's slacking lately) (of course, so am I)
4. Tall Brad (ditto)

G) Four of my favorite foods:
1. A Chipotle burrito
2. Nikki's Pasta
3. Any good vegetarian Indian/Nepalese buffet
4. Pumpkin pie

H) Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Having breakfast at Michael's in Taos
2. Having lunch at Taco Temple in Morro Bay
3. Bicycling someplace warm and sunny
4. See answers to question E

I) Things I am looking forward to this year:
1. Finishing some projects around the house, like the media cabinets upstairs
2. Teaching myself some guitar, maybe
3. Losing 10 pounds
4. The end of winter

Even though Scooter didn't tag me, I'm tagging Kevin. And Ali.


Monday, January 21, 2008

So Wrong