I Don’t Wanna Grow Up…

Toys R Us from 70s Commercial
I think anyone raised in America around my age knows how to complete that jingle.

(For those of you not in the know, you finish it with, “I’m a Toys R Us kid.”)

It seems to be the end of an era. The toy store that was a major destination for American kids (in at least the 70s and 80s) is closing its doors.
Read I Don’t Wanna Grow Up

25 Years Ago(-ish), I Started College

Around 25 years ago, in late August 1992, I started college (erm, university for you British English speakers out there). It’s a right-of-passage many Americans go through every year when they’re 18, and I’m sure there are many stories about how that first year went for a great many people. Maybe my experience was unique, but I’m pretty sure it’s not.

What I can tell you is I remember my Mom crying when I started college at Northern Illinois University. My excitement due to my freedom was tempered by how upset she was. Being the very anxious person I was and continue to be, I wondered if I’d made the right choice. As an aside: my counselor keeps telling me I do things to please other people instead of myself, and I’m not living my life authentically if I keep doing this. On the other side of this argument, I stayed at college because it was what I wanted, even though it did hurt my mother initially (and maybe it was more of a, “Oh my God, my oldest son is 18 and leaving home and I can’t protect him any more”, which I understand but I’ve never been through so I can’t compare that experience to my own experiences).

Sorry. I digress. You should be used to that by now if you read any of my blogs.

Read 25 Years Ago(-ish), I Started College

My 40 Year Love Affair With Star Trek… Is Over

Anyone who knows me knows my love for Star Trek.

As a child, I remember my parents introducing me to Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, Bones, and the Enterprise, these complex characters and graceful-looking starship soaring from planet to planet.  I think some of the weekly aliens scared me, especially when they flashed them up at the end of the credits.  (Balok, anyone?)

Balok

I didn’t understand the cerebral and more thought-provoking parts of the episodes because, as a child, you usually don’t have those parts of your brain developed until you start hitting adulthood.  So it was good to watch as something fun as a kid.

It was one of my introductions to science fiction, and one I will always be grateful to my parents for introducing me to it.

Read My 40 Year Love Affair With Star Trek Is Over

My Writing Journey in 2014

Originally, I was quite an artistic person.  I think everyone who knew me up until about ten years ago could tell you I was always drawing or writing down ideas, doodling, making comics, all sorts of stuff.  My skills weren’t extraordinarily fantastic, but I enjoyed it.

Sadly, when I was young — about 8, I believe — I broke my right hand in several places, and as time has marched on, it has become harder and harder to hold anything (pens, pencils, forks) for long periods of time.  This has meant less and less drawing for me.

Still, I am a creative person, and I started making the shift to writing when, as a freshman Art Major at Northern Illinois University, I realised that I couldn’t keep up with my hand the way it was.  My writing was not exactly excellent in my mind but I have then, and continue to get, quite positive feedback about my skills all together.

In late 2013, after the earthquakes started settling down and I came to terms with the horrors that had unfolded around us (not all made by nature, I might add), I realised that 40 was approaching quickly, and I still had not really written much of anything other than this blog, a few Star Trek fan fiction pieces, and a few scripts for various (and more often than not, failed or defunct) Star Trek productions.

I decided I’d start writing a novel.

Read “My Writing Journey in 2014”

Last Night, I Saw Star Trek Into Darkness… My Thoughts

Okay, if you are a Star Trek fan, you’ll probably want to see Star Trek Into Darkness.

I organised a bunch of my friends to go last night (opening night in New Zealand), and it was a great evening.  I’d done the same thing when Star Trek (2009) came out, and last night, there wasn’t the same ecclectic group of people who dress up in their Star Trek regalia as in 2009.  (Just to note that none of our group, last time or this time, dressed up in Star Trek stuff.)

Everyone and their brother (I am sure) will be reviewing Star Trek Into Darkness, and I don’t want to spoil it for everyone, so I won’t get into the story or plot aspect except in a very general sense.  My friend John and I were talking on Facebook about if this was a “reboot” or “reimagining” of things that have taken place in the “original universe”.  My opinion is they took some familiar things from different movies and series and went a different direction with it, and therefore it isn’t really a “reboot” but more a “telling of a new adventure” with some familiar people and things in it.  It was a very interesting take, and, for the most part, I think it worked.  You have to pay attention because how things unfolded in this universe is described in a rather quick way, so if you don’t pay attention, you might miss it.

If you are a hardcore Star Trek fan, there are quite a few nods to various series and movies throughout Star Trek Into Darkness.  Things I can think of off the top of my head include possible Caitians, Praxis, tribbles, Section 31, Mudd, a version of the bat’leth, the Daystrom Institute (which we actually see), a possible nod to Janet Wallace (if I remember that correctly), Christine Chapel, USS Bradbury, Enterprise (NX-01), Phoenix, USS Enterprise (XCV 330), and seatbelts, just to name a few.

The sets were amazing.  We get to see other parts of the Enterprise, including the actual warp core and engine room, sickbay (including an area called medlab), and a pretty cool open atrium-like area.  We also get to see what “modern day” San Francisco and London look like somewhat, with some pretty funky set pieces at Starfleet Command and the Daystrom Institute.  San Francisco, in particular, is bustling with life: there are hovercars, airbourne vehicles, people everywhere… it seems a city teeming with life in the 23rd century.  I know my friend Glenn would love some of the sets because they feature that minimalist look with (what I feel is) awesome retro furniture.

The special effects were very amazing as well.  There are shots in the movie where you wonder, How in the hell did they do that?  One scene that stuck out in my mind is where Kirk and Spock step into a turbolift.  I don’t remember them panning away from Spock during the scene, and they go from the bridge behind them to a corridor within a few seconds.  Amazing because it seemed so fluid.  Two things (among many) J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek movies do well are visual imagery and special effects.

The acting?  I personally felt it was excellent.  There were some amazing scenes in the story.  There’s a scene between Pike and Kirk in a bar, early on in the movie, and it was extremely well-acted.  We get a feeling, through the acting alone, that these people now know one another and care about one another a great deal.  What was even better was that the actors didn’t feel like they were acting with one another; they felt like they had known each other for a very long time and were comfortable with one another.

The story itself… Well, I felt some of it was shoe-horned in.  I felt some of the characters were shoe-horned in.  McCoy, Sulu, and Chekov were sacrificed a bit to add a certain blonde scientist into the fold.  I mean, they had stuff to do, and somewhat important stuff, but I felt some of the scenes were tacked on or the writers just “gave them stuff to do”.

When you see a cameo in the movie — and when you see it, you’ll know it — you’ll see the most shoe-horned part of the entire movie, in my opinion.

There was one too many crises in my opinion.  I think one of the crises could have been taken out, and it felt like the movie tried to up the stakes one too many times.  Two of the enemies I thought should have been more threatening, weren’t really threatening until later in the piece (which, I guess makes sense).  Some of the scenes I felt were there because someone thought they would be a cool idea, so they thought of how to shoe-horn it into the plot.  Or maybe, rather, the crisis was supposed to be a part of a larger crisis or part of the story, but it felt more like it interrupted the rest of the overall scene.

On the other side of things, I think Uhura got more character development in this outing than in many of the previous episodes and movies combined.  Zoe Saldana brings a strength and compassion to Uhura that would do Nichelle Nichols proud.

Scotty gets a lot more time in this movie as well.  Yes, he’s funny, but Simon Pegg does bring a lot of warmth, heroism, and personality that makes us love Scotty in the first place.

Cumberhatch… well, the guy is an amazing actor.  I don’t think I can say more than he is one talented guy.  You can tell his character’s anguish and his pain, and then, later, his ambiguity.

Kirk and Spock definitely have developed a friendship, a close bond, and you see that develop even more in this film.  There is a really good scene between Kirk and Uhura in the turbolift, where they are talking about Spock, and that (I feel) boils things down to a very raw state.  Kirk takes a gamble to help Spock out early on in the movie… and this develops a theme of friendship and family that is woven throughout the movie.

Was it a good movie?  I think it was, overall.  Was it something I’d see again?  Yes, definitely, to get a better feel of the story itself and to make a final judgement.

Compared to other Star Trek movies, how would I rate it?  Definitely better than any of the Next Generation movies, and better than all the original movies as well except for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country… and I think that’s saying quite a bit.  Personally, I feel it is probably around the pegging of Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country.

So, if you are a Star Trek fan, or even have a passing interest in it, I would recommend seeing this movie.  I’d love to hear what you thought about the movie in my comments section (please make sure spoilers are marked).  Enjoy!

Geez, That Was Quick; I’m Engaged!

Okay, okay, I know everyone is expecting me to talk about some wonderfully romantic proposal Noel made to me on a beach in the South Pacific somewhere (at this point, I am waving my hand in the general direction of any island near New Zealand, which could be in any given direction), but it didn’t quite happen that way.

Noel can sometimes put the cart in front of the horse when he’s excited.  It’s fine.  I talk quickly when I am excited and I’m sure it annoys him to no end sometimes.  Anyway, he came home from work yesterday and said he’d been talking to my parents and siblings about engagement rings, and stuff like that.  I mean, we’ve been together for 17 years, so it’s not like we haven’t made a commitment to one another in every aspect of our lives.  The only thing marriage gives us is legal recognition of a full relationship, so it’s really, to me, a technicality.

Anyway… Noel got home, we were in the living room, and he made the (what I felt was) off-the-cuff question of if I would marry him.  I answered something like, “Um, duh, of course I will”, thinking we have already discussed this all and I thought it was pretty clear we would, at some point, get married after we worked the logistics out of how to incorporate our New Zealand friends and family with our American friends and family into one or two ceremonies, or maybe one ceremony and one party, or whatever combination we would make.  We had a big hug and a kiss and I really didn’t think, “Oh my God! I’m engaged!”  Because I’ve been engaged pretty much for 17 freakin’ years!

This morning, I was at work, talking to Don in his office, when Don’s phone rang.  It was Noel for me.  He reminded me to grab a few things from work (he’s at home today), and then said that he’d put on Facebook that we were engaged, and went into the detail about this, that, and the other thing.

Then, it dawned on me that I had not called my parents or siblings to let them know this all, and they might read it on Facebook and be angry with me.  To be fair, it was about 11 PM or midnight where they were when he asked, they are at market, and I’m thinking that they probably have an early start.  Why call them with, “Hey, we’re now really really engaged now we can really really get married?”

Today has been really busy at work with end-of-term stuff, trying to get my car repaired after being hit in a parking lot yesterday (that’s a story for another blog), getting ready to take the dog to the kennels so we can head away, chasing after delinquent / missing students, and so on.  So things are kinda slipping my mind a bit.

So… a million and one friends and family have called and written and liked the update on Facebook, and thank you all for your support and love and kind words.  I called my Mom really quick to let her know and make sure she wasn’t upset, and she was like, “Uh, no… we got the idea when Noel was talking about engagement rings.”  Implied in there was, And you’ve been engaged for 17 freakin’ years pretty much!

Well then.  I’m engaged-engaged.  Looks like I need to start thinking seriously about how we’re going to logistically make this all happen!

(Pssst.  I added a new category for these sorts of blogs.  It’s called “My Big Fat Gay Wedding”.)