Finally Watched “Star Trek”

Finally saw JJ Abrams’ version of “Star Trek” last night.  I have some issues with it…but it was basically entertaining, and was no worse than the first movie from the original cast.  I took some notes on it—because I’m a crazy person—and I now present to you those notes, cleaned up and expanded.

Let’s start with the stuff I LIKED:

  1. The guy that played Bones kinda worked for me. He seemed to have the right respect and reverence for the character.  I was told he grew up loving the show and wanted to honor DeForest Kelly’s memory.  I think he did that.
  2. EXCELLENT reveal of the Enterprise ship.  The original Trek movie with the original cast did virtually nothing but glory shots of the ship (mostly because they finally had the budget to do it).  This one gave you one gloriously lovely reveal.  They did it right.
  3. Enjoyed the Chekov joke with the “V” mispronunciation for the password into the computer.  Never been a huge Chekov fan…but the kid they had playing him in this movie handled it pretty well.
  4. Nice reveal of the destroyed ships at planet Vulcan and Kirk’s explanation leading up to it was well done.  They did a good job with that as an “Oh my God!” moment.  Even though you know they’re all going to be fine (because they’re on the damn Enterprise, after all), you felt like there was danger there.
  5. I did enjoy how they unfolded and developed the “coming together” of the crew and everyone falling into their places.  If they’d all just have been there already at the beginning of the movie, it would’ve been jarring.  Each character kind of got their own introduction and you got to see how and why they got there.  That was well done.
  6. I’d watch the “Captain Pike” movie. If they’d just made THAT the prequel, I’d have been cool with it.
  7. I liked that they kept the “red shirt” rule, when they killed the guy who was late opening his parachute.  🙂
  8. Enjoyed the use of REAL Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in his couple of scenes. And enjoyed Kirk responding to “I am Spock” with “Bullshit.” 🙂
  9. Even though I think they had Spock show too much emotion (more on that in a moment), I did like the scene where Kirk pushed him into snapping.
  10. They did right by Nimoy allowing him the “Space the final frontier…” line at the end.
  11. I liked the use of *some* well known names.  Like Kirk’s mom being the chick that played Cameron on “House” and Spock’s mom being Winona Ryder.  They were smart to sprinkle in some of the well-respected (particularly female) names to make the nerds think, “Oh…Jennifer Morrison’s on board with this thing…maybe it’ll be alright.”  It’s a little bit of a cheap trick…but they do want us to want them, after all.  (Get it?)

Okay…now the stuff that DIDN’T work for me.  I want to emphasize in advance that I did basically enjoy the movie…but Star Trek is something I genuinely love, and on the rabid, insane level, I have the following issues…

  1. Didn’t like the casting of Spock or Kirk. Sorry.  I really tried, but neither guy worked for me.  Here’s why.
    • Re: Kirk — Okay.  He’s a better actor than Shatner.  A lot of people are.  But “good” acting doesn’t make a character.  Shatner has an unmistakable quality about him that you just WANT to like him.  The guy in the movie just played the role with such arrogance and (unearned) bravado that I wanted him to lose.  He is a VERY good actor, and I take nothing away from his abilities, but his KIRK…he just doesn’t have the warmth of Shatner—the humanistic “I want him to win” quality.  The vulnerability of the character just isn’t there. They got the hair right, though.
    • Re: Spock — I can’t believe I’m saying this…but the guy who played Spock is too wooden. The emotional scenes of Spock were out-of-place anyway…but made all the more so by the fact that they guy didn’t project enough emotion into it. He also seemed to walk through the “logical” aspect of the character. I read online that he wasn’t especially a Trek fan before the movie. Maybe that should’ve been their first clue that he wouldn’t work out. You’ve got to love the thing you’re doing if you want to be good at it. He clearly didn’t…and that makes me wonder if Abrams did, either. (And what was up with him shoving his tongue down Uhura’s throat???)
  2. Uhh…those WERE NOT ROMULANS. Romulans DO NOT look like that. They could’ve been a cool, new villian…but instead, they just raped the Romulans. (Of course, I am sure they were just supposed to be some Romulan cult or something of that like, since we briefly saw some real Romulans in the “mind-meld” segment…but…they didn’t bother saying that.)
  3. Overall, I found the movie to be too effect heavy/effect dependant. Not every scene has to be a money shot. Almost EVERY scene in this movie would’ve served as a perfectly good “last battle” sequence in any of the previous movies.  They worked so hard to dazzle us with the early stuff that the final explosion just wasn’t as dazzling as it should’ve been.
  4. They’ve been selling this series as an “alternate timeline” to the original series, thereby giving themselves liberty to mess with (or in many cases outright IGNORE) the timeline and history of the show. That’s a cop-out, first and foremost.  Clearly they just didn’t want to put up with the inevitable “…but Kirk was already known to be at such-and-such place during that stardate!” crap—and I get that (and support it)…  But calling it an “alternate timeline” then having every member of the crew be exactly the same, have exactly the same roles, and be based on exactly the same character models as created by Gene Roddenberry…  I’ve got to wonder just what’s so “alternate” about it.  Seems like it’s exactly the same, but with no rules about where/when they are and who is living or dead.  That’s stupid, and BARELY “alternate.”
  5. I did not appreciate the use of popular music. What are the Beastie Boys doing in the Star Trek movie?!?!?!?!?!?  I didn’t like “Sabotage” in high school (over 10 years ago—wow, cutting-edge music choice there, JJ) and I like it even LESS now.  It was music used to make the scene more exciting…and there’s no reason it couldn’t have been original score, especially when Michael Giacchino is your music director.  Or at least use something timeless.  Something that 30 years from now, we’ll still be in love with.  Some Bowie or Zeppelin.  The Beastie Boys will eventually only be a rock and roll footnote (this news brought to you from the “They’re Practically There Already” Council).  They don’t belong in something that is sci-fi and is therefore supposed to be kind of timeless.  That song DATED this movie…and it dated it to 10 years ago, when it SHOULD be in the future.
  6. Spock displays too much emotion. Like WAY too much.  Yes, he is half human…but Spock is supposed to suppress that half.  He was an emo crybaby almost immediately out of the gate, all bummed out because the Vulcan High Council (or whatever) didn’t like his mommy.  Ugh.  Anakin, much?
  7. Uhura used to be a strong, black, female character, with it rarely mattering that she was either female or black. In this version…she’s just a pushy bitch—who is apparently sleeping with her professor…
  8. The bridge of the Enterprise was unmemorable.  I didn’t expect it to look like the iconic bridge of the original series or anything like that.  And it doesn’t even bug me that it looks like it couldn’t have existed before the technology of “Next Generation” either.  It just doesn’t have any definition to it at all.  When you’re dealing with the Enterprise, the ship itself is a character.  They didn’t give it any personality.  It looked like a hospital room and I can’t even remember what the captain’s chair looked like.  That’s just upsetting, as a Trekkie.
  9. I was distracted by the kid who played Sulu having been one of the douchebags from the Harold and Kumar flicks. Just like I was when he was on “House” as one of the patients. (Weirdly, though, it didn’t bug me when the other one was one of House’s team members. Maybe he’s a better actor?)
  10. Okay. I’m going to say something I am not happy about saying, because I love Simon Pegg. (Seriously, the guy’s a genius.) I didn’t care for Scotty that much. They went WAY too cartoony with it. Although, at the same time, he did a VERY good job of not looking/sounding like Simon Pegg and he made the role his own.  Scotty’s a difficult role and sometimes even Doohan was too cartoony with it, so I see where the mistake was easy to make…but unfortunately, it wasn’t in Pegg’s performance (which, taken on its own was brilliant) it was instead in the writing.  They made him a cartoony cliche, and I didn’t like it.
  11. Umm…they fucking imploded the planets of Vulcan AND Romulus! No. I refuse to accept that.
  12. One of my biggest issues is that, “emotionally compromised” or not, a Captain in the Federation (Spock) fired his (unconscious) first officer out of a ship onto an ice-planet (Hoth, much?) and left him there to die.  What the hell was that? Spock wouldn’t have done that. Especially not while they have a perfectly useable brig… That just sucked and made me want to take a shit on the DVD. (And then the red thing that attacked him was basically the monster from Cloverfield…)

All in all that’s 11 things I liked enough to write about and 12 things I didn’t like enough to write about.  So that comes pretty close to breaking even, and I’ll probably give the next one a shot.

For the record, I tried to enter it thinking, “If I don’t think of it as Star Trek, maybe it’ll stand up on its own.”  The problem is that they’re BANKING on you thinking of it as Star Trek.  They don’t explain a lot of the “scenery” aspects that Trek fans are familiar with…if you don’t already know something about the franchise, you’re probably a little lost just in the terminology/proper nouns.  They NEED you to be a Trek fan.  And as a Trek fan…I felt a little disrespected by the “alternate timeline” bullshit.  The “in jokes” and meta-universe references were leaned on WAY too heavily for something that—frankly—I’m not sure respected the source material as much as it claimed to.  This wasn’t a bad movie…it just wasn’t a good Star Trek movie—but neither was “Voyage Home” so…y’know…it evens out.

All in all, I just didn’t feel like this movie had the wholesomeness the other adaptations (yes, even “Enterprise”) have had.  This seemed a little bit like the characters are all pissed off and think they deserve to have the entire galaxy handed to them on a silver platter…but they haven’t even taken off their shoes and shit in the ship’s toilet yet.  I just didn’t like the “We’re Star Trek.  Suck it.” vibe of the movie.  Hoping the next one feels a little bit more like my old pair of shoes…because this one just doesn’t have the arch-support it needs.

Weirdly…this movie is a pretty good parallel to my bathroom.  There are some things that I really like, and it looks pretty good…but the plumbing’s leaking.  If they can fix the pipes, maybe I’ll enjoy sitting through it a little bit more next time.

A Matter of Balance

In contrast to my last post—which I still fully stand by—I would like to offer the following as a means of balancing out my own justified but not life-threatening problems.

I just thought people needed to be reminded of this because I haven’t heard anything about it in the news for a couple of months.

I just wanted to mention that a friend of mine is a missionary there and some photos in which she was “tagged” on Facebook caught my eye.

Just wanted to remind you.

These photos were taken THIS MONTH and large parts of Haiti still look like this…

All photos taken and fully credited to a guy I don't know named Justin Hawkins, who is apparently an engineer and Truman State alum. Should he stumble upon this, I hope he knows I only lifted these because I found them heartbreaking. Good shots, sir. Thank you for posting them.
All due credit to Justin Hawkins.
All due credit to Justin Hawkins.
All due credit to Justin Hawkins.

Please visit my friend Shara Lyn and/or American Haitian Bon Zami for further info about the wonderful work they are doing there.  For what it’s worth, I’m a guy who’s so virtually dead inside I scream profanities at plumbers…and even I give to these folks.

I’ve Had ENOUGH.

The list of fuck-ups to date, perpetrated by the contractor, whose name I am doing them the courtesy of not posting .  For now.

  1. Started earlier than they said they would, and when specifically told they were not wanted on that day, were insistent about it.
  2. Left a flatbed trailer in my driveway for two weeks, not even leaving enough space to fit my car in there.
  3. Promised ONE week of work.  Took TWO weeks and are STILL not finished (more on that at the end of the post).
  4. Left plywood up in place of a patio door overnight in a town that isn’t exactly #1 on the “safest in America” list.
  5. Upon installing the patio door the next day, they installed it BACKWARDS.
  6. Did not check for product availability prior to starting work, thereby leading to almost not getting the shower door I wanted.
  7. Paint in bathroom is sloppy in several areas.
  8. There is a BIG paint STAIN on my flooring in the hallway, which they covered with a garbage bag until they got out of dodge, so I wouldn’t notice.
  9. Hung light fixture too low, thereby pushing mirror too low and pushing shelf into a different, non-preferred location.  (Which also tells me that they didn’t bother to find out the measurements of the stuff I wanted installed before they put up the light fixture, either.)
  10. There is a deep gouge in one of the floor tiles by the door where they clearly jammed the frame into place.  It’s very close to the frame, so the casual glancer might not notice…but I did.
  11. There is a crack in the door frame that wasn’t there before.  Hoping I wouldn’t notice…they painted over it.
  12. There are assorted marks and discolorations on several household surfaces, most notably my front door, that weren’t there before.
  13. On Thursday, one of them pissed in my new toilet and didn’t bother flushing it, leaving it there for me to find later.
  14. And here’s the big one…  After all that…  They get out of my house yesterday.  I try out the shower today.  Works fine, or so I think…  Then I go downstairs into my laundry room…  And…  THE PLUMBING IS LEAKING.  There is a significant pool of water flooding the (thankfully cement) floor of the laundry room.

I’m going to say this once, and I’m going to say it clearly.

Fuck.  These.  Guys.

In the “bidding” stage, the ass that runs the “business” (sic) claimed to not have any complaints against him with the Better Business Bureau.

Well.  You’ve got one now.

They get ONE chance to fix it.  Then—when that doesn’t work—I’m posting their name.  It’s a pity…it’s an otherwise fine, fine name.  Worthy of even my nephew or maybe the lead singer in a Southern rock band…

A Few Things

It’s very late at night/early in the morning.  I’m not able to sleep, so I figured I’d jot down a couple of things, anyway…

  1. Finally watched “Inglourious Basterds.”  Short review – Good, not great.  Don’t feel worse for watching it, and the guy that played “The Jew Hunter” definitely deserved his Oscar…but the movie itself isn’t making my all-time top five WWII-themed movies.  (Although, aside from “To Be or Not to Be” I’m not sure what would be on that list…)
  2. I think my bathroom’s more or less “done.”  I didn’t notice it until today, but the guy installed the new light fixture about a foot lower than the last one had been, which moved my mirror down almost INTO the sink and made the shelf (which I’m in LOVE with) unable to fit where I wanted it.  It’s not necessarily a “bad” job, but at the same time, I’m not 100% happy.  Am I 90% happy?  I’m not sure.  I don’t like the light and mirror being so low, though.  That I know.  (But, on the plus-side…big-ass bathtub.)  I do have about three places in the bathroom I could fit that shelf—the contractor was fairly insistent that it wouldn’t fit anywhere.  But he also installed my patio door backwards on his first attempt, so knowing how to use a screwdriver will only get you so far.  So…I’m putting up a shelf sometime this week.  Overall…  Maybe I’ll grow to love it…but right now, it’s not what I had in my head and that kind of bums me out.  But again, not a “bad” job by any means.  It’s at least a damn-sight of an improvement over the baby-blue tile of yesteryear.  (And, as we all know, I’m a pessimist.  So even if he’d gotten it 100% right, I’d still be pissed off…)
  3. Finished Season 2 in my “Lost” re-watch.
  4. My brother and I had a fairly productive meeting about our musical endeavors the other night.  I’m not sure if we’re ready to drop any “news” on you yet…but it’s forthcoming.  I’m a big fan of bean-spilling…so I’m ready to tell you NOW, but I need to confirm that things are as firm in Dave’s mind as they are in mine.  I think they are…but maybe we’ll wait to tell you the band name until we’ve at least established an Internet presence and/or recorded a demo.  Or maybe not.  Time will tell.
  5. My Dad’s in Memphis.  Once again, Graceland goes on without me.  (I don’t think they’re visiting there…but I’d sure like to get back there one of these days, now that I actually APPRECIATE Elvis.  I didn’t fully “get it” when I went there as a 12/13-year-old.)
  6. Things at work are fine.  The office looks weird now, though.  We just got a new doorway made to connect two rooms…and the one room is apparently much brighter than the one we’ve been sitting in all this time.  It’s like the ending of “Lost” is happening behind me every day.  Good news is that we needed the space, though.  So that’s okay.  It’s just odd to have a door where there was a wall last week, as you’d probably imagine.
  7. I actually leaned out of my window and yelled at a guy in a turn lane today.  I’d tell the story…but he knows what he did.

Well…that’ll do for now.  I’m kinda sleepy, I guess…  Let’s try this “bed” thing again.

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Current Listening:

  • iPod’s on “shuffle.”  And as such, I’ve come to realize that I have terrible taste in music.

This is How Much We Care!

I get a lot of “business” type mailings.  I got one the other day that I felt it necessary to share.  I’ll withhold the name of the business that sent it to me for what will probably be obvious reasons…  But suffice to say they sent me this hoping it would be a fun little illustration of the way they run their business.  They were trying to show me that they care about the end result so much that…well…you’ll see.  (FYI – I’m assuming they copied this from somewhere, but they gave no credit, so neither can I.  They care so much, they DON’T care about intellectual property rights!)

I present to you—unedited and in the exact form it was sent to me—“SEL not SPEL!”

SEL not SPEL!

A newly hired traveling salesman wrote his first report to the home office.  It stunned the brass in the sales department because it was obvious the new man was a blithering illiterate.  Here is what he wrote…

Dere Bos —

I have seen this outfit which ain’t never bot a dimes worth of nothing from us and I sele them a couple hunerd thousand dolars of guds.  I am now going to Chicawgo.

Before the illiterate could be given the heave-ho by the sales manager, this letter came from Chicago:

I cum hear and sole them a half a millyon.

Fearful if he did, and fearful if he didn’t fire the illiterate, the sales manager dumped the problem in the lap of the president.

The following morning the ivory tower members were amazed to see the two letters posted on the bulletin board…and this memo from the president above:

We ben spending two much time trying to spel insted of trying to sel.  Let’s watch thoes sails.  I want everybody shud reed these leters from Gooch, who is on the rode doin a grate job for us, and you shud go out and do like he done.

Now…

In case you were unaware, let us first deal with the definition of the word “Gooch.”  It’s a slang term, referring to the perineum.  The perineum is the area (in both genders) between the genitals and the anus.  So…nice work there.

Also, I can’t help but notice that they slipped the word “cum” in there.

So…that’s who wants to do work for me.  Illiterates with an unhealthy obsession with semen and the taint.

I’m sold.

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Comic Books Purchased (to be reviewed in “Empty Checking” this weekend):

  • The Avengers: The Infinity Gauntlet – Issues # 1 and 2 (of 4)
  • 1MONTH2LIVE – Issue #3 of 5
  • Batman Beyond – Issue #4 of 6
  • Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier – Issue #3 of 4
  • CBGB – Issue #3
  • Morning Glories – Issue #2

Random (and too tired to think of a creative title)

You know the drill…

  1. My cousin (second cousin, I think, if we’re being technical) Ray died.  He was a grumpy old dude who worked the land on the farm in Goobertown a lot.  Didn’t know him very well, but the couple (few?) times I did encounter him, he was good for a laugh.  And it’s always sad when family dies, even if you’re just family enough to be family.  So rest in peace, Ray.
  2. My bathroom is nearing completion…but the shower door I wanted has been recalled.  That blows.  It’s pretty pivotal.  I NEED the color of the shower door to be right.  The traditional chrome won’t work.  Has to be bronze.  Unfortunately, most of the bronze doors out there cost a few hundred more than the one I chose, so this is pretty bad.  Really, really frustrating.  But at least the flooring was put down today…progress is progress.
  3. I’ve been ridiculously hungry all day.  Ate two of those TV dinner thingies…but that’s all I’ve had, really.  I usually eat more than that.  Oddly, instead of correcting that, I’m just complaining about it…
  4. I’m about half way through season 2 of my “LOST” re-watch, in case you were wondering—which you weren’t.
  5. I’m still not quite feeling “well” after being sick all last week.  I’ve got less congestion—but it’s still there.  It’s drying out though.  I’m at the “I think I smell blood” stage of it, which means it’s almost over.  My throat’s still pretty screwed up though and my sleep patterns suck even for me.

…and screw it…that’s enough.

Something I Keep Forgetting to Post…

I’m in a “side-project” type band with my friend Dave (one of the many Daves I know) called “Saint Mulligan.”  I don’t think I’ve mentioned that project before…  We’re in the “demoing” stage right now, but there’s some decent potential.  It’s being run by Dave as more or less a revolving-door/writing project.  Sometimes the line-up may feature one guy…sometimes another…but same basic setlist.  Similar to what I was doing with “Wayne and the Merry Band of Freaks” many moons ago, for the handful of you that remember that.

Anyhoo…

Dave asked me to play at a birthday party for  mutual friend a couple of months ago.  I did, and we used my speakers and whatnot—maybe the real reason I’m in the band, ha ha?  During the evening, I was chatting with Dave by one of the speakers.  I casually picked up and set down my drink a few times and when I looked down, this is what I saw…

Please be advised that I was NOT drinking the Blue Moon in the picture. That's Dave's. I was drinking a Guinness, as usual. 🙂

Now, is it just me, or is that EXACTLY the rune that represents Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham?  It was completely unintentional, and I don’t think I could have gotten it that perfect even if I’d planned it!  Dave and I were both amazed and took pictures, and I said at the time I’d put it on my blog…then I didn’t…until now!  I finally pulled it off my phone, and here it is for your enjoyment.

All in all, we took it as a good omen for the band.  🙂

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Current Listening:

  • On kind of a Bowie kick, thanks to my bathroom.  (That probably sounds really weird if you didn’t read the post I’m referencing…)