Star Trek TNG: S1 – Skin of Evil

Recap:

A low budget Swamp Thing kills a member of the main cast and is a real jerk about it.

I’m definitely not just a seagull covered in crude oil and seaweed.

Memory Hole:

Yar bites it really early on in the episode. They use the drama of getting past those emotions to try to drive the remaining 30 minutes.

Also, how the hell did Tasha create HoloYar? Does everyone have one of these?

“I’ve created this scene from a Windows 98 desktop, to make Data feel more comfortable.”

The Quote:

Very good tin man.

The evil monster taunting Data. He even fucks with a blind man!

The creature is a schoolyard bully with bad skin.

Fiancé’s Favorite Moment:

Worf betting on Tasha in the upcoming Enterprise MMA competition.

Just don’t let Riker catch you in his “sad trombone” move.

Runner up: Troi getting a few good scenes trying to talk sense to the swamp creature.

Fiancé’s Verdict:

Yar was kind of annoying as portrayed, but her sexy playfulness will be missed.

Star Trek TNG: S1 – Symbiosis

Recap:

The crew gets embroiled in a property dispute between drug addled space hillbillies and aryan miami vice extras.

Space Don Johnson look pretty good for having died in Wrath of Khan.

Memory Hole:

They weren’t getting the best extras this season.

Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.

The Quote:

Drugs can make you feel good.

Yar giving Wes a 5 minute long “don’t do drugs” lecture.

Fiancé’s Favorite Moment:

Riker getting freeze tagged.

“Your nipples may tingle for a few weeks afterwards. You’re welcome.”

Fiancé’s Verdict:

Drugs are bad. Don’t do drugs kids.

Star Trek TNG: S1 – Arsenal of Freedom

Recap:

The Enterprise tracks some missing Federation crew down to Target Practice Planet. Crusher breaks a leg, Geordi takes control, and Picard has to sit through a presentation about a timeshare.

The episode far exceeds the standard phaser fire quotient.

Memory Hole:

The underutilization of Troi creeps in. She gives meaningful looks for like 10 minutes before she has a line. Some episodes she’s mysteriously “away at a conference”. She must have an awesome lanyard collection to go with her scarves.

Seriously you guys?

The Quote:

What’s the armament on the Lollipop?

Don’t fuck with the Candyland Crew.

Fiancé’s Favorite Moment:

The cavern sequence with Picard and Crusher. Some of the best acting in the series so far.

Anyone have any Neosporin?

Fiancé’s Verdict:

Some good life lessons for being a good person/leader.

Star Trek TNG: S1 – Heart of Glory

Recap:

A klash of kultures as two klingons with K names make fun of Worf, scream to the heavens, and ask innocent questions about ship security protocols.

In a Klingon acapella group, there is only honor if you’re a baritone.

Memory Hole:

Seeing Geordi vision for the first time was fun. It didn’t actually fit into the episode at all, but it was entertaining time filler.

The Quote:

I’m dying, can you just leave me alone and not mess with my eyes?

Seriously. This is really unsettling.

Fiancé’s Favorite Moments:

Picard being distractingly interested in Geordi’s visor.

Geordi sees the world as one big scrambled porn shoot.

And Worf making new friends. And then killing them.

Fiancé’s Verdict:

The true battle is within.

Wait what?

Star Trek TNG: S1 – Coming of Age

Recap:

The Enterprise gets a surprise white glove inspection while Wesley makes friends with a space bro that vapes.

“I can do 2 and a half Blues Traveler songs on my vape harmonica. Wanna hear?”

Memory Hole:

The episode should be titled “Everyone hates Remmick”. He turns the dickishness up to 11, which does not help him in his task to get to the bottom of “troubles on the Enterprise”.

Who me?

The Quote:

Acceptable or not, it is the truth.

Data lays down the law right in Remmick’s face.

Fiancé’s Favorite Moment:

Wesley going aggro.

“Fucking say that Gobots were better than Transformers one more god damned time!”

Fiancé’s Verdict:

Nice to see them as a family. And now she actually likes Picard for the first time.

Star Trek TNG: S1 – Datalore

Recap:

Data’s unstable twin brother has daddy issues, wants to kill everyone.

“Oh Data, you’re so murderable. I mean, adorable.”

Memory Hole:

Everyone on the ship is way too trusting. An evil version of the smartest and most powerful crew member is onboard? Let’s have Wesley follow him around to ensure he stays out of trouble.

Android foreplay.

The Quote:

The Westworld theme song just popped into my head.

When we’re in the laboratory down on the planet.

“Stop looking at my other ass Geordi.”

Fiancé’s Favorite Moment:

The crew asking, in front of Data, if his twin has “all the same parts”. Subtle guys.

Fiancé’s Verdict:

Why is Picard so caring about everyone but Wesley?

Star Trek TNG: S1 – Hide & Q

{Yes, we weren’t supposed to watch this one, but the fiancé saw it was a Q episode and demanded it be included.}

Recap:

Q shows up to fuck with the crew, look fabulous in more costumes, and have a Shakespeare-off with Picard.

Memory Hole:

Our first real visit to Styrofoam Planet 1. It’s pretty bad.

Clouds cost extra.

The Quote:

A marshall of France? Ridiculous.

Picard is jealous of the high collar look though. Really goes with the shape of his head.

Fiancé’s Favorite Moment:

Q’s crazy punishment for losing yet another bet with Picard. This is why Picard isn’t invited to poker nights.

The power of Christ compels him?

Fiancé’s Verdict:

Fun because she likes Q. Although this one was extra silly. The Q episodes are self gratifying to the human species, pumping up our uniqueness in the absence of absolute power.

Star Trek TNG: S1 – Justice

Recap:

Space hippies love skimpy clothing, prancing, and the death penalty. And Wesley isn’t getting a football scholarship to Starfleet anytime soon.

A culture crippled by public displays of erections.

Memory Hole:

No really, these outfits must have scandalized my young brain. If this show existed in the days of TiVo/DVR, it would have been the most rewound and rewatched in slow motion.

It’s a well oiled society.

The Quote:

Why isn’t Data down there? He likes to fuck.

2nd place: “Oh my god” X 5 as we see what the entire planet is wearing.

“This is why you include ‘Dress Code’ in the invitation Debra.”

Fiancé’s Favorite Moment:

Tasha is DTF, but also discovering info undercover-like.

“You really have to try the threesomes here Worf. Way better than on that slug planet.”

Fiancé’s Verdict:

Stay off the lawn meets the prime directive. Also, she finds Wesley kind of endearing.

Wes’ favorite holodeck program involves women’s gymnastics.

Star Trek TNG: S1 – Where No One Has Gone Before

Recap:

The Enterprise lets an asshole and an alien with dinosaur hands play around with their warpcore.

This guy is just lucky we don’t use QWERTY keyboards in this century.

Memory Hole:

Wes the fashion forward youth.

This is just the sweater version of Seinfeld’s pirate shirt, right?

The Quote:

The boy?

Everyone is super condescending to Wes, even though he’s had the right solution in roughly 100% of the episodes thus far.

Bonus:

I don’t know if I’d ever forgive Riker for interrupting a conversation with my dead mama.

Even Picard’s memories of his mother are classy as shit.

Fiancé’s Favorite Moments:

Tie between the 2nd galaxy they’re thrown to –

This is awesome. But let’s not launch a single probe.

And all the interactions between the Traveler and Wesley. It’s refreshing to have an adult not be a total dick to him and finally realize his potential.

Fiancé’s Verdict:

“Creative adventuring in space with friends!” She’s enjoying seeing the crew become more of a family.

Star Trek TNG: S1 – The Naked Now

Recap:

The Enterprise crew gets hammered and behaves like what a 14 year old thinks being drunk is.

Memory Hole:

Geordi doesn’t want to give into the “wild things” that are popping into his head. I don’t remember him being a sexual creature at all, so this surprised me.

“Usually I get to the shoulders before they get creeped out.”

Also, how the hell is Riker immune for almost the entire episode? Does he have a base layer of bourbon and horniness at all times?

The Quote:

What the fuck was that noise?

I still can’t believe it. A close second is how he says “Beverly” when he enters the sick bay later.

A distant third is how, each time someone was infected, there was a harp-like sound effect.

Fiancé’s Favorite Moment:

Tasha’s outfit and putting the moves on a fully functional Data.

And Troi said a scarf wasn’t a shirt. Ha.

Fiancé’s Verdict:

“Silly.”

Star Trek TNG: S1 – Encounter at Farpoint

Recap:

Q, an all powerful being with the hubris of a trust fund real estate magnate, puts the crew (and humanity) on trial. They just have to solve a puzzle to prove they’re not the same murderous maniacs they were in the 21st century.

Memory Hole:

I could have sworn they get to Farpoint in the start of this episode. Nope. Q taunts them for half an hour before we even see the station.
All of these actors are still figuring out their characters, so I can forgive some of the overacting on display.

Also, still figuring out wardrobe.

The Quote:

Nice sweater.

The burlap sack look makes the panties drop.

With a close 2nd being “He just asked to fuck right now, right?” The fiancé wasn’t buying Riker’s innocent intentions when he asked Beverly “for a stroll”. Everything surrounding Riker in this episode is dripping with innuendo. From Troi’s looks of longing (with awkwardly soaring music), to an officer staring at his ass after helping him find the holodeck, it’s bonetown for number one.

Fiancé’s Favorite Moment:

Q and his transformations. A playful and creative adversary.

Fiancé’s Verdict:

“It’s Star Trek.” By which she means do-gooders in space. So it lives up to the expectations set by the original series.

Also, Picard is an awkward dick.

“Don’t let anyone know I hate children. I will be yelling at one in the next scene, so good luck with that.”

 

Star Trek TNG: Season 1 Episode Guide

Full Disclosure: I’m a Star Trek nerd. Steeped in science fiction from birth (there was a Spock poster in the room), I’ve seen all of The Next Generation (TNG), Deep Space Nine (DS9), Enterprise, most of Voyager, and all of the movies before the reboot. My fiancé, however, had no such upbringing. Sure, she knows of Captain Picard through immersion in pop culture, but she never watched the shows*. But relationships are built on a foundation of communication, shared experiences, and smiling politely when they reveal a Huey Lewis tape was the first album they owned. I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my love of The Next Generation so she can understand what molded me (for better or worse) during my formative years.

A 7 season long prog rock project.

Calling TNG’s first season spotty is generous. I was never going to convince her to plop down for 26 episodes of a show I haven’t watched since it premiered almost 30 years ago. I’m not expecting her to learn Klingon or beat Wil Wheaton at bar trivia night. I mean, this season doesn’t even have the sex appeal of Riker’s beard. So I did what many have done before me: narrowed down the episodes to what I thought was required based on my hazy recollection. Plus a little help from listening to a Star Trek Podcast (I told you I was a nerd. Stop acting surprised.).

What makes it required?
Character introductions, strong character development, intriguing science fiction concepts, etc. Some guides pare this season down to 5 episodes. I don’t think you can get to know these characters in 5 episodes. Especially in a first season that’s light on characterization and arcs.
Continuity (C) – All episodes marked as C are not necessarily great. Or maybe even good. But they are required to make sense of things, even if it’s for a payoff seasons later.
Silliness (S) – These episodes are ridiculous. But I’m looking forward to the “WTF just happened?” bonding time on the couch with my fiancé.

Season One
Originally aired 1987-88

Encounter at Farpoint – Watch
The Naked Now – Watch (S,C)
Code of Honor
The Last Outpost
Where No One Has Gone Before – Watch (C)
Lonely Among Us
Justice – Watch (S)
The Battle
Hide and Q*
Haven
The Big Goodbye
Data lore – Watch
Angel One
11001001
Too Short a Season
When the Bough Breaks
Home Soil
Coming of Age  – Watch
Heart of Glory – Watch
The Arsenal of Freedom – Watch
Symbiosis – Watch
Skin of Evil – Watch (C)
We’ll Always Have Paris
Conspiracy – Watch
The Neutral Zone – Watch
 
Final count – Watch 13 (Encounter at Farpoint is a 2 parter), Skip 13

It’s a good plan. And you can follow along! As we watch each episode, I’ll post a brief entry with my scientific findings. Do I regret including an episode? Was it as bad/good/cheesy/erotic as I remember? What did the fiancé think of the whole thing? How many times did Picard adjust his jumpsuit? Stay tuned.

*We already went through a similar experiment with Star Trek TOS and those 6 films. No, I didn’t make her watch The Final Frontier. I’m no monster.

Star Wars & The History of 7th Installments in Film Franchises

Your movie franchise made it to the 7th installment. Congratulations! Good for you. Way to stick it to those pathetic trilogies. You gotta commit if you want staying power, amiright? But what should you expect? How have other 7th films done? You’ve come a long way, but now every other news story is about how it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype (or the original). And there’s no curve for nostalgia. To the history books!

My Arbitrary Criteria: No spinoffs.  The Alien movies are out because we’d have to include the Alien v Predator movies to get to 7. X-Men also doesn’t count, as two of the films were mostly Wolverine-only affairs. As much as I’d love to include Land Before Time (13?! films), we’re strictly live action for this list (which still includes muppets, strangely). No complete reboots (Sorry Batman). Also, English only (Sayonara Godzilla).

In chronological order:

Bond – Diamonds are Forever

Man, Bond gets all the cyber-babes.

Bond is so cool he can get a diamond and two women just by playing the claw game

9 years after the original (1962-1971)
IMDB Users – 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 65%

What was it?
Connery, Blofeld, a woman named Tiffany Case (Jewelry Handbag? Moxie Manpurse?), classic Bond. Also known as “Hey, isn’t that the one after George whatshisface was bond for like half a minute?” Not be confused with “The one where Sean Connery comes back, but he’s significantly older” (Never Say Never Again).

How’d it go?
Domestic Adjusted Gross: $43,819,500 – 18th in the series. Not bad considering there are 25 of these things (and the series will continue on long past we’re all dust). Adjust for ticket price and it’s actually #9 out of the bunch. Either way you cut it, it’s firmly a middle of the road bond film that people generally enjoy.


The Pink Panther – Curse of the Pink Panther

Haha, that cat is trying to murder you

Haha, that cat is trying to murder you

20 years after the original (1963-1983)
IMDB User Rating – 4.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes – 29%

What was it?
A film centered on trying to find your star would be an anomaly in any other franchise. But for The Pink Panther, this was actually the second such attempt. The previous year’s Trail of the Pink Panther pulled a similar stunt, but cut together the film with unused footage of Peter Sellers (who died in 1980). Curse’s plot revolves around another bungling detective following the trail of Inspector Clouseau. Which, knowing the star died 3 years prior, is actually a bit sad, now that I think about it. Thanks a lot Pink Panther.


How’d it go?

Domestic Adjusted Gross: $11,351,200 – 9th in the series (out of 10). Only Son of the Pink Panther did worse. The Inspector was rebooted into real-life cartoon Roberto Benigni, who couldn’t resist hamming it up so much that you can feel it IN THE POSTER.

"I'm a wild and crazy guy!"

“I’m a wild and crazy guy!”

The failure of that shrug led to the series being rebooted with Steve Martin in 2006. Continue reading →

365 Days of Writing

I’ve written every day for the past year, without fail. Not as an arbitrary challenge or as a conversation piece at parties, but to become a better writer. To establish a habit that is so ingrained in my being, that to not do it would feel unnatural, wrong.

Yeah, sorta like that.

The Habit

The most important part of establishing a habit is repetition. It’s not a habit if you’re not consistent. If you only do it once a week, it’s going to take a lot longer to cement itself (if it ever does). It’s got to be a routine, like brushing your teeth, taking a shower, or yelling at your coffee machine to work faster.

I write first thing in the morning. I write at other times too, but this is the one I don’t miss (I even coach other people on it). I sacrifice 45-60 minutes of time I would have otherwise been sleeping to do this. So I have incentive to use my time well. I also try to make it easy on myself. When I walk into the living room in the morning, the computer is waiting for me, the tea kettle is full of water, and all I need to do is press a button and sit down to write. Preparing these small things the night before can make a big difference. Remove any small obstacles that might make you consider doing another task first. Don’t check your email. Don’t look at your snapchats. Don’t start your workday. Not yet. This comes first. Continue reading →

SBIFF 2015 Writer’s Panel

graham1Graham Moore – Imitation Game
anthony1Anthony McCarten – Theory of Everything
jason1Jason Hall – American Sniper
dan1Dan Gilroy – Nightcrawler
max2Max Frye – Foxcatcher
alex1Alex Dinelaris – Birdman
damien1Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

The Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara, CA was full. A variety pack of film buffs, writers, aspiring writers, and people who didn’t get in to see Jennifer Aniston receive her award the night before. 7 writers (plus the always excellent moderator Anne Thompson) took the stage to talk movies, writing, and to drink water from milk cartons. It’s my favorite part of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival – The Writer’s Panel.

The 2015 Gang

 

Anne jumped out of the gate with the first question: Why so few women screenwriters? None of the seven gentlemen want to touch the question with the proverbial ten foot, completely non-phallic pole. Graham Moore points out they’re not qualified to talk about it and the topic is quickly changed. The film festival tried to get Gillian Flynn (of Gone Girl fame), but there was a schedule conflict.

Now that we’re all cozy, it was time to get to know the panel. Jason Hall was a bad actor (his words). So he wrote parts for himself. Again and again. Unfortunately, nobody wanted to hire him for those either. But the writing piqued people’s interest. Several of the panelists are also poets, playwrights and one former painter. The career alliteration was completely coincidental.

Continue reading →

Daily Routines


Click image to see the interactive version (via Podio).

If you’ve ever been curious about the daily routines of some of history’s most prolific artists/philosophers/inventors, look no further. A definite trend visible in early morning work and 10pm bedtimes.

Getting Up Bright & Early with Morning Pages

What is it?

From a practical sense, it’s writing every morning without fail. That’s it. Everyone has their own requirements when it comes to methods (how much? using what? what about?) but don’t let the details get you down. Just write.
For me, that currently involves a pad of paper and a pen (17 days straight so far). I find it helps me avoid the distractions that a computer might put in front of me. There’s no email or Facebook or Twitter calling to me. If you don’t have that particular issue, feel free to try typing (or use a device that makes it difficult to multitask, like an iPad). Be sure to use a fullscreen editor (such as Byword) to avoid visual distractions and really focus on putting those words down. There’s also something to be said for the tactile nature of writing by hand. It seems to engage a different part of the brain than typing. I don’t know if it’s actually any better for my writing, but I’m going with it for now. Continue reading →

Scream – Script Analysis

Scream by Kevin Williamson

Unknown Draft. No Date. 105 pages

scream posterScream brought self-aware horror onto the scene with panache. The people yelling “No, don’t go in the basement alone!” were no longer confined to the theater, they were actual characters in the film. It’s a hip, punchy, scary movie filled with memorable characters that kept audiences coming back for more (3 more, at last count).

Considering how close this script mimics the final film, I’m guessing it was the shooting script (or cleaned up after the fact to closely match it). A couple missing scenes and several changed lines of dialogue were all that I could find between this and the released film.

So why read a slasher film from the mid 90s? Putting aside the whole “redefining the genre” bit, it really is an effective film. Short, mixing slasher horror seamlessly with comedic moments and even managing some social commentary along the way. I’m writing an action/comedy at the moment, with a straight up horror script in the works, so now seemed like as good a time as any to read this one. I was after the short bursts of action/description between the dialogue heavy chunks. I wanted to see how to construct something effective, scary, and yet punchy short.

Read More about Scream

Meditation & Writing

This may be old hat to others, but I just recently experienced the combination of meditation and writing. Well, meditation and then writing, to be more specific.

As part of this Whole Life Challenge thing, I’ve been required to do a different mini-challenge every two weeks. The first was drinking half your weight in ounces in water every day (a healthy recipe for becoming very familiar with your nearest restroom). The second was getting at least 7 hours of sleep (relatively easy for me, but apparently others power through life on very little rest). The current one is to experience 10 minutes of mindfulness every day.

I’m only two days in, but I can already tell the difference in regards to my writing productivity (and my mental well being, of course). I’m currently using an iOS app called Buddhify 2, but I imagine any guided meditation will work. Using it yesterday I was able to hammer out more than 1000 words on a tv concept that’s been gestating with me for some time. My fingers never left the keys, my typing didn’t slow until around 900 words in. It was a pleasant, flowing, drug free sprint. I have no idea if this is sustainable, but even if it only comes in spurts, that’s a promising result for only 10 minutes of time listening to someone speak in a calming voice.

Let me know what your results are if you try it. Or if this is your goto method already.

{edit} I should also note that I wrote my 1000+ word spurt in Ommwriter, which is a full screen text editor that plays calming music. Mostly I think I just like that it plays a noise for each keystroke. Makes me feel classy.