Thursday, April 27, 2006

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

These words came to mind as I was reading two stories important to Science Fiction fans over the past few days.

The good news in the first story is the Rick Berman, the Anti-Christ of Trek fandom, is stepping apparently stepping aside from creative control of the franchise he has run into the ground for JJ Abrhams of "Alias", Lost" and "Mission Impossible III". While the details of where he is taking the franchise are unclear the initial stories leave me a little unsettled.

He is, supposedly, reviving the "Starfleet Academy" story. This will follow Kirk, Spock and other original series characters during their plebeian days in San Francisco. This idea sucked 15 years ago when Harve Bennet proposed it and it still sucks today. The original characters didn't even know each other at the academy and to out them together would screw with established history. There are so many other directions the show could go and this seems like the least original concept out there.

Also, "Lost" has faltered in its second season so my trust in him as a producer is a little shaken. J. Michael Straznisky (Babylon 5) has shown interest and I'm sure he could revitalize Trek the same way Ron Moore has turned "Battlestar Galactica" into one of the nest dramas on TV.

And speaking of BSG; there is a story that the Sci-Fi Channel is developing a spin off series called "Caprica". It will be set more than 50 years prior to the events of BSG when humankind's Twelve Colonies are at peace and on the verge of a technological breakthrough: the first Cylon.

Hasn't Ron Moore learned from Trek what happens when you go to the well one to many times? Wouldn't it make better sense to work on the one fantastic project and devote all the writing and producing resources to keep BSG at the high level it has set for itself instead of stretching the concept thinner and thinner? Give us one really good show to watch instead of two or three mediocre ones?

Oh, but wait....what was that good news in all this?


Maybe it ain't all bad after all.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Apparently all of the bees in Florida congregate in the wooded area just west of where I live. I found this out today as I headed out for my walkabout to get mail and a few extras. This area is adjacent to the dunes along side the rail road tracks I daily walk to meet my ride to work.

My usual trail was blocked by trees fallen either by storms or impending development. As I walked along a different path I started hearing a heavy whine. This grew and grew. At first I thought it might be traffic off in the distance as it sounded similar to the sound of tires on heavy asphalt. It grew louder and seemed to come from overhead sounding like one of those lawnmower engines that power the small ultra-light flying machines that are common around here. As I looked up to spot the gas powered parachute I found the bees.

Some were close to the size of ping pong balls and cast clear and distinct shadows on the soft sand below. I didn't stop to count them but the word swarm quickly came to mind. As I have mentioned before, I have a strong primal fear of stinging insects so the deep seated caveman in me took over and I fled.

"Don't bother them and they won't bother you!"

"Don't bother them and they won't bother you!"

I repeated this mantra over and over as I double timed it towards the nearest signs of civilization. There were times I did not complete the sentence in its entirety as the buzzing of a divebombing bee caused my heart to stop momentarily. I swear the little bastards could smell the fear on me. Just like the cats who can spot an asthmatic a mile off and just have to come up and nuzzle up close and climb all over you so you can breath in the allergens these sadistic anthropods probably got together afterwards in the hive, sucked back some honey and high-fiving each other saying, "Man, we really made that fat bastard run!"

Given that it was near 90 degrees today, the path I was on was steep at times on a mix of soft sand and dirt and the abnormal amount of fear induced adrenalin in my blood; I got my workout today.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A piece of my childhood fell into Narragansett Bay today.

At 10:45AM the "old" Jamestown Bridge was demolished with a volley of explosives which dropped the center span of the bridge into the waters below. With it went childhood memories, teenage paranoia and a practical joke at the hands of the master, my father.

For those of you not from Rhode Island, the Jamestown Bridge spanned the distance from North Kingstown to Jamestown across Narragansett Bay. From Oakland Beach, where I grew up, you could clearly see the bridge silhouetted against the southern sky. At night the bridge was lined with a string of brilliant white lights.

This is where my father twisted my young brain.

My Auntie Anna and Uncle Eddy lived in Saunderstown, just south of the bridge. From their yard you could also clearly see the bridge. One day, probably before I even turned 9, I asked my father how the lights got on the bridge.

"Your Uncle Eddy put them there," he smiled.

To my young mind it seemed to make sense. He lived right near the bridge; that must be because he worked on the bridge. I took some pride in the fact that my Uncle Eddy had made something so beautiful. I beamed with the fact that thousands of other people could see the work someone in my family had made.

Kids that age don't really think much about what adults do. What my father told me seemed like gospel and I kept that thought in my mind as I got older. As I learned more about people and the things they do I rationalized that my Uncle Eddy must be some sort of electrical engineer. That seemed like the job a person would have to have to oversee the lighting of such a mammoth structure. Simple logic.

This is where the beauty of my father's partical joke blossomed.

My Uncle Eddy died when I was in my mid-twenties. I miss him greatly to this day. The day of his wake I picked up the newspaper to read his obituary. It listed his parents, wife, children, military history and his life long career as a butcher.


That couldn't be right! My father told me he put the lights on the Jamestown Bridge. I even went to my mother to confirm what I was reading. The paper HAD TO be wrong.

"No," my mother told me, "That was just your father screwing with your head." Then she laughed.

When I started driving the Jamestown Bridge planted the seeds for a fear of heights. At the very top of its span was a steel grate which was open to the ocean below. As your drove over the top your tires whined loudly. The wheel swayed slightly back and forth as the tires jogged back and forth across the checkerboard grating. You could look straight down and see the churning cold water hundreds of feet below. It was a government built house of horrors.

You would try to drive as fast as you could to get across the grating. That only made the swaying of your front end worse. Just 26 feet wide, it had only two lanes and no breakdown lane, the swaying made it look as if you were going to be swung over into oncoming traffic. The whining of the tires on the grating only served to make your blood pressure go higher and higher adding a horror movie-like soundtrack to the commuting terror.

When you would hit the solid pavement again you could start breathing again and the blood would drain from your head. I loved going to Newport but I hated going over the Jamestown Bridge.

Even if my Uncle Eddy had put the lights on it.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I have GOT TO put money aside to purchase the original Star Trek episodes on DVD. The cable network G$ has recently begun airing these episodes on a regular basis. Their nightly installments are served up with a whole "interactive" theme which is generally annoying. Add to that I have noticed some inaccuracies on their streaming of background information on each episode. The worst part is that the image gets shrunk down to accommodate this "Star Trek 2.0" theme. Yeech.

However, Saturdays they shine! They are siring all 79 episodes in order and uncut. Because of this the episodes run between an hour and six to an hour and eight minutes. My TiVo cuts them off either during the closing credits of midway through the opening teaser.

I can't remember the last time I was able to watch these episodes in this pristine a format; and in clear digital. I had forgotten how good these episodes were and really how far the last few incarnations has strayed from what I fell in love with thirty some odd years ago.

I pause it to look at the details; the geek in me loves the details. I am amazed at how, right out of the gate in the first new episodes, the relationships between the characters is so well defined. Each episode makes me want to go to Hollywood and kick Rick Berman in the nards for what he has let happen to this franchise.

They all look so young. James T. Kirk is not the same person we see as Denny Crane. The body is different. Kirk has a chiseled aqueline nose while Denny could be in a Ted Kennedy look alike contest.

Even my pal, George; who looks the least affected by time, has let distinguished grey creep in.

I know my next few months of Saturdays will be spent with some of my oldest TV friends and it's going to be a blast!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I almost got a dog the other day. The park manager and a few other tenants were hanging around outside as I paced back and forth doing my laundry. Most people here are a friendly bunch. We all look out for each other and have a smile and a wave as we pass each other. Except for the manager and two other residents, though, I can’t say that I really “know” any of the other people who call Sunny Acres Mobile Home Park “home”.

As I passed by lugging another load of clothes I heard the tiny nipping bark and the clatter of tiny doggie claws scraping across the driveway. Heading my way with an apparent attack planned for my bag of dirty clothes was what looked like the head of a floor mop. White and beige fur about the size of a loaf of bread flopping around little legs with jet black eyes poking out from underneath. His attack stopped suddenly as his instinct gave way to rolling on his back and waiting for me to rub him belly.

How cute!

One of the residents said, “Take him home of you want him!”

I thought about it. Oh, how I thought about it. I considered my asthma. I considered my picky landlord. I considered the amount of time I was usually away from the house and the time I could dedicate to taking care of a dog.

While I took my time considering one of the other resident stepped up and took him in.

Ah, well; probably for the best. I still hadn’t decided whether I was going to call him Muffett or Chewie.