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Podcasts for the week June 26, 2009

Posted by vorpalkeith in Podcast Appearances.
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There are new episodes of of Cine-Rama AND The Trip out today.

On Cine-Rama we discuss the summer blockbusters of Wolverine, Star Trek, and Up.  In the challenges we talk about Seven Samurai and Love & a .45.

On The Trip we talk about Ghostbusters.  Or do we?  As Micah says, “I hit play, and I have no idea what’s going on.”

Update:  Given the day’s events Derek has also linked up our Thriller episode of The Trip from a couple of months ago.  Check them all out.

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Heroes Con 2009 June 23, 2009

Posted by vorpalkeith in Life The Universe and Everything.
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Heroes Con 2009 has come and gone and I was there to see it all, my friends. I lived to tell the tale. It’s a tale of laughter, brotherhood, and ultimately sadness at having to say goodbye once again to good friends.

I arrived in Charlotte last Thursday night with my friend Alan. He was coming in from New York so we’d met up in Philadelphia and drove down the rest of the way. There we met up with members of our usual knucklehead crew: Micah, Ryan, Mike and Barb for dinner and assorted goofiness back at Ryan’s hotel (which I quickly dubbed Stark Tower for it was swanky).

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Ryan, Micah, and Alan

The next morning the Con began. I met many an Internet buddy face to face finally, and some for the second time. Dave Dwonch, Super Ugly, Kellie (Ug’s Missus), Chad Cicconi, Shawn Pryor, TJ, TJ’s Missues (whose name I regretfully didn’t catch), Dave, Kev, Jimmy Aquino, Gabriel Hardman, Dave Wachter, Pat Loika, Brian Deemer, Pants, Murd, and even Mario Muscar (he of Beauty and the Geek infamy).

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"The name's Aquino. Jimmy Aquino."

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Mario Muscar

The Crew of Knuckleheads went out to lunch with James Harris from the Comic Book Savant and his lovely lady. Also there was The Other Keith and his wife Michelle. This was at Uno’s. I ate some tasty sliders and cheese-and-bacon mashed potatoes. That night we hit Rock Bottom Brewery for dinner where I had chicken fried chicken, followed by drinks next door at a place called Therapy.

Con day two brought out that man of mystery, Mr. Comic Book Noise Himself: Derek Coward!!!!

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Derek Coward in the flesh.

That night for dinner we all gathered together for wings. They were such deliciousness. Ryan and Dave each attempted the “Braveheart” wing after being warned about it from our lovely waitress. Somewhere there are pictures and video of them experiencing the burn.

On the way home two gay men hit on me. Don’t see that happening often in Springboro.

Sunday was a little bittersweet. It meant saying goodbye to the friends who had to catch early flights like Ryan.

It was also my major shopping day, which reminds me . . . .I should mention what I picked up.

A Spider-Man Head Sketch from Chris Giarusso
A ton of freebies from the DC table the prize of which were pins for my messenger bag and a Flash ring
The Con exclusive Bill Sienkiewicz print
DC Direct Justice Society of America Sandman Figure
H-E-R-O Issue 20
H-E-R-O Issue 21 (one left to go to complete my run!)
WWH: Incredible Hercules
Ultimate Power
New Avengers: Illuminati
Amulet Volume 1 (thanks Ryan!)
Special Ed Volume 1
Umbrella Academy Volume 1
Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
Conan: The Blood-Strained Crown and Other Stories
Conan and the Midnight God
Heathentown
Captain America: Death of Cap Part 1
Captain America: Death of Cap Part 2
X-Factor Volume 5
The Ultimates 2 Volume 2
Defenders: Indefensible
Secret Invasion: Amazing Spider-Man
Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers
Peter Parker, Spider-Man: Trials and Tribulations

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Mike Myers in his comic zen zone.

That night the remaining knuckleheads went out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant where I lost my heart to a lovely young cashier.

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The love of my life?

Throughout the Con I got to meet a lot of creators I had immense respect for. These included: Don Rosa, Matt Fraction (second meeting), Tony Harris, Mark Bagley, Mark Waid (second meeting), Jamal Igle, Mark Brooks (second meeting), Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack (second meeting), Ed Brubaker, and George Perez.

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Ed Brubaker and me.

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George Perez and me.

On the way to the Marvel panel I got to shake Bendis’s hand and express my gratitude. Ultimate Spider-Man was one of the books that got me back into comics back when it launched. I owe the man a lot.

There were people in costumes:

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Isiah Bradley Captain America.

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"Halt!"

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This nameless Sith committed to yellow contacts.

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Darth Nihilus.

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Darth Revan.

It seems a lot of them were Sith Lords.

There were also girls in costumes:

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Meow.

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Once again, meow.

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Cassie Hack decided to smite me.

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Mary Marvel getting her flirt on.

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Ms. Marvel.

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These girls sure didn't look like the Powerpuff girls I remembered. But I wasn't about to complain.

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Me in the middle of a Marvel Team-Up.

Um, where was I . . .?

I guess the next most obvious question is what did I learn? There are several answers.

(1) I learned that Charlotte has much prettier girls than Northwest PA.
(2) $5 trades are AWESOME.
(3) Marvel screwed up and used the image of the Brooklyn Bridge when killing off Gwen Stacy, despite the fact they called it the George Washington Bridge.
(4) I NEED to get off my butt and put some comics of my own creation out there.
(5) I’m ready for Heroes Con 2010.

P.S. No one kicked me.  Eat it, Luke!

Top Ten Voyager Episodes June 17, 2009

Posted by vorpalkeith in television review.
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I really didn’t like Star Trek: Voyager, so this list is difficult for me.  I’ll try to keep this brief.

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NUMBER TEN

The Killing Game
Written by Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky

Wikipedia Says: The Hirogen implant devices into the crew making them believe they are characters within the holodecks being used for hunts.

Keith Says: Alien Nazis. ‘Nuff said.

NUMBER NINE

Flashback
Written by Brannon Braga

Wikipedia Says: Tuvok experiences brain-damaging flashbacks to his service on the Excelsior.

Keith Says: This episode deserves mentioning because of it’s connections to Star Trek 6 and the guest appearances by Sulu, Rand, and Kang.

NUMBER EIGHT

The Thaw
Written by Richard Gadas and Joe Menosky

Wikipedia Says: The crew find aliens mentally connected to a computer that has created a being that feeds on their fear.

Keith Says: Michael McKean steals the show in this episode as The Clown, the living (or virtual) embodiment of fear. “Drat,” indeed.

NUMBER SEVEN

Mortal Coil
Written by Bryan Fuller

Wikipedia Says: Neelix dies in an attempt to sample proto-matter from a nebula. Seven of Nine believes she can revive him using Borg nanoprobes, but Neelix finds it hard to adjust, particularly given that he has no memory of an afterlife of any kind.

Keith Says: Star Trek rarely, if ever, dips its toe into matters of faith – which in a show about alien cultures seems surprising. That they did here, and with a crisis of faith no less, was a nice change of pace.

NUMBER SIX

Warhead
Written by Michael Taylor, Kenneth Biller and Brannon Braga

Wikipedia Says: The crew rescue a device with artificial intelligence embedded in rock, but it then proceeds to take control of The Doctor and reveals itself to be a weapon of mass destruction.

Keith Says: Are we only what we are made to be? Or are we what we choose? It’s a question for men as much as it is AI.

NUMBER FIVE

Caretaker
Written by Michael Piller & Jeri Taylor

Wikipedia Says: On a mission to the Badlands, the USS Voyager, along with a Maquis ship, is stranded in the Delta Quadrant, over 70,000 light-years from home by an incredibly powerful being known as “Caretaker.”

Keith Says: This pilot showed a lot more promise for the series than it delivered. The idea that you could be in an area of space where resources were tight and even water was a precious commodity was interesting. They quickly abandoned this though. The other good thing about the episode was that it presented a genuine moral quandry.

NUMBER FOUR

Revulsion
Written by Lisa Klink

Wikipedia Says: A hologram contacts Voyager and the Doctor is excited to meet another hologram.

Keith Says: Another episode that is stolen by its guest star. This time it’s Leland Orser as a hologram responsible for the murder of his crew – the organic lifeforms he has grown to hate.

NUMBER THREE

Meld
Written by Michael Sussman and Michael Piller

Wikipedia Says: In order to quell the temper of a Voyager crew member, Tuvok performs a mind-meld.

Keith Says: Oh how little Wikipedia says! This episode introduced Suder (Brad Dourif), the murdering sociopath member of the crew. He was the most interesting character on the show despite only being in two episodes.

NUMBER TWO

Year of Hell
Written by Brannon Braga and Joe Menosky

Wikipedia Says: Voyager creates a new Astrometrics Lab, which maps a new course that brings them into contact with a Krenim temporal ship that can erase things from history.

Keith Says: Why, oh why, did they hit the big temporal reset button at the end of this! This episode had the appropriate consequences and desperation that you would imagine would really happen in the situation that Voyager was in. Really, this should have been what the entire show was like.

NUMBER ONE

Death Wish
Written by Michael Piller

Wikipedia Says: The crew encounter a member of the Q Continuum seeking to end his immortal life.

Keith Says: Now this is what makes a Star Trek episode, a solid thought-provoking tale of moral judgment. The question raised here is that of a person’s right to determine the time and manner of their own death, or in this case, an immortal beings right to determine whether or not they can die at all.

Next Up: Enterprise

More Adventures in Real Conversation June 14, 2009

Posted by vorpalkeith in Life The Universe and Everything.
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Me: And then there were two.

Eric: So, it’s come to this.

Me: I always knew it would end this way.  You.  Me.  And a gun.

Eric: I’m going to close my eyes and start firing.  If I dont hit you, you can live for another year.

Me: Strange. That’s how my parents always celebrated my birthday, too.

Top Ten DS9 Episodes June 11, 2009

Posted by vorpalkeith in television review.
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This was a tough list to make for me, as Deep Space Nine was overall an entirely excellent show. 

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NUMBER TEN

Hard Time
Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Daniel Keys Moran and Lynn Barker

Wikipedia Says: O’Brien is accused of espionage by an alien race who use a more expeditious form of incarcerating criminals.

Keith Says: This episode is SMART science fiction. The idea that you would serve out the entirety of a prison sentence in a series of implanted memories is very clever, but it also contrasts that clever invention with the reality of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“When we were growing up, they used to tell us… humanity had evolved, that mankind had outgrown hate and rage. But when it came down to it, when I had the chance to show, that no matter what anybody did to me, that I was still an evolved human being… I failed. I repaid kindness with blood. I was no better than an animal.”
“No. No, no, no. An animal would’ve killed Ee’Char and never had a second thought, never shed a tear… But not you. You hate yourself.You hate yourself so much you think you deserve to die. The Argrathi did everything they could to strip you of your humanity and in the end, for one brief moment they succeeded. But you can’t let that brief moment define your entire life. If you do, if you pull that trigger.. then the Argrathi will have won. They will have destroyed a good man. You cannot let that happen, my friend.”
– Julian listens and sets things right with O’Brien

NUMBER NINE

The Siege of AR-558
Written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler

Wikipedia Says: Sisko and crew relieve Starfleet troops under siege by Jem’Hadar at a key communications outpost.

Keith Says: The real strength of this episode was in the back and forth between Quark and Nog, who provided an opportunity for us as humans to see ourselves from the outside.

“Let me tell you something about Hew-mons, nephew. They’re a wonderful, friendly people – as long as their bellies are full and their holosuites are working. But take away their creature comforts… deprive them of food, sleep, sonic showers… put their lives in jeopardy over an extended period of time… and those same friendly, intelligent, wonderful people will become as nasty and violent as the most bloodthirsty Klingon. You don’t believe me? Look at those faces, look at their eyes…” – Quark

NUMBER EIGHT

Honor Among Thieves
Written by Rene Echevarria and Philip Kim

Wikipedia Says: Starfleet Intelligence recruits Chief O’Brien to infiltrate the Orion Syndicate to find a Starfleet informant.

Keith Says: The DS9 writers really seemed to like putting O’brien into tough situations. In this one he has to bear the responsibility of setting up a man that he grew to befriend for death. The man, to protect his family from retribution by the Orion Syndicate, ultimately sacrifices his life even after O’brien warns him what is going to happen.

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NUMBER SEVEN

The Wire
Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe

Wikipedia Says: In order to save Garak’s life, Bashir must unravel some of the secrets in the Cardassian’s past.

Keith Says: Garak was such an intriguing character, who we never fully understood. This was the first episode to clue us into the how murky the waters of his past were, and ultimately told us that we would never fully understand.

“Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren’t?”
“My dear Doctor, they’re all true.”
“Even the lies?”
“Especially the lies.”

– Garak and Bashir

NUMBER SIX

Homefront/Paradise Lost
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Hans Beimler &Ronald D. Moore

Wikipedia Says: Sisko and Odo are brought to Earth when it’s suspected Changelings are infiltrating Starfleet . . . they discover a plot to seize control of Earth from the Federation.

Keith Says: This was an oddly prescient two-parter, and it’s really amazing to think that it was conceived before 9/11 and the institution of the Patriot Act and all of that. How fragile is freedom? How far are you willing to go for the illusion of safety? It’s an important question.

“What if I were to tell you that there are only four Changelings on this entire planet. Not counting Constable Odo, of course. Think of it – just four of us, and look at the havoc we’ve wrought.”
“How do I know that you’re telling me the truth?”
“Oh, four is more than enough. We’re smarter than solids. We’re better than you. And most importantly, we do not fear you the way you fear us. In the end, it’s your fear that will destroy you.”
– Changeling and Sisko

NUMBER FIVE

Far Beyond the Stars
Written by Marc Scott Zicree, Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler

Wikipedia Says: After a friend’s ship is destroyed, Sisko considers leaving Starfleet. Visions of himself as a science fiction writer in 1950s America affect his decision.

Keith Says: Two things to say about this episode. First, the production design from the 1950’s visions was fantastic. Second, Avery Brooks is an AMAZING actor. He bears the weight of this entire episode on his shoulders.

“Call anybody you want, they can’t do anything to me, not any more, and nor can any of you. I am a Human being, dammit! You can deny me all you want but you can’t deny Ben Sisko – He exists! That future, that space station, all those people – they exist in here! (pointing to his head) In my mind. I created it. And everyone of you knew it, you read it. It’s here. (pointing to his head again) Do you hear what I’m telling you? You can pulp a story but you cannot destroy an idea, don’t you understand, that’s ancient knowledge, you cannot destroy an idea. (becoming hysterical) That future – I created it, and it’s real! Don’t you understand? It is real. I created it. And it’s real! It’s REAL!” – Benny Russell

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NUMBER FOUR

Call to Arms/A Time to Stand/Rocks and Shoals
Written by Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe (Call to Arms), Ira Steven Behr & Hans Beimler (A Time to Stand), Ronald D. Moore (Rocks and Shoals)

A three parter.

Wikipedia Says:

Call to Arms: Faced with the realisation that the Dominion are taking over the Alpha Quadrant, Sisko decides to mine the entrance to the wormhole.

A Time to Stand: Three months into the war, DS9 is still under Dominion control. Sisko and his crew are given a mission to destroy a vital facility deep in Dominion space.

Rocks and Shoals: Sisko and his tired crew crash on a planet where they encounter a band of Jem’Hadar.

Keith Says: Incredibly important things happened in this three-parter that defined the rest of the series. First, the war began. Second, they lost the station. Third, they showed the dark pale that the Federation-Dominion War cast over the galaxy. The images are deeply memorable. Dominion troops on the station, a fleet of hundreds of Federation and Klingon ships going off to war, our main characters gunning down an entire platoon of Jem’Hadar who refuse to surrender.

“I assume Captain Sisko has removed or destroyed everything of value.”
“Not everything.”

(Dukat is holding Sisko’s baseball)
“What is that?”
“A message. From Sisko.”
“I don’t understand.”
“He’s letting me know… he’ll be back…”

– Weyoun and Dukat

“You know, there’s something I just don’t understand. You’re always telling me that space is big, that it’s an endless frontier, filled with infinite wonders.”
“It’s true.”
“If that’s the case, you would think there’d be more than enough room to allow people to leave each other alone.”
“It just doesn’t work that way… It should. But it doesn’t.”
– Joseph and Benjamin Sisko

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NUMBER THREE

In the Pale Moonlight
Written by Michael Taylor and Peter Allan Fields

Wikipedia Says: Sisko asks Garak to help him get the Romulans to join the war against the Dominion.

Keith Says: What I said above about a dark pale? Scratch that. THIS is the darkest episode of Star Trek ever. Captain Sisko conspires and ultimately betrays all of the ideals the Federation stands for to save the galaxy.

“So… I lied. I cheated. I bribed men to cover the crimes of other men. I am an accessory to murder. But the most damning thing of all… I think I can live with it. And if I had to do it all over again, I would. Garak was right about one thing, a guilty conscience is a small price to pay for the safety of the Alpha Quadrant. So I will learn to live with it. Because I can live with it. I can live with it… Computer, erase that entire personal log.” – Sisko

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NUMBER TWO

Duet
Written by Lisa Rich, Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci and Peter Allan Fields

Wikipedia Says: A visiting Cardassian may in fact be a notorious war criminal, and Kira is determined to bring him down.

Keith Says: Two characters, brilliant dialogue, and parallels to the war crimes of Nazi Germany. Powerful.

“What lies? You mean my failure to divulge my true identity? Believe me Major, I yearned to tell you. But I knew how much more satisfaction you would have if you found out for yourself, and that was my only deception. Marritza was a magnificent file clerk. And I, Gul Darhe’el? I hope you’ll not think it immodest of me to say so, but I was a magnificent leader. Oh, you never saw Gallitep at its height. For a labor camp, it was the very model of order and efficiency. And why? For that, you have to look to the top. To me! My word, my every glance, was law. And my verdict was always the same: Guilty.”
“You’re insane!”
“Oh, no, no, Major… you can’t dismiss me that easily. I did what had to be done. My men understood that, and that’s why they loved me. I would order them to go out and kill Bajoran scum, and they’d do it, they’d murder them! They’d come back covered in blood but they felt clean! Now why did they feel that way, Major? Because they were clean!”
– Marritza/Darhe’el and Kira

“Nothing justifies genocide!”
“What you call genocide, I call a day’s work.”

– Kira and Marritza/Darhe’el

“You’re Marritza, aren’t you?”
“You mistake me for that bug? That whimpering nothing? Oh, you stupid Bajoran girl. Don’t you know who I am? I’m your nemesis. I’m your nightmare. I’m the Butcher of Gallitep.”
“The Butcher of Gallitep died six years ago. You’re Aamin Marritza, his filing clerk.”
“That’s not true. I am alive. I will always be alive! It’s Marriza who is dead. Marritza, who was good for nothing but cowering under his bunk and weeping like a woman. Who, every night, covered his ears because he couldn’t bear to hear the screaming for mercy of the Bajorans.”
-Kira and Marritza/Darhe’el

“You have no idea what it’s like to be a coward. To see these horrors and do nothing.” – Marritza/Darhe’el, to Kira

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NUMBER ONE

The Visitor
Written by Michael Taylor

Wikipedia Says: An elderly Jake Sisko relates the story of how he lost his father.

Keith Says: This episode is all about grief, and the how the inability to move on from loss will ultimately ruin your life. Jake is dragging his temporally trapped father through time with him like a phantom, and the Jake learns that the only escape is his own death. Tony Todd gives a truly heart-wrenching performance as the elderly Jake Sisko. Maybe the only episode of Star Trek to ever bring me to tears.

“To my father, who’s coming home.”
– Benjamin Sisko, reading the dedication in Jake’s last book

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Remember Them June 6, 2009

Posted by vorpalkeith in Life The Universe and Everything.
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~A Quiet Place~

 

It’s quiet here … so quiet

Standing on this hill

But if I stand here too much longer

My eyes with tears will fill

Looking down … I’m there again

On that beach just down below

Far different … to that morning

That I remember so

That beach … it was a hell on earth

Where no man should ever go

I remember

I was down there

I should know

Don’t cry now … dear old soldier

That was many years ago

 

– Tony Chapman

 

Until the ending of your days.  Always remember.

June 6, 1944.

D-Day.

The day heroes stood, and fought, and bled; for all.  Their future is our future.  All futures, any future; their future.

 

Top Ten TNG Episodes June 6, 2009

Posted by vorpalkeith in television review.
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My countdown of the best of the best of the best Star Trek episodes continues now with the second series The Next Generation.  Just remember kids, we’re still on the easy ones, with lots of good episodes.  The dark cloud that is Voyager still hangs on the horizon.

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NUMBER TEN

The First Duty
Written by Ronald D. Moore & Naren Shankar

Wikipedia Says: Wesley is questioned over a Starfleet Academy flight-training accident.

Keith Says: This is a strong Wesley Crusher episode, which is nice to see. It also deals with a real problem in the military, and a question of loyalty. What are you most loyal to? The organization? Your friends in your squad? Or to the truth?

NUMBER NINE

Who Watches the Watchers
Written by Richard Manning & Hans Beimler

Wikipedia Says: Deanna and Riker must rectify the damage done when two primitives from Mintaka III catch glimpse of a Federation observation team and eventually conclude that Captain Picard is a god.

Keith Says: There is a school of thought which says that any significantly advanced technology would seem like magic to someone from a primitive culture. This episode examines that. You can’t help but feel sorry for Picard as he tries to make the Mintakans understand he is not a god, and most painfully, he cannot bring their dead, or his own, back to life. I want to add though, that making the Mintakans “proto-vulcans” just makes for sloppy production design.

NUMBER EIGHT

Yesterday’s Enterprise
Written by Trent Christopher Ganino, Eric A. Stillwell, Ira Steven Behr, Richard Manning, Hans Beimler and Ronald D. Moore

Wikipedia Says: The Enterprise-C arrives from the past, causing a shift in reality—and the return of the deceased Tasha Yar.

Keith Says: Wow, that’s a lot of writers. In a lot of ways this episode is The Next Generation’s “City on the Edge of Forever”, which is appropriate because the original premise would have use the Guardian at the Edge of Forever, but that was changed in the development process. It’s an episode that deals with the reality that sometimes, no matter what we do, people must die to see things through, and how painfully tragic that is.

NUMBER SEVEN

Chain of Command
Written by Frank Abatemarco and Ronald D. Moore

Wikipedia Says: Captain Jellico is assigned command of the Enterprise, while Picard is sent on a covert mission into Cardassian territory. Picard, having been captured, is tortured by a sadistic Cardassian interrogator (played by David Warner).

Keith Says: While the B-plot of having a different Captain on board the Enterprise has it’s moments, the episode really shines in the torture scenes. It’s a great acting achievement for Patrick Stewart as you see a man progressively getting broken down. “THERE ARE  FOUR LIGHTS!”

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NUMBER SIX

Tapestry
Written by Ronald D. Moore

Wikiepedia Says: An accident kills Picard, and he finds an afterlife with Q analyzing his past choices.

Keith Says: A lot of the strength of this show was in the back and forth patter between Picard and Q, and this is one of the better episodes for that. It takes the concept of a near death experience, tosses in a little bit of It’s a Wonderful Life, and shows Picard what the consequences would have been if he’d have led his life entirely differently.

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NUMBER FIVE

The Best of Both Worlds
Written by Michael Piller

Wikipedia Says: Picard is kidnapped by the Borg, who begin their invasion of Federation space.

Keith Says: This episode is such a seminal moment in the history of Star Trek that it needs to be on any list. Picard’s assimilation by the Borg is a defining character moment that would haunt him the rest of his days. The Battle of Wolf 359, where the Federation fleet is massacred solidified the Borg as a major threat unlike any seen before, as well as having ramifications well into the future (including Deep Space Nine and Voyager). As a matter of fact, the opening scenes of Deep Space Nine take place during the Battle of Wolf 359 and establishes and Sisko could never trust Picard because he would always associate him as Locutus and Locutus was responsible for the death of his wife.

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NUMBER FOUR

The Measure of a Man
Written by Melinda M. Snodgrass

Wikipedia Says: When Data refuses orders to be dismantled for research purposes, a hearing is convened to determine if he is a legal citizen or property of the Federation. With Guinan’s guidance, Picard—assigned to defend Data—realizes that while a single Data is a curiosity, the researcher’s goal of a creating innumerable androids would create a race, and using them as expendable machines would constitute slavery.

Keith Says: TNG always shined brightest when it was about convictions and moral principals. This is one of their earliest episodes and one of their strongest for it.

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NUMBER THREE

The Inner Light
Written by Morgan Gendel & Peter Allan Fields

Wikipedia Says: A space probe creates a telepathic tether and causes Picard to experience, in twenty-five minutes, a lifetime as a married man on a world that was destroyed a millennium ago.

Keith Says: You know, I’m finding a lot of the episodes I think are the strongest are Picard-heavy ones. Which probably goes to show how exceptional an actor Patrick Stewart really is. In this episode our Captain becomes the last witness to an entire civilization, as well as the last echo of a simple man who once lived a good life. Deeply touching.

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NUMBER TWO

Drumhead
Written by Jeri Taylor

Wikipedia Says: A witchhunt ensues for suspected Romulan spies aboard the Enterprise.

Keith Says: I want to quote Wikipedia a little bit more here . . .

“Picard is stunned by his sudden realization that Satie is engaging in a ‘witch-hunt’ among his crew, and likens the investigation to a drumhead trial — summary justice dispensed on the battlefield, around an upended drum, where appeals were always denied . . .

Admiral Thomas Henry, who worked with Satie in the past, arrives to observe the hearings. Picard makes an opening statement about the xenophobic and paranoid nature of the investigation. Satie picks apart Picard’s career aboard the Enterprise, citing numerous infractions of the Prime Directive, his capture and assimilation by the Borg, and finally directly questions his loyalty to Starfleet. Worf nearly loses his temper with the investigators over accusations regarding his heritage. While making his final arguments Picard quotes Satie’s father, a prominent Starfleet judicator, about the path of limiting freedom. Satie furiously berates Picard for invoking her father’s name in his own defense, stating that she has “brought down bigger men than you Picard!”; Admiral Henry leaves the room in the middle of the tirade, having recognized Satie’s paranoia for what it was. The Admiral’s departure signals the end of Starfleet’s support for Satie’s personal vendetta; the prosecution calls a recess, and leaves a disgraced Satie sitting alone in the courtroom.

Worf later finds Picard in the observation lounge to inform the captain of Admiral Henry ending the hearings, and of Satie’s departure from the Enterprise. Picard remarks that the human race thinks it’s come so far, with the Inquistion and the Salem Witch Trials all an unpleasant memory, but all it took was a single person with an agenda to destroy two careers and almost cause panic in the Federation. Worf laments that he was, initially, quite eager to assist Satie in her witch-hunt, because of how she presented her case. Picard speaks of the ever-present, but subtle, danger of those who would spread fear and suspicion in the name of righteousness and (paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson) of the need for vigilance against mindless paranoia and fear-mongering.”

That should say all it needs to as to why this episode is important.

NUMBER ONE

All Good Things . . .
Written by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore

Wikipedia Says: Picard finds himself alternating between three time periods thanks to Q, with a spacetime distortion that threatens to destroy humanity growing larger in the past.

Keith Says: It’s rare in television that a final episode can encompass everything that a series is about. It’s especially rare for the final episode to prove to be the best of a series, especially with Star Trek shows, but this one knocked it out of the park. This episode perfectly summed up all of the themes of the show, bringing it right back to things that were hinted at in the very first episode, “Encounter at Farpoint”. Every character got a moment to shine, but Picard and Q (back in his trial getup) steal the show.

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Next up: Deep Space Nine

Pardon Me, This Fusion is Cold . . . June 5, 2009

Posted by vorpalkeith in science.
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The world’s largest laser system now exists, and it may be the key to creating cold fusion.  You know, that thing which would solve all the world’s energy problems . . . .

What the rig does is focus 192 distinct lasers to a single point, creating pressures and temperatures like those within the core of a star.

“This is the long-sought goal of ‘energy gain’ that has been the goal of fusion researchers for more than half a century,” Moses said.  “NIF’s success will be a scientific breakthrough of historic significance; the first demonstration of fusion ignition in a laboratory setting, duplicating on Earth the processes that power the stars.”

Read all about it here

Top Ten TOS Episodes June 3, 2009

Posted by vorpalkeith in television review.
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In honor of the newly revived Star Trek franchise I’ve decided to go through each of the series and rate what I consider to be the best episodes of that particular incarnation. We’re going to go chronologically here, so we’ll be starting with the original series.

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NUMBER TEN

The Trouble With Tribbles
Written by: David Gerrold

Wikipedia Says: A priority 1 distress call summons the Enterprise to Space Station K-7. On arrival, Kirk finds that rather than a true emergency, he has been called to protect a shipment of grain that will help the Federation to develop a planet which is also claimed by the Klingon Empire. While the crew is on shore leave, they discover little, fuzzy critters called tribbles, which are being sold by interstellar trader Cyrano Jones. Unfortunately, the tribbles reproduce uncontrollably when fed, and threaten to take over both the station and the Enterprise. A Klingon ship also arrives and claims shore leave rights, increasing tensions.

Keith Says: Those with a good eye will be able to spot a tribble in a cage behind Scotty’s head in the new Star Trek movie.

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NUMBER NINE

I, Mudd
Written by Stephen Kandel

Wikipedia Says: Captain Kirk and the crew has a second run in with the con man, Harry Mudd, this time finding him as the king of a planet of androids.

Keith Says: This is easily the funniest episode of Star Trek ever made, out of any series. I hope we see Harry Mudd in the new incarnation of Trek.

NUMBER EIGHT

Amok Time
Written by Theodore Sturgeon

Wikipedia Says: Mr. Spock shows evidence of starting to lose control over his emotions. When he insists that he needs to return home to Vulcan, despite being engaged in an important diplomatic mission, Kirk forces him to admit that Vulcan biology requires him to take a mate. After diverting to Vulcan against Starfleet’s direct orders, Kirk finds himself in a life-or-death struggle against Spock, at the instigation of Spock’s wife-to-be.

Keith Says: Spock goes into alien heat. Kirk and Spock fight with sweet Vulcan scythes. The dual music is awesome.

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NUMBER SEVEN

Space Seed
Written by Gene Coon

Wikipedia Says: The Enterprise discovers an ancient sleeper ship, the SS Botany Bay, which escaped from Earth’s Eugenics Wars in the late twentieth century. The genetically engineered passengers, let by war criminal Khan Noonien Singh, seize control of the Enterprise and attempt to destroy the ship.

Keith Says: This is a truly important episode because it introduces Khan, Star Trek’s greatest villain.

NUMBER SIX

Errand of Mercy
Written by Gene Coon

Wikipedia Says: Peace negotiations have collapsed between the Federation and the warlike Klingon Empire. The Enterprise is ordered to protect Organia, a peaceful planet located near the Klingon border. Kirk and Spock beam to the surface to warn the Organians about the Klingons, but soon a Klingon fleet arrives, forcing the Enterprise to abandon the duo on the planet. The natives protect Kirk and Spock, even as Kor, the new Klingon governor, orders mass executions of the Organian people. As both Federation and Klingon fleets converge above the planet, Kirk and Spock execute a daring raid on the Klingon headquarters in an effort to destabilize their control over the planet.

Keith Says: Never before in the series had the conflict between the Federation and the Klingon Empire felt this real and pressing. There are also hints of the ultimate peace accords between the Federation and the Empire here, something not realized until The Next Generation.

NUMBER FIVE

Where No Man Has Gone Before
Written by Samuel A. Peebles

Wikipedia Says: After the Enterprise attempts to cross the Great Barrier at the edge of the galaxy, crew members Gary Mitchell and Elizabeth Dehner develop “godlike” psychic powers which threaten the safety of the crew.

Keith Says: This established a Star Trek precedent of fighting crewmembers who are elevated to godlike status. It also promotes Spock to ship’s first officer as Kirk has to ultimately kill his best friend, Gary Mitchell.

NUMBER FOUR

A Taste of Armageddon
Written by Gene Coon

Wikipedia Says: On Eminiar VII, the Enterprise finds a civilization at war with its planetary neighbor. Unable to discern any signs of battle from orbit, Captain Kirk leads a landing party to the surface where he discovers the entire war is fought by computer. Even though the war is simulated, citizens who are listed as virtual casualties still report to termination booths to be killed for real. After the Enterprise is destroyed in an attack simulation, Kirk must fight to keep his crew from death.

Keith Says: Kirk’s solution to the war is both clever and necessary. I won’t spoil it, but watch this episode.

NUMBER THREE

The Cage/The Menagerie
Written by Gene Roddenberry

Wikipedia Says: After claiming to receive a subspace message, Spock diverts the Enterprise to Starbase 11 in order to visit the ship’s previous captain, Christopher Pike, who has been severely injured and confined to a wheelchair. Spock continues his deception by secretly transporting Pike to the Enterprise and uses falsified orders to take the ship to the quarantined world Talos IV (leaving Captain Kirk behind). Kirk and Commodore Mendez of Starbase 11 trail and eventually catch up to the Enterprise in a shuttle, where Spock surrenders. Mendez orders Spock to trial, where Spock uses the events of “The Cage” as his defense.

Keith Says: I’m combining The Cage and The Menagerie because not only do they cover the same material, but the plots of each reinforce one another. The Cage is truly important as it was the original pilot for Star Trek and introduced Christopher Pike, the great underappreciated Enterprise captain.

NUMBER TWO

The City on the Edge of Forever
Written by DC Fontana and Harlan Ellison

Wikipedia Says: After accidentally overdosing on a powerful stimulant, Dr. McCoy acts erratically and disappears through the Guardian of Forever, a newly-discovered time portal on a remote planet. Kirk and Spock follow after learning that McCoy somehow changed history. Arriving in the 1930s, the duo meet Edith Keeler, a New York social worker who gives them a place to stay. As the days pass, and McCoy is nowhere to be seen, Kirk finds himself falling in love with Keeler… but Spock discovers that Keeler must die to restore the timeline.

Keith Says: This is, simply put, one of the greatest time travel stories ever conceived. The moment when Kirk realizes that Edith Keeler MUST die for World War Two to ultimately be won by the Allies is heartbreaking.

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NUMBER ONE

Arena
Written by Gene Coon

Wikipedia Says: The Enterprise comes under attack by unknown aliens while investigating the near-destruction of the Cestus III colony. While chasing the aliens into unexplored space, both ships are captured by the powerful Metrons, who force Kirk and the alien captain (later identified as a member of the Gorn race) to trial by combat: the winner’s vessel will be set free, while the loser’s ship will be destroyed.

Keith Says: Picking the best TOS episode is tough, but this episode has it all. The Gorn fight! A ominpotent alien race teaching us a valuable lesson. THE MAKESHIFT CANNON!

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Next up: The Next Generation . . . .

May 2009 Movies June 1, 2009

Posted by vorpalkeith in Film Thing, Life The Universe and Everything.
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I’m stealing this idea outright from my friend Christian, who has been doing this for awhile over on his Blog.  It’s a listing of all the movies I watched in the past month.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine *

Run Fatboy Run

Special

Smart People

Defiance *

Star Trek *  (seen three times)

Star Trek 6: The Undiscovered Country

Ping Pong

Love and a .45

The Namesake

Pineapple Express

Fanboys

The Darwin Awards

Numb

Starting Out in the Evening

Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian *

Up *

JCVD

* films seen in theaters