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The Orville – Bad but Understandable

September 13, 2017

As a fan of Star Trek and comedy, I was looking forward to The Orville. I knew it would be sophomoric due to Seth MacFarlane’s involvement, but a quality ST satire is apparently only achievable by Galaxy Quest.  The Orville lived down to everything MacFarlane represents.

Obsession with innuendo is one thing, characters devoted to it is another. The helmsman is a talented slacker, but too old to be anything other than a loser.  The black guy (sorry, no one sticks out enough to recall their names) is a stereotype. The doctor is played by a talented actress who left her talent at home. The Data Robot will eventually have more screen time. The concept for the character is interesting in a lovable Data of STNG meets The Doctor from STV sort of way. The alien 2nd officer is uninteresting. I like the security officer.

MacFarlane is on record calling this a “new” genre of both comedy and drama (though dramedy is already a thing), stressing there will be serious parts. Um, no, Seth, the hallmark of a comedy is that no one is actually hurt. In drama, they are. In The Orville, even the stuff that could have been “drama” wasn’t because there was no real pain or threat of pain.

The concept is vastly superior to the execution.

Perhaps there was an attempt at making fun of tropes, but it fell flat. Krill can’t hit anyone they aim at, but crewmembers always shoot true. Ha ha. ST has primary color uniforms, TO has primary AND secondary color uniforms.

And yet…

I get it. Yes this is fan fiction of the worst kind, but… what fan wouldn’t take the opportunity? I’ll be the first to admit that if I had a platform where I could get anything produced, I’d put my own spin on Star Trek. I even have a script treatment or two (seriously, one is a rework of Enterprise launched by a dysfunctional attempt at a one-world government, and the other is a Jr. Officer perspective for a ship devoted to 2nd contact, who vets new species before inclusion in the Federation, set between Kirk and Picard time periods. See? Ubergeek here, too.)

It’s really weird in that the production staff is highly skilled, but they seem stuck in fan-boy mode. Jon Favreau has his goofy fanboy side, but is capable of top notch work. He seems to phone it in here.

And a quick aside on Adrianne Palicki, the executive officer: I like the actress, but someone in TVland is desperately trying to make this lady a star. What do Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Most Wanted (Mockingbird), and several other roles have in common? Attempted shows that start Palicki. Now this. Weird.

Star Trek had the excuse of low budget and needing to invent video technology, so they get away with a lot. They built a world full of complex choices; in The Orville, neither condition applies. They have money and high-tech, but this comes off as little more than a cartoon.

Their probably very true excuse is that because it is so heavily influenced by Star Trek that to properly execute the concept would make it directly derivative (and subject to copywrite infringement) rather than protected satire, but it fails on the satire level, too. It is neither sharp, witty or a biting reflection of the original.

If instead of aping the characters and starship set up of Star Trek, what if it was based on something other than a Navy structure? Redesign the bridge and stations, refocus the world-building, change the look and feel and make it *gasp* real.

That is not to say The Orville is a complete loss. This was just one episode. Perhaps they’ll find their footing and continually improve. It’s only 45 minutes on Hulu, so let’s see if it gets better.







Talk about Missing the Point

September 7, 2017

I don’t follow the NFL, and don’t know much about it except what’s crammed down my throat on social media, but still…. I have heard (on social media so it may not be true) that in response to the players refusing to stand during the national anthem, some sports teams have elected to remove the anthem from before their games.

Were it a confederate flag, sure, I’d applaud that choice, but the problem is NOT with the anthem, but it’s symbolization of an America that discriminates.

I’ve said before that I’m fine with someone protesting. The 1st Amendment protects that right, whether I agree with the expression or not. I also support the right of people to say that people who aren’t proud of their country should leave it. Again, not something I agree with, but knock yourself out and proclaim it from the rooftop.Image result for peace sign

Cancelling the anthem skirts the issue. For the guys to stand, apparently, racism must be proactively and retroactively cancelled. Hmmm, is it an exercise of white privilege to cancel the anthem? Who knows.

I think Kopernec and Bennett (not going to bother looking up the proper spelling of the names) aim to bring awareness to the issue. Brilliantly, I’d say except no statement of what it will take to make them stand. Is progress enough?

Again, I’ve said I find the pledge of allegiance and national anthem to be a little weird. NO ONE loves this country more than I do, but I don’t feel the need to profess that devotion in public all the time.

I suspect K and B and the others also have great affection for the country. Perhaps their protest could have been better thought through. I’m hoping their protest doesn’t enflame racism, it certainly wouldn’t in people who are not racist (nor do I think people who disagree with them are necessarily racists, nor are people who don’t believe in white privilege necessarily racist), but in my opinion, they should be allowed to continue to protest.

Most protests are of short duration. Sustained protests lose their bite, as would these after some time, especially if more join the thrall. They just aren’t protesting the anthem.

Protesting to raise awareness is good. Doing something about it is also good. Just whining is not, but from what I’ve heard, these guys actually are doing good things. So have at it guys.

(Let me address the white privilege remark above; I think it’s poorly named because a) for it to be accurate, all whites must benefit, and b) for it to be a privilege, removing it would be a good solution, but neither is true. “Professional Culture Preference” might work better, since that tends to be true).

What other examples of prolonged protest are there?  The sixties had their counter culture to protest the Man (interesting term and more apt than White Privilege because it speaks of power, but it’s a bit sexist).  That died out though. Burning bras was not prolonged, and sounds painful, but it has a certain legacy to it.

POWER TO THE PEOPLE (and nose up to politicians!)

O, the Trendy Controversy!

August 21, 2017

Twenty years ago, we moved to Georgia, and like all transplants, set out to view the sites. Our apartment was beside a Civil War battle ground that changed my view of the war completely (they called it woods, but where I’m from woods are dense areas with plenty of cover; these trees were an inch thick and widely separated; no cover, no hiding except slight depressions where snipers could lay in wait. Chilling.).

Image result for stone mountain

One of the sites we visited was Stone Mountain. I’d never heard of it before, but there it was, with Confederate officers carved into the side. I was shocked that enemies of the US would be enshrined in a mountain.

So when the current controversy about the statues of Lee and conspirators started, I totally get it. And I also don’t.

Why now, suddenly? Why outrage? They’ve been there for decades.

Outrage has become trendy, and I despise trends. Some people can’t watch a bandwagon go by without jumping aboard. One of the things I abhor is the kneejerk reaction. How many of the outraged have actually studied the issue? How many have anything more than a 2D understanding of the Civil War?

A few years ago, it was the Confederate Flag (note: I’m all for this one. Enemy flags and all), now it’s the statutes and memorials (and again, I’m sympathetic), but what will be next?

My issue is that the CSA were enemies of the state. It seems the outrage issue is that it “offends people.” So what? There is no Constitutional right to not be offended.

Let’s look at the Civil War for a moment. We are used to federalism today, but before the war, the states were powerful and the federal government was not.  The North was desperate for the South’s crops; they needed cotton, flax, and the bounty of the South (you can say the North wanted to end slavery, but they had no problem benefiting from it). The Fed was interested in the US standing in the world, safety of all the states, etc.

There seems to be a belief that the North was trying to make the South free the slaves. They weren’t, not in any organized fashion. Sure, they were against it, but it still served them.  Politicians made noise, as politicians do, with little intention of actually freeing the slaves.

I in no way condone the actions of the South, but the truth is, without their move to secede (remember, they didn’t fire the first shot, so they weren’t traitors, they were secessionists. They did not try to overthrow the government, they tried to pull away from it, something they’d had a strong example of (they weren’t naïve; they knew it would start a war, but they didn’t fire the first shot), but their actions brought an end to slavery probably twenty or thirty years before it would have otherwise ended. It also ushered in Federalism, with a strong Fed and relatively weak states.

Further, many of the people fighting for the Confederacy were poor dudes paid to fight for rich dudes.

As for statues and memorials, I won’t shed a tear if they’re taken down—it’s not like we teach history very well now anyway—but I am concerned about what it will lead to next.

The doctrine of the offended is dangerous.  We have a bad habit of looking at the past through today’s “enlightenment.” Things we know without doubt, that man and Bible make clear, are immoral weren’t so clear in the past. Our success (and excess) makes our empathy with the past imperfect.

Pull them down if you must; but do it with forethought and due diligence to ensure you know why you want it done. If it’s solely because they were racist, then almost everything from the past will be pulled down, including the Smithsonian.

Science Deniers Unbunch!

August 16, 2017

“Science Denier.” That term always bunches my shorts.

I discussed global warming this morning with a co-worker, where I said there’s nothing we can do about it and I’m not convinced the data are properly represented. She gasped and called me a science denier.

Between plasma theory, evolution, and climate change, I am labeled science denier often.

Always by people who don’t know any of the data, any of the research or any of the actual theory.

Let me point out a couple things:

  1. I don’t deny science at all, just the conclusion of some scientists, because…
  2. Science is bought and sold today. Agendas to secure funding, continue a career or just to keep from having to say, “I was wrong,” fuels skewed conclusions.
  3. “Science” is a wide subject. Very wide. No scientist has tested everything. Many of those 97% of scientist agree… are blanket surveys to any kind of scientists who agree because they think others agree.
  4. Few proponents of any given subject actually “know” anything. They simply are believing the scientists, or what they think the scientists are saying. Remember back when spinach was supposed to be the ultimate source of iron?  The scientist who did the assay transposed the decimal. Spinach is good for you, but no more so than any other green vegetable. The scientist corrected his error a couple days later. People still believed spinach was the original superfood for decades.
  5. Science is piecemeal. On most subjects, there are several scientists working part of the problem, and often a non-scientist either draws the conclusion or presents a conglomerate conclusion. Ever play Telephone? Then throw reporters into the mix? Even science reporters are woefully uneducated on much of what they report.
  6. The only person who knows is the guy who conducted the test for the hypothesis. And he/she doesn’t really know, they are just making a conclusion that may be lacking data. Or the wrong question was asked to spur the hypothesis. Or a dozen other things.

“Science Approvers” need to understand they don’t know anything, they believe something derived from a suspect train of information that can be distorted at any juncture, including the beginning.

Only then will my shorts straighten out.

Saturdays are for Accomplishment

July 15, 2017

It’s true. I feel a major sense of accomplishment after I mow the jungle. Our goal is to one day give up the exotic flora  to have a lawn to mow; my goal is to one day have enough lawn to need a riding lawnmower (it’s a guy thing).

Saturday is mowing day. I’m sure I must have mowed the lawn in Seattle, but evidently mowing in the rain isn’t as memorable as mowing in the equivalent amount of humidity. In Seattle, sweat wicks off before it stains. In Florida, I look like I fell into the pool when I’m done. What can I saw? Mowing is good for the pores.

It’s also a day of discovery. Green stuff grows fast and long here, so it’s a surprise when I find Thunder’s favorite dumping grounds in the back yard (Grizzly’s favorite place is the patio). In the front yard, if I’m lucky it’s only our neighbor’s chi Sassy’s, but as often as not it’s the other neighbor’s German Shepherd, who likes to build mountains. Yuck.

Then there’s the fauna. We mostly have an agreement. The spiders now spin their webs above six feet so I don’t walk through them, and the squirrels have stopped throwing acorns, but every now and then I find something new. Today’s insect was Biblically instructive. I think it was a locust. Maybe you’ve had the image of John eating honeyed grasshoppers like popcorn, but just a couple of these monsters would be enough for a meal. I left that as a though experiment.

Image result for mowing the jungle

I’d also say mowing is a good time for musical appreciation, but I listen to disco and old time rock and roll on my iPod. It’s impossible not to sing along when Donna Summers sings, “Hot, hot, hot!” I can only hope AC/DC and Bob Seeger come on when I’m in the backyard. It’s hard not to make non-mowing approved movements when those guitar riffs blast in my ears.

A good day is completing the yard, front and back, on one tank of gas and with no coronaries. Today was a good day. I typically have a long list of things to do, like sweep the patio (yuck) and clean the pool, chop down trees that weren’t there last week, and power wash the back wall so we can repaint, and then to repaint. In the summer, if I complete mowing, I’m happy.

Down here, winter is described as the weeks where you don’t break a sweat mowing. The rest of the months are, “What is that smell? Did Dad mow the jungle again?”

The cool-down period is almost as long as the mowing. In the South, you can’t shower when you’re wet. I know that sounds odd, but if you do, you’ll Never.Ever. Get. Dry. So you have to sit around until the sweat cools and the kids start throwing things at you while holding their nose.

I wonder if you sweat when you’re using a riding lawnmower?

Let’s Talk About Introverts

June 25, 2017

I am an introvert, and that surprises a lot of people.

I’m not shy; I don’t find social situations painful; I can speak and perform in front of small and large audiences; I enjoy parties and can often be the last guest to leave.

So what makes someone an introvert?  Not a clue, really, because like any group, we aren’t all alike. I’m a performance introvert, like many entertainers. I’m a decent actor and director, and take pleasure in both.

But they wear me out. Acting and directing, parties, social situations, and even church can exhaust me.

I’m married to a different kind of introvert. She is the opposite of the second paragraph of this post.

Given our druthers, we would both elect to stay home. We find comfort in each other’s presence, which doesn’t always mean interaction. She can work on her things and I can work on mine.

Image result for introvert

This is why I don’t understand protesters.

In college, I was a theater major who accidentally earned three degrees. The one I value most was playwrighting. It’s funny, only one senior a year could graduate with honors in my program. A classmate was in the same situation I was, but focused more on acting than writing. She got the honors because I spent my time reviving New Playwright’s Theater, a program that showcased student writers. We mounted more than 30 plays over my four years in college. Many of us won awards for our writing. I coached about 50 students in writing, acting and directing; taught playwrighting classes to freshmen. But the extrovert got the honors. It sounds like I’m bitter, but I’m not. Ultimately she was the better bet to go on and make a name for herself.

As an introvert, I put others forward. I give credit where credit is due; I’ll promote others rather than myself, and in most jobs, that goes unrecognized. One of the things I love about the company I work for now is that they DO recognize it–and value–it.  The funny thing is our CEs and senior managers are extroverts. They also happen to be incredibly intelligent.

The biggest example of my introversion is when my family goes on  road trips while I stay home and work (they used to feel guilty about this, but they know better now). I have wonderful friends who promise to keep me busy while they’re gone. And they follow through with invitations and I pray they aren’t offended when I turn them down. I like being alone. I am sometimes lonely and I enjoy it.

Two of my kids are introverts, each in their own unique way, and the youngest is an extrovert. We drive her crazy. Completely up the wall. Our house is often silent. The tapping of keys, muted music, blessed stillness… until my extrovert can’t handle it anymore. Then it gets noisy.

I like individuals; I struggle with groups. My trick at parties is that to me it isn’t a group event, it’s a bunch of one-on-one encounters in a short space of time. If that’s not possible, I put on my observer hat and just watch. Extreme extroverts wind my clock down very fast. If I’m around them in the morning… torture.

What kind of vert are you? Intro-, Extro- Other-? Let’s talk about it.


The Stupidity of Global Warming/Climate Change

May 4, 2017

This post isn’t about whether there is GW/CC.  Maybe it’s real, maybe it’s just another cycle, maybe it’s cooked data, it just doesn’t matter. The truth of it is, there is nothing we can do to stop it. Drop everyone’s carbon emissions to zero and the planet itself will keep producing carbon. That whole “science denier” debate is ridiculous. Truth is, the planet goes through changes; that’s why we had ice ages and arid seasons throughout planet history.

The stupid part is all the money being spent on something that CANNOT BE CHANGED. Millions, perhaps billions of dollars are spent ‘researching.’  What, that it exist; who cares? Solutions that don’t work, again, who cares?

Stop giving money to these guys and instead fund the only thing that matters.

If the temperature goes up several degrees in the next decade, or drops a few, leading to regional or global ice age or drought, the only thing we need will be WATER.

Which, coincidentally, is what much of the world needs today. So stop wringing out pocketbooks for climate change and instead spend it on:

  • Means to cheaply make seawater drinking water.
  • Means to cheaply turn bad water into drinking water.
  • Means to cheaply create water from hydrogen and oxygen.
  • A global pipe system for, you guessed it, water. And some way to keep it from freezing or boiling on the way.

Let’s start in the areas of the world that have no water. Call me silly, but they’d be a good test case to making sure we have that life sustaining liquid wherever it’s needed.

Even if the seas dried up, the underground oceans dwarf what’s up top. Let’s solve the problems of usability and distribution. That’s needed today.

So the next time you see a protester screaming about global warming, tell them to go make water.