Archive for July 2011

The Terrible Writing of Star Trek

Published on July 29, 2011

This afternoon, I finished season 2 of the original Star Trek series. The last few episodes of this season are incredibly bad, even by 1960’s-era science fiction standards. What really gets me about the last few episodes, is the feeling that they were written by grumpy old men, unhappy with the political climate at the time. Let’s take a look at the three worst examples:

Episode 23: The Omega Glory
In this bizarre episode, Kirk finds a star-ship captain violating the prime directive. The Yangs (yanks) and Kohms (communists) are battling one another in a bizarro-world parallel-Earth scenario. Worst of all? The Yangs have their own “American” flag, and the Declaration of Independence is considered their “holy word” (which, ironically enough, is kept in a large King James Bible). Be sure to listen for the strains of “The Star Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” every time the flag is shown.

Episode 25: Bread and Circuses
While attempting to locate a missing star-ship crew, Kirk and company stumble upon a planet whose oppressive government is a 20th-century version of Earth’s Roman empire. In the final 2 minutes of the episode, Lieutenant Uhura figures out that the “sun worshipers” (who are slaves in this world’s society) aren’t actually worshiping the sun, they’re worshiping the son of God. The “aw, shucks” sentimentality of the crew at this discovery is really misplaced and simply feels tacked on. Maybe a network exec forced the writers to put this twist in?

Episode 26: Assignment: Earth
The season finale plays on the cold war fears of the 1960s, and shows a lot of badly edited NASA footage of early Apollo-era flight tests. A stereotypical “dumb blonde” female character sums up the entirety of her generation’s shortcomings in this unforgettable scene:

Mister Seven, I want to believe you. I do. I know this world needs help. That’s why some of my generation are kind of crazy and rebels, you know. We wonder if we’re going to be alive when we’re thirty!

Is a quote like that the hallmark of an out-of-touch, angry old man, or what? “Kids these days … am I right?”

There are some other particularly annoying episodes, like Episode 22: By Any Other Name. This episode was terrific for the first 45 minutes of the 50 total. In the last few minutes, the aliens who have taken the Enterprise crew hostage simply cave in to Kirk’s reasoning for peace, totally destroying the tension that had built up to that point. I was hoping for the death and destruction of these monsters, but all they gave me was peace and harmony. This could have been a solid episode, but the ending ruined it completely.

I’m looking forward to season 3 (some of the episodes sound very interesting), but I’m boldly going forward with a grain of salt. There are bound to be rocky episodes ahead.

Musical Voyage – Completed!

Published on July 26, 2011

Way back in February of this year, I started a Musical Voyage: listening to my music in order, sorted by album title. Today, I finally finished the journey with Van Halen’s “5150” (an album I consider mediocre at best; I never was a Sammy Hagar fan). I found this to be an interesting way to enjoy my music. Sometimes the jump from one album to the next was very pleasant (e.g. Relayer by Yes to Revolver by The Beatles); other times, it was jarring and unexpected (e.g. from Best of Schubert to Best of The Doors). I heard a ton of stuff I rarely listen to, reintroducing myself to some terrific music. Occasionally, I even heard something I didn’t like (and which I’ve subsequently purged from my iPod). At least I can buy some new music for myself now; upon starting this goal, I set a rule that no new music could be added. There’s several things I’ve been eager to get, and now I finally can. Mission accomplished!

Cascade Falls Photos

Published on July 21, 2011

Another small photo album has just been posted. This time, it’s a collection of photos from Cascade Falls at Lake Tahoe. A simply beautiful landscape!

Eagle Falls Photos

Published on July 15, 2011

My largest photo album from my trip to California has just been posted. This time around, it’s a collection of photos from Eagle Falls, a beautiful place on the southwestern side of the lake. The falls are easily accessible, and as a result it gets really crowded. I highly recommend visiting this location, however; it’s totally worth it.

Napa Valley Photos

Published on July 10, 2011

My latest photo album, Napa Valley, has been posted. This isn’t a very large album, but there are some neat sights I captured. If you’re ever near the Napa Valley region, I recommend visiting it. There’s a lot to see and do (and more vineyards than you can shake a stick at).

Random Davis Photos

Published on July 5, 2011

My next photo album, a Random Davis Collection, has been posted. This album, and the next one in the queue, are both fairly small. I’ve got a ton of photos from Lake Tahoe, however, so stay tuned.

Davis Arboretum Photos

Published on July 2, 2011

I have just posted the first photo album from my recent trip to California (several others are in the works). This first album showcases some of the sights at the UC Davis Arboretum. The plant collection at this arboretum is fantastic, and the walking trail (3 miles long) is a fantastic place to walk, especially in the early morning hours. Lots of beautiful scenery and even wildlife make this place a must-visit if you’re ever in the Davis area.

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