Well, the first trailer for the new Star Trek series, Discovery, was released the other day. I knew there was a new incarnation of Trek coming, but I haven't paid any attention because, frankly, I haven't been interested. I did, however, watch the trailer and found out that it is set ten years before the events of Star Trek: TOS. Huh. The last time a series was set before TOS, we ended up with Enterprise, which made almost every Trek fan feel like this:
This is a really early trailer and doesn't actually tell us anything about the show and I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that the producers have learned from past mistakes and are going to make a quality show, but there are a couple of worrying signs. To begin with, the trailer says that this is ten years before "Kirk, Spock, or the Enterprise." This may seem nit-picky, but while this was before Kirk, it wasn't before the Enterprise or Spock, who served under the previous captain of the Enterprise, Christopher Pike. I get that they're trying to give viewers a frame of reference, but this is the sort of thing that irritates fans, because it makes it seem like the people making the show didn't do their homework.
Good Trek can be made by non-fans- case in point: The Wrath Of Khan, inarguably the best Trek movie ever made. Before embarking on developing the storyline for it, however, Harve Bennett went back and watched all of the episodes of TOS. The Trek universe is a lot bigger now, and it would be unreasonable to expect the writers of a new series to never trip over continuity, which makes me wonder why they would decide to set it pre-Kirk, and in the original timeline. They could have set the new show in the movie reboot timeline and not had to worry about continuity, or the limits which the TOS canon will necessarily place on them- such as not knowing what Romulans look like. Or, if they were determined to have it in the original timeline, they could have set it later so as to avoid a lot of these problems. But having insisted that Discovery is set when and where it is, it's just going to tick fans off if they then go ahead and ignore TOS canon.
What I really hope is that the new series won't be used as a soap box to preach to viewers about the correct attitudes to have about contemporary issues. This is what irritated me the most about a lot of TNG; usually when there was some sort of conflict over a moral, social, or political issue, we were told that the choice was between the reasonable, rational, enlightened Federation side, and the incredibly backwards, unreasonable and obviously wrong other side. Very few episodes bothered to present the truth about such issues: that both sides can be well-intentioned, have legitimate points or grievances, and that such things usually aren't clean cut and morally unambiguous. This is why I think that DS9 was a far superior show- they didn't shy away from pointing out that many of the issues being dealt with were messy and complex, and sometimes there were no morally or ethically pure solutions. So those are my rambling thoughts on a new Star Trek series... maybe it'll be good, but Voyager and Enterprise have left a bad aftertaste, and I'm having a hard time working up any enthusiasm for a new series.
Don Rickles died today at the age of 90. I've watched pretty much every Dean Martin Celebrity Roast; the smokey, boozy, un-PC and hysterically funny episodes are addictive. Rickles was a big part of why they were so great, and he will be missed. Especially when we contemplate what frequently passes for comedy today. Here's a clip of "Mr. Warmth" roasting then-Governor Ronald Reagan:
Last week we had a couple of relatively warm days and we dared to think that spring might be on the way. Wrong... so wrong. We had another snowstorm, followed by some of the coldest days this winter. I stepped out the door to go to church this morning, and was hit by -28 wind chill, the kind of cold that freezes the insides of your nose when you breathe, then burns all the way down to your lungs.
The nephews don't seem to mind- especially since it's March Break- but frankly, I'm getting a bit tired of going about dressed like Nanook of the North. I like winter and all, but enough is enough.
Due to the illness of a staff member, I ended up working at our company's exhibit at the Outdoor Sports and RV Show last evening. While we do several shows of this sort a year, I've never worked one before nor, to be honest, even attended one. It's not exactly my bailiwick, but it was an interesting experience. Since I was mostly just needed to cover breaks, close up at the end of the night and take the cash box and deposit, I had some time to wander around looking at other exhibits and watching a few of the shows. These included competitions like log rolling, wood cutting and axe throwing, etc. I missed the chainsaw juggler, but did get to see a bit of the hunting dog exhibition, which was fun. A fishing gear company was giving away sugar cookies in the shape of fish, and a spice company was handing out bags of flavoured popcorn, so I had always had something to snack on as I meandered about.
At the Parks Canada booth, I scored a pass which grants free admission to all of Canada's national parks and historic sites this summer. The passes are being handed out in honour of Canada's 150th birthday, which occurs this July, and I'd been planning on sending away for one; now I don't have to do so. It's going to come in handy, because I usually go camping a few times during the summer months with a couple of my sisters, and I always try to visit any historical sites located close to where we are. Here are a few of my observations about the show: 1) About half the people there were wearing either plaid or camo, with higher concentrations of plaid around the woods/ camping exhibits and camouflage more evident around the gun/ hunting/ taxidermy booths. * Cutest camouflage wearer was a one-year-old girl in camo overalls and pink boots. 2) Different exhibits attracted different age and family groups. For example, there were a lot of young families around the camping and boating booths, lots of teenage boys around the ATVs, and what appeared to be many father/ son/ grandfather groups at the hunting and fishing exhibits. The RVs were mainly being examined by retired couples and young families whose kids wanted to climb inside and look around. * Best overheard remark: A wife, looking admiringly at a huge RV with a loft, to her husband, "Why couldn't you have been rich instead of good looking?" 3) In the spirit of the occasion, here's a clip from The Red Green Show:
I was over at my sister's place last Thursday night and she insisted that we watch The Crown, a Netflix series based on the life of Queen Elizabeth II. She had recently binge-watched the entire first season and declared that I, too, must see it. We watched the first two episodes that evening and it was... actually pretty good. It is an interesting blend of true historical events and speculative fiction about the actions, opinions, and feelings of Elizabeth and the people who surround her.
I'm not going to get into the actual content of the show right now, but will give a few of my original thoughts and impressions on The Crown. First, the show is a veritable who's who of British actors. Some I recognized right away- like Jeremy Northam- and others I had to think about for a few minutes to figure out where I had seen them before. For example, I had seen the actress portraying the Queen's Mum in Jane Austen's Persuasion, and I had viewed Claire Foy in Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit.
Then, of course, there's Doctor Who himself- Matt Smith- who plays Prince Philip, a casting choice which isn't immediately obvious but actually works. Speaking of which, Winston Churchill is played by John Lithgow, someone who I'd never think of in relation to the late, great Prime Minister but he's pretty good in the role.
Also, no matter how true/ untrue the portrayals of the various characters are, the show brings home just how, well, unnatural the lives of the royals actually are, and how their lives are defined by their titles and roles. Yes, they're wealthy beyond comprehension, but still... what a bizarre way to live. Last, how weird must it be for Queen Elizabeth to know that there's a serialized drama based on the intimate details- real and imagined- of her life? I wonder if she watches.
Well, I'm home from work today; the entire province is shut down due to a blizzard. A lot of snow is coming down and the wind is so high that visibility is pretty much nil. I had assumed we would be closed; the Halifax Regional Municipality announced last night that all government offices would be closed and the transit buses and ferries were being shut down in anticipation of the storm, which hit in the early hours of the morning. Even so- not gonna lie- when my boss texted me with official notification of closure, I momentarily had that remembered thrill of childhood when, getting ready for school on a snowy morning, you heard the radio announcement that all schools in the district were closed. And that reminded me of this Rick Mercer rant:
UPDATE: Family and friends all over the Maritimes have been puttting pictures on Facebook of the storm from their locations; one of my my brothers posted this one:
I'm currently watching the new Sherlock episode, The Six Thatchers which is, I assume, based on the Sherlock Holmes story The Six Napoleons. Just got home from New Year's dinner with my entire family- all forty-two of them- in time to tune in. It's a good day.
Today is the 99th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion of 1917. On that day, a large segment of the city was obliterated, as were the lives of many of its citizens. A couple of years ago, I wrote a post describing the devastation caused by this event, and mentioned my Great Uncle Albert, who was a baby at the time and had a very close call. Last month I attended Uncle Al's funeral; he died at 100 years old after a long and well-lived life. I'm not sure how many other survivors are still alive, but it can't be many.
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This is a photograph of Vince Coleman, who was killed in the explosion. He was a train dispatcher who worked at the depot close to Pier 6, where the Mont Blanc ran aground. Right after the two ships collided at 8:45 am, a sailor warned Coleman and his coworker, William Lovett, about the cargo aboard the burning Mont Blanc, telling them the ship was going to blow. The overnight express train from Moncton, New Brunswick, was due to arrive at 8:55 am carrying 300 passengers. Lovett sent a call to the terminal agent to tell him about the coming explosion, then abandoned the station. Vince Coleman, however, went back to the telegraph and sent messages out to stop all incoming trains from entering the city. His message was heeded, and the express was halted at the Rockingham depot, some 6 km outside the city. His Morse Code message read: "Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys." Vince Coleman died in the explosion, as did his co-worker William Lovett, though he had left the station.
Vince Coleman was featured in a Heritage Minute which I'll post below; it has a few inaccuracies- Coleman didn't run along the street warning people, and there were 300 people on the train, not 700- but it's mostly accurate.
It's Father's Day, and I want to say thanks to my Dad and every other good father out there. It's a source of irritation to me that Dads get such a raw deal these days in so many T.V. shows, movies, and even advertisements... so often they are portrayed as hapless buffoons. The fact is, fathers are extremely important and necessary for successful families and kids. Need proof? Here's some statistics from the U.S.A... fatherless children are: 72% of teenage murderers, 60% of rapists, 70% of incarcerated youths, 2 times more likely to drop out of school, and 11 times more likely to commit acts of violence; they commit 3 out of 4 teen suicides, make up 80% of teens in psychiatric hospitals, and 90% of all runaways. And here are some statistics from the U.K... children who grow up fatherless are: 8 times more likely to go to prison, 5 times more likely to commit suicide, 20 times more likely to have behavioral problems, 20 times more likely to become rapists, 32 times more likely to become runaways, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 9 times more likely to drop out of high school, and one-tenth as likely to get A's at school. Any way you slice it, fathers are important. So here's to them. Below is a clip from the Andy Griffith Show, in which Andy imparts some fatherly advice to his son, Opie (a very young Ron Howard).
And here's a fairly recent commercial that actually got it right: