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J Steven York
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The trouble with ALL the Star Trek movies is that Star Trek just isn't well suited to being a movie at all. It's too much ABOUT stuff, not just scenes and cute lines, but the kind of stuff you mainly see in indie-films like ethical dilemmas, fear of the unknown, wonder of same, the roots of hatred and prejudice, the solutions to eternal human problems. In other words, nothing you can put on a summer movie poster. To my mind, "Wraith of Khan" is the only movie that completely hits on all cylinders. I like parts of all of them, but I can't think of any of the others I'd call great movies, or great Trek. Star Trek III comes close to being a great movie, but it's often pretty poor Trek. The first one is actually fairly good Trek, but it comes close to being a terrible movie. And even Wraith of Khan is ATYPICAL Trek. And yes, dudes (and let us not forget, dudettes) on a spaceship. But not dudes who are Star Wars dudes, who zip from one planet-as-thrill-ride to the next in half a Parsec and then on to the next. Dudes who boldly go. Dudes who stop to admire the plaster scenery even as they're chasing (and usually trying to understand) monsters. Dudes who, no matter what, are always taking it down on their tricorders for science. I think Abrams is right about how some things about Trek need to be updated, even for TV. A lot of aspects, the sitting down and talking things to death in a briefing room scenes, the perhaps SLIGHTLY too sedate sailing-ship-style space battles, the total reliance on bumpy-forehead aliens, were artifacts of low budgets, limited production technology, lack of sci-fi infrastructure in movie-land, and primitive special effects. Some of that stuff needs to be reexamined and updated, even for television. But CAREFULLY. Star Trek should NEVER be Star Wars, even if it would make more money if it were. I don't think Abrams has completely thrown out the baby with the bath water. But the baby is holding on by its toes sometimes. I think he totally gets the characters in his movies, and updates them in ways that are fresh and exciting (I love the Spock/Uhura thing, for example, and it feels like something classic Trek would have tried, if the world then had been just a LITTLE more progressive). But he doesn't quite get what made Trek, Trek, and in speeding things up he's make things too action driven. (That's a problem some of the later Next Gen films have too.) The new film, without any spoilers, leaves the films in a good place, and at a good-place for a hand-off. I hope there will be another reboot movie, and I hope that with JJ busy with Star Wars, we'll get a new director and a new tone, maybe one with a better sense of Trek.
Toggle Commented May 20, 2013 on Star Trek Into Dorkness at Steve's Web Place
Like I keep saying, you and I are freakishly alike in many ways. It took me a long time to figure out my introvert thing, but I've got a pretty good grasp on it these days. One thing that people find hard to understand is that "shy" and "introverted" aren't the same thing. Some introverts can be quite outgoing in the right situation, though this tends to break down in prolonged social situations, especially if crowds are involved. Introverts lose energy in a social situation, and need to withdraw to recharge. Another thing that introverts can be performers and good public speakers. Interactions when you're the center of attention feel completely different to an introvert than sitting in the audience in the same crowded room. A lot of well-known actors, performers and politicians are very private "off-camera" in part because they're introverts. Introverts don't necessarily dislike people or social interactions, but they prefer one-on-one, or more intimate, and often quieter gatherings. That doesn't mean they don't like people or being with people, on in a lot of cases, parties. They get lonely and enjoy the company of friends like everyone else. My strategy for dealing with my introversion at conventions and the likes is to approach it like I was a snorkeler. You can dive pretty deep (into social situations and crowds), but only for short times, and the deeper you dive, the more trouble you can get in. Be aware of your need to surface (your anxiety and energy levels) and try to make sure you've got a clear escape route and safe "breathing area" in all situations. Just knowing they're there can make it less likely that you'll need them. You KNOW you'll need down time, so build quite-breaks into your schedule, and stick to them. If possible, have your hotel room close to the convention events for quite retreats, or scout out alternate quite-time retreats nearby. Carry some earbuds and a music device to drown out public noise, if you have no better alternative. If you can't do it during the day, try to schedule a quite time in your room between daytime programming and evening events. Oh, and one random strange tip to try. By accident (I left a single earbud in while talking to someone at a crowded gathering) I discovered that plugging one ear in a loud, crowded area really reduced my anxiety levels. For me, either ear works, and my theory is that when I have two good ears, my brain is constantly trying to triangulate multiple voices at once, which somehow leads to stress and anxiety. Plug one ear, and the brain just gives up and tries to sort voices using other cues. It may or may not work for anyone else, but it's worth a try, and less expensive, dangerous, and addictive than anti-anxiety drugs. (And if anybody uses this as the basis of their PhD thesis, be sure to mention me in the footnotes.)
I used to watch the show every Sunday too, and in my teens, I did a passing good Marlin Perkins imitation, and my stock line was always, "While Jim wrestles the deadly anaconda in the swamp, I watch from the helicopter through powerful binoculars..."
Toggle Commented Aug 5, 2012 on Short Stuff at Steve's Web Place
Though I've been reading mystery novels practically forever, I only started reading mystery short fiction regularly a year or two ago, when I subscribed to Hitchcock's and Ellery Queen on my Kindle. I've got to say, I'm really enjoying it. There's been a lot more variety than I'd expected, and I've read a lot of excellent stories. Okay, just off-the-cuff, a few things I like about reading short-stories, for the uninitiated: 1. A chance to discover new writers I'd otherwise have never have heard of. 2. A chance to read writers I already enjoy in novels doing something different (occasionally wildly different), and often discovering that I enjoy that aspect of their work too. 3. A chance to enjoy different kinds of mystery/crime stories that wouldn't work in novel length. I've long suspected that novels aren't really the natural length for a lot of mystery stories, and that many are padded to length. I find myself getting increasingly annoyed when, as the detective closes in, the real killer starts killing off the other suspects one-by-one in a clumsy and ineffectual effort to hide their identity, when the most reasonable thing to do would simply be to cut their losses and run like hell. Short stories, by necessity, trim the fat, and can be much more satisfying for it. 4. A chance to read favored novel characters in different kinds of stories. Quite a few writers do this, write short stories with their novel characters. Some will even write stories featuring secondary characters who get a rare chance to shine, or that look at their detectives from unusual viewpoints you'd never seen in a novel. Some will also use short stories as a way of filling in background. In other words, if you haven't tried the mystery magazines, give it a go. And I know they can be hard to find on newsstands these days, so electronic versions are a handy way to sample them and decide if they're worth subscribing to.
Toggle Commented Aug 2, 2012 on Short Stuff at Steve's Web Place
Hey, I read "Spock Must Die!" when I was a kid. Also all the James Blish "Star Trek (Number)" books (which were basically prose versions of original Trek episodes, though often expanded and "corrected" for science and logic), and even the Alan Dean Foster "Star Trek Log" books (often VERY expanded versions of the animated-series episodes). It was great to finally get to play in the Trek sandbox a few times (with people PAYING me to do so), but I never got to do "classic" Trek, which would have been my first choice, or Deep Space 9, which would have been my second. I got to do some TNG, but it was on a tight deadline, when I was suffering burnout, and I sadly didn't enjoy the process much. But the "Star Trek SCE" spin-off series was a hoot, and I got to do two of those, so I can't complain. (But some times I still do.)
Toggle Commented Apr 22, 2011 on Fan Friction at Steve's Web Place
Unfortunately, when I tried to post a comment, I got the every helpful and informative error message: "We're sorry. We cannot accept this data." So I put the comment on my blog instead:
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Mar 7, 2010