The Future That Never Was

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georgejetson I live in the future, and things are not as I was promised.

Back in the 1960’s, when I was Space Cadet Jimmie Joe, there were certain things that we simply knew would exist, off in the far distant future of the 21st Century. The big one, of course, was the flying car. The Jetsons‘ of 1962 got that wrong. Back To The Future of 1985 got it wrong, too. Space Cadet Jimmie Joe has never quite forgiven any of them for that.

The Jetsons‘ had big screen televisions and video phones, which we’ve pretty well matched. We get our dinners from a magic box we call a microwave oven, which is a pretty good substitute for dinner sliding out of the wall on a conveyor belt. And, of course, the Internet. Of all the future tech people wrote about in my childhood, nobody really thought of that one. So much for prognostication.

The future I live in has interesting quirks, some rather depressing. We have 400 channels of television, and nothing much worth watching. We have satellite radio, also with hundreds of channels.  The FM and AM radio bands are filled with screaming DJs, or drivel-filled talk shows that cater to conspiracy theories and “fake news”.

While the future is not quite Blade Runner, neither is it Star Trek.

I ran into one quirk this morning. It turns out that in the 21st century, if the computer goes down the fast food joint can’t serve anything. Nobody knows how to do anything without the computer adjudicating it first.

The grill was still hot. The french fryer still bubbling. The soda machine could still dispense a Coke. But without the computer, nothing happens.

Nobody knows how to take an order, write it down, add up the price, figure out the sales tax, and make a sale. Business comes to a screeching halt, all because the computer crashed.

I suppose that’s all so very futuristic of them, but it sure seems like we missed the boat (flying car) somewhere.

Oh. And my Congressman is suing a cow. A fake cow. For being mean to him.

Welcome to the 21st Century, Space Cadet Jimmie Joe.

 

Star Trekking with Tom Jones

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I got to see him in concert, once, in Visalia. Took my Mom. We both had a great time.

Some people sing in the shower. Not me.

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I don’t waste my time singing in the shower. They say everyone sounds good in there, at least to themselves, but that’s not true. I learned a long time ago not to lie to myself about that. Instead, my mind tends to wander. Today, it ruminated on Star Trek, fake Star Trek, and the Star Spangled Banner.

We’ll start with Star Trek.

Since J.J.Abrams began helming the starship Enterprise with his new movies, things have not gone well. While the movies are certainly watchable, enjoyable, and entertaining, they’re not Star Trek. Sorry, J.J., they’re just not. I’m hoping the next movie brings us back to the real thing, but I’m not holding my breath.

Star Trek Discovery has followed the same path as the movies. It’s like they’re using the words from Star Trek, without having any understanding of them. The Federation. Warp drive. Klingons. Phasers. Sarek. Vulcans.

Now, I really like that Discovery has taken the leap, following the almost-gay scene from the last movie where we get the split second shot of Sulu with his husband, and introduced a gay couple on the show. More

This new guy really is a Bad Robot

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Space. The Final Frontier.

First it was Star Trek. Now it’s Star Wars. I don’t like where this is going.

You know who I’m talking about, right?  J.J. Abrams?  The wunderkind of movies these days?  In my little world, he’s trashed the Enterprise, and now he’s killed Han Solo.  Is nothing sacred?

OK, I suppose *he* didn’t kill Han.  The story is Harrison Ford wanted the character to die back in the carbonite block, but was talked out of it (read $$$).   But still.  Bad Robot.

First, the Enterprise.  I really like the bridge of the new version starship.  Especially the ’embedded-in-the-window’ viewscreen.  That was a cool idea.  The engine room, and whatever those huge tank things were, is just… not.  Unless the Enterprise is really a TARDIS, there’s just no way all that inside fits the outside.  Huge gaping spaces for our heros to dangle from is just nuts.  That thing-a-ma-jig that Kirk kicks back into alignment? Bad scripting there, plain and simple.  Really poor starship design.  The same engineers that came up with the viewscreen-window couldn’t come up with a better doo-dad for Kirk to fix at the last second? Really?  And those lens flares. Really annoying. Bad Robot.

I just saw Star Wars – The Force Awakens.  Not much force awakening going on there.  A lot of spaceship-blowing-up and what-not, but the force is not strong in this one.  More vast spaces to dangle the hero from, but mostly a re-hash.  We’ve pretty much seen this movie, before we’ve even seen it.  Bad Robot.

Nit-picking.  Did nobody do an after-action assessment when they lost the Death Star?  Nobody noticed the glaring design flaw in the super-weapon?  They basically built the same thing again, only bigger?  And using a star as a power source?  In such a way that you suck up the star itself to power the weapon?  Seems like a lot of money and resources to put into a weapon with a limited shelf-life! The Dark Side seems to have a rather large blind spot. Probably as big as the ego of the latest evil leader.  Bad Empire/First Order.

And haven’t we already seen this plot device?  The weapon is charging/coming into range!  We have only minutes before the rebel base is zapped!  Everyone’s about to die!  But wait! Our heroes blow up the Death Star/Star Killer in the nick of time, saving everyone!  I suppose if he’s going to re-hash old Star Trek movies, J.J. doesn’t worry about doing it in Star Wars, too.  Bad Robot.

I wonder if Mark Hamill is going to be able to pull off his own Obi-Wan in the next movie? Can we believe Luke going full-Yoda on us?  Time will tell.  JJ Abrams won’t be directing it, so maybe we’ll get something more George Lucas-like.  But it’s Disney, now, so maybe not. Especially after George’s crack about them.

This movie didn’t seem to really advance the story much.  I suppose it’s more a hat-tip to the previous films, and to set up the two to follow.  Seems a bit weak to be a top-grossing movie, but it does show the desire of the public to revisit this galaxy.  Disney and company seem determined to give them what they want.  The merchandising for this episode has just been insane.  Even a YouTube light saber gizmo on the control thingy?  Really?  Bad Robot.

The 3D version was pretty neat.  I enjoyed it, and most of the time didn’t realize I was watching a 3D movie.  When you don’t notice the effect, they’re doing it right.  Good Robot.

I went to the last showing on a Sunday night, and had the auditorium to myself.  Just me and the movie.  That’s both cool, and a little creepy at the same time.  Watching the opening crawl and then the closing credits in 3D was strangely mesmerizing.

Overall, I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars.  Excellent effects, especially in 3D, likable new characters, and the possibility of decent follow-on stories.  Dinged for re-hashed story and plot, no clear emotional buildup on Ben’s part to Han’s death (Ben did not seem conflicted, nor did the murder seem like his climax to completing his journey to the Dark Side), and it’s poor use of R2-D2 and C3PO.

Space Station Science Officer joins Trek designer for Leonard Nimoy/Spock tribute

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spock_tribute_ISSGreat tribute image by NASA, ISS science officer Samantha Cristoforetti, and Star Trek designer Michael Okuda. I’ll let slide the Next Generation communicator pin and it’s too-high placement on the tunic, and just enjoy the Enterprise NCC-1701 no bloody A, B, C, OR D! floating outside the window.  I would say the shirt is the wrong shade of blue, but with the recent flap about the color of clothing flying around the Internet these days, I’ll just let it pass.

“… his was the most human”

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I’m entering William Shatner’s contest

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I first became aware of William Shatner in 1972.  I was in 8th grade, and  a new local television station was airing reruns of 60’s television programs, including a “Wagon Train to the stars”.  Every day after school I would get home, burn through my homework, and be ready to watch when it came on.  I would have watched it in prime time during it’s time on network television, but Dad had control of the one TV in the house, and he was a western show guy.  I never had a chance back then!

My teen years included daily sessions with Mr. Shatner and the crew, and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen each episode.  Bill has been a fixture in my life, and I’d love to have a chance to see him in person.

I live in Visalia, California, just down the road from property he once owned (or still does?) in Three Rivers.  I would hear stories from locals who had met him, and was always a bit envious.  (I’ve worked at the Sheriff’s Department 9-1-1 dispatch for 20 years, and got to hear some stories from the resident deputy and his wife.  Having him host a show about 9-1-1 was icing on the cake!)

At any rate, Mr. Shatner, I’d love to meet the man behind the characters.  I’ve heard it’s a great show, and I look forward to being in the audience.

Contact me, Jim Reeves,  at jim.visalia@gmail.com  I’m on Twitter as @KC6YRU, and have been a follower of Mr. Shatner on Twitter for some time now.

(fingers crossed)

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