Sunday, September 27, 2015

...Where Many Have Gone Before

Oh Bill, y u photobomb this selfie!?
Well, this past Friday night marked the end of my journey (or dare I say trek) through all 176 episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." The series brought back many memories but as I gleaned from only the first 30 or so episodes I'd "rewatched" as of my first post on this topic, I have indeed only watched, I'd guesstimate, about 45 - 50% of the shows back during either the series' original primetime run or in repeats throughout the '90s and aughts. An amazingly low figure. So this summer's Trek Fest has, for the most part, been all new to me.

So many really great episodes too. This really was a quality show. And as I said in the previous post, that's a rare thing for a sci-fi series.

Like many fans, I really thought "Inner Light" was the best. It had me literally full-out bawling with emotion. This is the one where Picard is zapped by some beam from a mysterious alien probe that the Enterprise encounters and for the next 25 minutes (in show time and setting time) he lies in a coma-like state on the floor of the bridge but his mind experiences a day-by-day recreation of the majority of some alien's adult life from newly married to an old grandfather. And a simple flute and the haunting music he makes during this, linger lovingly in the hearts of many a viewer like myself.

I was surprised to find that the episodes where Picard has been captured and assimilated by the Borg (becoming Locutus of Borg) only span a single two-parter episode. And the experience is referenced only lightly in subsequent episodes. I always thought he was Locutus for far more than just those two hours and that his re-assimilation into humanity was much more difficult. Like going through tough physical and mental therapy after a bad accident. It may have been the film "First Contact" that gave me that impression since he really played up the PTSD-like mania about seeking revenge on the Borg (the whole Moby Dick analogy) in the movie.

Of course there were the inevitable rubbish episodes as well. Some of which really had me scratching my head thinking..."What were they thinking?"

The perennial favorite "worst episode" accolade seems to mostly be applied on internet forums and articles about the series to the episode "Masks" which aired in the 7th season. Yes, this was pretty messy, in my opinion, but not the worst. In fact, I think that the creative visuals of the Aztec-like set decorations were interesting and intriguing and Brent Spiner, I thought, did a great job in the multiple voices and mannerisms he had to do in his role as a "possessed" Data.

The worst episodes were any that featured any prominent screen time for Dr. Pulaski in season two. She was horrible. Talk about resting bitch face, she just looked like the actress playing her (Diana Muldaur) was visibly disgusted that her career had slumped so low as to have her playing in a cheap science fiction television show. She's never said that from what I could gather but it is noted that she didn't quite mesh well with the other players and thus she was fired at the end of her only season on the show. Thank goodness!

So now that my binge of this series is over, I wonder where I'll go next? Not another Star Trek show, I think, for a while. Gotta realign my warp core coils so to speak. In the meantime, I think I'll do a bit of star trekking myself in Elite: Dangerous.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pray For USA

Gay sex. Is in? Oh yes, Daddy!
So I live in Florida. And despite actual geographic location, Florida is not quite the spiritual heart of the Deep South. Too many Northern transplants like myself for that, I guess. But nevertheless, us sun-lovin' Yankees are still far outnumbered by true-born Sotherners. And as such, many Floridians have their very Southern, Bible-thumping ways.

At a pretty busy intersection near my home (Rt. 434 and Rt. 17-92) there's a couple of LED billboards that flash super-bright crazy-colorful advertisements at us hapless drivers waiting for the light to change. One of them has recently started running the following message among its rotation of maybe a dozen or so ads. It simply, in big, bold letters says: PRAY FOR USA. (Not "Pray for the USA" as would probably be more grammatically correct. I guess the letters wouldn't be as large if they had to cram "the" in there.) In smaller text as a footnote it says 2 Corinthians 7:14.

From the moment I saw it I knew it must be some religious group's damnation of the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. In the guise of a plea for the country's "right" people to appeal to God for forgiveness.

But the thing is, the sponsors of this billboard ad got it wrong. I imagine them to be folks who would consider themselves extremely knowledgeable about their God and His Holy Message (ie the Bible) and probably can throw quotes from it around every Sunday like quarterbacks for Jesus in the great football game of morality. Having myself to Google the passage notations since I most certainly am not an all-knowing smarty pants like they no doubt believe they are, I discovered that they probably meant to make reference to 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says the following:

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Yeah this is definitely what they were going for. "Wicked ways" "Forgive their sin" Oh yeah, we know what they mean.

But instead, the billboard has readers looking up 2 Corinthians 7:14 which says:

"For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth."

What the fuck does this mean?

I tried to read the whole of the chapter myself and of course it was painful to read. Disjointed sentences that fail to be cohesive to anything resembling a story or a recollection or a logical accounting of first glance. But after reading explanations of the meanings (oh fuck what a labyrinth, no wonder religious types are whack...this shit fucks with your deductive reasoning and ability to self-analyse) I was even more confused. It forces you to adhere to someone else's ramblings which are meant to explain the first set of ramblings but only proceed to muddy the waters even further with more mumbo-jumbo.

Basically, as I could tell, it's about an apostle (St. Paul? That's what interpretations say though I didn't see his name anywhere in the few chapters I read of actual scripture.) speaking unashamedly and boasting of the people to whom this message is addressed to someone called Titus (a "companion" of Paul's according again to interpretation) and emphasis was placed on him making this boast before Titus.

So, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. I will interpret this shit how I see it.

St. Paul and Titus are in a bear master/twink slave relationship and St. Paul is boasting of his admiration of the huge cocks on some guys he met and this gets him and Titus all hot so St. Paul brutally fucks Titus's tight boi hole, quickly pulls out and absolutely drenches an open-mouthed Titus with a massive cum shot. They snowball and solemnly declare their love true.

So the billboard is acknowledging that gay love is good and true and directs us to read a little Bible porn to bring home its message with a "happy ending."

Who knew you could fap to holy scripture? You could probably use the silk ribbon bookmark as a cockring.

Oh pardon me, my elevator is here. Ding! Going down, sir? I guess I am.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life

In short, there's simply not
A more congenial spot
For happily-ever-aftering than here
In Camelot.

Camelot - From the musical of the same name from the 1960s

Call me an old fogey. Call me a traditionalist. But I think if the Broadway musical I went to see this afternoon were "Camelot" starring a Richard Burton or Richard Harris type singing the above quoted theme song, I might have enjoyed it even more. But that's not to say I didn't enjoy what I did see: "Monty Python's Spamalot."

Monty Python humor is quite polarizing. Many love it to the ends of the Earth. Others hate it as puerile and vulgar. I kinda fall in between.

I love parody. I think parody can be one of the highest forms of comedic art there is. In parody, the artist is mocking their subject of course but that can be either as an educational eye-opener acknowledging an intelligent person's (or what should be) response to a ridiculous situation or it can be a total, all-out homage.

Spamalot though, in my opinion, can't seem to figure out which side of the coin it's fallen on. Is it a musical comedy honoring and bringing forth to a new generation the beloved jokes and gags from the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (as well as "Life of Brian" and perhaps others thrown in for good measure)? Or is it a bitter condemnation of what musical comic theater has become over the past few decades: Shlocky tripe Frankensteined from earlier source material and fed to the ignorant masses to simply garner a quick and easy profit for the producers?

I'd wanted to see this musical for years and when I went to Vegas a few years ago I was remiss to find that it had already been cancelled there even though I thought I'd read that it would stay on for a least a decade's run.

I got a postcard in the mail a couple of weeks ago as I usually do about upcoming performances for the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and it announced they were performing it this month. It took me only a few hours to think about it and since I knew I would be on vacation this week, I booked my ticket for today. Great seat, small theater where every seat is good and I was dead center 6 or 7 rows from the stage. I talked about this theater here in this review.

As expected, the 2:00 pm weekday matinee audience was pretty much the following make-up: 90% over the age of 60, 9% over the age of 85, and 1% (including me) NOT one foot in the grave. (Well, from age alone that is.) But these demographics played well for this stuff since Monty Python fans of their original BBC broadcasted stuff are pretty much in their sixties. I wasn't even a teenager when they were first on TV. The 60ish year olds would have been young adults then, able to understand the innuendos and, if inclined to appreciate it, "get" the British style humor (or should I spell it "humour?") and this show just re-kindles that 40 year love affair.

Now don't get me wrong, as I said, I didn't hate the show, but somehow I thought it would be more "up-to-date" and pertinent to our current way of life rather than rely so heavily on the well-known, but somewhat weary stuff from 40 years ago.

The first act is pretty much all old stuff. The coconut-shell hoarse hooves sounds and no real horse, the feeble search for knights, the bullet-shaped-helmuted French castle guards and their 12-year-old-humor gross out insults to Arthur and his troupe. Yes, yes, yes...I fart in your general direction. Ha Ha Ha. Was hilarious when I was 12. Now, it's more like reading Stephen King. It kinda sucks and is pretty stupid but it's comforting, like visiting an old friend.

The second act does start to bring in parody in the form of fourth wall disrespect. King Arthur is tasked to put on a Broadway musical and lo and behold, The Lady of the Lake informs him that's precisely what he's doing. The jokes get a bit more political (and perhaps for some, politically incorrect) such as the admonishment to Arthur by Galahad that he needs Jews for a successful Broadway production. And the Lancelot outing scene.

Now that did get a bit uncomfortable for me since it depicts a character, unseen until then, as an incredible over-the-top old skool stereotype of an effeminate gay guy being mistreated by his gruff, apparently disgusted father. The father even cuts a rope of sheets that our mincing prince has started to descend from outside of the castle tower's window, and we hear him fall to his apparent death. Though, of course, since this musical was written in 2004, it doesn't knowingly nod to the more recent practice of ISIS militants barbaric defenestration of suspected homosexual men in the Middle East, it sadly reminded me of such. Not a comic note.

All gags aside, the plot was pretty much non-existent, but that's also, a true Python fan would remind, is just so, well, Monty Python. Arthur and the Lady of the Lake (who turns out to be, big surprise,  Guinevere) get married and we end the whole thing by joining in a sing a long of "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."

Maybe it would have been more fitting to have a bunch of bobbies arrive on stage and command us all to go home? Meh...

Monday, September 14, 2015

Good Morning Hoomanz

Today, my first day of my mini staycation, I was required by necessity and compelled by availability to spend some "quality" time milling about for a few hours among the multitude of smelly, vile blood bags called humans (Of course, pronounced, in a disjointed, subtly-derogatory way as "HOO-manz")

6:10 AM: I leave the comfort and security of my apartment and as I walk toward my car across the parking lot, I hear a slight cough from some hooman sitting, in the pre-dawn dark of their porch. I feel like I'm being watched.

6:40 AM: I arrive at the Chevy dealership 20 minutes early for my scheduled oil change appointment. I enter the almost empty building and, having been here a few times before, knowingly pick a comfy chair in a quiet corner of the customer waiting area to hang out while waiting for the service advisers to open up shop, so to speak. The few hoomanz there pay me no mind. They won't acknowledge my presence until they're on the clock.

7:00 AM: A hooman employee approaches me and asks if I am the Spark owner. I validate his assumption as being correct. He introduces me to another hooman named Domenic, my service adviser for today. Domenic, though having my account information on his computer, never once addresses me by my name. He tries to up-sell me on some fuel additive, oil additive (er, more likely, commission additive) but I politely decline. I do state that my tires need attention though as they have repeatedly lost air to the point of tripping the tire pressure gauge on the dash more than four times since I bought it BRAND NEW only two years ago.

Domenic is a millennial hooman and as such hears only Charlie Brown's teacher-speak noises as I explain this to him. I turn over my key to him and skulk back to the waiting area where I discover the only other customer in the place, out of the 50 or 60 chair options in the vast waiting area, has chosen to take the seat I was sitting in. I humbly select another seat and obligatorily watch the TV playing the CBS This Morning Show.

7:30 AM: More hoomanz join the masses of those waiting to have their motor vehicles repaired as slowly and ineptly as hoomanly possible. They seem to take it all in stride. Now there are several around me and I think they can tell I'm not quite like them.

8:06 AM: Charlie Rose's face looks like it is fucking melting and what is with Gayle King? It looks like the make-up crew from the latest vampire flick has been hired to give her a demonic, undead blood-sucker look. Eh, maybe it's natural. I don't watch TV that often.

8:40 AM: Commercial after commercial after commercial! Oh, how I don't miss network television. Hear me now, hooman! I don't have any fucks to give about the crap you're trying to sell!

9:20 AM: Almost three hours after I arrived for my pre-scheduled and confirmed appointment, I am told I'm all set. The invoice is handed to the cashier clerk and she tells me some figure WAY above what I'd assumed. I review the invoice. The evil hooman Domenic has charged me three times what I was promised by the appointment setting telemarketer that called me to get me to agree to this day's transaction. Plus he added shit he merely mentioned he'd have his crew do and didn't indicate to me it would be an added cost. I complain earnestly to him that I was called to set this appointment, not the other way around. I get a reduction to the amount agreed upon on the phone, but I would have had to argue with this hooman to get the slippery added costs like a $20 tire rotation removed from the bill. Deciding I was too tired and frustrated to deal with it, I opted to pay the remainder and leave ASAP.

10:06 AM: I drive to Longwood via I-4, which I rarely use so it was kinda surprising to see a sign that informed motorists that construction would be commencing on the highway soon and would be projected to be completed in the year 2021. The other hoomanz on the road tire of my little car's slow speed and all angrily zoom past me.

10:11 AM: Needing to return the unwanted video card back to Amazon due to my new computer purchase, I arrive at the UPS distribution center with the prepared package in hand. What a dump! The Post Office distribution center a bit down the road is like ten times more upscale if you can believe it. Some burly black hooman, feeling perhaps over worked by the six of us in the room, rudely commands those of us waiting to drop off a package for delivery to just do so. I was waiting because the website said they need a photo ID of each shipper (Perhaps to have evidence incase someone is sending a fucking bomb or something? Sounds logical to me.) So my package, perhaps large enough to carry a dirty bomb, is left for her and her flunky hooman idiots to haplessly deliver to my destination designated on the package without any knowledge of my identity. And this dump didn't have any video surveillance either, that's for sure. Oh, to be a terrorist dealing with the ambivalent and irresponsible UPS! ALLAH ACKBAR!!

10:50 AM: I felt like shopping so I made my way to Best Buy in Altamonte to see if they had any good deals on LED gaming keyboards. As I entered the store, the millennial employee at the front kiosk (watchtower?) greeted me with a hearty (yet fake sounding) good morning. And as I browsed the aisles, another millennial employee approached me to "assist" me.

What's with this, what I consider, "old fashioned" devotion to sales pressure that the newer generation has adopted? I figure the generation before them scoffed recruitment into the capitalist slave labor techniques, the so-called Gen Xers. So throughout the late 90s and early 2000s, shoppers antagonistic to the hard sell approach got a reprieve.

But sometime in the past five to seven years or so, the Millennial Generation took over in front-end retail. Now, we hear their mouth mindlessly emit the words of their Master's sales pitch, but if you look into their eyes...they clearly have surrendered their souls. They are without hoomanity.

11:22 AM: Naturally I find my trip to Best Buy has been a waste of time and as I head home, I near Target. I have a $5 gift card for them that I've had for months so I decide to pop in. But not before some female, ponytail sporting perky cunt hooman in her snooty Toyota Prius decides that I am a pesky irritant in her way on the road. She abruptly passes me when she apparently perceives I'm driving too slow, she muscles her way to a spot closer to the entrance in the parking lot before me and deprives me of the immense joy I'd received if I would have caught up to her and let her know that she "won the race."

11:45 AM:  For some reason it seems that every tiny hooman (I guess they're called "children") and their parent was in the place. It was very noisy with the air being filled with the same admonishment from mother to child as another..."No, I said NO! I am shutting you out. You will no longer be heard!" Great, can't wait to see what freaks this generation will bring forth,.

12:12 PM: At the checkout counter, the cashier is all "ooh-ing and ah-ing" my item selections but her poor acting skills inform me that the Kristin Whig Target cashier character is not really over the top. She bags my items while undeterred in delivering her pitch to apply for a Target Red Card. I decline by sharing that I had too many credit cards as it was. I guess to a minimum wage 19-year-old, this sounds cunty. I indicate to her I'd like my 12-pack selection bagged and I actually congratulated her bagging technique (though it was actually inferior) with a slightly mocking exclamation of "Super!" I was tiring of the hoomans and she was unfortunately bearing the brunt of my almost unconscious and really unwarranted derisiveness. She repeated "Super!" directly afterward and I could discern from her tone, she was subtly mocking me. Good for her. I deserved it.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

All Hail Mildred XVI

It was time. The final straw that tipped the decision to upgrade was that my Dell XPS 8300 power supply died last night...and blew a circuit in my apartment when it did!

I was all in a frenzy thinking the rest of my hardware had been fried too but a check at a local computer reseller shop in nearby Longwood confirmed it was just the power supply unit. He replaced it with an off-the-shelf PSU (though I'd read and seen videos saying it couldn't be done for this Dell model) for $50. So she's up and running again.

Well, if she were hooked up that is. Right now she's just a dormant heavy object sitting on the floor near her successor.

I saw it on the reseller's website before I brought the Dell in and for the price, it was the best gaming rig in my budget I could find anywhere. Even if I bought the components from Newegg or Tiger Direct, I doubt I could have done better.* And with my ancient and obsolete PC building skills which were useful in the 486 days, I'd likely fuck it up and have to resign to having someone like this reseller build it for me.

Here's her specs. The CPU is an i5 which sounds like a downgrade from the Dell's i7, but it's a newer generation (Ivy Bridge) and should not impact anything adversely. In fact with her SSD drive, and fresh Windows 10 (without the baggage that the other two computers are dealing with) and much better video card, she's blazing fast!

Processor: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-3470 CPU @ 3.20GHz (4 CPUs), ~3.2GHz
Memory: 8192MB RAM
Video Card name: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760
Display Memory: 6052 MB
Drive: C:
 Free Space: 83.5 GB
Total Space: 121.6 GB
File System: NTFS
      Model: SAMSUNG SSD PM800 2.5" 1 SCSI Disk Device
Drive: D:
 Free Space: 476.8 GB
Total Space: 476.9 GB
File System: NTFS
      Model: Hitachi HDS721050CLA662 SCSI Disk Device
Motherboard: ASUS P8B75-M LGA
600W power supply
Case: Thermaltake Versa H22 Mid-tower (Black with front dual case fan green LEDs)

Price: $749.99

I called out sick for tonight, of course. I want my new queen to be ready for next week's staycation where I intend to put her through the courses indeed.

Now if only I could reconfigure the XPS into a replacement laptop for the HP which is getting decidedly worthless as time marches forward.

*EDIT: I hunted down the Newegg and Amazon prices for each of these components and I came to $974. Not factoring tax or shipping, which would easily bump the total cost over the $1,000 mark if I'd tried to build this rig myself. Um, I think I got a good deal. With tax, I paid $802.49 for it.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Crazy Is As Crazy Does

So I put this pic I made up on Imgur and I think most commenters "get it" but some actually think I'm defending the crazy bitch! I guess you gotta be familiar with the movie "Misery" and especially the quote above "There is a higher justice than that of man; I will be judged by Him." Stephen King fans, like me, know that's what Annie Wilkes says as she's tried for murder years before she meets Paul Sheldon and it's printed as a caption to a newspaper photo of her during that trial. In a pivotal and very suspenseful scene of the movie, a wheelchair-bound Paul Sheldon finds a scrapbook with the newspaper clipping in it, revealing her dark past and confirming her insanity.

Like Annie, thinking she would "benevolently" imprison Sheldon until he makes right by her beloved character Misery, doing the literary world a service by restoring him as a fantasy-romance novelist and destroying the "filthy" gritty reality-based novel he'd just finished before his car accident, this hick County Clerk and her "Holier Than Thou" attitude are eerily similar.

In this clerk's hateful mind she would deny love and defy the law to achieve what, exactly? Does she really think that she knows better than everyone else? Does she even for a second think she'll succeed in overturning a Supreme Court ruling? If she truly does, then she's just as crazy and deluded as Annie Wilkes was in "Misery" when she thought kidnapping and hobbling someone would be a plausible way to right what she saw as a wrong.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Rocket's Glare By Dawn's Early Light

Like a mashed up quote from the lyrics of our national anthem, indeed yesterday morning's launch of an Atlas rocket into space looked, like the spectacle the song depicts, simply awesome.

(Re-reading the above "sentence." Talk about a convoluted mash up.)

I snapped this pic with my phone as the plume flared up in the sky behind the Maple Building on campus. It completely was happenstance that I witnessed this launch as I hadn't known beforehand that it was scheduled. I just happened to be facing east while out doing Synthroids at 6:20am.

The cheap camera on my phone produces poorer quality pics than we see in these photos though:

Very awesome sight though and it happens to be during a coincidentally space-themed phase I'm in lately, spending almost all hours of every day either playing "Elite: Dangerous" or binge-watching "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episodes. All this space shit inspired me to change my Facebook, Google+, YouTube and this blog's profile pic/avatar to this:

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Will I Make It?

As I gushed about in the previous post, my new-fangled computer game obsession id Elite: Dangerous. Couple the cinematic drama of events in this game with an app that came with my new video card allowing me to effortlessly capture in-game video and, well, YouTube gaming channel, here I come.

In this clip I run into a bit of trouble, nearly being wiped out by two opponents only to be abandoned and nearly helpless out in deep space with only a few minutes of oxygen left. If I can just make it to the nearest space dock. Just a bit further...