Random (but not really)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Don’t Yuck My Yum

I read an article that voiced something I’ve seen in so very many sub-cultures: the hatred of things once they become popular because popular can’t possibly be good.

I think music might give the best example, just because I can so clearly hear the things people said about so very many bands.

1. Oh, I love (obscure band). You haven’t heard of them?
2. I saw (now up and coming band) back when they first started.
3. Ugh. (Now popular band) totally sold out. I hate all their new stuff.

Yes, sometimes good bands put out lousy follow-up albums. Some artists change things up and so every album is different which means what you loved about one album may not be in a later album (See: Prince). But usually it was the same music and only popularity tainted it and made it unpalatable.

The same thing happens with books of course (hence the original article catching my attention).

The fantasy books (and mysteries) I love are typically looked down upon because they aren’t “serious literature”. I never believed that about fantasy, though I did look down upon romance novels for decades. However, that was due to my introduction to the genre, which was full of rape, and the fact that I just don’t care for boinking in books, and the romances I came across were full of it. (“UGH. They’re kissing again. Can we get back to the sword-fighting and cat burglary?”)

I eventually got over that, because there were so very many really good stories I was missing out on solely because they were kissing books, although I still skim the boinking bits to get back to the crime solving or whatever.

And of course the same happens with movies. If it’s popular we have to look down upon it for it cannot be “good”.

Whatever. Give me my explosions and car chases and you can watch whatever “artistic” stuff you want. And don’t even get me started about the bullshit that happens at cons with “fake gamers” and “you’re not a real fan if you don’t know every bit of minutia” crap that is almost always directed at females.

The fact is, hating things solely because they are popular doesn’t make you cooler or show better taste. It just means you’re an asshole.

There are plenty of books I’ve hated, and some genres of music I absolutely cannot stand. But the fact that I dislike something does not make it inherently bad, it just means I prefer other stuff. Sure I’ll still complain about how much I dislike opera and I flat out won’t read dystopias because they make me feel terrible. But if you like opera or dystopias: good for you!

If someone has found something that makes them happy, that is AWESOME! We need more happy in the world.

I like what I like. If you don’t agree with me, I’m delighted to discuss why “I hate all those high notes that sound like screeching”. Just don’t try to tell me something sucks solely because it’s popular. Because that’s elitist bullshit and I’m completely uninterested.

Hating Popular Books Does Not Make You Superior: A Lesson Learned

Written by Michelle at 4:32 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Geek,Movies & TV,music  

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Re-Watching Deep Space Nine: It’s the Little Things

One of the things I enjoy about Deep Space Nine is the banter between the characters. I think it starts with running jokes about Dax being a terrible gossip, then we start to see Dax gossiping with Kira and quite soon we see short bits of back and forth, and I love those bits.

But the other thing we get with the scenes is in the background, the little things that allow a space station or fighter ship to function.

Take this scene:

Chief O’Brien: Dilithium matrix is aligned and calibrated. – Just be a bit more careful, that’s all I ask.
Colonel Kira: Opening antimatter injector ports. – Trouble in paradise?
Doctor Bashir: It was nothing. – Emergency life support and damage control systems standing by.
Chief O’Brien: I wouldn’t call it nothing.
Lieutenant Ezri Dax: Autonomous guidance system initialized and active.
Chief O’Brien: He lost Travis.
Colonel Kira: Hm – sounds serious. – Verify astrometric database.
Doctor Bashir: Miles built this Alamo model, replete with small figures. Quite spectacular, actually. – Data sets loaded and verified. – Anyway, he was showing it to me in Quark’s when we – rather I – accidentally misplaced Colonel Travis.
Nog: Phaser safeties engaged. – Can’t you make another one?
Chief O’Brien: What, so he can lose it again? – Field stabilizers online.
Colonel Kira: Well, that’s what happens when you share your toys. – Synchronizing warp plasma flow…
Chief O’Brien: It’s not a toy! It’s a model, built to scale.
Doctor Bashir: He really did a fantastic job.
Chief O’Brien: Nacelles holding at pre-warp threshold.

These scenes feel real–the conversations people would have while going through checklists or other regular tasks. They’re taking the tasks seriously, but they are also joking around and teasing each other and generally being normal people.

It’s something that was brought up in the episode “In the Pale Moonlight” where they are trying to create a fake meeting between Damar and Weyoun.

GARAK: That’s it. Freeze programme. That’s all the new material. The rest of the programme plays exactly as you saw it before. What do you think?
SISKO: It’s better. They seem more real.
GARAK: Yes, and all I had to do was add a little petty bickering and mutual loathing.
TOLAR: So, you are happy?
SISKO: It’s satisfactory.

It’s the similar principle that makes me love the scenes of teasing and general chatter between the characters on DS9. It makes them seem like real people.

It’s a tiny thing, but I it delightful.

Written by Michelle at 8:21 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Movies & TV  

Friday, February 23, 2018

Rewatching Deep Space Nine: Now I’m Sure

We just finished season five and are into season six and I always seem to forget just how good season six is.

Let’s start with one of the best episodes of the story arc, Rocks and Shoals.

Kira, Odo, Quark, and Jake are on the station with Dukat, Damar, and Weyoun. Worf is off with Martok, and everyone else is fighting a losing war with the Dominion. Sisko et al crash a disabled Jem’Hadar ship after destroying the reserves of the drug the Jem’Hadar require.

You can’t really watch this episode without having watched most of season five and the season six opener, because almost everything important here is built upon prior events and interactions. Which is of course what makes it so good–it’s not a solitary episode, but a story which has been building for the previous two seasons.

The two main story arcs are Kira dealing with her position on the station and working with the Dominion, and the crew dealing with a crashed Jem’Hadar crew and their vorta.

Kira’s story sees her realizing that she has all but become a collaborator with the Cardassians. There are two important sequences where we see Kira walking up, looking at herself in the mirror and heading to ops to start her day. Its the second sequence, when she realizes that she cannot live with herself that is so powerful–she goes through the same motions, but it is clear that she is distressed and disturbed. It’s a perfect portrayal of her inward turmoil.

Vedek Yassim: Can’t you see what is happening to you? You’re becoming an apologist for them, a defender of evil. What will it take to make you act, Kira, to stop accepting them, and start fighting back?

Major Kira: Vedek – you just don’t understand.

Vedek Yassim: You are right, I don’t. Maybe tomorrow… we will both understand.

But the main story is the crew dealing with the Vorta and the Jem’Hadar. Sisko’s goal is to keep his crew alive, but to do so he has to deal with the Vorta who is, at best, untrustworthy.

Captain Sisko: Keevan doesn’t deserve the unwavering loyalty you’re giving him.

Remata’Klan: He does not have to earn my loyalty, Captain. He has had it from the moment I was conceived. I am a Jem’Hadar. He is a Vorta. It is the order of things.

Captain Sisko: Do you really want to give up your life for ‘the order of things’?

Remata’Klan: It is not my life to give up, Captain. And it never was.

It isn’t the first time we see Sisko doing unpalatable things for the greater good, but it’s this episode that sets the stage for what is one of the best episodes of the show, In the Pale Moonlight.

Unlike Next Generation, where everything is black and white, much of not most of DS9 is shades of grey. Sisko has to keep his deal with the Vorta to keep his crew alive and get them back to Federation space. Kira has to deal with Weyoun and Dukat to keep Bejor safe. And it’s these explorations of the grey that makes this show so good. Because regardless of what Gene Roddenberry wanted to believe, people will never be wholly good. Life will never be black and white.

People lie for good reasons: for love, for hate, for fear. Evil isn’t some over-the-top madman rubbing his hands together in maniacal glee, but a father trying to do what is best for his children and his country. Evil is small compromises made to hold things together that slowly build up into a monstrosity.

It’s what makes the show so fascinating and so very good. You can hate Dukat and see the madness in him, yet you can also see how he truly believes he is doing what is best. Some of it may be delusional, but it’s the thread of reason that makes him so fascinating and makes you understand why he does what he does, even if what he does is awful.

The other thing that makes the show so good is that the secondary characters have been build up so strongly and so well that they can easily hold their own. Garak and Nog and Dukat all have complex and interesting backstories that make them just as fascinating as the main characters.

Chief O’Brien: There are rules, Garak, even in a war.

Garak: Correction. Humans have rules in war. Rules that tend to make victory a little harder to achieve, in my opinion.

And on top of all that, the cinematography and direction in this episode are incredible. I already mentioned the scenes with Kira, but the fight scene with the Jem’Hadar is even stronger. Avery Brooks and Michael Dorn and Nan Visitor and Terry Farrell all have a tremendous physicality that is well-used, but here we see Nog and O’Brien and especially Garak in a way we rarely do–looking serious and deadly. Garak isn’t that much of a surprise, since his background is so complicated, but throughout the show we generally see O’Brien as an engineer rather than a fighter, and Nog–well, Nog has come a very long way since his first episode, and you can really see that here as well.

This is, basically, where everything came together and there isn’t a scene here I don’t love, or that doesn’t give you something.

And it’s probably, the first time we watched all seven seasons in order (very long story there) where I fell completely in love with the series.

Written by Michelle at 10:02 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Movies & TV  

Monday, February 19, 2018

Rewatching Deep Space Nine: Weakness and Darkness

One of the things I especially love about DS9 is how it willingly went into dark places with eyes wide open.

We just rewatched Nor the Battle to the Strong which is a favorite, even though it is one of the more difficult episodes to watch.

In the episode Jake is traveling back from a conference with Dr Bashir when they get a distress call from a colony under attack. Jake convinces Bashir that it’s more important to go help people than to get him (Jake) back safe to the station.

The situation quickly goes bad, and Jake is faced with how to deal with an attack without his father there to protect him.

In this show Jake sees precisely what triage means, he sees people die, and none of it is pretty or clean. (1) But most importantly, we Jake’s first reaction to being caught in a battle: to run away. That fear and terror is something you’d never see on the previous shows where everyone is strong and brave except for the occasional secondary character who exists simply to make everyone else look better. (2) Jake gets a second chance, but although he doesn’t run away, his fear is just as evident. He doesn’t magically become strong and brave—he remains terrified and unsure of himself. It’s a lesson very rarely seen (especially at the time the show ran): that war is loud and confusing and people don’t naturally react with bravery, and that people don’t get to walk away unscathed. (3)

I keep turning it over in my head. The shelling. Losing sight of Bashir. Running. And I keep trying to make sense of it all – to justify what I did. But when it comes down to it there’s only one explanation: I’m a coward!

As I said, it’s not an easy episode to watch, but like so many others in this show, it feels real. It’s dirty and loud and ugly and bloody and there are no easy resolutions.

More than anything, I wanted to believe what he was saying. But the truth is, I was just as scared in the hospital as I’d been when we went for the generator. So scared, that all I could think about was doing whatever it took to stay alive. Once that meant running away, and once it meant picking up a phaser.

I think what makes the show work so well is that Jake is so clearly a civilian. He has never wanted to join Starfleet, he has no training, and although he has been at the scenes of battles, he was sheltered and protected and rescued. He shouldn’t be expected to react with bravery, because in such situations he’s been trained to seek shelter and protection with other civilians.

I think Dr Bashir’s reaction is just as important, when he is berating himself for the danger Jake is in. He briefly forgets that Jake is still a teenager and doesn’t have the training he (Bashir) and the other members of Starfleet have. He may be taller now, but he’s still young. Bashir feels that he’s gotten Jake killed for that lapse, and more importantly, he doesn’t blame Jake, but reacts with concern and compassion.

Throughout the series, we see the members of the station and the Defiant constantly running battle drills—a reminder that it takes practice and work and repetition to keep things together during chaos. It says that heroism may perhaps be a state of mind, but it is also the result of hard work. That weakness and fear are just as (if not more) common and expecting otherwise is not just unrealistic, but foolish.

(1) These aren’t the first ugly deaths in DS9, The Ship also sees Dax, Sisko, Worf, and O’Brien watch a crewmate slowly die from his injuries because they lack proper treatment for him.

(2) Kudos to Cirroc Lofton for this episode. There was a lot to carry on his young shoulders, and he did an incredible job portraying Jake’s fear, anger, and shame.

(3) Another thing DS9 did really well was introducing secondary characters several seasons before they are killed. The character of Muniz had speaking parts in three different episodes in two different seasons before The Ship.

Written by Michelle at 11:15 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Geek,Movies & TV  

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Rewatching Deep Space Nine: Family Matters

We’ve been re-watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine recently.

The first seasons we mostly listened to while we played on our computers, but we’ve reached the point where things are getting very interesting. And complicated

We’ve already watched several of my favorite episodes, and they’ve reminded me precisely why I love this show so very much.

Let’s start with what is, hands down, my favorite episode, The Visitor. (Chances are I’ll start crying as I write this, since I always cry when watching it.)

In the story we discover that after Sisko disappears in an accident, Jake has spent his life trying to figure out how to bring his father back. The entire story is based upon the love a son feels for his father, but what makes it so good is that you believe it. The episodes building up to this episode have all shown how close the two are, how much they mean to each other, but most importantly, how vital this relationship is to both of them.

Whenever we see the two of them together, Sisko is hugging Jake or kissing him on the head or generally treating Jake as a beloved child. We also see them bickering over typical misunderstandings. We see Jake rolling his eyes when his father tells him something Jake believes he’s outgrown. We see Jake choosing to spend time with his friend(s) over his father. And we see Jake getting into trouble and Sisko making sure he deals with the consequences of his actions.

All of which is why this episode works so well: because these are two people who very clear care about each other. I’ve read multiple reports that Avery Brooks became a father figure to Cirroc Lofton, and love that comes through clearly whenever you see the two together on the screen.

But more importantly, they are written as a father and son. One of the things that irritated me most about ST:TNG is that I never believed the parent-child relationship between Dr Crusher and Wesley. I don’t blame that on the acting of the two, but upon the writing of the scenes. It’s like they made an idealized parent-child relationship that had no bearing on any reality ever.

However, in DS9 not only do you have a strong relationship between Jake and his father, but we also see O’Brien doting on Molly (I love the scene where she throws up on him (Fascination)) and Keiko and Miles having the typical arguments you see in strong marriages—and how they work past those problems.

The show has multiple families that behave like families: they bicker and nag and whine yet very obviously care for each other.

We get the same feeling when we see other family members of other characters: when Sisko visits earth, his relationship with his father (Brock Peters) is very similar to his relationship with Jake. He nags his father about his health. His father gripes about the nagging, yet we still see the affection.

Even more complex is an episode we haven’t re-watched yet, which is Bashir’s interactions with his parents. That’s another favorite episode, because that relationship is so very complicated, yet it still feels completely real—that actual parents would behave as Bashir’s parents did, sacrificing to give their son the best they could. And what is even more interesting is that complexity is glimpsed long before we meet those characters are learn about Bashir’s past. We see it in a throw-away line in season 4’s Homefront: O’Brien asks Odo to check on his parents, and when Odo asks Bashir if he would like him to check up on anyone, Bashir looks extremely uncomfortable and declines politely.

Even the relationship between Nog, Quark, and Rom matures as the show progresses and Rom steps out from his brother’s shadow, and although the initial episode with their mother is not one I particularly like, we still see complicated relationships between the three. And I adore the scene where Rom realizes Quark has sabotaged Nog’s Academy entrance exam. As well as the scene where Nog breaks down while explaining to Sisko why he wants to go to the Academy.

These are all characters who have depth and pasts and wants and needs and even if you don’t always see them on the surface, you still know they’re there. As flat as someone of these characters were in the first season, they all develop and grow and become far more than they first seem.

All of which means I ended up caring very much what happened to these characters, feeling their hurts and also feeling their joys.

It’s also one of the reasons why so many years later this show is still as relevant and touching as it was when it first came out.

Written by Michelle at 10:42 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Geek,Movies & TV  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The Ultimate Science Fiction And Fantasy Showdown

1. Malcom Reynolds (Sorry Han)
2. Scooby Gang
3. Doctor Who (duh)
4. No opinion
5. Sherlock Holmes
6. Marvin the Paranoid Android (I’m so depressed)
7. No opinion
8. Sarah Connor (I love kick-ass chicks)
9. Starbuck
10. Luke (I can’t help it. Sorry.)
11. Daleks
12. Arthur Dent (How is that even a contest?)
13. As much as I want to say MULTI-PASS, I have to go with River Tam
14. Hermoine (that one was closer)
15. No opinion
16. Uhhh… Avengers?

Written by Michelle at 9:08 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Movies & TV,Non-Sequiturs  

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Women Fighters in Reasonable Armour

If you haven’t seen this site yet, you really need to check it out.

Women Fighters in Reasonable Armour

And this one too!

Written by Michelle at 10:14 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Movies & TV,Non-Sequiturs  
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