We’re eating candy, that’s how depressed everyone is. This isn’t a candy household. I like the stuff fine, but the idea of having a bag of it around seems odd, and it’s been years since I bought a candy bar without feeling guilty. Not because I’d done something morally wrong, but because I would have to walk a lot to get rid of it. Or give up something else for the transitory pleasure which was now gone, leaving only a feeling of oversatiation.

Dark chocolate Milky Ways. That was the thing. I have fond memories of Zero bars, too. Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. Cold.

Halloween, sure. The rest of the time, it’s just not in the domestic mix. But there was a sale on Nut Goodies at Cub, two for a dollar - for all I know, that’s the regular price, but Two! for a dollar! sounds like a deal. I bought them for all the kids who came over on Saturday, and split them up so they didn’t go home and say “we each got a candy bar the size of a pancake!” There were two left.

I ate half the other night because it was cold. I ate the other half last night because it was still cold.

Daughter asked me tonight if I’d like to split one because, you know, school was over today. That’s a magic dispensation for all sorts of things. A Landmark, an Event. Things are bestowed, rules bent. There are no rules about Nut Goodies, but you know what I mean. I said sure. Because it’s cold.

Sweater cold. Jacket cold. Pour-me-a-bourbon-and-light-the-fire cold.

What does one do on a day like this brighten the mood?


No spoilers, because why would I? How could I be so cruel? There were two moments in the film I didn’t see coming, simply because A) I abstained from reading or watching anything about the movie a while ago, and B) I was so caught up in the thing that I couldn’t see the most obvious plot point, which not only gave me a great chill, but was followed by something that just pushed it allll over the top like a lightning bolt that shot all the way back to childhood, pausing en route to strike hard at a moment I was lucky enough to see in the theater.

As it should be. In the theater. In this case: IMAX 3-D, which I’d never seen before. The movie’s been out for an hour and I still feel as though I’ve been beaten half to death. To say it’s “immersive” isn’t quite enough; it’s like being rammed by sharks while you’re over your head in quicksand. Seeing it in IMAX 3D made my brain feel like those faces you see in G-force tests.

I kept waiting to be disappointed. I felt that way with the last one, and it never came; I sat there feeling stupidly happy as they got everything right time and time again (except for the anachronistic music in the early car-stealing scene). I watched the previous Trek movie last week to get myself back up to speed, and that was probably the third viewing; still enjoyed it.

It wasn’t Star Trek II, but what was?

So I watched that again a few nights ago, and it, too, holds up. By which I mean you still want to punch Kirk’s son in the face. Does seem odd that they built the hand-operated self-destruct mechanism into the floor of the bridge of the vessel Khan stole, though. People would trip over it.

I remember leaving the theater after “Star Trek II” in a state of absolute satisfaction, because we had just seen the best Star Trek episode ever, and it was two hours long, and it was BIG, and things blew UP, and OH GOD BAGPIPES and everything else. We could not have imagined “Into Darkness.” I’m serious: The size of the thing, the 3D, and the fact that it has a completely different set of actors and everyone’s absolutely perfect, and above all the things you see. It would make II look like “The Corbomite Maneuver” seen on a 17” TV.

Of course, "Into Darkness" is hated by serious people. And by “serious people” I mean the people who remember Star Trek as a deeply serious, intelligent, drawing-room study in interpersonal relations and speculative cogitations on the nature of mankind and its need to explore and learn. Also, miniskirts. This one is too loud and has too many explosions and the villain isn’t like that other villain who was better at being this villain and anyway, all the other ones except 5 were better. These are the people who love Star Trek so much they hate just about all of it.

(Side note: the defenders of Trek who slag on most of its manifestations are usually bound to the old suck / rocks school of critical evaulation. They give most of TNG a pass because Patrick Stewart was awesome, forgetting how many episodes felt like “wordy people driving a hotel around space dealing with bipeds with facial prosthetics.” They tend to ignore DS9, because they weren’t really into it at the time, even though the last half was just about the best TV trek ever. They hate “Voyager” for the wrong reasons - the lack of character development is skipped over because the whole thing gave off the general impression of limpness, but it earned its keep and kept the brand alive. They hate “Enterprise” because hey, Scott Bakula, saynomore amirite? But the last two seasons were excelllent, and the last one is indispensible.)

Well, to paraphrase an old saying, you go to warp with the Trek you have. Could we have a better Kirk? I don’t see how. Pine channels Shatner without ever making you miss the latter. This is not easy: imagine a Bond movie with another Scottish actor who doesn’t make you miss Connery. Pine, however, doesn’t have Shatner’s authority. This would seem to be a problem for a captain, and it would be a problem for the movie if it moved at the pace of a TV episode, but it never interfered with my enjoyment of the character or the movie. Pine’s Kirk is more impulsive, and flawed, and perhaps braver: there’s a scene before the boarding of the Dreadnaught-class vessel where he admits he’s making this up as he goes along, unsure of the outcome; he doesn’t alpha-dog the guy with whom he’s about to shoot into space, but actually copies his posture, without projecting any of the other’s confidence. The flight through the debris field is not superman-stoic but incredibly brave AND piss-your-suit terrifying. In Pine’s reading of Kirk, those are not mutually exclusive.

He says: I have no idea what I’m supposed to do. I only know what I can do. That’s not an old Kirk line.

Could we have a better Spock? Quinto’s version projects an aura of intelligence, where Nimoy’s kept it in reserve - more arrogant to human sensibilities, and perhaps thus more Vulcan - and his performance fills out the half-human side that was never shown in the originals unless some virus made everyone cry. As with Pike: these are the new guys. What’s the point in bringing it all back to life just to have the main characters do impressions? It’s all in the eyes: Nimoy’s were remote. Quinto’s are engaged.

A better Scotty? Pegg’s the only one who got the latitude to reinvent the character. A hearty Scotty who enjoyed a quiet evening with technical manuals and whisky would have been more familiar, but you don’t turn down the chance to let Pegg loose in your movie. A better Bones? Please. A better Sulu? We got a harder Sulu who’s 10X cooler.. A better Chekov? We got a better Chekov. A better Uhuru? Like the last movie, they dumped everything from the old Uhura - who, in retrospect, looks like a receptionist. They let Zoldana work the geek-melting combo of smarts and gorgeoisity and poised aloofness with just a soupcon! of endearing trepidation. And she speaks Klingon! You had me at Q’plah.

(Side note: people are always attempting to reinvent Shakespeare with innovating casting. They remake Sherlock in an American context and make Watson an Asian female. [Might be a great show; I’ve heard good things, but it’s not Sherlock. The character is British and the dynamic between the Holmes and Watson is inextricably defined by male friendship. It would be like remaking “Cagney and Lacey” and casting Dennis Franz in one of the roles.] The Trek casting, however, is bound by iron rules. Sulu must be Asian. Chekov must be Slav. Scotty must be Scottish. There are Black Vulcans; Tim Ross on “Voyager” was just great, but Spock is not Black. Uhura is Black because Nichelle Nichols was, and because the producers wanted to make a statement in 1966. If Uhura had originally been White, they would have recast her as Black for the reboot because that was the only slot open. And then congratulated themselves for doing something brave.)


Could we have a better ship? It’s the Enterprise. It never seems like it isn’t. (Like the Sovereign class.) I’ve come to appreciate the overmuscled nacelles, which is the part of the ship they either get right or screw up. They fixed up the engine room problem - you got a better sense of it as a place, although they went back to the brewery at the end, it seems. (I still can’t square the scale of the interiors with the size of the ship.)

A better bridge? Yes; needs more people sitting around the perimeter.

Could we have had a better opening scene? Look, there’s no reason the Enterprise needed to be underwater. I did not care because once you realize it’s underwater you know it’s going to surface and that’s going to be awesome -

- and that, possibly, is what irritates the serious people. They did that just because! So? Look, I thought the same thing, as long as I’m among friends; I’m thinking about overloading the structural integrity field to compensate for the hull pressure, but on the other hand, look at her come out of the water! And the Prime Directive? C’mon. In the scheme of things, so we fundamentally alter a civilization’s conception of itself in relation to its gods and the cosmos, well, it’ll all work out. Totally Kirk.

The opening scene was just a flat-out gift. It was the last ten minutes of a stand-alone episode. I watched an excerpt online, and realized how much cliche they shoveled into it: Scotty shouting that he canna guarantee, Bones barking “Dammit, Spock, we’re trying to save you,” which is a quote from “Immunity Syndrome,” I think.

A better ending? Yes; a bit too much of the last fight between Skywalker and Obi-Wan, although in this case I cared. The air leaked out in the last five minutes, but at that point I was winding down like the rest of the movie. Here’s the thing: There was a point where I thought the movie ended. And then it went in a completely different direction that ended up with the thing I really should have seen coming - which was an emotional wrench after the big horrible thing that happened after I thought it was over.

AND THEN CAME A REALLY BIG THING. All caps are necessary, because: from the start, every action sequence seems conclusively as much as they can possibly do, and each subsequent sequence improves and varies the scale.

A better middle? It could have paused for breath. If it had stopped and talked, had a few scenes in the Captain’s Quarters for a drink and a conversation that included lines like “Jim, I think this situation puts us all in danger,” it would have scored higher among the purists, particularly those who seem to remember every talky scene in “Next Generations” as lapidary masterpieces of tautly written suspense and story advancement, but the whole point of this thing was giving the characters and hence the audience no time to think. So it’s dumb! Brainless! No. It was . . . what’s the word I’m looking for? Exciting, perhaps. Thrilling, to use a word no one says seriously anymore.

Let me put it this way, without spoilers. I should have known what was coming a few times, and I didn’t, because it carried me along every second of the way. The big boo-hoo scene wasn’t as powerful as the source material, simply because you’d gotten two big clues why this wasn’t going to turn out the same way, and besides, it just couldn’t. Back then, at the time, that was that; for all we knew this was the end of the story. But I sat in the theater today, a middle-aged man on a rainy day watching the latest telling of a childhood fable, full of joy and gratitude, and that scene still had punch. Not because it was old. Because it was new.

I remember being eleven. Watching the last episode. (Which happened June 3, 44 years and a day.) Feeling bereft because it would never come back. I remember a few years later, a bit older than my daughter is now, watching Star Trek on afternoon TV before I went to do my paper route. Over and over, noting the differences in the seasons (the typography for episode titles changed between seasons one and two), waiting for my favorite episodes, enduring the dumb ones. I remember looking at TV Guide and seeing that it had been replaced by Bewitched, or something. The dry years: novels, comic books, fanzines, hopeless pointless campaigns to bring it back. And now I’m walking out of IMAX 3D drained and punchy -

I turned on my phone and got a text. My phone is configured so the text alert is a standard-issue Communicator beep. Because I’m a dork. A nerd.

Going back with my daughter this weekend. There will come a moment when a character shouts a certain word. That will be, for her, the defining expression of that sentiment, that villain, that character, that moment. Isn’t that interesting? One day she’ll learn what it meant, how far back it goes. It’s not an internet meme after all. Oh, us grups may shout it as a joke now and then, but when we first heard it? Goosebumps. And when we heard it again in the impossible year of 2013: Chills. Again.




Who's up for some angst-ridden self-doubting Kirk confessing his problems to Mike Brady?



What's redeemable about this? That they didn't make Phase II.


Minneapolis update today, done in the new style. Oh yes this means I have to redo the entire Minneapolis site again, sort of. Kind of.

And the usual usual here and there. See you around!



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