Monday, October 16, 2017

Star Trek grows up

So, 'Star Trek - Discovery's' episode "Choose Your Pain" crossed two thresholds last night. One, not exactly welcome and the other, a "it's about time!" historic moment.

The first, I alluded to last night. Cadet Tilly unleashed the f-bomb. If that wasn't enough. Lt Paul Stamet did so as well.

No judgment from me. It would be disingenuous for any of us to pretend we've never said it ourselves. Hell, I am a Sailor; you've surely heard the adage "cuss like a Sailor." In the past, 'Battlestar Galactica' got around it by saying 'frak.' But let's be serious, we ALL knew what they meant.

Some Star Trek fans have expressed their displeasure about the new series (for a variety of reasons). I will be the first to admit 'Discovery' is "not your father's 'Star Trek." In my opinion, this is a good thing.

By the time that 'Star Trek - Enterprise' met its untimely and unwarranted cancellation a lot of Trekkers (or if you prefer Trekkies) seemed to have grown weary of a continued presences of TREK for 18 years non-stop. Today's TREK is a bit more brusk, a bit darker, and now, a bit more adult.

The second threshold was one that 'Star Trek' has struggled with for a least three decades. In the 1980s, Gene Roddenberry himself promised that 'Star Trek's' inclusivity meant everybody, yet for gay Trekkers that promise seemed pretty hollow.

At a 'Star Trek' convention, Roddenberry promised fans that yes, gay people are valued members of the Federation and serving in Star Fleet.

Rick Berman, producer of the series, and torchbearer after Roddenberry's death in 1992 pretty much refused to let that promise see the light of day.

In 1991, 'Star Trek - The Next Generation' aired "The Host." In it, Dr. Crusher fell in love with Odon, a Trill mediator. In this story, we are 1) introduced to the Trill race and 2) learn they are a symbiotic race where the body plays host to sentient intelligence that is transplanted from one host to the next. When Odon, the host's body is damaged, an emergency transplant is performed to save the Trill symbiot.

Riker acts as a temporary host, but when a "permanent" host is delivered, the Trill host is a female, and this is a bridge that Dr. Crusher could not cross. No judgment here. A person is who they are, something Crusher rightly points out.

In subsequent years, TREK flirted with gay themes, always as a metaphor. They almost, almost, crossed the bridge in a DS9 episode involving Lt. Cmdr Jadzia Dax. BUT we have never seen an actual gay human on Star Trek. That is, not until last night.

Berman was always quick to point out that the TNG episode "The Outcast" was really about homosexuality. Thing is, we fans did not want a metaphor. We wanted TREK to boldly go.

Even we gay fans have wondered how to broach the subject and not do it in a way that smacked of tokenism. David Gerrold, one of my favorite authors, wrote an unproduced (at least on the "official" show) script entitled "Blood and Fire" that Roddenberry promised would be filmed. When Roddenberry died, Gerrold and his script found themselves "handed a hat" and walked unceremoniously out the door, not to return to the series again.

"Blood and Fire" included a gay couple.

Last night, we saw Lt. Paul Stamets and his mate Dr. Hugh Culber in a perfectly right-at-home moment in their quarters while brushing their teeth. Their conversation made it perfectly clear to us they are a couple. Hell, who knew that Star Fleet personnel wore pajamas in their off-duty hours? It was a ...

Perfectly innocent, perfectly human moment.

It's about damned time!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


9/11 is over. I purposefully did not post anything about the anniversary of the attack yesterday. Why not?

We are all aware of the events of that tragic day. It was a horrible day and deserves remembrance, but I think, and I sure don't have an answer for this, I think our nation is grieving--and rightly so--but it seems to me every year on this date we rip a band-aid off of a physical and psychic wound.

I do not see how we can possibly heal as a nation when we do this. Maybe it is too soon. Heck, we still remember Pearl Harbor Day, 76 years distant, so what do I know?

I certainly am not suggesting we forget the events of that day, nor do I lay fault for any who feel a need to express their grief. What I fear is people using the day as a political soapbox or to raise a dagger of fearmongering.

All I am saying is I think we need to find a different way to honor and remember those we lost. 

What do you think?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What moral equivalence?

I don't know about the rest of you, but I felt a sick feeling in my stomach as I watched all those men (and a scant few women) marching, chanting with their arms raised in a fashion best reminiscent of the Nazis. I am certain you share my feelings of horror watching these thugs marching down Charlottesville's sidewalks, torches in hand, chanting "my land, not yours. No more Jews." 

What the hell? My paternal Grandfather Robert Mappin answered the call, served, fought and was injured in WWII's Battle of the Bulge. My friend Beth's father served as well. My ex-wife's father joined the Army at age 15. Like so many of our parents, aunts and uncles and grandparents--and millions of others--they served to defend the principles we have long held dear. 

Equally galling was listening to Mr. Trump's saying "both sides are the same, both sides are to blame." Instead of calling out the Neo Nazis and white supremacists, he called some of them "good people" defending their beliefs. A President's duty is to take a stand against hate and intolerance. 

Our men and women fought against the Axis Forces, the ultimate tool of death and hatred. For Mr. Trump to compare white supremacists and Neo Nazis to freedom fighters is beyond outrage. 

A moral equivalence? 

After being pressured by Congress and thousands of Americans to say more, to take a firm stand, it took Trump two full days to denounce the homegrown terrorists. 

All was good, right? No. Mr. Trump took a stand against hate... And then, the next day, he practically retracted it all, repeating his original rants, laying the blame on both sides. 

I think every man and woman who has served in our Armed Forces felt incensed seeing these behaviors displayed by these thugs in Charlottesville. Is this what we fought for, served for, to see such an insidious movement gaining a toehold here on our very shores? Makes me ill.  

Have we learned NOTHING? 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The voice of our childhoods

June Foray died yesterday.

She was 99 years old, just two months shy of being 100. For the younger generation, who will surely say, "who?" I feel a little sad for you all.

For those who remember Tweety bird's grandmotherly owner, yes her (June). For those who remember the "Flintstone's" first Betty Rubble (I do not), yes, that was June. Duddley Doo-Right's girlfriend Nell? Yep, her too! 

BUT her main claim to fame was her voicing the classic Rocky the Flying Squirrel--of "Rocky and Bullwinkle" fame... oh, and she was also the voice of Rocky's Russian nemesis, Natasha. AND she was the voice of Cindy Lou Who in the classic animated "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

I imagine Ms. Foray did more voices than any of us can remember. In her 2009 aptly titled autobiography “Did You Grow Up With Me, Too?” she detailed her lifelong love of animation and film.

Foray was married to Bernard Barondess from 1941 to 1945. She was married to Hobart Donavan from 1954 until his death in 1976.

The world will be a little sadder knowing Foray is no longer with us.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Twitter? Or is it Twit-in-Chief

I find it a mixture of amusement and horrifying disdain that so many people are willing to side with the current inhabitant who is destroying our White House... and our country.

This morning, the Donald's twitter feed announced the military's new policy that would turn out or away transgender citizens wanting to serve in our nation's Armed Forces. 

Why should I even be surprised? The Donald has diligently worked to undo every policy from the Obama Administration.

1) What could a man who had five deferments from military service during the Vietnam War possibly know about serving one's country? Sorry, Donald, but going to a military academy as a youth does not make you an expert on serving one's country.

2) A lot of people are arguing that the military should not be subject to a "damned liberal social experiment." Hmmmm, I am sure a lot of people used that very argument when President Harry "the buck stops here" Truman desegregated the Armed Forces back in the 1950s. In retrospect, that seems to have worked out pretty well for us. I have a good many friends who benefitted his foresight.

3) 18 other countries have wrestled with AND resolved this issue long ago, so why do we always have to be the last nation to come to our senses?

4) I have a good friend who served our Navy well who joined when he was 19 years old. The Navy drummed her out of the service when they discovered he was a transgender woman. His Commanding Officer, his Lead Petty Officer and Chief all testified what a good Sailor she was. 

Didn't matter, regulations are regulations. The thousands of dollars spent on her training was all for naught and the Navy lost a good Sailor... Point is, there are a lot of good people serving OR who want to serve who now are looking at this prospect as a dim dream (in my humble opinion, the only confusion here should be the pronoun disagreements).

5) For obvious reasons, I have a strong belief that minorities, be it women, transgender, gay, lesbian, Muslim faith, Blacks, Hispanics and anyone else who want to serve our country should be allowed to do so.