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Thursday, February 27, 2014

My Issues with First Contact

I have a problem with the movie Star Trek: First Contact.  Actually, I have several, and I wanted to lay it all out here.  First of all, let me just state that I have no problem with people liking the movie.  That has no effect on me at all.  I just can’t watch it because I can’t forget what has come before.  So here are my issues.

1.       Zephram Cochrane – In The Original Series episode “Metamorphosis”, Cochrane is shown as being an independent person.  He wanted to die in space and left, at the age of 87, to go out into the galaxy on his own.  He has been on the asteroid for around 150 years and has managed to survive, with the help of The Companion, but he can’t leave.  The Cochrane portrayed in the movie, however, is a drunk and a coward.  There is no way that someone like this would have gone into space, alone, as an old man.  He doesn’t even want to launch his own ship until the TNG crew goads him into it.  Yes, people can change, but not THAT much.

2.       The Borg Queen – Up to this point, the Borg have been shown as a collective, with one hive mind that works jointly between all of the members.  They are so powerful that they overwhelm Picard in “The Best of Both Worlds” and it is extremely difficult for the crew of the Enterprise to get him back.  In First Contact, though, this is all thrown out and they show that there is a single personality in control of everything.  It does not work, at all, with the previously established idea of what the Borg were.

3.  The Prime Directive – I understand the idea of the movie is making sure that the Borg do not prevent Cochrane’s flight and, therefore, the Vulcans discovering humanity is advanced enough to contact.  However, why can’t that be accomplished without beaming down and DIRECTLY influencing the events?  All this preaching from TNG about why they shouldn’t interfere, especially in time travel, was thrown out the window with this movie.

4.       The Vulcans – Since the events of the bulk of the movie take place before the Federation and, therefore, before the Prime Directive or First Contact Protocols have been established, why would the Vulcans bother to investigate?  And even if they do decide, why would they land?  Wouldn’t it be more logical to study the planet with sensors rather than hope that they won’t be attacked on sight?

5.       The Holodeck – Alright, with all of the holodeck problems that the Enterprise crew has endured, WHY would they have a way to turn the safeties off and make real, deadly bullets!?!?!?!  That makes no sense, in universe.  In fact, the safeties on the new ship’s holodeck should be hard wired in and unable to be turned off!

Alright, I think that’s enough for my blood pressure.  Do you want to refute any of these?  Agree with me?  Add to the list?  Either leave a comment or send me an e-mail at

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Homage vs Rip-Off

Are you ready for a rant?  If not, skip this post.

Maybe it's the fact that I am mentally about 30 years older than I am physically (meaning that I'm mentally a crotchety 68 year-old), or it's the headache I have had for the past couple of weeks, or even the podcasts I've been listening to, but I thought I'd post my thoughts on what the difference is between an Homage and a Rip-Off.  First, some definitions from

hom·age  [hom-ij, om-]  Show IPA
  1. respect or reverence paid or rendered: In his speech he paid homage to Washington and Jefferson.
  2. the formal public acknowledgment by which a feudal tenant or vassal declared himself to be the man or vassal of his lord, owing him fealty and service.
  3. the relation thus established of a vassal to his lord.
  4. something done or given in acknowledgment or consideration of the worth of another: a Festschrift presented as an homage to a great teacher.
rip·off  [rip-awf, -of]  Show IPA
noun Slang.
  1. an act or instance of ripping off another or others; a theft, cheat, or swindle.
  2. exploitation, especially of those who cannot prevent or counter it.
  3. a copy or imitation.
  4. a person who rips off another or others; thief or swindler.
Today we will be concerning ourselves with the bold definitions as they relate to the entertainment industry.  Do you know what the difference is?  In my opinion, whether or not you liked the final product.  Let's use Star Trek for some examples.
  • Those that like JJ Abrams' Star Trek movies would call "Into Darkness" an homage to the original series and movies.  Those that don't would call it a rip-off of The Wrath of Kahn.
  • Those that like The Next Generation would say that "The Naked Now" is an homage to The Original Series episode "The Naked Time".  Those that don't would call it a rip-off of the same.  (Personally, I consider it a sequel.)
  • Those that like Deep Space Nine will take it for what it is, a Gunsmoke version of The Original Series' Wagon Train.  That don't like it will see it as a rip-off of Babylon 5.
  • Those that like Voyager will take the show as a struggle for a Starfleet Ship to both get home and explore a strange part of the galaxy.  Those that don't like it will see it as a rip-off of Lost in Space.
So, to paraphrase Obi-Wan, it all depends on your point of view.  My point of view, however, is that the entertainment industry as a whole, and Hollywood in particular, needs to work on some original ideas.  Did any really need a remake of The Poseidon Adventure?  And what was the point of making Titanic when A Night to Remember already existed?  You want to do your own spin on Robocop?  No problem, just don't remake the original, do your own thing.

A good friend of mine, Sean Strain, has written a mob movie and, unlike everyone else since the Godfather, he based it in Maryland.  It is a fully original piece, called Spit Boys by the way, and while it does the basic "war between the families" thing, he puts a new spin on it.  It's not just a Godfather or Goodfellas rip-off, or even an homage, but <gasp> something new!  Is it really that hard to come up with something new now a days?  Does everything have to be a rehash of something else?

OK, rant over.  I just had to get that out of my system.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled geekiness.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Now With 100% More Podcast!

Yeah, you read that right.  I've started my own podcast, because 3 blogs wasn't enough for my ego, apparently.  I'm planning on making this a monthly thing, but I won't guarantee what part of the month.  I'm still very new to this, and there are other things in the works, so new episodes will hit when they hit.  For now, please check out The Hammer Podcasts! - Episode 1

In other news, you might have noticed that there's a much easier to pronounce domain name at the top of your browser.  That's right, the blog is now officially on  A touch easier to remember and communicate.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thor’s Day – Thor #345

Today we’ll be looking back at a classic comic from my collection.

Series:                                Thor (Volume 1)
Issue:                                  345
Title:                                   “That was no lady!”
Art & Story:                       Walter Simonson
Colors:                                Christie Scheele
Lettering:                            John Workman, Jr.
Editing:                                Mark Gruenwald
Editor In Chief:                   Jim Shooter
Cover:                                 Walter Simonson

We open in the office of Dr. Willis as he calls his blonde secretary, Miss Ordway, into his office, where he promptly grabs her and ties her to a chair.  Once bound and gagged, Dr. Willis expounds on the nature of mortals and the tastiness of McBurgers, although he prefers the fries.  Dr. Willis ungags Miss Ordway, pinches her nose and force feeds her the McBurger.  We cut to two cops walking down the street in front of the office and talking about how a woman who pushed a man in front of a train for leering at her will get acquitted because of her great legs where they hear a scream.  The bust into the office and find Dr. Willis, alone, but the room shows signs of a struggle.  Miss Ordway’s clothes, identified by the janitor, tied to a chair and covered in dust.  The janitor says that he didn’t see her leave and Dr. Willis is arrested on suspicion of murder.

Later that day, in Central Park, Sigurd Jarlson (aka The Mighty Thor) and Melodi (aka Lorelei) are taking in the sights and a carriage ride.  Thor has no idea of who Melodi really is, but she knows Thor all too well, and is plotting on how to get him to drink her Golden Mead and fall under her spell.

At the police station, Willis is in a cell and one of the cops, an Officer Rosie Grier, talks to him and then calls someone.  It seems that she is in cahoots with Miss Ordway, whom she calls Sheila, and they had Willis under observation.  Grier is given new orders, which she doesn’t like, and then brings in cookies for the rest of the precinct.  Willis suspects Grier because of her aura and she confirms his suspicions.  It turns out that she, Ordway and now the rest of the cops are now soulless slaves to Willis’ deadliest enemy.  Her master, however, has decided to be merciful.  If Willis eats the “unmortal wafers” and becomes a slave, he will not be killed.  Otherwise, the Wild Hunt will be called down upon him.  She leaves Willis to make his decision.

Across town we look in on Mr. Strother, of the Law Offices of Strother and Martin, as he receives news of Dr. Willis’ arrest.  Strother is concerned that no one knows where Willis is being held and asks his secretary to get a courier to deliver a package to Long Island.  It turns out that Strother, an old friend of Willis, has instructions to carry out if Willis were ever to disappear.  He goes to his safe and takes out a package, hoping that he’s not too late.

In Asgard, Balder has reached the endless desert and has let Silverhoof, his horse, free to go home.  He makes his way down a cliff and into the sands, but not alone.

Back on Earth, Sigurd and Melodi arrive at Melodi’s apartment and she has turned it up to eleven.

On Long Island, the messenger has delivered the package to Roger, a gentleman in his late 50’s.  He reads the letter, from his father, about what needs to be done.  It appears that they have never been close, but Roger is believed to be “…the kind of man who will see what must be done … and do it.”  Roger takes out a semi-automatic pistol, puts it in his belt and heads for the Long Island Railroad to go into the city.

Back in his cell, Willis has discovered a misplaced French Fry and forms a plan.  He tosses the cookies out the window and tricks Grier into thinking that he’s now one of them.  This gets him close enough to stick the fry in her mouth and she combusts, leaving her clothes and, more importantly, her keys.  Willis takes a bus out to Long Island to see Roger.  He is hopeful that he has lost those after him, but as the bus pulls away a car starts and the chase begns.

In Melodi’s apartment she goes to prepare Sigurd a special drink.  He takes the opportunity to call Avengers’ Mansion to check his messages, and Jarvis tells him that a Mr. Strother called and left a message for Thor.  The message included a name that greatly upsets Sigurd and he rushes out.  In an alley he takes Mjolnir out his bag and slams it on a wall, changing into the guise of Thor once more.  Thor takes to the skies, wondering who could have broken Odin’s enchantments.

On Long Island, Willis is being chased by a number of men in two cars.  He goes into the back yards of the houses and they chase on foot.  Just as they are about to catch him a woman in a convertible pulls up.  He jumps in the car and they speed away.  She tells him to call her Angel and that “People in distress are her specialty.”

Back in Manhattan, Thor has arrived at Strother’s office.  As he flies down, he is musing to himself about the Casket of Ancient Winters and its banished keeper.  Thor doesn’t have time for explanations, for Strother has “…spoken the name of Malekith the Accursed!”

In Roslyn, on Long Island, Angel is driving Willis along, and the radio is playing music that seems to be having a hypnotic effect on him.  She stops the car and seduces Willis, promising him forbidden pleasures in exchange for his secrets.

We cut to the Smith, who holds aloft the sword Twilight.

Back on Earth, Angle exits the car, changing shape into Malekith!  He flies off and we see the desiccated husk that used to be Eric Willis.

Where it comes from: This is the true beginning of Simonson’s second big story arc.  Malekith is on his way to retrieve his stolen property.  The Smith that has been forging the sword since way back in Issue 337 has completed his work.  And Thor is aware that something is terribly wrong on Earth.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much to say about what is going on here without spoiling the issues coming up.  All I’ll say here is that Simonson is pulling in a lot of Norse Lore into this storyline, and he does it quite well.

Next time The Wild Hunt!