Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Star Trek Meant I Had A Future

People have argued for decades about the differences between Star Wars and Star Trek, and which is best. 

I have the answer. Star Trek. Case closed.

For me, at least.

Star Wars staked its second-place territory in the first few seconds of its birth.

Star Wars was the past. It was a history lesson. Might as well have been a documentary. Did I love it? Absolutely! A proper telling of the Hero’s Journey can shed illumination on many levels. Plus, it was just plain fun. However, it was left to me to apply those lessons, and there was not much of a point of trying since I would be dead soon. You see, it was the 1970's,

Star Wars debuted at toy stores everywhere on May 25, 1977. I was seven. Star Trek, however, debuted on September 8th, 1966. My parents hadn’t even remotely had THE SEX event that caused my existence. Star Trek, opposed to Star Wars, took place in the year 2265. It was a HUMAN future grown from my own Earth. Star Wars took place somewhere else and was long gone. Star Trek was a future where we FIXED things. Yes, it took hitting rock bottom in another cycle of war, but we stood back up swinging. We were alive and thriving by our works, our efforts, and our embracing of what it meant to be human. We were explorers. Innovators. Enablers of advancement and the exchange of ideas. We finally decided to not kill ourselves. That’s important. Paramount, in fact. I watched Star Trek when it was in syndication in the mid and late 70’s. The Cold War was a laugh a minute party even us kids knew about thanks to the atomic bomb drills. We got to kneel under our little desks and pretend they would save us from what happened to the Japanese children living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yeah. Don’t teach kids about World War II and not expect at least some of them to connect data points. Especially when you tell them the bomb (Hiroshima) dropped at a little after eight in the morning on a Monday. A few of us looked at the clock and did the math. We also knew the joyous wonder of waiting in long lines at gas stations while our mothers and fathers swore and muttered under their breaths about a Misery Index and the fuel shortage. The President had to wear sweaters in the White House to keep warm. We were taught a new, unstoppable Ice Age was coming to swallow the world, if mass starvation and a Population Bomb didn’t do it first. The Club of Rome sold millions of its report on why the planet would soon be a husk. (Does any of this sound familiar in current year? Just curious.) Penny on Good Times wasn’t safe. You had a Death Wish if you walked in Central Park any time of day. Even Saturday morning children television programs weren’t immune. The live-action Ark II took place hundreds of years in the future on our (wait for it) devastated planet, foreshadowing the post-apocalyptic movies of the 80’s we consumed as teens. At least it had a jet pack. That was pretty sweet. Killer bees were coming from the south to sting all my friends to death. Disaster films competed with Nature Turned Killer films at the box office. Logan ran and ran until he bumped into a bunch of damn, dirty apes. And don’t get me started on 70’s music. I lost count of all the clowns sent into cat’s cradles aboard the Edmund Fitzgerald after the new kid in town showed up. Do you see the landscape I’m raking? Some of us early Gen X’ers didn’t have much to grasp in the hopes of a future. Except, perhaps, that one weirdly appealing sci-fi program with that guy from In Search Of. That one example of a future, not perfect, but there and striving. That five-year mission with a crew from my future. 

Image from Alpha Memory, (c) Paramount
Star Trek was an optimistic vision in the midst of times filled largely with the opposite. This is not an Earth-shaking new statement. Many have made this observation before, and its been the subject of many interviews and documentaries. Search “star trek documentary” in IMDB and you’ll find twelve different titles alone. Beyond The Final Frontier (2007), Trekkies (1997), The Captains (2011), and For The Love of Spock (2016) are a good start. So is How William Shatner Changed The World (2005). It’s well-known, for example, that Star Trek inspired Martin Cooper to create the first cell phone. Remember that the next time you're watching a cat video on Facebook or Twitter while sitting in your car, or while watching Netflix at work. You can thank Star Trek for that.  
Time to wrap this up. Like I said, there’s tons of material about the impact of Star Trek on society at large, right down to individuals all over the world. Like me. I simply want to say I am grateful for all the actors, writers, production staff and everyone past and present involved in crafting Roddenberry’s little space western. I am grateful for all the fans who have stayed passionate despite the ups and downs. I am grateful for people like James Cawley who turned a labor of love into a Trek shrine in Ticonderoga, NY you can visit and stroll through.

Check it out here:  https://strongarmlabs.blogspot.com/2018/09/star-trek-tos-set-tour-set-phasers-to.html .

From the efforts of all these individuals, from all YOU wonderful people, I learned the future is not lost. Thank you.

Be well, gentle reader. Live long and prosper.

Friday, August 30, 2019

A 500-Year-Old Rhythmic Rump is Music to the Ears

This is one of those stories that makes me ask:

1. How did no one ever do this before?
2. How did I not know about this?
3. Is this amazing or meh?

Consider a moment this baritone bottom, this dynamic derrière, this syncopating seat, this tush with a tempo, this not-so flat fundament. 

First some background. Sometime between 1490 and 1510, a wildly imaginative painter by the name of Hieronymus Bosch created a work entitled The Garden of Earthly Delights. Perhaps you've seen it before.

Most sites I found describe the work and the painter as up for interpretation. Little primary evidence has been found to date explaining why it was created or what it meant to its creator. Not much is known of the talent behind the work. I say talent because the detail and symbolism, found or implied, are without question. It is a stunning example of his work. 

Let's take a closer look at it.

Did you catch 2:34? Look for the person pointing to the sheet music adorned ass belonging to a literally tortured soul. Who knows how many people over the centuries saw it without setting out to spread the word of what two cheeks plus ink sounded like. We'll never know, but at least we can now all hum the bum tune thanks to Amelia Hamrick!


Are you surprised to learn there's a cult following of this almost completely unknown piece of ass, er, music? Not a chance in hell you are. You've met humans and know about the internet. Or maybe not! This was all new to me and I LOOK for stuff like this. Want a fleshed-out version? Here you go.

And what a disservice would I do to you, gentle reader, if I did not share a song completely unrelated to the butt but sharing some thematic bonds.

(XTC is one of those influences you discover in your late teens or early twenties that gets you moving down a thinking path, like the works of Robert Anton Wilson or Robert Heinlein or Ayn Rand or Aldous Huxley or Upton Sinclair or Marillion fronted by Fish or the gold plated records carried by the Voyager probes or why Hubble invented the electric outlet or why potato chip bags are filled with nitrogen or...well, that's all another blog for another day.)

So, is this an important thing? Will it help grow more crops? Build shelters? Cure disease?

Yeah. It might!

It is an example of what happens when observation (the act of paying attention or opening your damn eyes) meets a willingness to ask "what if" questions. That is the definition of innovation. I don't know if Amelia is the first to do what she did, but I didn't find records of anyone else doing it first. Therein is found the importance: WHAT THE HELL ELSE ARE WE NOT SEEING! What ideas have been waiting with an epic set of blue balls to be released? What ancient puzzles are staring at us with pallid eyes, gathering dust and despair from the fear of dying alone?

Need more metaphors? I doubt it. You get it. You don't need something tattooed on your ass for it to sink in.

Be well, gentle reader. Keep those eyes and that mind open.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Doctor Strange 2 to be MCU's first horror film. Sweet.

The center of the Nerdom Kingdom swung wide its doors this past week for the 49th season of the San Diego Comic Con. Panels, spoilers, teasers, trailers, previews, cosplayers, interviews, vendors, artists, actors, creators, builders, vendors, and MANY more wonders entertained attendees while reaching for the fistfuls of cash and plastic hurled back and forth down the aisles. It is a beautiful, overwhelming time and I cannot recommend it strongly enough.

One piece of news that instantly caught my attention from this year's show was the announcement of the next Doctor Strange movie in 2021. It's slated to be a horror film. Marvel actually has a long history of horror books, as does the industry as a whole, and Doctor Strange is no, um, stranger to the dark beings hiding in your closet.

Few details exist. Scarlet Witch is slated to join Strange for part of his journey while the ruler of the Dream Dimension named Nightmare might be the villain. Beyond that, we have to wait and see. Or do we? John Carpenter fans will recognize the play on words in the movie title. "In the Multiverse of Madness" compared to Carpenter's 1994 horror film "In the Mouth of Madness". While the film is not specifically an adaptation of a work by HP Lovecraft, it is Lovecraftian in every sense with elder beings, reality twisting ideas, and an imaginary town of death and secrets brought into terrible reality. It's good 90's horror.

I crack me up.

So, have we been handed a massive clue in the title? Seems a bit obvious if it is. Yet, watching Strange combat a madness raging across the Marvel multiverse that threatens to unleash ancient, cosmos devouring horrors that could rip Dormammu apart as easily and blindly as a windshield dismantles an insect could be EPIC. Derivative, but epic. Speaking of devouring, let's talk about the 800 lb. Man-Thing* in the room: Earth-2149. Could the horror spreading through the multiverse be former heroes? Hungry former heroes?

It's a long shot, at best, but there's literally nothing keeping Strange from visiting, then having to escape from, Earth-2149. How crazy would a Chris Evans ZOMBIE CAP CAMEO be!

Lots of time from now to 2021. I'm going into this waiting period with positive hopes. Scott Derrickson is back at the director's helm, so he knows the character, and the majority of his work is suspense/horror. He can do a good job if allowed.

Here's to hoping he is.

*He does guard the Nexus of All Realities. Will it come into play? Hmmm.....

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Throwing Shorts Away With Throwing Axes. A new YouTube video.

Sometimes your spouse is absolutely correct when it comes to getting rid of old clothing. But that doesn't mean you can't pick the method of disposal. Take throwing axes, for example! I (somehow) landed three hits in a row which resulted in a beat I liked. So here you go.

Some may ask why do such a thing. To which I reply, have you never met a human?

Be well, gentle reader/viewer.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

A Definition of the Martial Arts

Sometimes you have to put an idea, cold and naked, before the judging glare of the public so it can stand or fall on its merits. So here it goes.

My definition of the Martial Arts.

A martial art is a school of philosophy expressed through motion.

Mull that over. Turn it inside out and outside in. I wonder sometimes if it is too simple or not simple enough or too obvious! Yet, I think it correct. I keep wanting to expand it and explain what I mean, but that's he whole point, isn't it? I want to know if my idea as expressed reflects an aspect of reality, and therefore is useful. I want to know if the white belt of tomorrow can use this idea, this framework, to enhance their training and life by knowing to ask the proper WHY questions.

What say you? What says your own experience?

Please let me know.

Your author (WAY back in the day) doing some knuckle push-ups. It was one of those moments where you're having great fun while simultaneously questioning your life decisions.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Funko's Alien 40th Anniversary Breakfast Cereal

May 25th, 1979 taught the world in splashes of vivid red the value of a nutritional meal to fuel your mind and body in case you have to RUN FOR YOUR FU$#@NG LIFE. "Alien" premiered to soiled theater seats around the country (and eventually the world) opening a new vista of sci-fi horror that remains wide open today.

But you know this. That's why you're here, right? You know about the films and books and comics, right? But do you know about the cereal? WELL DO YOU?

Let's start with the obvious question: Does it taste like a Xenomorph? Interesting question. No, it does not. It lacks the acrid taste you would expect when biting into a creature with molecular acid for blood. Instead, it reminds one of a less sugary Fruit Loop. It mellows a bit more in milk while retaining its crunch for a reasonable time period. Taste wise, I give it a solid 6.5 - 7 out of 10.

There's a maze on the back of the box. Or is it? Perhaps the back of the box is a metaphorical journey where we the consumer can experience life as a consumer of a different kind. Perhaps it is an allusion to the painful existential journey a facehugger must face knowing death is its only reward for exiting the egg? Its next phase of existence starts at the TOP of the egg when it opens, yet the phase FINISHES when the hugger plants an embryo, a smaller egg, into the center of another life form. They burn facehuggers, don't they? Yes. Yes, they do. 

With all the horror of a H.R. Geiger design, here's how much cereal you get for $14.99 plus tax.

$14.99 + tax, ladies and gentlemen
Potato chip makers around the world are applauding this air-to-product ratio. I know I'm paying overwhelmingly for the packaging and the little figure. (Seen here.)

But still $14.99? FYE's website sells this exclusive for $9.99 making it a more cost effective avenue than their brick-n-mortar footprints. The cereal tastes just fine, but you would spend beaucoup dollars making this a regular part of your nutritious breakfast. Definitely an obvious impulse item or gift buy. 

Worth buying? Yes. 

Worth eating? Yes.

Thanks for spending time here today, gentle reader.

Be seeing you,