Friday, February 28, 2003

Return of the Introverts

After I passed on the link to the article on introversion I mentioned a while back to an even-more-introverted-than-I-am friend, she in return directed me to The Assertive Introvert web page, which includes an amusing Introvert's Lexicon and page of social skills for introverts. Some of tricks on the latter list seem a little, well, cynical to say the least, but I have to admit that I've probably used most of them at one time or another. This bit in particular rang a very (and somewhat painfully) familiar bell:
It's unfair, but true: during times when there is no actual work to do, you're supposed to pretend to work anyway. It's called "looking busy." It's doubly unfair that mindless chatter with coworkers about trivia counts as "looking busy" - but reading doesn't. Well, you can hide a book or magazine inside a folder, binder or (sometimes) a desk drawer.
Man, one thing I do like about my current job is that this "looking busy" thing isn't generally much of a requirement... And I actually do get a lot of reading done, or at least I would if I didn't spend so much damned time surfing the internet.
A Literary Friday Five

1. What is your favorite type of literature to read (magazine, newspaper, novels, nonfiction, poetry, etc.)? Heck, I'll read just about anything: novels, magazines, web pages, nonfiction, fan fiction, the backs of cereal boxes... I'd say, though, that about 80% of my book-reading consists of novels (mainly, though by no means exclusively, science fiction and fantasy), and the other 20% is mostly nonfiction.

2. What is your favorite novel? I honestly don't have one. How could I possibly choose?!

3. Do you have a favorite poem? (Share it!) I'm not all that fond of poetry as a general rule, but I adore Robert Frost. It's hard to pick just one poem of his as a favorite, though. "The Road Not Taken" and "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening" are justifiable classics, and very dear to my heart, but some of my other favorites of his are considerably more obscure: "On a Tree Fallen Across the Road," "Reluctance," "All Revelation" (which, sadly, I can't seem to find online), "I Will Sing You One-O"... Oh, man, great stuff. Go read it.

4. What is one thing you've always wanted to read, or wish you had more time to read? I just wish I had more time to read everything. I wish I had time to read the 400+ books on the To-Read Piles stacked up in my bedroom.

5. What are you currently reading? Parallel 59 by Natalie Dallaire & Stephen Cole. It's a Doctor Who novel. I don't know why it seems that every time this question comes up here I'm reading some kind of TV tie-in novel... I do read lots of other stuff, truly!
No Joy for Happiness

Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, the feline psychology didn't work. It's really kind of eerie. I mean, both cats were out in the living room, happily hanging out until about three minutes before I figured it was time to pack them up for the trip to the vet's office. At that point, they both vanished into the bedroom. I opened up the doors on the carriers, as planned, making what I hoped were interesting but nonthreatening noises in the process, in hopes that they would be foolish enough to come out and investigate. No such luck. Those cats are smarter than I am. When I went into the bedroom to find them, they were both huddled under the bed... And they were lying right next to each other, which is something they almost never do. How do they know, huh? How the hell do they know? Anyway, I was fortunately able to drag them out from under the bed with only minimal damage (to me, of course, not to them).

So. Nova has now had his shots and will not have to face the traumatic experience again for another year. Happiness, unfortunately, is not nearly so lucky. When the vet checked out her mouth, she found that poor Happy's gums are rotting. And apparently not in that normal lack-of-dental-hygeine way, either. Could be an autoimmune problem, could be an infection, could be an allergy. At any rate, they didn't give her the shots, since if her system is fighting off an illness, the vaccination wouldn't do her very much good. And I have to have her back in for a dental appointment on Wednesday. They're going to take out a loose tooth and do a biopsy on the gum tissue to try and figure out what's wrong with her. In the meantime, I've got to squirt anitbiotics down her throat twice a day, which I imagine is going to be all kinds of fun for both of us. I'm not sure which one of us I feel sorrier for right now, to tell you the truth...

Thursday, February 27, 2003

Buffy News

Here's an article with the latest news on the future (or lack thereof) of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The current word seems to be that the series is definitely ending, but a spinoff is within the realm of possibility. But you probably already knew that.
I'm Number One! I'm Number One!

I am the number
I am the loneliest number


what number are you?

this quiz by orsa

No, I'm not quite sure what the point of that quiz was, either...
SF Funnies

Hey, there's a new issue of Tachyon TV up! Best "news" blurb: "Star Trek:Nemesis breaks box office records! The records, which were stored on a floppy disk and pertained to financial information for the Hounslow Multiplex, were snapped in two when film canisters containing the latest Trek epic accidentally fell on it last Thursday." Bwahahaha! It's funny because it's true.

Now, if only they'd update their blog page...
Mmmmm, Simpsons!

I just finally finished watching through the Simpsons Season One DVDs I bought some while back. It's really kind of interesting to go back and look at these earliest episodes now, fourteen years and 300 episodes later, and to notice what kinds of things have changed and what hasn't. It's certainly quite clear that in the first season they were still very much in the process of figuring out what they were doing as they went along. Some of the animation is a bit crude by current Simspons standards, characters are slowly being introduced and developed, and Homer's voice still sounds all weird. But, you know, they had some darned good scripts right from the beginning. Some of these first season eps hold their own perfectly well with the best of the series. My personal favorites from this batch are "There's No Disgrace Like Home" (in which the Simpsons go for family counselling, which turns out to involve electric shocks), "Bart the General" (in which Bart rallies the kids of Springfield against the bullies), and "Krusty Gets Busted" (the first Sideshow Bob episode!). That's some funny, well-written stuff.

The DVDs themselves are pretty good. There's a commentary track on every episode, featuring various writers, producers, and animators, which is cool. The commentaries do tend to get a bit repetitive after a while, and they're not exactly chock full of new and exciting information, but they're enjoyable, anyway. It's just kind of fun to listen to these guys alternately ragging on the lameness of some of their earliest efforts and laughing hysterically at their own jokes. You can tell these people love the show and love what they do, and if you ask me that always makes for the best kinds of commentaries.

There aren't a whole lot of other extras, though. There's a very short documentary on the creation of the show, an even shorter piece on how the animation is done, a number of original scripts, and clips of one particular scene dubbed over in half a dozen different languages. Far and away the most interesting extra, though, is the horrifying glimpse at the original animation for "Some Enchanted Evening." Apparently this was meant to be the first episode of the series, but when they got the (supposedly) finished animation back for it, it was... well, truly, the word "terrible" doesn't do it justice. It's downright painful, in fact, but there's something about it that holds a certain train-wreck fascination. It just has to be seen to be believed. And the commentary track for it is hysterical. Groening and company are clearly too traumatized to talk about it coherently, so you bascially get three mintues or so of anguished moaning, culminating in "the first walk-out in audio commentary history," as producer James L. Brooks apparently decides he just can't take it any more and has to leave. I dunno, maybe it's evil of me to laugh at that, but it's downright impossible not to. Heh.

I gather the season two set is out now, as well... I think I'm going to have to add that to my never-shrinking DVD to-buy list. Sigh. If only I had enough time to watch them all...
Feline Psychology (or "I Have a Cunning Plan!")

I have to take the cats to the vet tomorrow. They're overdue for their annual checkup and shots. I hate taking my cats to the vet, because as soon as they see the pet carriers come out, they completely freak. (Especially Nova who is, frankly, a great big coward.) I suppose it's hard to blame them, really. The only place they ever go in the carriers is the vet's office, and while these annual visits really aren't all that bad -- the vets are always gentle, and the worst thing that happens is a tiny needle prick that's over in about two seconds -- it must be difficult, when you're a cat, not to think of the vet's office as "that place where they cut off my balls/ripped out my uterus." And that's gotta be something that impresses itself indeliably on your little kitty memory. I really shouldn't be too surprised if, at the sight of the cat carrier, Nova dives for the safety of under the bed as if all the Vacuum Cleaners of Hell were after him, or the normally gentle and placid Happiness suddenly turns into the Whirling Claws of Death. It's probably the feline equivilant of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It's still a pain in the ass, though. Not to mention the exposed forearms. So this time, I have adopted a psychological strategy. I got the cat carriers out of the closet two days ago and put them in the living room, where they've been sitting looking perfectly innocuous for long enough that the cats have clearly decided they're not going to attack. Tomorrow morning, before their scheduled appointment, I'm going to go and open the doors on the things, and, with any luck, irrepressible feline curiosity will cause the kitties to immediately go, "Ooh! A new space I can crawl into! Let's check it out!" At which point, I will slam the doors shut behind them and cackle like a Bond villian who's just snared Our Hero in the death trap.

We'll see how well this actually works in practice...

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Coincidence? Ya Think?

I just found this interesting little tidbit over on the Sci-Fi Channel's news page:
The SCI FI Channel reported its highest February prime-time ratings ever, averaging a 1.0 rating (777,000 households). That represented a 43 percent increase over the network's 0.7 rating last February and places SCI FI in the top 10 among all basic cable networks, the channel reported.
Why is that an interesting tidbit? Well, whaddaya know... This is the first time Sci-Fi has ever aired Farscape during the February sweeps... And the show's consistently been getting 1.0 ratings and up. Hmmmm.
Beware the Earworm!

Here's another interesting article, this one about songs getting stuck in your head. (Link via Transterrestrial Musings.) "[N]ew research shows that people most frequently plagued by this phenomenon are those with slightly neurotic tendencies..." it says. Hmm, I feel I should take umbrage at that, because I am very prone to this particular (and often highly annoying) phenomenon. I once had "Runaway Train" by Tom Petty stuck in my head for three days. Which is just too much, no matter how much you might like Tom Petty.

They also say that songs with lyrics are more likely to get stuck in people's heads than songs without, which certainly matches my own experience. I gotta say, though, some of the stickiest songs I've ever encountered have been instrumental ones. Like the theme song for I Dream of Jeannie. I'm serious, I fear this tune. Once it gets into my head, it has such an incredible tendency to stick that I actively try never to so much as think about it. Which, oh god, I've just done. Kill me now.

They do offer some advice for getting an annoying song out of your head, but I don't know how well any of it actually works. The only thing I've ever found that helps is to replace it with a different song. Of course, then you run the risk of having the replacement song stuck in your head, so you'd better be sure and pick something less annoying and hopefully far less catchy.

Whatever you do, though, don't read this comment thread on the article. I mean it. Trust me.
Tonight, on Buffypiece Theater... (WARNING: Spoilers!)

Finally got home and got to watch tonight's Buffy. And, hmm... Well, what can I say? Great premise, but it made for a muddled mess of an episode. Hey, sometimes these things happen.

The biggest problem with it was that close to half the episode felt like nothing more than a recap of the Story Thus Far, with a Who's Who of the Characters thrown in for good measure. And that's in addition to the "previously on..." stuff, which itself felt like it went on for a good five minutes. I don't know if Joss and Co. have suddenly become deeply concerned about explaining all the tiny continuity details for the hypothetical channel-surfers, or if they just needed a lot of filler to pad out the episode, but either way, it didn't work terribly well. I've been watching the show all season, guys. If you're going to sit around for minutes on end telling me stuff I already know, you're going to have to be more entertaining about it than that.

That having been said, this ep did have some redeeming features. If nothing else, I really am glad to see an Andrew-centered episode. The kid is rapidly becoming one of my favorite characters on the show. He certainly gets all the best bits in this one... The fantasy scenes are a hoot (especially dashing Criminal Mastermind Andrew). We get a really good look into the workings of his mind (aspects of which I find I can identify with all too easily). And he actually gets some highly significant character development and provokes some genuine sympathetic emotion, at least on the part of this viewer. The climactic scene, where Buffy basically jolts him forcibly into reality is well done (at least when compared with the rest of the episode), and works on a number of different levels. After all, she's making him confront the fact that his life isn't a story, that he has to deal with messy, unsatisfying, morally ambiguous reality. The thing is, of course, his life is a story. It is scripted and structured and awash with the kind of thematic resonance he keeps trying to impart to it. But then again, the story he's in is, after all, Buffy... which means the predictable ending often doesn't happen, the Good Guys don't always emerge unscathed, and moral ambiguity is far from unknown. It's all very "meta," and I just love that kind of stuff.

But the rest of it just drrrrrrragged. The fact that so much of it was filmed in that flat, amateurish video quality to simulate Andrew's videotaping didn't help much, either, as it made a lot of the scenes feel very dull and flat and motionless.

Also, Kennedy is still irritating me, and I'm finally beginning to join the ranks of those who are getting very, very tired of bitch-mode Buffy. And I still miss Giles.

One final thought... A lot of the stuff in this episode had the feel of serious foreshadowing. I'm really hoping that Andrew's prediction that he probably isn't going to survive doesn't come under that heading. I'll be very miffed, indeed, if they kill him off. Even if the series is ending.

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

Good News, Everyone!

I just checked the Sci-Fi Channel's schedulebot, and it looks like they're going to be re-running Farscape once the new episodes finish up at the end of March. (And, because I really am happy about this, I'm going to forgo the mini-rant about how this could possibly be described by someone who was being uncharitable as Sci-Fi murdering the show and then keeping the corpse around until they were done looting its pockets.)

I'm not sure if they're going to be going through the whole run of the series or not -- the schedule only goes up to the end of March at the moment -- but they have a rerun of the premiere listed on March 31st. If they are actually going to rerun the series in order, it's excellent news for the poor souls among you who I've gone and gotten hooked on it! If you get the Sci-Fi Channel, you'll be able to watch the stuff you've missed (and if you're only getting into the show now, boy, have you missed some great stuff!). And if you don't, well, I'll be sure to catch them all on tape this time, and I'll be more than happy to send copies to anyone who wants them. (In fact, I do have the second half of season three and all of season four to date on tape, as well as a number of semi-random earlier eps, so if anybody wants copies of those, just drop me a line either in the blog comments or via e-mail. I don't promise high-quality video, but I do promise high-quality science fiction!)

Of course, for all I know, they'll show five or six random episodes completely out of order and then stop. It wouldn't be at all out of character for Sci-Fi, considering--

No, no. Happy. Not going to rant. Happy. Not as happy as if they'd renewed the damn thing, but happy...
"Our Motto: 'I'm Okay, You're Okay—In Small Doses.'"

I just came across this lovely little article (link via Electrolite) on "Caring for Your Introvert." It starts out like this:
Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?
Boy, does that sound familiar. Now, for my part, after years of being completely miserable in all kinds of social situations, I've managed to train myself to relax in small groups, to respond to the babblings of extroverts with good-natured politeness, and even, in certain circumstances, to practice the art of social banter. And, yes, I can babble on at length and with considerable animation, myself, if the subject is something I'm truly interested in... especially in a forum like this one, where I can put my thoughts together at my own pace and don't have to worry about interacting with other human beings in realtime. But that paragraph... That describes the true, inner me, as probably anybody who knew me in high school (i.e., before I learned those valuable social coping skills) could easily attest. I've taken a couple of those web versions of the Myers-Briggs personality test, and I come out all the way over on the extreme introvert end of the scale every time.

Anyway, it's a pretty cool article on how to understand and deal with introverts if you don't happen to be one. (Tip: If you come up to us from out of the blue and start talking about things you have absolutely no reason to believe we are actually interested in (e.g. what you had for dinner last night), it will only confuse and annoy us. (That one's not from the article, by the way. That's mine.)) It does smack a bit of the "Oooh, oooh, we're an Oppressed Minority, too!" attitude that I tend to find slightly irritating and overused -- I figure I must belong to about four different Oppressed Minorities now, after adding "introverts" to the list -- but even so, it's impossible for me not to appreciate a sentiment like this one:
We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."
Man, I can think of a few people I've encountered to whom I would have loved to have been able to say that...

Monday, February 24, 2003

Blog Dialog

I've already gotten several very interesting comments in repsonse to the post I wrote earlier today about Enterprise, and I was going to post a comment myself with some responses. But I quickly realized that if I went rambling on as much as I figured I was going to, the comment would probably end up being longer than the original post! It would thus seem a bit more reasonable to just write another post with said responses so, hey, that's what I'm going to do.

Right, then. Delving into the last post's comments section...

To begin with, gmd said:
An oh yea, I remember the reason I was so thrilled about getting the Sci Fi channel years ago was because of Star Trek.
You know, I've been ragging on the Sci Fi Channel pretty mercilessly of late, but I do have to say that the way they aired the original Star Trek episodes uncut with the interviews and extras added in to fill the time slot was very much a Good Thing. It showed respect for the viewers, a desire to deliver a quality product, and an understanding that their core audience consists of people who actually care about what they're watching. I really wish I knew where that attitude went...

Then JenBen wrote:
It is REALLY sad when YOU!, Ms. Sci-Fi , calls ST boring!
Heh. The thing is, it's probably because I'm such a big sci-fi fan that I find Enterprise boring. If I'd never watched any science fiction TV in my life, then maybe the dull old retread stories Enterprise tends to do would actually be new to me, and I'd enjoy them more...
You know what I thought was great about ST:NG is encapsulated in the episode, Darmok First, it made you think. What if you were faced with a species that talked in metaphors based on their unique history? How can you communicate? Add to that Picard telling the ancient story from the near-east of Gilgamesh, thought to be the first story that mentions a world altering flood. So you have linguistics, psychology and mythology all rolled into a very entertaining hour with Patrick Stewart! What could be better?
Oh, yeah! "Darmok" was a great episode! Admittedly, it's not too difficult to pick nits in the basic premise (like, how could such a language have possibly evolved in the first place?) and, yeah, a lot of that nitpicking really is justified. But I honestly don't care, because the episode succeeds in doing everything that it's trying to do. It presents a very original idea, it keeps you entertained, and it really gets your brain working and makes you start thinking about these interesting issues of communication. And it's also just a good story that's well-acted and moves along nicely. Plus it manages to do something I always particularly love to see, which is to take a very familiar, even cliched plot (in this case, two people finding common ground in the face of a mutual danger) and do something genuinely fresh with it. Yeah, episodes like "Darmok" are exactly what Enterprise needs, and so far it hasn't even come remotely close. It's particularly sad when you consider that Enterprise's whole basic setup would seem absolutely ideal for doing these kinds of thought-provoking stories about first contacts and culture clashes and communications problems. So much wasted potential...
My personal problem with Enterprise is that there are too many male characters that I can't figure out who they are or what they do. Yes, they talk with different accents but it's hardly as distinctive as the Asian actress and the vulcan woman. I even have a strange connection to Linda Park, who plays Hoshi on the show (2 degrees of seperation thing) and I stopped watching last season.
I don't have a problem remembering which character is which, but I can definitely understand finding them hard to differentiate. The simple truth is, the characters are bland, and there isn't much to distinguish them one from another. The only ones who really seem to have been given any sort of strong personality at all are Dr. Phlox (who, like the Voyager Doctor before him is really too good a character to be tied down to such a lackluster series) and Malcolm Reed, the weapons officer (and even his characterization has been sporadic at best). I deeply pity the actor who plays Travis, a character who has consistently been a faceless, near-dialog-less non-entity since the show began. I can't even figure out what he's doing in the crew, other than pushing buttons on the navigations console once in a while when the plot demands it. Frankly, he makes Chekov look like the world's most well-rounded and indespensible crew member!

No, my biggest problem isn't that I can't tell them apart, it's that I really just don't care about any of them. I mean, I've seen The Wrath of Khan about 30 times now, and I still get teary-eyed at the end. Even though I know Spock's gonna be back in the next movie, I get choked up every time I see it. That's because the people who made the original Star Trek made me care about Spock, they made me believe in him as a character, as a person. But I have zero emotional attachment to anybody on Enterprise. They could blow the whole ship up and kill off everybody, and I wouldn't feel the tiniest twinge of emotion. And Enterprise really needs to give us reasons to care, because with no reason to care, there's no great reason to watch.
have I rambled enough?
Nah, I don't think you're nearly up to my level yet!

Moving along, Deborah said:
Well, we were generally okay with Enterprise around here (though I agree it is boring and predictible at times) until you sent that dadgummed Farscape best of season one DVD.
Heh heh heh. Actually, one thing that I was thinking the entire way through typing that last post (and which I didn't say only because I imagine people are probably getting tired of hearing me say it) is that I think a big part of the reason why I've been so disappointed with Enterprise is simply because it isn't more like Farscape. Which is really rather unfair of me, I know. But the truth is, having discovered that it is possible for there to be a show that scratches my every itch (for continuity, for excitement, for drama, for characterization, for unpredictability, for humor), it's very difficult not to be critical of the ones that fall short of that.
And by the way, you could have warned me the last episode on it was A CLIFFHANGER. That way I could have maybe chosen not to actually watch it and now want to get the next season DVDs. Geesh
Bwahahahaha! I am eeeevil!

Actually, truth to be told, I didn't even think about it. Which is odd, because I remember that I did make a point of warning my sister and her husband when we rented that DVD for them to see. On the other hand, anything that induces people to want to watch more episodes of Farscape is in my view no bad thing!
The Sinking of the Enterprise

So, the current issue of TV Guide has an article which the front cover blurbs as "Can Star Trek Be Saved?" Sigh. To think that it's come to this...

The article suggests, unsurprisingly, that the Star Trek franchise may be in big trouble, citing flagging ratings for Enterprise (although it's still the highest-rated drama on UPN, so it's in no danger of being cancelled) and the rotten box office take on Nemesis. (The Paramount suits are blaming Lord of the Rings for that, by the way, but, face it, the rest of us know better. It was bad word-of-mouth that did that movie in, and although, unlike many, I'm not inclined to trash it completely, even I have to admit that it was in large measure deserved.) Interestingly, it seems that despite Enterprise's rather desperate attempts to attract young viewers, its demographics are actually skewing older and older all the time. Apparently producers Berman and Braga are now saying that they've got some new tricks up their sleeves designed to revitalize the show, take it in new directions, and make it more exciting. Yeah, well, we'll see (assuming we're still watching by that point, which I for one might very well not be). Past experience indicates that these guys really Just Don't Get It. They should listen to their fans. TV Guide quotes a couple of fannish types who clearly do Get It. "...[I]t doesn't take risks," says one guy, and "...everything feels like the same Star Trek we've gotten for 15 years" says another. Yes, exactly.

TV Guide themselves also appear to Get It. They've included a list called "How To Fix Trek" which I think really does hold all the solutions. Being the crazy little copyright-violator I am, I'm going to just quote the whole damn list here, because it's very much worth passing on, and because I have nothing to add to it execpt an "Amen, brother!" at the end of every item.
1. MAKE IT OMINOUS It's cold and dark in space. Enterprise needs real peril, dread and fear so that characters are tested to within an inch of their lives. Introduce a chilling, powerful, wholly orginal threat that can't be vanquished in an hour. The Suliban aren't bad, but they're no Borg.

2. MAKE IT MORE REAL Let the crew make grave mistakes. Let them argue and be driven by less-than-moral impulses. Let the phaser beams rip through metal and bone. And let there be dangling emotional threads that weave through the lives of these otherwise bland characters.

3. LET CAPTAIN ARCHER BE HEROIC As written, Scott Bakula has as much commanding presence as Cap'n Crunch. Archer, like his beagle, is benign and a little too cute. He has an annoying tendency to second-guess, which trickles down to the rest of his whiny crew. Either light a fire under this laconic guy or kill him in a blaze of glory that explains why starships, planets and star systems should one day be named Archer. (And while you're at it, take out that annoying Ensign Hoshi with him.)

4. OPEN FIRE AND CLOSE THOSE PIE HOLES Enterprise should expand our belief about what is possible and transport us to realms unimagined with its ideas. But if it can't also be packed with action and adventure, move it to Lifetime. We're weary of the endless Trek babble on the bridge, the shuttlecraft, the crew quarters. Enough!

5. GET US ON THE EDGE OF OUR SEATS You shouldn't be able to figure out what the general direction and ending of any given episode is by the first 12 minutes. "Oh, here's where Hoshi overcomes her fear of failure..." "Well, it looks like Trip and that belligerent alien are going to work together to save both their hides..." Why not try some longer, unpredictable story arcs? Cliff-hangers, big and small, give a series purpose, poignancy and punch. Make us miss you this summer.

Like I said, "Amen, brother!" The thing is, Enterprise at its best isn't at all bad. Hey, I thought last week's episode, with the Tholians, was pretty entertaining. For the most part, though, god damn, but it's boring. For crying out loud, people don't watch science fiction because they want something comfortable and familiar and bland!

What really depresses me about this whole thing, though, is that I have the sinking feeling that not only is Star Trek going down, but it's likely to take science fiction TV in general right down with it. Face it, in the minds of most people, science fiction TV and Star Trek are exactly equivalent, and, worse yet, TV execs are quite likely to be thinking "Hey, if Star Trek, of all things, can't pack in the viewers, this science fiction stuff must have completely lost its appeal. Right, more reality shows, then!" Aaargh. Aaargh, aaargh, aaargh, aaargh, aaargh. And did I say, aaargh?
Broken Clock

OK, you know, switching myself off night shift is always a little problematical, but at the moment it seems like my internal clock doesn't just need resetting, it needs a major overhaul and perhaps replacement with a new, digital model. I'd almost swear I could hear the little "sproing" noise as the spring that keeps it wound went shooting off across the room.

My sleeping pattern (or more accurately, lack thereof) over the last few days has gone like this:

Friday: Got off work at 8:00 AM. In bed by nine-ish. Woken up by the alarm clock at 5:00 PM. (Yes, I set my alarm so I could get up and watch Farscape. Go on, tell me this suprises you.) Felt like I would have enjoyed another couple of hours sleep, but was fine once I got some coffee into me. Started to get sleepy again around 4:30 AM, went to bed and fell asleep without, as far as I remember, too much difficulty. Yay, me.

Saturday: Woke up at 8:30, convinced it was actually much later than that, despite the fact that I really didn't feel like I'd gotten enough sleep. Gradually talked myself into accepting wakefulness, to the point that when I actually looked at the clock and realized it was still Too Damned Early, I was stuck with it. Figured it was just as well, as it probably meant I'd be able to get to sleep early and thus back onto something more resembling a normal schedule (ha!). Spent the day feeling sleep-deprived and cranky. Went to bed around 10:00 PM, feeling very tired, indeed.

Sunday: Woke up around three in the morning, had a little difficulty getting back to sleep but eventually managed it. The next time I woke up, it was light out, but it still felt really early, so I kept telling myself to go back to sleep again. I drifted in and out of light sleep for a while, then finally decided I probably wasn't going to manage any more solid rest. At this point I finally looked at the clock and discovered that it was after noon. Yep, I'd been in bed for about 14 hours, and, oddly, I still didn't feel particularly rested. There's a difference, you know, between the grogginess you get from insufficient sleep and the grogginess you get from oversleeping, and this felt a lot more like the former than the latter. Weird. In any case, I eventually shook it off, and felt pretty awake all day Sunday, until around 11:00, when I started feeling a bit sleepy again, at which point I went back to bed.

Monday: Woke up at 4:30 (!). Now, you have to understand, some people may consider 4:30 AM to be morning, but for me it's a going-to-bed time, not a getting-up time, so this represents something very fundamentally wrong in my universe. Anyway, I woke up at 4:30 and could not get back to sleep, despite still feeling appropriately sleepy. I suspect this may, in part, have to do with the fact that I woke up absolutely ravenous, having eaten nothing in the short time I was awake yesterday but one piece of pizza and some ice cream. Oh, and a couple of pieces of toast. Anyway, as I type this, it's about 6 AM on Monday, and I'm kinda-sorta awake, or at least functional enough to type, but I think I can predict with a fair amount of confidence that I'm gonna be getting pretty darned punchy by the time I get off work at midnight tonight. Bleh.

Sigh. I hate to say this, for a whole host of different reasons, but I'm starting to think I might be getting too old for shift work. I'm also wondering if it isn't time to swallow my pride and turn to pharmaceutical sleep aids. My usual "Bah! I don't need no stinkin' drugs!" attitude, sadly, is beginning to wear a little thin under the weight of the evidence.

And, yeah, I'm sure you're all just incredibly, deeply fascinated by all of this...

Sunday, February 23, 2003

Well, Hey, I Never Claimed to Be the Hero Type.

Here's a quiz that claims to tell you what your stats would be if you were a D&D character. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but here's how I came out:

Str: 7
Int: 13
Wis: 10
Dex: 7
Con: 9
Chr: 8

Mind you, I think I may have answered some of the questions a bit too conservatively, but then, every time I find myself thinking "Hey, my DEX can't really be that bad!" I remember high school gym class, and a little voice in my head responds, "Oh, yes, it is!" And the STR stat is a total guess, by the way, because it asks you how much you can bench press, and I haven't done any weightlifting since junior high, when they forced me to.

In any case, I think it's pretty clear that I'm nobody's Paladin... Yeah, as if there were ever any doubt!

Friday, February 21, 2003

Nope, Definitely Still Hasn't Jumped the Shark (WARNING: Spoilers for Farscape Episode 4.18, "Prayer")

OK, I've got lots of random thoughts on this one, so let's just jump right to them, shall we?

  • You know, casting my mind back to the first time I watched "Unrealized Reality," I remember thinking something along the lines of, "OK, I get the reality where the Scarrans invaded Earth, and I kinda-sorta get the one where John's a PK, but this whole thing of having everybody mixed up with everybody else... I mean, come on. It's obvious that they just threw that in for the sake of weirdness, or else maybe just because they thought it would be fun for the actors to do. And, yeah, it's cute, I guess, but it seems pretty pointless, in plot terms." I never certainly expected that it would turn out to hold the key to a major element of the plot. Once again, I really should know better. And this is exactly the kind of thing I was talking about earlier, about not being able to judge specific elements of this season until we've got the entire picture from later eps.

  • I thought for a moment that we were getting a little more insight into how Stark's Stykera mojo works, which is always something I've been very curious about. Alas, as John put it, "different Stark, different rules," so I guess we still don't know jack about him, really. I'll add that it does seem bizarre and highly coincidental that Stark just happened to randomly blurt out the one word Crichton would be interested in, out of all the detritus that is undoubtledly lurking in his (or, um, her) head, but you know, I find that doesn't really bother me. Given the mystical nature of the Farscape universe (and presumably this alternate version of it, as well), I find I can actually believe that that word came out of Stark's mouth precisely because it was the word that would be important to John. Because, you know, it's Stark, and he's a conduit for all kinds of weird things. It suddenly occurs to me, though... If Sikozu-Stark once crossed over a Scarran, and she has to love people to send them over, does that mean she once loved a Scarran? Hmm. Apparently Sikozu-Stark has a really interesting backstory...

  • I loved the interaction between John and Scorpius. There are such fascinating vibes between those two, a weird and wonderful mixture of deep anatagonism and a twisted sort of connectedness... This is the dynamic I was really hoping to see more of when Scorpius joined the crew, but aside from some nice moments in "I Shrink, Therefore I Am," we haven't been getting very much of it. I'm delighted to see it executed so very well here. And speaking of executions... There's also something about Scorpius' moments of extreme ruthlessness that's good to see, in a disturbing sort of way. I knew what he was going to do when he left the room, and it still gave me a chill when he killed "Rygel." Not to mention Aeryn-Chi. What can I say, I love the fact that, even though he's now a sort-of ally, he hasn't been watered down at all from that incredibly scary bad guy we first met in "Nerve." (There's probably some sort of comparison to be made here with Spike from Buffy, but I think I'm going to leave it alone for the moment.)

  • Have I mentioned that I love Raelee Hill's version of Stark? She's just so... adorable! It was great to see her again. Mind you, I would still very much like to see the Paul Goddard version again soon.

  • Aeryn praying in her cell, I wasn't too thrilled about, as it seems to perpetuate that annoying (and inaccurate) old "no atheists in foxholes" cliche. But I'll let it go.

  • Nice to see a mention of Velorek! I think I said at one point (whether here or elsewhere I don't remember) that I almost thought it would be kind of nice if the baby was his. Well, if the Scarrans don't have the DNA on file, I guess it must be Crichton's. Yeah, I know, what a shock.

  • All right, you know, I really am not in the habit of nitpicking the science on Farscape. For one thing, they ususally don't give us a great deal of scientific detail to nitpick, which is actually kind of refreshing. And I can suspend my disbelief for a lot of the stuff that does seem physically or biologically impossible (e.g. different species being able to interbreed). But this deal about being able to get the wormhole knowledge from Crichton's child's DNA... WTF?! That's so wrong that it's just really hard to ignore.

  • So, the Scarrans are still doing cross-species breeding experiments? I had kind of thought that they had discontinued them after declaring the experiment that produced Scorpius a failure, but I'm not at all sure where I got that idea from. Of course, Aeryn's cell-mate could just have been lying about that, too.

  • I also find it a bit difficult to believe that Aeryn's pregnancy would make her more vulnerable to the Scarran heat weapon. Isn't part of the idea of having the fetus go into stasis at that early a point to make sure that pregnancy doesn't adversely affect the physical state of the PK soldiers? Well, that one's not really too big of a deal. I can deal with it a lot more easily than the whole memories-in-DNA thing, anyway. (I mean, not only is that scientifically ridiculous, but if you could get Crichton's memories from his DNA, why didn't Scorpius just do that in the first place, huh?)

  • Interesting that Sikozu is the one who's arguing strenuously in favor of starbursting the hell away, because that would mean they'd not just be stranding Crichton, but also Scorpius. Anybody but me starting to get the feeling that the honeymoon's over for those two? (I will not make a joke about Scorpius prefering to suck on Crichton's fingers. I will not. Even though it's really tempting...)

  • Watching John and Scorpy intimidating and shooting the various members of the Mixed-Up Moya crew really does give me kind of a cold feeling on the back of my neck. Scorpius demonstrates with no hesistation and no remorse the lengths he's willing to go to to acheive his goals (as if we didn't already know), but the fact that Crichton was even willing to point the gun at Aeryn-Chi in the first place is a rather disturbing indication of just how far Crichton is willing to go when he's pushed. Seeing that darkness in Crichton both frightens and fascinates me.

  • No additional hints as to whether Scorpius did set them up in "Bringing Home the Beacon" or not, but I think we can be quite sure that Aeryn getting captured was not his idea. He seems genuinely scared by where events are taking him, and I don't blame him in the slightest. I also note that the indications are strong that John is intending to keep his word about giving Scorpius wormholes, as Scorpius would be able to tell if he was lying. (I'm not sure what the hell the whole blood-drinking thing was about, though. And I'm still not gonna make that joke... Really.)
  • Friday Five

    1. What is your most prized material possession? What, just one? I'm really very fond of all my "stuff," but I don't know that any one item leaps out at me as being the single thing I'd be most likely to rescue from a burning building.

    2. What item, that you currently own, have you had the longest? There are a couple of stuffed animals that I've had since I was about three. Also a piggy-bank shaped like a gorilla that I think dates back to about the same time. I'm still using it to save my pennies in.

    3. Are you a packrat? Oh, yeah.

    4. Do you prefer a spic-and-span clean house? Or is some clutter necessary to avoid the appearance of a museum? I wouldn't know how to keep a house completely spic-and-span, and if I did, I don't think I'd know how to live in it. I could probably stand to cut down on the clutter a bit, though.

    5. Do the rooms in your house have a theme? Or is it a mixture of knick-knacks here and there? The theme of my entire house is Pop Culture, with an emphasis on Science Fiction. Gee, I'm sure that totally surprises everybody...
    Now You've Gone and Set Me Off!

    I just noticed that Chas Rich of Sardonic Views has posted a very flattering little blurb for Maximum Verbosity over there. Thanks, guy! It's nice to know somebody actually enjoys my random mutterings and ravings!

    "If you want to set her off," he says of yours truly, "ask her whether 'Farscape' jumped the shark or not by the end of season 3." Heh. It's funny; my immediate response to that was to think, "Nah, that won't set me off..." Which then led me directly into a five-minute mental tirade, concluding with the thought, "Gee, I guess that did set me off, after all." You know, it's a little frightening to be that predictable to total strangers...

    My answer to the question, of course, is bound to be immediately obvious to anyone who's so much as cast a casual glance at this blog. No, of course I don't think it's jumped the shark. Indeed, it's still one of the only two shows currently on TV that I'm likely to bother crossing the street to watch. I haven't been utterly thrilled with every episode of the fourth season ("Twice Shy" comes to mind), and, yes, I've found aspects of it to be, well, a bit frustrating and confusing. But I'm still very much enjoying the ride. I'm even taking great (if masochistic) pleasure in the frustration and confusion.

    I can see why some people might think it has jumped, though (even if they are, of course, utterly and completely wrong). The writers have definitely been playing mind games of late, and they haven't exactly been subtle about the fact, either. It's clear that they're trying to keep us a little frustrated, a little confused, a little off-balance. Some people hate that. Personally, I love it. Yup, I admit it, I'm David Kemper's bitch, and I'm perfectly happy about it. Mind-frell me, baby! Come on, harder!

    Admittedly, not everything they've done this season has worked perfectly. Some of the plot points that were deliberately kept back from us at the beginning of the season, when finally revealed, felt kind of anti-climactic after all the build-up, for instance. But one of the things I have always loved about Farscape is its willingness to take risks, to do things differently than other shows, and differently than it's done things in the past. So far, it's had a lot more hits than misses, and the pleasure I've gained from the hits more than makes up for the disappointment I've felt in the misses.

    As for whether the season as a whole will wind up as a hit or a miss, well, I for one am not going to be ready to make that determination for certain until the final credits roll on episode 4.22. Yes, there have been a lot of things, large and small, that have been strange or confusing or just a little "off" this season. I have the distinct feeling that at least 99% of them have been deliberate, and if we viewers find them disturbing or annoying, it's only because we don't yet understand them. I've repeatedly compared season 4 to a jigsaw puzzle, and, to continue that analogy, we're still missing too many pieces to know quite what the full picture is yet. Any moment now, I'm expecting to get handed the few crucial pieces that will finally make the overall pattern clear, and when that happens, I'm willing to bet that most of the pieces that at the moment just don't seem to fit will suddenly fall nicely into place and leave us wondering why we couldn't see the entire time exactly where it was they ought to go. I'm also expecting that fourth season Farscape, like certain twist-ending movies I could name, is going to be one of those works that is a totally different experience, a totally different story, the second time you watch it than it is the first time. OK, sure, it's possible that even if that's what Kemper and his writing staff are aiming at, they're going to fall flat on their faces in the final stretch and fail to pull it off. But, personally, I have faith in them. Their track record's been damned good so far. They've pulled off something very much like it on a much smaller scale already, back in season two.

    So, has Farscape jumped the shark this season? Tell ya what, come back at the end of March and ask me again. It's within the realm of possibility that I might have changed my mind. But if I were to make a prediction, I'd say the answer you're gonna get is a resounding "Hell, no!"

    Wednesday, February 19, 2003


    Have you ever suffered a massive sneezing fit after which your nose showed every sign of settling into a highly annoying semi-clogged state for the rest of the day? And have you thereupon thought to yourself, "Aha! It's a good thing I carry a supply of nasal decongestants with me for just such an eventuality! What an intelligent and well-prepared person I am!"? And have you then gone and dug the box out of your pocketbook and opened it up, only to find that it was completely empty? And thus had to sit around afterwards feeling both sneezy and stupid?

    Or is that just me?
    More Farcape Wibblings (WARNING: Big Honkin' Spoilers for the 4th Season up to and Including "A Contellation of Doubt")

    OK, I admit it, I'm going crazy waiting for the next episode. I'm also going crazy trying to figure out exactly what's going on... The current question that's chasing round and round in my head is the matter of whether Scorpius did set them up or not. My first thought was not, and the logic seemed pretty clear: 1. There was no way that Scorpius could have predicted how things were going to go down. Too many unknown variables, too much depending on how Aeryn and company chose to handle the situation. 2. It's hard to imagine that Scorpius would be willing to let the Scarrans capture Aeryn, even if it is the one thing that would motivate John to move against them or to make a deal with Scorpy. She's got too much information that he simply would not want to risk the Scarrans getting. 3. If Scorpy was behind it, Sikozu was almost certainly in on it, and yet she seemed genuinely distraught over what happened.

    But the more I think about it, and the more reasons I try to come up with for why he couldn't or wouldn't have done it, the more I start to believe that he could have, would have, and quite possibly did. Consider: 4. He knew about the secret meeting. How big of a coincidence is it that it just happened to be taking place where and when Aeryn and friends decided to go shopping? And how likely is it that he didn't know the details of the meeting's time and place, given how much other info he seems to have gotten from Braca? 5. He had an agent in Grayza's party (Braca), and one in the Moya party (Sikozu). Between the two of them, it may not have been at all unreasonable for him to believe that they could steer the situation to his desired outcome. 6. He was the one who engineered the whole situation with splitting up the crew and sending the guys to the training camp and the girls on the shopping trip.

    OK, it's all circumstantial evidence, but you gotta admit, it adds up. It seems the guy did, indeed, have means, motive, and opportunity. But how, then, to reconcile points 2 and 3 above? All I can figure -- and I admit this isn't entirely original, as I've read some other speculations along more or less these lines -- is that Aeryn being captured was not the outcome he'd foreseen or intended. So, what outcome was he hoping for? Two possibilities come to mind. Possibility Number One: Aeryn kills Grayza. Well, that'd be a good outcome for Scorpy, but why arrange such an elaborate scenario to achieve it? Couldn't he just get Braca to shoot her? Well, maybe not. Braca could almost certainly take her out, but it's unlikely that he could get away with it. He'd be captured, interrogated and executed, and Scorpy'd be exposed and minus one spy. Besides, Braca may be loyal, but I doubt he'd be willing to martyr himself in that fashion. On the other hand, if Aeryn kills Grayza, perhaps Braca can arrange to be the sole survivor to make it back to PK territory, with a lovely little story about how the Scarrans betrayed them... Which would quite possibly cause them to rethink the current appeasement policy, especially with that policy's #1 cheerleader out of the picture. Good outcome for Scorpius. Possibility Number Two: The Scarrans kill Aeryn. Bingo, John's got a motive for going after them. And we know that Scorpius is extremely big on revenge motive, and that he seems to have some trouble understanding that not everybody feels quite the same way about it as he does. Besides, in this case, he might very well be right. So, Mr. Wormhole Tech himself goes gunning for the Scarrans... Better outcome for Scorpius. There may, of course, also be a Possibility Three: The Peacekeepers kill Aeryn, but Scorpy may have been counting on Braca to keep that from happening. Given the high likelihood of Possibilities One and Two, and the fact that it's a win for Scorpy either way, the whole thing may well have seemed like a good risk.

    If that line of reasoning is correct, it seems that Scorpius overlooked Possibility Four, the one that actually happened: The Scarrans capture Aeryn (and possibly Grayza, although I'm still unclear on whether the real Grayza escaped or not). Even Scorpius is capable of miscalculation, but where is it he went wrong? Possibly he thought it unlikely that Aeryn would allow herself to be taken alive, and even more unlikely that the Scarrans would abduct Grazya, given that Grayza's presence would most certainly be missed.... Reckoning, of course, without the possibility of bioloid replacement. That does seem something of an oversight for someone as shrewd as Scorpy, but given that he had never seen this particular technology in use (even though he knew of its existence), perhaps it's not too difficult to believe. In which case, it is most definitely Scorpius' turn to say "whoops."

    Of course, that still leaves the question of Sikozu, her apparent sincere concern over Aeryn, and the fact that she appears to be attempting to dissuade Aeryn from acting against Grazya, rather than encouraging her. Is it possible that Sikozu's emotion is actually guilt at her own complicity? Is it even possible that she was in on the plan but had second thoughts about going through with it and was hoping to be able to go back to Scorpius and say, "No, sorry, Aeryn wouldn't take the bait"? I'm not at all sure that that's how I'd read her reactions, but it's not impossible.

    What can I say? I love chewing over stuff like this. It's more fun that doing a real jigsaw puzzle. Mind you, I could be completely barking up the wrong alley here (to use an unforgivably mixed metaphor), and what's really going on is something else entirely, something that will take me completely by surprise. That would be cool, too.

    Hmm, I wonder if those lucky bastards in the UK have the answers yet?
    Save Farscape Update

    I just noticed that one of the banner ads showing up at the top of this blog is for Farscape. How cool is that? And, nope, I'm not the one who put it there!

    This makes me realize that I haven't said much of anything about the state of the Save Farscape fan campaign here for a while... Funny, there was a period when you couldn't get me to shut up about it. The good news is, the campaign is still going strong, as aforementioned banner ad can attest. The actors and writers are all on record as saying they'd love to come back and do the show if, somehow, they were allowed to continue it, and while the sets have been dismantled, they can all be rebuilt with no difficulty if the series were to be picked up. The bad news is, the ratings haven't quite been up where we'd hoped they would be. The goal was to shoot for a 2.0 rating. Instead, the show's consistently been making 1.0-1.3 ratings, which is, well, about where it was before. Which still means that it's one of the higher rated shows on Sci-Fi, but also that it's trailing behind Stargate. (Sigh. Stupid Nielsen-box people really just don't know what they're missing...)

    Here's some things that the fans have been up to lately:

    Plans are being made for another TV commercial. This will be a text-only ad that would air on the Sci-Fi Channel (!) during the final episode of the season, informing viewers that the show has been cancelled, and directing them to the website for more information.

    A Farscape fan with a sydicated newspaper strip (or can you call it a "strip" if it's only one panel?) ran this Save Farscape-themed comic in national newspapers. (Check out some of the previous comics, too, while you're there. They're pretty cool.)

    This story gave me a huge chuckle: a fan sent a singing telegram to the Sci-Fi Channel on Valentine's Day. Reportedly, it got a huge chuckle out of the people there, too. Nice to know that somebody at that network has a sense of humor! I gotta quote the lyrics to the telegram, here, 'cause they're just adorable:
    [To "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"]
    (Give us)
    One more season of Farscape!
    One more year out in space!
    Give John a chance to get Aeryn back.
    And make a plan when the Scarrans attack!
    If the crew gets caught by the bad guys,
    They’ll need a chance to escape…
    Give romance
    a chance
    with season five…
    Give us more Farscape!

    Ah, you just can't put it any better than that...

    For the record, Farscape is currently airing Fridays at 8 PM and midnight Eastern/Pacific time (that's 6 and 10 PM here in the Mountain Time Zone where I am) on the Sci-Fi Channel. And you want to watch it. Trust me, you do.
    This Cannot Be Good.

    OK, my archives disappear on a semi-regular basis. I've ceased to worry about it much, because they always seem to come back, sometimes after I've hit "republish" a few times, sometimes when I've jumped through all the recommended hoops of switching to "no archive" and then back to "monthly" and republishing, sometimes just whenever they darned well feel like it.

    But it's now been a full day since they've been gone, and, after fiddling with things for a bit trying to get them to come back, they seem to have vanished, not just from the web page, but from existence. Now, when I bring up my archive screen on blogger, the only month I'm seeing listed is April. This is starting to make me feel somewhat nervous.

    Dammit, Blogger, give me back my archives!

    Tuesday, February 18, 2003

    Tuesday is Buffy Day! (WARNING: Spoilers for Tonight's Episode (And Why Don't They Give Us Episode Titles on the Screen, Anyway?))

    Well, I didn't find this episode quite as entertaining as the last couple, but it's still moving the story along, and for the first time in a long while, the First Evil really does feel genuinely creepy and evil. Random thoughts follow, since I do seem to have slipped into the tradition of doing them for Buffy now...

  • I admit it, I don't quite get the whole thing with the box and the ancient guys and the swirly darkness... You wanna know something? I really missed Giles this ep. Because I'm sure he would have had interesting and informative things to say about the whole thing. Plus, he's much better at ancient Sumerian than Dawn. (By the way, how does Dawn know ancient Sumerian?)

  • Speaking of characters who aren't there, where'd Andrew get to? He shows up for one scene toward the beginning, and then he just vanishes into thin air before the big meeting. Doggone it, if you're gonna go to all the trouble of actually getting me to like the guy, for pity's sake, at least keep him on the screen! His only function in this ep. was to make funnel cake. And, come to that, we didn't even get to see the funnel cake.

  • While Andrew's stock is rising, I'm sad to say, Kennedy's is falling rapidly. I started out being something of a defender of Kennedy, who seems to be fairly unpopular with the fans in general, but she's really beginning to annoy me now. There's no doubt whatsoever that the only reason she's allowed to be hanging out with the core Scooby gang instead of being sent to her room with the other Potentials is because she happens to be Willow's nookie-partner. And yet here she is, acting like she's somehow In-Charge Gal. Sorry kid, you have not earned the right! At least she appears to have learned a valuable lesson by the end of the episode. That's right, Kennedy, dear, Scary Dark Willow is not cool. Scary Dark Willow is dark and scary. You do not want to invite Scary Dark Willow out to play.

  • Buffy's tough-love, everybody-has-to-do-better speech was pretty impressive, in its own bitchy sort of way, but I can't help but feel that it would have been a lot more effective if there was anything specific for any of them to actually do at that point. I mean, Wood had a point: the First doesn't exactly have an ass you can kick. It seems to me that the big problem is not that they're not ready to fight, but that they have no means of fighting. Of course all the sitting around doing nothing in the face of incipient apocalypse is demoralizing, and calisthenics sessions in the back yard don't really help alleviate that much. If you ask me, if Buffy really wants to motivate them she needs to stop making speeches and figure out something for them to do. Something that's actually, you know, useful.

  • On a completely frivolous note... It's amazing what a difference just putting on that leather coat makes to Spike. It's like, instant badass. I think Buffy should just carry that coat around with her. She can hand it to Spike when she wants him to kick ass, and then make him take it off when she's ready for him to be Mr. Sensitive again. It's like Superman's costume or something, only he doesn't have to go into a phone booth to change.

  • I Have Only One Word to Say: Good.

    It seems that the Sci Fi Channel is being sued by one of the victims (and I use that word advisedly) of its new "reality" show Scare Tactics. To quote the LA Times:
    Blank said she was led to believe by the organizers of the show, some of them allegedly using fictitious names, that she had won an invitation to an exclusive Hollywood party at a Southern California desert resort. She said she was traumatized after the car taking her to the party stalled along a remote stretch of desert and she was told by the people accompanying her, who are named in the suit as actors on the show, to run for her life into a nearby canyon to escape harm by an alien attacker.

    Honestly, what kind of juvenile asshole thinks something like that is amusing and OK to do? Come on, Skiffy, grow up. Then again, I guess this sort of idiotic immaturity shouldn't be too surprising from the network that thought Farscape was too mentally taxing.

    "The Sci-Fi Channel," the article continues, "could not be reached for comment." Doesn't surprise me in the slightest...
    Over 5,000 Served! Plus, More Wacky Search Requests

    It really does kind of amaze me, but this blog has now had over 5,000 hits in the approximately ten months it's been live on the web. I never imagined when I started this thing that its contents would be remotely interesting to anybody but me and maybe a couple of e-friends, so this amount of traffic, while small potatoes compared to that of blogs that can actually claim to be "popular," does surprise and impress me.

    I feel like I ought to have a prize or something for my 5,000th customer, but, although a check of my referrer logs shows Hit #5,000 as coming from a domain name that's been showing up a lot of late, I have no idea who it belongs to. So, uh, congratulations Anonymous 5,000th Customer! Have a virtual Certificate of Appreciation!

    Of course, a lot of said hits have come from search engines. (I'm still getting lots and lots of hits from people looking for pictures of that damned blond elf with his clothes off.) So, since it seems to go along with the current subject matter, and since I haven't done it for, oh, at least a week, I now present still more offbeat search requests!

  • funny pictures gollum dress: Yeah, Gollum in a dress would be pretty funny!

  • causes for a smart assed personality: I blame society.

  • eugenics pictures naked: It's a little known fact that Khan Noonien Singh did a spread for Playgirl magazine before going on to conquer a substantial chunk of planet Earth...
  • mexico nude: The whole country?! That seems like kind of a tall order...

  • oz is another one who's sexuality is ambiguous Buffy: Really? Well, OK, there's that whole kinky werewolf sex thing, I suppose...

  • blog barefoot at my desk: Hey, blog however you're comfortable, I say.

  • fan fiction braca sikozu love: OK, that's definitely an odd character pairing... Especially considering that Sikozu and Braca only ever met for, what, about thirty seconds? Hmm, maybe they could have a menage a trois with Scorpius... Oh, go on. Somebody write that. I dare ya!

  • facts on aceing tests: Studying is usually a good place to start.

  • my boobs: I have no idea why anybody would think I had more info about their boobs than they did...

  • "Star Trek" Spock Albuquerque basic episode: As a long-time Star Trek fan, I can say with complete certainty that there has never been a TOS episode set in Albuquerque. Too bad, really.

  • Farscape unrealized realities plot thought: I have lots of plot thoughts about unrealized realities, but they're all jostling together in my head and making my brain hurt.

  • pictures of the Sims having sex: Uh, you do realize that it's a teen-rated game, right? There really isn't all that much to see.

  • blogger nude pictures: I don't think bloggers look substantially different in the nude than anybody else.

  • xander livejournal nude: Xander does appear to have a LiveJournal, but I don't think it features any nudity.

  • nude blog: And correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think blogs (or for that matter, LiveJournals) usually wore clothes...

  • "Philip K. Dick" paychecks Amazon: If you want to get a paycheck when somebody buys a Philip K. Dick book from Amazon, you need to set up a link like this one. Hope that helps.

  • naked pictures of guys alone: What, aren't naked pictures of more than one naked guy multiple times as fun? Uh. not that I'd know anything about that, of course...

  • noranti nude: Well, there's another one to check off for my "search requests for nude Farscape characters" collection. Even if it's one I wasn't expecting and really don't want to contemplate.

  • servalan nude: And if I ever complete the nude Farscape characters set, it's nice to know that I'll then be able to move on to Blake's 7.

  • it is space probes better than human astronuats: Wow, how did I manage to misspell "astronaut"? I am deeply shamed. And, for the record, I think space probes are better than human astronauts for some things, but not for others. A space probe can't come back and tell us what it felt like to be out there, for one thing.

  • wicked weasel pics: Do you think they were looking for wicked pictures of weasels, or pictures of wicked weasels? Either way, I think I'm slightly worried.

  • Monday, February 17, 2003

    This Time, Blame Greta.

    What Pattern Are You?

    I also did the Spike test, but, frankly, the results were almost too embarrassing to share...

    Sunday, February 16, 2003

    Sleeping Patterns

    I seem to have settled into a rather annoying pattern in the past week or so. I get to bed around 8:30 AM if I worked the night before, or around 5-ish if I didn't. I sleep for 3 or 4 hours, and then I suddenly wake up for no apparent reason. It then takes me another 2 hours or so to get back to sleep, whereupon I sleep for around another 6. The upside to this is that I'm getting plenty of sleep when you add it all up -- probably too much, even. The downside is that it's really hard to get much of anything accomplished when you're spending 12 hours a day in bed...

    I dunno, maybe I am just lazy...
    Got the T-Shirt

    I was just looking through a catalog I got in the mail recently which featured, among other things, a collection of humorous t-shirts. And because this is the sort of thing that flits through my mind when I'm bored and trying to stay awake to keep myself on a night-shift schedule (or, indeed, even when I'm not), I got to thinking about humorous t-shirt slogans I've seen which would be fitting for some of the characters in my favorite TV shows. Let's see...

    Blake's 7

  • Avon: "People ruined my life." Also "Sarcasm: Just one more service I offer."

  • Vila: "Everyone needs something to believe in. I believe I'll have another beer." (Well, more likely adrenaline & soma, but close enough.)

  • Tarrant: "Still plays with spaceships." (Adapted from "Still plays with cars.")

  • Dayna: One of those "Life is Full of Choices" shirts, only it would feature pictures of lots of different weapons.

  • The entire crew: "Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?" (I think someone suggested that as a motto for the entire series once!)

  • Servalan: "Evil shouldn't look this good."

  • Farscape

  • Crichton: "Actually, I AM a rocket scientist."

  • Aeryn: "Warning: I am armed, and I have PMS."

  • Stark: "You're just jealous because the voices talk to me."

  • Moya (not that you could fit a t-shirt on her (maybe you could get an XXXXXL, cut a couple of extra armholes in it and put it on Pilot?)): "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

  • Hmm, I should probably be able to come up with more than that... Anybody else wanna play? Got suggestions for your favorite characters? Or am I the only hopelessly geeky one here?

    Saturday, February 15, 2003

    Not the Battle. High School.

    Well, I've finally finished watching through my Season Three Buffy discs. Just got done watching "Graduation Day" Pt. 1 & 2, and my reaction to seeing it for the second time is pretty much exactly what it was the first time: "Man, television just doesn't get much better than this!" It's an episode that works sooo well, on so many levels... But the very best thing about it, I think, is that fact that, in among all the fighting and the explosions and the giant demons, the heart of the episode (like the heart of the show itself) lies in the character relationships. The relationship between Buffy and Faith, between Buffy and Angel, between Faith and the Mayor (and it's amazing how truly touching that one is, in its own twisted way), between Willow and Oz, between Xander and Anya, etc., etc., etc. And, in the end, it's also about the coming together of an entire community in a way that -- no exaggeration here -- makes my heart swell with pride. On top of it all, those individual relationships aren't simply interesting in and of themselves; they also manage to resonate strongly with universal human experiences. I mean, OK, nobody turned into a giant demon on my graduation day, but nevertheless I can relate to what these characters are going through, and I think anybody who's been to high school, or even been through adolescence, can as well.

    See, this is why it's my firm opinion that Buffy is one of the Two Shows Worth Watching on TV today. (Yeah, yeah, no points for guessing what the other one is, either...)

    And now I'm missing the Mayor all over again. Golly gee, but he was one gosh-darned likeable old bad guy! If you ask me, these newer, modern evils just don't have the same core values...

    Friday, February 14, 2003

    This Week, On Alien Visitations... (WARNING: Spoilers for Farscape Episode 4.17, "A Constellation of Doubt")

    Wow. That was cool!

    And having thus summed up my overall reaction to the episode, here we go with the usual spew of random thoughts:

  • As solid an episode as "Terra Firma" was, there was one complaint that a lot of people had about it: that the "media circus" surrounding the aliens seemed very subdued and un-circus-like, and that we got to see disappointingly little of Earth's reaction to the whole thing. It's nice -- very nice -- to see that being rectified here, especially as the whole thing is handled with such brilliance and creativity. Man, they got the style of that particular kind of "news" show down absolutely pat. And some of the clips were utterly hysterical. I loved Noranti. And Chiana talking to Crichton's cousin about sex. And every single one of the "talking head" commentators.

  • The human reaction (heh!) seemed quite believable to me, and I'm sure it surpises absolutely no one, except, oddly, for John. Well, actually, even John seemed more disappointed than surprised. I'm not entirely sure why, though. Isn't this more or less what he was originally hoping for? To warn Earth, to put them on their guard for "when the real space monsters show up"?

  • Maybe the change in John's attitude towards Aeryn of late can be traced back to that conversation with his sister. (I'm sure there was more of it than what Bobby got on tape.) I like that thought. I think I'm going to keep that thought. It makes a lot more more sense of the current turn of their relationship.

  • OK. I actually knew about that clue in "Unrealized Reality," because other people had noticed it and posted thoughts about it on the internet. In a way, I kind of wish I hadn't, because it deprived me of one of those lovely moments where I smack myself in the forehead and go, "Damn it, how did I miss that?", which is always fun. Give me the booby prize, by the way. I remember, after UR aired, there were a number of people saying things like, "What was Sikozu-Stark saying just before Crichton shot her? Was that signficant? What did it mean?" And my reaction to that was basically, "Oh, come on. She's just chanting. Stark's always chanting. It's probably some preparing-to-become-incorporeal ritual. It doesn't mean anything. Sheesh, and people say I overanalyze." I forget; when it comes to Farscape, sometimes overanalyzing isn't. I still have no idea what the hell it all means. But I have the feeling the upcoming conversation John's clearly planning on having with Einstein is going to be very interesting, indeed...

  • It's beginning to become very clear that John is being manipulated somehow. But by who? Scorpius? Einstein? Stark[*]? All of the above? I'm actually much more interested in finding out the answer to this than I am in what's going to happen to Aeryn, to be brutally honest.

  • How 'bout that tag scene, huh? Aeryn for wormholes... Yeah, well, it wasn't hard to imagine that it would finally come down to that. (Well, geez, come on, John, did you actually think that "let's just kiss quietly so Scorpius doesn't find out" thing was actually going to work?) Do you think he'll actually be willing to keep that bargain? My guess would be "yes."

  • If Scorpius isn't behind Aeryn's kidnapping (and it's difficult to imagine how he could have arranged it, but it's usually a mistake to put anything at all past him), I imagine he's having some seriously mixed feelings right about now. He'll do anything to get wormholes, but having to face an entire base full of Scarrans has to be very, very high on his list of Least Favorite Things to Do. (I'm really hoping we do get some good character stuff for Scorpius out of this situation. Given that he's actually part of the "crew" now, he's been seriously underused this season.)

  • [*] Well, there've been some really wild theories proposed as to exactly what (if any) role Stark might be playing in this season's events. Personally, I have no clue, but it seems to me that he has to be significant somehow. His departure left one hell of a loose end, and the writers have been taking considerable care to not let us forget about him. I'm really hoping he does show up soon with his share of the answers. I miss the heck out of Stark, and I really want to know what he's been up to (or, in one particular case, why he's been up to what he's been up to).
    The Universe Is Flat

    I meant to mention this remarkable scientific news story before, and it sort of slipped my mind. Which is kind of hard for me to believe, given that it concerns nothing less than the ultimate fate of the entire universe. Indeed, I've always thought that if some omniscient being offered to answer me any one question, "Is the Universe open or closed?" would at the very least be a top-five contender.

    The news, in case you're too lazy to click on the above link, is that a spacecraft called the Microwave Anisotropy Probe has finished mapping the distribution of residual energy left over from the Big Bang. The results, apparently, have led scientists to the following remarkable conclusions:

    1. The universe is "flat." This means that the universe will not eventually cease expanding and start contracting, collapsing inward under the force of its own gravity until it eventually ends in a Big Crunch (a "closed" universe). Instead, it will keep on expanding forever (an "open" universe). It also means, however, that the amount of mass in the universe is exactly at the critical limit below which it would have eventually suffered a Big Crunch fate. This cannot possibly be a coincidence (and in fact, I believe it's a predicted result from a particular theoretical model called "inflationary cosmology").

    2. The universe is exactly 13.7 billion years old. (Well, almost exactly. The error margin is 0.2 billion years in either direction.)

    3. The first stars in the universe began to shine only about 200 million years after the Big Bang, much earlier than theorists had predicted. If my astrophysics weren't so incredibly rusty, I might have some sort of comment to make about the implications of that, but, alas, it's been a long time since I've so much as thought about the technical details of star formation.

    4. Last, and possibly most interestingly, it seems that 73% of the mass of the universe is made up of a sort of "dark energy," a mysterious something that has the property of causing the universe's rate of expansion to actually increase, despite the pull of gravity. (Go ahead, call it anti-gravity if you like. I don't know what else to call it...)
    That Friday Five Thing Again

    1. Explain why you started to journal/blog. Well, my buddy JK, who I knew through Phoenix APA, had just gotten into blogging in a big (or at least, very enthusiastic) way. He'd started up his own blog, the recently (and sadly) defunct Trash Heap, and was looking into developing some Phoenix-related blogs. He was pretty vocal about encouraging the rest of us to give this blogger thing a try, and, like a sucker, I fell for it. I thought it might be interesting to have a place where I could jot down the random things I happened to be thinking about and people could actually come by and read them, if for some unfathomable reason they actually wanted to. I honestly never expected the experiment to be quite this... successful.

    2. Do people you interact with day to day or family members know about your journal/blog? Why or why not? My sister and my dad stop by here on a more-or-less regular basis, I know. Other than that... Well, it's easy enough to find this place from my web page, and everybody knows about my web page, so probably. I don't think I've ever directly mentioned it to anyone in an actual voice-to-voice conversation, though (except for those two people that I already know read it). It's kinda weird... It's like I have an online life and an offline life, and I don't really tend to think about the two of them overlapping.

    3. Do you have a theme for your journal/blog? Nah, "random wibblings" really does sum it up pretty well. If I had to stick a label on Maximum Verbosity, I'd probably refer to it as a personal/pop culture blog (as opposed to a political blog or a collection-of-neat-links blog, or whatever). Probably about half my posts have something to do with science fiction TV, so if you wanted to call that the theme of this blog, I probably wouldn't object too strenuously.

    4. What direction would you like to have your journal/blog go in over the next year? You mean these things are supposed to have a direction?!

    5. Pimp five of your favorite journals/blogs. Um... OK. Let's see:

    The Memory Burns is well worth reading for Greta's Buffy discussions, if for nothing else.

    Uncertain Principles is a wonderfully readable blog written by a physicist (he also talks about sports a lot, but nobody's perfect).

    James Lileks' The Bleat is always worth reading, even when I don't agree with his politics.

    Hellmouth News consists of links to Live Journals written in-character by various Buffy characters, which I still think is just too cool of an idea.

    Tachyon TV Blog had a lot of interesting discussion about SF TV shows, but it seems to have gone stagnant at the moment.

    Note that I've left out a lot of blogs that I visit on a daily basis and enjoy greatly: Amanda Peterson, The Beachboard Bramble, Curious Frog, Occasional Fish, The Soap Box, Thudfactor... I love ya all, guys!

    Thursday, February 13, 2003

    A Proposition

    I propose that February 13th be declared International "Single And Perfectly Damned Happy About It" Day. Who's with me?

    Wednesday, February 12, 2003

    Living in the Future

    Almost constantly these days I'm struck by the feeling that I'm actually living in the future, that stuff I read about in what seemed like fairly far-fetched science fiction novels when I was a teenager are suddenly happening all around me right now. Sometimes it almost occurs to me to wonder if we aren't all characters in someone's SF novel, so strange and bizarre does reality seem any more.

    Anyway, here's the latest bit of news to bring that odd sensation crashing down on me again: scientists have used a technique referred to as "brain fingerprinting" to measure neural responses to a crime scene, which may well lead to a murder conviction being overturned. The implications of this are simultaneously kind of nifty and utterly terrifying. "Until recently," says the article, "brain scientists were hampered by two rigid barriers: the skull and ethics." Looks like the skull is becoming less and less of a barrier, and that it may be past time to start thinking long and hard about the ethics. I definitely recommend reading the article; it's got a very good discussion of some of the ethical conundra involved, not just with this "brain fingerprinting" thing, but also with a number of other related and equally nifty/terrifying issues.
    Well, This Is Kinda Surreal.

    So, there's this web page that will put text through mutliple computer translations, with results that are certainly worth gawking at. Just for jollies, I ran my last blog post through this thing, and after being translated from English to French to English to German to English to Italian to English to Portuguese to English to Spanish to English, the following mish-mash was the end result. Very, very bizarre. (Note that all the text formatting got lost in translation, too, including the paragraph breaks and my nice little bulleted thoughts. I'd go back and stick them back in if I weren't a) too lazy, and b) no longer remotely sure where they'd belong, anyway.) Happy gawking.

    thoughts 0ccasional in Buffy tonight (this INFORMS: I scrape) Spendthrift! Finally we look like the part of the Earth still to base! Certain and a recovery and an enthusiasm that the direction has of length, also... Yay! Like (the promises 0ccasional of the thoughts and the diverse continuations, are not simply for Farscape more): I surely age to something that the decision of Buffy was inside, extreme writing lucky Rome of the one to give the form me that was and that he, because it was the line. That one hour of the writing of Rome received a heart and a lheo as well as free relative of the increases wants how much the rest of us. In more returning they had regulated the part, at the time of the retirement. We could be examined the thing with sojourn local we specified as far as much hour? The duration of the writing of Rome is possibly very, much much stay. More in front of the task in many prettily of, since the electrical workers of the circuits would begin to probably diminish and of this point and in the part of that to the left he does not have more, the one that can regulating. This, after ouais, was disapprovando that the sufficiently comprehensible Giles still had been indicated that. Exactly if the relative to that the external part of one more a greater part there was dew finally of a type of "would, that one augured that suggests their son of Spike?" Type of the place. Or possibly special due to whom... Administration of the drink: Hectar! It could not do the one that defective age of I! Well, it did not have an idea, that it was true, but was he that I age seriously not to something surely. And it is on the other hand to something lucky in this subject. The line, champion, who is really and the presses and bezaubert, ' disonore of D von Buffy the one end to lose everything in evilness. They occupy them, because the way that straight does not offer the possibilities is not defective, that they interest, in the order the one that is hostile an end if to become... Sao I the end to see the type of this the torsion passed of the part that comes from the Earth, but does not use really those of this whole number. Task I too much leads to the interest of the dynamics of the letter. Nizza to see a possible assassin that the English does not say. I began to request itself because all had looked like to be the S.U.A. and England will have been produced very to saldamente that the murders and latta one he of the jump alongside advanced in all the part. It is on the other hand pleasant type to know the one that the language does not speak in Giles gives. The end approximately to say Giles, miracle that one of nobody is the reason if he is tetchy of another one in this therefore that it is possibly because one given does not have? Defective Giles. The CHARACTERISTIC of the good CHARACTERISTIC is seriously totally sufficient in the necessity he, but to take difficult small from the obligation he with the serious one if to it delays the illustrations of the landslide of the post. (it forms of ampèreheure really only the recovery of the luck, because esteem. And, you saw man the direction, that this Bringer in the return after these is lazy? Giles is always the man) that I have indicated recently that I began in similar Andrew? The left part of that one changed to me. They are really and really beginning in similar Andrew! They go, boy! Esteem the direction which they must to the warnings of Vortatsachen of the Bedraengnisses, the end to repair its telephones of the piled up ones. It is the type of the good intelligent planning, in the game of the television you very see rare and of course that I to which Xander does not have mark that conserved it for "Help, my date is strange, that he is demon." Vein, of her, he to think sufficiently; this complete thing of the Anziehendaemonen has the direction, of that beyond the agreement one that goes. The thoughts of the solved piece alongside advanced of the amiable preselezionato of him possibly take care of a course the line in second, to take it was are?

    Tuesday, February 11, 2003

    Random Thoughts on Tonight's Buffy (WARNING: Spoilers!)

    All right! We appear to have finally found the plot again! And to be having some fun and excitement along the way, too... Yay!

    As promised, various random thoughts follow (yes, they're not just for Farscape any more!):

  • I was pretty sure that was the decision Buffy was going to make about Spike, and I'm glad that she did, because it was the right one. Spike's got a soul now, and he deserves his free will as much as the rest of us. Besides, assume they had fixed the chip instead of removing it. How long could we expect the thing to stay fixed? Spike's lifespan is potentially very, very long. Eventually, I think it's pretty much a given that the circuitry would begin to degrade, and by that point there's probably not gonna be anybody left who knows how to fix it. That having been said, yeah, Giles' disapproval was still pretty understandable. Even if most of it did ultimately spring from a sort of "would you want your daughter to be involved with Spike?" kind of place. Or perhaps especially because of that...

  • Principal Wood: Ha! I knew he wasn't evil! OK, I had no idea what he actually was, but I was pretty sure he wasn't evil. And I'm rather happy about that, too. Buffy's right, the guy's really attractive and charming, and it'd be a shame to waste all that on evilness. Mind you, just because he's evil doesn't mean he doesn't have the potential to become an enemy... I did kind of see that last plot twist coming, but I don't really mind that at all. I think it's gonna make for some very interesting character dynamics.

  • Nice to see a potential slayer who doesn't speak English. I was beginning to wonder why all of them seemed to be from the US and England, when it's been very firmly established that Slayers can and do pop up anywhere. It's also kind of nice to know that there's a language Giles doesn't speak.

  • Speaking of Giles, anybody else wonder if maybe the reason he's so tetchy in this one is because he doesn't have a date? Poor Giles. Well, OK, OK, he's quite right about the need to get serious, but it's a bit difficult to take him seriously when he's holding up gory stick figures. (Ah, truly, I only make fun of the guy because I love him. And, man, did you see the way he took out that Bringer in the flashback? Giles is still the man!)

  • Did I mention recently that I was starting to like Andrew? Let me amend that. I'm really, really starting to like Andrew! You go, boy!

  • I love the way they've got pre-made distress messages set up on their cell phones. That's the kind of intelligent good planning you seldom see on TV. And, of course, it doesn't surprise me at all that Xander has a pre-programmed signal for "Help, my date turned out to be a demon." Come to think of it, he's right; this whole attracting-demons thing has gone way beyond coincidence. You think maybe the picked up some kind of a curse somewhere along the line without realizing it? I mean, sheesh.

  • For the record, Scott Bakula was, in my opinion, approximately 6,000 times more attractive as Dr. Sam Beckett than as Captain Archer. Still a good choice for Xander's alleged purpose, though, there's no denying it...