25 September 2009

So, this is Fall?

Fall officially started on Tuesday. It reached 113 that day here. It was 112 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Suppose to be as warm tomorrow and just a few degrees cooler on Sunday. I love California for its pleasant winters. But like in Chicago when spring arrives in March and its still in the 20s, you get really depressed when fall arrives here and its still blistering hot outside.

Sometimes it just makes me want to cry.

Books: Star Trek: Assignment: Eternity by Greg Cox

For a number of years during the 1990's, I collected almost all of the Star Trek books that came out. 99.9% of them, I never read. They sit now in box's in my garage, awaiting a fate I don't know.

Still, the above novel was published in 1998, and it was one I did not have (or if I did, I've lost it). So, I ordered a used edition. Why, may you ask, did I do this? I've always liked the TOS episode Assignment: Earth. That 1968 episode was originally planned as pilot for a potential spin-off. It featured Robert Lansing as Gary Seven, a mysterious human working for aliens who come from the future. Kirk and company use a gravitational slingshot around the sun and time travel to 1968 Earth for historical research (this time travel plot device was alluded to in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home). Suddenly, the Enterprise intercepts a highly powerful transporter beam from a thousand light-years away and a man dressed in a business suit materializes on the pad. He carries a black cat with a diamond collar. He converses with his cat, Isis, then introduces himself to Captain Kirk as Gary Seven.

That episode also featured an appearance by Terri Garr, who played Roberta Lincoln, a young woman who thought she was going for a job interview only to become entangled in Seven's plans.

Anyways, it was a cute episode that never went anywhere. So in 1998, Greg Cox revived the character for the Pocket Book Star Trek line-up. The novel also include many humorous references and inside jokes alluding to TOS, TNG, DS9 episodes, and the TOS movies, as well as references to some popular 1960's and 1970's television series not related to Star Trek.

The plot of the book has a Romulan traveling to the future and assassinates Spock in 2293 during the Khitomer Peace Accords (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country). Gary Seven's colleague, Supervisor 146 (a.k.a. Septos) alerts him, and he and Roberta Lincoln travel to 2269 to stop the Romulan and save Septos.

Cox would continue his take on Seven and Roberta in his two volume novels The Eugenics Wars: The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh (2001/02). Those I've yet to read, and have recently gotten used versions of them.

13 September 2009

Pirates IV gets a title; based on Tim Powers novel?

Walt Disney Studios chairman Dick Cook made several major announcements about upcoming Disney films during an address at the D23 Disney fan expo in Anaheim, including the name of the upcoming fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which will be called Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides, which is due in summer 2011. Johnny Depp showed up in full Jack Sparrow regalia, in character, disturbed by the presence of a talking frog at the earlier Muppets presentation (who return The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made!).

The title begs the question of whether the fourth film is based upon fantasy author Tim Powers 1987 novel On Stranger Tides.

Powers novel is about puppeteer John Chandagnac, bound for Jamaica to recover stolen money from his uncle, who becomes Jack Shandy after pirates attack his ship and force him to join their crew. Shandy's struggle to accept his new life, even as Blackbeard and vodun magicians whisk everyone away to dreamlike lands where the Fountain of Youth itself awaits.

Tim Powers, born in New York in 1952, but relocated with his family to Southern California in 1959 has admitted in the past that On Stranger Tides tale was inspired by Disneyland's Pirates of the Carribean ride.

10 September 2009

Books: This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

In a pitch perfect take on the family saga, Jonathan Tropper’s side-splitting This Is Where I Leave You is often funny as it is heartbreaking.

We learn, as Judd Foxman’s narrates, is not having anywhere near a perfect few months. Soon after discovering his wife in bed with another man -Judd’s obnoxious, popular radio personality boss - he learns of the death of his father. Faced with returning to his family and home, his future ex-wife compounds the problems by announcing she’s pregnant with Judd’s baby.

With this news, Judd returns to his home town of Elmsbrook where he and his dysfunctional family plan to sit Shiva - which surprises Judd, as he knew his father did not have a religious bone in his body. So, for the first time in years, the Foxman’s are together for seven days following the funeral. In the same house. Like a family.

There’s Judd’s mom, Hillary, is a psychiatrist and the bestselling author of Cradle and All: A Mother's Guide to Enlightened Parenting. "Predictably," Judd notes, "my siblings and I were screwed up beyond repair." Also, there is his sister, Wendy, who has three kids younger than 6 and a husband who works in hedge funds and pays more attention to his BlackBerry than to his wife. Bitter Paul, the oldest, is the partner with their dad in the family sporting goods store, and remains angry at Judd for his failure at a baseball career. Then there’s Philip, the youngest and “the Paul McCartney of our family: better looking than the rest of us, always facing a different direction in pictures, and occasionally rumored to be dead.”

The novel is filled with some wonderful, very sly dialogue about family and death. It’s laugh-out-loud brilliant and I found many passages matched my life, including “Sometimes it’s heartbreaking to see your siblings as the people they’ve become. Maybe that’s why we all stay away from each other as a matter of course.”

Anyways, by the end of the shiva, Paul has one arm in a sling, Philip has a broken hand, Judd has a split lip, Wendy hasn't slept in days and Mom has had a serious falling-out with her lover. And to Tropper’s credit, the comedy is never glib and not everything is resolved by the end.

05 September 2009

Glenda Beck and the sorta-lame-ass version of what he thinks is the truth

You know, Glenda, you're becoming more and more crazy as the days go by, now finding menace in every shadow and every relief. You’re a pathetic propaganda machine for the Conservative Right. You and the rest of the Kool Aide drinking crowd grow desperate everyday to show a bunch of non-thinking idiots that some how you have the inside info on everything. You have no credibility and speak no language any rational human being would say.

Glenda Beck is a psychotic monkey who will tilt the world -along with the other cronies of Right and Faux News - into another Civil War. It's your ultimate goal to bring the collapse of America and set up a regime built and conceived on the notion that only religious folks should hold the key of knowledge and all power.

And while I would never stoop so low as to ask God to smite you down for just being a douche bag, I kinda hope that you'll see the light.

Until that day happens, you’ll never be more than a sad loser, a nobody. You’re a narcists, a clown in an expensive suit, who needs some sort acknowledgment to exist.