Thursday, February 27, 2003

Leave Capt. Kirk out of this!

On 02-26-2003 offered an article called "Capt. Kirk's bulging trousers" which looked promising due to the tag-line "A touring exhibition of genuine "Star Trek" gimcracks reminds us of the virile greatness of the original Shatner/Nimoy series -- and the p.c. limpness of all the spinoffs."

It percolates along nicely, having fun, praising Shatner deservedly for his thespian greatness whilst on the series, drooling over a display of the original bridge, putting down the fussy PC thang Star Trek has become since the original series, and then we careen into this paragraph:

Moreover, Spock was obviously passionately in love with his rug-wearing bisexual WASP jock captain, something not lost on the bitchy, swishy and rather jealous ship's doctor, Bones McCoy, who wasted no opportunity to tease his green-blooded colleague. (For some reason all the male "Trek" medical staffers have been queeny, even the holograms). Interestingly, the stellar love affair between Spock and Kirk, which has its roots in Greek mythology and American literature (e.g., Alexander and Hephaestion, Huck and Jim, Ishmael and Queequeg) seems to have grown out of the clash of Shatner's and Nimoy's planet-size thespian egos: Roddenberry, driven frantic by their on-set competitiveness, was advised by Isaac Asimov, no less, to channel it by strengthening their on-screen relationship. In addition, a "favored nation" clause was introduced into their contracts, stipulating that any benefits accorded to one must apply to the other. In other words, gay campaigners still calling for gay characters in the next "Trek" series are missing the point. "Star Trek" featured the world's first on-screen same-sex marriage back in the '60s. (Little wonder then that a whole genre of female-authored "slash" fan fictions built around the Spock/Kirk love affair has flourished, making explicit what was always implicit.)

Eeeeewwwwww! Ew! Freakin' EW! {shudder}

Obligatory disclaimer: I have nothing against gay people, gayness, etc. what have you. Live and let live, I say. If it makes you happy, verse chorus verse. Have gay friends and relatives, just like everyone else.

BUT, I have never really liked "gay humor." La Cage aux Folles/The Bird Cage (either one) - Will and Grace - The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert - Kiss of the Spider Woman nearly anything with Harvey Fierstein in it (though his wrecked voice is cool) - the gay dishy/bitchy thing has just never appealed. But then I don't like the Three Stooges either.

My sense of humor runs to Monty Python, the great Bill Cosby, Abbot and Costello, Jerry Lewis, Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Cheech and Chong, George Carlin, Flip Wilson, and the man himself Red Skelton.

The effeminate queen stuff just doesn't tickle me. I try to open myself up to the laughs, but mainly my reaction is either "yuck" or a yawn. The two exceptions are "Big Gay Al" on South Park (however, I suspect he's not on the top of the GLAD list of "best gay characters in mass media"), and one joke on Will and Grace where Will told his buddy not to react like a howler monkey, and his buddy, in spite of himself, responds with the best howler monkey impersonation outside of Rush Limbaugh. I laughed and laughed.

Now, I know that's going to cause your typical gay activist to label me as a homphobe. Listen, I have no fear or negative feelings about homosexuality. I just don't. Really, whatever consenting adults want to do in the privacy of their own lives is just fine with me, and none of my freakin' business.

But, saying Kirk was bisexual (or even a WASP - or even a Republican for crying out loud!), and that McCoy was swishy and bitchy (did this guy even see the same show I did?), is just plain WRONG. It's just wish fulfillment for the guy who wrote the article. I don't care that he wants to do Capt. Kirk, but let's not go so far as to say Capt. Kirk would want to do him. It would be like me stating that Melissa Etheridge or Sandra Bullock have really liked guys all along because I want them to. I may want that to be true, but it ain't. (I watch every Sandra Bullock movie with the same melancholy I imagine the author of the Salon article would if he were to face reality about Capt. Kirk's preferences. Maybe it was too much for him, hence the article.)

Capt. Kirk digs the chicks, as does Spock (every seven years, of course), and so does Bones. Bones practically gave up Starfleet for a babe he found living inside an asteroid, and let's not forget he nearly got the salt sucked out of him by an old flame. I mean, all the boys seemed to be ok with the inter-species thing - but only as long as it was a CHICK! Let's just keep that straight, k?

Trivia moment: In the novelization of the first Star Trek movie, someone asks Kirk if he ever slept with Spock because one of the revelations in the book about the culture of that time (which is not in the movie, thank God) is that the gay/fender feminist dystopia has come true and no one recognizes gender determined sexual preferences - any hole will do. And Kirk's answer, true to character, is something like, "Why would I have sex with someone who goes into heat only every seven years?" Now that's funny.

Y'know, though, at least they were HAVING sex in the original series, which is more than I can say for "The Next Generation." What a bunch of genderless mannequins those yahoos were.

The two exceptions where when Lt. Tasha Yar discovered Data had a penis. That little plotline, including the SIGNIFICANT LOOKS Yar and Data give each other, not to mention the post-coital satisfaction smeared across Yar's face when she emerges from the love den, was strait out of "Heavy Metal." And the episode where Counselor Troi is impregnated by an alien where we actually see the little tinkerbell point of light burrow under her covers and pop into her vagina is quite a shock because you don't see it coming. (I nearly spilled my beer when it happened.) Talk about your ultimate quickie.

George Costanza moment: And speaking of shocking moments in female unit history as it applies to film or video (sounds like an award category, don't it?), did you see the recent NYPD Blue episode "Nude Awakening" (2/25)? It opens with a woman getting ready to take a shower (I don't watch anymore since the stupid Irish guy left the series early on, so I don't know what her character's name is), and a little boy happens to walk in on her and get an eye-full. So do we. And what an eye-full. Before the boy pops in, we see her in full nude profile, her breasts covered by her upraised arm, but other than that she's a nekkid as the day she was born. Literally. You can clearly see her pubic area, which is evidently shaved, and so we see just Barbie doll smoothness. But the fact that there was bare female pudendum on broadcast TV just blew my mind. I don't know whether to rejoice or brace for the apocalypse.

Remember how in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" the machines had personalities - Marvin the paranoid android, doors that are happy to open for you, etc. - and how that was universally loathed by all the characters?

Well we have a copier here at work that KNOWS YOU'RE IN THE ROOM; it knows when you walk up to it, and it knows when you walk away. It turns itself off if it's not being used, so when you walk up, it "awakens" and gives you a happy little bing! as all the lights come on. If you leave something on the glass and walk away, it gives you an urgent, but polite, little bing! It does not do that until you walk away. It's just FREAKY.

I thought Adams' conceit was amusing, but I didn't know it was correct! I don't want a machine to have a personality and to interact with me. It should only do something when I push a button, fer crying out loud. And then it should do it with efficient, emotionally neutral haste; and then DO NOTHING when it's done. Just leave me the heck alone.

I think I'll act angry towards it in its presence and see if that has any effect. I'll keep you posted.
Just wondering...

Since they've gone back through older movies (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial), album covers (Abbey Road) and TV shows and edited out smoking and guns, do you suppose they've gone back through all the old Mickey Mouse Clubs and edited out out the "ho" from their greeting, "Hey there! Hi there! Ho There!"?
Web stalkers are us.

Hey, just in case you haven't encountered this kind of thing, and wonder if it's real, here's your proof. Below in the post about my pseudonym, I mentioned a web stalker we had unfortunately attracted way back when. Even though this blog is barely a week old, and I haven't really told anyone about its existence, the stalker found it. "Stumbled across quite accidentally" indeed.

Here's the email I received from said stalker on 2-27-03. I've edited out some of the ickier delusions and more prurient stuff. The email address was a hushmail address, a service where all your email's automatically encrypted, a haven for the paranoid.

This is at least the second time that we have read one of your ignorant blurbs about your wife's "stalker" on your "blogging", that by the way we stumbled across quite accidentally I might add. If we see any more of this crap, you may be quite surprised to see yourselves plastered all over the web. We have left you alone, and after 2 years we still have to put up with this bullshit. The only ones who are "disturbed" are you and your so called wife, that you cannot admit to her part in this is beyond us [delusional stuff snipped] You can believe what you want, we really dont care any longer what happened. Just sick of this shit. Placing all the blame on one person shows that you are in denial. They were both to blame, your wife being as much as stalker as anyone, as she stalked our friend in irc. Dont bother emailing back, we have no use for you, just stay out of our lives and keep your disturbed opinions to yourself, [delusional stuff snipped]. Remember 2 can play the same game.

This was also emailed to my wife at her new email address (so much for trying for anonymity). Scary.

One of the cute tricks these people did was photoshop a picture of my wife's face (found via an IRC community page) onto a pornographic picture. They posted this picture on the web and emailed it to everyone on that IRC community page.

So, really, folks, just keep your personal information secret, if you can, and don't let all the loons in the world into your life. Become "Sally3243" or "donutnut" or some other safe persona out here in postcard and pamphlet land. (Douglas Adams of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" fame once described the web, accurately I think, as one large pamphlet that we all send postcards to each other about.) I think 9-11 proved how drastic things can get when someone hates you irrationally and thinks you need to pay. There are a lot of freaks in the world. Let's be careful out there.

Friday, February 21, 2003

Swat Fu.

I don't like it. Not a fan.

("Swat fu" was coined by the one, the only Joe Bob Briggs. No breasts. Gratuitous hilarity. Verbal fu. Joe Bob says check it out.)

Even though Crouching Tiger, Hidden Wombat was a decent, sometimes lyrical movie, it was still mostly about swat fu. So I didn't like it.

I saw Daredevil recently, which I did like a lot, but as the room darkened for the movie to start, I was dreading the swat fu moments in the movie. Through some spooky synchronicity, or just taking into account recent movie trends, many of the previews were about upcoming swat fu flicks. Many of the swat fu releases this summer seem to be a celebration of the newfound brotherhood between the Black and Asian communities resulting from the riots after the Rodney King trial. I noted swat fu fans are going to have a slaphappy summer.

But one was about a monk who must find a new keeper for the ancient scroll he guards (a scroll containing what or for which religion, they did not say), entitled, Bulletproof Monk. Evidently the new Golden Child scroll guardian is a California surfer dude. (I'll pause here to let you work through the myriad reactions I had to that bit of news. Originally, I was going to belabor some of them, but figured it would be more fun for you if you did it yourself. Ok, just one: "Enlightenment is bitchin'!") Anyway, after one of those flying maneuvers that senseis are evidently teaching these days, the Monk tells the Dude that there is no gravity if you really believe there's no gravity.

At that point, I wondered how many jackass-susceptible kids are going to face shattered shins sometime in their life if they really believe swat fu can make you defy gravity. My generation was stricken by many children jumping off the roof of their house with nothing but a sheet for a parachute. There was a brief respite from that as kids switched to umbrellas when Disney broadcast Mary Poppins on Wonderful World of Disney. But jumping without a sheet or an umbrella is just ... well, stupid.

I'm happy to report that Daredevil does not have too much gratuitous swat fu in it at all. It has only what's needed to move the plot along - a welcome welcome relief on my part, I'll tell ya. As a matter of fact, the whole movie is like that. No extra stuff, no filler, just story, stuff you need to know for later, things are tied up nicely. This movie is not for the very young, though - say 8 or 9 or under, depending on their maturity level for handling violence. A person is run through with a sword, pretty graphically, and hoisted up on it. It made me flinch. Little ones might barf or cry and need therapy later in life for a reason they cannot put their finger on. Older ones will go "COOOOOOOL" like the boys with their father behind me did. It joins the first Superman, the first Batman, and Spiderman as one of the few great comic book hero flicks. Go.

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Kid lit.

Having a six-year-old daughter, I've encountered some new greatness that was not available when I was young, and I've discovered some old classics that wear wonderfully.

Junie B. Jones Series
By Barbara Park
I think this series speaks to little girls. Junie B. (the B. stands for Beatrice, but she doesn't like Beatrice, she just likes B.) is simply a hoot. Personally, some of the bad grammar bugs me, but we've turned correcting Junie B.'s grammar into a game. Sometimes, when reading these to my daughter, my wife and I get laughing so hard we have to let the other read for a bit. My favorite was when Junie B. was supposed to go on a field trip to a farm, but was afraid to go because one of her babysitters let her watch the show, "When Ponies Attack!" That one leveled me for a solid half hour.

by Leo Lionni
"Frederick" explains why we need artists. It's a nice antidote or companion to "The Ant and the Grasshopper," which though it contains a great lesson about getting your work done, it seems to think fiddle playing is a waste of time. Frederick shows how dreamers and artists are just as important as grain haulers.

Good Families Don't
by Robert N. Munsch, Illus. Alan Daniel
Munsch is probably one of the best children's authors working today. I've yet to read one of his that I don't like. Our family favorite is "Good Families Don't." Sometimes his books are a little hard to find because he's Canadian, and you know how American booksellers are about them foreign authors. Anyway, here's how "Good Families" starts out: "One night Carmen walked up the stairs to her bedroom. There, lying on her bed, was a great big purple, green and yellow fart." Not to worry, though. Munsch is going somewhere, it's not just a bunch of potty humor, and I think it's a good thing for kids to hear this stuff sometimes. Our videotape of Grandma reading this to our daughter is priceless.

The Name.

Yahmdallah Bjorknickerfod? What kind of a name is that?

I'll tell you.

Completely made up.

Here's the story. Back in college my roommates and I would often author limericks and other dirty poems to post at parties. We were pretty good at it, and most folks often looked forward to them as much as the kegger itself. Well, the bluer they were, the more reluctant we were to claim them. So we all invented pseudonyms for ourselves. I thought of mine out of the blue one day while traveling back to college after spring break. I wanted something so whacked and international that you would have a hard time guessing the nationality, and voila.

Back just as the internet became widely available, my real name proved to be so generic that I would always be firstlast12314212341234234squared when I tried to create an online account of any sort. So I dug into my beer-dimmed memory (a lot of my Sr. year in college is hazy), and remembered Yahmdallah.

Of course, no one else had thought of this name.

I've been told that it means "Thanking God" in Arabic, but I've never verified it. After 9-11, I wondered if I'd have to change to a new pseudonym, but it looks like no one so far has assumed I'm of Middle Eastern descent. I'm a middle-aged, married, American white guy, and a father, btw.

My wife inadvertently attracted a web stalker at one point, and I found that having a pseudonym in this huge international phenomenon of the web is a good safety precaution. After we got rid of the stalker, and his girlfriend (it was a really freaky episode - there are some seriously disturbed people in the world), she went incognito with a pseudonym, too. No problems since. [update: I was wrong - see above.]

On some blogs, the authors get all snotty about people using their real names. But more often than not these are older, single guys who don't have much danger of some parasite latching onto them, so I feel they are talking a bit out of turn. Safety is a hell of a lot more important than someone feeling I'm being somehow more honest because they know my real name.

And there you have it.

Monday, February 17, 2003

I've finally put my finger on a pretty consistent determinant between "good fiction" and "bad fiction." I've noted that in any fictional work where the author has an apparent opinion, or specifically a negative judgment, regarding any or all of the characters, the whole work is tainted because we are forced to "look down" or disapprove of someone, often in spite of how we might feel about the characters ourselves. If an author belittles a character, or conversely obviously feels a character is cute or cool, the insinuation of that judgment overwhelms any other information on that character provided through their dialogues or action. What we are told becomes moot, and almost irrelevant, in the face of being lead on how we should feel.

I've noted that Stephen King, Anne Rice, and John Irving never make this mistake. Even the most evil and vile characters are presented to you without any authorial judgment upon the character (not counting that given by first-person narration of another character). But the recent movie, "About Schmidt" and the novel I'm currently reading, Jane Smiley's "Moo" do it in spades. It's clear how the author feels about Schmidt, or the Dean, or the secretary who really runs the college. (Respectively: He's a clueless schmuck; he's an impotent figurehead except in bed; and she's an under-appreciated genius who should really be the dean, plus she's a lesbian to boot, which only adds to her grandeur.)

"Good fiction" is that which the author trusts us and has respect for deciding for ourselves how to feel about a character. "Bad fiction" is that where the author shows her/his hand and telegraphs out they feel about a particular character, rather than letting us decide.

Note: this was originally posted as a comment on, but I've now recycled it as my first blog post.