Happy 30th Anniversary, Star Trek: The Next Generation!

“YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH, DAYTON!”

Sorry, folks, but it’s true. 30 years ago, tonight.

I’ve told this story before, but on September 28th, 1987, I watched Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s premiere episode, “Encounter at Farpoint,” in the TV room of my barracks at Camp Pendleton. The room was stuffed with Marines, and maybe it was because of the beer, but we all stayed to watch the whole thing.

While “Farpoint” certainly had its problems, it was Star Trek, by golly. And, it was new Star Trek, and little did we know at the time what that really meant.

Anybody remember this bit, which ran before the episode?

Man. How time flies.

So, yeah. The show got off to something of a rocky start, and took a while to find its footing. Still, even with this first episode, it was easy to see the potential in this new show. A big part of that is due to Patrick Stewart, who carried much of the load that first year and who as Captain Jean-Luc Picard brought a gravitas to the series which helped us forgive some of the hokier storylines. The other actors soon settled into their roles, of course, in time becoming a comfortable ensemble and even a family. By its third season, the show established itself as a worthy bearer of the Star Trek torch.

Seven television seasons, four feature films, and merchandising out the wazoo, including a whole bunch of novels published by Pocket Books. As one of those responsible for foisting more than a few of those on an unsuspecting public, I’ve always enjoyed my time spent with Captain Picard and his merry band. Here’s hoping they let me do a few more.

Happy 30th Anniversary, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Go. Go see what’s out there.

TNG-season1cast

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A proposed modification to office meeting policies.

So, this morning, I’m having a conversation on Facebook with a friend, who drops this bit of “Monday” on me: Apparently, someone in charge at his office called a meeting, and once everyone was present, confessed that he had real idea why the meeting was being held. The “in charge” person basically said, “I have no idea what I’m supposed to be asking here.”

This, of course, prompted reactions from the group that likely were variations of this:

AngryApe

I’ve been in my share of meetings where there seemed to be no defined purpose for the gathering, other than interrupting whatever work we were supposed to be doing. It’s one thing for the rank and file to be clueless when they’re called into a room (keeping your people uninformed being a pillar of modern management, and all), but if you’re the one who’s supposedly got the plan hiding among those flash cards you’re holding close to your vest, you’re expected to drop knowledge on your subordinates every so often.

People who failed at this usually irritated the shit out of me.

Therefore, I propose this modification to office meeting policy:

If you call a meeting, and once everyone is assembled you announce that you don’t see the point of the meeting or – worse – have no idea why the meeting is being called in the first place, you are then required to perform a lip synch rendition of a song from a pre-approved list. Said list is to be compiled and approved by all members of a team or group that participates in the affected meetings.

Barring the existence of such a list, or if an agreement cannot be reached so far as any options from said list, the default selection will be “The Jackal.”

Discuss.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – first official trailer!

Where there is fire, there is smoke. And in that smoke, from this day forward, my people will crouch, and conspire, and plot, and plan for the inevitable day of Man’s downfall.

The day when he finally and self-destructively turns his weapons against his own kind.

The day of the writing in the sky, when your cities lie buried under radioactive rubble! When the sea is a dead sea, and the land is a wasteland, out of which I will lead my people from their captivity!

And we shall build our own cities, in which there will be no place for humans except to serve our ends! And we shall found our own armies, our own religion, our own dynasty! And that day is upon you now!

— Caesar, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

Awwwww, yeah.

If you make a Star Trek video, the internet will lose its shit.

Apparently, I’m supposed to be outraged over this:

According to various news stories I’ve read, this is one of two “in-house” training videos created by/for the Internal Revenue Service three years ago. This one, the Trek spoof, was created as part of some kind of opening presentation at a training and leadership conference. The second one (which I’ve not seen) apparently was a riff on Gilligan’s Island.

The total cost to make both videos reportedly was in the neighborhood of $60,000. If I’m to believe some of the comments I’ve been reading, this also is the exact amount needed to execute 25,000 kittens. Or, something.

You know this shit is serious because CONGRESS GOT INVOLVED, wanting to know what was what. You know Congress, those bold advocates and champions for at least a portion of our citizenry. Apparently, somebody within those hallowed halls has expressed grave concern over possible misuse of taxpayer dollars, and so on and so forth. Aside from their own salaries, of course.

Having watched the video, my first reaction is that it’s horrific, but no more so than…oh…every other corporate training video in the history of the medium. Given the subject matter and the fact that you’re having to make yet another lame-assed corporate training video, I can understand the desire to pump into the mix anything which might resemble humor or whimsy, because at the end of it all, we’re still talking about a corporate training video, and those suck.

(He’s ready for his close up.)

Predictably, Trekkies have knots in their red shirts, because the parody video is rife with various errors and other affronts to Star Trek, such as incorrect uniforms, inaccurate set design, incorrect use of Trek terminology in the dialogue, and so forth. My initial response to this was that I had seen such observations before, namely back when the first of Hustler’s Star Trek porn parodies was released. Of course, in that case, the sets and uniforms and whatnot actually did look a damned sight better than what the IRS gave us, and there was that whole added advantage of having people boning each other.

Um, so I’ve heard.

(Yes, this is a real movie. So, I’m told.)

The big uproar stems from the fact that the money involved–again, a total of $60,000, spread across this and the other video–seems to have constituted the commissioning of an egregious sin on the part of the IRS, aided and abetted as it was with the use of taxpayer dollars. This, of course, is different from all the other evil and skullduggery they perpetrate that’s funded through charitable donations and bake sales. “Massive waste” and other terms are being thrown about, with calls for investigations and beheadings. Okay, I’m not sure about the beheadings, but I’m willing to bet that at least one person out there thinks that’s not a bad idea.

Whatever.

Now, I don’t know about the money, and whether it may have been too much to spend for such an endeavor. In some ways, I think we all can agree that it certainly wasn’t enough…know what I mean? Anyhoo, as I know nothing about the costs involved in the creation of such a production, I have no way to know how much is too much. I’m assuming some of the work had to be contracted, likely to some private sector outfit, so there’s something of an “Okay, cool” factor for throwing some money at whatever local businesses may have been hired. That part doesn’t bug me at all, really.

As for the people shouting and wailing about this…are you fucking serious? This is what’s got undies wedged into ass cracks? Get a grip, people. It’s a corporate training video. Every company of any size makes these things, and as we’ve already discussed, they all suck. There are laws in place requiring such productions to suck. That’s their whole reason for being, for fuck’s sake.

As for the money, it’s almost certain that whatever group produced this thing has funds allocated for training…again, just like any other decent-sized company. This, presumably, would include creating videos or whatever other “aids” might be required, and this is what somebody thought might be a different and perhaps even fun way to mix up the tired old cliche’ that is the sucky corporate training video.

Congress has seen fit to “rebuke” the IRS for this bit of weirdness from years past, and the IRS has offered up an explanation: ABC News: IRS Regrets Making Star Trek Video

No apologies have been extended to the Star Trek community, of course, for all of the various canon and continuity violations the video contains. This is worse than President Obama’s “Jedi Mind Meld” gaffe earlier this month. I mean, even Brannon Braga has been overheard saying he could not believe such grievous errors were allowed to go unchecked. That’s how serious this is, yo!

Meanwhile, as people are up in arms and crying about this sort of stupid shit, Congress goes and slides this one right by us:

‘Monsanto Protection Act’ slips silently through US Congress

Priorities, people.

Me? I’d be curious to see a nickel by nickel accounting of the money Hoover’d up by firms like Haliburton during the period when these shitty videos were being produced. Or, maybe we could see a final tally on the TARP funds diverted as bonuses to the CEOs and other executives of companies which at the time were drowning in the very debt those people had created as a consequence of their piss-poor decision making and greed. How about the money shoveled as federal subsidies to the oil companies? I know they’ve been struggling in this sluggish economy, but maybe it’s time to see if they can make it on their own for a while, okay?

So, fuck Congress and their “rebukes.”

(But, yeah, that video does suck something fierce, right?)

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome

It may not always be true that the best things in life are free, but you can still find some pretty cool stuff for the big ol’ price of $0.00 if you know where to look, or if you have smart people pointing you in the right direction.

And so it is with Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome, a web-based mini-series set in the continuity of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series and which serves as a bridge between that show and its prequel, Caprica. Set during the “first Cylon War” forty years prior to the events of its parent series, Blood & Chrome focuses on Lieutenant William Adama, young hotshot Viper pilot fresh out of the academy and ready to kick some Cylon ass now that he’s been assigned to the legendary Battlestar Galactica. Hijinks ensue.

Though intended for the web, there was talk for a time that Blood & Chrome might air on Syfy, home of its two parent series, as a TV-movie, which in turn might spawn a follow-on series of its own, just as the 2003 BSG mini-series begat its weekly offspring. Said talks wavered for a long time, before the first pair of “webisodes” showed up almost by surprise on YouTube a few weeks ago. Hosted by Machinima Prime, all ten episodes now are available for your viewing and dancing pleasure. Blood & Chrome also will air on Syfy early next year, and the series is already available for pre-order on Blu ray and DVD formats.

(Yes, I’ve pre-ordered my copy. Look who you’re talking to, here.)

For now, though? Check it out on YouTube. Syfy apparently is watching the view counts and keeping their ear to the ground so far as fan buzz about the show, so who knows? Maybe they can be convinced to make more. And hey! Because I dig all you nice folks so much, here’s a handy dandy link list for all ten episodes:

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episodes 3 & 4
Episodes 5 & 6
Episodes 7 & 8
Episodes 9 & 10

I can’t speak for anybody else, but I’d definitely watch more of this. Easy. For me, more Galactica is always welcome.

Thanks go out to the steely-eyed missile man himself, Doug Drexler, and everyone involved in B&C. It’s been a fun ride, and I hope to see more soon.

No “Ask Dayton” this week? So what do you do now?

That’s right, Nick and Terry from the Sunday G&T Show got busy this past week, and so there was no question sent my way for the “Ask Dayton” segment of their program. While things will be back to what passes for “normal” with the next show so far as this little diversion is concerned, I’m still left with this void in my life where “Ask Dayton” should’ve been.

Piling on to that? A slice of evil as delivered to my eyes and ears by friend H.E. Ellis. She titled it “Things You Can’t Unsee,” but I’m content to call it an act of aggression against the entire human race.

What is it? Celine Dion, singing a cover version of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long.” That alone is cause for eternal damnation, but she even went so far as to flip all the gender references. That’s right, unlike when Shania Twain did her own version of this song, now we can’t even envision the potentially hot lesbian scenario her singing the original lyrics might have evoked.

God. Damn it.

(Note: That I’m terribly attracted to Celine Dion in the first place, but there’s a principle to be upheld here, for crying out loud. Recognize.)

So, now that I’ve been traumatized, I figure the least I can do is spread the contagion. Look for yourself, but don’t say I didn’t warn you….

Almost makes you want to listen to Nickelback. Almost…but not quite.

The proper measurement for fun? 11′ 8″.

Michi was watching a “marathon” of some show called Caught On Camera today on MSNBC. Basically, each episode is a collection of video footage captured by personal video cameras, surveillance systems, and so on, and showing shocking, offbeat, or just stupid things.

That’s right; whenever we’re bored, we take solace from watching the antics of our fellow humans.

During one segment, they profiled an area of Durham, North Carolina where a train trestle bridge crosses a busy street, with clearance for vehicle traffic passing beneath it measured at 11 feet 8″. That’s pretty low by modern standards, but back when the bridge was first built more than one hundred years ago, there were no standards for minimum height or clearance levels.

Apparently, this bridge attracts no small amount of trouble. Trucks were hitting the underside of the trestle at an alarming rate, to the point that the railroad company that uses the track and trestle installed a “crash bar” just before the bridge to prevent further damage to the structure itself. Signs are posted, both at the bridge as well as for blocks up the streets approaching it. Flashing lights which are triggered by vehicles too tall to pass under the bridge were installed.

And yet….

Durham resident Jurgen Henn owns a business overlooking the street near the intersection, and he installed video cameras to capture footage from different angles. The results are both hilarious and dumbfounding. According to him, a truck strikes the bridge (or, rather, the bar set up in front of it) on an average of once a month, inflicting varying degrees of damage to the vehicle. For reasons which will soon be obvious, the bridge has acquired the nickname “the Can Opener.”

Thankfully, our intrepid videographer has made his recordings available for our viewing pleasure at his website: 11foot8.

In a word? Awesome.

In addition to the videos offered at the website, there’s also a YouTube video feed.

Thanks very much to Mr. Henn for his efforts.

Enjoy.